Human sexuality is how human beings express themselves sexually. Usually driven by desires of sexual pleasure, human sexuality has physical, biological, and emotional aspects. Biologically, human sexuality refers to the reproductive system as well as fundamental biological drive which exists in all the species and can include sexual contact and sexual intercourse in all forms (Birnbaum et al, 2001). Emotional aspects deal with deep emotions relating to social bonds and associated sexual acts. Physical aspects around sexuality range from medical considerations to physiological or psychological and even sociological aspects of sexual behaviors. In this paper, I will strive to determine whether there is any association between high sexual self esteem, and greater sexual satisfaction and whether sexual communication in particular sexual assertiveness acts as a go between these two variables (Birnbaum et al, 2001).
People have always struggled with sex. There are no cultures, secular or religious, modern or pre-modern, post modern or post-religious that displays a strictly healthy sexual ethos. Every culture and every religion struggles with absorbing sexual energy. Secular cultures look at religions and accuse the religions of being anti erotic and uptight. This is partly true, but the religions on the other hand might well protest that much of their sexual caginess is rooted in the fact that it is among the few voices remaining who challenge anybody geared towards sexual responsibility. As well, religious institutions might also challenge cultures that declare to have found the solution to healthy sexuality to come to the fore and show evidence. No culture is willing to take up the challenge. Everybody is struggling.
In almost every culture and community, there are limitations to sexual expression. Some are about preventing sincerity and open expression of sexual desires. For other groups, there is pressure to be sexual, and not expressing one’s sexuality is perceived as suspicious.
Sexual expression is a term used to describe sexual activities that people engage in and also ways that people communicate and present themselves to the world as sexual beings. People’s sexual expression is rather unique, and whereas sex education often state that people are sexual beings, there are other people who would prefer to describe themselves as having no interest in any form of sexual expression at all. Sexual expression includes items such as individual expression which are choices that individuals make in terms of how they talk, dress, and move through the world which reflects aspects of one’s sexual self (Ménard, A. D., & Offman, A. 2009). Interpersonal interactions refer to the way an individual relates with others and the level to which an individual connects emotionally or physically with other people which says a lot about a person sexually. Cultural and educational engagement are the kind of things one reads, and watches such as movies, music a person listens to, and performances one chooses to participate in. Spiritually, is whether it means that sex is a spiritual practice or that the practice of religion or spirituality is connected to how one feels about himself or herself as sexual.
Sexual expression depends on how a person defines sexuality for himself and therefore it is difficult to offer a definitive definition. Sexual expression includes expression of our feelings, thoughts, desires, dreams, hopes and fears. It is attached to sexual orientation, sexual behavior, sexual identity and gender.
Sexual Self Esteem
Sexual self esteem and sexual boldness or assertiveness are two factors which may affect a person’s level of sexual satisfaction. Sexual assertiveness is a type of sexual communication and is defined as an individual’s ability to communicate his sexual needs and initiate sexual performance with a partner. Sexual self esteem can be defined as the value an individual places on himself as a sexual being. These values include sexual identity and opinions of sexual acceptability. It is an area of injury and damage to an individual which is rarely discussed in literature in psychiatry, psychology, law or medicine.
An individual may lack high sexual self esteem if he lacks general self esteem. Low self esteem is disastrous to any human being. I believe it can have grave effects if not controlled at the beginning. What causes low self esteem? Low self esteem can result from various factors. According to Celeste Gersen a clinical psychologist in Port Jeffersson, who assisted people overcome struggles of self esteem, low self esteem can emerge from family problems, societal problems for example, discrimination and poverty or an internalization of loss. It can develop at a tender age. Everybody has needs. If these needs are not met, they give reasons for this. For example, when one is rejected, he will automatically assume that the rejection is personal even when it is not. Some people seem to struggle more with their self esteem than others. A shaming environment could be one explanation. According to Gertsen, some people internalize events that are negative and usually perceive them as permanent while others see the events as a temporary event which is passing.
