Perspectives on Human Sexuality

By Anne Bolin & Patricia Whelehan

Subjects: Human Sexuality
Paperback : 9780791441343, 503 pages, July 1999
Hardcover : 9780791441336, 503 pages, June 1999

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables



1. Introduction: History and Context

2. Anthropological and Sexological Views

3. Evolution of Biological Structures Related to Modern Sexual Behavior

4. Introduction to the Hormonal Basis of Modern Human Sexuality

5. Modern Human Male Anatomy and Physiology

6. Modern Human Female Anatomy and Physiology

7. Fertility, Conception, and Sexual Differentiation

8. Pregnancy and Childbirth as a Bio-Cultural Experience

9. Early Childhood Sexuality

10. Puberty and Adolescence

11. Topics in Adult Sexuality: Human Sexual Response and Birth Control

12. Topics in Adult Sexuality: Life-Course Issues Related to Gender Identity, Gender Roles, and Aging

13. Sexual Orientations, Behaviors, and Life-Styles

14. HIV Infection and AIDS

15. Conclusion and Summary





Presents the first book-length examination of both the biological and cultural factors in human sexuality.


In a book destined to become the standard reference on human sexuality, Bolin and Whelehan provide the first ever treatment that includes both the biological aspects and the cultural influences of this basic and much examined part of life. Never before has a book offered such a broad analysis including both anthropological perspectives as well as anatomical and physiological viewpoints. Included are many photographs and illustrations, making Perspectives on Human Sexuality a much needed resource.

By offering an anthropological perspective to understanding human sexuality, how it developed over millions of years and how it is embedded in specific socio-cultural contexts, the authors present a broad-based analysis of human sexuality. Specifically, Bolin and Whelehan offer unique perspectives on modern human male and female anatomy and physiology; pregnancy and childbirth as a bio-cultural experience; various topics in adult sexuality, such as life-course issues related to gender identity; sexual orientations, behaviors, and lifestyles; and discussions of HIV and AIDS.

Using these topics the authors differentiate culture-specific sexual behavior from what we share as a species. This helps to place sexual behavior in the United States in a larger context as well as reduces the tendency to view nonwesterners as the "other" or exotic, thereby promoting a clearer understanding of the complex phenomenon labeled "human sexuality. "

Anne Bolin is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Elon College. She is the author of In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage and editor of The Journal of Sex Research. Patricia Whelehan is Professor of Anthropology and the Campus' AIDS Education Coordinator at State University of New York at Potsdam. She is coeditor of Women and Health: Cross-Cultural Perspectives.


"At last, the long wait is over, we now have a biocultural, anthropologically oriented textbook for our undergraduate courses in human sexuality. The book is written in an extremely engaging style to which students can easily relate. I especially like the way the authors have integrated cultural data into their sections on female/male anatomy and physiology. This book now sets the standard for culturally informed or human diversity content among the current crop of human sexuality textbooks. " — Dona Davis, University of South Dakota

"This book goes beyond the limits of other texts on sex research, because it incorporates anthropological findings from various world cultures along with biological and sociological perspectives. Covering everything from primate sexuality to issues of sex and gender which are such prominent concerns of contemporary society, Bolin and Whelehan have produced a multidisciplinary text which is an outstanding contribution to the burgeoning field of sexuality research. " — Walter L. Williams, University of Southern California