Scripts sexual

Simon and Gagnon (1984)

Since WWII, sexuality has received much more attention. These issues remain theoretically barren. Because progress has been made, we say, “almost”. Kohut (1978) and Stoller (1979) have revised Freud’s libido theory. These developments have largely ignored the dramatic changes in social patterns and structures over the past half-century and their impact on growth.

Recent social and psychohistorical research makes it harder to treat sexuality as a constant, creating the illusion of a unifying thread in human history. This tradition has largely maintained traditional metapsychological conservatism, trying to keep a static model of the human in a changing ecology and culture. Psychohistory’s unfinished business is the psyche. We propose an approach that allows us to consider human sexuality in ways responsive to sociohistorical processes and individual lived experiences.

Scripts metaphorize social behaviour production. Most of social life must follow syntax like language is a precondition for speech. Cultural scenarios, interpersonal scripts, and intrapsychic hands must occur for behaviour.

Cultural scenarios guide collective life. All institutions and institutionalised arrangements are systems of signs and symbols that define specific roles. All functions must reflect cultural and artistic methods directly or indirectly. These scenarios rarely predict actual behaviour and are too abstract to apply everywhere.

Interpersonal scripts can resolve inconsistencies between the abstract scenario and the concrete situation. This process transforms the social actor from an actor to a scriptwriter or adapter, shaping cultural scenario methods into behaviour in specific contexts. Interpersonal scripting aligns identities with expectations.

Complexities, conflicts, and ambiguities in cultural scenarios place greater demands on the actor than interpersonal scripts. The need to script one’s behaviour and the implicit assumption that others’ behaviour is scripted creates an important “internal rehearsal” when alternative outcomes are available. This intrapsychic scripting creates a fantasy in a rich sense of the word: a symbolic reorganisation of reality to realise the actor’s many-layered and multivoiced wishes. Intrapsychic scripting becomes a historical necessity as a private world of deep desires must be bound to social life: individual desires are linked to social meanings. Passion is not an appetite, drive, or instinct; it helps create the self.

Cultural scenarios, interpersonal scripts, and intrapsychic hands are not equally relevant in all social settings and individuals. Traditional societies, cultusystemsrios and a limited repertoire of ‘ritualised improvisations’ may be enough for participants or observers to understand. These societies are paradigmatic. They are paradigmatic in two ways: they have many shsharedar, and specific icing meaning purposes are consistently derived from a small number of master meanings. Specific shared goals are consistent across life’s spheres. Postparadigmatic societies have fewer shared meanings and deep disjunctures between spheres of life. Enacting the same role in different spheres of life or here requires different self-appearances, if not organisations.

Loss of coercive powers in artistic methods causes anomie, alienation, and uncertainty. Much of the passionate intensity of anomic behaviour may be interpreted as desperate efforts to restore a more cohesive self, reinforced by effective social ties. Anomie feeds on the human need for a community. Complex metaphors and social meanings enable social conduct. Scripting helps explain this process.

Scripting sexual behaviour rejects the idea that sexuality is a unique motivator. From a scripting perspective, the sexual is not an intrinsically significant aspect of human behaviour; rather, it becomes significant when defined as such by communal life – sociogenic significance – or when individual experiences or development assign it a special meaning – ontogenic value. The importance of behaviour does not affect its frequency, only how much attention is paid to it.

Sociogenetic and ontogenetic factors are linked. In these societal settings, the sexual have a strong meaning, and sexual performance or avoidance is a major factor in evaluating individual competence and worth. These should be settings where sexual connotations are significant in individuals’ intrapsychic lives. Even in high external sexual cue environments, not all individuals need thick internal lines. Some people in settings with little sexual concern can create intense sexual meanings and referents.

Motivation to perceive and respond to sexual terms is not solely based on the setting. Ontogenetic variations from prevailing cultural scenarios tend to be limited to an artistic universe created by applying conventional sexual meanings to unconventional sexual objects or expressing abnormal motives through traditional sexual activities.

The most basic sources of sociogenic influence are explicit or implicit cultural, sexual scenarios. Such artistic methods specify appropriate objects, aims, and self/other relations, as well as times, places, gesture, and utterance sequences, and what the actor and coparticipants (real or imagined) are assumed to be feeling. Most of us are more committed and rehearsed than we realise during our first sexual encounters.

Symbolic behaviour results when the sexual as defined by culture and experienced intrapsychically match. It depends on collective meanings. Virtually all cues initiating sexual behaviour are external. This reliance on external signals made what later eras would define as’sexualas sexual deprivation – long periods without sexual activities – easier to manage than contemporary observers might think.

A lack of congruence between levels of scripting transforms sexual behaviour into obscure metaphors; private sexual cultures grow within public sexual cultures. Increasing numbers of individuals in Western societies experiencing a lack of unity may have made eighteenth- and nineteenth-century discourses on the nature of the sexual so effective in gaining widespread adherence to modern Western sexual values idealised behaviour patterns.

Interpersonal scripting, representing the actor’s response to the external world, draws heavily on cultural scenarios and their symbolic elements. Interpersonal scripting reduces uncertainty and increases legitimacy for the actor and others. Interpersonal scripts are self- and other representations that facilitate sexual exchange. While such scripts generally indicate participants’ internal feelings, only appropriate feelings must be shown or confirmed. Almost always, desire follows behaviour.

Interpersonal scripts define the social context. Motives behind sexually manifest behaviour can be conscious or unconscious. As with any significant area of behaviour, there are more reasons to behave sexually than ways. Almost 50 years after Freud’s death, the search for sexual motives in nonsexual behaviour causes less anxiety than the search for nonsexual explanations of sexual behaviour. To the extent that modern conceptions of sexual behaviour imply the potential for sexual response, we must also understand intrapsychic scripting, which elicits and sustains sexual arousal, making orgasm possible.

In some situations, almost all interpersonal scripts are minor variations of the dominant cultural scenario practised interpersonal. Intrapsychicic Intrapsychicscripts exist. These are similar to the sexual patterns Freud saw in ancient times when the emphasis was on the drive and not, not the object. Freud failed to notice that this multiple congruent this multiple congruence of scripting elements occurs when sexual arousal and orgasm are the exclusive or nearly exclusive interests of one participant – the male.

Women are rarely selected for sexual roles based on their interest in sexual pleasure. Many men and women found female sexual interest or commitment threatening. Even Freud commented on the ease with which women, presumably more so than men, can vary sexual “perversions” Women in such settings had commitments to using or responding to interpersonal sexual scripts, but they were rarely erotically or orgasmically focused.