While general self esteem is frequently discussed; sexual self esteem is a concept that has passing mention. When sexual self esteem is injured, the individual’s satisfaction with life, self view, capability to experience pleasure, and willingness to interact with others and develop intimate relationships may be limited (Baumeister,2000). Injuring sexual self esteem to an individual who has been sexually harassed, insulted harshly or sexually assaulted or embarrassed can damage the individual drastically. Damage to sexual self esteem can occur through interactions with other people; sexual insults, name calling, sexual victimization self destructiveness and one’s own impulsivity in a sexual encounter can significantly affect the individual’s sexual self esteem. When the damage of sexual self esteem is serious, it can form a disability that greatly interferes with the person’s functioning. According to (Crocker et al,1989), various factors have been known to facilitate sexual self esteem. These factors include; an open, loving stable and respectful relationship with the partner. In a research undertaken to determine factors which impact sexual self esteem it was found out that 88% of the applicants described incidences in which care, honor and love demonstration by their partners in their relationships facilitated sexual self esteem. Hearing positive words, emotional attachment to their partners and generally having a positive relationship enhanced their sexual self esteem. Autonomy and confidence in self was another common factor which participants from the research undertaken gave as a contributory factor to sexual self esteem. Confidence in oneself makes one more confident in who they are and in turn goes with their sexual self esteem. Comfort about sexuality and openness is another contributory factor to sexual self esteem. About 40% of the participants felt that comfort about sexuality and openness was a factor that facilitated sexual self esteem. I think this is because sexuality is a sensitive topic and being open about it makes one feel the normalcy. For example, when I was a young lady, my parents discussed sex freely giving my siblings and I advice on how to tackle the subject. I think this openness assisted me to open up more with my partner. It made me accept and not be ashamed of the act. In this kind of realm, I took it as a normal part of life. Attention from the opposite sex or general attention can facilitate one’s sexual self esteem. Sexual self esteem has in many cases been facilitated by the positive effect of attention, advances and interest from partners. My partner openly admiring me and telling me I look good, giving me attention such as chasing me around the house makes me feel good and sexually attractive. It also boosts my sexual self esteem. Also satisfaction with physical appearance can facilitate sexual self esteem. Regular exercise, eating well, makes one feel better as a human being, with more energy and this creates optimism while boosting the sexual self esteem. Positive restructuring of relationships has helped many couples enjoy their sexual relationships. For example, my parents talked to me about their early days of difficulties and how they grew closer as their marriage progressed. They tackled their problems together even as they aged. They grew closer emotionally later on in their marriage. It helped me realize that an approach towards modeling relationships is an effective way of building sexual relationships which helps couples to have sexual self esteem. In Korea for example, the elderly population is growing significantly and leading to the beginning of an aging society. According to the Korea National Statistics Office (2006) the population aged 65 and above has continued to grow due to increased life span. The duration and frequency of married elderly couples aging together has increased. It is crucial to have a spouse during one’s elderly years than perhaps any other stage of life for it boosts an individual’s health and quality of life. Due to the influx of Western culture, and growth of mass communication, there has been increased sexual awareness throughout Korean society. However, the conservative values associated with sexuality remain. Traditionally, elderly Koreans are cautious of how their children view them. The younger on the other hand tend to consider sexuality among the elderly as a topic of taboo. Nevertheless, sexual desire has not changed among the elderly. In addition, sexual competence does not completely go away and the elderly can enjoy their sexual life so long as the desire for sex still remains. It has been found out that despite social discrimination and prejudice, maintaining a sexual life continues to be regarded as important to the older women after menopause. Studies also show that those that maintained a sexual life had a greater self esteem than those who had not. It is therefore, important to have a sexual life in later years.
Positive sexual choices are a contributory factor to sexual self esteem. One of such choices is waiting until one gets older to become sexually active. Another is having had a first positive sexual experience meaning that it was based on love and that the choice was made by both partners without pressure (Basson, 2001). My first sexual experience was positive which had a positive effect on my sexual self esteem. The same happened with my partner because, along with being sexually active, there was love which boosted my sexual self esteem and made me feel good about myself. I was satisfied with the relationship.
Relationship satisfaction strongly associated with sexual satisfaction is a great indicator of sexual health. Studies show that mutual pleasure is a vital component of sexual satisfaction which sexual satisfaction obtains positive sexual experiences and not from the absence of dysfunction or conflict. Sexual satisfaction is enhanced by sexual communication. Relationship satisfaction can be defined as the level of contentment an individual feels towards his or her primary romantic relationship. Various factors have been seen to affect relationship satisfaction positively including commitment, equal distribution of power, and investment. In addition Ménard (2009), measured relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction among 100 college couples from Midwestern University. He found that both variables were found to correlate positively. Sexual satisfaction is associated with happiness, a sense of wellbeing and physical health, and an association with the satisfaction of a relationship. Given the high levels of dysfunctions and difficulties in the general population, Basson (2001), found that as many as 30% of men and 43% of women had experience with some kind of sexual difficulties, for this reason, many researchers have created an interest in various factors which might improve or facilitate sexual satisfaction.
