The storm that this IU professor precipitated
included outrage from some sections of society, who hated the
idea that the lid had been taken off human sexual behavior for
all to see, and applause from others, who welcomed the breakthrough
in making sex something that we could talk about, and the acknowledgment
that many diverse types of sexual behavior were common and involved
Ever since then, the Kinsey Institute, here on IU Bloomington
campus, tucked away in Morrison Hall, has been the foremost institute
researching sexual behavior in the world, with the largest collection
of materials relevant to human sexuality across history and across
In 1997 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of
the KI. Our main celebration was our first public exhibition of
more than 200 selected items from our extensive collections, in
the Fine Arts Gallery on this campus, entitled 'The Art of Desire:
Erotic Treasures from the Kinsey Institute'. This exhibit served
to illustrate that sex is not new and has been represented many
ways across history and across cultures. This exhibition was the
single most successful exhibit to be held in the Fine Arts Gallery.
So that is why the Kinsey Institute is very interested in Sex
in the 21st Century, and why I am here giving you this talk. In
painting the picture of sex in the 21st Century I have been guided
by the evidence, but I will also be putting some of my own interpretations,
reflecting my own moral values, as I go along. I hope it will
be clear when I am doing that.
In order to get this start of the 21st
Century into perspective, lets begin at the time that Kinsey was
doing his work and then see how things have changed.
Here are the principal dimensions, or functions of sex which
prevailed half way through the 20th Century:
1.Reproduction; 2 Gender Identity, 3. Self Esteem; 4 Sexual Morality/Guilt;
5. Pleasure; 6. Tension Reduction; 7. Bonding/Intimacy. Lets look
at each of these a little more closely.
1. Reproduction. Having children was the principal justification
for sex, and obviously marriage was the context for this to take
place. You may be surprised to learn that in the 1950's the idea
that contraception was immoral was still deeply entrenched. You
had God's permission to be sexual if you were married, and whether
you had children was 'in God's hands'. Still, in the 1960's when
the first oral contraceptives were introduced there was major
opposition to contraception, even for married women, but during
the 60's and 70's we saw women fighting back for the rights to
control their own bodies and their own reproductive lives. Even
Catholic women in large numbers were starting to reject the teaching
of their Church on this particular issue.
2. Gender Identity. By Gender I mean 'Maleness' or 'Femaleness'.
How we expressed ourselves sexually and who we did it with had
a lot to do with our gender. If you were a 'real male' you of
course had sex with women, you initiated sex, you were sexually
dominant, and you were expected to be sexually knowledgeable.
If you were a 'good' rather than a 'bad' woman, then before you
were married you were expected to control the male's approaches,
after marriage you conceded to his wishes; a double act of control
and passivity. In those days it was not legally possible for a
husband to rape his wife. The wife enjoyed giving her husband
pleasure and sex could be seen as an extension of her role of
3. Self Esteem. Your sex life had a big impact on your
self esteem. If you were a man, 'scoring' with women enhanced
your esteem, even if it made you seem a bit irresponsible. You
also wanted to be seen as 'attractive to women'. If you were a
woman, it was good to be attractive to men, but you certainly
needed to be virtuous and sexually controlled.
4. Sexual Morality /Guilt. All human societies have found
it necessary to impose social control on sexual behavior. Even
in the most sex-positive society, it would be socially disruptive
if there were no rules. That will probably always be the case.
But one can see how through history there have been times when
control of sex had a more extensive role than that, when it was
a crucial element in ensuring an orderly, well-behaved and industrious
society. We can see this process starting to operate as the Industrial
Revolution took hold, with the growth of the middle classes who
set the work ethic, and imposed the sexual discipline accordingly.
Prior to that, there was a fairly sexually liberated upper class,
and a somewhat sexually disorganized working class. We can also
see how these sexual constraints were part of the process of maintaining
the 'status quo' in terms of male female relationships. Men needed
to keep in control, and one way to keep women under control was
to restrict and inhibit their sexual expression.