In the modern era, Freud noted, the drive is “despised”; the emphasis is on the object and the quality of the relationship with it. This shift from drive to object must increase emphatic concerns. Often, Turning a thing into a participating other often e’s seeing it as another self. The sexual actor must recognise the other and the feelings communicated by their behaviour, however uncertain. T, the eroticised sexual act often represents for self the end others’ actions of offering and possessing what can only rarely, if ever, be wholly offered or owned: another person’s intrapsychic experience. Wanted? Enjoy?

A social world that requires us to negotiate our identities trains us to negotiate with ourselves. Desire, including lust, is a common currency for cross-domain exchanges. The self becomes a scripted actor’s producer, manager, and playwright while investing in long-term payoffs and short-term cash flow. Nonerotic motives often guide our selection of interpersonal sexual script scripts. Still, and, but an increasing emphasis on erotic pleasure characterises much of contemporary sexual life, not only in response to changing cultural scenarios but also as an expression of the changing self.

The erEroticotic separation from everyday life, a fundamental part of modern Western tradition, made it available to those who sought its expulsion. Becametic became the badlands of desire, where moral abstractions were tested. Ironically, the erotic became a realm where laws and identities governing everyday life could be suspended, and the self could be organised to include aspects and qualities otherwise exiled or expressed through muted disguises and contrary uses. PAuritan tradition created a road map for self-dimensions to rally, enrich, and be enriched by the erotic. Domainmains its own domain, license.

The erotic license allows us to eroticise our ideals in interpersonal scripts and the erotic in intrapsychic writing. This license to elaborate makes accommodation harder. An example would be wanting to express a commitment to interpersonal scripting that is inconsistent with one’s feelings – to simultaneously take possession of the object of desire (the male role) and to be the object of desire (the female part); to seduce and to be seductive, to conquer and to surrender to passion and to be desirable.

The disjunction between erotic and everyday identities is reflected in sexual acts. Shared sexual history helps people understand the disjuncture. This is reflected in the tradition of turning out the lights before sexual activity – not to be seen, not to be seen visiting. Questions reflect disjunctive identities. Who am I after sex? Whom do I have sex with?

Sexual scripts must solve two issues. FirstThey were firstneself permission to engage in sexual behaviour. Second, access to the expected experiences of the desired behaviour. Often, an actor’s expertise depends on what their partner appears to be doing and feeling. This emphatic inference comes from cultural scenarios and the other’s experience. It also comes from what the actor needs to maintain sexual excitement. Sometimes the actor’s guise merely provides plausible access to behaviour, while the desired experience is gained from within the other as a metaphor for the self. When asked how she could have fathered several children as a transsexual, she replied, “There was always a penis there, but it was not mine.”

What Freud called the “psychological novel” describes the sexual script: Modern writers tend to split up their ego by self-observation into many component egos and personify the conflicting trends in their own mental life in many heroes.

Self-observation, often careful self-observation, must follow the creation of an interpersonal script from inappropriate material. Self-observation is incipient developing self-control, and self-control is self-staging. The actor must submit to the playwright while both nervously await internal and external critics’ responses.

Scripting can mean creating and staging a drama, not a role. Parts are meaningless without related functions. What the actor/ego is (including what they should touch) depends on creating a cast of others (including what they should handle). Others may be required to experience what the actor sometimes cannot in their name. The sexual script is the “mise-en-scène of desire”, per Laplanche and Pontalis (1974).

Sexual scripting encourages conservative, ritualised, or stereotyped behaviour. This conservative character is often cited as evidence that sexuality is formed early and has limited capacity for change. This traditional aspect may depend more on social and personal history than early development.

Few novelists or dramatists stray far from their predictable formulas. Once they find a formula that works – sexual pleasure and sociosexual competence – they tend to paraphrase it. Variations can occur within a larger, stabilising body of interpersonal and intrapsychic scripts. Stabilising sexual schandsoften confused with sexual identity crystallisation, works by ensuring adequate sexual performance and pleasure. It is also an effective accommodation with the larger self-process, in which sexual practice and identity do not disturb nonsexual identity.

Kohut (1978) noted that expected or unexpected status or context changes can affect self-organisation. Change can cause a crisis in self-formation and the production of sexual and nonsexual scripts, not just because some aspect of the self is under pressure to change, but also because the self’s ecology has been disturbed. Such moments require renegotiating parts of the self that were previously negotiated. In modern societies, self-formation often involves compromise, dominance, or repression.

Much of sexual scripting, while appearing in individual behaviour, is a social function. What seems like an individual’s freedom to the social circle may reflect the complexity of collective life.

Few cultural situations are age- or life-stage-neutral. It is hard to designate a role without life-cycle requirements, which can mean (1) entry and exiting requirements specific to a life-cycle stage or (2) expectations that systematically vary with life-cycle stage attributions.

Some roles have very specific age requirements, such as “You must be X years old.” For many universal or nearly universal functions and activities, evaluation standards can vary dramatically based on the actor’s life-cycle stage. Only the young and old can be sloppy food investors. Act your age speaks to the pervasive relevance of life-cycle stages to almost all behaviour. Life-cycle stage changes affect few roles or dimensions of identity other than sexuality.

Life-cycle stages are implicit in most people’s roles. This makes them an effective tool for assessing the group’s paradigmaticism. When there is near-universal respect for boundaries and expectations, the term paradigmatic can be used. These methods help integrate multiple roles without conflict.

Highly differentiated or postparadigmatic societies, like the industrial and post-industrial countries of the West, have trouble sustaining this integration. Confusion, uncertainties, and flexibility persists in the association of age with status, especially in sexual domains. Age-specific expectations are not only ambiguously complex, but their applicability is also unclear. What should kids do? What does age bring? Young? Age? Paradigmatic and postparadigmatic social orders ask these questions in different orders.

CultOrderural sexual scenarios translated into interpersonal sexual scripts empower the actor. He uses life cycle symbols with great discretion. This empowers others who can confirm or disprove the actor’s claims. A ‘playboy’ whose partners never age, like the Playboy centrefold, may be ridiculed and envied. Once-coercive obligations become bargaining chips in negotiations with others and with oneself. This is least problematic at presexual (childhood) and sexual extremes (old age). These periods are not without sexual significance. They are not or rarely anticipated in cultural scenarios involving young and old people.