Previous investigations in the area of satisfaction or sexual pleasure have portrayed sexual communication as sexual self disclosure rather than assertiveness. Sexual self disclosure is described usually as the extent to which a participant has disclosed his preferences regarding sexual techniques such as intercourse or kissing to his or her partner. Results of this research on sexual satisfaction and self disclosure show a positive relationship between the two variables. However, one of the limitations to this study is that there can exist a difference between disclosing sexual preferences and having these preferences enacted to a partner. Sexual assertiveness involves going beyond just a disclosure of a sexual liking to a partner, to actively making and initiating sexual behaviors an act which by its very nature incurs great interpersonal risks such as rejection than disclosure alone. It is therefore sensible to state that individuals who feel a higher sexual self esteem are more likely to be more sexually assertive and sexually expressive. This finding has been demonstrated through empirical research by Birnbaum, (2001). The researcher found an association between these variables in a sample of a community. Existing research implies that high levels of sexual assertiveness and expression can be associated with greater sexual pleasure. For women, there is a correlation between higher levels of sexual assertiveness with greater sexual satisfaction with sexual intercourse. They experienced higher frequency of sexual activity, a greater number of orgasms and greater sexual excitability. Sexual assertiveness could play a bigger role in prediction of overall sexual satisfaction rather than with sexual intercourse of orgasms. In the research studies undertaken, results supported the existence of an association between sexual assertiveness and pleasurable intercourse in both sexes. There is an existent correlation between variables related to sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction.
I think sexual satisfaction, self esteem and relationship satisfaction are correlated. Qualities such as care, openness, love; respect and stability in a relationship enhance emotional attachment and in turn facilitate self esteem. Lack of interest, disrespect and judgment from other people fosters insecurity and hinders relationships. Physical changes, dissatisfaction with physical appearances and other factors may also hinder self esteem which in turn, disengages the couple leading to sexual dissatisfaction. I also think there are other contributing factors that may contradict each other in a relationship where one is gaining sexual satisfaction while another is being destroyed. An example is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can range from being cheated on by a partner, a “booty call” in the night or abuse of young girls by older men.
An article published by ‘The Guardian’ talked of a youth worker charged in court for having a sexual relationship with a vulnerable girl aged 15 years that he was meant to be supporting. The 46 year old man usually engaged the young girl in his office several times and had sex with her. He purported to assist the girl. The girl aged 14 at the time met the gentle man through a project Positive Activities for Young People. She thought he was easy to talk to and since she had problems at home, she confided in him. It is clear she was at a low point in her life when she got involved with him. The Youth worker took advantage and started having sex with her at odd places including his house when his children and wife were asleep upstairs. This continued for several months before the girl came out in the open and exposed her story. Asked why she allowed it, she claimed that the man would frequently give her financial support and so she felt obliged.
This is one case where older men have abused young girls in exchange of favours and items. In this scenario, I think the man derives sexual satisfaction but the girl does not. The girl in this case, has low self esteem which is building up which could destroy her in the future. I believe different factors lead to sexual satisfaction in both men and women. Whereas women need to be emotionally satisfied, by being treated well, given assurance and commitment, men can derive sexual satisfaction from other factors which factors may be callous. Women do also derive sexual satisfaction for purposes of money when they engage in prostitution. This does not however mean that they derive relationship satisfaction. This could damage their self esteem. Studies have shown that negative events in life could lead to low self esteem for both men and women. How individuals respond to negative events could impact on the individual’s self esteem greatly. A person’s vulnerability to negative events and the effects of such events varied depending on the person. For some people, the impact of a negative event on sexual self esteem could actually lead to a disability. Studies show that women with positive sexual self views appeared more resistant or less vulnerable to effects of psychological and physical abuse than were women with negative sexual self views.
People differ in their sexual expression. Sexual assertiveness has a positive correlation with sexual satisfaction. People who are more sexually assertive seem to derive high levels of sexual satisfaction which is also determined by ones self esteem. They tend to derive relationship satisfaction.
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Birnbaum, G, Glaubman, H., & Mikulincer, M. (2001). Women's experience of heterosexual intercourse -scale construction, factor structure, and relations to orgasmic disorder. The Journal of Sex Research, 38, 191-204.
