Culture background: Chinese
This paper option is the traditional option of this course. You are essentially answering the question (prompt) of “How did I become the sexual person or being I am today?” To answer this question, you do not have to write about actual sex related experiences. But if you chose to explore actual sexual experience (which involves a range of behaviors) in some form, you also do not need to have a certain level of sexual experience. Regardless of level of experience (virgins or sexually active) everyone has a “sexual self.” So the sexual autobiography is an analysis of the development of aspects of your “sexual self.” You can explore the table of contents in your textbook for ideas regarding the different aspects of sexuality, as well as other suggestions discussed further down in this assignment.
For the paper, you should attempt to answer the question stated above by considering how your own development occurred as it relates to the developmental issues discussed in class. Think about what has influenced your beliefs, attitudes, values, and behavior in the area of sexuality and intimate relationships. What role did parents (parental figures), religion, culture, media, peers, and/or experiences play in influencing your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and values regarding the specific aspect, topic or issue related to sexuality that you choose to explore
You may structure your autobiography any way you wish. Below are three possible suggestions for structure:
Chronological — Important life events and experiences are related in chronological order and their significance to your sexual development is discussed for each event/experience. The focus should not be on the events themselves, but on how these experiences have influenced the development of your sexuality. So keep the description of the events brief and analyze the impact of the events more.
Categorical — Your paper may be organized around one or more themes, or aspects, of your development. Examples of developmental “themes” might be body image, selfesteem, sexual orientation, gender / sexual fluidity or some significant aspect of your personality (e.g. sense of adventure, shyness, fear of intimacy). For each theme (if more than one), discuss how the significant life events or experiences have contributed to your development in that area and if it affected your further development or not, or if other influences helped you to develop in other ways..
Major event — Sometimes a single event, experience, or relationship especially early in life (or later) can profoundly influence one’s sexual development. You may choose to discuss a major event or relationship, illustrating how it has influenced major facets of your sexuality (e.g., your self-esteem, communication skills, attitudes toward relationships, family values, etc.).
Your sexual autobiography will be graded according to the quality and depth of thought that is evident in your writing, and the way in which you demonstrate your understanding of the course material in a creative, developmental way. Again, avoid the “I don’t know”, “I can’t explain”, I don’t understand” etc.
The experience of writing the autobiography has been variously described by students as fun, difficult, amusing, challenging, painful, and enlightening, but always an exercise in personal growth. A final paragraph reflecting on your own feelings about what you’ve written makes a good conclusion to your paper.
Whatever approach you take or topic to focus on, be sure to tie your paper back to the prompt: “How did I become the sexual person or being I am today?”
SOME QUESTIONS / IDEAS WHICH MAY HELP YOU IN THINKING ABOUT AND WRITING YOUR PAPER (you may end up coming up with others and that is fine as long as you tie it into the prompt):
- How do your current sexual attitudes and beliefs compare to those of your parents?
- How are your current sexual attitudes different today compared to three to five years ago? If they have changed, why? What influenced the change(s)?
- How does religious/spiritual values affect your sexual values and decision making?
- Do your sexual values/attitudes and choices reflect the culture in which you were raised? What culture(s) influenced you?
- If you are from an immigrant family, consider both the culture of your parents/family and the American culture you live in. Do you get conflicting messages? How does the conflicting messages influence you? Which culture seems to influence you more? Why?
- When did you know your sexual orientation? How did you become aware of or what made you certain of your sexual orientation?
- In your opinion, what is the importance of sex in an intimate relationship? What are your personal expectations for a love relationship? Why do you have these expectations?
- What do you feel are society’s expectations of you as a male/female/other gender identity? How early did you recognize your own gender identity? How early did you start to become aware of these expectations?
- In what way does your gender identity (may not match biological sex or conform to expected gender identity) influence your sexual identity?
- How easy or comfortable was communication about sex within your family? What messages did you get about love and sex by observing your parents’ relationship while you were growing up? Has observing your parents affected you in developing romantic relationships, or past or current relationships?
- What was your primary source(s) of learning about sex and sexuality while you were growing up? How accurate were the sources? If not too accurate, what made you realize that you learned wrong information?
