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Week 1 Notes

by: Cara Cahalan

Week 1 Notes PSYC/CYAF 471

Cara Cahalan
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Notes from Lectures 1 and 2 (Historical Perspectives Part I and II)
Human Sexuality
Rosemary Esseks
Class Notes




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Cara Cahalan on Tuesday September 6, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYC/CYAF 471 at University of Nebraska Lincoln taught by Rosemary Esseks in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see Human Sexuality in Psychology at University of Nebraska Lincoln.


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Date Created: 09/06/16
Historical Perspectives I  Why is human sexuality so controversial  Our culture is very conflicted about sex— o The sex drive involves interactions with other people. o Stakes are high for both individuals and communities due to possible consequences (e.g., reproduction). o Motivations for sexual behavior vary—e.g., recreation, procreation, relationship enhancement, self-esteem, power.  What are the advantages to human sexuality being so complex?  The complexity of human sexual interactions reinforces the pair bond, which… o Enhances the survival of children and thus the species. o Provides mental and physical health benefits to people who are part of a couple (less depression, longer lives)  Class will take a biopsychosocial approach  Sees sexual behavior as arising from a combination of factors… o Bio— genetics, anatomy, hormones o Psycho—e.g., previous experiences, psychopathology o Social—overall community context  Historical Context  Pre-human history—animal sexuality. o Masturbation, sexual interactions with same gender, and sexual signaling (flirting) common in non-human animals. o Sex in more complex animals more tied to environmental factors (e.g., learning). o Use sexual behavior for non-sexual purposes—e.g., to communicate aggression or submission  Prehistory—3 million years ago humans began walking upright, thus genitalia migrated to face forward o Appearance of male sex organs emphasized. o Face-to-face intercourse— more intimate, more stimulating to females o Hunter-gathers—worshiped mother goddesses as believed women were responsible for fertility o Agrarian societies—discovered role of male animals in reproduction, leading to phallic worship. o Incest taboo—present in some form in all societies  Egyptians— o Recognized and treated STIs, practiced circumcision, used sponges for contraception. o Women allowed to divorce husbands but abortions prohibited. o First culture to eliminate temple prostitution—sex as a part of religious observance.  Greeks— o Gods engaged in the full range of sexual behavior. o Males and females were assumed to be bisexual. o Practiced pederasty—mentoring, sexual relationship between a young man and dominant older man. o Women had no legal rights, received no formal education, and were kept at home.  Hebrews— o Belief in one God provided one standard for behavior, codified in an extensive set of laws. o Emphasis on procreation, meaning non-procreative sexual behavior devalued/prohibited. o Women considered husband’s property, and could be divorced by husband without reason. o Marital sex celebrated.  Romans—had few restrictions on sexual behavior. o Upper classes were notorious for sexual excesses o Many words for sexual behaviors are Latin (e.g., fellatio, fornication). o Same-sex behaviors and relationships tolerated. o Women were more visible socially but were still considered property.  China— o Taoism values heterosexual sex as a means of combining yin (feminine, passive) and yang (masculine, assertive). o Because success in sexual activity achieved harmony, manuals existed to increase proficiency. o Yin valued but seen as inferior to yang.  India— o Hinduism—focuses on cycle of life and rebirth, so sex is valued o Kama Sutra—detailed manual for sexual activity, also including information on improving relationships and family functioning. o Females valued less than males.  Nonwestern Cultures- o Islam— males/females seen as spiritually equal.  Prophet Muhammad (570-632CE) women’s rights.  Muhammad’s son-in-law saw women as more sexual than men (saw women as a threat).  Both sexes encouraged to dress modestly in public.  Sex and love celebrated in the arts—celibacy not encouraged.  Sex outside of marriage could be punished by death. 8/25 Introduction and History: Part 2 Historical Context:  Western Cultures  Christianity—  Jesus of Nazareth spoke little about sex; argued against sexual double-standard.  Stricter rules about sexuality may have been in part to differentiate the Christian community from the larger Roman world.  Paul of Tarsus (died 66 CE)—  Emphasized rejection of “desires of the flesh.”  Taught chastity was the highest goal, with marriage a way of avoiding sin for those who couldn’t abstain.  Augustine of Hippo (353-430)—  Associated sexual desire with the original sin of Adam and Eve.  Argued sex was permissible only for purposes of procreation.  Saw female submission as divinely ordained, thus only male-superior sexual position was acceptable.  Thomas Aquinas—  Further codified restrictions on sexual behavior. Writings became the basis for persecution of same-gender sexual behavior and suspected witches.  Virgin/whore dichotomy—virginity valued, sexual women seen as immoral/threatening. th  By the time of the Inquisition (13 century) sexual acts not tied to procreation, including sex for enjoyment, were discouraged or forbidden.  Europe in the Middle Ages—to what extent did people choose celibacy/have only heterosexual married sex?  Religious communities of celibate individuals flourished.  Many children married before puberty (no chance for premarital sex).  Illegitimacy was not nethssarily stigmatized.  Protestant Reformation (16 century)—Luther and Calvin saw marital sex as valuable also to strengthen marriages and manage stress.  Colonial America—Puritans had strict standards of behavior but encouraged marital sex. th  The Enlightenment (18 century)—  Sex seen as a natural drive.  Interest in rights of women increased.  Post-revolutionary America—secularization of society lead to a relaxation of sexual prohibitions.  Antimiscegenation laws—first passed in 1670, outlawed sexual contact and marriage between whites and nonwhites.  Based on white supremacy —race mixing seen as producing inferior people.  Passed by 30 states, including Nebraska.  Richard and Mildred Loving.  Prosecuted for violating the VA law.  VA law overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967, rendering unconstitutional all remaining similar laws.  Victorian Era—adherence to strict codes of behavior was a status symbol.  Abstinence encouraged as birth control/sign of self-control.  Angel in the house—upper class women both celebrated and marginalized.  Graham and Kellogg—encouraged consumption of bland food to reduce masturbation.  Same-gender sexual behavior criminalized.  Prostitution spiked  Arguably, elements remain—e.g., women should not be interested in sex.  Controversy in America  Comstock Laws—named for Anthony Comstock, former  Passed in 1873 to prevent and prosecute distribution of material considered “obscene” through the mail, including medical texts and information on birth control and STIs.  Birth control movement  Margaret Sanger—spoke out against the Comstock Laws, arguing contraception improved quality of life, reduced poverty, and prevented abortions.  By the early 20 century, 74% of population reported using some type of contraception.  During the Great Depression, acceptance of birth control increased.


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