Archive for March 25th, 2009

SEXUAL BEHAVIOR OF CONSENTING ADULTS: SODOMY

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

In 1976, a married couple in Virginia was convicted of sodomy, which is defined as oral or anal sex. They were given five-year prison terms. They appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court upheld the Virginia law, and sodomy has remained a crime in this state ever since.

The president of the American Psychiatric Association pointed out at the time that about two-thirds of sexually active American heterosexuals—80 million women and men—engage in oral or anal sex. He also reported that 20 million gay men and lesbians do likewise. If sodomy laws were enforced as they were in Virginia, 100 million Americans would be convicted.

It is not clear how the U.S. Supreme Court would now decide a case involving a criminal conviction of a heterosexual couple who had oral or anal sex. However, in 1986, in Bowers v. Hardwick, the Court upheld a Georgia law that punishes sodomy with 20 years in prison. In this case, two men were discovered having oral sex in their home by a policeman who was trying to serve a summons. The two men were arrested and charged with sodomy The Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy does not extend to sexual acts between two men or between two women, even in their own homes!

As of 1992, 19 states still had sodomy laws that applied to both straight and gay women and men, and four had sodomy laws that specifically targeted gay men and lesbians. Sodomy laws were most recently revoked in Montana in 1996.

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COMMON SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS: GONORRHEA. HEPATITIS Â VIRUS (HBV)

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea (gone-o-RHEE-a) is a bacterium that can cause sterility, arthritis, and heart problems. In women, gonorrhea can cause PID, which can result in ectopic pregnancy or sterility. During pregnancy, gonorrhea infections can cause premature labor and stillbirth. To prevent serious eye infections that are caused by gonorrhea in newborn babies, drops of silver nitrate or antibiotics are routinely put into the eyes of infants immediately after delivery. More than 1 million cases of gonorrhea are reported every year in the United States.

Common Symptoms

• women: frequent, often burning urination; menstrual irregularities; pelvic (or lower abdominal) pain; pain during sex or pelvic examination; a green or yellow-green discharge from the vagina; swelling or tenderness of the vulva; and even arthritic pain

• men: a puslike discharge from the urethra or pain during urination

Eighty percent of the women and 10 percent of the men with gonorrhea show no symptoms. If they appear, they appear in women within 10 days. It takes from one to 14 days for symptoms to appear in men.

How Gonorrhea Is Spread: Vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse.

Diagnosis: Microscopic examination of urethral or vaginal discharges. Cultures taken from the cervix, throat, urethra, or rectum.

Treatment: Both partners can be successfully treated with oral antibiotics. Often, people with gonorrhea also have chlamydia. They must be treated for both infections at the same time.

Protection: Condoms offer very good protection.

Hepatitis  Virus (HBV)

Although 90 to 95 percent of adults with HBV recover completely, the virus can cause severe liver disease and death. Unless they are treated within an hour of birth, 90 percent of the infants born to women with HBV will carry the virus. Pregnant women who may have been exposed to HBV should consider being tested before giving birth so that their babies can be vaccinated at birth or treated if they become ill. Like many other viruses, HBV remains in the body for life.

HBV is the only sexually transmitted infection that is preventable with vaccination. But about 200,000 Americans get HBV every year because they have not been vaccinated. There are now about 1.5 million people with HBV in the United States.

Common Symptoms

• extreme fatigue, headache, fever

• nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, tenderness in the lower abdomen

Later Symptoms: dark urine, clay-colored stool, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye (jaundice), and weight loss.

HBV may show no symptoms during its most contagious phases. If symptoms appear, they appear within four weeks.

How HBV Is Spread: In semen, saliva, blood, feces, and urine by:

• intimate and sexual contact, including kissing, vaginal and anal intercourse, oral sex and oral/anal sex.

• use of unclean needles to inject drugs

• passing from a woman to her fetus during pregnancy

Health care workers may be infected when accidentally stuck by a needle containing the infected blood of a patient. Hepatitis  is highly contagious.

Diagnosis: Blood test.

Treatment: None. In most cases, the infection clears within four to eight weeks of rest. Some people, however, remain contagious for the rest of their lives.

