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Unbundling sex, sexuality, sexual identity and sexual orientations

Sex

Talking about sex and sexuality could be tiring because it is a broad topic. Asides intercourse, sex is “a label assigned at birth based on the reproductive organs you’re born with.” It’s generally how we divide society into two groups, male and female. Also note that there people born with both male and female reproductive organs. These people are called Intersex (Hermaphrodite is a term that some find offensive.)

Sexuality

Sexuality is an important and central part of every human being.  It is diverse and personal, and it is an important part of who you are. Discovering your sexuality can be a very liberating, exciting and positive experience. A person’s sexuality includes everything from their biological sex, gender identity and sexual orientation to pregnancy and reproduction. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors. A person’s sexual health includes their physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. Taking care of your sexual health is an important part of your overall health and wellness.

The Sexuality Wheel shows how broad the idea of sexuality really is. Each part of the wheel represents one part of who we are, and how these parts are all connected and influenced by each other. Here is a list of what the sexuality wheel contains.

  • Values: it is a collection of ideas that are seen as important and by which a person or group of persons lives by.
  • Relationships: it is the way people are connected to each other and how they interact.
  • Sexual activity: it is an expression of sexuality. It includes kissing, touching, sex (oral, anal or vaginal).
  • Communication: it is the process of sharing ideas, goals and information thereby creating understanding.
  • Socialization: it is the behavior exhibited by individuals based in the generally accepted norms, customs and values.
  • Self image: it is the way a person sees himself in relation to his environment.
  • Experiences: this is the sum of events a person has done, experienced or been exposed to. It goes a long to shape the values of the person.
  • Sex: it is the classification of persons at birth based on their genitalia.
  • Sexual orientation: this is a person’s emotional and sexual attraction to other people.
  • Gender expression: this is how a person presents their gender. This is done through appearance, name, pronoun and social behavior
  • Gender identity: this is a person’s personal sense of identity regardless of the sex they have been assigned at birth.
  • Personality: it is a person’s unique character which is made up of traits and characteristics.

Types of sexuality

Heterosexual and homosexual

Most people are attracted to the opposite sex – boys who like girls, and women who like men, for example. These people are heterosexual, or ‘straight’. Some people are attracted to the same sex. These people are homosexual.
‘Lesbian’ is the common term for people who identify as women and are same-sex attracted. ‘Gay’ is the most common term for people who identify as men and are same-sex attracted, although women identifying as lesbian also sometimes use this word.

Bisexual

Sexuality can be more complicated than being straight or gay. Some people are attracted to both men and women, and are known as bisexual. Bisexual does not mean the attraction is evenly weighted – a person may have stronger feelings for one gender than another. And this can vary depending on who they meet. There are different kinds of bisexuality. Some people who are attracted to men and women still consider themselves to be mainly straight or gay. Or they might have sexual feelings towards both genders but only have intercourse with one.

Other people see sexual attraction as more grey than black and white. These people find everyday labels too rigid. Some prefer to identify as ‘queer’. And others use the term ‘pan’, or ‘pansexual’, to show they are attracted to different kinds of people no matter what their gender, identity or expression. There are many differences between individuals, so bisexuality is a general term only.

Asexual

A person who identifies as asexual (‘ace’ for short) is someone who does not experience, or experiences very little, sexual attraction. Asexuality is not a choice, like abstinence (where someone chooses not to have sex with anyone, whether they are attracted to them or not). Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like homosexuality or heterosexuality.

Some people may strongly identify with being asexual, except for a few infrequent experiences of sexual attraction (grey-asexuality). Some people feel sexual attraction only after they develop a strong emotional bond with someone (this is known as demisexuality). Other people experience asexuality in a range of other ways.

Sexual identity

Sexuality is a natural and healthy part of who we are and it is made up of many different things. One of these things is about our gender and how we feel about being male, female or possibly neither of these. Another is about our sexual orientation or who we fancy. Each of us feels differently about our sexuality, and we may express it in different ways. It’s important to treat each other how we would like to be treated. We all find different people attractive, and this applies to teenage children too.

 

Sexual orientations

Most people start to feel more definite about who they are attracted to from puberty on wards in to their early teens. It is normal for young people to fancy people of the opposite sex, the same sex, or both, or to be unsure and questioning who they fancy. This is called sexual orientation. Some people from an early age are very sure of their sexual orientation, but it’s not unusual for someone to be less sure, and it can change over time too.

These are some of the words used to describe sexual orientation:

Straight: describes someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the opposite gender (also called heterosexual)

Gay: describes someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the same gender. Some women prefer to call themselves gay women rather than lesbian, although the word gay is most often used about men

Lesbian: describes a woman who is emotionally and sexually attracted to other women.

Bisexual: describes someone who is emotionally and sexually attracted to both women and men.

Asexual: it describes a person who does not experience sexual attraction and may, or may not, experience emotional/romantic attraction

Sources

https://www.dictionary.com/e/gender-vs-sex/

https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/parents/teaching-your-child/sex-vs-sexuality/#:~:text=Sexuality%20is%20an%20important%20and,orientation%20to%20pregnancy%20and%20reproduction.&text=A%20person’s%20sexual%20health%20includes,emotional%20and%20social%20well%2Dbeing.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/Sexuality-explained

https://www.sandyford.scot/parents-sandyford/secondary/sexual-identity/

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