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Although humans tend to view sex as mainly a fun recreational activity sometimes resulting in death, in nature it is a far more serious matter. —Dave Barry

Human sexuality refers to the expression of sexual sensation and related intimacy between human beings, as well as the expression of identity through sex and as influenced by or based on sex.


Alphabetized by author
  • Although humans tend to view sex as mainly a fun recreational activity sometimes resulting in death, in nature it is a far more serious matter.
  • I see the birth of a new-boy system instead of the old-boy system. The new-boy system consists of athletic men who are self-confident and intelligent enough to be supportive of women, particularly those with their own self-confidence, sexual athleticism and intelligence. Men find these qualities in me a "turn on".
    • Suzy Chaffee quoted in Machisma: Women & Daring, by Grace Lichtenstein (1981)
  • Women need a reason to have sex while all men need is a place.
  • As Darwin puts it in The Descent of Man, 'Male snakes, though appearing so sluggish, are amorous.' Isn't that just like Darwin? It was one of his main ideas, you know, that the males of almost all animals have stronger passions than the females. Since then we've learned a thing or two. At any rate, the female snake is right there when spring arrives in the woods.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, ranging from the serious to the fatal, are a fact of life in high schools and neighborhoods across the country. Misinformation and scare tactics about common sexual practices like masturbation are rampant. Despite these facts, and despite parents' overwhelming desire for their children to receive detailed sex education at school as well as at home, our society remains unwilling to make sexuality part of a comprehensive health education program in the schools and anxious to the point of hysteria about young people and sex...Hysteria about sex has hindered attempts to address these pressing concerns, and the people hurt most are those who most need the information—our young people, the poor, and the uninformed. Ignorance is not bliss.
  • The twenty-first century has seen wider acknowledgment of the fact that human sexuality is much more complex than the rigid and unchanging categories of heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual can express; the experiences of trans people are just one part of this increased sexual diversity. In the case of non-binary people – whose gender identities and expressions may sit outside of the categories of man and woman, or move between the two – the nineteenth-century categories of human sexuality make little sense – which is why the term ‘queer’ has risen in popularity.
  • Sexual frustration is the single most powerful force in the world. We are the only species where that frustration affects things like the amount of money given to the poor and the length of welfare lines. I hate that the fact that George Bush's wife is an ugly old piece of shit could cause suffering among millions and could cause wars. I don't think it's any coincidence that Kennedy was the last president who had a wife worth fucking and he was the last good president.
  • Appropriate patterns of reproductive, gender, and sexual conduct are all products of specific cultures and all can be viewed as examples of socially scripted conduct. Western societies now have a system of gender and sexual learning in which gender differential scripts are learned prior to sexual scripts, but take their origins in part from the previously learned gender scripts... There are two important points: The first is that both gender and sexuality are learned forms of social practice, and the second is that looking to "natural differences" between women and men for lessons about sexual conduct is an error.
    • John Gagnon, "The Eplicit and Implicit Use of the Scripting Perspective in Sex Research", 1990
  • It is precisely because I believe it is not possible to neatly separate the sexual from other sorts of relations that I find the movement to bar the sexual from pedagogy not only dangerous but supremely impractical.
  • The dilemma of traditional sex research lay in the unconscious, but unquestioningly assumed division into opposing drives and hereditary factors. . . The division into heterosexuality and homosexuality, into heterosexuals and homosexuals, is also an artifact that rests on a grave mistake, namely, on the assumption that a fundamentally different model is necessary to explain heterosexual and homosexual behavior. The entire investigation of etiology was ideologically loaded beforehand because it separated a segment of the sexual continuum and attempted to make analyses with the help of fundamentally different concepts.
    • Rolf Gindorf, "Scientific ideologies in change: Fear of Homosexuality as an Intellectual Event", 1977
  • However much people might be enlightened about their own sexuality, indeed about sexuality in general, there is always in them a modicum of some subconscious aversion to the knowledge that their own parents too are beings with the same kind of sexual needs and desires, which they actually put into practice, more or less regularly. Everyone knows that they weren’t brought by the stork, and yet, where it is the actual sex act that is at issue, as far as it concerns their own parents, most people would rather that they had been.
