History of human sexuality

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The social construction of sexual behavior—its taboos, regulation, and social and political impact—has had a profound effect on the various cultures of the world since prehistoric times.

Contents

The study of the history of human sexuality

"Coition of a Hemisected Man and Woman" (c. 1492), an interpretation of what happens inside the body during vaginal intercourse, by Leonardo da Vinci Coition of a Hemisected Man and Woman.jpg
"Coition of a Hemisected Man and Woman" (c. 1492), an interpretation of what happens inside the body during vaginal intercourse, by Leonardo da Vinci

The work of Swiss jurist Johann Bachofen made a major impact on the study of the history of sexuality. Many authors, notably Lewis Henry Morgan and Friedrich Engels, were influenced by Bachofen, and criticized Bachofen's ideas on the subject, which were almost entirely drawn from a close reading of ancient mythology. In his 1861 book Mother Right: An Investigation of the Religious and Juridical Character of Matriarchy in the Ancient World Bachofen writes that in the beginning human sexuality was chaotic and promiscuous.

This "aphroditic" stage was replaced by a matriarchal "demeteric" stage, which resulted from the mother being the only reliable way of establishing descendants. Only upon the switch to male-enforced monogamy was paternity certainty possible, giving rise to patriarchy – the ultimate "apolloan" stage of humanity. While the views of Bachofen are not based on empirical evidence, they are important because of the impact they made on thinkers to come, especially in the field of cultural anthropology.

Modern explanations of the origins of human sexuality are based in evolutionary biology, and specifically the field of human behavioral ecology. Evolutionary biology shows that the human genotype, like that of all other organisms, is the result of those ancestors who reproduced with greater frequency than others. The resultant sexual behavior adaptations are thus not an "attempt" on the part of the individual to maximize reproduction in a given situation – natural selection does not "see" into the future. Instead, current behavior is probably the result of selective forces that occurred in the Pleistocene. [1]

For example, a man trying to have sex with many women all while avoiding parental investment is not doing so because he wants to "increase his fitness", but because the psychological framework that evolved and thrived in the Pleistocene never went away. [2]

Sources

Sexual speech—and by extension, writing—has been subject to varying standards of decorum since the beginning of history. For most of historic time writing has not been used by more than a small part of the total population of any society. The resulting self-censorship and euphemistic forms translate today into a dearth of explicit and accurate evidence on which to base a history. There are a number of primary sources that can be collected across a wide variety of times and cultures, including the following:

Sex in various cultures

A flying penis copulating with a flying vagina, a medieval Persian erotic painting A flying penis copulating with a flying vagina. Gouache Wellcome L0033074.jpg
A flying penis copulating with a flying vagina, a medieval Persian erotic painting

India

Depictions of Apsarases from the Khajuraho temple Khajuraho12.jpg
Depictions of Apsarases from the Khajuraho temple

India played a significant role in the history of sex, from writing one of the first literatures that treated sexual intercourse as a science, to in modern times being the origin of the philosophical focus of new-age groups' attitudes on sex. It may be argued that India pioneered the use of sexual education through art and literature. As in many societies, there was a difference in sexual practices in India between common people and powerful rulers, with people in power often indulging in hedonistic lifestyles that were not representative of common moral attitudes. Many of the common (and not so common) sexual practices in the world today, such as the custom and art of kissing emerged in India, proliferating with early forms of globalization.

Painting from the Kama Sutra Kamasutra1.jpg
Painting from the Kama Sutra
Painting from the Kama Sutra Kamasutra5.jpg
Painting from the Kama Sutra
Art from the Ajanta Caves Indischer Maler des 6. Jahrhunderts 001.jpg
Art from the Ajanta Caves
Fresco murals from the Ajanta caves Meister des Mahajanaka Jataka 001.jpg
Fresco murals from the Ajanta caves

The first evidence of attitudes towards sex comes from the ancient texts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, the first of which are perhaps the oldest surviving literature in the world. These most ancient texts, the Vedas, reveal moral perspectives on sexuality, marriage and fertility prayers. Sex magic featured in a number of Vedic rituals, most significantly in the Asvamedha Yajna, where the ritual culminated with the chief queen lying with the dead horse in a simulated sexual act; clearly a fertility rite intended to safeguard and increase the kingdom's productivity and martial prowess. The epics of ancient India, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, which may have been first composed as early as 1400 BCE, had a huge effect on the culture of Asia, influencing later Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and South East Asian culture. These texts support the view that in ancient India, sex was considered a mutual duty between a married couple, where husband and wife pleasured each other equally, but where sex was considered a private affair, at least by followers of the aforementioned Indian religions. It seems that polygamy was allowed during ancient times. In practice, this seems to have only been practiced by rulers, with common people maintaining a monogamous marriage. It is common in many cultures for a ruling class to practice polygamy as a way of preserving dynastic succession.

The most publicly known sexual literature of India are the texts of the Kama Sutra. These texts were written for and kept by the philosopher, warrior and nobility castes, their servants and concubines, and those in certain religious orders. These were people that could also read and write and had instruction and education. The sixty four arts of love-passion-pleasure began in India. There are many different versions of the arts which began in Sanskrit and were translated into other languages, such as Persian or Tibetan. Many of the original texts are missing and the only clue to their existence is in other texts. Kama Sutra, the version by Vatsyayana, is one of the well-known survivors and was first translated into English by Sir Richard Burton and F. F. Arbuthnot. The Kama Sutra is now perhaps the most widely read secular text in the world. It details ways in which partners should pleasure each other within a marital relationship.