Religion has played and still plays a major part in defining
sexual morality, the medical profession has had no small part
since the mid 19th Century, and the law has been used not only
to protect people from unwanted or harmful sexual experiences,
an essential legal function, but also in a 'declarative' sense.
Thus in the 1950's we see many of the sex laws being there principally
to 'declare' a particular behavior as immoral. Thus at that stage,
sexual morality was very much a morality of sexual acts. It was
immoral and illegal to have sex before marriage, no matter how
you did it or how you felt about each other. It was immoral and
illegal for a man to have sex with a man, no matter how. It was
immoral and illegal for a married couple to have oral sex no matter
how much they both enjoyed it.
5. Sexual Pleasure. This was defined in male terms. Acceptable
sexual pleasure was what men typically enjoyed while having vaginal
intercourse, the reproductive act, with their wives. Sexual pleasure
was otherwise qualified by guilt, and pleasure per se
was a dubious justification for a sexual act.
6. Tension reduction. We can assume that a certain amount
of sexual behavior, including masturbation, was a means of reducing
tension, but we have very little evidence on this.
7. Bonding/Intimacy. Clearly, for some couples sex provided
a form of intimacy, while for many other couples intimacy had
to be established in spite of sex.
Now let us look at some of the major changes, relevant to sexuality,
that have been taking place between then and now.
1. Changing role of women. This has been a massive social
change with a substantial increase in the number of women working
outside the home and obtaining university education so that they
can pursue a career. This has inevitably been accompanied by a
delay in the age of marriage, and an increase in the number who
2. Sexual liberation was very much a phenomenon of the 60's and
70's. Reacting to the repressive era that preceded, there was
a major shift, mainly among young people, in seeing sex as a legitimate
means of experiencing pleasure. 'Make love, not war' was the motto.
There was a noticeable increase in casual sex, and an era of 'swinging
couples' was born.
As part of this liberating process we saw the emergence of 'gay
liberation' groups, with gay men and lesbian women asserting their
identities and establishing a new era of gay and lesbian culture
which has had considerable political impact.
3. The changing roles of women in society and the freeing up
of sexual expression combined to fuel a new and very energetic
women's movement who were less interested in the new freedom for
the male to express himself sexually, and more in the freedom
for women to recognize their own sexualities and control their
sexual and reproductive lives. Contraception and abortion were
two complex themes in this process.
4. Rise of the Youth culture. The 'Golden Age of Capitalism'
which prevailed for the first 20 or so years of this post war
period, combined with the striking emergence of a new youth culture,
to produce a youth movement with considerable commercial impact.
Clothing and music were the two main commercial expressions. But
now not only did young people have their own styles of clothing,
they had a music of their own which communicated messages about
sex and drugs across international boundaries. Sex and drugs were
now very much the main media for young people to assert their
independence from their parents' generation. This was a fundamentally
new phenomenon, the impact of which has hardly lessened.
5. New era of STD's. But the era of sexual liberation
carried its own obvious price in the form of new epidemics of
STD's. Herpes was particularly influential in the latter part
of this 'sexual revolution' phase because of its insidious nature
and its resistance to ordinary treatments. Before long HIV/AIDS
entered the scene, though until very recently its impact was predominantly
on the gay male and to a lesser extent the drug using community.
People, across the board, were starting to retreat from the 'free
love' era. The costs were starting to outweigh the benefits.
6. Rise of Individualism. But by this time a fundamental
change had taken hold, what has been called the 'triumph of the
individual over society'. People were increasingly giving their
own individual welfare and personal development top priority in
their lives. Declining was the primary allegiance to the family.
As part of this process we saw a rise in the rate of divorce,
a decline in the traditional family and the conventional 'mother/father
and children' household, an increase in other types of 'family
groupings' and in particular a rise of single parent families
and the experience of changing parents for many children.
7. Loss of control of information. To a considerable extent
the imposition of social control of sexuality in the first half
of the 20th Century depended on controlling information about
sex. It was much easier to persuade people to feel guilty about
engaging in premarital sex, or same sex activity, if they at the
same time thought such behaviors were unusual, abnormal or wierd.
