The definition of this term calls one to consider the definitions of its root, sex , which itself is not easily definable. Therefore, sexuality is complex and multifaceted.
First, one can ask, in what contexts might sexuality appear? Environments of sensuality, intimacy, and sexual identity might come to mind, all sex related. Because sex (whether it be the physical act or the biological attribute) can be applied to men, women, and those in between—of which language doesn’t provide names for—sexuality can therefore be applied to those categories as well. It is neither strictly a feminine phenomenon nor a masculine one.
With this in mind, one might make connections to reproduction, gender , relationships, and body image, evidence that this single term opens up a realm of thought and categories. A further question might be raised then of whether sexuality must directly relate to the act of sexual intercourse or instead simply be sexual attraction. The answer can be both.
Therefore sexuality can be identified by two concepts:
First, sexuality is the nature of ones sexual identity, or, being sexually attracted to other beings (possibly synonymous with sexual orientation ). In other words, how we use our identified gender to sexually interact with others. This definition is expressed in the conversational sentence, “I’ve finally come to terms with my sexuality”, meaning, I’ve accepted who I am and am not attracted to, and how I express that attraction. This leaves space for a second definition of sexuality as being the expression and mere possession of one’s sexual desire towards that preferred (traditionally gendered) being. It does not have to be present in these traditionally gendered bodies in order to be legitimate. It is a condition pertaining to sexual beings, who in some way, shape, or form possess sexual desire.
Sexuality therefore can be present in varying degrees and manifestations. Some people may express their sexuality through the way they dress and present themselves to society; a woman who is sexually attracted to other women might choose to make that clear through cutting her hair short and wearing menswear-type clothing, or she might choose to reject stereotypes and dress very traditionally feminine, wearing skirts, dresses, heels, and makeup. Whatever she may choose, she is using her physical appearance as an expression of her sexuality.
Others might choose to express their sexuality through physical acts. This could mean having sex often or with lots of partners. It could also mean engaging in specific sexual acts with specific partners that hold connotations pertaining to your sexual orientation. Contrastingly, an absence of sexuality also sends a message. While someone might be considered extremely sexual, someone not attracted to males or females and who chooses not to engage in sexual acts of any kind (sometimes called asexual) might be said to have no sexuality.
An environment like this is represented in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel Herland, the story of a land of women who are strictly non-sexual beings. This kind of environment calls one to question the advantages and disadvantages of a world without sexuality. One benefit is the absence of sexual violence, because along with sexual beings comes people who choose to exploit that in an oppressive and hurtful way. Also, there can’t be discrimination based off of people’s sexual preferences or choices if there is an absence of sexuality. On the other hand, sexuality and sex are considered extremely pleasurable and positive facets of life. Sexuality can be considered a crucial tool in expressing ones identity and satisfying ones desires.
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