Itssss Sunday, time for Library Roulette..
I let my co-worker do the honors of giving me the numbers this week. 2nd floor, 5th row, 14 dividers back. A new section I’ve never been in, this one was all about sexual issues and disorders. OK this got interesting. There was a lot of eye catching ones to choose from but the one that ended up the winner today was a black spine with the title. I flip to the cover page to find the full title: Disorders of Desire: Sexuality and Gender in Modern American Sexology. Didn’t even know Sexology was a term, I learned a new one today. Wasn’t expecting to talk about sex here at all, but I have to discuss the random-ness I find here in the stacks any and all items shall be discussed.
Flip to a random page, 107. The Title heading is Sexology at a Crossroads: Sexual Science and Sexual Politics. The actual passage I put my finger on is an excerpt from a leaflet, but to make the whole thing make sense I have to give it a background. During the 1980’s there was a large outcry of feminist groups against pornography.
A group called “D.C. Feminists Against Pornography” passed out leaflets of protest criticizing pornography as “a mechanistic approach to human sexuality which ignores the political, economic, and cultural factors that so deeply condition sexual behavior”.
The leaflet added:
Sexology cannot develop as a science without addressing sexism and the real condition of women’s lives. We expect the sexologists participating in this congress to acknowledge their responsibility to women, revise their research agenda to examine the context of sexual behavior (not merely the mechanics), and to integrate a feminist analysis into their research and practice, so that we in a joint effort can work to eliminate sexism in sex. (Irvine, 2005, p.107)
The study of sex and human sexuality has always interested me. I think it probably interests most people because it’s an innate human need, much like sleeping, eating, and breathing. I suppose there are some adult humans out there that don’t want or need sexual relationships, but they may be few and far between. But, as sex almost seems like a basic function of the animal kingdoms need to reproduce and keep the species alive it is so complicated in humans. Must be our big brains. There’s so many factors involved with us, so many emotions and motivations. There’s perversions, fetishes, different aspects of the act itself. There’s no universal sex or sexuality, no real right or wrong (amongst consenting adults rather). All I know about it really is that sex really is a very powerful thing. On one side of the coin sexual abuse and mistreatment can ruin somebody’s entire being, their emotional structures, and patterns. On the other side, when used properly it can be life altering in a positive and fulfilling way.
Think of the access that people have to pornography now versus the amount that they had in the 80’s. I think now that we live in an age when people have such easy access to over sexed advertisements, and internet porn of all kinds it’s important to educate people about how much of it really is an acting or portrayal of, versus the real thing. This brings to mind a book that was recommended to me by Phillip Zimbardo, Man Interrupted. I’ve had it now for over two weeks and haven’t skimmed it yet, but I will tonight after this post (I swear). He is a well-known psychologist that explores the overstimulation of today’s men and how it could be effecting them. Here’s a link to his ted talk from 2011:
The Demise of Guys.
I agree with the above statement from this weeks selection that we should take the sexism out of sex, but that goes both ways. We have to explore and acknowledge that this influx of sexual images can be a detriment to both of the sexes if used to set unrealistic standards and examples of what sexuality is and should be.
So what is sexology then? This is for me since I have no idea.
Sexology is an interdisciplinary science that focuses on diverse aspects of human sexuality, studying human sexual development, relationships, and intercourse, sexual malfunctions, sexually transmitted diseases, and pathologies such as child sexual abuse or sexual addiction. It has still not been fully recognized as a separate professional field but is most often found as a sub discipline within fields such as biology, psychology, anthropology, medicine, sociology, epidemiology, and sometimes criminology. (Horvath, 2009).
I think that it interests me most from a psychological standpoint, as most things usually do. Even though “sexology” doesn’t appear to be an entire field of study, it seems to touch many subjects as a sub field. Which makes sense, considering there’s so many sub fields of ourselves and society involved in sex.
Horvath, A. (2009). Sexology and sex research. In J. O’Brien (Ed.), Encyclopedia of gender and society (pp. 752-755). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412964517.n379
Irvine, J. (2005). Disorders of Desire: Sexuality and Gender in Modern American Sexology. Philadelphia, PA: Temple Press.