A major part of Kinsey's impact was uncovering what was happening
- releasing information that people were up to much more than
was assumed to be the case. The opening up of discussion about
sex and hence the spread of ideas about sexual behavior that followed
took root in the media which ever since have bombarded the public
with a variety of 'norm-setting' information, much of it misleading.
But by now such information, correct or otherwise was out of control.
This process escalated dramatically with the advent of the internet
and subsequently the world wide web.
I looked for a representative selection of erotic sites to show
in this talk but I found them, for the most part, so horrendous
that I could not bring myself to reproduce them, let alone show
them in public. It has been estimated that there are between 30,000
and 60,000 sex-oriented web sites and innumerable phone-sex lines,
chat rooms and video mail order services. The pornography industry
has been estimated to gross at least $10 billion a year in the
US - more, if you can believe it, than Americans spend on sport
events and live music combined.
So these are the principal strands of social change which are
making up the evolving sexual scene as we enter the 21st Century.
Now let me try to paint the picture as it is currently evolving.
Some things have changed more than others.
Our current list of Dimensions or functions is a bit different
both in content and order. 1.Sexual Identity; 2.Sex and relationships;
3.Sexual Morality; 4.Pleasure; 5.Self Esteem; 6.Mood regulation;
Gender Identity, while still in evidence
as a determinant of sex, is receding in importance and I've taken
it off the list. Gender is becoming less important to what you
do and who you do it with. Sexual identity comes in, though the
history of this concept shows how unstable it is. Sex and relationships
comes in strong, incorporating bonding and intimacy. Self esteem
goes down a bit. Pleasure moves up the list, tension reduction
transforms into mood regulation and reproduction goes from top
to bottom of the list, last but not necessarily least. Lets take
a fresh look at each of these.
1. Sexual identity. This is the concept of what type of
sexual person you are; what category do you belong to? Are you
straight or gay? This social construct rose to the surface in
the 60's and 70's as gay liberation started to bite. There was
disdain about Kinsey's scales of degrees of hetero and homosexuality
and an emphasis on 'gay', lesbian or 'straight' identities. Bisexuality
at that stage was a dubious transitional phase, not to be taken
seriously. More recently we have seen these more dualistic identities
'deconstructed' as a more fluid approach to sexual identity has
started to come in, bringing with it new ideas about gender identity
as well. I am not sure where this identity story is heading, but
it could be quite different in another 20 or 30 years.
2. Sex and relationships. Here we are seeing some interesting
developments with both positive and negative potential. While
traditional marriage has been taking a beating, at least as a
long term commitment, we have seen the impact of the women's movement
on the structuring and negotiating of what have been called 'pure'
relationships. The 'pure' is nothing to do with virtue, but rather
the idea that it is a relationship for its own sake - not as part
of an institution such as marriage, and not for outward, material
or official reasons. Such a relationship may be heterosexual or
homosexual. It lasts as long as both partners are satisfied with
the personal bonus it provides. It is therefore, by nature, of
uncertain duration and often short lived. It reflects each individual's
commitment to their own personal growth and well being as well
as a negotiated, and hence more equitable way of relating to one
another. It is typically, but not necessarily monogamous; monogamy
is also something that can be negotiated.
Within such relationships we can see how sex can contribute
to intimacy, serving to bond the relationship if it works well,
weakening it if it does not. The notion of intimacy as a reflection
of sexual vulnerability is worthy of consideration. Being sexual
makes us vulnerable in a variety of ways; it, for example, involves
letting go of control as we become highly aroused and experience
orgasm. We are unlikely to express our sexuality openly and fully
unless we feel safe - but if we can be vulnerable, let down our
defenses and remain safe that forms the basis of ongoing intimacy.