Protection: Condoms offer some protection against HBV during vaginal, anal, and oral intercourse, but the virus can be passed through kissing and other intimate touching. Children and adults who do not have HBV can get permanent protection with a series of HBV vaccine injections.

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NINETEENTH-CENTURY EXPERIMENTS IN SEX AND MARRIAGE

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Although the family, founded in monogamous marriage, was considered the basis of society in the nineteenth century, its sanctity and its assumption of sexual exclusivity of husband and wife, were not unchallenged. Utopian communities, with missions of economic, religious, or social reform, sought to change or exclude marriage as antagonistic to the communal spirit. Some of these were celibate, some adopted polygyny, and some had a system of “complex marriage,” in which every man was married to every woman, and vice versa (Muncy). The most important of these was the Oneida community in New York, founded by John Humphrey Noyes in 1848.

Exclusive attachments were not permitted at Oneida. Any man could approach any woman, but she was under no obligation to accept his proposal, even if he were her legal husband. The young did not mate exclusively with the young but were introduced into the system of complex marriage by older persons of the opposite sex. Thus, virgins learned about sex from the skilled attentions of older men, and boys were taught to give and receive pleasure by experienced women. Noyes regarded the amative function of sex as superior to the procreative function, knowing that children were expensive and childbirth dangerous. He developed the art of what he called “male continence,” the restraint of ejaculation through self-control. The female orgasm was the objective, and when the male became skilled at the technique, intercourse could last for an hour or more and pregnancy could be avoided. Though not foolproof, male continence was highly regarded at Oneida, and careless or unskilled men were avoided by the women of the community (Muncy).

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CHILDHOOD SEXUALITY: ENCOUNTERS WITH PARENTS – II

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Both traditional parents in Western societies with their Victorian morality and parents in some nonliterate societies may repress their children’s sexual activity. Susii parents, for instance, do not tolerate their children’s sex play, and beat boys and girls for indulging in it. Nevertheless, children find opportunities to escape parental supervision and engage in hetero-sexuality. Adults are aware that children “in general” do such things, but they become upset on learning that a child of their own has done so. If the parent seems undecided as to what his or her own response should be, the response is commonly ambiguous or it is postponed to some not clearly defined later time.

Likewise, the average child of five or six who has not been openly and positively socialized about sexual matters and who has had an opportunity to observe genital differences, can say that “a boy’s sticks out and a girl’s doesn’t.” The child is very reluctant to divulge the name or label by which the organ is known. The name for the organ may be as innocuous as the term “dewdrop,” “teddy bear,” “dicky bird,’: “train,” or “piece of string.” Nevertheless, the child becomes restless, bites his lip, or hangs his head and refuses to speak when he is re> quested to utter the word which refers to that part of the body. Conn and Kanner reported no less than sixty-one different name: for the sex organs in the vocabularies of two hundred children. Many had two or three term: for the sex organs which they could use inter changeably. Most of these served for both the male and female genitals. The great majority î children had something to say about how bad naughty, or “not nice” it was to talk about genitality, genitals, to see others undressed, ant to be seen in the nude. Sex talk was generally regarded as a great offense. This attitude was especially strong when it came to naming the genitals. A girl six years old said, “That’s a bad word.” When she was asked why, she said “Because it’s really bad.” A five-year-old boy said, “A girl has a different thing. I don’t war to say it because it might be a bad word.”

This phenomenon of not labeling or mislabeling the sex organs and their functions, encouraged by many parents, leaves the child without a vocabulary with which to thin properly about or to describe human physic; attributes and physical or psychic experience Because he or she lacks a definitive sexual vocabulary, it is possible that fantasy will overrun sex life. The mysterious penis that supposed exists behind the female pubic hair, the feeling that females have been castrated, and other childhood fantasies are possible because there is no naming of parts and functions which could guide the child’s nascent interest in its own or other’s bodies. Nevertheless, innocuous misinformation given ratio ally is apt to have a less negative effect on the child than if the parent handles the situation by going “into a rage.”

