Saturday, August 20, 2011

Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality

By Shashauna P. Thomas (Guest Blogger)

I never consider myself an expert on sex. There is always something new to learn. And I’m sure some of you will agree that learning new things about sex is half the fun. I did however have a belief that when it came to Human Sexuality I at least knew the basics. How could I not, having been born and raised in New York City? New York is one of the most crowded and diversely populated cities in the U.S. There is heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. I understood that each person as an individual will have an array of different turn-ons, a combination of arousing stimuli specific to them. But I always believed that everyone somehow fit into those three well-known categories. I never considered myself closed-minded, but looking back, I now know that line of thinking was very narrow.

It wasn’t until my first semester at the university where I got my second bachelors when I finally became enlightened on exactly how wrong my thinking was. For my second BA I majored in psychology with a concentration in sociology. One of the courses I had the pleasure of taking was a sociology course on human sexuality. It just so happened that we had a guest lecturer that semester. Now I won’t go in to too many specifics, mainly because it has been a while and I don’t remember the professor’s name nor the exact name of the course. What I do remember clearly was the professor’s main point. He explained that it was a misconception to break down human sexuality into two categories, heterosexuality and homosexuality, or three if you believe that bisexuality deserves a separate class. He went on to explain that instead of two or three static classifications that human sexuality is actually a spectrum.


Homosexual I------------------------------I------------------------------I Heterosexual

Human sexuality is a range with heterosexuality on one end, homosexuality on the other and bisexuality falling directly in the center. The professor went on to say that like most dimensions the majority of people fall somewhere along the line and tend to cluster towards the center. Not near the ends like one would think! This means that the probability of landing on the far ends, completely straight or completely gay, is actually extremely low. When my professor first introduced this concept to the class you can imagine that a number of my fellow classmates found it hard to believe.

He explained that many factors go into consideration when determining where on the spectrum one ends up. A heterosexual woman who finds homosexual acts between woman erotic when viewed, but doesn’t have the inclination to participate herself in a homosexual act with another woman is heterosexual with homoerotic tendencies. She would land somewhere on the right side of the spectrum. This kind of thinking explains the belief that all straight people have some subconscious gay tendencies and vice versa.

When first introduced to the spectrum I didn’t find it as hard to believe as some of the others. I have always embraced sexuality, and with a vivid imagination like mine it wasn’t so hard for me to believe that human sexuality isn’t static but fluid.

It explained why it was so easy for me to imagine two women in the shower together. Soaping each other’s body slowly as they took their time learning every nook and cranny of the other’s curves. Letting the anticipation build before even the first kiss. When the kiss finally takes place the sensation is explosive and travels all through their bodies. Then one woman breaks the kiss to kneel before the other where she slowly begins to lick the cream seeping from the other’s center. The one still standing begins to wobble slightly as she grips the back of the other woman’s head, to stabilize herself and help guide her aching clit to the other woman’s questing tongue. She uses her free hand to play with her sensitive nipples. The woman on her knees begins to lightly suckle on the other’s clit while slowly entering her with two fingers. The standing woman throws her head back and moans in ecstasy as her hips begin to move to the pace of the kneeling woman’s fingers.

I find the previous scene in my head just as arousing as a woman holding hands with a man who is leading her into the shadows behind a night club they just exited. Once alone in the shadows he presses her back up against the brick wall of the building. His lips hover seductively above hers, teasing her, before crushing their lips together in a passionate kiss. His hands grope her breasts through her shirt. Her erect nipples poke the palm of his hand confirming his suspicion that she isn’t wearing a bra. Her hands begin to fumble with his fly in her haste to reach his huge erection. She only gets to stroke his shaft a couple of times before he hooks his hands beneath her thighs and lifts her off the ground. He wraps her legs around his waist as one of his hands sneaks under her skirt to test how wet she is and to move her thong out of the way. Knowing exactly what he’s doing and wanting it as badly as he does, she helps guides the head of his member, lining it up with her opening. In one slow, sure thrust he enters her, not stopping until he is fully embedded inside her. There in the dark alley, she matches him thrust for thrust as they ride each other to that ever looming orgasm.

