Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Sexuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sexuality. Show all posts

Friday, January 19, 2024

Asexuality Is Finally Breaking Free from Medical Stigma

Allison Parshall
Scientific American
Originally posted 1 Jan 24

Here is an excerpt:

Over the past two decades psychological studies have shown that asexuality should be classified not as a disorder but as a stable sexual orientation akin to homosexuality or heterosexuality. Both cultural awareness and clinical medicine have been slow to catch on. It's only recently that academic researchers have begun to look at asexuality not as an indicator of health problems but as a legitimate, underexplored way of being human.

In biology, the word “asexual” typically gets used in reference to species that reproduce without sex, such as bacteria and aphids. But in some species that do require mating to have offspring, such as sheep and rodents, scientists have observed individuals that don't appear driven to engage in the act.

This behavior is more analogous to human asexuality, a concept rarely mentioned in medical literature until recently. In a pamphlet published in 1896, pioneering German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld described people without sexual desire, a state he called “anesthesia sexualis.” In 1907 Reverend Carl Schlegel, an early gay rights activist, advocated for the “same laws” for “the homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals [and] asexuals.” When sexologist Alfred Kinsey devised his scale of sexual orientation in the 1940s, he created a “Category X” for the respondents who unexpectedly reported no sociosexual contacts or reactions—exceptions from his model whom he estimated made up 1.5 percent of all males between the ages of 16 and 55 in the U.S. Asexuality was largely absent from scientific research over the subsequent decades, although it was occasionally referenced by activists and scholars in the gay liberation movement.

Here are some quick bullet points:
  • Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction to others.
  • In the past, asexuality was often misunderstood and misdiagnosed as a mental health disorder.
  • Today, asexuality is increasingly recognized as a legitimate sexual orientation.
  • People who identify as asexual may or may not experience sexual attraction, and there is a spectrum of asexuality.
  • Asexual people can face challenges in getting proper medical care, as some healthcare providers may not be familiar with asexuality.

Monday, November 28, 2022

What is behind the rise in girls questioning their gender identity?

Amelia Gentleman
The Guardian
Originally posted 24 Nov 22

Here is an excerpt:

The trend was confirmed by clinicians who spoke to the Guardian.

“In the past few years it has become an explosion. Many of us feel confused by what has happened, and it’s often hard to talk about it to colleagues,” said a London-based psychiatrist working in a child and adolescent mental health unit, who has been a consultant for the past 17 years.

Like all NHS employees interviewed, she asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

“I might have seen one child with gender dysphoria once every two years when I started practising. It was very niche and rare.” Now, somewhere between 10% and 20% of her caseload is made up of adolescents registered as female at birth who identify as non-binary or trans, with just an occasional male-registered teenager who identifies as trans.

Another senior child psychiatrist said girls who wanted to transition made up about 5% of her caseload.

“In the last five to 10 years we’ve seen a huge surge in young women who, at the age of around 12 or 13, want to become boys. They’ve changed their name and they are pressing … to have hormones or puberty blockers”

The psychiatrist added: “Often those girls are children who are going through the normal identity and developmental problems of adolescence and finding a solution for themselves in this way.”

Greater awareness of trans issues is likely to be one common-sense explanation for the rise in requests for referrals.

“Left-handedness increased over time after we stopped punishing left-handed children in schools, because some children are naturally left-handed and were now able to express it,” said Cleo Madeleine, a spokesperson for the trans support group Gendered Intelligence.

“In the same way, increased visibility and acceptance of trans people has led to a gradual increase in young people who feel comfortable expressing their trans identity. The most important thing is to recognise that this is not a problem to be solved or a bad outcome to be avoided.”

The mother of a 17-year-old A-level student (who came out as trans at 13, leaving a handwritten letter for his parents on his bed) agreed: “It’s discussed so much more – on Facebook and on social media. It’s no longer a taboo.”