Generally speaking, the schools have been little better than the parents when it comes to sex education. Ambiguity, misinformation, mislabeling, and excessive idealism often characterize sex instruction in the schools as well as at home. But it is not that simple. Some parents object to sex education in the school, not because it goes “too far” but because it does not go far enough. A school principal told me that his school felt that it was being very progressive and was doing the right thing when they told children that every child born is the result of an act of love on the part of the parents. In this case, some progressive parents called in as consultants on the school’s sex education curriculum objected to such instruction, pointing out that such instruction was too idealistic.

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SEXUALITY IN THE INFANT AND NEONATE: MASTURBATION

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

In boys, masturbation is defined as genital self-touching associated with erection and increasing excitement moving rhythmically toward a climax. In girls, masturbation also comprises rhythmical self-stimulation with indications of pleasure and climax. It may begin as early as the first or second year, but more commonly occurs after the third year. Kinsey and his coworkers reported orgasm in both boy and girl infants in the first six months of life. They based their conclusions on adult observations of a sample of children being sexually stimulated and achieving a climax. Approximately half the sample of twenty-two boys achieved climax by age two, with gradual increases in successive years. Similar findings are reported for girls, but the data are based on both observation and adult recall. Orgasm is reported for twenty-three girls under age three, four of them less than one year of age. A composite account of climax in the infant male follows:

the behavior involves a series of gradual physiologic changes, the development of rhythmic body movements with distinct penis throbs and pelvic thrusts, an obvious change in sensory capacities, a final tension of muscles, especially the abdomen, hips, and back, a sudden release with convulsions, including rhythmic anal contractions—followed by the disappearance of all symptoms. A fretful babe quiets down under the initial sexual stimulation, is distracted from other activities, begins rhythmic pelvic thrusts, becomes tense as climax approaches, is thrown into convulsive action, often with violent arm and leg movements, sometimes with weeping at the moment of climax. After climax the child loses erection quickly and subsides into the calm and peace that typically follows adult orgasm. It may be some time before erection can be induced again after such an experience (Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin).

Masturbation to orgasm in a girl, age three, the youngest reported by Kinsey and his associates is described by the child’s mother:

Lying face down on the bed, with her knees drawn up, she started rhythmic pelvic thrusts, about one second or less apart. The thrusts were primarily pelvic, with the legs tensed in a fixed position. The forward components of the thrusts were in a smooth and perfect rhythm which was unbroken except for momentary pauses during which the genitalia were readjusted against the doll on which they were pressed; the return from each thrust was convulsive, jerky. There were 44 thrusts in unbroken rhythm, a slight momentary pause, 87 thrusts followed by a slight momentary pause, then 10 thrusts, and then a cessation of all movement. There was marked concentration and intense breathing with abrupt jerks as orgasm approached. She was completely oblivious to everything during these later stages of the activity. Her eyes were glassy and fixed in a vacant stare. There was noticeable relief and relaxation after orgasm. A second series of reactions began two minutes later with series of 48, 18, and 57 thrusts, with slight momentary pauses between each series. With the mounting tensions, there were audible gasps, but immediately following the cessation of pelvic thrusts there was complete relaxation and only desultory movements thereafter (Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin and Gebhard).

Masturbation to orgasm, by various techniques, was also reported in younger female infants (Bakwin). A seven-month-old girl masturbated by pressing her body against her rag doll:

“… from time to time would throw the doll on the floor, lie down on top of it, and rhythmically press her body against it . . .”. Another infant, at five months, “would press her legs together, lift them and bear down, and her face became flushed”. Still another, at fourteen months, “would cross her legs, grunt, and get red in the face. After some seconds or minutes she would relax, break out in perspiration, and appear exhausted”. The follow-up data on these girls indicated that masturbation in early infancy was not associated with behavioral disability later. In two of the infants, masturbation gradually diminished, but in the third who was routinely punished for self-stimulation, it continued and apparently increased.

Pelvic thrusting movements begin in the first year, mainly when the infant is held close and cuddled. The majority of infants respond reciprocally to holding and cuddling, sometimes with pelvic thrusting. Since sex play is rarely permitted in our society, the continuing occurrence of pelvic thrusting rehearsals is not known. In a society which permits sexual play in children, as the Yolunga of Arnhem Lane in Australia do, pelvic thrusting may occur as children are falling asleep together (Money and Ehrhardt).

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