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Sexuality: How Historical and Cultural Influences Shape Intimacy Today

Certain frameworks of sexuality are hereditary of a long past based on a Judeo-Christian tradition. The archetypal woman found within the old scriptures shaped the view and the role of women for millennia. Despite the secularisation of the modern world, it still holds a grip on the collective subconscious of society. These values are embedded within the frameworks that individuals subconsciously apply when relating intimately to one another. It undoubtedly takes conscious effort to dismantle preconceived notions of sexuality.

Double standards

Current society is underpinned by persisting sexual double standards that are imbued within our cultures. Despite the seemingly decreasing gap in sexual emancipation between men and women in the last decades, studies observed how certain cultural and societal mechanisms still play a part in the psyche of individuals. We as a society are convinced that today’s women are more sexually emancipated than ever before and allowed to participate freely in sexual relationships, yet women are still judged for being too promiscuous. Once again, women are forced to walk on the edge between being both a virginal figure and a temptress, a figure crafted by a patriarchal archaic culture found within the old scriptures and the culture that came from it afterwards, a figure made responsible for satisfying men’s demands. The principle of being in love is still widely used as a way to justify women’s access to sex, something that the heterosexual male counterpart is not expected to adhere to. This phenomenon of rationalised justification is observable in heteronormative contexts, and it is both internalised by women and expected by men.

However, despite the patriarchal system favouring men’s freedom of sexuality over those of women, it has been found to be nevertheless detrimental to the relationship that men have with sex, particularly when deciding to break away from the constrictions of traditional forms of sexuality. Women’s non-heteronormative performative behaviours have always served as a spectacle for men’s desires, thus allowing a wider societal acceptance of sapphic tendencies amongst women. Meanwhile, men whose sexual orientation did not align with the traditional expressions of sexual masculinity faced heavy stigmatisation. If such understanding of the sexual world affected negatively women it also indirectly affected men, especially those that did not conform to a heteronormative model of sexuality.


In spite of the world becoming more secularised, it is undeniable the influence that historical and cultural understanding of sexuality still holds on today’s society. The frameworks used when interfacing with the social world and sexual relations are fundamental as they allow us to understand how cultural underpinnings such as religion and the general societal discourse shape how individuals relate intimately to one another.


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