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The conscious and subconscious components of sexuality

Human sexuality has biological, emotional and intellectual components.

The biological aspects are innate (we are born that way) and beyond our conscious control. Males of all species have a direct instinct to mate that females do not have. Females need to be persuaded to accept intercourse.

In the film ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993) when a woman shies away, Liam Neeson reassures her “It’s not that kind of kiss”. A sexual kiss conveys a man’s urgent drive to have intercourse and he looks for a woman to communicate her willingness to cooperate. In a sexual relationship, intercourse defines the minimum sexual activity that a woman is expected to be amenable to. [i]

For both sexes there is a huge range in responsiveness (frequency with which we orgasm) that defines ‘normal’ but on average men are up to 6 times more responsive than women. But also the need to be sexually active (to the point of orgasm) plus having the regular opportunity to engage in penetrative sex with a lover is much more emotionally significant to men.

The emotional aspects of our sexuality are determined by our personality. Some people are less inhibited about engaging in genital activity outside a relationship. Others are looking for emotional reassurance to varying degrees. Women who are sexually provocative or who are emotionally needy (attention-seeking) may be perceived to be ‘sexual’ to the extent that they facilitate sexual activity even if they themselves never have an orgasm.

Regardless of gender, some people prefer to have sex with someone they love. Others are motivated more by lust. Men’s sex drive focuses them on obtaining their own pleasure. Whereas women are more likely to need emotional context to ‘enjoy’ lovemaking. Some women may interpret their own emotional neediness (their desire to be valued) as a ‘sex drive’.

The intellectual aspects of our sexuality depend on our imagination. Some people define sex purely in terms of interaction with a lover. They may consider any kind of solitary activity or activity that is not directly required for reproduction to be a ‘perversion’. Others find pleasure in these non-reproductive aspects of their sexuality. They enjoy fantasy, erotic turn-ons and stimulating themselves to orgasm quite separately from a relationship.

Most people view sex as a basic biological or emotional experience. Relatively few people positively seek out abstract eroticism. This explains why so few people are interested in discussing sexual pleasuring: not just what they might enjoy themselves but also what they are willing to offer a lover.

[i] The gifts that are bestowed by males of all social levels upon girls with whom they keep company many be cloaked with fine sentiments, but they are, to a considerable degree, payment for the intercourse that is expected. (p595 Kinsey 1948)

Excerpt from Jane’s book Sexuality & Sexual Techniques (2015)

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