SEXUAL IDENTITYDec 11, 2022
What is it? Sexual identity is NOT synonymous with the physical sex of a person, particularly if one’s sex differs from their identified gender orientation. It is more than just who we prefer to become intimate with and how we prefer the intimacy: sexual identity is comprised of many things, not excluding sexual preferences for physical, emotional, spiritual fulfillment, and how we give and receive support and closeness from others, often of which is intertwined with political views, lifestyle interests, and closeness with a sexualized (or non-sexualized) community. Regarding sexuality, and specifically Feminist constructs of sexuality, in addition to behavioral components of the sexual identity, it is vital to review “element[s] of the self-conscious, reflective and reasoning power and emotional response” (Bristow, 1997, p.143).
We all have a right and cosmic responsibility to seek purity in ourselves.
- Stephanie P. Bathurst
Many professionals in the field of direct human services (sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists) reject the dichotomous view of gender, in that the similarities between men and women significantly outweigh their differences (Epstein, 1988; Gerson, 1990; West & Zimmerman, 1991). There is more to a person’s sexual identity than just the labeling of their gender/expression, gender role, or sexual orientation.
How is it evolved over time and through experience? Identity development is often molded through social pressure and expectation, modeling of relational structures and presentation of cultural norms in each individual’s environment. Societal and environmental processes mentioned above are some of the components that are more learnable as the events can facilitate or impede acquisitional processes through attentional, representational, productional, and motivational means (Bandura, 1999).
This unique recipe for identity development enables individuation and creativity, and concurrently presents availability for discrimination and conformity. Humanistic concepts of curiosity, adventure, pleasure, comfort, exploration of erogenous zones, and physical developments during puberty all play a significant role in the attunement and application of sexual identity in oneself.
Where does sexuality have a place in your personal identity? Do you feel that your externalized sexual-self, the self that is observed by others, and the internalized sexual-self, the self that aligns with your beliefs, values, needs and fulfillment, are cohesive entities? To have differences in one’s ideal self and their real self creates an inherent inner conflict within the subconscious that likely will present in emotional or psychological symptomology. To reduce the disruption created by this rift, it is vital to prioritize self-discovery and exploration; permit the freedom to present your most authentic sexual self.
In an effort to encourage systemic and global perspectives in the realm of sexual theory, self-exploration is equally as vital as the permittance and acceptance of others’ exploration in their search for authenticity. As long as safety and consent are present in all explorative journeys, we all have a right and cosmic responsibility to seek purity in ourselves.
DR. STEPHANIE P. BATHURST, PH. D, LCMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
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