Healthy Beginnings

Sex on the Brain


The views of religions and religious believers vary greatly; some believe that sex and desires of the flesh are sinful, while others believe that sex is the highest expression of the divine. Historically, in North America, the belief that procreation was the only justifiable reason for sexual activity was customary. Christian writers Paul of Tarsus, Bishop Augustine and Thomas Aquinas all contributed to this prevailing view. Additionally, sexual behaviors such as masturbation, anal intercourse, oral sex and same-sex partners have been labeled as sinful, perverted and even illegal throughout time (oral and anal sex were illegal in ten states until 2003).

Of course today many North Americans do not hold these beliefs; however, many in our society believe that sex and intercourse are synonymous, meaning that anything other than a penis in a vagina is not considered “sex.” This notion not only places great pressure on both men and women, but perpetuates the idea that a man’s penis is the only way for a woman to experience pleasure.

If you overheard someone say, “last night, I had sex,” what specific behaviors would you envision?


  1. Baur, K., & Crooks, R. (2011). Our Sexuality (eleventh ed. , pp. 120-188). Belmont, CA: Wadworth, Cengage Learning.
  2. Roffman, D. (2005). Lakoff for sexuality educators: The power and magic of “framing”. SIECUS Report, 33, 20-25.