In infancy, childhood, and until recently, old age, sex-seeking behaviour was viewed as pathological because those too young or too old were unable to comprehend or experience the full meaning of the behaviour. Community on older womantrage at the rape of an elderly woman or a female child is often greater than an even more brutal rape of an amateur’s woman because the inappropriateness of the object bespeaks its greater pathological origins and often precludes initial conspiracy on the part of the victim.

For some people, life-cycle-based cultural scenarios organise interpersonal sexual scripts to help balance sexual and public roles. For such people, my multicultural artistihoods covering conventional family careers serve as the organising principle for sexual jobs; family careers, sexual careers, and life-cycle stages tend to overlap. Kinsey and virtually all others conceptualise heterosexual behaviour regarding marital status: premarital, marital, extramarital, or postmarital experiences.

Institutional order once required script and identity congruence. Adenidentitiesis coincidences are rare or cause instability when they occur. Recent dramatic changes in sexual behaviour reflect not only profound changes in sexual requirements and meaning, but also profound changes in family careers and the life cycle itself. Life-cycle stages used to define behaviour; now, commitment to behaviour does.

We often hear about a “blurring of life-cycle stage boundaries” along with admiration for traditional societies that maintain clear and nearly universal life-cycle stages distinctions. Such groups are admired for using ‘rites of passage’ to facilitate the conventional life course. The implied comparison is with contemporary societies that do little to instruct individuals on how to manage such transitions, failing to provide training in new stage behaviours and a clear basis for recognition by others.

What appears as a blurring of boundaries on the group level is not always descriptive of what happens on the individual level. A highly differentiated society is unlikely to formulate life-cycle scenarios with enough abstraction to override differences and evoke strong emotions. What constitutes minimal sexual maturity varies across time, cultures, and the contemporary social landscape. Serious sociosexual activity once marked the boundary between adolescence and adulthood; now it marks childhood and adolescence.

Cultural and sexual contexts persist but aren’t exclusive. People and place help legitimise a procedure. Age or life-cycle stage suggests sexual activity while sexual activity affirms life-cycle location. Depending on “where I am from”, I am old or young if I do “it”. We observe sexual commitment following a nonerotic motive of interpersonal and intrapsychic confirmation. Current teen sexual patterns demonstrate this. Early adolescence’s dramatic sexualisation shows how meaning and status competence precede erotic desire.

We do not imply that external pressure organises sex entirely. Cultural scenarios affect both overt and anticipated behaviour. Internal rehearsals test accumulated desires for compatibility, allowing sexual identity to crystallise.

Early eroticisation of such trials through masturbatory reinforcement may strengthen emergent intrapsychic scripts seeking expressions in operative interpersonal writing. Such fantasised rehearsals occur most often in modern society during periods of high narcissism when personal ideals are more important than social standards. In fantasy, emergent intrapsychic scripts can more effectively harness social models to personal passions than interpersonal hands that must serve the erotic and the conventional.

Not all erotic rehearsals or fantasies are acted out. Sexual dialogue with others often bears little resemblance to the self-sexual death league. Almost all of our concerns about adolescent sexuality focus on overt behaviour, which has important consequences, but almost none of the imagery underlying that behaviour. Only Stoller’s work focuses on sexual acts within sexual acts. Most people find a negotiated compromise between both scripting levels, but its stability is rarely assured.

Intrapsychic imagery changes more slowly than interpersonal scripts. With shifts in life-cycle status – from adolescence to adulthood in its various stages, from being children to being parents, from violating to mandating behaviour – accommodations effective at one step become problematic at subsequent stages. The sexual must also demonstrate social, gender, and moral competence. Interpersonal scripting is therefore often required. Instead of being mutually reinforcing, interpersonal and intrapsychic sexual scripting often represent a costly dialectic.

This partially narcissistic sexual repertoire is sensitive to narcissistic wounds or threats. Midlife crises often reactivate sexual experiments. It may be more of a sexual renewal than a failure of sexual repression or containment. Renewal may have roots in aspects of the self initially remote to the sexual, aspects that link the individual to social life, their past, and future more than the sexual. Conflicts between the child self and the parent self, as well as success and failure in work, are examples.

Sexualising a ‘crisis’ serves two purposes. First, while threatening the traditional social order, it lessens the estrangement of the individual by mandating a transformation of the self within the social order, not a transformation of social fiat. It personalises discontent and its solutions through interpersonal scripting. The rise in female extramarital sex may not be a feminist revolution but a more comfortable alternative to a process.

Second, as a postadolescent phenomenon, it follows the eroticisation of the sexual and uses the intrapsychic to create new metaphors of desire, linking the ‘archaeology’ of fascination with new and often unanticipated social destiniDeprivationes. Both deprivation and affluence emphasise the individual’s attention to gratification repertoires, highlighting the erotic. Anomic psychic functions are attracted to erotic experience’s intensity and confirmation.

Despite the confusion of adolescence and themed-life crisis’ or postadolescent identity crisis, it is easier to consider the sexual in these contexts than in others. These are matters of enough public concern to allow sexual scripting speculation. Other life stages are largely uncharted. We suspect that even when life appears undramatic, adapting sexual scripts to changed circumstances is an important, if unattended, issue.

Sexual scripts are powerful because they confirm identities and establish appropriate relationships. Where identity and relationships are stable, sexual meanings and uses must shift. For foreman, sexuality shifts from feeding off uncertainty to reassurance. Identity and relationship stabilisation stabilises interpersonal scripts. Even variations and elaboration become predictable, leading to a decline in sexual activity. Sexual interest, if not passion, may depend on intrapsychic scripting embedded in stereotyped interpersonal scripts. A useful but alienating adaptation encourages an aspect of sexual exchanges: we become dumb actors in each other’s charades.

Adults’ sexual scripting has two problematic aspects. The most common interpersonal scripts are shaped by adolescence and young adulthood. Virtually none are related to later life. Interpersonal scripts of early stages and the intrapsychic elements they facilitate may become fantasy components of the intrapsychic in later stages, especially confirmation of attractiveness and displays of passionate romantic interest. This transfer supports sexual commitment and performance, but it can be disenchanting.

Intrapsychic script imagery and content change slowly due to the evolution of scripts and the isolation of erotic realities from everyday life. Perhaps use accumulation and reorganisation. The intrapsychic in muted form feeds our continuing sexual experiences and opportunistically expands its claims during moments of crisis, disjuncture, or transition.

