Human Sexuality and Gender/Developmental

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Infancy[edit]

Circumcision is the surgical deletion of the foreskin of the penis, generally after a boy is a few weeks old. It is widely practiced throughout the world for religious, ceremonious, or physical reasons. About one million U.S newborn males are circumcised every year (Fauntleroy, 2005; McGinnis, 2005, as cited in Buar & Crooks, 2008). Although the procedure is quite traditional, it is also very controversial.[1]

Proponents of circumcisions have maintained the procedure’s significant health benefits. The region below the foreskin, if not routinely cleaned, can harbor a selection of infection-causing organisms. Numerous studies point out that circumcisions decrease the rate of early days urinary tract infections (Kinkade et al., 2005, as cited in Buar & Crooks, 2008). There is also a sturdy belief that circumcision provides increased protection against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Evidence also suggest that circumcisions reduce the risk of genital warts but does not provide protection against other sexually transmitted diseases, such as genital herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis (MacLean, 2005, Reynolds 2004, as cited in Buar & Crooks, 2008).[2]

Opponents of routine circumcision have several arguments against it. First, the foreskin could supply some vital function yet to be determined. Second, some investigators have articulated concerns that sexual function may be misrepresented by excising the foreskin. Finally, some health professionals think that performing this task on a infant is needless, as it is traumatic and invites possible surgical complications.[3]

Circumcision and HIV[edit]

Growing evidence shows that circumcision is beneficial in the prevention of HIV infection. For example, Vardi et al. (2007) presents three clinical trials done in Uganda and Kenya during 2005 and 2007 which show a major decrease in HIV infection in circumcised males. Findings show the importance of circumcision and its benefits. There have been recommendations insisting that circumcision should be a public health-funded procedure but should not replace safe sex.[4]

Female Circumcision[edit]

It is rare to hear of a daughter being circumcised, yet they can be circumcised as well, though generally for a cultural or religious reason. A study of African countries practicing female circumcision (Nichols, 2006) found that in Egypt, 79.3% of genital surgeries are performed at home rather than at hospitals.[5]

Childhood[edit]

Twin Development[edit]

Some literature state that twins face problems involving personality development. Because there are two children who are essentially mirror images of each other, it is believed that each child does not get enough attention from parents which affects separation-individuation, object relations, and their self-esteem. In this case study, however, it is found that there are no significant differences with these developmental measures of twins and singletons.

The data, using 30 people in each group – fraternal twins, identical twins, and non-twins – to compare each group's separation-individuation, object relations, and self esteem objectively. The data did not show any sort of special problems pertaining to twins that did not pertain to non-twins. Identical twins, fraternal twins, and non-twins did not differ markedly on any of the measures in this study. The results of this study showed that having a twin does not constitute a developmental challenge Pearlman, Eileen M. et al (1990) referenced.[6]

Sexual Abuse[edit]

Recent research shows that sexual abuse during childhood can affect sexual behavior in late adolescents and early adulthood (Noll, J. G., Trickett, P. K., & Putnam, F. W. 2003). In a longitudinal study of roughly 170 participants, Trickett, et al. (2003) examined the relationship of sexual abuse and sexual distortions in late adolescents and early adulthood. The participants ranged from five to sixteen years old, with half of the participants disclosing being victims of sexual abuse and the other half reporting no abuse for comparison. Those sexually abused participants reported being younger at voluntary intercourse, not using birth control effectively, and were younger at the birth of their first child. Results also implied that victims of sexual abuse report less emotional rewards from non-sexual relationships, therefore putting those individuals at risk for sexual exploitive situations. [7]

Adolescence[edit]

Adolescence can be defined in 3 separate stages, early adolescence, middle adolescence, and late adolescence. The 3 stages are broken down by the different ages and gender ages, the early adolescence is defined for females as ages 9-13 and males 11-15, middle adolescence females ages 13-16 and males ages 14-17, and for late adolescence it occurs for females ages 16 and older and males ages 17 and older.

