According to recent research, the past 20 years has seen a decline in sexual desire in both U.S. men and women, at around 35 percent and 16 percent reporting that they are affected, respectively. Generally speaking, the shifting trends can be related to the fact that sexual "norms" have become more and more diverse. Could this be true?
There are several obvious changes in relation to sex in western countries that have occurred during this time. Firstly, people are more secular and sex tends to have been separated from religious values. In addition, sex is more casual and family planning, induced abortion, divorce, premarital sex, cohabitation and homosexuality are all more widely accepted than before. Furthermore, changes in the way that people conduct interpersonal relationships have caused many a family crisis. Lastly, sexual desire has declined in the population due to the emergence of AIDS and HIV.
Some think that the loss of sexual desire throughout the 1900s can be thought of as the disease. According to the survey, loss of sexual desire implies that sexual norms nowadays encompass a greater range of diversity and that the binding forces of sexual morality have become less restricted.
"Understanding Human Sexuality", recently translated into Chinese, is an academic study analyzing the background to human sexuality and its historical development in western countries. It is impressive in scope and draws upon a rich source of historical materials. Our collective thoughts and attitudes toward plenty of issues have been totally overturned by many of the explanations it contains. The book offers astonishing detail into the changes in sexual culture in western countries; some parts may even make us feel ridiculous. However, these historical facts have been so fully introduced and described that we have to contemplate the logic and reasons behind the historical shifts.
For some, the most exciting part of the book is its presentation of the diverse trends of sexual development that have occurred in western societies. Its diversity has been gradually understood and accepted by people from western countries and the whole world. Such diversity implies that sex should be thought of as desire itself, rather than in any form of single act or expression. The core lesson we can take from this book is the belief that differences in sexual expression are natural and healthy – not sick, evil or politically wrong.
Traditional studies of sex are almost based on monism, which is the idea that natural sexual behavior is a penetrative act between a man's penis and a woman's vagina. Conversely, any other kinds of sexual behaviors have been seen as immature, peripheral or the substitutions for "real sexual behavior". Most sexologists put heterosexual penetrative vaginal sex first, believing that this kind of behavior is the foundation of physiology because the final function of sex is reproduction.
On the other hand, sex pluralism reveals that people have preferences for all different kinds of sexual behaviors, that consistently refuse to be categorized or fixed, and are constantly in flux. The theoretical base of sexual diversity comes from multiple sexual desires and multiple sexual pleasures, as well as the unlimited range of sexual practices. Sexual pluralism tells us that the sexual desire of human beings is diverse rather than single, and plenty of different ways of life can be good, be they the expression of a single person or many.
Through thousands of years of revolution of societies and cultures, the diversity of sexual culture has been accepted by more and more westerners. Hopefully it can be approved by Chinese people, too, through this book. If so, it can bring a new age with a free, democratic and healthy pluralistic culture.
(Source: waimei.info/Translated and edited by Women of China)
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