struggle for economic, social, and sexual equality.The fight for reproductive rights(David, 1994) wasThe results of “self-pollution” dramatically illustrated in a nineteenth-century text.Antimasturbatory technology.
THESCIENTIFICAPPROACH TOUNDERSTANDINGSEXUALITY15one facet of this new wave of feminism. Contracep-tive options were critical, and the right to abort anunwanted pregnancy was seen as a key issue in givingwomen control over their own fertility. This debateregarding the rights of women versus protection ofthe developing fetus has yet to be resolved. But onceagain, technological innovation is likely to changethis debate forever, as RU-486 and similar drugs be-come easily available (see chapter 15).A second aspect of the impact of feminism on thehistory of sexuality involved revelations regarding themany ways girls and women are sexually exploited:the virtual enslavement of many poor young girls intolives of prostitution, as well as the biases in the tradi-tional laws surrounding rape, sexual assault, sexualabuse, and sexual harassment. Feminist women andmen around the world have helped change both lawsand attitudes concerning these behaviors.A third aspect of feminism’s impact on twentieth-century Western sexuality is increased acceptance ofdifferences in human sexuality: the view that there aremany “human sexualities” and that they all are legiti-mate means of sexual self-expression as long as thereis no harm or exploitation of self or others. Thus,celibacy, bisexuality, homosexual relationships, het-erosexual relationships, marriage, coparenting, singleparenthood, cohabitation, childlessness, and remain-ing single are all viewed as acceptable life choices.What are your attitudes about this perspective?1.5THE SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TOUNDERSTANDING SEXUALITYAn important approach to understanding human sex-uality involves the application of scientific methodsto answering questions about sexuality. A “scientificapproach” involves trying to answer questions aboutsexuality according to certain agreed-upon rules (thescientific method). This is called scientific research.These rules have to do with what kinds of questionsare asked, how information is collected to answerthose questions, how to evaluate and interpret thatinformation, and how to communicate that informa-tion to other scholars and to those who will use theknowledge to help other people (applied practition-ers).Physicians, sex therapists, marriage and familycounselors, and nurses are all applied practitionerswho might use new information about sexuality.We should begin by noting that there are lots ofproblems in conducting sexuality research. There areenvironmentalproblems. For example, people withcertain political views are opposed to scientific inves-tigations of sexual behavior (Udry, 1993). They be-lieve that sexual behavior is a moral issue or a veryprivate act, and simply should not be examined. Cer-tain religions hold that clergy, not scientists, shouldbe in control of sexual knowledge. In addition, there