“It's Just Supposed to Happen”: The Myth of Sexual Spontaneity and the Sexually Marginalized

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Abstract

Western culture portrays sex as most gratifying when it is spontaneous. However, portraying sex in this way can lead to unrealistic expectations. If perfect and spontaneous sexual performances are expected, this may then impede one's ability to enjoy satisfying sexual relationships. The “myth of sexual spontaneity” functioning as a sexual script operates in terms of the rationale that sexual behavior follows desire and arousal without a conscious awareness of the process, such that satisfying sex is the result of reflexive bodily impulses and not conscious communication. Through a brief exploration of the influence of modern mass media, Simon and Gagnon's theory of sexual scripts, and discussion of several inherent tensions within the myth, the present paper problematizes the logic behind this belief. We subsequently argue that expectations of spontaneous sex as the pinnacle of “good sex,” may negatively impact the sexual lives of people who may be sexually marginalized such as those with HIV/AIDS and STI's, female sexual dysfunctions, erectile dysfunction and mobility impairments.

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