Both these fantasies excite me because of my placement on the heterosexuality-to-homosexuality spectrum. After my epiphany in the sociology class I not only decided to explore the spectrum, but also to pass along this new-found information to everyone I knew. I mean, I knew I couldn’t have been the only one who thought the way I previously did. During a conversation with a family member where I was sharing what I learned, the individual posed a very interesting question. “If this whole sexuality spectrum idea is true, then where on the spectrum do personal fetishes fit?” I was once again momentarily struck dumb founded. Not by the question but more by the fact that a class of over a hundred students had taken the course for an entire semester and yet not one had ever asked that question of the professor. What about fetishes? What about people who were turned on by feet and high heels? What about sexually submissive or dominant people?

After thinking about it I realized I was once again thinking too linearly. As many factors make up each of our personal sexuality, it’s completely reasonable to infer that there are multiple sexual dimensions coming into play.


Dominant I---------------------------------I-------------------------------I Submissive


Polyamorous I------------------------------I------------------------------I Monogamist

The above two dimensions are only a few of those I believe exist and intercept the first spectrum. They all connect to make a three, four, five, or more dimensional representation of our individual sexuality. Once again the same rules apply with the majority of the human population falling somewhere along the spectrum, tending to cluster around the center, and very few landing at the extreme ends. As we’re all individuals the possible combinations are immeasurable. The only way to figure out where in these dimensions and others you land is to explore your own human sexuality spectrum. Don’t be afraid to test and embrace the limits of your own imagination, sexual daring, and arousal. Discovery is half the fun.

Exploring my own personal spectrum has been the major influence in my own writing. Sometimes the main characters are learning about a submissive side they hadn’t known they had like in my short story La Petite Mort, featured in Xcite Books’ Six of the Best – a Collection of Spanking Stories.

Or they learn instead of suppressing their urge for multiple partners to embrace it and in the end have even more pleasure than they originally imagined was possible. Like in my new book published by Pink Petal Books, Deck The Halls.

They could already know what fuels their fire and have fun exploring the depths of their fetish with another like the main characters as in my short story Flat with a View, featured in Bondage by The Bay - Tales of BDSM in San Francisco from Renaissance.

They might already know what they want sexually, but the way they find it may be completely unexpected. It is of course no less completely satisfying. An example is the main character in my short story Luna’s Mate, which is featured in the hot lesbian werewolf anthology Daughters of Artemis from Storm Moon Press.

When it comes to my writing, viewing human sexuality as multiple interconnecting dimensions always comes into play. As I am definitely one of those authors that believe art often imitates life I believe the dimensions of sexuality play an important role in how we all, authors and readers alike, view sex and most importantly how we view our own sexuality. I am very interested to know if I am alone. Do you agree that sexual preferences are fluid and gradual rather than fixed into categories? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Bio: Shashauna P. Thomas graduated with two BAs before returning to the Bronx where she was born and raised to live with family. It is there that she continues to find inspiration for her erotic novels. For more information on this author, a complete list of her published works, and how to get in contact with her, please check out her new website Her author's page on Goodreads, is another way to reach the author, keep updated on her published works, and follow her blog where she chronicles her experiences as a new author learning the world of publishing.


Lisabet Sarai said...

Welcome to Beyond Romance, Shashauna!

I think that you're right on the money here. Sexuality is amazingly variable from one person to another, and even, I'd maintain, from one time to another for the same person.

Also, I find that personally, at least, I'm attracted to an individual, not a specific gender.

Thanks so much for your thought provoking post, not to mention the great covers!

Kayelle Allen said...

Considering the fluidity of the subject, another way to view the dynamics is with a circle, rather than a line. A ripple begun in one section spreads to the others in a more direct fashion. Fascinating concept any way you think of it.

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating and I'm bookmarking it.

I agree Lisabet that sexuality changes (grows) from one time to another within the same person. I know personally I'm more open to different sexual scenarios now than even ten years ago. And that is a beautiful thing.

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

I love exploring this in my stories. I find it hard to really place many of my characters firmly at any part of the spectrum. I prefer to describe the stories in terms of who is with whom (f/f, m/f, m/m, m/f/m, presuming cisgender in these cases) rather than lesbian, gay, straight, or bisexual unless the characters are firmly those identities, which they often aren't.

She said...

This is not the first time I've seen this thought. Lisa Alther in either her book Kinflick or Other Women uses it as an argument of why a woman left her husband for another woman. It made sense then. It makes sense now. We have been conditioned to think we fall on one side of the homosexual/heterosexual line but the reality is, even if you never act upon it, we all have both feelings and everything in between. I think it's the same for fetishes. We may be intrigued, read about it, watch TV/movies about it, but not act upon it for whatever reasons but we have the ability to go with whatever fetish we desire. Sex is beautiful.

