On Sexuality

So, a previous post dealt with the topic of sex, specifically on the issue of the infamous experience of the “sex talk.” Yeah, perhaps the artists and cartoonists from and around Penny-Arcade are not the best people to relate such important information to your children, but it sure was entertaining.

Personally, I never had “the talk” with my parents and was pretty much left to my own devices when figuring out sex and sexuality. Don’t get me wrong, sex was discussed in my household to some degree, but it was usually from the lens of conservative, Christian ideology. “Sex is for after marriage and only between a man and a woman.” “Any form of sex that is not under this umbrella is a sin in the eyes of God.” “Gay people are not bad, but gayness is and that is has to be fixed.” These were just a few of the gems I heard growing up from multiple adults around me.

School was not much better than home since Sex Education was not a big concern in South Texas. Abstinence was the preferred curriculum though I am fairly certain there was some discussion about a few diseases you could acquire from even the slightest of sexual activity. I am somewhat amazed that the pregnancy and sexual infection rates at my school were not higher.

charlie brown sex ed

For such an important subject like sexuality, we do not really discuss it openly, or secretly for that matter. We try to avoid the topic at all costs with anyone under a certain age, but is this really the best option or even helpful? I learned everything I know about sex and sexuality from reading books and mostly looking at the internet. Let that last part sink in for a moment and realize how much more fucked up I could have turned out.

What can I say? I am a nerd and when nerds do not know something we research (swear not a euphemism for porn). From that research (again, not porn), I learned about the sexual spectrum of sexual identity, male and female orgasms, male and female genitalia, and much. much more. I am by no means an expert and I am still learning things about human sexuality, but my knowledge is a far cry from my abstinence only and “no penis in vagina until there is a ring in the eyes of the Lord” origins.

In all honesty, as with all curiosity led investigations, more queries than answers have been produced, particularly in myself. Considering the immense amount of possibility contained in human sexuality, there seems to be a desire for inherent, stagnant absolutes. Anything that deviates from accepted “norms” are outright condemned or dismissed even within the fringes. What is even more interesting, and perhaps frustrating, is the expectation to understand and claim your own sexual identity, preferences, kinks, and desires from the onset.

Society, or at least American society, does not really have a safe space for experimentation or questioning. How can someone know their entire sexual identity from the beginning of puberty? How can you possibly know everything about yourself sexually when you do not have any legitimate comprehension of sex? Maybe that is why people change sexual orientations/identities later on in life or why it takes them time to achieve sexual satisfaction, much less gratification. Would society, and life, be improved if the topic of sex was discussed more openly from a younger age? Should there, can there, be a space for experimentation without judgment?

Like I said, I have more questions than answers, but perhaps you few, dear readers can provide some perspectives or point in the direction of some possible guides.


3 thoughts on “On Sexuality

  1. What is your definition of sexuality here? Is it all internal, something akin to a sexual taste? Or is it an individual’s expression of their sexual taste/desire/attraction? Or is it some third thing? I want to know so I can better understand what this post is grappling with!

    • More a mixture of all things mentioned since I don’t think they can really be separated. So, I suppose a matter of sexual taste/preference/orientation and the expression of said identity. If that is not confusing.

      • The post seems to be grappling with the acceptance of or repression of sexual(ity) norms in our society. I have some readings that I’ve come across in school that discuss issues of sexuality, gender, and society. You may have already read some or all, but these are the ones that I find most helpful in thinking about these issues.

        If you didn’t get enough Foucault in grad school, The History of Sexuality, volume 1 is a short and fantastic read about the history of repression and how we make bodily issues taboo. Parts of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, written before THoS, also discusses how society chooses and enforces normal and abnormal practices, which pertains to sexuality. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble talks more about gender construction but in terms of how it is built around preconceived biological norms of sex. And Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto is also fantastic. It uses the metaphor of the cyborg to talk about the potential future we could have if we adopt more fluid views of gender, sexuality, and even ableism.

        Your post’s questions about the inability to truly know one’s sexual orientation without actually learning about sex and your comment about the repression of discourse about sexuality being the reason many people opt to change sexual orientations or even sexual identities made me think of Haraway’s article in particular, because she essentially asks, “why can’t things like gender, sex, and sexual orientation be fluid, because, in reality, they often are? Furthermore, according to wikipedia anyway, there is a growing consensus that intersex individuals do in fact comprise a third sexual (not only gender) category.

        It’s a fascinating topic, and you’re right about our culture avoiding discussions about it. I like to think about Mass Effect’s world in terms of sexuality and gender because, in it, culture and technology have advanced far enough to make topics about gender superiority, and sexuality as well, irrelevant. And that’s what Haraway’s article, at least in the connections I make, is getting at and calling on us to consider. We’re advanced enough for these issues to be discussed and accepted; yet, we hold ourselves back. I’ve also reviewed a lot of these works in past posts if you’re interested (shameless plug). Sorry for the lengthy response. I’m sure Bryan will appreciate it.

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