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Perceptions of Sexual Deviance

By Thomas C. Weiss - 2015-02-27

Summary

Sexual expression viewed as being abnormal including sexual sadomasochism, fetishism, cross dressing, rape and incest at the extreme end of the range.

"Misconceptions related to a person’s sexuality may lead to guilt, doubts and shame while perpetuating mistaken views of, ‘normal,’ and, ‘abnormal,’ sexual behaviors in oneself and other people."

Main Document

In today’s world, perceptions of sexual deviance includes a range of sexual expression viewed as being, ‘abnormal,’ and includes sexual sadomasochism, fetishism, cross dressing, rape and incest at the extreme end of the range. ‘Sexual deviance,’ also refers to atypical sexual behaviors which are usually defined in legal, moral, or medical terms. The term, ‘sexual deviance,’ has always been a contested category in relation to its meaning.

Ancient pictures, sculptures and texts from across the world, such as the comprehensive textbook for sex Kamasutra, as well as explicit sexual postures carved in stone in Khajuraho temple in India, prove that insights emerging from modern research on sex were already common knowledge in ancient and medieval cultures in a number of areas of the world. Through a process of socialization, whereby society dictates behavioral expectations to people, largely due to religious and moral mores – ‘normal sex,’ came to be understood as penile-vaginal intercourse; most likely because of perceptions on procreation.

Sexual Behavior Considered to be, ‘Normal,’ by Society

Misconceptions related to a person’s sexuality may lead to guilt, doubts and shame while perpetuating mistaken views of, ‘normal,’ and, ‘abnormal,’ sexual behaviors in oneself and other people. In the modern world, with extensive researches and additional information available on the subject of human sexuality, it is possible to define, ‘sexuality,’ on the basis of personal choices; maybe to a greater degree in some segments of Western societies than in Asian ones.

Upscale urban living and modern lifestyles have led to a decrease in inhibitions as well as increased sexual freedom to explore different sexual behaviors. While penile-vaginal intercourse for recreation and procreation was usually believed to be the only civilized expression for an extended period of time, oral sex, anal sex and masturbating – either alone or in company among consenting adults are now perceived as being expressions of love and for the purposes of pleasure in a number of societies.

Perspectives of Homosexuality

Sexual mores change according to time, place, and what had previously been viewed as sexual deviance. Something that was previously seen as being deviant may become viewed as normal as it gains acceptance in society. A drastic change happened in America when psychiatrists removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. Certain states in America now allow legally-sanctioned gay marriages.

On the other hand, some nations still perceive homosexuality as being in the same way they view bestiality or pedophilia. These nations may define homosexuality as being an, ‘unnatural act,’ which may be punished with imprisonment. Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by Time magazine in 1994 called, ‘Now for the Truth about Americans and Sex,’ results stated that homosexuality was experienced by nine-percent of men and lesbianism by four-percent of women and that they had experimented with it at least to some degree since puberty.

Sexual Deviance and Perversion

Overall, certain sexual behaviors are described as being deviant. Other descriptions of some sexual behaviors include, ‘aberrant,’ ‘deviant,’ ‘abnormal,’ or, ‘perverted.’ Psychologists use the term, ‘paraphilia,’ for deviant types of sexual expression which include the following:

The incidence of sexual deviance differs among nations depending upon the nation’s culture. Remember the survey mentioned earlier called, ‘Now for the Truth about Americans and Sex?’ The survey reported some of the findings below:

Atypical Fantasies and the DSM-V

Atypical fantasies are certainly not a new topic; plenty of literature exists on the subject ranging from discussions on incorporating the concept of paraphilia to sexual interest in atypical objects or partners. The Fifth Edition of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) explains, ‘anomalous,’ fantasies while the World Health Organization has published material regarding, ‘unusual,’ fantasies in defining paraphilias. The fantasies either cause mental distress to a person, or they make person a serious threat to the physical and psychological well-being of others. Even though these prior efforts to address issues related to the diagnostic criteria of paraphilia, they do not define what comprises an unusual sexual fantasy.

Author Christian Joyal stated, "Clinically, we know what pathological sexual fantasies are: they involve non-consenting partners, they induce pain, or they are absolutely necessary in deriving satisfaction. But apart from that, what exactly are abnormal or atypical fantasies? To find out, we asked people in the general population, as simple as that. Our main objective was to specify norms in sexual fantasies, an essential step in defining pathologies,and as we suspected, there are a lot more common fantasies than atypical fantasies. So there is a certain amount of value judgment in the DSM-5.” Joyal noted the fact that the DSM-V plainly acknowledges that paraphilias may not always be pathological.

In a study on university students, adults who were willing to share their sexual fantasies included 799 men and 718 women from Quebec and whose average age was thirty. The participants answered a questionnaire describing their favorite fantasy in detail. Findings from the study include:

Women appear to have the ability to draw the line between desire and fantasy. While most women will fantasize about themes associated with submission, few women will actually want to do it. Men; on the other hand, report that they would love their fantasies to come true. Even though women fantasize about having their partners in their sexual ventures, men more often dream of extramarital sexual relationships. A significant number of men report fantasies including anal sex among heterosexuals, ‘shemales,’ and watching their partner have sex with another person.

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