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Sexuality – not just sex

What is sex … really? 

Sexuality is like an inner network of feelings unique to each one of us based on our experiences and our personality. But what do we really mean with sexuality? Is it just physical contact and intimacy – or do our feelings and fantasies count? And is there anything that is normal or abnormal?

 

The view on sexuality changes over time, as well as the description of it. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also changed its definition over the years. One of the most famous is from 1986 (freely translated): “Sexuality is an integral part of the personality of every human being; man, woman and child. It is a basic need and an aspect of being human, which can not be separated from our other life aspects. Sexuality is not the same as intercourse; It’s not about whether we can get orgasm or not, nor is it our total erotic life. These can be a part of our sexuality, or not. Sexuality is so much more: it is in the energy that motivates us to seek love, contact, warmth and intimacy. It is expressed by how we feel, touch, affect and get touched by others. It’s about being sensual as well as sexual. Sexuality affects thoughts, feelings, actions and interactions, and thereby our mental and physical health.”

 

The idea that sexuality has many dimensions may be useful at times in different phases of life; for example when time is not enough for sex because of the life span of work and young children, or in illness and old age when the energy and sex drive decreases. Contact and intimacy becomes extra important instead of feeling the pressure to perform sexually through intercourse.

 

The most recent definition from 2006 gives a broad and equal perspective on sexuality and means that it can not be decoupled from any aspect of being a human being in a society with its culture and values (freely translated): “A central aspect of the life of being human consists of gender, gender identity and gender roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, lust, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is perceived and expressed by thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, exercises, roles and relationships. Whilst sexuality can contain all these dimensions, not everyone is always perceived or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interplay between biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors “

 

Whilst sexuality is personal it is our society and culture that creates space for it – or limits it. What was previously seen as different and perhaps illegal, is now part of what we see as “normal” sexuality.

 

Then the question arises as to what is normal. My answer is that as long as it’s not illegal, causes suffering, harm, includes children or others who can not consent or disturb your social life – then it’s normal. Then it’s all right as long as you yourself and whoever you are with thinks so. It may be easier if the terms common / unusual sexual behavior are used instead of normal / abnormal.

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