Sculpture from a temple at Khajuraho Khajurahosculpture.jpg
Sculpture from a temple at Khajuraho

When the Islamic and Victorian English culture arrived in India, they generally had an adverse impact on sexual liberalism in India. Within the context of the Indian religions, or dharmas, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, sex is generally either seen as a moral duty of each partner in a long term marriage relationship to the other, or is seen as a desire which hinders spiritual detachment, and so must be renounced. In modern India, a renaissance of sexual liberalism has occurred amongst the well-educated urban population, but there is still discrimination and forced marriage remains in practice amongst the poor (forced marriage exists along a broad continuum of coercion, and the boundary between forced marriage and arranged marriage is not always agreed upon, even in the present-day context of the 2011 Istanbul Convention or the 2013 United Nations Human Rights Council resolution recognizing forced marriage as a form of human rights abuse).

Within certain schools of Indian philosophy, such as Tantra, the emphasis in sex as a sacred duty, or even a path to spiritual enlightenment or yogic balance is greatly emphasized. Actual sexual intercourse is not a part of every form of tantric practice, but it is the definitive feature of left-hand Tantra. Contrary to popular belief, "Tantric sex" is not always slow and sustained, and may end in orgasm. For example, the Yoni Tantra states: "there should be vigorous copulation". However, all tantra states that there were certain groups of personalities who were not fit for certain practices. Tantra was personality specific and insisted that those with pashu-bhava (animal disposition), which are people of dishonest, promiscuous, greedy or violent natures who ate meat and indulged in intoxication, would only incur bad karma by following Tantric paths without the aid of a Guru who could instruct them on the correct path. In Buddhist tantra, actual ejaculation is very much a taboo, as the main goal of the sexual practice is to use the sexual energy towards achieving full enlightenment, rather than ordinary pleasure. Tantric sex is considered to be a pleasurable experience in Tantra philosophy.

China

In the I Ching (The Book of Changes, a Chinese classic text dealing with divination) sexual intercourse is one of two fundamental models used to explain the world. With neither embarrassment nor circumlocution, Heaven is described as having sexual intercourse with Earth. Similarly, with no sense of prurient interest, the male lovers of early Chinese men of great political power are mentioned in one of the earliest great works of philosophy and literature, the Zhuang Zi (or Chuang Tzu, as it is written in the old system of romanization).

China has had a long history of sexism, with even moral leaders such as Confucius giving extremely pejorative accounts of the innate characteristics of women. From early times, the virginity of women was rigidly enforced by family and community and linked to the monetary value of women as a kind of commodity (the "sale" of women involving the delivery of a bride price). Men were protected in their own sexual adventures by a transparent double standard. While the first wife of a man with any kind of social status in traditional society was almost certainly chosen for him by his father and/or grandfather, the same man might later secure for himself more desirable sexual partners with the status of concubines. In addition, bondservants in his possession could also be sexually available to him. Naturally, not all men had the financial resources to so greatly indulge themselves.

Chinese literature displays a long history of interest in affection, marital bliss, unabashed sexuality, romance, amorous dalliances, homosexual alliances—in short, all of the aspects of behavior that are affiliated with sexuality in the West. Besides the previously mentioned Zhuang Zi passages, sexuality is exhibited in other works of literature such as the Tang dynasty Yingying zhuan ( Biography of Cui Yingying ), the Qing dynasty Fu sheng liu ji ( Six Chapters of a Floating Life ), the humorous and intentionally salacious Jin Ping Mei , and the multi-faceted and insightful Hong lou meng ( Dream of the Red Chamber , also called Story of the Stone ). Of the above, only the story of Yingying and her de facto husband Zhang fail to describe homosexual as well as heterosexual interactions. The novel entitled Rou bu tuan ( Prayer mat of flesh ) even describes cross-species organ transplants for the sake of enhanced sexual performance. Among Chinese literature are the Taoist classical texts. [3] This philosophical tradition of China has developed Taoist Sexual Practices which have three main goals: health, longevity, and spiritual development.

The desire for respectability and the belief that all aspects of human behavior might be brought under government control has until recently mandated to official Chinese spokesmen that they maintain the fiction of sexual fidelity in marriage, absence of any great frequency of premarital sexual intercourse, and total absence in China of the so-called "decadent capitalist phenomenon" of homosexuality. The result of the ideological demands preventing objective examination of sexual behavior in China has, until very recently, made it extremely difficult for the government to take effective action against sexually transmitted diseases, especially AIDS. At the same time, large migrations to the cities coupled with China's gender imbalance and significant amounts of unemployment have led to resurgence of prostitution in unregulated venues, a prominent accelerant of the propagation of STDs to many ordinary members of society.

In recent decades the power of the family over individuals has weakened, making it increasingly possible for young men and women to find their own sexual and/or marriage partners.