She is confident this was the right decision for her child. “I think I wondered if this was a phase, but I didn’t look to dissuade him. As he began to socially transition he was a different person. It has made him happier,” she said.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Sexuality Training in Counseling Psychology: A Mixed-Methods Study of Student Perspectives

Abbott, D. M., Vargas, J. E., & Santiago, H. J. (2022).
Journal of Counseling Psychology. 
Advance online publication.


Counseling psychologists are a cogent fit to lead the movement toward a sex-positive professional psychology (Burnes et al., 2017a). Though centralizing training in human sexuality (HS; Mollen & Abbott, 2021) and sexual and reproductive health (Grzanka & Frantell, 2017) is congruent with counseling psychologists’ values, training programs rarely require or integrate comprehensive sexuality training for their students (Mollen et al., 2020). We employed a critical mixed-methods design in the interest of centering the missing voices of doctoral-level graduate students in counseling psychology in the discussion of the importance of human sexuality competence for counseling psychologists. Using focus groups to ascertain students’ perspectives on their human sexuality training (HST) in counseling psychology, responses yielded five themes: (a) HST is integral to counseling psychology training, (b) few opportunities to gain human sexuality competence, (c) inconsistent training and self-directed learning, (d) varying levels of human sexuality comfort and competence, and (e) desire for integration of HST. Survey responses suggested students were trained on the vast majority of human sexuality topics at low levels, consistent with prior studies surveying training directors in counseling psychology and at internship training sites (Abbott et al., 2021; Mollen et al., 2020). Taken together, results suggested students see HST as aligned with the social justice emphasis in counseling psychology but found their current training was inconsistent, incidental rather than intentional, and lacked depth. Recommendations, contextualized within counseling psychology values, are offered to increase opportunities for and strengthen HST in counseling psychology training programs. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

Impact Statement

The present study suggests that counseling psychology graduate students perceive human sexuality training (HST) as valuable to their professional development and congruent with counseling psychology values. Findings support the integration of consistent, comprehensive, sex-positive HST in doctoral counseling psychology training programs. 


Comprehensive training in human sexuality represents a notable omission from counseling psychology training, particularly in light of the discipline’s values including emphases on diversity, social justice, and contextual, holistic perspectives. In the present study, the first to explore counseling psychology student perceptions of sexuality training, participants outlined the importance of HST to counseling psychology training, specifically, and providing psychotherapeutic services, broadly, outlined the current nature of their training, or lack thereof, and conveyed their desire for HST including recommendations for how programs may successfully implement HST in ways that benefitted students and the public they serve. Therefore, we call on faculty in counseling psychology training programs to reevaluate their commitment to developing sexuality competence among their students, invest in their own sexuality training as needed, and invoke creative strategies to make HST accessible and comprehensive in their programs.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Should we care that the sex robots are coming?

Kate Devlin
Originally published July 12, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

There’s no evidence to suggest that human-human relationships will be damaged. Indeed, it may be a chance for people to experience feelings of love that they are otherwise denied, for any number of reasons. Whether or not that love is considered valid by society is a different matter. And while objectification is definitely an issue, it may be an avoidable one. Security and privacy breaches are a worry in any smart technologies, which puts a whole new spin on safe sex.

As for child sex robots – an abhorrent image – people have already been convicted for importing child-like sex dolls. But we shouldn’t shy from considering whether research might deem them useful in a clinical setting, such as testing rehabilitation success, as has been trialled with virtual reality.

While non-sexual care robots are already in use, it was only three months ago, that the race to produce the first commercially-available model was won by an lifeless sex doll with an animatronic head and an integrated AI chatbot called Harmony. She might look the part but she doesn’t move from the neck down. We are still a long way from Westworld.

Naturally, a niche market will be delighted at the prospect of bespoke robot pleasure to come. But many others are worried about the impact these machines will have on our own, human relationships. These concerns aren’t dispelled by the fact that the current form of the sex robot is a reductive, cartoonish stereotype of a woman: all big hair and bigger breasts.

The info is here.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The pros and cons of having sex with robots

Karen Turner
Originally posted January 18, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Karen Turner: Where does sex robot technology stand right now?

