From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Sexual stimulation is any stimulus that leads to sexual arousal or orgasm. The term often implies stimulation of the genitals but may also include stimulation of other areas of the body, stimulation of the senses (such as sight or hearing), and mental stimulation (such as that gotten from reading or fantasizing).
Physical sexual stimulation
Physical sexual stimulation usually consists of the touching of parts of the human body, especially erogenous zones. Masturbation is considered a type of sexual stimulation. Physiological reactions are usually triggered through sensitive nerves in these body parts, which cause the release of pleasure-causing chemicals that act as mental rewards to pursue such stimulation. Arousal is usually the term used to describe such a physiological reaction. Physical sexual stimulation may also involve the touching of other people's body parts and may trigger similar physiological reactions.
Mental sexual stimulation
Mental sexual stimulation consists of any visual images, imagination, reading material, or auditory stimulation that causes sexual stimulation and leads to arousal. The degree of sexual stimulation derived from any such activities depends upon the person and the circumstance. Pornography is considered to be the most prominent example of mental stimulation, and watching pornographic material can lead to arousal in most people.
The input of mental sexual stimulation varies by gender. The study of Center of Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) reports that women show more interest in sexual acts and men focus on faces. Scientists tested both women and men on visual response to erotic photographs, which included sexual acts, to understand the nature of sexual urges and its influence on health. Researchers used eye-tracking technology that shows the visual focus on various body parts. The results illustrated that women were more attracted to sexual acts in the first place and men would pay attention to faces.
History of sexual stimulation
Sexual stimulation in the human mind is as old as the physiological urge for sex. Shards of pottery, as well as ancient depictions of sexually stimulative images, have been on display in prominent pieces of art and architecture from time immemorial. Many forms of the arts such as fashion, design, painting, music all had large portions of their subject matter devoted to sexual stimulation.
Sexual stimulation has long been a taboo subject in many cultures, and continues to be so even today. While some religions have in various times accepted sexual stimulation out in the open preview of the public as normal, other religions have always held sexual stimulation as a closed and private part of the human condition. In Hinduism, for example, various arts and culture depicts sexually stimulating subject matter in a religious context. Nonetheless, the religion continues in contemporary times to represent very conservative values in regards to sexual stimulation in the public and many leaders in the Hindu community have called for the express prohibition of such activity. Christianity, on the other hand, has traditionally viewed the depictions of sexual stimulation or an attempt at sexual stimulation in a very conservative light. While this continues to be true in some respects, many followers of this religion and culture do not strictly adhere to this practice, and it is common to see a very open and liberal view of sexual stimulation in the Christian West. The culture and religion of Islam is perhaps the strictest in terms of dictating sexual subject matter, including sexual stimulation in the public, and it is common for Islamic countries to have much stricter laws about sexual stimulation when compared with their counterparts in the West.
The private side of sexual stimulation has also been under the strict watch of society, and the amount of sexual stimulation allowed depends upon the religion and culture in question. Famous examples of such prohibitions and mores abound in human history and culture. Various religions consider sexual stimulation in private to be the main realm of a private relationship between a wife and husband. While some religions assume that people behave in some implied proper manner in bed, not much discussion exists because of the taboo nature of the subject matter. The Kama Sutra and the Perfumed Garden are two well known texts that delve into such a discussion in the Hindu and Muslim cultures. These texts, however, are not religious sources and their importance and authority are therefore questionable.
Secular countries have also imposed their views on sexual stimulation. An example of this would be in the United States, where sodomy laws prohibited sexual stimulation in the privacy of one's home, until the US Supreme Court struck them down. Justifications of such laws range from legal theories of indecency to positive endorsement of human behavior by society.
Sexual stimulation in modern society
In modern society, sexual stimulation is a very profound subject that seems to drive a lot of actions and discourse in people's lives. From body piercings and tattoos to pornography and censorship, many different areas of thought and action are affected by the human depiction or action of sexual stimulation. Human development is an example of such an area, where the sexual development of children is widely debated in the context of sexual stimulation. Most psychologists today argue that children should be taught to understand their bodies and the role of sexual stimulation, both physical and mental, from an early age. This kind of sexual education is a controversial theory that has spawned vehement proponents and opponents. In the end, sexual stimulation continues to be a much debated action, and its effect on human development, history and culture continues to play an important role in the human condition.