Japan

A kabuki actor moonlighting as a sex worker, toys with his client; enjoying the favors of the serving girl. Nishikawa Sukenobu, Shunga-style woodblock print, ink on paper; Kyoho era (1716-1735) Nishikawa-Sukenobu.jpg
A kabuki actor moonlighting as a sex worker, toys with his client; enjoying the favors of the serving girl. Nishikawa Sukenobu, Shunga-style woodblock print, ink on paper; Kyoho era (1716–1735)

In what is often called the world's first novel, the Genji Monogatari ( Tale of Genji ), which dates back to around the eighth century AD, eroticism is treated as a central part of the aesthetic life of the nobility. The sexual interactions of Prince Genji are described in great detail, in an objective tone of voice, and in a way that indicates that sexuality was as much a valued component of cultured life as music or any of the arts. While most of his erotic interactions involve women, there is one telling episode in which Genji travels a fairly long distance to visit one of the women with whom he occasionally consorts but finds her away from home. It being late, and intercourse already being on the menu of the day, Genji takes pleasure in the availability of the lady's younger brother who, he reports, is equally satisfactory as an erotic partner.

From that time on to at least as late as the Meiji Reformation, there is no indication that sexuality was treated in a pejorative way. In modern times homosexuality was driven out of sight until it reemerged in the wake of the sexual revolution with seemingly little if any need for a period of acceleration. Yukio Mishima, probably the best-known Japanese writer in the outside world, frequently wrote about homosexuality, and its relationship with Japanese culture new and old. Likewise, prostitution, pornography, the tradition of the Geisha, and countless types of fetish and sadomasochism have resurfaced after decades underground.

In Japan, sexuality was governed by the same social forces that make its culture considerably different from that of China, Korea, India, or Europe. In Japanese society, the primary method used to secure social control is the threat of ostracism. Japanese society is still very much a shame society.[ citation needed ] More attention is paid to what is polite or appropriate to show others than to which behaviors might make a person seem "corrupt" or "guilty", in the Christian sense of the words. The tendency of people in Japanese society to group in terms of "in groups" and "out groups" - residue of its long history as a caste society – is a source of great pressure on every facet of society, via pop culture (reflected in the tribal, often materialistic, and very complex nature of teenage subcultures) as well as more traditional standards (as in the high-pressure role of the salaryman). Sexual expression ranges from a requirement to a complete taboo, and many, especially teenagers, find themselves playing many otherwise strictly-separate roles during the week.

A frequent locus of misconceptions in regard to Japanese sexuality is the institution of the geisha. Rather than being a prostitute, a geisha was a woman trained in arts such as music and cultured conversation, and who was available for non-sexual interactions with her male clientele. These women differed from the wives that their patrons probably had at home because, except for the geisha, women were ordinarily not expected to be prepared for anything other than the fulfillment of household duties. This limitation imposed by the normal social role of the majority of women in traditional society produced a diminution in the pursuits that those women could enjoy, but also a limitation in the ways that a man could enjoy the company of his wife. The geisha fulfilled the non-sexual social roles that ordinary women were prevented from fulfilling, and for this service they were well paid. The geisha were not deprived of opportunities to express themselves sexually and in other erotic ways. A geisha might have a patron with whom she enjoyed sexual intimacy, but this sexual role was not part of her role or responsibility as a geisha.

As a superficial level, in traditional Japanese society women were expected to be highly subservient to men and especially to their husbands. So, in a socionormal description of their roles, they were little more than housekeepers and faithful sexual partners to their husbands. Their husbands, on the other hand, might consort sexually with whomever they chose outside of the family, and a major part of male social behavior involves after-work forays to places of entertainment in the company of male cohorts from the workplace—places that might easily offer possibilities of sexual satisfaction outside the family. In the postwar period this side of Japanese society has seen some liberalization in regard to the norms imposed on women as well as an expansion of the de facto powers of women in the family and in the community that existed unacknowledged in traditional society.

In the years since people first became aware of the AIDS epidemic, Japan has not suffered the high rates of disease and death that characterize, for example, some nations in Africa, some nations in Southeast Asia, etc. In 1992, the government of Japan justified its continued refusal to allow oral contraceptives to be distributed in Japan on the fear that it would lead to reduced condom use, and thus increase transmission of AIDS. [4] As of 2004, condoms accounted for 80% of birth control use in Japan, and this may explain Japan's comparably lower rates of AIDS. [5]

Classical antiquity

Greece

A man kisses his younger lover on a cup ca. 480BC Kiss Briseis Painter Louvre G278 full.jpg
A man kisses his younger lover on a cup ca. 480BC

In ancient Greece, the phallus, often in the form of a herma, was an object of worship as a symbol of fertility. This finds expression in Greek sculpture and other artworks. One ancient Greek male idea of female sexuality was that women envied penises of males. Wives were considered a commodity and instruments for bearing legitimate children. They had to compete sexually with eromenoi, hetaeras and slaves in their own homes.

Both Homosexuality and Bisexuality, in the form of ephebophilia (in some ways slavery), were social institutions in ancient Greece, and were integral to education, art, religion, and politics. Relationships between adults were not unknown but they were disfavored. Lesbian relations were also of a pederastic nature.

