El beso, de Rodin.
Many people suppose that human sexual behaviour is mainly governed by biological influences, since sexual intercourse is obviously a necessity for the reproduction of the species. In fact, unlike most of the animals, our sexual responses are not genetically given, but are almost learned-and human sexual behaviour includes many other kind of activities besides heterosexual intercourse (intercourse between a man and a woman). Homosexual behaviour, for example, is common in many cultures.
Accepted types of heterosexual behaviour vary widely between different cultures, which is one way in which we know that most sexual responses are learned rather than innate. The most extensive survey of sexual practices across different cultures was carried out several decades ago by Clellan Ford and Frank Beach(1951). They surveyed anthropological evidence from more than two hundred societies. Striking variations were found in what is regarded as ‘natural’ sexual behaviour, and in norms of sexual attractiveness. For example, in some cultures extended foreplay, perhaps lasting some hours, is thought desiderable and even necessary prior to intercourse. In others, foreplay is virtually non-existent. Kissing is an accepted sexual practice in some societies, but either not indulged in, or thought disgusting, among many peoples.
The position adopted by partners in the sexual act is also widely variable. Some cultures accept that a diversity of positions may be adopted in love-making, while in others only one is regarded as ‘normal’. Variation was rare in Western culture until recently, the usual position being for the female to lie underneath the male, with the couple face to face. In many other societies this position is hardly ever used, the most common one being where the man enters the woman from the rear, both partners taking a squatting position. In some cultures, it is believed that overly frequent intercourse leads to physical debilitation or illness. Advice on the desirability of spacing out love-making among the Seniang of the South Pacific is given by the elders of the village-who also believe that a person with white hair may legitimately copulate every night!
In most cultures, norms of sexual attractiveness (held by both females and males) focus more on physical looks for women than for men- a situation which seems to be gradually changing in the domestic enviroment. The traits seen as most important in female beauty, however, are quite divergent across cultures. In some cultures, for example, a slim, small body build is admired, while in others a much generous shape is regarded as most attractive. Sometimes the breasts are not seen as a source of sexual stimulus, whereas in other societies great erotic significance is attached to them. Some societies place great store upon the shape of the face, while others emphasize the shape and colour of the eyes, or the size and form of the nose and lips.
Por cierto, dentro de esta manía de clasificar y hacer grupos diferentes (véase heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, ‘marchoso’), en esa manía de hacer clubes exclusivos, la gente se olvida de los asexuales. ¡Día del orgullo asexual ya!