Some Culturally-Based Differences in Sexual Activity

Some Culturally-Based Differences in Sexual Activity



Although kissing on the mouth is one of the most basic sources of sexual arousal in Western society, it is uncommon or completely absent in many other cultures. In a survey of 190 societies, it was found that only 21 of these engaged in kissing on the mouth, and only 13 saw mouth kissing as a preface or accessory to sexual intercourse (Ford, Frank, and Beach, 1951). For example, the Hindu people of India tend to avoid kissing because they believe that it symbolically contaminates the act of coitus. The Thonga of South Africa view kissing as revolting. Another example: Both the people of the Trobriand Islands and some North American Eskimo societies rather rub noses than kiss.


Foreplay-such as sensual touching, passionate kissing, or oral sex-varies greatly from culture to culture. In Western cultures, varied patterns of foreplay can be found, but these all tend to be short in duration and to be seen as something that leads up to the "main event" of intercourse. On the other hand, many Eastern societies engage in foreplay for extended periods of time, as they strive to prolong sexual arousal. At the same time, many cultures (including ones found within Western and Eastern societies) engage in limited amounts of foreplay, or foreplay is completely absent.


Oral Sex

Practicing oral sex (among both male and female) varies between cultures: Some see it as a natural part of sexual arousal and foreplay, while others see it as horribly disgusting or morally wrong. For example, in much of the Western world, in industrialized parts of Asia, and in many of the island societies of the South Pacific, oral sex is quite common. On the flip side, parts of Africa view oral sex to be highly unnatural, and many religions across the world view oral sex as sinful.


Crooks, Robert and Baur, Karla. (2005) Our Sexuality. Thomson Learning, Inc.

Last updated October 2, 2008


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