As we have seen, human sexual behavior develops in several stages in various possible directions. It is based on an inborn biological potential and shaped by cultural influences that differ from one time and place to another.
One has to keep in mind, of course, that even the inborn qualities are never exactly the same in any two individuals and that there are also differences within one and the same culture: Rural and urban areas differ in their sexual values and opportunities, the rich differ from the poor, the old from the young, the well-educated from the uneducated, the pious from the non-believers, and even families of the same social background differ from each other. Moreover, many countries today contain various ethnic groups or have immigrant populations with their own traditions, and thus the picture becomes even more complex. In any case, as they grow up, people are offered a great many sexual scripts from which they select those that suit them best. The final selection each person makes is the result of an interactive process that depends on many concrete circumstances, and as these circumstances are different from one person to the next, so is the outcome.
It is therefore hardly surprising that human sexual behavior is quite varied, and that different individuals can develop very different sexual interests. Indeed, in some cases, these interests are so special and unusual that they become problematic. Of course, every society tolerates a certain amount of sexual variation and accepts some segment of the wide behavioral spectrum as “normal”. However, there is no universally accepted definition of sexual normality. Depending on the social environment, different variations in sexual behavior may be considered fashionable and interesting or incomprehensible, outrageous and despicable. They may even be punishable by law. Once again, time and place can make all the difference.
In the present course, it is not possible to describe all or even most of the sheer endless variations in human sexual behavior. Neither can we discuss the many past and present social reactions to these variations. However, we can document a recent trend: In the last few decades, there has been growing demand for universal sexual rights, and, as a result, many countries have become more tolerant of sexual variations.
Following this.brief documentation and an introductory historical sketch, we will discuss at least some of the better known examples of untypical sexual behavior.