  • When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.
    • Matt Groening, From "Basic Sex Facts For Today's Youngfolk" In Life In Hell
  • Maybe God isn't the sex police, Richard. Sometimes I think Christians get all hung up on the sex thing because it's easier to worry about sex than to ask yourself, am I a good person? […] It makes it easy to be cruel, because as long as you're not fucking around, nothing you do can be that bad. Is that really all you think of God?
  • There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large.
  • Social and cultural factors very broadly channel and limit sexual variation in human populations. Sexual laws, codes, and roles do restrict the range and intensity of sexual practices, as far as we can judge from the cross-cultural literature (Herdt and Stoller 1990). Kinsey lent his support to this view; Ford and Beach (1950) documented it in surveys; and Margaret Mead (1961) did so in her ethnographic studies. But biosocial, genetic, and hormonal predispositions also broadly limit and channel. Each culture's theory of the combination of these social and biological contraints we could call its theory of human sexual nature. Yet none of these broad principles, nor the local theory of human sexual nature, entirely explains or predicts a particular person's sexual desires or behaviors. A sexual behavior, that is, does not necessarily indicate an erotic orientation, preference, or desire. The homosexual is not the same as the homoerotic; whether in our society or one very exotic, I will claim, we can distinguish the homosexual from the homoerotic, as Oscar Wilde's case first hinted.
    • Gilbert Herdt, "Bisexuality and the Causes of Homosexuality: The Case of the Sambia"
  • Nobody knows what "causes" homosexuality any more than they know what "causes" heterosexuality. (Of course, there is far less interest in what causes the latter.) Overtly, the old psychoanalytic bugaboos are dead; there is no evidence, according to the Kinsey Institute, that male homosexuality is caused by dominant mothers and/or weak fathers, or that female homosexuality is caused by girls' having exclusively male role models. Furthermore, children who are raised by gay and lesbian couples are no more likely to be homosexual than children of heterosexual couples. Nor do people become adult homosexuals because they were seduced by older people or went to same-sex boarding schools...
    Though the causes of sexual orientation are unknown and the definitions fluid, the likelihood of converting a homosexual to a heterosexual orientation, or vice versa, is very slight. Some homosexual men and women voluntarily come for therapy to change from same-sex to opposite-sex partners, but it is not clear whether the limited "success" rate refers to a change in their feelings and the pattern of their desire, or just in their ability to consciously restrict their sexual contact to members of the opposite sex.
  • No person may enjoy outstanding success without good health. Many of the causes of ill health are subject to mastery and control. These, in the main are: a. Overeating of foods not conducive to health. b. Wrong habits of thought... c. Wrong use of, and over indulgence in sex. d. Lack of proper physical exercise e. An inadequate supply of fresh air, due to improper breathing.... The most damaging forms of intemperance are connected with eating, strong drink, and sexual activities. Overindulgence in any of these is fatal to success...
  • Professors rarely speak of the place of eros or the erotic in our classrooms. Trained in the philosophical context of Western metaphysical dualism, many of us have accepted the notion that there is a split between the body and the mind. Believing this, individuals enter the classroom to teach as though only the mind is present, and not the body.
  • The very general occurrence of the homosexual in ancient Greece, and its wide occurrence today in some cultures in which such activity is not taboo suggests that the capacity of an individual to respond erotically to any sort of stimulus, whether it is provided by another person of the same or opposite sex, is basic in the species.
  • Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheeps and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories. Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior, the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.
  • Women find it easier to talk about eroticism, sensuality and relationships than men. I think men tend to cover up their feelings by using locker room macho talk.
    • Cheryl Ladd, Cheryl Ladd satisfied with 'Crossings', Reading Eagle, February 23, 1986
  • Sex isn't disgusting unless you make it disgusting!
  • Sex is not harmful to children. It is a vehicle to self-knowledge, love, healing, creativity, adventure, and intense feelings of aliveness. There are many ways even the smallest children can partake of it. Our moral obligation to the next generation is to make a world in which every child can partake safely, a world in which the needs and desires of every child—for accomplishment, connection, meaning, and pleasure—can be marvelously fulfilled.