Such explorations start with a promise and end with an apology. We offer a conceptual framework for examining sexual development and experience, not a theory of sexual behaviour. An examination must move beyond body permanence to changing sexual meanings and uses. Thus, we see sexuality beyond biological imperatives. Still, tours of the human imperatives: our natural dependence on social meanings – symbols and metaphor – to give life to ’the body without organs.

Sexuality is a major theme in surf videos, opera, and the papal encyclical. It is a major theme in the human sciences, and Darwin and Freud have contributed. Social research over the last century has shed light on sexuality. Social theory has been slow to address the issue with the same sophistication as production or communication.

We believe an adequate social theory of sexuality is essential for progress on “applied” issues, such as HIV social transmission research (HIV). This chapter maps out the major intellectual frameworks governing Western sexuality thinking. We discuss religious and scientific nativism, its problems, and the rise of social construction approaches to sexuality. The social constructionism’s impasse is discussed. In the final section of the chapter, we sketch a solution.

Governing a big issue quickly requires a broad approach. We hope to provide enough details to show the practical importance of theoretical frameworks.


Our culture assumes a given sexuality pattern is innate to humans. This is nativism. It is similar to ‘essentialism’, but we emphasise origin. Whether by God, evolution, or hormones, nativists assume sexuality is pre-social. Sexuality cannot be controlled, channelled, or restricted by society.

Until recently, Western nativism was mostly religious. Ascetic Christians read sexuality as lust. It was part of old Adam, fallen humanity to be fought and defeated. Saint Augustine, no stranger to fleshly pleasures, said: Although there may be many lust, we commonly take it for the unclean motion of the generative parts. For this holds sway in the whole body, moving the whole man, outside and inside, with such a mixture of mental emotion and carnal appetite that it is the highest bodily pleasure of all produced: so that at the moment of consummation, it overwhelms almost all of the light and power of cogitation. Man is rightly ashamed of lust, and the members it moves or suppresses against our wills are shameful.

(Augustine, 1945, pp. xvi–xvii)

Monasticism institutionalised this outlook. Augustine was involved in early monasticism. Chastity spread beyond monasteries. Pope Gregory VII’s 11th-century church reforms targeted married priests. Sexuality became a platform for other agendas, prefiguring modern sexual politics. The attack on priestly marriage was part of the papacy’s effort to control the priesthood (Greenberg, 1988, pp. 290–291).

Anticlericalism and irreligious humour arose in response to asceticism’s reassertion of the flesh. Songs of wandering scholars and Decameron stories were classics. In his Confession (1952 [1160 orig.]), the medieval Archpoet said:

I am gutted

By beauty:

She is off-limits? Can the mind not work?

Mastering Nature:

Who can say his heart is pure near such beauty?

How can young people obey such a strict law?

Shouldn’t our young bodies have a say?

Will sitting in the fire burn you? Will you return to Pavia chaste?

Christian thought also affirms the flesh in God’s service. Married monk Martin Luther supports this view. The mainstream Protestant concept of Christian marriage depicts divinely sanctioned lust. Sexuality was not condemned, but divided between God and the Devil. In this splitting, we can see the roots of the image of the sexual “other” that has haunted the modern Western imagination from Don Juan, Mozart’s operatic villain, to “Patient Zero,” the media villain of the HIV epidemic in the U.S. (Shilts, 1987).

In the late 19th century, religious nativism became our culture’s main sexuality account. Scientific nativism replaced it. Darwin’s 1874 Descent of Man marks the change. Darwin now emphasised sexual selection alongside ‘natural selection’ as a mechanism of evolution.


Sexual attraction was part of nature and drove organic evolution.

Krafft-Ebing published Psychopathia Sexualis in Austria 12 years later, marking scientific nativism in humans. This scientized the image of’sexual others’ Krafft-Ebing catalogued and classified sexual degeneracy using medical and legal records. His explanation for homosexuality was ‘hereditary taint’ He used natural science methods and rhetoric. In his ‘countess of male attire’ case study, he used anthropometry. After measuring her ear/chin line (26.5 cm) and vagina, which was too narrow for the ‘insertion of a virile member’, he concluded her congenital sexual inversion ‘expressed itself, anthropologically, in anomalies of the body’ (Krafft-Ebing, 1965 [1886 orig.], pp. 437–8).

When sexology moved from a forensic to a clinical context, the basic claim was strengthened. Foucault (1978, p. 57) contrasts the Western sexual scientia with the erotic lore of other cultures. Freud’s key volumes appeared in 1900 and 1905, and Ellis’s in 1897. Freud developed a flexible but profound therapeutic and research technique and a detailed developmental model of human sexuality. His most influential arguments showed the fluidity of sexual motivation and the importance of sexuality for human psychology. Ellis added sympathetic documentation of sexual practices and life around them.

American sexology’s 20th-century monuments supported its scientific claim. Kinsey was a zoologist (a gall wasp specialist) who viewed his sexuality interviews as an extension of biology. Kinsey clung to his identity as a scientist during religious denunciations and media salaciousness (Pomeroy, 1972). Kinsey had his research grants cut off after his work became politically embarrassing. Masters and Johnson, medical school teachers, had a clinical style and claimed to be more nativist than Kinsey.

Kinsey’s work has become a sociological landmark, but it was not designed to interpret physiologic or psychological response to sexual stimulation. Kinsey’s group did secret research. Two questions must be answered before establishing the fundamentals of human sexual behaviour. What physical reactions do humans have to sexual stimulation? Men and women respond differently to sexual stimulation. Why?

Masters and Johnson (1966)

Critics note the irony of studying 382 female and 312 male white heterosexual upper-status Midwestern urban Americans in their twenties and thirties to answer these questions. Masters and Johnson produced the only sexology research result with no social significance. Female subjects’ vaginal walls changed colour during sexual excitement and returned to normal 10 to 15 minutes later (Masters and Johnson, 1966, pp. 75, 79). Only why someone is watching is socially relevant. The same research group’s work on homosexuality shows how social relationships and meanings are sacrificed for science. Foreplay, fellatio/cunnilingus, masturbation, anal intercourse, and other activities are compared as technical performances (Masters and Johnson, 1970). Anal intercourse is a different relationship for heterosexual and homosexual couples in American culture.

Masters and Johnson destroy scientific nativism as a paradigm or research program in Kuhn (1962) and Lakatos (1970). Such research can only operate by fencing off a small corner of the field, not by expanding its scope. This corner may be called ‘fundamentals’, but it is rhetoric. The research does not explain ‘the rest’ in terms of these fundamentals. Within a few years, Gagnon and Simon would point to the ‘noncumulative’ nature of naturalistic sexology and commit themselves to a sociological framework (Gagnon and Simon, 1974, p. 7).

