History of Human Sexuality Term Paper

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History Of Human Sexuality

Sexuality has had a significant role in the flow of human history. It has been used as a means of control; form of art or in the form of science played a role in influencing the lives of people right through human history. Sexuality has been altered by the behavior and beliefs of people. Sexuality has also changed the way people behave and their beliefs. From the dawn of creation, the customs of disparate people starting with the most primitive to the modern civilized society has always looked upon sexuality as the guiding light with regard to their relation with the surroundings and the supernatural being. Sexuality has been used down history as a means of demonstrating a statement of right too. An example of this can be seen in what the women known as flappers did in the 1920's in America. (History of Sexuality)

After the end of World War two with the Allied powers securing victory and women gaining the right to exercise their choice in elections, women in America began to stage a cultural revolution. They made fashion the core of their challenge to the conventional norms of conduct as was acceptable in those days. Customs that may be looked upon as banal today have had a significant role in the history of sexuality and can still be seen in our lives. A look at homosexuality tells us that it is a sexual attraction between persons of the same sex. The term Lesbianism is used to define the affective sexual relationship that happens between women and another name is Saphism, which is derived from the name of the Greek poet Safo. (History of Sexuality)

History and sexuality are inter-related down the times and to the extent that confuses issues, yet there are better and real reasons for this stress on sexuality. The written documentation of history tends to push sexuality into obscurity. When we look at why our ancestors clothed themselves the belief is that they did so keeping in mind protection from the elements of weather and with a great level of concern for their genitals. Genitals even though they were thus hardly covered were not thought of as obscene. In real sense the written records make it very convenient to forget the Phallic Cult-Object. One of the oldest forms of religious worship may have been the worship of the Phallic Cult-Object. In many of the ancient cultures irrespective of where they were located sex was very often quite a focal point in activities. Epic narratives talk about warriors turned heroes being the beholden of prostitutes. (A Rough Guide on History and Human Sexuality)

A look at the decorations and paintings on the ceramics down ages show regular moments of activity of the people with suggestion of sex in them. Men and mythological creatures were also depicted mingled in a fantasy of orgies. A look at the clothing worn in ancient Egypt has it that Egyptians used quite loose see-through garments to feel comfortable in the extreme heat. Again the Egyptian women are seen as one of the earliest to use to cosmetics, which was later taken up by many of the other civilizations. These trends in aesthetics spread to all parts of the Mediterranean region and were taken up quite popularly by the upper levels of Roman society. The Greeks looked upon nudity with a lot of respect and even bisexuality was tolerated in the ancient Greek societies. Looking at the Romans where on the whole there were strong views on the exposure of the human body and on prostitution. (A Rough Guide on History and Human Sexuality)

Still prostitution became a regular institution in human history and many attractive women from various walks of life were attracted to it. The Romans also had the Saturnalia with orgiastic activity, which sometimes became so extremely violent and luscious that it almost came to be banned. This took place just as Christianity started to establish itself. Christianity did incorporate many of the rites and ceremonies taken from the Roman religious services. There were theoretical elements in this that concerned the subjection of women and the Church did contribute to it in a very large way. This was owing to the traditional stance of the Church against sexuality. Christian teachings do not show any justification for sexuality except for the reproduction of the species, whereby they multiply and fill the earth. Though the Church has always taken a hostile stand on sexuality there are other societies that have done much more to seclude and oppress women. Virginity in has a big role to play in human sexuality. (A Rough Guide on History and Human Sexuality)

There is a wrong view taken by some that virginity had little significance before the middle ages. Many believe that sexuality began to gain importance from the fourth century to the fifteenth century. It is during this period that members of the nobility started to realize the economic value of trading. In turn merchants would pay sums of money to ensure the integrity of the commodities purchased. In this process virginity gained am impetus, as it became a symbol of status among the different social levels. Studies in archeology and history of this period also give evidence of the amount of attention that was given to virginity. Religions have also played a part in the formation of human sexuality. This is reflected in the concept of sin attached to sexuality for many ages and the revolt against it that sees so much permissiveness in sexuality now.

A very large host of people would have been affected by the changes considered till now. Many concerns have been seen on the issues of homosexuality and masturbation to abortion and contraceptives in family planning have been seen and already are and will be areas of controversy. Sexuality needs to be looked more in present circumstances than in the role it has played in antiquity. In any case the way people think and act at a society level has played an important role in the establishment of the code of conduct for human sexuality. The sensorial and climatic factors have also been factored in. Thus human sexuality appears to be a consequence of several factors that include culture, religion and financial dominance. (A Rough Guide on History and Human Sexuality)

The Middle Ages has been always regarded as a setting for romantic novels. Knights, ladies, jousts and tournaments along with other paraphernalia make for good medieval romance. These were also the times of when the dangerous warrior became a gentle lover and takes the woman of his heart through the pleasures of love. Yet did the women in those times really enjoy sex is a matter of speculation. May be they did and then maybe not. For the most part the history of human sexuality remains silent on the issue of women. It is only since the last century that women have made open their views on sexuality. The writing of historical records has been done by men and the written records available are as seen through the male eyes. Women would have discussed sex and information sex with their daughters and intimate circle of friends but this has not been captured in writing and so remains lost. (Views on Women & Women's Sexuality)

To have any understanding of the way women thought about sex it then becomes necessary to look into history with a clever eye. The physiological structures for sexual pleasure were there for medieval women just as anywhere else where there is no mutilation of female organs and there is no evidence that this was ever a practice in Western Europe and therefore women were capable of enjoying sex. There would have been physical difficulties for this though. The living conditions of those times was pretty dirty and it would certainly not given the necessary conditions to enjoy sex Chronic ill health poor diet and heavy labor would have been the other factors that affected the enjoyment of sex by common women in those times. So maybe it would have been only the women of the upper class who had conditions that were suitable to enjoy sex. There were still again impediments for sexual pleasure in the case of women and these were social and psychological barriers In case society and culture does not give value and validity to the enjoyment of sex it would make it difficult for women to accept their own sexuality. There were definitely such impediments in the medieval times. (Views on Women & Women's Sexuality)

The Church was the most important figure in the decisions on cultural in those days and raised strong objections against sexuality in general and women in particular. Sex was believed by the Church to be an act for procreation and not for pleasure and this was thundered down on the people from the pulpits of all the Churches by the clergy. Chastity is one of the seven virtues of the…[continue]

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