That type of intimacy cannot thrive unless the sexual relationship
is an exclusive, monogamous one. Conversely, by allowing ourselves
to be sexually vulnerable, we can be hurt, humiliated, rejected
or betrayed - the other side of the coin, destroying or preventing
But there's another interesting development. For some, particularly
men, the sexuality of this type of 'pure' relationship is emotionally
demanding. Increasingly, especially for those who have relatively
high needs for sexual outlet, sex, at least partially, is being
separated off from the relationship. Most commonly this involves
masturbation. Gunther Schmidt describes a young man who came to
his clinic because he didn't feel like having sex with his girl
friend but was an enthusiastic masturbator, He summed it up as
follows- "If I masturbate I can start when I like, come when I
like and stop when I like; I needn't bother with foreplay, or
romantic lighting, or tender nothings murmured in her ear; I don't
have to guess what she might like; or discuss afterwards how it
was; I can go to sleep when I feel like it". A slightly depressing
account for the romantics among us. But apparently this is an
increasing trend, at least in part. Masturbation is the simplest
and least problematic way of separating sex from relationships.
But there are of course others - and always have been. Prostitution
and various ways of 'cheating' on one's partner have a long history,
but in recent years there has been an explosion of other alternatives
- such as telephone sex or the web with its varying degrees of
interaction real or otherwise.
You'll not be surprised to know that IU students masturbate.
According to a recent representative survey 20% of men and 1%
of women students masturbated at least once a day. Forty seven
percent of men masturbated several times a week, whereas 34% of
women did so several times a month. Three percent of men and 24%
of women had not masturbated at all during the past year.
As expected, we see a substantial sex difference in frequency
of masturbation, and a fair amount of it is occurring during on
going relationships. These figures are fairly typical for young
people today, showing one of the most predictable differences
between male and female sexual activity. Masturbation remains
one of the most sensitive aspects of sex for people to talk about,
though there are few people who still believe that it makes you
go blind. It is interesting that only a few years ago the Surgeon
General was removed from office because she indicated that masturbation
was a normal part of sexual life. In fact it can properly be regarded
as an important component of responsible sex, which I will address
later. I heard a young woman recommend recently that young people
should consider masturbating before going out on a date,
so that on the date they would be able to enjoy the interpersonal
interaction and not have to worry about ensuring that sex didn't
get out of control.
There is also the interesting phenomenon of 'non-sexual sexuality'.
In Victorian times polite people covered up their piano legs because
of the sexual symbolism involved. Nakedness was in general restricted
to the bed or bathroom. As we moved through the 20th Century,
nakedness, of a gradually increasing extent became acceptable
in certain situations. It was OK to expose quite a bit of one's
body on the beach - by the end of the century, it wasn't unusual
to find 'topless' women on beaches. When I first arrived at Indiana
University in the summer of 1995 I was struck by the large number
of young women walking around campus wearing shorts and exposing
their often very attractive legs. It occurred to me that such
a situation would have been the cause for a riot if it had occurred
when Kinsey was doing his research. I reflected on the idea that
if I had come here and found this when I was in the first flush
of youth I might have found it disturbing to say the least. Then
I wondered what effect it had on the typical young male student
here today. I'm not certain, but I suspect that he takes it more
calmly than he or I might have done fifty years ago - reflecting
a degree of desensitization of the mystique of eroticism.
But in general there have been various ways, apart from nakedness
that an individual might signal sexuality - manner of dress, types
of hairstyle - these were part of the sexual signaling system
of a sexual person. But in more recent times, such sexual presentations
have become an end in themselves. People dress in ways which imply
'I'm a sexual person', who might have little or no interest in
engaging in sexual activity. 'Sexy' has become a role or identity
rather than an activity.
3. Sexual Morality. So what is happening to our sexual
morals? I believe we are moving towards a morality of sexual responsibility
rather than of sexual acts. We are behaving morally when we deal
with our sexuality in a way which is responsible to ourselves,
to others and to our community. We are responsible to others in
ensuring that we don't spread disease, cause unwanted pregnancy
or cause other forms of distress or unhappiness by our sexual
behavior. And in essence, responsible sex is 'agreeable' sex -
an interesting play on words - that means 'agreed to by both partners',
or consensual. We have still got some way to go. Sexual harassment
and coercion, including rape, are still significant problems on
this campus as well as elsewhere, but maybe we are moving in the
right direction. In the early 1990's students at Antioch College
in Ohio formulated a sex code which was intended to do away with
sexual coercion and date rape. The proposal was that, at every
step of a sexual interaction the person taking the step would
ask permission of his or her partner before proceeding. Spelt
out, step by step, this sounded a bit ridiculous, and there was
a considerable reaction in the media ridiculing this initiative.