Retrospect reveals scientific nativism’s flaws. It has never dealt with anthropologists’ documentation of massive cross-cultural variation in sexual practice, a key body of evidence on human sexuality from the last century (Marshall and Suggs, 1971). It hasn’t even accounted for sexual variation within its own culture, despite futile studies to find a physiological basis for male or female homosexuality (Wakeling, 1979). Freud’s ‘object choice’ is a sexological mystery. The scientific nativist metaphor that the body and its natural processes provide a ‘base’ or ‘foundation’ for social relations misrepresents the relationship between bodies and social processes. The final section revisits this issue.

Desire and pleasure permeate sexuality representations in literature, art, and music, but nativist discourse is silent on them. ‘Sex drive’ or ‘libido’ is the closest nativism comes to the concept of desire. This is a force that compels behaviour, a more or less uncontrollable urge according to Augustine. It is hard to connect this to the kind of experience our poets and writers recall: a sharp intake of breath as light falls unexpectedly on a breast or buttock, or the memory of a first kiss: first a feeling like silk, then a slight motion of lips on lips and breathing. I take your lower lip into my mouth, enjoying its blood-round softness. I release it, we kiss, and your tongue explores mine: tip and surface, roots and veins.

(1973, Peters)

A discussion of nerve endings, engorged vesicles, and muscle spasms is devoid of pleasure. The creative search for erotic pleasures is put in its place:

Epstein (1960) argued that some fetishist behaviours resemble temporal lobe dysfunction, but he offered no physiological evidence.

(1975, pp. 162–3)

Again, the approach lacks human experience understanding or reference. Scientific nativism has lost its way. Even de Sade’s catalogues of libertinage and violence focused on sexual capacity, diversity, and perversity (de Sade, 1966 [1785 orig.]).

As a scientific program, nativism is dead, but it remains a powerful social ideology. Religion and natural science support social ‘common sense’: boys need to sow their wild oats, rapists may be caught but rape cannot be stopped, girls naturally want to look beautiful and have babies, lesbianism is unnatural… Current politics shows that the half-scientific, half-demonological concept of “pervert” is active. Consider New South Wales politicians’ attempts in 1989–90 (continuing at time of writing) to mobilise hatred of ‘child molesters’ after Sir Bubbles case verdict.

Transsexuals in prison are treated atavistically, but less dramatically. Placing male-to-female transsexuals in men’s prisons puts them at risk of rape and bashing, but it is hard to get official agreement to do so. Chromosomes justify pre-existing social ideology.

Sexuality ‘Frame’ Theories

Gagnon and Simon (1974) argued that all human sexual behaviour is socially scripted. Sociocultural definitions are the source of sexual arousal, and it is hard to imagine human sexual activity without them. Sexuality’s social aspects arouse and organise action, not its physical aspects. (1974, p. 262)

‘Unclean Generative Motion’ 193

Such a view had been developing before it was stated. Freud was its originator. Freud was a nativist. As a natural scientist and physician, he took a reductionist view of psychology, and he compared sexual instinct to physiological needs. Freud’s psychiatric practice, case studies, and psychosexual development theory (especially in the Three Essays of 1905) undermined the reductionist framework.

Most discussions of Freud’s sexual science focus on the abstract theory, but we emphasise the case studies. Freud documented the role social relationships, especially within the family, played in shaping his patients’ sexual-emotional lives. Here was the first and, in some ways, strongest evidence for some crucial conclusions. Freud showed that actual sexuality is not a package from biology, that adult sexuality is constructed through a variable and observable process, and that social process is deeply implicated in this construction.

Since Freud, psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic sociology have oscillated between nativist and constructionist assumptions. Conservative medical psychoanalysis leans nativist, and psychoanalytic radicals lean constructionist, but tension remains. Reich (1972), who understood class oppression’s effects on working-class sexuality better than any other psychoanalyst, never abandoned his belief in heterosexuality’s naturalness. Dinnerstein (1976) sees heterosexuality as abrasive and discordant because of Western gendered parenting practices. Marcuse (1968) wrote a classic analysis of the social basis of sexual pleasure, genital primacy, and procreation-focused sexuality. He was so convinced of the importance of sexual desire’s organic basis that he saw it as the key to resisting advanced capitalism’s repressive social dynamic.

Classic anthropological sexuality works are ambivalent. Ethnography became the most important source of evidence for a social theory of sexuality after psychoanalysis. Ethnographers brought European and American intelligentsia accounts of sexual customs so varied but comprehensible that it was impossible to view them as exotic, primitivism, or simple European variants. As the Newtonian universe shrunk the Earth from the centre of creation to one of many bodies following gravitational laws, ethnography shrunk Western culture from the norm to one of many similar cultures with different sex practices.

Despite the spectacular variety of sexual customs, ethnographers sought a natural order. Malinowski, a pioneer sexuality ethnographer and anthropological theorist, shows this. The Sexual Life of Savages (1929), his study of the Trobriand Islanders, was praised by Ellis as the first serious ethnography of sexuality. It is a richer cultural analysis than anything written then about European sexuality. Malinowski was already hovering between a nativist conception of instinct and a’sociological mechanism’s theory of Sex and Repression in Savage Society (1927). This text borders on sexuality.

Culture, nature. Malinowski’s functionalist theory of culture developed nativist underpinnings. Institutions were now explained by the “biological foundations of culture”. ‘Sex appetite ® conjugation ® detumescence’ was one of eleven ‘permanent vital sequences in all cultures’ Kinship institutions arose from a social need for reproduction (1960 [1944], pp. 75–103). Sexual customs are ways cultures solve common problems of human need, each making sense within its own culture’s Gestalt. Culture solved natural needs.

Gagnon and Simon’s sex sociology advanced ‘frame’ theories of sexuality. Gagnon and Simon’s version is an adaptation of role theory, which locates behaviour constraints in stereotyped expectations of other social actors (Connell, 1979). In Gagnon and Simon’s metaphor, individuals internalise normative expectations or enact them under social sanctions. Much of Sexual Conduct explains the scripts. The grand script of a lifelong sexual career in Western culture (1974, pp. 99–103) is notable. Gagnon and Simon also decipher scripts for homosexuals, youth, prostitutes, and prisoners.

