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Introduction

Human sexuality can be defined as general human experiences and expressions as sexual beings (Schenita, 2013). It is mainly influenced by a person’s gender as part of the integral components of humanity. This concept can be viewed from various dimensions, the most common ones being biological, anthropological, cultural and medical perspectives (Schenita, 2013).

A Scholarly Approach to Human Sexuality

Schenita Randolph conducted a research on this concept and the main objective of his work was to investigate the understanding of sexual identity development of African American male college students in the University of North Carolina. The study was meant to assess men’s ideas about gender, sexuality and sexual behavior, as well as finding ways through which understanding of sexual identity development may enhance effective sexual health intervention (Schenita, 2013). This research was based on the hypotheses that many factors surrounding sexual identity among African American male students have not been fully explored, hence, making them more vulnerable to sexually related challenges.

In this research, thirty one African American undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina were selected for study. In order to achieve this objective, the researcher administered questionnaires to self identified respondents of age bracket of 18 to 25. Interviews were also conducted to explore six major areas related to the concept, namely, sexual expression, sexual values, sexual orientation, characteristics of sexual partner and sexual activities.

This research came up with a number of findings. To begin with, it was concluded that issues concerning sexuality are considered as very private and confidential and are not easily disclosed even for the purposes of research (Schenita, 2013). The study also showed that personal perceptions and values of individuals can potentially create very negative influences on their sexual behaviors. Although social orientation as propagated by family and religious institutions advocate for heterosexual relationship limited only to marriage relationships, most participants were revealed to have greater influence from peers who advocate for having multiple sexual partners to boost their reputation (Schenita, 2013).

Popular View of Human Sexuality

A popular approach to human sexuality defines this concept as the capacity to have erotic responses and experience. It also refers to how an individual is attracted to another, especially of the opposite sex. In many societies, popular views on sexuality are dominated by but not limited to certain common aspects such as sexual orientation, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality. Sexual orientation in this context refers to a personal quality that inclines an individual to romantic feelings towards a person of the opposite or the same gender (Tribune Staff Reporter, 2011). Heterosexuality is, however, perceived as the most common sexual orientation and behavior. It is generally defined as a romantic attraction or behavior between persons of opposite sexes (Tribune Staff Reporter, 2011).

Another popular human sexual orientation is homosexuality. This is a sexual attraction or activity between individuals of the same gender. If the persons involved are male, the act is known as gay while if it involves female, it is referred to as lesbianism (Tribune Staff Reporter, 2011).

Other sexual aspects that are rarely reported in some sections of society include bisexuality and asexuality. Bisexuality refers to sexual attraction and behavior towards both gender identities. Asexuality, however, is perceived as a case whereby an individual demonstrates too low or no interest towards sexual activities and feelings (Tribune Staff Reporter, 2011). Besides these, other dominant issues on sexuality include gender and gender issues as well as sex related offences and challenges. Gender in this context refers to roles and responsibilities of men and women as described by various social settings and institutions such as families, governmental and religious institutions. This has been based on the assumption that most of the societies are characterized by male domination, hence, the need to empower and liberate women (Tribune Staff Reporter, 2011).

Scholarly and Popular Views on Human Sexuality Compared

A comparative view of the two perspectives of human sexuality reveals that there are not only similarities and differences between the two, but also certain peculiar characteristics in each case. For instance, both cases affirm that human sexuality is a very secretive, personal and confidential issue such that public talks about it are often avoided. However, if such issues have to be discussed for any crucial and unavoidable reasons such as for the purposes of study, the topic has to be considered as very fragile, hence, handed with caution and care.

Although sexuality affects humanity across all age brackets, the most concerned people in this issue, whether from popular or scholarly approach, are the youth (Tribune Staff Reporter, 2011). However, academic researchers are not limited to youth, but tend to focus on it as opposed to the other layers of population that are often considered as too old or too young to engage in active sex talks (Schenita, 2013).

Form a conceptual point of view, scholarly view of sexuality defines the concept from a wider scope as compared to the popular view. The scholarly view tends to cover a wide range of the concept, ranging from sexual orientation and sexual behaviors, gender issues as well as the factors triggering such behaviors (Schenita, 2013).  The popular view, however, is only narrowed to sexual behaviors and may have little or no interest in the underlying issues responsible for such (Tribune Staff Reporter, 2011).

It is also evident that popular view on sexuality tends to create an unusual perception about the aspect, while the scholarly view considers it as a common natural phenomenon in society. Popular views on sexuality have more emphasis on negative connotation of sexuality like sex related offences and infections, whereas the scholars perceive the topic as any other in any field of study viable for research for the development of society.

Despite the illustrated similarities and differences in two views on sexuality, the scholarly approach remains peculiar in its interdisciplinary approach. An effective scholarly understanding of sexuality cannot be merely based on one discipline, but is instead intertwined among various subjects of study. An effective study of the concept must therefore tend to cover the theme from physiological, sociological, medical, anthropological and even religious points of view (Schenita, 2013). Scholarly approach is, therefore, the most convenient and preferred view on this subject matter as compared to popular approach. This is also based on the general understanding that popular articles are not based on scientific research conducted by experts.

Although the topic of sexuality has remained controversial and critical to many researches, the importance of its study outweighs the complications involved. This is based on the fact that the concept is both universal and natural, hence, cannot be avoided. Furthermore, the meaning of sexuality has a tendency of assumed simplicity especially from a popular point of view, while a scholarly view reveals its complexity. This makes it viable for study as a way of generating clear understanding.

Conclusion

Human sexuality is understood as how human beings express themselves and interrelate with others as sexual beings. This topic can be understood from both popular and scholarly perspectives. Although the two approaches are similar in their view on sexuality as a confidential issue, a critical view reveals a number of differences between the two. The scholarly approach remains peculiar in its integrative and interdisciplinary approach that makes the complex topic to be understood more elaborately. Despite the challenges of confidentiality and complexity involved in handling human sexuality, the need for its study remains justifiable. 

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