  • Sexual play was a regular practice among the children from the earliest period. The adult attitude toward it, if not one of active encouragement, was at least that of mild amusement. [...] Regular intercourse began before puberty with patterns of group sexual play, two or three girls in the gang serving a number of boys in rapid succession with the other boys looking on. Occasionally there were individual affairs. Sexual techniques were learned through imitation of the adults. [...] Homosexuality was present in the form of mutual masturbation, but I have no data as to its frequency. [...] The gap between adults and children was such that it was impossible for an adult to win the child’s confidence. Relations between them were amiable but entirely dissociated.
    • Ralph Linton [Linton, Ralph. Marquesan Culture (July 1925), American Anthropologist Volume 27. Issue 3 (p. 474-478)]
  • It is the night-black Massachusetts legendry which packs the really macabre 'kick', Here is the material for a really profound study in group neuroticism; for certainly, no one can deny the existence of a profoundly morbid streak in the Puritan imagination....The very pre-ponderance of passionately pious men in the colony was virtually an assurance of unnatural crime; insomuch as psychology now proves the religious instinct to be a form of transmuted eroticism precisely parallel to the transmutations in other directions which respectively produce such things as sadism, hallucination, melancholia, and other mental morbidities. Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity. This was aggravated, of course, by the Puritan policy of rigorously suppressing all the natural outlets of excuberant feeling--music, laughter, colour, pageantry, and so on. To observe Christmas Day was once a prison offence....
  • I just think it's double standards the whole time. On the one hand people say, 'Oh, women have equal rights now, women can be as powerful as men and do the same jobs as men', but we're still not allowed to talk about sex, 'cos that's unladylike. It's like that old thing, if a man has slept with loads and loads of women, he's a stud. But if a woman has slept with loads of boys, she's a slag. Well, why? Why? What makes a man a stud 'cos he's pulled loads of women? And what makes me a slag 'cos I've slept with more than 10 men? It's ridiculous!
Sexually progressive cultures gave us mathematics, literature, philosophy, civilization and the rest, while sexually restrictive cultures gave us the Dark Ages and the Holocaust. Not that I’m trying to load my argument, of course. ~ Alan Moore
  • Here we see reflected the curious conglomerate of humanity which makes up the world's picture audience. Most of its members are young people, many of them children under twelve years of age. The latter do not respond violently to sex appeal. And the adolescents respond unpleasantly to it, on the whole; they are just growing into sex life, and it sets up "growing pains." Frank, suggestive pictures embarrass some boys and girls between the years of twelve and eighteen. This is partly a by-product of Puritanism, at a time when profound psychic changes are taking place.
    Now enters still another factor to block the normal interest in sex appeal stories. The motion picture house is a family gathering place.
  • Psychic health depends on orgastic potency, i.e., upon the degree to which one can surrender to and experience the climax of excitation in the natural sexual act. It is founded upon the healthy character attitude of the individual's capacity for love. Psychic illnesses are the result of a disturbance of the natural capacity for love.
    • Wilhelm Reich, The Function of the Orgasm (1927), General Survey.
  • Only the liberation of the natural capacity for love in human beings can master their sadistic destructiveness.
    • Wilhelm Reich, The Function of the Orgasm (1927), Ch. V : The Development of the Character-Analytic Technique.
  • Sigmund Freud’s second great discovery was that even the small child develops a lively sexuality, which has nothing to do with procreation; that, in other words, sexuality and procreation, and sexual and genital, are not the same. The analytic dissection of psychic processes further proved that sexuality, or rather its energy, the libido, which is of the body, is the prime motor of psychic life. Hence, the biologic presuppositions and social conditions of life overlap in the mind.