Yet in my opinion the principle behind this is fundamentally sound.
You should not proceed sexually unless you are sure that your
partner wants you to. You should never assume that someone means
yes when they say no, and you should never say no when you mean
yes. The danger in imposing such careful negotiation, it was widely
assumed, was that, put into effect, this would destroy the mystique
and passion of a sexual relationship. But maybe it is that mystique
and to some extent the passion that goes with it, that we are
moving away from as we focus on 'pure' and equitable relationships.
I would personally advise a young person that he or she should
not get involved in sexual activity with a partner until you know
that person well enough to be sure that you are both in agreement.
When we work with couples in sex therapy we follow the golden
rule of 'assert yourself' and 'protect yourself'. In a good sexual
relationship each partner should be able to indicate what he or
she would like to do, confident in the knowledge that the partner
will make it clear if they don't want to do that. It's a principle
I would advocate for any sexual relationship. But how can you
do that, you might ask, if you have only just met this person?
In a new relationship you need time to work out how to do that,
so you need time before you get sexually involved, and hence your
sexual involvement may need to be postponed or limited as a consequence.
4. Sexual Pleasure. One of Kinsey's principal conclusions
50 years ago was that human beings vary enormously in their sexualities,
in how important sex is for them, what they respond to, what they
find most arousing and so on. Its taken a long time for that message
to sink in, but we should keep it very much in mind as we establish
new sexual relationships. Don't assume that you know what you
partner enjoys. In fact, even in an established relationship,
don't assume that you know on any particular occasion - it can
vary for all sorts of reasons. The solution is to have open and
maintain open effective communication, so that you can find out
from your partner there and then.
Another important lesson that we have been painfully and slowly
learning is that men and women tend to have different sexual needs.
In some respects this has been brought into the spotlight as a
result of what we might call the Viagra phenomenon.
The extraordinary impact of Viagra, particularly during the first
6 months or so after it was recently introduced, has reminded
us of the central role of the erect penis in the sexuality of
men. Millions of men, throughout the world, have jumped at the
opportunity to enhance their erectile response. This phallocentrism
has a very long history, and regrettably, it is not going to disappear
It would be good if we could dissociate penile erection from
potency. Men should not have to feel that they are less of a man
because they cannot get a good erection. There are many other,
mostly better ways of validating ones manhood.
But the Viagra phenomenon is helping us to clarify what is important
for the woman. An unsurprising response to the Viagra phenomenon
was the question, 'what about a drug for women?' That question
was asked by women, not just drug companies looking for their
next commercial landslide. When you ask that question you realize
how little we understand about the determinants of sexual satisfaction
in women, and you remember how much we have imposed male-oriented
criteria of sexual pleasure onto women. But there are some fundamental
gender differences to consider, and this includes the role of
orgasm in men and women. However society might have shaped and
structured our sexualities, there is a biological imperative about
male sexual response; you need an orgasm with its associated ejaculation
of semen, and an erect penis to put that ejaculate in the right
place, for the purpose of reproduction. However much a particular
social system wants to repress sexuality, it can't afford to stop
that process. But women's orgasms serve no reproductive function.
And most women do not experience orgasm, or even their maximum
enjoyment, from good old reproductive vaginal intercourse in the
way men do. Also, partly for that very reason, women's sexuality
has been and still is inhibited by a variety of socio-cultural
influences. Hence when you ask whether a drug, which is specifically
likely to increase vasocongestion in a woman's clitoris, is going
to enhance a woman's enjoyment of sex, you realize what a difficult
question that is to answer. I believe there will be some women
who will benefit from such pharmacological interventions but we
have a way to go before we can identify who and how many of them
It is a striking fact that we have numerous images in our collection
of men's genitalia, but very few of women's genitalia. Judy Chicago,
whose exhibition some of you may have seen on campus last fall,
is a rare example of a woman who has tried to capture the imagery
of female genitalia artistically. And maybe things are changing
here also. It was just two weeks ago, on Valentine's Day, that
we had the outstanding performance of 'Vagina Monologues' here
on this campus. May be we can look forward to the vagina receiving
the attention it deserves.