Ancient Greek men believed that refined prostitution was necessary for pleasure and different classes of prostitutes were available. Hetaera, educated and intelligent companions, were for intellectual as well as physical pleasure, Peripatetic prostitutes solicited business on the streets, whereas temple or consecrated prostitutes charged a higher price. In Corinth, a port city, on the Aegean Sea, the temple held a thousand consecrated prostitutes.

Rape – usually in the context of warfare – was common and was seen by men as a “right of domination”. Rape in the sense of "abduction" followed by consensual lovemaking was represented even in religion: Zeus was said to have ravished many women: Leda in the form of a swan, Danaë disguised as a golden rain, Alkmene disguised as her own husband. Zeus also raped a boy, Ganymede, a myth that paralleled Cretan custom.

Etruria

The ancient Etruscans had very different views on sexuality, when compared with the other European ancient peoples, most of whom had inherited the Indo-European traditions and views on the gender roles.

Greek writers, such as Theopompus and Plato named the Etruscan 'immoral' and from their descriptions we find out that the women commonly had sex with men who were not their husbands and that in their society, children were not labelled "illegitimate" just because they did not know who the father was. Theopompus also described orgiastic rituals, but it is not clear whether they were a common custom or only a minor ritual dedicated to a certain deity. [6]

Rome

Wall painting from Pompeii depicting the "woman riding" position, a favorite in Roman art: even in explicit sex scenes, the woman's breasts are often covered Sexual scene on pompeian mural 5.jpg
Wall painting from Pompeii depicting the "woman riding" position, a favorite in Roman art: even in explicit sex scenes, the woman's breasts are often covered

The citizen's duty to control his body was central to the concept of male sexuality in the Roman Republic. [7] "Virtue" (virtus , from vir, "man") was equated with "manliness." The equivalent virtue for female citizens of good social standing was pudicitia , a form of sexual integrity that displayed their attractiveness and self-control. [8] Female sexuality was encouraged within marriage. In Roman patriarchal society, a "real man" was supposed to govern both himself and others well, and should not submit to the use or pleasure of others. [9] Same-sex behaviors were not perceived as diminishing a Roman's masculinity, as long as he played the penetrative or dominating role. Acceptable male partners were social inferiors such as prostitutes, entertainers, and slaves. Sex with freeborn male minors was formally prohibited (see Lex Scantinia ). "Homosexual" and "heterosexual" thus did not form the primary dichotomy of Roman thinking about sexuality, and no Latin words for these concepts exist. [10]

Depictions of frank sexuality are abundant in Roman literature and art. The fascinum , a phallic charm, was a ubiquitous decoration. Sexual positions and scenarios are depicted in great variety among the wall paintings preserved at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Collections of poetry celebrated love affairs, and The Art of Love by the Augustan poet Ovid playfully instructed both men and women in how to attract and enjoy lovers. Elaborate theories of human sexuality based on Greek philosophy were developed by thinkers such as Lucretius and Seneca. Classical myths often deal with sexual themes such as gender identity, adultery, incest, and rape. [11]

Like other aspects of Roman life, sexuality was supported and regulated by traditional Roman religion, both the public cult of the state and private religious practices and magic. [12] Cicero held that the desire to procreate (libido) was "the seedbed of the republic," as it was the cause for the first form of social institution, marriage, which in turn created the family, regarded by the Romans as the building block of civilization. [13] Roman law penalized sex crimes (stuprum), particularly rape, as well as adultery. A Roman husband, however, committed the crime of adultery only when his sexual partner was a married woman.

Prostitution was legal, public, and widespread. Entertainers of any gender were assumed to be sexually available (see infamia ), and gladiators were sexually glamorous. Slaves lacked legal personhood, and were vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

The dissolution of Republican ideals of physical integrity in relation to political liberty contributes to and is reflected by the sexual license and decadence associated with the Roman Empire. [14] Anxieties about the loss of liberty and the subordination of the citizen to the emperor were expressed by a perceived increase in passive homosexual behavior among free men. [15] Sexual conquest was a frequent metaphor for Roman imperialism. [16]

French Polynesia

The Islands have been noted for their sexual culture. Many sexual activities seen as taboo in western cultures were viewed as appropriate by the native culture. Contact with Western societies has changed many of these customs, so research into their pre-Western social history has to be done by reading antique writings. [17] [18]

Children slept in the same room as their parents and were able to witness their parents while they had sex. Intercourse simulation became real penetration as soon as boys were physically able. Adults found simulation of sex by children to be funny. As children approached 11 attitudes shifted toward girls.

Premarital sex was not encouraged but was allowed in general, restrictions on adolescent sexuality were incest, exogamy regulations, and firstborn daughters of high-ranking lineage. After their firstborn child, high-ranking women were permitted extramarital affairs.

The next day, as soon as it was light, we were surrounded by a still greater multitude of these people. There were now a hundred females at least; and they practised all the arts of lewd expression and gesture, to gain admission on board. It was with difficulty I could get my crew to obey the orders I had given on this subject. Amongst these females were some not more than ten years of age. But youth, it seems, is here no test of innocence; these infants, as I may call them, rivalled their mothers in the wantonness of their motions and the arts of allurement.

