So…what is sexuality?
Is it just about sex? Or is it about one’s sexual orientation?
Or is it something more than all of that?
Sexuality is a central aspect of being human, of being you. It is a part of your individuality. It starts with your body – how you feel about it, your image of yourself. It is about your biological sex and your gender – you may be born as a female but you may identify yourself psychologically and emotionally as a man. It is about who you love and are intimate with – men or women or both. It is about what brings you pleasure, what makes you healthy and happy. It’s about your relationships and the values you bring to them. Sexuality is the sum total of it all and it includes the following dimensions:
- Sex & reproduction
- Gender identity & roles
- Sexual orientation & identities
- Thoughts, fantasies & desires
- Eroticism, pleasure & intimacy
- Individual beliefs, attitudes and values
- Behaviours, practices and relationships
Everyone is different and unique. We may experience some or all of these dimensions differently and chose to express our sexuality differently. While sexuality is deeply intrinsic to our personality, to who we are and what makes us who we are, it is also influenced by the interaction of other factors such as:
- Biological & psychological factors
- Economic factors
- Political & legal environment
- Socio-cultural environment & history
- Ethical, religious and spiritual factors
For instance, something as simple as how we dress in public is determined by our socio-cultural and economic environment. Most societies restrict the expression of sexuality within certain parameters, often to ‘socially sanctioned’ relationships. There has long been a taboo on talking about sexuality, even sexual health, particularly when it comes to talking to young people about these issues.