But in general, women and men differ in the types of stimulation
they need to achieve maximum enjoyment of sex, and people in 21st
century sexual relationships should be aware of that point.
5. Self Esteem. Given these other changes, we can now
start to feel good about ourselves because we feel good about
our sexuality. We feel good about the type of sexual person we
are, the way we relate to our sexual partner, and so on. Very
different to 50 years ago.
6. Mood regulation. In the first list I called this tension
reduction. This is an aspect of modern sexuality about which we
still understand little, but which we are beginning to understand
more- the idea that sex becomes used as a means for improving
negative mood. I don't have time to explore this issue, but our
research at the Kinsey Institute is identifying this process as
probably fundamental to much of what is called compulsive sexual
behavior or sexual 'addictions'. There is no clear evidence that
these are more common than they used to be, but certainly some
of the modern developments, such as the web, reinforce these types
of maladaptive sexual behavior patterns.
7. Reproduction. Last but not least. This potential separateness
of sex and reproduction is now complete. Not only can we have
sex without reproduction, we can also have reproduction without
sex. But there is a specific and profound responsibility for all
of us to separate sex from reproduction when we don't want to
have children- that responsibility goes right across the reproductive
life span. In the 20th Century, it was not a matter of American
teenagers being responsible about reproduction. It was a matter
of them not being old enough to be sexual, not until they got
married at least. You couldn't talk to young teenagers about the
responsibility to avoid unwanted pregnancies, because in doing
so you might be encouraging them to be sexually active. Unfortunately
that attitude hasn't yet gone away. Just a few days ago a new
campaign started in Philadelphia to encourage parents to talk
to their children about abstinence. I have no problem with that.
I think its a good idea. But when the Director of the local Family
Planning Council suggested that they should also learn about birth
control, the response was "How would you like it if we said "You
can drink and drive if you just use a seat belt" or "you can smoke
a cigarette, just choose one with a filter" - illustrating the
additional message for young people "sex is dangerous, unhealthy-period".
Sex is and should be a positive aspect of all of our lives if
we approach it responsibly. An important message for the 21st
Century is that young people reach their maximum capacity for
sexual arousal early in adolescence. They are sexual beings. As
soon as they become fertile, which for most of us means soon after
puberty, they have this responsibility, this awesome responsibility
of whether they create new life, new human beings. They need our
help in learning how to be responsibly sexual not how to be non
Using the driving analogy once more, its like saying young people
shouldn't drive fast motor cycles until they are adults, when
at age 13, they discover this fast motor cycle between their legs.
The best way to be responsible is not to be sexually active in
ways which could lead to pregnancy. Climb of the motor cycle and
put it in the garden shed for the time being. Or if you want to
try it out, do so on your own in the back yard. But the fact is
you cant take that 'motor cycle' away from them. So the young
person has to take that responsibility and has to be allowed to
see him or herself as old enough to be responsible in that way.
Interestingly, in spite of the extremely
confused messages that this society has been giving to teenagers,
and the appalling lack of provision of contraception for teenagers,
they are delaying the start of intercourse more than they were;
they are using condoms more than they were. There has been an
interesting increase in the amount of oral sex among young teenagers
who reckon they can retain their virginity that way. This produces
mixed reactions in the adult world. Undoubtedly you won't get
pregnant with oral sex; oral sex is not free from risk of infection
transmission; but probably much of the negative reaction to this
apparent trend in early teenage sexual behavior is that, when
those teenagers' parents were teenagers, no one engaged in oral
sex until they had first had vaginal intercourse. It was just
regarded as a more advanced form of love making. Maybe that perception
But there is a flip side to this responsibility about separating
sex from reproduction which again concerns us all right across
the reproductive life span. I strongly subscribe to the view that
we should stop seeing reproduction as being in God's hands, and
make a clear responsible commitment to have a child when we feel
that we are ready, as two parents, to see through the process
of parenthood. Such commitment is suffering as a consequence of
the rise in individualism that I referred to earlier - to the
increase in the extent to which people put their own personal
development first. Thus we are seeing a major increase in the
number of children who are seeing their parents separate, with
varying arrangements, often transient, involving other proxy parents
or remaining in single parent families. That is not to say that
single parents can't do a good job, but it is incredibly demanding
- and much more complicated if the child starts off with two parents.