The early adolescence stage is characterized by rapid physical changes that causes many early adolescents to be concerned with their body image. Adolescents in this stage begin to experience separation from their families as parent-child conflict increases and ideas and views being to differ. As the adolescent becomes estranged from the family they begin to put more focus and priority of social cliques and groups. Social groups and actions for the early adolescent are starting to be an influential part of their life, with decisions such as, sexual involvement as they try to adjust to peer norms. Sexual intercourse is generally limited but the early experimentation of sexual behavior can be common. For many young adolescents sexual behaviors give them a sense of connection, power, and identity. This is also another way for disadvantage adolescents who have been challenged through the early developmental stages of childhood, to use sex and drugs as a way to achieve their power, identity, connection, and joy.

The middle adolescence stage can be defined as the "teenager" stage that is typically viewed as the definition for the term adolescence. The secondary sex characteristics are fully developed in this stage. In the middle adolescence stage the peer group is seen at the number one priority and rejection or acceptance by the adolescent's group will shape their self image. This stage is also characterized by the adolescents desire to focus on themselves and they assume others will focus on them as well. The family is further estranged from the adolescent as the family/parents put emphasis on the future and long term goals. Relationships are beginning to be quite common in this stage, they are usually identified with the other person being a "mirror" of characteristics they see in themselves and admire. For many adolescents sexual intercourse is first experienced in this stage and becomes common.

The late adolescent is essentially moving toward adulthood with its roles and responsibility. In the late adolescence stage the adolescent is fully developed and has completed the process of physical maturation. They no longer see things as concrete concepts or ideas but become aware of the abstract idea with its limitations and consequences. Sexuality is no longer seen as a way for power and identity but becomes closer related to long term commitment and the future, in unionson the peer group is no longer the determinant of behaviors and recedes in importance. The relationship with family is restored as the adolescent matures and the ideas no longer are concrete and future becomes a forerunner in the adolescent's thoughts.

There are six key developmental tasks that are viewed by psychologists as a process adolescents go through, physical and sexual maturation, independence, conceptual identity, functional identity, cognitive development, and sexual self-concept. These six developmental task are the answers to what psychologists see as the three psychosocial questions many adolescents ask themselves: Am I normal? Am I competent? Am I lovable and loving? [8]

Young Adult[edit]

College-aged males are generally portrayed in the media only wanting to engage in nonrelational sexual behavior, “hooking up”, or “having friends with benefits”. They are viewed as being afraid of commitment and instead opting for different sexual partners, as opposed to college-aged females who are viewed as desiring emotional attachment. For example, Epstein, et al. (2009) examined 19 men between the age of 18 and 23 from a public Midwestern university. They were interviewed a year after they had answered a survey for the researcher and were asked about their sexual experiences since then. Five of the subjects informed researchers that they did not engage in any nonrelational sex because they wanted a real relationship and would prefer to settle down (Epstein, et al., 2009). Others who admitted to having engaged in hooking-up and having nonrelational sex still said that they would want to meet someone and have a relationship. The findings of the study show that although men do engage in “hooking up” they still seek an emotional relationship with those that they engage in sexual relations with.[9]

Social coerciveness is one of the controversial factors that results in high risky and sexual behaviors propelled amongst young adolescent women. In a nationwide survey of black adolescents in high school, and in-clinic studies; 18-32% of adolescent females that reported being sexually active also reported being sexually or physically perpetrated by a partner. These samples and surveys also proved to have increased STD exposure to the young women. The strong relation between sexual intimidation and young adolescent women should highlight the fact that sexual abuse intervention should be proactive to the youth in preventing the sexual violence exposure instead of reactive after the psychological damage has already been established. [10]

If you ask what it means to be “friends with benefits” someone may give you an answer similar to this, “A physically involved relationship, where both partners enjoy some comforts of sitting on the fence between serious relationship and simple friendship.” [Urbandictionary.com] A recent study of 899 college students at a large Southeastern university found that 55 percent of the men and 43 percent of the women had had a casual sexual relationship with a friend within the past year. [Chicago Tribune] All this talk about “Friends with Benefits” makes you wonder what’s the difference between this & the “Free Love” movement in the 60s & 70s? In my opinion, there is no difference. During the “hippie” stage, young people had sex with many partners and the STD rate was at a high. Looking at data now things are still the same, Young people are still sexually promiscuous and the STD rate is high. You can only help assist with the problem by teaching safe sex methods & hoping they listen. [11]

Midlife[edit]

