Three Decades of Sex: Reflections on Sexuality and Sexology

By Kleinplatz, Peggy J. | The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Three Decades of Sex: Reflections on Sexuality and Sexology


Kleinplatz, Peggy J., The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality


This commentary provides selected observations drawn from 30 years of experience teaching university sexology courses and as a sex therapist. Over the past three decades, there have been social changes in our perceptions of sexuality, even if on the personal level, little has shifted. The changes include the dramatic impact of the Internet in shaping sexual knowledge and defining restrictive norms as well as the increasing use of drugs that affect sexuality. Evolving attitudes towards sexual assault and LGBTQ issues are among the most significant of these changes. It is noteworthy that the field of sexology is thriving in Canada.

KEY WORDS: Information technology; cohort differences; sexual side-effects/ADRs; university sexual norms; sexual assault; LGBTQ attitudes

**********

I have been teaching university sexology courses for 30 years. For almost as long, I have been teaching advanced courses in sexual dysfunctions and sex therapy while my day job has consisted of the practice of sex therapy. This commentary consists of some select observations from my vantage point as an educator and therapist. The focus is on how aspects of human sexuality, and our perceptions of them, have changed since 1983 and, in some instances, have failed to change despite some major social and academic upheaval over these years. (For a comprehensive analysis of the current state of sex therapy and sexology see Kleinplatz, 2012.)

"That's how it goes/Everybody knows"

--Leonard Cohen

In the three decades since I developed the first sexology course at the University of Ottawa, course enrollment has increased dramatically and has far outpaced overall university enrollment. Interestingly, the desire to study and learn about sexuality has grown unabated, even though each new cohort of students assures me that "everybody knows" so much more about sex today than people used to a generation or two ago. "We are so much more open about sexuality as a society than we used to be." So they said in 1983 and so they say in 2013. "We are having more sex, with more partners. And so much more than our parents, we know about sex ... Everybody knows..." The reality that dyadic sex now begins no earlier than it did in the 1980s or 1990s and with fewer partners (Boyce et al., 2006; Eaton et al., 2011) is beyond their comprehension. Students who believe that their generation invented the "hook up" are advised to see the 1977 blockbuster, Looking for Mr. Goodbar. I tell them that one-third of the women getting married in 1945 were already pregnant. "Not my grandmother [or great-grandmother] ..." they say.

Every generation believes it has in some sense invented or perfected sex, and that its own cohort is infinitely more knowledgeable and more open-minded than its predecessors even if there is little, if any, empirical evidence to confirm such self-affirmations. This is unchanged. However, what has changed is that in 1983, my students were more interested in exploring possibilities for their own sexuality, broadening sexual repertoires and options, and discovering new ways of being sexual. In 2013, it appears that, in comparison, students are more likely to be looking for answers to questions related to proper sexual conduct and technique. Their queries are increasingly founded on myths and beliefs rooted in sexual imperatives. In my courses, there has always been an opportunity for students to participate via anonymous questions. Over a 30-year period, tens of thousands of questions have been submitted. Throughout the years, questions about oral sex have been among the most common. However, whereas the wording and tone of such questions used to be, "Is it OK to..." or "What are different ways to experiment with oral sex?" the current tone is about getting it right, being competent performers: "What is the correct way to give a blowjob?" Similarly, monolithic thinking or the assumption of one-true-way to sexual skill comes through in questions such as, "What is the best position for intercourse? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Three Decades of Sex: Reflections on Sexuality and Sexology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.