Editor: Giorgos Brekoulakis
Translation: Vaso Stergianou
Scientists differentiate one’s biological sex from his sex identity (culturally constructed sense of masculinity and femininity). Also, there are more differentiations between sex identity (man/woman), sexual orientation (which sex is one sexually attracted by) and role of sex (if someone behaves according to the expectations society has regarding male and female sex). The modern perception concerning masculinity and femininity asserts that these two co-exist in an individual and that they are not opposite sides of two different individuals. Cultural convictions concerning masculinity and femininity change over time due to culture’s influence over sex˙ according to them, sex is not a fact, but a phenomenon subject to influences (Young, 2010).
According to scientists (Ngun et. al., 2011) and Peplau (2003) there are differences among men and women regarding sexuality: it seems that men are more interested in sex than women do and they also have an increased libido during their lifetime, high rates of masturbation, use of pornographic materials and visits to sex workers. It seems that men tend to take more initiatives during sex in a relationship, while women tend to romanticise it: they prefer having sex when in close relations or in a relationship. Increased sexual activity seems to be related to testosterone. Researchers Gotta et al. (2011) support that gay couples tend to have more sex than heterosexual ones do and the latter ones tend to have more sex than lesbian couples do.
As far as sexual orientation is concerned, scientists estimate that homosexuality rates are 3% – 6% for men and 1% – 4% for women. It seems that there is some genetic predisposition for both men and women homosexuals, but the genes involved are not yet identified. Epigenetics, which examines the role of environment in the activation or not of human genes, mentions that maybe the environment does play some role in homosexuality’s formation of sexual orientation (Bochlandt & Vilain, 2007). While the brains’ anatomic differences between homosexual and heterosexual couples are not big, there are some social differences between them.
Homosexual couples often face stress due to homophobia, discrimination and difficulty of being accepted by their own families. While heterosexual couples fight over who has control and power concerning the roles each of their sex has, homosexual couples tend to have more equal arrangements concerning power in a relationship (Gottman et al., 2003b; Green, 2012; Jonathan, 2009). Researchers have discovered that lesbian couples expressed more their positive and negative feelings than gay couples did and they also were in more emotional proximity than gay or heterosexual ones.
According to a study that compared the way heterosexual and homosexual couples argued, it seems that gay and lesbian couples saw their conflicts in a positive way and without a feeling of dominance of one on another as was the case with heterosexual couples. This can be explained by the value homosexual couples give on equality, the easiness with which they end miserable relationships and the lack of hierarchy in the sex that causes hostility in heterosexual couples (e.g. it is the man or the woman that makes the decisions).
Regardless of sexual orientation (heterosexual/homosexual) women (straight or lesbian) tend to appreciate more the proximity and they are more emotionally expressive, while men (straight or gay) are more likely to be guided by their anger and look for an identity confirmation by their female/male partner.
Our culture understands gender (e.g. man/woman) and sexual orientation (e.g. heterosexual/homosexual) as a two-pole situation that does not suit a lot of people. Sexual fluidity and a number of sexual identities and orientations (exclusively heterosexual – bisexual – homosexual) describe a lot of people (Hudak & Giammatei, 2010; Hyde, 2005b; Malpas & Lev, 2011).
Scientists have examined issues regarding transgender and intersex people, whose biological sex does not match their sex identity and their issues were previously treated with surgery. Despite the fact that some transgender people are interested in redefining sex, some others prefer being in an ambiguous position. It is estimated that 1,7% of infants is born with an ambiguity related to sex due to their chromosomes or hormones level.
Modern clinics and researchers (Malpas, 2011 & Malpas et al., 2011) suggest a more neutral approach relating to sex and sexuality and examine ways of working with families of non-conventional children concerning sex and sexual orientation. Simultaneously, modern parents are trying to accept their children and protect them from a world in which people assume a two-pole way of thinking relating to gender (e.g. man/woman) and sexual orientation (e.g. heterosexual/homosexual).
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