Yuri Lisyansky in his memoirs [19]

Adam Johann von Krusenstern in his book [20] about the same expedition as Yuri's, reports that a father brought a 10-12-year-old girl on his ship, and she had sex with the crew. According to the book [21] of Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu and Étienne Marchand, 8-year-old girls had sex and performed other sexual acts in public.

Twentieth century: sexual revolution

The second sexual revolution was a substantial change in sexual morality and sexual behaviour throughout the West in the 1960s and early 1970s. One factor in the change of values pertaining to sexual activities was the invention of new, efficient technologies for the personal control of ability to enter pregnancy. Prime among them, at that time, was the first birth control pill. [22] Liberalized laws on abortion in many countries likewise made it possible to safely and legally break off an unwanted pregnancy without having to invoke a birth posing grave danger to the health of the mother. [23]

Same-sex relations

Shah Abbas I embracing his wine boy. Painting by Muhammad Qasim, 1627. The poem reads "May life grant all that you desire from three lips, those of your lover, the river, and the cup." Louvre, Paris Shah Abbas and Wine Boy.jpg
Shah Abbas I embracing his wine boy. Painting by Muhammad Qasim, 1627. The poem reads “May life grant all that you desire from three lips, those of your lover, the river, and the cup.” Louvre, Paris

Societal attitudes towards same-sex relationships have varied over time and place, from requiring all males to engage in same-sex relationships, to casual integration, through acceptance, to seeing the practice as a minor sin, repressing it through law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, and to proscribing it under penalty of death.

In a detailed compilation of historical and ethnographic materials of pre-industrial cultures, "strong disapproval of homosexuality was reported for 41% of 42 cultures; it was accepted or ignored by 21%, and 12% reported no such concept. Of 70 ethnographies, 59% reported homosexuality absent or rare in frequency and 41% reported it present or not uncommon." [24]

In cultures influenced by Abrahamic religions, the law and the church established sodomy as a transgression against divine law or a crime against nature. The condemnation of anal sex between males, however, predates Christian belief. It was frequent in ancient Greece; "unnatural" can be traced back to Plato. [25]

Many historical figures, including Socrates, Lord Byron, Edward II, and Hadrian, [26] have had terms such as gay or bisexual applied to them; some scholars, such as Michel Foucault, have regarded this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a contemporary construction of sexuality foreign to their times, [27] though others challenge this. [28] [29] [30]

A common thread of constructionist argument is that no one in antiquity or the Middle Ages experienced homosexuality as an exclusive, permanent, or defining mode of sexuality. John Boswell has countered this argument by citing ancient Greek writings by Plato, [31] which describe individuals exhibiting exclusive homosexuality.

Religion and sex

Judaism

In Jewish law, sex is not considered intrinsically sinful or shameful when conducted in marriage, nor is it a necessary evil for the purpose of procreation. Sex is considered a private and holy act between a husband and wife. Certain deviant sexual practices, enumerated below, were considered gravely immoral "abominations" sometimes punishable by death. The residue of sex was considered ritually unclean outside the body, and required ablution. [32]

Recently, some scholars have questioned whether the Old Testament banned all forms of homosexuality, raising issues of translation and references to ancient cultural practices. [33] However, rabbinic Judaism had unambiguously condemned homosexuality.

Mosaic law

  • And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the sky and over all the beasts that tread upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28)

The Torah, while being quite frank in its description of various sexual acts, forbids certain relationships. Namely, adultery, all forms of incest, male homosexuality, bestiality, and introduced the idea that one should not have sex during the wife's period:

  • You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor's wife, to become defiled by her. (Lev. 18:20)
  • Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Lev. 18:22)
  • And with no animal shall you cohabit, to become defiled by it. And a woman shall not stand in front of an animal to cohabit with it; this is depravity. (Lev. 18:23)
  • And to a woman during the uncleanness of her separation, you shall not come near to uncover her nakedness. (Lev. 18:19)

The above passages may, however, be open to modern interpretation. The original meanings of these verses did not change, but their interpretation may have changed after they were translated into English and other languages. This view however, has been counteracted by conservatives.

Christianity

Christianity re-emphasised the Jewish attitudes on sexuality with two new concepts. First, there was the re-iterated idea that marriage was absolutely exclusive and indissoluble, placing further guidance on divorce and expanding on the reasons and principles behind those laws. Second, in Old Testament times marriage was almost universal, in continuity with the total matrimony in Eden, but in the New Testament, the trajectory is extended forward to the goal of no marriage in the new heavens and new earth (see Matthew 22). Practically therefore the new age after Jesus now has marriage as only normative, but celibacy is a valuable gift in and of itself.[ citation needed ]

New Testament

The New Testament is quite clear on principles regarding sexual relations. In one of his letters to the Corinthian church, Paul directly answers some questions they had asked about this.

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: 'It is well for a man not to touch a woman.' 2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 This I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind." (1 Corinthians 7:1-9, NRSV)

Paul is speaking into a situation where the church was falling into lust, and some members even using prostitutes (6:16), while others advocated a 'higher spirituality' that wrongly denied pleasure from earthly things, including abstinence from sex (7:1). Paul writes to them to explain the right context for sex in marriage, and the importance of couples keeping having sex and giving each other pleasure, but encourages them to pursue celibacy (as he later explains [7:32-35], so that they may devote more time and energy to others) wherever God has granted that gift (7:7).

