Term Paper: Attitudes Toward Human Sexuality

Pages: 5 (1672 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality  ·  Buy for $19.77

Attitudes Toward Human Sexuality

Human sexuality is often mentioned today when there is a differentiation between humans and animals that comes in discussion. Many people are proud to say that the only creatures that engage in sexual activities for the sake of pleasure are humans. Some may add: there appears to be recent evidence that dolphins may enjoy having sex, too. Since there were recent attempts to classify dolphins as "superior beings" instead of "animals," regardless of the grounds or the purpose of such an attempt, an empirical theory regarding the nature of these aquatic creatures has already started to challenge the traditional view and therefore the boundaries between the human and the animal world.

Human sexuality is a vast field that still has numerous unknown areas. Scientific research needs to be further undertaken in order for this important aspect of the human life to be understood and used in favor and not in spite of our existence. Although there is still so much left to discover in this field, humanity has already gathered a great amount of information about homosexuality, for example, that it is now possible to take it out of the list of sexual deviances or diseases and just consider it a variation of human sexual behavior. Still, the unknown territory left in the matter makes people in many American States be afraid that a contact with homosexuals, for example, may encourage children to start manifesting homosexual tendencies as well (Rubin, 1984, p. 272).

As far back as there as records of human activity on this earth, there is historic evidence of human sexual activity. Drawings on the walls of prehistoric cages, ancient or modern writings of various characters, they all testify that humanity was aware of its sexuality and willing to draw attention on it. Human sexual behavior takes many forms and because of these variations, there were some societies that at certain periods of time, developed sexual taboos. Homosexuality is a sexual variation that starts controversies in many even today.

Interestingly enough, there are just a few centuries, or even more striking, just a few decades, that separate us from the times when our Western culture accepted as the norm and placed under the rule of law, discriminatory behavior based on race, gender, class and sexual behavior. The latter is a topic that still arouses confusion with its many solutions of the equation still to be found out. In a contemporary Western society where heterosexuality is the norm, homosexuality is one sexual behavior variation that is up for debate. There are two powerful institutions that are unwilling to accept it openly in Europe and North America today and those are: the church (with some exceptions) and the military.

The sacred book of the Christian religion, the Bible, and especially the New Testament, is the law for many Christians, even if the separation between the state and church has happened long ago. Homosexuals were among those illustrated as burning in the flames of Hell in Biblical depictions and the contemporary Western society is still tributary to this image (Greenberg, 1988). Homosexuality becomes thus not only condemnable from the laic point-of-view, but also from the religious point of vie, which makes it the mode condemnable.

Citing Gilbert, Davis gives an example from only three centuries ago when homosexuality was among the highest ranking crimes according to British military law:

"Between May 1st and June 19th, 1708, & #8230;, twelve men were sentenced to death in the Royal Navy. Of the twelve, six were deserters, one was convicted of murder, and the remaining five were found guilty of buggery. Between 1703 and 1710, twelve sailors were tried for buggery or attempted buggery and six of these men were sentenced to death" (Davies, p. 1054).

In opposition to this example, Davies cites K.J. Dover who writes about two ancient Greek states whose armies were organized according to the principle of pairing homosexual lovers to fight in battle (Davies, 1982, p.1055). The author points out that a comparison between the army of the United Kingdom, for example and that of two tiny ancient Greek city states may be irrelevant precisely because of their contrasting proportions. Still, there is historic evidence that military institutions may have considered homosexuality to their own advantage at some point in history (Davies,1982).

Another unique feature of our human existence, religion, has very much to do with the way different societies in different times have treated the subject of homosexuality. David F. Greenberg (1988) undertakes an extensive study of different religions and epochs in relationship with the shaping of attitudes of the civil society towards sexual behavior focusing on the way societies have formed and expressed their opinions towards homosexuality from ancient until modern times. If Davies (1982) considers the negative attitude of the Jewish law expressed in the Bible and other sacred texts an indication of the boundaries that the Jewish people set and kept between their culture and every other culture they came in contact with along their existence, Greenberg's considerations are more nuanced.

According to Greenberg (1988), the ancient Greek and Roman societies were the most tolerant toward homosexuality along with other sexual behavior variants. Greenberg enters the philosophical world of the classical as well as of the late antiquity Greek states in his attempts to find out how writers, generators of schools of thought and a culture that stand as vital pillars of the Western thought, shaped and expressed their philosophies toward homosexuality.

One of the questions that arises in such an undertaking is: what was the nature of the reasons that generated a certain attitude vs. homosexuality? According to some scholars, political and societal structures may have determined a philosopher like Plato to consider homosexuality a potential threat to the well being of society (Greenberg, p.204). On the other hand, Plato expressed his opinions against homosexuality only towards the last part of his life, after having accepted it as one of the potential ways of bringing one on the illumination path of serenity through knowledge.

Advancing towards the first centuries AD, Greenberg (1988) shows that the Greek tolerance for homosexual behavior began to fade starting with the fourth century AD. However, this seems to have had little to do with the new Christian religion. One explanation is that the stoic school contributed to paving the way towards rejection of human pleasure by means of human flesh, denying that sexual activities of any kind:

"the wise man was indifferent to pain or pleasure, but lived in accord with nature, governed by his own reason…Sexual excitement, experienced as a "violent fluttering of the soul," a form of morbidity or disease, was one of the commonest of these rejected impulses" (Greenberg,1988, p. 205)

The instability the Roman Empire was confronted with after the Punic Wars made the Roman leadership to adopt and use ideas and laws that encouraged heterosexual marriage and pinpoint adultery as the agent of weakening society (Greenberg, 1988). Still, the philosophical writings and the way ancient Greek and Roman societies lived were two separate things. Opinions about sexual relationships and world views were not imposed by those who generated them in Greece and they were seldom enforced by law in ancient Rome (Greenberg, 1988). The fact that the two were vast empires and dealt with a dramatic cultural and ethnic diversity made attempts to successfully enforce certain views on sexuality very hard to conceive of.

After having reviewed attitudes towards homosexuality in ancient Greece and Rome, Greenberg (1988) concludes that even when there was opposition to this sexual behavior, it did not affect the life of the respective societies in as far as making their leaderships generate laws and other ways of forbidding or punishing it. The fact that both societies relied on slavery and homosexual behavior was one of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

Attitudes Towards Prostitution in the United States of America and the Netherlands Research Paper


Politics of Gender and Sexuality in Aristophanes Lysistrata Term Paper


Woman and Disabilities Term Paper


Teen Pregnancy Term Paper


Same-Sex Marriage Term Paper


View 269 other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Attitudes Toward Human Sexuality.  (2010, May 6).  Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/attitudes-toward-human-sexuality/185

MLA Format

"Attitudes Toward Human Sexuality."  6 May 2010.  Web.  19 November 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/attitudes-toward-human-sexuality/185>.

Chicago Format

"Attitudes Toward Human Sexuality."  Essaytown.com.  May 6, 2010.  Accessed November 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/attitudes-toward-human-sexuality/185.