    The third great discovery was that childhood sexuality, of which what is most crucial in the child-parent relationship (‘the Oedipus complex’) is a part, is usually repressed out of fear of punishment for sexual acts and thoughts (basically a ‘fear of castration’); the child’s sexual activity is blocked and extinguished from memory. Thus, while repression of childhood sexuality withdraws it from the influence of consciousness, it does not weaken its force. On the contrary, the repression intensifies it and enables it to manifest itself in various pathological disturbances of the mind. As there is hardly an exception to this rule among ‘civilized man’, Freud could say that he had all of humanity as his patient.
  • It was not until relatively late, with the establishment of an authoritarian patriarchy and the beginning of the division of the classes, that suppression of sexuality begins to make its appearance. It is at this stage that sexual interests in general begin to enter the service of a minority’s interest in material profit; in the patriarchal marriage and family this state of affairs assumes a solid organizational form. With the restriction and suppression of sexuality, the nature of human feeling changes; a sex-negating religion comes into being and gradually develops its own sex-political organization, the church with all its predecessors, the aim of which is nothing other than the eradication of man’s sexual desires and consequently of what little happiness there is on earth.
  • The moral inhibition of the child’s natural sexuality, the last stage of which is the severe impairment of the child’s genital sexuality, makes the child afraid, shy, fearful of authority, obedient, ‘good’, and ‘docile’ in the authoritarian sense of the words. It has a crippling effect on man’s rebellious forces because every vital life-impulse is now burdened with severe fear; and since sex is a forbidden subject, thought in general and man’s critical faculty also become inhibited. In short, morality’s aim is to produce acquiescent subjects who, despite distress and humiliation, are adjusted to the authoritarian order. Thus, the family is the authoritarian state in miniature, to which the child must learn to adapt himself as a preparation for the general social adjustment required of him later. Man’s authoritarian structure - this must be clearly established - is basically produced by the embedding of sexual inhibitions and fear in the living substance of sexual impulses.
  • When sexuality is prevented from attaining natural gratification, owing to the process of sexual repression, what happens is that it seeks various kinds of substitute gratifications. Thus, for instance, natural aggression is distorted into brutal sadism, which constitutes an essential part of the mass-psychological basis of those imperialistic wars that are instigated by a few. To give another instance: From the point of view of mass psychology, the effect of militarism is based essentially on a libidinous mechanism. The sexual effect of a uniform, the erotically provocative effect of rhythmically executed goose-stepping, the exhibitionistic nature of militaristic procedures, have been more practically comprehended by a salesgirl or an average secretary than by our most erudite politicians. On the other hand it is political reaction that consciously exploits these sexual interests. It not only designs flashy uniforms for the men, it puts the recruiting into the hands of attractive women. In conclusion, let us but recall the recruiting posters of war-thirsty powers, which ran something as follows: ‘Travel to foreign countries — join the Royal Navy I’ and the foreign countries were portrayed by exotic women. And why are these posters effective? Because our youth has become sexually starved owing to sexual suppression.
  • At this point the obvious objection makes itself heard, namely, that the primitive who led a natural life in a matriarchal order also had mystical feelings. A very thorough proof is needed to show that there is a fundamental difference between the matriarchal man and the patriarchal man. Above all, this can be proven by the fact that religion’s attitude towards sexuality underwent a change in patriarchal society. Originally, it was a religion of sexuality; later it became an anti-sexual religion. The ‘mysticism’ of the primitives who were members of a sexually affirmative society is partially direct orgastic experience and partially animistic interpretation of natural processes.
  • Clinical experience shows incontestably that religious sentiments result from inhibited sexuality that the source of mystical excitation is to be sought in inhibited sexual excitation. The inescapable conclusion of all this is that a clear sexual consciousness and a natural regulation of sexual life must foredoom every form of mysticism; that, in other words, natural sexuality is the arch enemy of mystical religion. By carrying on an anti-sexual fight wherever it can, making it the core of its dogmas and putting it in the foreground of its mass propaganda, the church only attests to the correctness of this interpretation.
  • It was first shown in connection with the suppression of the natural sexuality of children and adolescents that there are funda­mental biologic functions of the human animal that have nothing to do with the economic distribution of the classes and that class boundaries overlap and cut across one another. The suppression of sexuality relates not only to all strata and classes of every patriarchal society; it is precisely in the ruling classes that this suppression is often most pronounced. Indeed, sex-economy was able to show that a large part of the sadism made use of by the ruling class to suppress and exploit other classes is to be ascribed chiefly to the sadism that stems from suppressed sexuality.
    • Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism, (1933), ch. 10; originally published in International Journal of Sex-Economy and Orgone-Research, 2 (1943).
  • Well, there’s always this human instinct about that, even from a very, very young age. I agreed that we are born with a sort of innate sexuality. But by like age 11, girls were talking about what they had and hadn’t done. I hadn’t even kissed a boy yet, so it always made me feel insecure, like I was never gonna be good or ready or know what to do — I didn’t even have boobs.
  • Were kisses all the joys in bed, one woman would another wed.
  • Isn’t it desperately sad that, at a time when we face formidable problems – poverty, HIV/AIDS, conflict – that the Anglican Communion can invest so much energy on disagreements about human sexuality? A communion that used to boast that one of its distinctive characteristics was something called comprehensiveness, that our communion, the Anglican Church, included just about everybody. Even if you had the most weird theology you could come in, you were allowed. And now we, who used to be held up in admiration by many because of this inclusiveness, are now spending time working out how we can excommunicate one another. God looks on and God weeps. God weeps.
    • Desmond Tutu, "And God Smiles," sermon preached at All Saints Church, Pasadena, California (6 November 2005)
  • Molly Notkin often confides on the phone to Joelle van Dyne about the one tormented love of Nokin's life thus far, an erotically circumscribed G.W. Pabst scholar at New York University tortured by the neurotic compulsion that there are only a finite number of erections possible in the world at any one time and that his tumescence means e.g. the detumescence of some perhaps more deserving or tortured Third World sorghum farmer. . .
  • There are two kinds of sex, classical and baroque. Classical sex is romantic, profound, serious, emotional, moral, mysterious, spontaneous, abandoned, focused on a particular person, and stereotypically feminine. Baroque sex is pop, playful, funny, experimental, conscious, deliberate, amoral, anonymous, focused on sensation for sensation's sake, and stereotypically masculine. The classical mentality taken to an extreme is sentimental and finally puritanical; the baroque mentality taken to an extreme is pornographic and finally obscene. Ideally, a sexual relation ought to create a satisfying tension between the two modes (a baroque idea, particularly if the tension is ironic) or else blend them so well that the distinction disappears (a classical aspiration).
    • Ellen Willis, "Classical and Baroque Sex in Everyday Life" (1979), Beginning To See the Light: Pieces of a Decade (1981)
  • These apparently opposed perspectives meet on the common ground of sexual conservatism. The monogamists uphold the traditional wife's "official" values: emotional commitment is inseparable from a legal/moral obligation to permanence and fidelity; men are always trying to escape these duties; it's in our interest to make them shape up. The separatists tap into the underside of traditional femininity – the bitter, self-righteous fury that propels the indictment of men as lustful beasts ravaging their chaste victims. These are the two faces of feminine ideology in a patriarchal culture: they induce women to accept a spurious moral superiority as a substitute for sexual pleasure, and curbs on men's sexual freedom as a substitute for real power.
    • Ellen Willis, "Lust Horizons: Is the Woman's Movement Pro-Sex?" (1981), No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays (1992)
  • In addition to his bio-physical heresies, Dr. Reich vastly offended many people by his sociological theory, which holds that fascism is just an exaggerated form of the basic structure of sex-negative societies and has existed under other names in every civilization based on sexual repression. In this theory, the character and muscular armor of the average citizen — a submissive and frightened attitude anchored in body reflexes — causes the average person to want a strong authority figure above them. Tyranny, in this model, is not created by tyrants alone but by neurotic masses who want tyrants.
    • Robert Anton Wilson, in Everything Is Under Control : Conspiracies, Cults, and Cover-Ups (1998), p. 361; some of Wilson's account of the suppression of Reich's ideas and work are technically exaggerative: though many of Reich's books mentioning his concepts of orgone energy and the "orgone accumulators" of his laboratory were destroyed the destruction of his equipment and books was not actually total.

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