Free Sexual Behavior, Attitude, And Culture Course Work Example

Published: 2021-06-18 06:42:56
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Category: Relationships, Culture, Belief, Women, Marriage, Attitude, Polygamy, Betrayal

Type of paper: Essay

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It seems that there is no subject surrounded in so much taboo as when it comes to sexual attitudes and behaviors. With such a myriad of what is considered “normal” within a certain society or culture, trying to identify what is socially acceptable can be, at times, tricky. Media bombards viewers with images of scantily clad individuals in various adulterous escapades and the spam folders of emails are chock full of advertisements for discreet illicit affairs. With companies catering towards married individuals boasting over 20 million customers (Woo, 2013), is it possible that humans are not meant to be monogamous? Certain cultures appear to believe that humans should be devoted and faithful to their mate, whether married or not, viewing cheating as a sin. However, there are other cultures and religions which encourage individuals to sleep with people who are not their partners and to even live with other women their partner has chosen to engage in an intimate relationship.

Sexual Attitudes

The category of sexual attitudes encompasses a wide variety of dimensions, spanning from attitudes toward erotica and pornography, engaging in premarital sexual activity, and sexual permissiveness. The development of a Sexual Attitudes scale allowed researchers to assess and document the variety of beliefs and attitudes that can be found within society (Hendrick, Hendrick, & Reich, 2006). When researchers examined the responses provided to the Sexual Attitudes Scale, they found that there were some differences when it comes to cultural acceptance and what is deemed as “normal.” For example, when comparing the answers provided by non-Hispanic Americans to Mexican Americans, it was found that non-Hispanic Americans tended to identify as having more responsible sexual practices and possessed more idealistic sexual attitudes when compared to the Hispanic group (Contreras, Hendrick, & Hendrick, 1996). Even when a minority culture resides among the minority culture, cultural traditions can still be present.


A relationship consisting of an individual staying sexually and emotionally faithful to only one partner, either at a time or for their lifetime is what is referred to as monogamy, and contrary to what traditional Western society may think, was not always the most popular form of relationships. According to some researchers and historians, monogamy came as the result of a compromise between wealthy and powerful men who received political support from the less fortunate men in the community, in exchange for leaving their polygamous relationships in favor or the current day version of monogamy (Kanazawa & Still, 1999).

However, while monogamy may be the most popular form of relationship in the Western society, societal norms may not be the only reason individuals agree to remain faithful to their partner, as there is often a religious influence which may be more powerful than social pressures. In the past, monogamy had its purpose, when people married for economic or procreative reasons, however, there is a new development in the realm of monogamy that questions the reasons it is still practiced today. Historically, people entered into marriages based on the legal, moral, and societal pressures and expectations, coming to an agreement that they would remain faithful to their partner (Nelson, 2010). However, research within the animal kingdom suggests that such an arrangement may not be the most natural thing, as only a few species within the mammal family are monogamous (Borenstein, 2013).

Religion can also dictate that a relationship other than monogamy is encouraged in order to “increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant in order to ‘raise up seed unto the Lord’” (Jacob 2:30, Book of Mormon). Unlike in traditional monogamous relationships, in a polygamous relationship, a person is married to more than one person at a time. While it may sound straight forward, there are three forms of polygamy, each different from one another in important ways. In polygyny, one man is married to several wives; polyandry is when one woman is married to several husbands; and group marriage, which is a combination of both polygyny and polyandry (Zeitzen, 2008). While Mormons come to mind when people think about polygamy, only an estimated 30 percent of the Mormon population residing in the United States is officially polygamous (or an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 members throughout Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Arizona), as the Mormon church rejected the practice over a century ago (Zeitzen, 2008). Yet some individuals still engage in what appear as questionable practices to outsiders, such as older men marrying girls as young as 13 years old. However, the practice of polygamy is not just relegated to Mormons within the United States, as within other cultures and religions, polygamy is much more common, as polygamous relationships are found in all Muslim populations, with Islam allows up to four wives per male (Zeitzen, 2008).


While some may consider polygamy to fall under the umbrella of infidelity or cheating, within the culture it is not deemed to be the case. However, infidelity is possible within a polygamous relationship, just as in any other traditional Western relationship. While nearly all of couples polled stated that they disapproved of extramarital relationships, an estimated 15 percent of wives and 25 percent of husbands reported experiencing sexual relationships with people other than their spouses or partners, with the rate increasing by 20 percent when allotting for emotional intimacy without sexual intercourse (Glass & Marano, 1998). Disapproving of infidelity spans past the confines of the United States, with nearly half of the societies having strong prohibitions against extramarital relationships for women, with about one quarter objecting strongly for the same among the male population (Frayzer, 1985). However, the proportions are changed when it comes to the areas in which extramarital sex is permissible, with half of the societies allowing men to partake, with only one quarter of societies approving of the same actions carried out by women.

Many of the cultures associated with the less tolerant views of female infidelity can be found honor-based Arab societies, where women are typically allotted less rights and freedoms as compared to their male counterparts (Frayzer, 1985). For example, if a woman is thought to have been unfaithful to her husband, it is not uncommon for the relatives of the family to put the wife to death, even if the alleged infidelity never occurred. While not as extreme as seen in the Arab societies, Western cultures also frown upon infidelity. It is thought that the views associated with the disapproval of infidelity are associated with religious teachings, as within the Christian belief, sex outside of marriage is considered to be a sin and is covered under the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17, Old Testament).

While there are many cultures that do not approve of extramarital affairs, such is not the case in certain parts of Africa, where casual, intimate relationships outside of the marriage or other committed relationship are accepted for both men and women (Frayzer, 1985). Women have more rights and are considered to be equal to men in such societies, with financial responsibilities falling on the female members of the household.


Upon examining sexual behaviors and attitudes in various cultures, it remains a challenge to identify what is universally accepted as being “normal” within the sexual realm. Humans are complex creatures who, according to some beliefs, are able to employ free will. Whether they use such a concept for infidelity or polygamy, it is ultimately up to them.


Borenstein, S. (2013, July 29). Monogamous animals: Studies differ on how monogamy evolved in mammals. Huffington Post. Retrieved from
Contreras, R., Hendrick, S. S., & Hendrick, C. (1996). Perspectives on marital love and satisfaction in Mexican American and Anglo couples. Journal of Counseling and Development, 74(4), 408-415. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.1996.tb01887.x
Frayzer, S. G. (1996). Varieties of sexual experience: An anthropological perspective on human sexuality. New Haven, CT: HRAF Pres.
Glass, S., & Marano, H. (1998). Shattered vows. Psychology Today, (31), 34.
Hendrick, C., Hendrick, S. S., & Reich, D. A. (2006). The brief sexual attitudes scale. The Journal of Sex Research, 43(1), 76-86.
Kanazawa, S., & Still, M. C. (1999). Why monogamy? Social Forces, 78(1), 25-50.
Nelson, T. (2010). The new monogamy. Psychotherapy Networker Magazine, 34(4), 20-60.
Woo, J. (2013, October 23). Business of ruining marriages [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Zeitzen, M. K. (2008). Polygamy: A cross-cultural analysis. Oxford: Berg.

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