Chapter 9

Text and Images from Slide

Sexual Scripts


View all slides | Contents of this slide

Lecture Notes

Gender roles have a significant impact on how we behave sexually, for sexual behaviors and feelings depend more on learning more than on biological drives. Scripts serve as blueprints or roadmaps, giving direction but not specifying everything that must be done. The sexual scripts in our culture are highly gendered, meaning that they strongly influence our sexuality as men and women. Our sexual scripts have several distinct components:

Cultural. The cultural component provides a general pattern that sexual behaviors are expected to take. They tell us which behaviors are acceptable and which are unacceptable. There is little spontaneity or unlearned behavior. In addition, individual views may not match cultural views of what is erotic. For example, in our cultural script heterosexuality is emphasized and gives primacy to sexual intercourse and discourages masturbation.


Intrapersonal. The second component is the intrapersonal. It deals with the internal and physiological states that accompany or identify sexual arousal such as pounding heart, erection, and vaginal lubrication. Unfortunately erection does not always mean sexual excitement and could mean someone is frightened, anxious, or worried. The increasing heartbeat, tensing muscles, and curling toes are also physiological states that occur with sexual arousal.


Interpersonal. The third component is interpersonal. This involves the shared conventions and signals that enable two people to engage in sexual behaviors. It includes body language, words, and erotic touching. The looks we exchange, tone of our voices, movements of our bodies, and other culturally shared phenomenon also serve as interpersonal cues. And these cues are also related to sexual experience and age.