Human Sexuality

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Sociology ・APA ・7 Sources

Expressions of sexual sensations and intimacy between two or more persons are referred to as human sexuality (Levay & Baldwin, 2014). From a psychological standpoint, the term sexuality refers to the means of expressing the fullness of love, particularly between a woman and a man (Kauth, 2015). A new biological component is also included in that it alludes to the process by which a child is conceived and a lineage is passed down over numerous generations. Certain variances exist in the realm of human sexuality, and these variations are discussed in the broader domain of human sexuality spectrum (Kauth, 2015). The human sexuality spectrum is a continuum that accounts for each variation in human identity/ human sexuality. Sexual variation is a term used to refer to the sexual behaviours and desires that are considered to be outside of what is normally acceptable. These variations may be drawn cultural differences or changes in time. This paper is an essay that explores the variations in human sexuality and the various societal attitudes towards the concept of sexuality. The paper addresses such concepts as polygamy, polyandry and polyamory on various societal attitudes towards them.

Certain underlying factors have been found to have an influence on sexuality. Different societies exercise different sexual practices. For purposes of this paper, the following concepts will be used to bring out the variations experienced in human sexuality.
Polygamy is a general term that is used to refer to a state marriage where one is married to more than one spouse (Spielvogel, 2017). When a man marries more than one woman, this is referred to as polygyny, but when a woman is married to more than one man, it is referred to as polyandry. On the other hand, polyamory refers to practice or a philosophy of being romantically in love with multiple persons at the same time. There is also the concept of monogamy which defines being in a relationship or married to one person at a time. Different cultures and societies have different philosophies and practices as far as human sexuality is concerned. Some of these practices have been influenced by ecological, historical, economic, psychological, legal and general sociological factors (Levay & Baldwin, 2014).

From an economic point of view, some people don't find it sustainable to engage in polygamy. Some people still argued that polygamy has many economic benefits. While others view the practice as being economically unsustainable regarding providing for a bigger family, there is a section of the population that consider polygamy to be a source of the much-needed labour force (Ryan & Jethá, 2011). Those people who practice it have claimed that a polygamous marriage increases labour supply within the kinship network. Social scientists have also argued that polygamy is a result of the various socio-economic stratifications that exist the Western societies (Spielvogel, 2017). In these social classes, it is said that men with power and wealth compromise their polygamous practices and exercise monogamy. This is said to be the case to get political support from the poor men in society who do not associate themselves with polygamy. These arguments have shaped people's attitudes towards the practice of polygamy and polyandry.

Socio-economically, polygamy and polyamory are practices that solely depend on a man's choice. This is the choice or preference for sexual variety to ensure certain reproductive successes desired by a man. In this respect, it is argued that the extent to which a man seeks sexual variety is likely to vary based on the prevailing social circumstances such as the number and availability of women as well as how costly they are. This is their economic value (Spielvogel, 2017). The various attitudes have been largely shaped by the claim that women from rural areas are less educated and thus can be taken into polygamous unions unlike their counterparts from urban areas who shun polygamy for their personal reasons.

From a socio-biological understanding, scientists and anthropologists have advanced a claim that supports the compromise theory explained above. 

The idea revolves around reproductive opportunity levelling. For a balanced society, some Western cultures have prohibited polygamy and polyandry in order minimise conflicts that arise between men chasing multiple ladies (Kiesbye, 2013). Prohibition of polyamory and polygamy introduces what has become to be commonly known as compulsory monogamy. This is a philosophy that has significantly worked to reduce unnecessary strife between men. The illegality of multiple sexual varieties has made people grow knowing that certain sexual practices are acceptable whereas others are completely out of the social norms that constitute the fabric of society. The socially imposed monogamy is said to have come as a result of the national outlook and attitudes towards sexuality variations (Kauth, 2015).

Western commentators and sociologists have associated polyamory and eventual polygamy to the gender imbalances and inequalities. According to the United Nations, the practice of polygamy contravenes the rights of women. The practice may attract serious financial and emotional consequences for the women and their dependants. Because of the severity of these consequences, polyamory and polygamous marriages are discouraged and even prohibited in most societies. This prohibition has made people develop negative attitudes towards sexual unions with multiple partners (Ryan & Jethá, 2011).

According to Weeks (2017), Western civilisation is mainly informed by Christianity. According to Christian teachings and practices, polyamory, polygamy and polyandry are practices that are against the acceptable ways. A man is supposed to marry only one woman, and the two shall stay together as husband and wife till death separates them. Variations that are experienced in other societies should not be tolerated for whatever reasons if the Christian beliefs are anything to go by. The church believes in monogamy and as such, polygamy and polyandry are completely shunned, and they have no room among Christians (Weeks, 2017). It is also argued that before civilisation, men were the dominant sex in the society. All a man wanted was an heir from a woman. To get this heir, a man had to remain loyal to only one woman so that she too can remain loyal and give him the heir. No man wanted to raise another man's child. This promoted monogamy significantly.

Western socio-cultural practices and attitudes towards marriage have been structured in such a way that the society accepts the numerosity requirement in marriage. The society accepts unions where a man marries only one woman. Any variation from this norm is labelled as unacceptable. This structure has led some people to question why Western societies keep quite on non-monogamous practices where people do it secretly (adultery) or serially through seasonal divorces and remarriages (Weeks, 2017). These social and cultural developments have contributed to different attitudes and views towards human sexuality and any variations thereof.

The concept of sexuality is undergoing a series of revolutions over the years. Variations continue being experienced in human sexuality, and people are going against social norms to have different establishments. Recently in the United States, there have been legislations legalising same-sex marriages (Kauth, 2015). This is a concept that was shunned widely by many western societies but the move to legalise it in the United States in an indicator that people's attitudes towards certain sexual practices have indeed changed. Anecdotal evidence has also indicated that polyamorous relationships are on the rise over the past few years. In the wake of same-sex marriages in the U.S., some people are now calling for the recognition of polyamory and polygamy.

Traditional models of human sexuality advocated for monogamy as the natural form of marriage. According to this model, marriage is a universal concept, and any family structures outside this concept are deemed aberrant (Weeks, 2017). This attitude seems to have changed over the years with the development of same-sex marriages and polyamorous practices. Western societies are said to be at war with their eroticism, and this has caused them to change their attitudes towards human sexuality. Over the years, people have developed different expectations and disappointments when it comes to human sexuality. Historic and prehistoric studies have shown that human sexuality is a dynamic concept as such it will continue evolving as people's attitudes towards certain variations keep changing (Ryan & Jethá, 2011).


Kauth, M. R. (2015). Epilogue. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 18(4), 371-385.

Kiesbye, S. (2013). Polygamy. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Levay, S., & Baldwin, J. I. (2014). Human sexuality. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.

Ryan, C., & Jethá, C. (2011). Sex at Dawn: the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality. Carlton North, Vic.: Scribe Publications.

Spielvogel, J. J. (2017). Western civilisation. Boston: Cengage Learning.

Weeks, J. (2017). Sexuality. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

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