Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality (Navigate 2 Advantage) 6th Edition
A Message from the Authors
Human sexuality is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. It is not a topic to be hidden or avoided, as this can lead to serious consequences for one’s health and overall life satisfaction. When human sexuality is understood, the result is a healthier lifestyle and an increased ability to achieve consistency between one’s actions and moral principles. The authors of this text have seen the effects of both approaches to human sexuality in their own families.
The benefit of perceiving sexuality as a topic of discussion and understanding can be seen in one example of a telephone call from one of the author’s daughters. She said that her 14-year-old daughter asked about noises she sometimes heard coming from her parents’ bedroom. Her mother explained that the noises were her mom and dad enjoying physical contact as part of showing love for each other. Fortunately, she had previously talked with her daughter about sexuality and reproduction, so she was able to refer back to that conversation. She asked her father for advice regarding how she handled the situation and what she should do further. He responded that she should be pleased that her daughter felt comfortable enough to talk with her about the noises, and that it was good that she had explained sexuality and reproduction to her daughter so she had accurate information that was appropriate for her age. Beyond that, the author simply said that his daughter was on the right track related to the sexuality education of her daughter, and the best thing to do moving forward was to continue to keep the lines of communication open.
In contrast, an example of how human sexuality is inappropriately conceptualized occurred when the son of a different author was entering fifth grade. School personnel organized a committee of parents to review instructional materials for the sexuality education course. As luck would have it, the author was selected to serve on this committee. At the first committee meeting, he was surprised to learn that the program focused exclusively on reproductive anatomy and physiology. He asked, “How will you help students process their feelings pertaining to sexuality?” The answer was that the reproductive system would be taught just as any other body system would, with no plans to include a discussion of feelings associated with sexuality. At that point the author volunteered to resign from the parent review committee and asked to join the “Digestive System Parent Review Committee.” Of course, there was none. That allowed the author to point out that there really is a distinction between education regarding sexuality and education pertaining to other health issues, and that this distinction needed to be addressed with students. We do that in this text by exploring the varied dimensions of human sexuality.
In fact, we have known students who would have liked to enroll in our human sexuality courses but did not due to their discomfort regarding sexuality. Some were embarrassed to have their friends or relatives find out that they did not know everything about sexuality. Others felt uncomfortable discussing sexuality in a class with their peers. And still others believed they knew more than they actually did, although in reality they did not know enough to live a sexually healthy life. Consequently, in Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality, Sixth Edition we make a special effort to engage students in a nonjudgmental manner and make the content
The Dimensions of Human Sexuality
In many regards, human sexuality today does not differ from that of our ancestors’ times. Biologically, human reproduction occurs in the same way. As in the past, religion and culture have a significant impact on our sexuality, as does public policy. As long-time sexuality educators, we know that no single aspect of sexuality can be separated from the others, and no single aspect is more important than the others. Therefore, we have chosen to write a text that presents all aspects of sexuality as interconnected and significant. Throughout this text you will find an emphasis on health and well-being based on the assumption that we are all sexual beings from birth until death and that sexuality should be viewed in its totality—with biological, psychological, and sociocultural dimensions.
The Organization of the Book
The dimensions discussed in the text can be broken down into biological, psychological, and sociocultural categories. Some examples are described here.
The basis of understanding sexuality is knowledge about the physiology of our bodies. Factual information lays the foundation for critical thinking—without the facts, you cannot begin to think critically about your sexuality. The greater your knowledge, the more likely you are to take responsibility for your sexual health.
The physiological differences between the sexes create the foundation for the development of psychological and social wellness and strongly influence our perceptions of sexual wellness. Gender dimensions receive a chapter of their own as well as a boxed treatment in every chapter. Psychological Dimensions
Developing a positive image of self and sexuality is critical to developing sexual wellness. A positive body image lends itself to overall wellness; a negative self-image can lead to drug abuse (steroids or diet pills) or psychological disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or muscle dysmorphia). Body image is so important that we devote a chapter to the topic—the most comprehensive coverage in the market!
Religious and spiritual beliefs influence feelings about sexual behavior, premarital sexual activity, adultery, divorce, contraception, abortion, and masturbation. Spiritual issues are discussed in Multicultural Dimensions boxes and in the opening chapter.
Cultures within the United States and around the world differ in their views of sexuality. From semi-nude beaches in the south of France to Middle Eastern Muslim communities where women are covered from head to toe, ours is a world of diversity. Sometimes these diverse behaviors are a part of the culture, and other times they are given legal sanction. A good example of this is the many ways in which abortion is viewed. Views on abortion range from strict prohibition, including strong laws, to simply as a method of birth control, such that it is common for women to have as many as four or five abortions in her lifetime. Your ability to respect your sexual partner’s cultural beliefs and feelings will result in a higher level of satisfaction for both of you. To help students better understand sexual diversity, each chapter contains boxed examples of sexual beliefs or practices pertaining to a culture within the United States or a culture elsewhere in the world.
Ethical considerations are the basis of legal and moral decision making concerning sexuality. The law and courts regulate such sexual issues as access to abortion clinics, workplace sexual harassment, and ownership of frozen embryos. Moral implications of ethical decisions include sexual coercion and underscore the importance of taking responsibility for your sexual wellness. Ethical Dimensions boxes appear in every chapter, and the Sexual Ethics, Morality, and the Law chapter covers these issues in depth.
Public policy also affects our sexual behavior. For example, national health objectives promote sexual health awareness pertaining to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unwanted teenage pregnancies, and prenatal care. Furthermore, public policy on free speech continues to allow the uncontrolled distribution of sexually explicit material on the Internet. Unfortunately, as a result of public policy, access to proper health care, birth control, and sexually related choices is often unavailable to some people.
Integration of Dimensions
Given the many factors influencing our sexual behavior, we have created a striking full-page feature that recognizes their interwoven nature: Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality. It serves as an integrated approach that ties all these strands together. This feature, found at the end of each chapter, assists students in understanding how many different aspects of sexuality affect their sexual health and influence their sexual behavior. Our intent is to help students envision the convergence of the many aspects of sexuality and help them make sexual decisions that lead to a lifetime of positive sexual health and wellness.
CHAPTER 1 Introducing the Dimensions of Human Sexuality
CHAPTER 2 Sexuality Research
CHAPTER 3 Sexual Communication
CHAPTER 4 Female Sexual Anatomy and Physiology
CHAPTER 5 Male Sexual Anatomy and Physiology
CHAPTER 6 Sexual Response and Arousal
CHAPTER 7 Contraception
CHAPTER 8 Conception, Pregnancy, and Birth
CHAPTER 9 Unexpected Pregnancy Outcomes
CHAPTER 10 Gender Dimensions
CHAPTER 11 Body Image
CHAPTER 12 Sexual Orientation, Identity, and Expression
CHAPTER 13 Sexuality in Childhood and Adolescence
CHAPTER 14 Sexuality in Adulthood
CHAPTER 15 Sexual Techniques and Behavior
CHAPTER 16 Alternative Sexual Behavior
CHAPTER 17 Forcible Sexual Behaviors
CHAPTER 18 Sexually Transmitted Infections
CHAPTER 19 HIV and AIDS
CHAPTER 20 Sexual Dysfunction and Therapy
CHAPTER 21 Sexual Consumerism
CHAPTER 22 Sexual Ethics, Morality, and the Law
EPILOGUE Taking Responsibility for Your Sexual Health
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