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Sexuality in Adulthood

Sexual Revolution, Women's Movement, Contraception, Same-sex Relationships, Children, Length Of A Relationship

Since the early part of the twentieth century, sex and sexuality have been crucial elements of both private and public discourse. From the bedroom to the living room to the classroom, from religious venues to the streets, and via television, movies, magazines, and other media, sex and sexuality are prevalent topics.

Although there are many facets of sexuality in adulthood, the available research tends to be focussed on Western countries and white populations. It is important to recognize that other cultures may view this topic differently. The interactions of women and men from cultures other than the dominant Euro-American needs further investigation with an openness that does not deem them to be other, less than, or somehow deviant from the so-called Western norm.

Why has so much stress been placed on sexual performance, satisfaction, and identity? One reason may be that for the majority of people in Western cultures, sex is a life-long interest. Although it may be a life-long interest for most people, what constitutes sex and sexuality can vary considerably (Aiken 1998; Francoeur 1987; Lauer and Lauer 1997). Part of that variation stems from cultural, ethnic, class, religious, cohort, and gender differences. The time period in which people reach adulthood, what they learn from their elders, what they learn from their peers, cultural and religious expectations/norms, as well as gender identity, all influence how people perceive themselves and interact with others as sexual beings. What has helped to form many of these perspectives, in modern times, are social movements and technological advances that have made sweeping changes to concepts of sex and sexuality.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaFamily Health Issues