- How did you feel about your body’s changes at puberty? How has your attitude about your body changed since puberty? What influenced those changes?
- What did your first significant romantic and/or sexual experience (remember this does not necessarily mean actual intercourse) teach you about yourself? Were your more or less comfortable with the experience than you expected? Why?
- If you have children or plan to have children, what would you like to teach them about sexuality? Would you do anything different than what your parents did with you?
In the Chinese culture, the issue of sex is controversial and whenever sexual-related topics are raised, the people consider it as bad taste. The Chinese tradition does little to support sex education (Liu, Van Campen, Edwards, & Russell, 2011). Many unmarried and young Chinese women have little knowledge about sexual matters and even their own sexuality until they become pregnant or contract sexual related diseases ,which could be prevented if the women knew better. In 2017, a Sex Education Program was introduced to address the issue of sexual matters and sexuality among the young people. However, students and teachers still find themselves in an embarrassing situation when attempting to discuss the sexuality matter (Liu, et al., 2017). However, due to personal desires to explore one’s sexuality, individuals explore their sexuality on their own at their own convenient time. This essay describes the journey with my sexuality as a young Chinese woman raised in a family where matters of sex are regarded as sacred, that should only be discussed and practiced within the context of marriage.
My Personal Attitudes and Values towards Sexuality
My family has a background of strict sexual reservation. My parents have never displayed any behaviors that depict sexual advances towards each other in front of family members and other people. They rarely discuss about sexuality with me or my siblings and when they did, they only warned us that engaging in romantic relationships at an early age or before graduating from school could have negative implications on our future. While raising us, they could consistently emphasize that we should focus on our education first so that we can become emotionally and financially independent enough to support healthy family relationships in future. However, they were never open-minded to discuss critical sexuality issues such as engaging in sex and the potential implications of the act. My siblings and I strived not to fail our parent’s expectations of us. Therefore, my focus since childhood has been to excel academically and make my parents proud. Academic performance always preoccupied my performance until three years ago when I met a young man whom we became friends for some time and gradually advanced our friendship to a romantic relationship within one year.
Before meeting him, I had not experienced as much closeness, connection and compassion with anybody else. He became my confidant on issues that troubled me, we shared lifetimes goals and enjoyed each other’s company. With time, the relationship became stronger and became somehow obsessed with each other’s company. Throughout this time, I kept the relationship a secret from my parents and siblings because of the fear that they would develop negative attitude towards me for not honoring the family values that my parents hoped we could honor. My relationship with my boyfriend later became something that both of us were obsessed with and even promised each other that we would stick with each other until marriage. Fortunately, he was also raised in a family that had instilled good values and principles. He respected me and while we interacted, he avoided talking of sensitive issues of sex. He did not use sexually- related vulgar language and was too shy to make any sexual advances on me. We valued each other’s principles. I had never had any sexual experiences with any other person before .My then boyfriend seemed to be inexperienced in it to as we were both young, naïve and shy to explore details about our sexualities as we had just entered puberty. I was shy showing my growing bust and would dress in big coats to hide it and feel more confident. At this stage, both our sexualities were oriented towards each other’s emotional attractiveness. We enjoyed each other’s company because we could confidently express our emotions to each other about issues that disappointed us such as poor grades, disagreements with parents and friends and our fears among others. Our relationship was purely based on emotional attachment towards each other.
The Role of Media and Peers on the Development of the Relationship and my Sexuality
We continued to keep our relationship a secret from other students until it started becoming a norm that almost everyone else was in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex either in the same school, other schools or from the neighborhoods at home. Girls started becoming more concerned about their physical appearance. It was then that both girls and boys started noticing the media ads that portrayed images of the kind of girls and boys who are perceived to be attractive in the society. The media tends to portray slim girls and well-groomed boys as attractive. More friendships involving people of the opposite sex developed in class as we were all in the same age groups. Some girls started becoming jealous of others whom they considered as more attractive and were afraid that their boyfriends would be attracted to them. At this stage, my boyfriend and I felt more confident to show that we were also engaged in a relationship. I become more conscious about my physical appearance and started applying mild make up to school so that I would be more noticeable to him. I became more confident of flaunting my bust and hips. I enrolled in a fitness class so that I would stay slim and became choosy on what I ate so that I could keep up with the society’s perception of an “ideal” girlfriend. I noticed that my boyfriend also changed his outfit style and wanted to prove constantly to his peers that he had a girlfriend.
