How to Define Human Sexuality
The definition of human sexuality is multifarious here in the United States. Sexuality in Americagenerates rich discourse and, depending on which side of the discussion you are on, often leads to heated debate. How we understand human sexuality is determined by how informed and educ
ated we are about what is typically considered a hot topic. Sexuality education, orsex education, rarely exists outside of an elementary understanding of how our bodies function from a clinical perspective. Schools often have no choice but to comply with an “Abstinence Only” program that neglects to teach students about other contraceptive choices, fill the students’ heads with fear about the reality of sexually transmitted infections by focusing on them without teaching the student how to protect themselves and their partners against them.
Rarely, if ever, do I hear that a person’s first exposure to sex education was one based on an understanding of appropriate and healthy touch, one that involved the topic of pleasure, or even the basics of how to build intimacy in connection to another human being. It makes me wonder if an appropriate slogan for primary school sex education shouldn’t be “Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, and Most Certainly Don’t Enjoy.”
Sexuality is a vital aspect of human nature. Let’s face it, without our birth parents’ sexuality, not a one of us would be here. A single definition of sexuality is hard to come by. Sexuality is complicated and complex. Sexuality defines who a person is based on their born gender as determined by the physical parts they entered this world with, their sexual behaviors, personal intimacy, sexual relationships, as well as the physical and mental expression of a person and whether they identify themselves as male or female. More to that is how each person chooses to move within their sexual identification which includes various dress codes and styles, the manner in which they communicate, and their sexual orientation and preferences. A person’s sexuality demonstrates their values of humanity, as they relate to their attitudes and beliefs in relation to their gender and that of another. Furthermore, our sexual identity can determine the kind of friends one associates with, our feelings towards our physical looks, and how we are expected to treat people of both genders. See what I mean? A person’s sexuality is complex, rich, multifaceted and ever-changing.
In as much as we all are human beings, we fundamentally are sexual beings with complex urges, drives, desires and very real needs. Our sexuality is a normal, natural and healthy part of our being throughout our lifetime. It includes not only our gender and sexual behaviors, but also the way our body systems function in connection to our changing physical characteristics and sexual development.
It is important for proper and healthy sexual development to learn about sexuality at every life stage from childhood into our maturing years. This helps to nurture the way we feel about ourselves and others throughout all of the developmental life phases. Our sexuality is meant to change throughout our lifespan. It may help to be aware of any expectations of gender roles and conduct in regard to our families, our intimate experiences and expression, as well as in our personal relationships.
Sex Education for the Kids
Outside of the rudimentary Sex Education Curriculum most of us received in grammar school, boys and girls, men and women turn to the internet to supplement their less than adequate learning. Rather than learn about human sexuality from sources that are unreliable and often incorrect, if parents and caregivers would initiate discussions on sex and sexuality with their children, this would establish a trusted connection from where a child could launch his or her own discovery and sexual exploration. Sex education should start at home, where the parents and caregivers are viewed as guides and teachers on these complex issues. Parents can achieve this by starting conversations about relationships, communication skills, how our bodies function, intimacy, sexual behaviors, what is male and female, what defines masculine and feminine and so on. These conversations can and do play a major role in enabling a young person to take control of their life by making safer, healthier, and better-informed decisions on issues of sex and sexuality.
Comprehensive Sex Education for Us Adults
For the rest of us, searching out quality resources that provide fact-based information on sex and sexuality is a much better and safer way to build our sexual knowledge. The field of sex education is filled with talented men and women devoted to changing the conversation around sex and sexuality. Check out the many educational books, DVDs and workshops taught by recognized sex educators. By better educating ourselves, we are better able to make informed, personal choices for ourselves and our relationships now and in the future.
Sex education involves a lifelong study of notions, beliefs, and values associated with human nature. The study includes the acquisition of information concerning sexual developments, sexual reproductive health, intimacy, body image, interpersonal relationships, and gender roles. The basic study of human sexuality begins when children first identify with gender and learn the names and functions of various body parts. As they grow, children learn about sexuality in schools, from friends, from television, the internet, books, community-based agencies, and many other sources of information. Some of these sources skew their information toward a negative bias, others present quality, fact-based education that is positive and balanced without a particular agenda. A person’s learning shouldn’t stop after grammar school nor after the hormone-laden teenage years. It is an ever evolving learning process. Continuing sex education allows each of us to gain the most accurate information about our bodies, our sex and our sexuality. This learning forms a much greater foundation from which healthy relationships are born.
Sexuality in America has migrated from the personal and private activities of two consenting persons to the boardrooms, the airwaves, the internet and beyond. As a sex educator, I feel the responsibility to present as much information as I can regarding healthy relationships to a population where more than not, our relationships are failing due to a lack of simple skills. In addition to communication skills, we need to learn the skills necessary to dance the dance of human sexuality within partnerships. Working with a qualified counselor or coach to help you address personal concerns and private issues is another way to get a better understanding of what works for you, what makes you tick, how to approach your partner in learning the same about them and so much more.
Here’s to a healthier you; a healthier us. May we each delight in all our bodies have to teach and all they have to offer.