Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 28–51 | Cite as

The pursuit of sexual pleasure

  • B. J. Rye
  • Glenn J. Meaney


While people engage in sexual activities for a variety of reasons, one primary motivation is pleasure. Rather than disentangle the various complications of human sexuality, this paper will focus on sexual pleasure. We begin with definitions of sex and sexuality, and a consideration of the nature of sexual pleasure. To this end, we will discuss a wide variety of activities that result in sexual pleasure. These include solitary behaviors (i.e., fantasy and masturbation) as well as partnered activities (i.e., kissing, touching, oral sex, intercourse, anal sex, and techniques of same-sex couples). A section on “spicy sex” considers activities that some people might consider risqué while others might consider quite bland. Employment of sex toys, erotica, Internet sexuality, sadomasochism, and sexual tourism are used as exemplars of sexual activities which a subset of the population views as highly arousing, pleasurable, and desirable. These demonstrate how the adage “different strokes for different folks” applies (quite literally) to sexual behavior. We end with a discussion of how “acceptable” forms of sexual pleasure can change depending on the culture and the environment in which the individual finds herself/himself and how a continuing dialogue about sexual pleasure could change current sexual scripts.


Sexual Behavior Anal Intercourse Sexual Pleasure Human Sexuality Sexual Script 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Psychology and Sexuality, Marriage and Family StudiesSt. Jerome’s UniversityWaterlooCanada

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