As puberty deeply set in, sexual interests towards other people begin to develop (Kar, Choudhury & Singh, 2015). This was partly influenced by some of the romantic films we were exposed to by the media and our peers where young couple displayed their affection for each other through hugging and kissing. I started admiring his body scent ,his voice, his walking style and his smile. I noticed that he spoke in a more composed and mature manner. I would long to meet him to that I would feel his warm embrace and experience a special connection with him. Our sexuality orientation evolved from being just emotionally attracted to each other to becoming physically and sexually attracted to each other. Occasionally, my boyfriend would ask me if I was ready to engage in sexual intercourse with him, but I would tell him that we needed time to understand each other more. His peers could have played a role in influencing his desire to start engaging in sex as some of them had already started. My decision to keep him waiting was largely influenced by the principles that my parents had for a long time instilled in me. I grew up with a strong reservation from sexually related practices and I was strongly emotionally bound to my parent’s definition of purity and integrity as a noble young woman. As much as I wanted to feel my boyfriend’s embrace and kisses, I was still not emotionally ready to break my virginity before I was sure that we would end up married. I was convinced that I needed my parents’ approval of the relationship before I could engage deeply with him.
My emotional unreadiness to start sexual engagement was also accompanied with fear that I would lose him to other girls who would give him what I was not ready to at that time. However, I justified my decision by saying to myself that if he truly loved me, he would wait until we were both ready. My mother would tell me and my siblings that “an ideal friend of the opposite sex is one who respects your decisions and one who can practice self-control until the appropriate time”. Generally, maintaining a romantic relationship without sexual engagement at that stage was challenging because my peers influenced me to also think that I could be playing too difficult towards my boyfriend and end up losing him to other girls and ultimately find myself married as a virgin to a man who is not a virgin as well. In the history of my “romantic “ relationship, this was the most critical stage of all. I felt that I did not understand my sexuality well because a part of me desired to feel loved and connected with someone of the opposite sex and another part of me was not yet ready to engage so deeply into the relationship by engaging in sex.
Developing my Sexuality to a higher level
I appreciate that my boyfriend shared the same values as me and despite the strong peer and media influence to engage in sexual activity early, we both chose to remain faithful to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend until we had at least graduated from studies. We have grown to respect each other’s decisions to the present. As time goes by, our compassion for each other grew stronger and we became sure that we would end up married to each other. Besides being emotionally and romantically being there for each other, we have provided each other with the moral support to pursue our personal goals. We have introduced each other to our families, and they became aware of our relationship. We are freer to express our romantic feelings to each other without the fear that our sexuality will be judged. Having a decent relationship with my boyfriend despite coming from backgrounds with strict sexual values , it is not guaranteed that other young couples raised in similar backgrounds will respect each other’s values. Some girls feel so restrained to explore their sexuality in strictly regulated family background such that whenever they find an opportunity to engage with the opposite sex, they indulge in sexual activity as soon as they meet people who show interest in them. This pauses the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. In extreme cases, they may suffer from low self esteem ,depression and ultimately suicide if they feel unwanted or when they feel that they are not sexually attractive enough. In case we decide to have children in future, I would like to engage freely with them and discuss issues about sexuality and sex. It is good to acknowledge that when children reach puberty, they are bound to feel attracted to people of the opposite sex as their sexual body features develop. Therefore, as much as academic performance is important ,it is also necessary to make them aware of the potential risks of engaging in sexual activities too soon as advise them on how to avoid the risks such as practicing abstinence until they are sure that they will end up marrying each other.
Every individual discovers their sexuality at some point in life. Some may choose to hide to hide issues to do with their sexuality while others may be confident to flaunt their sexuality and sexual orientation as early as adolescent stage. Family background, culture, media and peers have a significant role in determining how and when an individual becomes free to explore and share details about their sexuality with other people.
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