Human sexuality can be defined as how human beings experience the deep sexual or erotic feeling, how they display it and get attracted to the opposite sex, or to similar sex, or to both sex, (heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality respectively) as well as the ability to identify themselves as male or female, (Foucault, 1980). The fact that sexuality is the core reason for procreation makes sexuality date back to the origin of man. However, there have been several documented historical events regarding sexuality.
Most of us tend to think that homosexuality is a recent invention of the human beings which is very wrong. Homosexuality dates back over four thousand years ago. For example, Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum of Egypt are recorded as the oldest homosexuals living as a couple and are believed to have lived between 2498 to 2345 BC. Numerous ancient religions worship and prayed to their gods for all their needs among which was fertility. It is not surprising to find that lots of the religions believed in existence of a god or goddess of fertility who was responsible for the peoples’ fertility (SparkNotes Editors. n.d.). Sexuality seems to surround human being and even model most of their behaviors. For example, a Japanese ancient novel, Tale of Genji, pointed out that sexuality is the central part of the human being so important just like food and clothing. The ancient Mesopotamians are remembered with their rare behavior of practicing sex in the open. This has also been recorded in one of the East African tribes which declared communal sex to save it from extinction after a tribal war.
There are several models which have been advanced to help learners of human sexuality understand it better. For example, some scholars led by Sprecher have described human sexuality as a kind of transaction where both parties gain from one another. This theory is referred to as the Social Exchange theory of Sexuality. The partners are seen to be in a coincidence of needs and therefore they agree to exchange their feelings and emotions, (University of Texas press. 1990). Sykes on the other hand advance the queering theories of sexuality.
The social exchange theory of sexuality
Sprecher has done a lot of work on the human sexuality. He has viewed the topic in different ways which has helped learners and researchers understand human sexuality better and in the context of the man as well as the woman. In his famous theory, the social exchange theory of sexuality, we see a relationship as a contract where benefits come at a cost.
This theory departs from the normal perception of romantic relationships as social to more of a partnership where the partners are equal. However, in real life this is not always the case. There are numerous situations where double standards are applied in relationships even today. This theory looks into a relationship as a social exchange between a man and a woman.
We all buy goods and services using money. In such a commercial exchange, we evaluate the benefits we are going to enjoy in comparison with the costs we are supposed to incur. If the benefits outweigh the costs then we can buy the goods or services. This is what the economists consider to be a rational consumer. The same principle can be applied in the romantic relationships. The man and the woman are said to be in need of each other. They then evaluate each other in terms of the benefits they will receive from one another in comparison with what they must give up in the relationship. If they both find it beneficial then the relationship is established. On reality, such evaluations may occur either consciously or subconsciously but it is what it takes for two people to say that they love one another in a romantic relationship, (Becker, G. S. 1976).
The social exchange theory of sexuality advocates for equity in the relationship whereby the partners will try to maximize their benefits and minimize the costs they are paying for them. Fairness in the relationship is key to its survival. The degree of inequality will always be proportional to the degree of unhappiness in the relationship.
According to Baumeister, R. F. (2000), for any relationship to reach the level of sexual intercourse, partners must feel equal but if one of the partners feels that they will under benefit or over benefit greatly, then the relationship stands very little chances of advancing to sexual intercourse. On the other hand, Wang, E. (2004) suggested that In a romantic relationship, traditionally the woman feels that she gave something valuable to the man if they had sex, and therefore she would consider the benefits accrued from the man in terms of time, flowers, and paying for entertainment before she gives in to the man’s advances.
This theory is even more applicable in the today’s relationships since the parties even consider issues like social class, wealth and financial stability before they enter in any romantic or sexual relationships. It helps us open our minds in regards to the qualities partners are looking for in relationships and understand that many factors come into play before love in today’s human sexuality.