Shashauna P. Thomas said...

Hey everyone,
Discussing the various Human sexualities and sex in general is often my favorite topic for discussion. So I am glad to learn I am not alone.

Lisabet, Thanks once again for the opportunity to be on your blog as well as the warm welcome. I agree that over time a person's sexuality changes. We as humans evolve and grow over the years so it makes sense that our tastes in sexual preference would grow as well. Especially as we mature and grow into our own as adults. I'm also the type of person that is attracted to personality over gender. It just so happens that the personality that attracts me most happens to occur most often in a specific sex.

Kayelle, I really liked the fluid circular concept applied to human sexuality. I can see how the circular concept could go right along with Lisabet's point about a person's sexuality evolving over time. But than I have to ask how far does the circular concept spread? Does it mean that even if a person's sexuality changes over time that eventually in the end they will wind up back where they started? Or is it a fluctuation, where the ripple effect causes us and our sexuality to change as it continually travels the same circle repeatedly?

Raelyn,Thanks for the complement. I've never been bookmarked before. Which makes since as this is my first blog article. I think being open minded to different sexual scenarios is of the utmost importance. In order to know one's self you have to constantly do self exploration, and being open to new experiences is the best way to explore our own sexuality. How else will we know what we truly like and dislike? Our boundaries? And of course our pleasure limits?

Aureliatevans, I think that is why the human sexuality spectrum is so perfect. Most people aren't in one specific point. It's more like they are in a general area. However, the more dimensions you add the more specific a person's placement becomes. However, no matter how many dimensions come into play our sexuality is never finite enough to subscribe completely to the lesbian, gay, or straight labels. Labels that are often thrown around way too easily. Plus placement on the spectrum is often relative. Like one of your characters maybe more towards the center than another when it comes to sexuality, submissiveness, and monogamy. And as authors we all know how much fun it can be to write about our favorite characters testing their limits.:-)

Shashauna P. Thomas said...

She, I am definitely going to look those books you mentioned up. I do not know where my professor came up with the idea and like I said before I had heard the argument prior that all straight people have gay tendencies, and vice versa. But I had never had the concept explained to me accurately and definitely not the way my professor did. I don't know what it was, but it was the first time I felt someone had accurately portrayed the fluidity of the various human sexualities to me in a way that made complete and utter sense to me.

Unknown said...

Great ideas and a very interesting topic. I think the moral background we are brought up in influences people to scrap what they desire and only follow the "prescribed" way of sex until it builds up in them and they freak out, abandoning their upbringing. I wish more people understood that it's a spectrum and you may not fit in the "prescribed" category your parents did.

Adriana said...

I really like this post and the insightful comments. I agree the culture we've been raised in may serve to keep us from staying open to whatever our own natural desires are - and I've seen research elsewhere that suggests, at least for women, sexual "fluidity" increases across the lifespan (the article didn't address men, so who knows). I think it was Kinsey who came up with the continuum notion originally - but as so many comments make clear, it's not just a single continuum, but several.

Dr. Charley Ferrer said...

Well done Shashauna.

Live with passion,

Doctor Charley

Anonymous said...

i definitely agree with the human sexuality spectrum. although most of my life i have been one of the few people in the far-flung homosexuality end of the spectrum, i have fallen in love with a man so hard, and when i'm with him, i have not desire for women at all.

the polyamorous and monogamous spectrum i also think is very fluid. i used to only be able to imagine marriage in polygamous or polyamorous forms. now i think it can be most fulfilling in a monogamous form, but there are times i think occasional polyamory might need to creep in as well.

sexuality and positions, whether dominant or submissive, as well as relationship ideals, whether polyamorous or monogamous, are definitely fluid. so much depends on where we are in life, who we are loving.

however, i worry that this very common-sense approach of human sexuality as fluid will be repressed by those who want to press for LGBT rights. having been in the LGBT camp, i know it is important to stress the "born-that-way" idea.

yet i think the "born that way" idea still applies, but to a lesser degree. human sexuality is indeed a spectrum, but some of us start of on the spectrum, as you pointed out, near the ends, not clustered in the middle with the majority. our spectrum may not be as wide or happen as often, but we definitely have a spectrum. i have experienced it firsthand myself.

thanks again for sharing!

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