Many other passages refer to sex or marriage.

Later Christian thought

St. Augustine opined that before Adam's fall, there was no lust in the sexual act, but that it was entirely subordinate to human reason. Later theologians similarly concluded that the lust involved in sexuality was a result of original sin, but nearly all agreed that this was only a venial sin if conducted within marriage without inordinate lust.

In Reformed schools, as represented for example by the Westminster Confession, three purposes of marriage are drawn out: for mutual encouragement, support, and pleasure; for having children; and to prevent lustful sin.

Today, many Christians have adopted the view that there is no sin whatsoever in the uninhibited enjoyment of marital relations. Some Christians will tend to limit the circumstances and degree to which sexual pleasure is morally licit, for example to build self-control to prevent sex becoming addictive, or as a fast.

Hinduism

In India, Hinduism accepted an open attitude towards sex as an art, science and spiritual practice. The most famous pieces of Indian literature on sex are Kamasutra (Aphorisms on Love) and Kamashastra (from Kama = pleasure, shastra = specialised knowledge or technique). This collection of explicit sexual writings, both spiritual and practical, covers most aspects of human courtship and sexual intercourse. It was put together in this form by the sage Vatsyayana from a 150 chapter manuscript that had itself been distilled from 300 chapters that had in turn come from a compilation of some 100,000 chapters of text. The Kamasutra is thought to have been written in its final form sometime between the third and fifth century AD.

Also notable are the sculptures carved on temples in India, particularly the Khajuraho temple. The frank depiction of uninhibited sex hints towards a liberated society and times where people believed in dealing openly with all aspects of life. On the other hand, a group of thinkers believe that depiction of sexually implicit carvings outside the temples indicate that one should enter the temples leaving desires (kama).

Apart from Vatsyayana's Kamashastra, which is no doubt the most famous of all such writings, there exist a number of other books, for example:

The Secrets of Love was written by a poet named Kukkoka. He is believed to have written this treatise on his work to please one Venudutta, considered to be a king. This work was translated into Hindi years ago and the author's name became Koka in short and the book he wrote was called Koka Shastra . The same name crept into all the translations into other languages in India. Koka Shastra literally means doctrines of Koka, which is identical with the Kama Shastra, or doctrines of love, and the names Koka Shastra and Kama Shastra are used indiscriminately.

Islam

In Islam sexual intercourse is allowed only after marriage and not considered intrinsically sinful or shameful when conducted in marriage. In fact it is considered a private and holy act between a husband and wife. Certain deviant sexual practices are considered gravely immoral "abominations" sometimes punishable by death. The full body ablution is required before performing prayers subsequent to coitus.

If a Muslim engaged in sexual intercourse with any other than the spouse i.e. if outside of marriage then this would be considered sinful, and a crime, and such extra-marital intercourse, referred to as zina in the Qur'an is punishable in few countries that fully practice Islamic law (Sharia) by corporal punishment of 100 lashes if the person is unmarried (fornication) and by death if the person is married to another (adultery). This only if the actual copulation is witnessed by four people who will attest to such, and as per Qur'an text if the accuser can not bring 4 witnesses the punishment is 80 lashes for making unsubstantiated accusations. Generally this means the punishments are not carried out unless the culprits themselves confess to the sin on four separate occasions and therefore are liable to be punished for the crime.

Technology and sex

In the mid 20th century advances in medical science and modern understanding of the menstrual cycle led to observational, surgical, chemical and laboratory techniques to allow diagnosis and the treatment of many forms of infertility.

Zoophilia

Zoophilia or bestiality—sexual activity between humans and animals—probably dates back to prehistory. Depictions of humans and animals in a sexual context appear infrequently in rock art in Europe beginning around the onset of the Neolithic and the domestication of animals. [34] Bestiality remained a common theme in mythology and folklore through the classical period and into the Middle Ages (e.g. Leda and the Swan ) [35] and several ancient authors purported to document it as a regular, accepted practice – albeit usually in "other" cultures.

Explicit legal prohibition of human sexual contact with animals is a legacy of the Abrahamic religions: [35] the Hebrew Bible imposes the death penalty on both the person and animal involved in an act of bestiality. [36] There are several examples known from medieval Europe of people and animals executed for committing bestiality. With the Age of Enlightenment, bestiality was subsumed with other sexual "crimes against nature" into civil sodomy laws, usually remaining a capital crime.

Bestiality remains illegal in most countries. Though religious and "crime against nature" arguments may still be used to justify this, today the central issue is the ability of non-human animals to give consent: it is argued that sex with animals is inherently abusive. [37] In common with many paraphilias, the internet has allowed the formation of a zoophile community that has begun to lobby for zoophilia to be considered an alternative sexuality and for the legalisation of bestiality. [38]

Prostitution

Prostitution is the sale of sexual services, such as oral sex or sexual intercourse. Prostitution has been described as the "world's oldest profession". Gonorrhoeae is recorded at least up to 700 years ago and associated with a district in Paris formerly known as "Le Clapiers". This is where the prostitutes were to be found at that time. [32]

In some cultures, prostitution has been an element of religious practices. Religious prostitution is well documented in the ancient cultures of the near East, such as Sumer, Babylon, ancient Greece and Israel, where prostitutes appear in the Bible. In Greece the hetaerae were often women of high social class, whereas in Rome the meretrices were of lower social order. The Devadasi, prostitutes of Hindu temples in south India, were made illegal by the Indian government in 1988.

