Human sexuality

From ArticleWorld

Human sexuality is a broad term under which the areas of sexual sensations, sexual identity, gender identity and the acts of intimacy, sex or reproduction that an individual chooses to engage in. It can be influenced by genetics, family, cultural and religious beliefs, psychological, physical and spiritual inclinations.

Anatomy and Physiology

Human beings are sexual at the time of birth, in part due to their genetics and to the external genitalia that define the difference between a boy and a girl. Each individual is given a set of sex chromosomes, XX for a girl and XY for a boy, that dictate their sexual development and in most children, they can be clearly identified as to gender from the moment of birth. Some children, however, are born with ambiguous genitalia or with genitals of both sexes, leading to confusion over their sexuality and gender. For those whose gender is clear, society perpetuates the concept of that gender by treating boys and girls differently, even before they actually are sexually active.

Upon reaching puberty, a person’s genetics also dictates the production of testosterone in a boy and estrogen/progesterone in a girl, which, in turn, causes the development of secondary sexual characteristics and participates in the ability of both sexes to engage in sexual activity.

Gender Preference

No one has yet clearly defined how gender preference occurs. There are clearly young children who, without external influence, understand their gender of preference before puberty. In other situations, it appears that environment has played a role in defining an individual’s gender preference. It is estimated that nearly 10% of the human population defines themselves as homosexual, gay or lesbian. Others have described gender preference as a sort of continuum and believe that individuals can exist anywhere within the continuum of exclusive heterosexuality and exclusive homosexuality.

Sexual Behavior

While children can exhibit sexual behavior at a young age, puberty often provides the hormonal and anatomical ability to engage in sexual behavior. Sexual behavior is strongly influenced by an individual’s “local” culture or peers, by society at large, by moral teachings, by philosophical teachings and by religious beliefs.

Popular cultural practices in any given area have a great deal to do with when, with whom and with what kinds of sexual activities an individual engages in. Ultimately, each person has within them a sexual “self” and sexual needs which can be met in a variety of ways. Some of these needs and behaviors are deemed sexually acceptable by the culture or society in which one lives, while others are felt to be unacceptable and, in some cases, illegal.

Human sexuality can play a large role in someone’s life or a relatively smaller role. All cultures, societies and religions participate in some way in both the development of sexuality and in the way in which a person chooses to express that sexuality.