WHAT IS SEXUALITY?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when hear the word ‘Sexuality’?
A lot of people have a misconception about what sexuality really implies and may only think of sexual activity whenever they come across the term. However, sexuality is lot more than just getting butt naked and fucking. Here’s a definition from the World Health Organisation (WHO);
“Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors” (1).
Now, simply put,”sexuality” refers to the way through which an individual expresses themselves as a sexual entity. It depicts the importance of sexual expression in the life of the individual; their channel of expression; and their preference of a sexual partner. Okay, you might ask, if that’s the case…
Why do we all have different sexuality?
We all differ in sexuality because of various factors including childhood influences, genetic predisposition and peer-pressure, amongst other factors. Attempts to find a singular cause for varying sexuality have been unsuccessful. Sexuality, it seems, is a characteristic of our distinctive make-up (I don’t mean mascara), and probably progresses through our initial early childhood interactions. Generally, our sexuality reaches its full expression in teen years but sometimes takes a few more years for us to accept it.
The Different Aspects of Sexuality
Sexuality involves many aspects of being human, including but not exclusive to the genitals. It comprises of the following:
- Sexual health
- Gender/sexual identity
- Intimacy and relationships
As influenced by an individual’s values, experience, culture, and spirituality, each of these components can contain healthy or unhealthy aspects.
The SEX in SEXuality
As I have mentioned sexuality is not only about SEX, even though people usually label sexuality only in relation to the genitals; what we do with them; who we do it with; what we do after we are done with who we do it with; and back to the genitals again.
The following are factors that give form and meaning to our sexuality:
- values and beliefs
- physical attributes
- sexual characteristics
- societal expectations
In a Nutshell, Sexuality Is…
People define sex in different ways, it can include vaginal, anal, oral sex and other activities. However, sex is just one diminutive aspect of who we are as sexual entities. Even individuals who are not having sex are still sexual beings; The concept of sexuality is the sum of all the following:
1. It is beyond body parts and sex (though these are important parts of sexuality).
2. Sexuality comprises of our gender identity
3. Sexuality involves gender roles
4. It consists of our sexual orientation.
5. Sexuality includes what is termed “body image” (and no, it’s not a photograph of one’s butt) it is how people feel about their bodies. Having a poor body image can have a profound effect on an individual’s ability to build healthy relationships.
6. Sexuality, as most would agree, involves our sexual “happenings” or experiences, thoughts, ideas, fantasies, etc.
7. The influence of media, friends, family, age, life goals, religion, and our self-esteem play a huge role in our sexual selves .
8. Sexuality also includes how individuals experience and interpret touch, intimacy, compassion, joy, love, and sorrow. Understanding the concept of sexuality, and not only the sex aspect, can help in fostering and encouraging the development of healthy relationships throughout our lives.
 “Gender and Human Rights.” Www.who.int. N.p., 31 Jan. 2016. Web. 6 July 2016. <http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/gender_rights/sexual_health/en/>.