Neil McArthur:

When people have this idea of a sex robot, they think it’s going to look like a human being, it’s gonna walk around and say seductive things and so on. I think that’s actually the slowest-developing part of this whole nexus of sexual technology. It will come — we are going to have realistic sex robots. But there are a few technical hurdles to creating humanoid robots that are proving fairly stubborn. Making them walk is one of them. And if you use Siri or any of those others, you know that AI is proving sort of stubbornly resistant to becoming realistic.

But I think that when you look more broadly at what’s happening with sexual technology, virtual reality in general has just taken off. And it’s being used in conjunction with something called teledildonics, which is kind of an odd term. But all it means is actual devices that you hook up to yourself in various ways that sync with things that you see onscreen. It’s truly amazing what’s going on.


When you look at the ethical or philosophical considerations, — I think there’s two strands. One is the concerns people have, and two, which I think maybe doesn’t get as much attention, in the media at least, is the potential advantages.

The concerns have to do with the psychological impact. As you saw with those Apple shareholders [who asked Apple to help protect children from digital addiction], we’re seeing a lot of concern about the impact that technology is having on people’s lives right now. Many people feel that anytime you’re dealing with sexual technology, those sorts of negative impacts really become intensified — specifically, social isolation, people cutting themselves off from the world.

The article is here.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Embracing the robot

John Danaher
Originally posted March 19, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Contrary to the critics, I believe our popular discourse about robotic relationships has become too dark and dystopian. We overstate the negatives and overlook the ways in which relationships with robots could complement and enhance existing human relationships.

In Blade Runner 2049, the true significance of K’s relationship with Joi is ambiguous. It seems that they really care for each other, but this could be an illusion. She is, after all, programmed to serve his needs. The relationship is an inherently asymmetrical one. He owns and controls her; she would not survive without his good will. Furthermore, there is a third-party lurking in the background: she has been designed and created by a corporation, which no doubt records the data from her interactions, and updates her software from time to time.

This is a far cry from the philosophical ideal of love. Philosophers emphasise the need for mutual commitment in any meaningful relationship. It’s not enough for you to feel a strong, emotional attachment to another; they have to feel a similar attachment to you. Robots might be able to perform love, saying and doing all the right things, but performance is insufficient.

The information is here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Phenomenon of ‘Bud Sex’ Between Straight Rural Men

Jesse Singal
Originally posted December 18, 2016

A lot of men have sex with other men but don’t identify as gay or bisexual. A subset of these men who have sex with men, or MSM, live lives that are, in all respects other than their occasional homosexual encounters, quite straight and traditionally masculine — they have wives and families, they embrace various masculine norms, and so on. They are able to, in effect, compartmentalize an aspect of their sex lives in a way that prevents it from blurring into or complicating their more public identities. Sociologists are quite interested in this phenomenon because it can tell us a lot about how humans interpret thorny questions of identity and sexual desire and cultural expectations.


Specifically, Silva was trying to understand better the interplay between “normative rural masculinity” — the set of mores and norms that defines what it means to be a rural man — and these men’s sexual encounters. In doing so, he introduces a really interesting and catchy concept, “bud-sex”...

The article is here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

The power thinker

Colin Koopman
Originally posted March 15, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Foucault’s work shows that disciplinary power was just one of many forms that power has come to take over the past few hundred years. Disciplinary anatomo-politics persists alongside sovereign power as well as the power of bio-politics. In his next book, The History of Sexuality, Foucault argued that bio-politics helps us to understand how garish sexual exuberance persists in a culture that regularly tells itself that its true sexuality is being repressed. Bio-power does not forbid sexuality, but rather regulates it in the maximal interests of very particular conceptions of reproduction, family and health. It was a bio-power wielded by psychiatrists and doctors that, in the 19th century, turned homosexuality into a ‘perversion’ because of its failure to focus sexual activity around the healthy reproductive family. It would have been unlikely, if not impossible, to achieve this by sovereign acts of direct physical coercion. Much more effective were the armies of medical men who helped to straighten out their patients for their own supposed self-interest.

