Male Sexuality Facts

Facts, Theories, And Information on Male Sexuality:

What Is Normal Sexual Behavior?


Normal sexual behavior

Sexuality raises many questions in many people's minds, but perhaps the biggest, most taxing question of all is: "Am I normal?"

Almost all of us ask the question at some point in our lives, in relation to our sexual development, to our sexual practices, the sex positions we use, or to our sexual feelings and desires.

The trouble is that the proper answer is usually: "It depends." There's no simple standard by which we can tell if something is normal. We all know, for example, that even now in our society it is normal to be a "married" parent.

Does that mean that childless couples and unmarried people are by definition "abnormal?" Or does it mean that they are entirely normal but in a minority?

The popular idea of normality is a kind of compound of these other ideas: healthy, good, right, acceptable, typical, average, proper, common, permissible, appropriate. This does not, however, give much guidance to someone worried about her or his sexuality. Extramarital affairs, for example, are certainly typical and common.

People having extramarital affairs may find them healthy, good and appropriate, and yet there is an overall community standard by which extramarital sex cannot generally be labeled proper, permissible and right.

So how do we assess normality? Wardell Pomeroy, one of the original Kinsey researchers, faced up to this problem and recorded his view that we have multiple standards: statistical, religious/moral, psychological/sociological.

Statistical Normality

If the majority of people do it, it is normal. This sounds straightforward and helpful, but in fact it is less so than it sounds.

Take masturbation as an example.

Research tells us that masturbation is a very common behavior indeed - most people do it at some time or other.

Yet in some societies it is not seen as normal, and in our own it has been condemned by several major religions.

Masturbation is therefore statistically normal but does not accord easily with some people's important principles.

Religious / Moral Normality

If a behavior is frowned upon by a significant religious grouping and yet is not at odds with the general moral code of a society, it usually still qualifies as normal, at least in a tolerant Western society.

This also sounds straightforward, but it isn't. We know, for example, that a great many Catholics use contraceptives - it may well be statistically normal; and yet those same people are defying a teaching of their Church, which regards their behavior as immoral and abnormal.

These things have a crucial impact on an individual's sense of sexual identity and may impact on his or her sexual behavior.

Psychological / Sociological Normality

This is a standard that is fairly independent of both statistical and religious/moral norms. It says that if acts lead to diminished self-esteem, or if they are angry, hostile or vengeful, they can be described as abnormal.

The same applies if such acts harm people or society in general. This, too, is an obviously helpful standard. It would however he more helpful if it were truly independent of judgments, which depend in part on moral attitudes.

There are two more standards in current use:

Legal Normality

If it violates the law, it is abnormal. There are two problems with this standard. First, we make laws to reflect social values, so the legal standard must necessarily be intimately bound up with our moral and religious norms.

Second, legal restrictions on sexual behavior vary according to time and place in such a way that an individual, without changing his or her behavior, could be subject to prosecution for "abnormality" one day and decreed perfectly "normal" the next.

Phylogenetic Normality

This is an attempt to get down to biological basics. Simply put, this standard says that if mammals do it, it's okay. The value of this standard is that we can observe mammal behavior unencumbered by moral values. We may see a group of mammals that plainly accept, say, homosexuality without apparently harming the group or individuals.

So far, so good, but you cannot make a direct transfer to humans unless you discount the whole of human culture and religion, and this we know to be a set of very powerful forces affecting our behavior.

A sexual norm may possibly refer to a personal or a social norm. Most modern and ancient cultures have or had social norms regarding sexuality, and so are able to define normal sexuality by reference to a set of standards which consist of a judgment about the rightness or wrongness of sex acts between individuals of that society who meet - or do not meet - specific criteria of age, blood relation (or consanguinity - what we call incest), degree of racial connection, ethnicity (e.g. miscegenation), and/or social role and socioeconomic status.

In most societies, the term 'normal' however is not absolute - it identifies a range or normal distribution or spectrum of behaviors.

Rather than each have sexual act simply classified as "right" or "wrong", many sexual acts are seen as "more or less OK" by various people, so that the view of how normal or acceptable they are actually depends on the individual who is holding a viewpoint as well as cultural values.

According to sexological studies, many average people's sex lives are extraordinarily at variance with beliefs about normal, in private settings.

Perhaps this societally defined set of sexual standards is insufficient, but it reveals that no single standard is adequate or sufficient on its own. Our cultural context defines our sexual behavior to some extent, and it is always determined by religious or spiritual values as well as moral values. Acceptable norms of sexual behavior vary according to time and place. And of course, scientific research tells us what actually happens, and so gives us a clearer view of sex in our time.

