sexual diversity
Love Matters | Rita Lino

Sexual Behaviour vs Sexual Orientation

Sexual behaviour or human sexuality is the capacity to have erotic or sexual feelings and experiences. This includes thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, roles, relationships, values and it can be influenced by the prevailing culture in the society that one finds oneself in. Sexual Orientation, on the other hand, is the manner in which human beings seek intimacy in relation to the gender they are attracted to.

There are three main sexual orientations that can have variations, especially in light of the fact that gender is a spectrum and people fall on different parts of this spectrum.

    • Heterosexuality: Its current use, to mean a person who has romantic interest in, and seeks intimacy from someone of the opposite sex, was invented by Karl Maria Kertbenny in 1869.
    • Homosexuality: Coined in 1892 by Charles Gilbert Haddock when translating Richard von Krafft-Ebbing’s Psychopathia Sexualis to mean someone who is attracted to another person of the same sex. A homosexual can be gay(men who are attracted to, and seek intimacy with, men), or lesbian(women who are attracted to and seek intimacy with women).
    • Bisexuality: Another word invented in 1892 by Charles Gilbert Haddock, to mean a person attracted to both men and women.

    However, as gender is a spectrum, and diverse people claim their identities according to where they fall on the spectrum, the above definitions are not set in stone. For example, what would you call a person that is attracted to an intersex person? Wouldn’t that depend solely on the person’s chosen gender identity? Or a woman who seeks intimacy with a trans-man, aren’t they simply heterosexuals?

    As more research is being carried out on sexual orientation, these questions and many more will be asked for a better understanding of human behaviour. The truth, however, is that whomever anyone chooses to partner with or love is none of other people’s business, for that is basically trampling on the person’s right to private life, but most importantly, love is love.

    Now back to our distinction between sexual behaviour and sexual orientation.

    People have sex, this is immutable, and people will have several variations of it— penetrative, oral, masturbation (solo or mutual), kinks etc. And people will have sex with a variety of people on the gender spectrum, people will seek pleasure with or without approval from anyone. Who people choose to have sex with at any point in time does not determine their sexual orientation. The determinant is a pattern of behaviour shaped by the person’s gender, norms, culture, values etc

    On a final note, paedophilia is NOT a sexual orientation, it is a crime. Why? Because children cannot give consent, and even parents cannot give consent on their child’s behalf, particularly if it has something to do with bodily integrity, the right of every person, irrespective of their gender or age to own their bodies and determine what is done with it.

    Any sex had with someone else without enthusiastic consent is rape.

     

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