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Annu Rev Sex Res. 2001;12:33-74.

Desegregating sexuality research: cultural and biological perspectives on gender and desire.

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  • 1Wellesley College, Center for Research on Women, MA 02481-8203, USA.


Scholarly investigations into male and female sexuality over the life course have long occupied two separate "camps": One focused on the biological aspects of sexuality and one focused on the sociocultural/political aspects. This bifurcated approach has been particularly ill suited for the study of sexual desire, a topic that has been generally undertheorized by sex researchers. A modern reappraisal of gender and sexual desire is proposed that takes into coordinated account both the biological and sociocultural/political factors that produce and shape subjective sexual desires over the life course. The specific relevance of this approach for three particular topic areas, adolescent sexual maturation, same-sex sexuality, and sexual dysfunction, is addressed. Methodological approaches to the study of gender and sexuality capable of investigating how cultural and biological factors intersect to shape the subjective quality of men's and women's desires at different points in the life course and within different sociocultural and interpersonal contexts are advocated.

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