Once radical, this now seems unfocused. Gagnon and Simon’s framework provides no social account of what links the diverse scripts, what makes them ’sexuality’s Script unity is not clear. The framework does not account for career progression, how we move between stages. This self-consciously social account has a non-social core. Sexuality is defined by arousal and reproduction. Masters and Johnson’s natural history trumps Gagnon and Simon’s sociology. It contextualises their topic. The corner is now the centre, and the frame is defined by moving away from it.

Foucault’s theory provides a social account of’sexuality’s and is the pinnacle of social framing. Foucault’s intellectual background was different from Gagnon and Simon’s. He rejects nativism and asserts socialism. “Social” is more concrete than social expectations or scripts. It is a set of historically describable discourses that make sexuality object of knowledge and social concern in professions and state apparatuses.

Sexuality is not a natural given that power tries to control or an obscure domain that knowledge uncovers. It is the name of a historical construct: not a furtive reality that is hard to grasp, but a great surface network in which the stimulation of bodies, the intensification of pleasures, the incitement to discourse, the formation of special knowledge, and the strengthening of controls and resistance are linked. (1978, pp. 105–6)

Foucault criticises the’repressive hypothesis as a guide to sexuality’s history. He argues that as modern capitalism developed, sexuality discourses multiplied and social incitement to talk about sex grew. “Sexuality” is a social fact and power arena (in the sense of social control).

Controlling classification and definition. Foucault saw the science of sexuality that its pioneers, most eloquently Ellis, saw as a means of control. Sexual types were objects of new knowledge and control strategies. Foucault’s list includes the masturbating child, the perverse (mostly homosexual) man, the hysterical woman, and the ‘Malthusian’ couple (1978, pp. 103–5). Foucault’s argument connects to historical research on the emergence of ‘the homosexual’ as a category in Western culture (e.g. Weeks, 1977; Bray, 1982). Homosexual was coined in the 1860s.

This sexuality picture did not come from sexology, which is significant. Foucault traced the growth of other systems of knowledge, surveillance, and control, including criminology, the prison, medicine, the clinic, psychiatry, and the asylum (Foucault, 1973a, 1973b, 1977). Foucault focused on control systems and little on what was controlled.

Bodies, yes, but bodies with an unusual passivity toward power and knowledge technologies. Foucault’s critics ask where the resistance comes from if his picture of history is not a black night of total dominance. Foucault (1978, p. 95) said resistance arises at every power node. This is a metaphysical claim without a detailed account of resistance’s generation, articulation, and history. Foucault lacks this. He mocked Marcusian notion of a ‘great refusal’ (Foucault, 1978, p. 96).

Foucault’s account of the social frame is more realistic and historical than Gagnon and Simon’s, but it has the same problem. Foucault’s concept of the ‘deployment of sexuality’ as a power strategy (1978, p. 106) avoids making the definition of the social process of sexuality dependent on a malleable native ‘human sexual response’, but it does make the definition dependent on a ‘will to knowledge’ and a will to power whose social base, location, and dynamics remain vague. Foucault describes this (1978, pp. 122–7) as a strategy of bourgeois class formation and hegemony. He acknowledged that the (French) working class had avoided sexualisation.

Foucault’s shift to class language reflects a crisis in social framing theories. Focusing on sexuality’s social definitions rather than its physiological concept leaves an empty ‘frame’ This movement has not conceptualised the social in terms of sexuality. Instead, it must introduce structural and dynamic concepts (class, hegemony, discourse, state) from other historical processes. Sexuality as knowledge and political object seems to crumble.

Gay’s liberation problems illustrate this. Foucault’s deconstructionist ideas influenced gay theorists like Weeks (1985, 1986). Deconstructionist framing theory supported gay sexuality themes. It highlighted the social basis of normality and deviance, the pervasiveness of social control, and the role of professions like medicine in controlling ‘deviants’“Homosexuality” is socially constructed by penal laws and medical interpretations.

Here, issues arise. According to this argument, claiming homosexuality is claiming a place in social regulation. “Homosexual identity” is the basis of gay solidarity and the gay movement. Resisting identity means dismantling the movement, leaving no place to challenge regulatory power.

From the late 1970s, the political implications of social construction theory and deconstructionism were debated (e.g. Johnston, 1981; Sargent, 1983). Gay’s theory had become inimical to gay politics, according to Vance’s (1989) review of social construction theory: “Deconstruct heterosexuality first!” and “I will deconstruct when they deconstruct.” This intellectual climate was among the centrifugal forces and divergent strategies among gay men that Pollak (1988) noted made it harder to organise a collective response to the epidemic.

In social framing theory, sexuality is not defined outside of scripting or controlling. Vance says that if social construction theory grants that sexual acts, identities, and desire are mediated by cultural and historical factors, sexuality becomes evanescent and threatens to disappear.

Vance (1989)

A nativist appeal is understandable. Lesbian and gay analyses of homosexuality are becoming more essentialist (e.g. Williams, 1986, ch. 12; Wieringa, 1989). Sexuality is somewhat constant across cultures and periods.

Attacks on gay rights and political gains after the HIV epidemic make such a response urgent. HIV is a personal, organic disease. Cruel ideas of ‘innocent’ victims versus the infected or criminal sanctions to control the epidemic are reminders of medico-legal sanctions on homosexuality defeated only recently. Neo-essentialism is a moral defence. It validates individual experience, especially body sensations, sexuality, and emotions. By focusing on the individual for explanations, it loses social traction.

The social analysis of sexuality needs a different approach than role theory or deconstructionism to avoid nativism or the paradoxical liquidation of knowledge and social practice. What kind of theory is needed? It is important to give full weight to bodily experience without treating the body as the container of an ahistorical sexual essence. Social relations must be understood as sexual, not just as frames for sexuality. Such relationships must be coherent and constrained. We need a conceptualisation of sexual practice’s social structure, where role theory collapses structure into action.

From Social to Sexual Construction

The political dilemma of deconstruction in the face of the enemy and the conceptual problem of social constructionism require the same approach. Instead of nativism, we need a fully social account of sexuality that can stand alone as social analysis. Even Freud, who emphasised Eros, did not view sexuality as social structure. When he tried to sociologise psychoanalysis (especially in civilisation and its discontents), Eros was constrained by vaguely specified technological and social imperatives (1953 [1930 orig.]). Second-wave feminism and gay liberation sped up the breakthrough. In 10 years, many related but not identical ideas were proposed.

Millett’s (1972) concept of’sexual politics’ got to the heart of the matter, declaring that sexuality questions were power questions. Her book explored how certain novelists’ sexual relationships become a form of male dominance over women. We can take a more nuanced view of text and practice. Millett’s insight into power is still basic (Willis, 1984).