Sexually transmitted diseases

For much of human history, sexually transmitted diseases have been a scourge of humanity. They raged unchecked through society until the discovery of antibiotics.[ citation needed ] The development of inexpensive condoms and education about sexually transmitted diseases has helped reduce risks. For a period of about thirty years (in the second half of the twentieth century) their threat subsided.[ citation needed ] However, due to the free movement of people and uncontrolled distribution of antibiotics, organisms resistant to antibiotics quickly spread and at the present time pose a threat to people who have more than one sex partner.

AIDS

AIDS has profoundly changed modern sexuality. It was first noticed (although some historians think that the first case was in 1959)[ citation needed ] spreading among gay men and intravenous drug users in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, the majority of victims are heterosexual women, men, and children in developing countries. In most developing countries, fear of epidemic has drastically changed many aspects of twentieth century human sexuality. Fear of contracting AIDS has driven a revolution in sex education, which now centers far more the use of protection and abstinence, and spends much more time discussing sexually transmitted diseases.

Further effects of this disease run deep, radically impacting the expected average lifespan as reported by the BBC News: "[The expected average lifespan] is falling in many African countries – a girl born today in Sierra Leone could expect only to live to 36, in contrast to Japan, where today's newborn girl might reach 85 on average." [39]

See also

Related Research Articles

Anal sex Insertion of the penis into the anus, or other sexual activity involving the anus

Anal sex or anal intercourse is generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person's anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure. Other forms of anal sex include fingering, the use of sex toys for anal penetration, oral sex performed on the anus (anilingus), and pegging. Although anal sex most commonly means penile–anal penetration, sources sometimes use anal intercourse to exclusively denote penile–anal penetration, and anal sex to denote any form of anal sexual activity, especially between pairings as opposed to anal masturbation.

Human sexual activity Human behaviour that is sexually motivated

Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts, ranging from activities done alone to acts with another person in varying patterns of frequency, for a wide variety of reasons. Sexual activity usually results in sexual arousal and physiological changes in the aroused person, some of which are pronounced while others are more subtle. Sexual activity may also include conduct and activities which are intended to arouse the sexual interest of another or enhance the sex life of another, such as strategies to find or attract partners, or personal interactions between individuals. Sexual activity may follow sexual arousal.

Sacred prostitution Sexual rite performed in the context of religious worship

Sacred prostitution, temple prostitution, cult prostitution, and religious prostitution are general terms for a rite consisting of paid intercourse performed in the context of religious worship, possibly as a form of fertility rite or divine marriage. Scholars prefer the terms "sacred sex" or "sacred sexual rites" in cases where payment for services is not involved.

Societal attitudes towards same-sex relationships have varied over time and place, from requiring all males to engage in same-sex relationships, to casual integration, through acceptance, to seeing the practice as a minor sin, repressing it through law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, and to proscribing it under penalty of death. In a 1976 study, Gwen Broude and Sarah Greene compared attitudes towards and frequency of homosexuality in the ethnographic studies available in the Standard cross-cultural sample. They found that out of 42 communities: homosexuality was accepted or ignored in 9; 5 communities had no concept of homosexuality; 11 considered it undesirable but did not set punishments; and 17 strongly disapproved and punished. Of 70 communities, homosexuality was reported to be absent or rare in frequency in 41, and present or not uncommon in 29.

Sex-positive feminism is a movement that began in the early 1980s centering on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women's freedom. Some feminists became involved in the sex-positive feminist movement in response to efforts by anti-pornography feminists to put pornography at the center of a feminist explanation of women's oppression.

Prostitution in Japan Description and history of sex work in Japan

Prostitution in Japan has existed throughout the country's history. While the Anti-Prostitution Law of 1956 states that "No person may either do prostitution or become the customer of it", loopholes, liberal interpretations and loose enforcement of the law have allowed the sex industry to prosper and earn an estimated 2.3 trillion yen per year.

Male prostitution Act or practice of men providing sexual services in return for payment

Male prostitution is the act or practice of men providing sexual services in return for payment. It is a form of sex work. Although clients can be any gender, the vast majority are male. Compared to female prostitutes, male prostitutes have been far less studied by researchers.

Sexuality in ancient Rome Attitudes and behaviors towards sex in ancient Rome

Sexual attitudes and behaviors in ancient Rome are indicated by art, literature and inscriptions, and to a lesser extent by archaeological remains such as erotic artifacts and architecture. It has sometimes been assumed that "unlimited sexual license" was characteristic of ancient Rome. Verstraete and Provençal opine that this perspective was simply a Christian interpretation: "The sexuality of the Romans has never had good press in the West ever since the rise of Christianity. In the popular imagination and culture, it is synonymous with sexual license and abuse."

