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“It’s Just Supposed to Happen”: The Myth of Sexual Spontaneity and the Sexually Marginalized

Abstract

Western culture portrays sex as most gratifying when it is spontaneous. However, portraying sex in this way can lead to unrealistic expectations. If perfect and spontaneous sexual performances are expected, this may then impede one’s ability to enjoy satisfying sexual relationships. The “myth of sexual spontaneity” functioning as a sexual script operates in terms of the rationale that sexual behavior follows desire and arousal without a conscious awareness of the process, such that satisfying sex is the result of reflexive bodily impulses and not conscious communication. Through a brief exploration of the influence of modern mass media, Simon and Gagnon’s theory of sexual scripts, and discussion of several inherent tensions within the myth, the present paper problematizes the logic behind this belief. We subsequently argue that expectations of spontaneous sex as the pinnacle of “good sex,” may negatively impact the sexual lives of people who may be sexually marginalized such as those with HIV/AIDS and STI’s, female sexual dysfunctions, erectile dysfunction and mobility impairments.

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Notes

  1. The script of sexual spontaneity and its influence on the sexuality of those people living with mobility impairments is the focus of current research by Tinashe M. Dune.

  2. This quote is by a research participant in an ethnographic study conducted by Russell Shuttleworth. The research was assisted by a grant from the Sexuality Research Fellowship Program of the Social Science Research Council with funds provided by the Ford Foundation.

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Correspondence to Tinashe M. Dune.

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Dune, T.M., Shuttleworth, R.P. “It’s Just Supposed to Happen”: The Myth of Sexual Spontaneity and the Sexually Marginalized. Sex Disabil 27, 97–108 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-009-9119-y

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Keywords

  • Sexual spontaneity
  • Sexual scripts
  • Sexually marginalized
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Disability