Our revisionist history on sex and sexuality doesn’t match up to reality (shocking):
Men have stronger sexual desires than do women…Women are the more monogamous gender…Homosexuality is an unnatural sexual behavior.
Sexual beliefs, like these, are so widespread that we have collectively come to view them as being embedded in our biology. Cross-cultural data collected from pre-industrial societies, however, tells a different story. That data suggests that culture – including religion – has played an important role in ingraining these “truths” about human sexuality into our collective psyche.
Just to give you an example of our modern perspective, a few weeks ago, when we were talking about the origin of marriage, one of the commenters asked the question: “Why the obsession with pre-marital virginity (and extra-marital children) that we see emerge across cultures from a very early point in time?”
I find these types of questions revealing. They illustrate our belief that conservative sexual values today are representative of historical sexual values (across societies) and, as a result, tell us something important about who we are as sexual beings.
Thanks to the exhaustive efforts of anthropologists like George Murdock, Douglas White, and dozens of others who contributed to the Standard Cross-Cultural Survey, I can tell you quite emphatically that there is no uniformity of human beliefs about sexual behaviors across cultures and from an early point in time.
In fact, cross-cultural evidence collected on 1167 pre-European contact societies suggests that much of what we believe to be true about human sexuality is socially constructed rather than biologically pre-determined.*
Read the entire article, it isn’t particularly long and makes the point that our attitudes about sexuality have never been ‘fixed’ but constantly fluid and evolving (or devolving) depending on the time period and cultural shifts.