What is (normal) sex?
Dr Gayle Rubin identified “normal sex” as basically straight, married, monogamous, private, not for gain: essentially heteronormative – and characterised this as being the “charmed circle” of sexual identity.
This characterisation has been continued by bodies such as the American Psychological Association, which pathologises sexual (dys)function – again, working around a model that there are “right” ways to do sex and that “wrong” ways are to be stigmatised and “cured”. Also core to this view of sexuality is the “active man”.
The entire framework is predicated on dividing sexuality into normal/abnormal.
A major problem with this approach is a muddling of transgressive sexuality (e.g., sado-masochism) and coercive (rape, abuse, etc.). This trope is common amongst therapists, despite evidence from the past that sexualities once considered problematic (e.g., homosexuality) are now fully accepted.
This approach is itself responsible for distress to individuals.
The really interesting issue is not what is “wrong”, but what can we learn from sexualities.
A key place for exploring this is through the experience of kink communities, which helps understand how to break down the boundaries between sex and leisure, play, etc.
What is good sex…for young people?
What is good sex…in later life?
Describing the circle: a descriptive exploration of trans and sexuality