Other forms of power also persist in our midst. Some regard the power of data – that is the info-power of social media, data analytics and ceaseless algorithmic assessment – as the most significant kind of power that has emerged since Foucault’s death in 1984.

The article is here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Beware Bogus Theories of Sexual Orientation

By Michael Shermer
Scientific American Magazine
Originally published on December 1, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Shouldn't such principles apply to everyone regardless of whether or not their sexual orientation is biologically determined? Of course, and in most Western countries today they do. But in Judeo-Christian America, the argument goes like this: The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin (Leviticus 20:13). If sexual orientation has a strong biological component, then gays and lesbians can hardly be held morally culpable for their sinful ways. But if it's a choice, then they can be rehabilitated (through “conversion therapy”) and forgiven (“love the sinner, hate the sin” goes the popular trope). Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart articulated the logic this way: “While it is true that the seed of original sin carries with it every type of deviation, aberration, perversion, and wrongdoing, the homosexual cannot claim to have been born that way any more than the drunkard, gambler, killer, etc.”

While the authors of the New Atlantis article are not this crude and overtly bigoted in their conclusions, according to geneticist Dean Hamer, emeritus at the National Institutes of Health, “it is a selective and outdated collection of references and arguments aimed at confusing rather than clarifying our understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The article is here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Only two sexes?

By Sarah Graham
The Independent
Originally posted October 17, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

It’s not surprising so many people are ignorant about us intersex people: Our very existence has been erased since the Roman Empire. It continued in the 20th century, as doctors got their scalpels out to “normalise” our bodies. In the last fifteen years, since some of us started finding our dissident voices and protesting, doctors have tried to rebrand us and said we have “Disorders of Sexual Development (DSDs)” - to legitimize their paternalism and on-going annihilation of our beings.

This is all to keep you - the public - in the dark. And to rigidly enforce the pink and blue boxes: the boring binary, straight-laced order. But let me bring you up-to-speed. There are not only the two sexes of male and female. This is an absolute barefaced lie. Nature produces bodies on a spectrum; a continuum of possibilities.

You have met one of us somewhere, for sure. As many as 1 in 1,500 babies is born visibly intersex, while many more are born not so obviously unique and interesting to the eye.

The entire article is here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Would you have sex with a Robot?

HuffPost Live

Will humans soon enjoy the option of having sex with robots? We discuss the technology behind this progressive idea, along with legal, moral and ethical implications. How will this human like sexbot alter reality? Will relationships suffer as a result?

Originally aired on October 5, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

Who's Sweating the Sexbots?

By Julie Beck
The Atlantic
Originally published September 30, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Katherine Koster, the communications director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project, says that the comparison shows a misunderstanding of the sex trade. “That power relationship that they're assuming exists within the sex trade may or may not exist,” she says. “Sex workers are repeatedly saying that's not always what it looks like.”

Levy writes that the rise of sexbots will mean the decline of the sex industry, but Richardson is less convinced. She believes the introduction of sex robots will somehow further the exploitation of sex workers.

“It became more and more apparent that women in prostitution were already dehumanized, and this was the same model that they then wanted to put into these machines they’re developing,” Richardson says. “When we encourage a kind of scenario in the real world that encourages that mode of operation,we’re basically saying it’s okay for humans to not recognize other people as human subjects.” She says she plans to reach out to sex-work abolition groups around the world as part of the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

The entire article is here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Generation XXX

The Economist
Originally published September 26, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Whenever pornography becomes more available, it sparks a moral panic. After the advent of girlie magazines in the 1950s, and X-rated rental films in the 1980s, campaigners claimed that porn would dent women’s status, stoke sexual violence and lead men to abandon the search for a mate in favour of private pleasures. Disquiet about the effects of online pornography is once more rising (see article). Most of it is now free. As commercial producers fight over scarce revenue, their wares are becoming more extreme. Because of smartphones, tablets and laptops, hardcore material can be accessed privately by anyone. The result is that many teenagers today have seen a greater number and variety of sex acts than the most debauched Mughal emperor managed in a lifetime.

The entire article is here.