Çeçen Eroğul, A., & Türk, S. (2013). An investigation of the relationship between childhood trauma experince of adolescents and the anger expression styles, self - esteem, life satisfaction. (English). International Journal Of Human Sciences, 10(1), 1421-1439.
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Ménard, A. D., & Offman, A. (2009). The interrelationships between sexual self-esteem, sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 18(1), 35-45. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/220818451?accountid=458)
The purpose of the present study was to look at the differences between couples in short-term and long-term relationships in regards to relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and sexual conflict. Individuals in long-term relationships were hypothesized to have higher relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and a lower level of sexual conflict. An online survey was completed by 81 students from a Midwestern University. Results indicated no statistically significant differences between individuals in short-term and long-term relationships in regards to relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, and sexual conflict. The findings yielded a statistically significant positive correlation between relationship satisfaction and sexual satisfaction. The results also found statistically significant negative correlations between sexual conflict and relationship satisfaction, and sexual conflict and sexual satisfaction. Researchers and practitioners may want to pay attention to the role of sexual conflict in relationships.
Relationship satisfaction refers to the level of contentment individuals feel toward their primary romantic relationship. Several factors have been found to positively affect relationship satisfaction including equal distributions of power, commitment, and investment, (Davis, 2000). In addition, Sprecher (2002) measured sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction among 101 undergraduate college couples from a large Midwestern University. Sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction was found to be correlated positively with relationship satisfaction, love for partner, and commitment to the relationship (Sprecher, 2002).
This paper presents a new, short‐form scale that was designed to measure the extent to which a person adheres to a liberal or a conservative orientation toward human sexual expression. It has a score range from 0 to 100, a reliability α = .94, a standard error of measurement of 4.20, and good construct, factorial, and concurrent validity. The paper presents the major research findings that serve as a basis for the partial validation of the scale.
This study investigated the relationships between sexual self-esteem, sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction. It was hypothesized that higher levels of sexual self-esteem would be associated with greater sexual satisfaction and that sexual assertiveness would act as a partial mediator. The participants were 25 men and 46 women, aged 19-56 years, recruited from the community. Participants completed questionnaires measuring sexual self-esteem, sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction. The results showed strong correlations between all three variables and confirmed sexual assertiveness as a partial mediator of the relationship between sexual self-esteem and sexual satisfaction. The implications of the findings for clinical practice are considered. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]
Although several psychological theories predict that members of stigmatized groups should have low global self-esteem, empirical research typically does not support this prediction. It is proposed here that this discrepancy may be explained by considering the ways in which membership in a stigmatized group may protect the self-concept. It is proposed that members of stigmatized groups may (a) attribute negative feedback to prejudice against their group, (b) compare their outcomes with those of the ingroup, rather than with the relatively advantaged outgroup, and (c) selectively devalue those dimensions on which their group fares poorly and value those dimensions on which their group excels. Evidence for each of these processes and their consequences for self-esteem and motivation is reviewed. Factors that moderate the use of these strategies and implications of this analysis for treatment of stigmas are also discussed. Abstract (English):
The aim of study is to investigate the relationship between childhood traumatic experiences of adolescents and the anger expression styles, self-esteem and life satisfaction. The study conducted on 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students, the age range 14- 18. The sample consisted of 210 female (46%), 240 male (53%) total 450 adolescents. To collect data "Childhood Trauma Questionnaire", "State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory", "Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale" "Satisfaction of Life Scale" have been applied to the students. The analysis data One Way ANOVA and Pearson Product Momentum Coefficient have been calculated. The results of the study revealed that according to gender there is significant differentiation on emotional and sexual abuse but not physical abuse. In addition the results of the study have been shown that the students who have experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse significantly differentiated on trait anger and anger expression scales (anger in, anger out, anger control), self esteem and satisfaction of life scales scores. All variables correlations coefficiants were significantly correlated at p<.001 significant level as expected direction. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Damage to sexual self-esteem can occur readily through interactions with others;
and one’s own impulsivity and self-destructiveness in a sexual encounter
can affect the individual’s sexual self-esteem. In this paper, five cases are
provided to clarify the ways in which individuals experience damage to their
sexual self-esteem. Some of these cases came under court scrutiny; monetary
compensation was ordered by the courts because of extreme damage in some
of the cases. Damage to SSE can be extreme, disabling and can significantly
detract from the individual’s self-view, satisfaction with life, capability to
experience pleasure, willingness to interact with others and ability to develop