Homosexuality in ancient Rome

Homosexuality in ancient Rome often differs markedly from the contemporary West. Latin lacks words that would precisely translate "homosexual" and "heterosexual". The primary dichotomy of ancient Roman sexuality was active/dominant/masculine and passive/submissive/feminine. Roman society was patriarchal, and the freeborn male citizen possessed political liberty (libertas) and the right to rule both himself and his household (familia). "Virtue" (virtus) was seen as an active quality through which a man (vir) defined himself. The conquest mentality and "cult of virility" shaped same-sex relations. Roman men were free to enjoy sex with other males without a perceived loss of masculinity or social status, as long as they took the dominant or penetrative role. Acceptable male partners were slaves and former slaves, prostitutes, and entertainers, whose lifestyle placed them in the nebulous social realm of infamia, excluded from the normal protections accorded a citizen even if they were technically free. Although Roman men in general seem to have preferred youths between the ages of 12 and 20 as sexual partners, freeborn male minors were off limits at certain periods in Rome, though professional prostitutes and entertainers might remain sexually available well into adulthood.

The concept of rape, both as an abduction and in the sexual sense, makes its appearance in early religious texts.

Feminist sexology is an offshoot of traditional studies of sexology that focuses on the intersectionality of sex and gender in relation to the sexual lives of women. Sexology has a basis in psychoanalysis, specifically Freudian theory, which played a big role in early sexology. This reactionary field of feminist sexology seeks to be inclusive of experiences of sexuality and break down the problematic ideas that have been expressed by sexology in the past. Feminist sexology shares many principles with the overarching field of sexology; in particular, it does not try to prescribe a certain path or "normality" for women's sexuality, but only observe and note the different and varied ways in which women express their sexuality. It is a young field, but one that is growing rapidly.

Catholic theology of sexuality

Catholic theology of sexuality, like Catholic theology in general, is drawn from natural law, canonical scripture, divine revelation, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Sexual morality evaluates sexual behavior according to standards laid out by Catholic moral theology, and often provides general principles by which Catholics are able to evaluate whether specific actions meet these standards.

Human sexuality is the way people experience and express themselves sexually. This involves biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviors. Because it is a broad term, which has varied with historical contexts over time, it lacks a precise definition. The biological and physical aspects of sexuality largely concern the human reproductive functions, including the human sexual response cycle.

Sodomy

Sodomy or buggery is generally anal or oral sex between people or sexual activity between a person and a non-human animal (bestiality), but it may also mean any non-procreative sexual activity. Originally, the term sodomy, which is derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis, was commonly restricted to anal sex. Sodomy laws in many countries criminalized the behavior. In the Western world, many of these laws have been overturned or are not routinely enforced.

Sex and gender roles in the Catholic Church

Sex and gender roles in the Roman Catholic Church have been the subject of both intrigue and controversy throughout the Church's history. The cultural influence of the Catholic Church has been vast, particularly upon Western society. Christian concepts, introduced into evangelized societies worldwide by the Church, had a significant impact on established cultural views of sex and gender roles. Human sacrifice, slavery, infanticide and polygamy practiced by cultures such as those of the Roman Empire, Europe, Latin America and parts of Africa came to an end through Church evangelization efforts. Historians note that Catholic missionaries, popes and religious were among the leaders in campaigns against slavery, an institution that has existed in almost every culture and often included sexual slavery of women. Christianity affected the status of women in evangelized cultures like the Roman Empire by condemning infanticide, divorce, incest, polygamy and marital infidelity of both men and women. Some critics say the Church and teachings by St. Paul, the Church Fathers, and scholastic theologians perpetuated a notion that female inferiority was divinely ordained, while current Church teaching considers women and men to be equal, different, and complementary.

History of prostitution Aspect of history

Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern culture. Prostitution has been described as "the world's oldest profession," and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.

Sexuality in the Philippines encompasses sexual behavior, sexual practices, and sexual activities exhibited by men and women of the Philippines past and the present. It covers courtship strategies for attracting partners for physical and emotional intimacy, sexual contact, sexual reproduction, building a family, and other forms of individual interactions or interpersonal relationships, as set and dictated by their culture and tradition, religion, beliefs, values and moral convictions, psychology, foreign influences, and other related factors.

Sexuality in Japan

Sexuality in Japan developed separately from that of mainland Asia, as Japan did not adopt the Confucian view of marriage, in which chastity is highly valued. Monogamy in marriage is often thought to be less important in Japan, and sometimes married men may seek pleasure from courtesans. Prostitution in Japan has a long history, and became especially popular during the Japanese economic miracle, as evening entertainments were tax-deductible. Decreased sex drive in the 21st century has been blamed for the low Japanese birth rate and declining growth of the Japanese population.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to human sexuality:

In Medieval Europe, attitudes toward homosexuality varied by era and region. Generally, by at least the twelfth century, homosexuality was considered sodomy and was punishable by death. Despite persecution, records of homosexual relationships during the Medieval period did exist. This persecution reached its height during the Medieval Inquisitions, when the sects of Cathars and Waldensians were accused of fornication and sodomy, alongside accusations of satanism. In 1307, accusations of sodomy and homosexuality were major charges leveled during the Trial of the Knights Templar. These allegations though, were highly politicized without any real evidence.

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Further reading

Sexual orientation