Early gay liberation movement emphasised this. Sexuality involves gender power. Altman (1972) and Johnston (1981) used similar oppression terminology, but focused on identity and subordination. Complex social relationships and multiple sexuality follow easily. One thousand nine hundred and seventy gay and lesbian sexual personae included androgynes, leather dykes, and clones. Diversity was not fragmentation. These sexuality presentations helped build visible, homogeneous gay communities.

The new feminism did not immediately accept lesbianism, so these two arguments did not merge. Rich (1980) argued heterosexuality’s social construction. “Compulsory heterosexuality” is a political institution that requires women to be sexually available to men, she said. Rich contrasted this with a ‘lesbian continuum’ of relationships, including erotic, friendship, work, and childcare. Her ahistorical approach dramatises how sexuality organises social relationships.

Mitchell’s Woman’s Estate (1971) is structuralist Marxist. Mitchell wanted to differentiate the sites of women’s oppression, assuming they had different historical trajectories and political struggles. ‘Sexuality’ was one of the four ’structures’ of women’s oppression, alongside production, reproduction, and child socialisation.

Mitchell abandoned this illogical framework. Momentum counts. This text identifies sexuality as a social structure that interacts with others and needs its own mapping-like structure.

Mitchell’s (1974) second structural analysis essay avoided a sexuality history. Lévi-Strauss’s ahistorical anthropology inspired structure.’ Sexuality aided kinship and gender placement. Structure-effect analysis was expanded. Mitchell returned to psychoanalysis.

198 Dowsett

Rubin defines sexuality as social structure. Freud and Lévi-Strauss describe the part of social life that oppresses women, sexual minorities, and certain aspects of human personality. The sex/gender system. Essex/gender system transforms biological sexuality into human activity and satisfies sexual needs.

Rubin maintains biological capacity and need, but sexuality is historical.

Social products include gender identity, sexual desire and fantasy, and childhood concepts. Know production relationships.

Rubin, 166

This phrase suggests that thesis/gender system is dual. Practice produced socially. Different societies or eras have different social relations that organise this domain. Rubin (1975, pp. 177, 204) draws heavily from Lévi-Strauss but also argues for a Marxist-based, “political economy of sexual systems”.

This conceptual work from the 1970s paved the way for three research bodies that explore social relations constituted in or through sexuality. First, they study workplace sexuality to examine sex economics. Pringle(1988) studied secretaries. Pringle proves workplace sexuality is not optional or limited to the holiday party. It is tied to labour processes. Sexuality exists in boss-secretary relationships.

Pringle’s book shows this applies to sexual acts and harassment. Regardless of gender (though with a female boss the configuration of sexuality is different). Sexual pleasure and displeasure motivate employees. Hearn and Parkin (1987) also found this.

We needed to broaden our definition in two ways: first, to see sexuality as an ordinary and frequent public process rather than an extraordinary and predominantly private process; and second, to see sexuality as part of an all-pervasive body politics rather than a separate set of practices. Sexuality is the social expression or relations to physical, bodily desires by others or oneself.


Dirty generative motion

Second, on ‘imagined’ relationships. Kristeva and others combine semiotics and psychoanalysis. Previous media and culture research discussed how discourse governs sexuality (see Lockhart et al., 1970). Sexuality symbolism and language were at issue.

Kristeva (1984) linked psychosexual development to language. If true, human communication could be socially sexualised. Sexual theory is needed to understand postmodernists’“decentred social forms” (Lyotard, 1984).

Sexuality semiotics establishes acceptance and expulsions, identity and difference, possession and dominance (e.g. Burgin, Donald and Kaplan, 1986). Much feminist work on sexual ‘difference’ (Eisenstein and Jardine, 1980) focuses on symbolism and meanings, where differences are sharp, rather than personality and interpersonal practice (Epstein, 1988).

Recent work on the cultural dimensions of HIV shows how sexual meanings are constructed – an “epidemic of signification” Watney (1988) calls AIDS a “spectacle” that demonstrates sexual dominance.

Malinowski and Mead’s turf is revisited. Mead (1949) framed cross-cultural sex and gender research as human nature expressed culturally. Mead argued social personalities of the two sexes were a social process, a cultural template over natural temperament variability (Mead, 1935). Her argument conflated innate differences within and between the sexes with culture’s Gestalt. Mead’s desire to proclaim cultural difference’s common humanity domesticated her ethnography and tied her to philosophical nativism.

New sexual anthropology emphasises other cultures’ alien sexual arrangements. Herdt (1981) describes a PNG culture in which heterosexuality is the norm and homosexuality is a minority practice. This culture tolerates and ritually encourages gay men at certain ages. Same-sex erotic contact is socially required in many Melanesian cultures (Herdt, 1984).

Using the term ‘homosexual’ to describe the people involved or their practice would impose an alien frame of reference that would make the behaviour meaningless. Parker, Guimarães, and Struchner (1989) argued that North American notions of ‘homosexuality’ are inappropriate for HIV-prevention strategies for Brazilian men who have sex with men. Europe and the U.S. misunderstand male-to-male sex in Southeast Asia. Research and education in Australia often assume men.

Whoever has sex with men is ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’.

Sexual relationship structures and the social categories they create are not universal, according to anthropology. Historical. We can see our own society more clearly through the ethnographer’s telescope because of the alien categories and practices. Erotic contact builds society. According to Kosik, human praxis is ‘onto formative’ (1976). Similar to social sexuality.

We moved beyond the structuralist and post-structuralist idea of structure as a determining frame. Sexuality is not historical. History-related. Society isn’t sexually constructed; it is. Once accepted, we cannot settle for images of moulding, regulating, and controlling. Sexuality is a historically dynamic pattern of practice and relationship with scope and power.

Theoretical Growth

The previous section outlined the research needed for the next step in theory. Here are some issues with such an approach. Theoretical work over the last two decades has established the need and the possibility of analysing sexual relationships. This structure has not been agreed upon. Two options exist.

First, a sexuality structure account can be built on the social theory approach that emphasises structure and practice but does not reject a structuralist account of structure per se (cf. Giddens, 1984). (cf. Giddens, 1984). Thus, Connell (1987, pp. 111–16) base sexuality on emotional attachment. This account suggests that a highly visible structure, characterised by gender oppositions and couple relationships, coexists with a’shadow’s structure detectable in the ambivalence of major relationships. Dinnerstein (1976) explores this ambivalence.