Anxiety about being normal is rife. This is one of the most common questions sex experts get asked:

Q. "How can I tell if what I am doing is normal?"

A: "If you can't, I can't. I don't know what your values and beliefs is good and right for you, answering these questions may help: is what you do hurtful, physically or emotionally, to yourself or your partner?

Do your feelings and behavior cause you to feel valuable, worthwhile and increase your self-esteem, or do your thoughts and acts make you feel worthless, valueless and lessen your self-esteem? Are your acts with another person responsible, open, mutual, consensual, enjoyable, or are they irresponsible, coercive, anxiety-filled, guilt-producing and joyless?

Do your acts further your contact with others and continue your development as a whole person, or do your acts depersonalize, cut you off from others and limit your chances of personal growth and becoming a full person? There is no scorecard to be filled in, no magic tally of points which means you are certified 'normal.'

The questions are designed only to help you look closely at your sexual behavior and see if it is genuinely positive and life-enhancing." If you ejaculate quickly during intercourse, then you may wish to look at this advice on how to last longer for men who have no ejaculatory control.

Q. "I'm doing things sexually that really make me feel abnormal, but I don't want to lose my partner."

A: "Treat yourself like a first-class person and talk to your partner about your feelings. Partners usually like each other to be happy and fulfilled. Your silence about your feelings is probably being taken for consent, so if you don't like what is happening, say so. Your partner can never know about your feelings until you express yourself. Feeling you may lose your partner as a result is a common anxiety that frequently turns out to be unfounded."

Q: "I want to know how to be a real man with my partner and how I can show her the depths of my masculinity."

A: "For most men in our society, being masculine is a challenge. There are social norms which we may feel we have no right to contravene, we may not know how to be a man, that is to say we may not know how to "Be" with women, and it is certainly true that our fathers do not teach us how to display masculinity.

In the face of such a deficit of knowledge, we must turn to men who have the ability to help us, including those who have apparently acquired the knowledge and information that can help us - even when the way we acquire this is from the internet! Check out such programs as the pick up artists at mystery method, or Joshua Pellicer at the Tao Of Badass - if you're wondering what the heck it's all about, this Badass review should explain everything.

Q. "What can I do to convince my sex partner that trying new things is normal?"

A: "Who says it's normal? The problem is I don't know what your relationship is like or what your goals are as a couple. I  think you need to do some thinking about these things. I think you also need to be aware that the line between convincing and coercing is a fine one, and coercion is unhealthy. Reflect on what seems right for you as a couple before trying to change what you are doing now."

Q. "My wife says oral sex is abnormal, how can I convince her oral sex is normal?"

A: "You can talk with her about her feelings, you can learn about her concerns and you can try to discuss the issue in a mature and open way. Perhaps she has no specific argument against oral sex but simply prefers not to do it.

Maybe reading some of the literature on oral sex will help, but you will in the end have to accept her choice on the matter.

And what is your part in this? What does oral sex mean to you? Are you as enthusiastic about cunnilingus as you want her to be about fellatio? Are you putting her under too much pressure to satisfy your own needs?

And how good do you think that pressure is for the general good of your relationship? By the way, what is normal, and what is not, depends to a large extent on the cultural context of the time and the society you live in.

For example, with the advent of the internet, knowing how to overcome sex addiction, and a more specific form of this, pornography addiction have become major problems."

Culture, in the widest sense, means a system of shared beliefs, values, customs and agreed actions, all determined by a group of people for themselves.

What is culturally "normal" in terms of both sex and sexual practice varies from society to society according to the rules that each has evolved.

For example, in Western society, premature ejaculation is regarded generally as poor male sexual performance; yet in Arab cultures, premature - or at least rapid - ejaculation is reputedly seen as a sign of manliness!

A large and complex society may in addition consist of several subgroups, with identifiable cultural differences. What is more, societies change their cultural rules according to time and need. There are, therefore, no universal cultural absolutes, and each society makes its own judgments about what is sexually normal.

For example, we allow ourselves one marital partner at a time when much of the world says that more than one wife is normal. It is normal for us to discourage extramarital sex, but not for some other cultures. 

We say that extramarital sex is "wrong," yet enormous numbers of people have extramarital affairs; they obviously don't feel it is "wrong" or "abnormal" and as a society we don't, on the whole, punish it. Some countries sharing the general Western ethos have done a complete turnaround on homosexuality, seeing it as quite acceptable by the rules.

So - all in all, your sense of normality is determined by the culture you grow up in and what your past sexual experience has taught you.

As the example above shows, one striking example is what men think of as normal in terms of ejaculatory speed - for example, delayed ejaculation is regarded as abnormal, while it affects about one man in twelve.

 Premature ejaculation, which certainly causes much more distress, is regarded as normal, simply because it occurs so often, yet in reality it reduces potential sexual pleasure for both men and women.

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