I believe that it is too early to really assess the effects that
this change is having on the development of our children - except
that there is already evidence showing that the children of separated
parents are more likely to separate themselves when they are married.
I strongly hope that as we move through the 21st Century we will
see a redressing of the balance between 'individualism' and 'family'.
That doesn't necessarily mean returning to traditional concepts
of the family, but it does mean two people, when deciding to start
a family, making a commitment to see, in one way or another, the
joint parenting process through.
I want to offer what I hope may be some helpful comments
to you IU students about your own sexual lives. In our recent
survey of IU students we asked our subjects on what issues they
would welcome information or help.
The top two for both men and women involved improving their
sexual relationship (82% of men and 64.7% of women). Birth control,
I'm pleased to say was well up there (38.3% men; 50.3% women -
it will be even better when we see men as concerned as women),
as was 'getting better at communicating about sex' (47.7% men;
33.3% women). I hope that a number of the points that I've covered
in this talk you will find to be helpful in dealing with these
issues- e.g., the importance of 'agreeable' sex, where you both
agree; the importance of being able to self-assert as well as
self-protect; the recognition that men and women have different
sexual needs; the whole notion of responsible sexual behavior.
I also want to remind you that we have a sexuality information
service specifically designed for Indiana University students.
Part of this is the interactive web site - Kinsey Institute Sexual
Information Service for Students - or KISISS
- which you can e-mail with your questions. You will also find
some brochures about our Sexual Health Clinic here at the IU Health
Center. Although this is open to the public, about a third of
our clients are IU students. Don't hesitate to find out about
the clinic if you think you might benefit from some help.
I want to finish on a particular theme which seems to be relevant
to a lot of young sexual relationships today. The conflict between
safe sex and intimacy. Recent surveys show us, not only with straight
but also gay couples, that an increasing proportion of young people
are using condoms, engaging in safe sex, when they start a relationship,
but after the relationship has been going for a while, they stop
using the condoms and use other methods of birth control. The
issue for them is partly that condoms don't exactly enhance sexual
pleasure, but more important, the use of condoms carries a troubling
message that one or other of them is not to be trusted. Yet the
message is out there, loud and clear, always use a condom, regardless,
even when you're on the pill. There are quite a few couples who
are quite content to stick with condoms and who don't find them
spoiling their relationship. But for many young couples, this
message, 'always use a condom'. while sound in many respects,
is problematic and they have my sympathy. How do you begin to
develop that feeling of mutual trust, that any two people who
are in love want to feel, when you are routinely using a condom
'in case the other is not being honest'. In reality the situation
isn't quite as simple as that. There can be unknown infections
from the past that can turn up to haunt you. You can have had
a negative HIV test because at the time of the test you hadn't
sero-converted. But to a large extent it is a matter of establishing,
by an open awareness of each others recent past and present, whether
there are any risks of unprotected sex. That open awareness, that
openness, that degree of intimacy and trust has to be established
first before you should consider dropping the 'safe sex' guard.
Until you have agreed that you have reached that stage in your
relationship - and that may take some time - you are in fact treating
your partner with respect by continuing to use a condom. So, whereas
earlier I said you needed to go through certain stages of developing
the relationship before being ready to negotiate whether to have
sex, having started to have sex, there is a further way to go
before you are in a position to stop using safe sex. But take
your time and you'll get there.
I hope sex in this 21st century turns out to be a truly positive
part of your lives and relationships, as it should be for all
of us. Thank you.
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