Socio-cultural Influences on Sexuality


Socio-culturalInfluences on Sexuality

Socio-culturalInfluences on Sexuality

Irrespectiveof the fact that biology plays an important role in the manner inwhich sexuality is expressed, sexuality is highly influenced byculture. Sexual motivation, usually regarded to as libido is theoverall sexual drive of an individual. Accordingly, it is the desireto engage in sexual activity and it is influenced by socio-cultural,psychological and biological factors. From a socio-culturalperspective, human sexuality is a part of the social life of humans.It is governed by the status quo, implied rules of behavior and thesocial norms. The views of the society regarding sexuality havechanged throughout history and continue to evolve as times goes by.This makes socio-cultural a complex issue due to the changes in itsview. Underpinning on this, it goes without say that the society andculture influence sexuality. Consequently, it is important tocomprehend the manner in which the society and culture affectsexuality. To explore this, the essay is going to explore the roleand expectations of culture and society with reference to genderroles, identity, bias and stereotypes, and sexual behavior.


Withreference to the socio-cultural perspective, culture is an importantfactor in the discussion of sexuality. Masculinity and femininitycomprise of learnt behaviors associated with role expectations andsocial identity. Historically, women’s sexuality has beenassociated with their reproductive organs and reproductiveexperiences. The bodies of women are associated with their roles asnurtures and caregivers. The society also places a social roleexpectation regarding appropriate conversations pertaining tosexuality and sex. Gender inequalities take place between women andmen when the behavior and roles systematically favor one group(Kingston, 2014).In most of the societies, women have a lower social status comparedto their male counterparts. They suffer unequal power in theirrelationships.

Accordingly,gender has an effect on the experience of sexuality, reproductivehealth and sexual behavior. Gender discrimination is a commonphenomenon which leaves young women with less control or power intheir relationships. This makes them susceptible to exploitation andabuse by older men. On the other hand, men may be pressurized bytheir peers to fulfill male stereotypes(Greenberg, Bruess, &amp Oswalt, 2014).In the same context, women may also face pressure from their partnersto be sexually active especially in relationships where young womenare involved with older men. As a result of the advent of patriarchalsocieties, gender roles with regard to sexuality have been morestringent. Sexual norms have been focusing on control of femalesexuality and sexual possessiveness.

CommercialSex Influences

Pornography,prostitution, and obscenity have an effect on sexuality. Nude andsexually explicit images have been a component of the popular culturefor many years. In historical times, they use to come in form ofpaintings and statutes. Nowadays, magazines comprise of naked people,and music videos and TV adverts comprise of sexually suggestivefeatures and people. Pornography is now accepted by many peoplethrough the internet(Kingston, 2014).Pornography is linked with increase in sexual aggression sexualcoercion and influences sexual behavior and expectation of young menand women. The growth in the popularity of pornographic material andsexual permissiveness has marked the liberalization of ideassurrounding sexuality. In the 1960s, these brought about anassociation between masculinity and freewheeling sexuality.Prostitution was considered and is still considered a crime.Conversely, the woman is punished for prostitution leaving out themale client(Kingston, 2014).


Massmedia in form of music, movies, magazines and television continues toshapes what is considered to be “normal” or “appropriate”sexuality. This is done through perpetuation of social scripts aboutsexual roles of women and men and sexual relationships. The effectmedia is dependent on the content on of the media. The music industryis marked by sexual images. The contemporary pop music is marked withsexuality messages about loneliness, violence, rejection and love.Men’s magazines compose of sexual orientation like Playboy andPrenthouse with nude pictorials, Pets of the Month and Playmates ofthe Month(Hald et al., 2015).Sexual images are used in the marketing of products. These messagescan produce emotional reactions and sexual arousal. Women magazinelike the Cosmopolitan and Redbook also have their own sexual content.The integrative model of behavior change is established on socialcognitive theory. This theory also includes theory of reasoned actionto foresee the effect of exposure of the media(Hald et al., 2015).

Soapoperas offer different perspectives of sexuality. Through soapoperas, sexuality is portrayed as intense and as a genesis ofjealousy. There is intimacy in soaps which is intense but desperateand unstable. The relationships are stormy and usually short-lived.Soaps send a message that sex is unsatisfying, guilt-ridden andexploitative. The images and sexual content in the media havesexualized the society(Pinkleton, Austin, Chen &amp Cohen, 2012).The media has gone further and introduced new dimensions insexuality. For example, in the NBC’s Super Bowl advert, a woman isseen licking pumpkin, rubbing her pelvic region with a pumpkin,rubbing asparagus on breast and licking an eggplant among many othersexually explicit acts. This means that women do not necessarily needmen to accomplish their sexuality. Nonetheless, this reduces womeninto less human objects(PETA, 2009).


Thesociety and culture have a great impact on sexuality. Gender roles aspostulated by the society also affect sexuality making women to facediscrimination in their sexuality. Commercial sex motivates somepeople to engage in sex. However, it promotes negative aspects ofsexuality. The media affects sexuality. In the present world, themedia presents itself in different forms. The media is supposed topostulate positive effects on sexuality.


Greenberg,J., Bruess, C. &amp Oswalt, S. (2014). Exploringthe dimensions of human sexuality(5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones &amp Bartlett Learning.

Hald,G., Treen, B., Noor, S., Iantaffi, A., Galos, D. &amp Rosser, S.(2015). Does Sexually Explicit Media (SEM) affect me? Assessingfirst-person effects of SEM consumption among Norwegian men who havesex with men. Psychologyand Sexuality, 6(1),59-74.

Kingston,S. (2014). Prostitutionin the Community: Attitudes, Action and Resistance.Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

PETA.(2009, Jan 27). NBC`s Sexual-Explicit Super Bowl Ad Rejection MakesUs Blush. PETA.Retrieved from

Pinkleton,B., Austin, E., Chen, Y. &amp Cohen, M. (2012). The Role of MediaLiteracy in Shaping Adolescents` Understanding of and Responses toSexual Portrayals in Mass Media. Perspectives,17(4),460-76.

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