Erectile dysfunction, defined as “the inability to achieve and maintain an erection sufficient to permit satisfactory sexual intercourse,” is a frequent male disability affecting men of all adult ages. A survey gathering information from men of 40-49 and 60-69 years old in Portugal suggested that erectile dysfunction is strongly correlated with age, as 74% of the sample of 60-69 year olds reported having some degree of erectile dysfunction, while only 29% of the 40-49 year olds reported having the same symptoms. It also found that men with erectile dysfunction had lower orgasmic function, felt less sexual desire, had lower intercourse satisfaction, and had lower satisfaction within their sexual relationship. [12]

Elderly[edit]

Although there are small amounts of reported issues, Elderly married couples seem to have conflicts due to differences in sexual desire. For example, Youn, G. (2009) did a qualitative study on elderly married Korean people and concluded the following: Men often persistently make sexual advances towards their wives because they feel it helps them maintain their “male role” in the household. Men reported that their wives’ refusal of their sexual advances had a negative impact on them and made them become aggravated. Women, on the other hand, decline in their sexual drive and arousal in their elderly years which results in them turning down their husbands’ sexual advances. In correspondence to this rejection, there seems to be a positive correlation between the wives’ refusal of sex and their husbands’ disloyalty. Women also reported an increase in violence by their husband in reaction to this refusal.[13]

References[edit]

  1. Crooks,Robert and Karla Buar. Our Sexuality. Belmont, CA; Thompson/Wadsworth, 2008. Print
  2. Crooks,Robert and Karla Buar. Our Sexuality. Belmont, CA; Thompson/Wadsworth, 2008. Print
  3. Crooks,Robert and Karla Buar. Our Sexuality. Belmont, CA; Thompson/Wadsworth, 2008. Print
  4. Vardi, Yoram, Sadeghi-Nejad, Hossein, Pollack, Shimon, Aisuodionoe-shadrach, Oseremen I., Sharlip, Ira D. (2007). Male Circumcision and HIV Prevention. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 4(4I), 838-843, 2007.
  5. Nichols, A. (2006, April). Female circumcision. Retrieved from http://www.siue.edu/~jfarley/nicho490.htm
  6. Eileen M. Pearlman (1990). Journal of Psychology; Nov90, Vol. 124 Issue 6, p619-628, 10p, 1 Chart. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  7. Noll, J. G., Trickett, P. K., & Putnam, F. W. (2003). A Prospective Investigation of the Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on the Development of Sexuality. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 71(3), 575. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  8. Greenberg, Jerrold, Bruess, and Sarah Conklin. Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality 405-406. Web. 1 May 2011. <http://books.google.com/books?id=1NC5R0RozBYC&pg=PA401&lpg=PA401&dq=human+sexuality+and+gender+development+about+masturbation&source=bl&ots=-d9jdapIc4&sig=6PM7ZVCgd09BlaeMewwLIwwmB7g&hl=en&ei=cuS9TeSXG8mltwe8jM3KBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=human%20sexuality%20and%20gender%20development%20about%20masturbation&f=true>.
  9. Epstein, M., Calzo, J. P., Smiler, A. P., & Ward, L. (2009). “Anything From Making Out to Having Sex”: Men's Negotiations of Hooking Up and Friends With Benefits Scripts. Journal of Sex Research, 46(5), 414-424. doi:10.1080/00224490902775801
  10. Decker M, McCauley H, Miller E, Raj A, Reed E,Silverman J (2011) Coercive Forms of Sexual Risk and Associated Violence Perpetrated by Male Partners of Female Adolescents Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health Vol.3, Number 1
  11. NARA SCHOENBERG;Chicago Tribune. Study details ‘friends with benefits’ trend
  12. Teles, A., Carreira, M., Alarcão, V., Sociol, D. D., Aragūés, J., Lopes, L., & ... Costa, J. (2008). Prevalence, Severity, and Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction in a Representative Sample of 3,548 Portuguese Men Aged 40 to 69 Years Attending Primary Healthcare Centers: Results of the Portuguese Erectile Dysfunction Study. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5(6), 1317-1324. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00745.x
  13. Youn, G. (2009). "Marital and Sexual Conflicts in Elderly Korean People." Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 35(3), 230-238. doi:10.1080/00926230802716369.