Development of Human Sexuality
Expression of related intimacy and sexual sensation between human beings is basically known as human sexuality. The way in which human sexuality is developed depends on various factors including biological sex, gender identity and roles, and sexual orientation. In certain circumstances, these individual factors interact to bring about specific types of behaviors in humans (Diamant and McAnulty, 2011). The purpose of this paper is to examine factors that influence the development of human sexuality. It begins by giving the definitions of biological sex, gender identity, gender roles, and sexual orientation. This is followed by a detailed literature review of current research, theories, and models related to the development of human sexuality.
Definition of terms
Biological sex refers to inherent anatomical and physiological differences between females and males that structure their physical and functional appearance in erotic life. For example, females are born to have breasts when they become adults while adult men do not develop enlarged breasts. The enlarged breasts in females are meant for breastfeeding an infant. According to Diamant and McAnulty (2011), gender refers to the idea that the society has concerning how men and women or girls and boys should be treated and how they should behave. Gender roles refer to actions that are done out of social expectations or norms, whether they match personal preferences or not, while gender identity refers to the manner in which an individual sees himself or herself to fulfill the society’s expectations. Diamant and McAnulty (2011), defines sexual orientation as the sex, female or male, of the affectional partner preferred by a person. The terms used to refer to different sexual orientations in the society include bisexuals, homosexuals, and heterosexuals. Bisexuals are people whose love and affection are always directed towards both males and females. Heterosexuals always have erotic companions with members of the opposite sex, while homosexuals always direct their love and affection towards members of the same sex.
Development of human sexuality is surrounded by numerous theoretical perspectives that have attracted debate in the field of biology. Developmental researchers are greatly concerned with the origins of behavior, and many authors have documented that nature and nurture are theoretically significant in understanding development of human sexuality. As far as nature theory is concerned, human sexuality is shaped by biological factors, with specific reference to genetics. On the other hand, nurture theory assumes that human sexuality is developed as a result how human beings are nurtures in their social environments. In 1952, Kallman conducted a genetic study on twins and families to examine the origin of homosexuality. This study gave a strong evidence that human sexual orientation has a strong biological basis (Kallmann, 1952). In a different study it was concluded that the sex ratio of male and female siblings in a family determines the sexual orientation of children in that family. For instance, homosexual males are likely to be seen in a family where the sex ratio of brothers to sisters is significantly lower than the expected ratio of 106 males to 100 females. According to Diamant and McAnulty (2011), whether a child grows up to be homosexual, heterosexual, or bisexual largely depends on parental upbringing such as prolonged exposure to homosexual activities.
According to Zosuls et al. (2011), males and females are anatomically and physiologically different due to biochemical factors that take place during conception. Hormonal variations that occur when a child is still undergoing development in the mother’s womb will determine whether or not the new born will be a girl or a boy. Additionally, the types of behaviors developed by these sexes of children are not only influenced by physiological and anatomical manifestations but also by variations in nervous system between the two sexes. Again, the brain structures differ between homosexuals and heterosexuals and between males and females. It can therefore be concluded that the nervous system and the nervous system structures have a great influence on the biological sex, sexual orientation, and gender roles, which eventually affect development of human sexuality (Zosuls et al., 2011).
Culture and social environment have been known to widely influence gender roles and gender identity. People identify themselves as males or females by carrying out those activities that are set aside for males and females respectively by the society. In addition, children normally learn their roles depending on what people in their immediate environment do. For example, a girl child will grow up knowing that she should do kitchen activities because she observes her mother perform such activities on a daily basis but not his father (Zosuls et al., 2011). Gender identity and gender roles can also be explained in terms of life course theory of human development. This theory assumes that interaction between a person and his or her immediate environment determines the type of behavior that such a person will develop over time (Hammack, 2005).
Based on previous researches, it can be concluded that both biological and social factors contribute to variations in biological sex, gender identity and gender roles, and sexual orientation. These eventually affect the types of behaviors that human beings develop with time, which eventually influence development of human sexuality. For this reason, development of human sexuality can be explained in terms of various theoretical perspectives, including nature, nurture, and life course theory.