An alternative approach analyses the social as the intersection and interplay of discourses, symbolic systems, or language games (Weedon, 1987). (Weedon, 1987.) This would fragment and multilevelize sexuality (e.g. Coward, 1984). (e.g. Coward, 1984). This approach helps understand large-scale issues like the impact of Western sexual culture on non-Western cultures.

Social construction theories of sexuality offered a way to account for the sexual categories present at a particular moment in history (which nativism takes to be preordained) and for the individual’s sexual options in a given setting (which profoundly shape the choice, however free the act of choosing maybe) (which profoundly shape the choice, however free the act of choosing may be). History of the homosexual man (McIntosh, 1968; Weeks, 1977; Bray, 1982), the prostitute (Walkowitz, 1980; Allen, 1990), and the housewife is fascinating (Game and Pringle, 1979). (Game and Pringle, 1979.)

This historical work lacks a theoretical capacity to analyse how new sexual categories are created. This is troubling because history is not over. Beyond changing sexuality styles, we see new categories emerging in our culture.

Transsexuals are being produced as a new social category, despite their desire to disappear into a ‘woman’ oarsman’s (Bolin, 1988). Transsexual prostitutes are in demand (Perkins, 1983). Paedophile is moving from forensic psychiatry to popular culture. The word is used in journalism, assuming a wider recognition of sexual ‘type’ than ten years ago. Paedophiles are claiming the title to distinguish themselves from homosexuals and to claim the contested ground from those who would regulate them, namely the state (O’Carroll, 1982).

In HIV/AIDS policy, categories are produced as medical ‘risk groups’ In the Australian monthly HIV Surveillance Reports, there is a category called ‘Homosexual/Bisexual’ HIV transmission. Unless a man has simultaneous anal and/or vaginal intercourse with an infected man and woman, there is no bisexual HIV transmission.

Collective agency is key to understanding category production. ‘Agency,’ is usually considered a personal trait. Couples ‘agency/determination’, ‘practice/structure’ are compared to ‘individual/society’.

Sexual agency is often created and mobilised through history. Magarey traces the turn-of-the-century mobilisation of women’s sexual agency (marriage, contraception) (1985). In the 1970s, the gay liberation movement and the’safe sex’s movement mobilised homosexual men.

Institutions and social movements can be collectives. One can recognise a company, market, or state’s historical impact. HIV/AIDS ‘risk groups’ illustrate how medicine categorises the world. Multiple collectivities, unlike multiple subjectivity or intersubjectivity, allow for more structure-based politics. Regulating and contesting become more visible and concrete.

Ironically, social framing theory loses the body. In many sexuality arguments, the body and relationships are opposed as natural versus social. The problem stems from equating ‘body’ and ‘nature’ As long as this equation holds, the more the bodily dimension of sexuality – eroticism, violence, male/female bodily difference – is recognised, the stronger the push towards nativism. Feminist arguments about sexual violence have this tendency. Social arguments lack sweat and passion. Role theory, semiotics, and structural analysis demonstrate this.

Only a social body concept can solve the problem. (Kessler and McKenna, 1978; Connell, 1987, pp. 66–88) A social process naturalises gender oppositions as taken-for-granted facts of life and transforms the body in pursuit of a social logic. This is shown in fashion’s social history (Wilson, 1987).

Keat (1986) shows that Reich and Foucault are not polar opposites on this issue. Keat argues that biological and social processes do not meet at the body-society boundary. Its body-internal. Muscle tensions, physical attitudes, etc., are social. Turner (1984) emphasises the collective and cultural aspect of ‘body practices’ (and perhaps overemphasises the intentional).

In relation to sexuality, this approach will emphasise the construction of sexual desirability (the social meanings of age are important here), the control of fertility (for example, recent feminist work on the social meaning of IVF), the social structuring of arousal (‘Never the time, the place, and the loved one altogether!’), and the collective dimension in body self-images and body fantasies (as illustrated by Glanz).

This approach threatens social science methodology. Abstraction in social-scientific research, especially quantification and experimentation, eliminates the whole, functioning bodies. This makes fucking an act of cognition in sexuality research. It can be incorporated into language and represented abstractly. Individuals’ accounts of sexual events can be studied. Sexuality is schematised in sexual diary inventories (Davies, 1990). Our argument suggests the importance of researching embodiment, sex choreography, sensation tactics, and desire manoeuvres.

Finally, the proposed theoretical refocus has political implications. Sexual liberation drove the 1,960s and 1,970s theory. This concept combined the lifting of social prohibitions on sexual behaviour and the dismantling of one social group’s power over another. In the 1970s, gay activists and theorists influenced by radical Freud (Altman, 1972; Mieli, 1980) proposed a social revolution fuelled by sex as an erotic explosive. Foucauldian notions of sexuality as a power effect and gay sexual identity as a product of’regulation were a significant comedown from this. Social framing theories helped critique nativist deviance models, but they did not offer positive change goals.

It is clear that modern gay communities changed the practice and theory of sexual revolution (and gay liberation). It evolved into a pursuit of the self in sex and a claim to sexual rights, exercised in sex-on-premise venues and a growing gay community. Gay men reclaimed masculinity by colonising masculine imagery and style, undermining classic masculine pretence. Gay men recognised the irony of this colonisation (Bersani, 1988). The 1970s and 1980s saw a softening of agendas, including gay liberation. Segal (1987) traces how British feminism shifted from defending erotic freedom to emphasising sexual difference.

Gay’s liberation was not lost or reduced to civil rights. It was available to challenge early HIV epidemic responses. Homosexual celibacy and’safe sex’s safe sex and later programs that exploit its erotic and transgressive nature (Gordon, n.d.; Dowsett, 1990) show the importance of recognising sexuality power early on.

A fully social concept of sexuality would revive sexual liberation. But it is not an erotic explosion. It would involve democratising sexual relationships.

Homosexuality may play a role, but for a different reason than before. It is not so much a site of severe repression as a model for egalitarian sexual relationships in our culture. High sexual reciprocity among gay men (Connell and Kippax, 1990) suggests one way forward.

Faced with the HIV epidemic, negotiating safe sex requires a revitalised liberation agenda. This reciprocity may contribute to gay men’s successful responses to sexual behaviour change. HIV/AIDS prevention strategies for heterosexuals may not be able to rely on the same negotiation, because heterosexual power relations disadvantage women. Sexual liberation is not just an expression. It is tied to social equality.

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