Love, sex, and lifestyles in the age of reproductive medicine
Sexuality shapes human behaviour and physical appearance. Knowledge from the biological sciences makes human sexuality understandable as the result of genetic factors and metabolic processes in the brain. The provocative relationship between pleasure and love, taboo and liberality, and self-development and responsibility is constantly being redefined in social and cultural processes.
Distinctions between the sexes are the result of continuous evolutionary processes, as are the strategies of selecting a mate. Human behaviour, however, is also subject to pronounced cultural and social differentiation. To evolutionary biologists, mate selection primarily serves to ensure successful reproduction. Physical appearance, body language, chemical attractants, and the voice of the other person indisputably influence one's mate selection often unconsciously.
Hormones, Gender, and Arousal: Physiological Bases of Sexual Behaviour
Pleasure originates chiefly in the mind. The brain controls the complex processes in the body. In conjunction with the nervous system, the hormonal system is the primary reason for butterflies in the stomach and passionate desire. The sex hormones have effects ranging from influence on gender differentiation to the control of sexual arousal. However, human sexuality cannot be explained in terms of hormonal effect alone.
With sexual activity starting at an ever earlier age, sex education has been an important topic, and not just for children and adolescents. Contraception has existed for thousands of years, but the invention of the birth control pill revolutionized sexual behavior by disassociating it from the function of reproduction. The outbreak of AIDS compelled all strata of the population to talk about sexuality even more openly than had been the case after the sexual revolution.
Love, Partnership, and Family
The family as we know it today emerged in the nineteenth century. Since that time, families have come to center more on love and emotional support than on maintenance of a household. The family has many forms today, ranging from the married couple with two children to single-parent families and same-sex cohabitation with children. Declining birth rates and the new possibilities available through reproductive medicine highlight the conflict surrounding the status of children in modern societies. The first constant of the family as an institution is its continual change; the second is its unrivaled merits as a domestic living arrangement.
Sexuality in Public and Private Space
Sexuality occurs in the polarity between intimacy and the public sphere. Advertisements, media, and public discourse make it a part of everyday life. This treatment of the sexual lends a bit of normality to less common practices, too. At the same time, it sets new norms occasionally felt to be burdensome. Yet sexual desires and preferences are only partly influenced by the public. They lead their own existence in each person.