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Harry Benjamin (1885-1987) made significant contributions both to gerontology and to sexology. Born and educated in Berlin, he came to the United States in 1913 and soon joined the Neurological Institute of Columbia University, headed by Joseph Frankel. There he became interested in understanding internal secretions, an area of study that later came to be known as endocrinology. Encouraging his interest was his friendship with Eugen Steinach, of Vienna, who had claimed to have found a restorative effect in vasoligation of older men. Steinach had also masculinized castrated female guinea pigs by implanting testicles and feminized castrated males through ovarian implants.

Benjamin's understanding of the newly breaking developments in endocrinology led him to try these hormones to deal with the problems of aging and to coin the term "gerontotherapy." He is best known in the sexological field, however, for his work with transvestites, transsexuals, and what is often called gender dysphoria. In 1948, Alfred Kinsey referred to him a patient who would later be called a transsexual, and Benjamin's interest was aroused in the whole issue. He emerged quickly as the American leader in the field and published a seminal work on transsexualism. Over his career, he treated more than 1500 gender-dysphoric people, and he was known for the kindness and understanding he extended to all his patients. He emphasized that "our emotions are the very essence of life, and they are indeed the source of all that makes life worth living." In 1978, many of the professionals in the field organized the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, which is still active. One of the major contributions of this organization was creating standards of care for the treatment of gender-dysphoric patients. Benjamin was also a founder and charter member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex. He died August 24, 1986, at 101 years of age.


Benjamin, H. The Transsexual Phenomenon. New York: Julian Press, 1966.

Connie Christine Wheeler


Same-Sex Marriage
European Impact

American Indian aboriginal cultures often saw sex as a gift from the spirit world to humans and animals to be enjoyed freely from youth to old age. Adults were more likely to view children's sexual play with amusement than alarm. In general, native religions highly valued the freedom of individuals to follow their own inclinations, as evidence of guidance from their personal spirit guardian, and to share generously what they had with others. This focus on freedom was exemplified by their attitudes toward sexual desires, including the inclinations of certain individuals toward same-sex eroticism.

The dual system of marriage (promoting close relationships between different genders) and friendship (promoting close same-gender relationships) functioned to keep band and tribal societies unified. Since extremely close relationships between two male "blood brothers," or between two female friends were emphasized, this context allowed private homosexual behavior to occur without attracting attention. Because this role of sex in promoting bonds of friendship was so accepted, there is relatively little information about this kind of casual same-sex activity. It demonstrates that the role of sex in promoting close interpersonal ties is often just as important for a society as the role of sex as a means of reproduction. While Christian ideology asserts that the only purpose of sex is reproduction, that is clearly not the view of many Native American (and other) religions.

Beyond its role in same-sex friendships, homosexual behavior among many aboriginal tribes was also recognized in the form of same-sex marriages. However, the purpose of marriage was to promote close ties between persons of different genders, so that one spouse could focus on "masculine" labor (mainly hunting and warfare) while the other on "feminine" labor (mainly plant-gathering and farming). This division of labor by gender was not absolute, since food preparation, domestic work, child care duties, and craft work varied by culture and even by individual preference. Such activities were often shared by both spouses. Nevertheless, a major purpose of marriage was to provide both meat and plant foods for the survival of the family and for child rearing.

With marriage partners complementing each other's labor roles, it is not surprising that marriage between two masculine men, or two feminine women, was frowned upon. Nevertheless, rather than prohibit same-sex marriages altogether, many Native American cultures recognized homosexual marriages when one partner took on an alternative gender role. Thus, an androgynous or feminine male was expected to marry a masculine man, while a masculine female most likely took a woman as a wife. By this pairing, the mixed-gender aspect of marriage could be preserved, while still allowing those with same-sex inclinations to fulfill their erotic desires.

In many tribes, the feminine male had a special role as a "berdache," while the masculine female took on an "amazon" role. These androgynous roles were seen by society as being different and distinct from the regular roles of men and women. Some scholars suggest that this pattern is "gender-mixing," others as a form of a unique "alternative gender." Current researchers reject the older notion that berdaches and amazons were hermaphrodites, transsexuals, transvestites, or gender-crossers because American Indian cultures allotted more than two gender options.

In the concepts of spirituality in many Native American religions, the person who was seen as different by the "average" tribal member was thought to have been created that way by the spirit world. Berdaches and amazons were respected; their "spirit" (i.e., what Westerners refer to as their basic character) was more important than their biological sex in determining their social identity. In fact, they were considered exceptional not abnormal.


The French term berdache derives from the Persian word bardaj, referring to a male courtesan. Early French explorers who observed androgynous male Indians used the word, and it has been adopted by modem anthropologists to describe this alternative gender role. The Europeans were amazed to discover that the Indian tribes often respected berdaches as spiritually gifted. Since women had high status in most Native American cultures, and the spirit of women was as highly regarded as the spirit of men, a person who combined the spirits of both was seen as having an extraordinary spirituality. Such sacred people were often honored with special ceremonial roles in religious ceremonies, and they were often known as healers and shamans. They had the advantage of seeing from both the masculine and the feminine perspectives, and so were respected as seers and prophets. Berdaches were known as creative persons who worked hard to help their extended family and their community. They often served as teachers of the young, healers, artists, and performers.

While the word berdache is usually applied only to American Indians, considering its derivations, it can be applied to other areas of the world. Similar traditions of an alternative gender role, with a homosexual component as part of its acceptance, exist in the Siberian Arctic, Polynesia, India, Southeast Asia, and areas of East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Some interpretations suggest close parallels with the "queen" concept in Western thought, although that role is not institutionalized as a distinct gender as much as it is in other cultures.

The berdache role represents one of the world's most common forms of socially recognized homosexual male relationships. In contrast, societies that accept male-male eroticism tend to emphasize intergenerational relationships between men and boys. These cultures tend to be super-masculine warrior societies in which women's status is low (e.g., Melanesia, medieval Japan, and ancient Greece). The berdache role is more common in societies with high status for women, allowing a man to take on a womanlike role without lowering his status.


Early references to female Indians who took on masculine roles referred to them as "amazons" after the ancient Greek legend of women warriors. Although the Native American females did not live separately in an all-female society, Portuguese explorers named the Amazon River after female warriors of the Tupinamba tribe of northeastern Brazil. The extent to which this gender role was socially accepted in aboriginal American cultures is unclear, since women were not discussed in the male-written documents of the early European explorers. It is also unclear to what extent these females were "gender-crossers" who were accepted as men, or as "gender mixers" who combined elements of masculinity and femininity with other unique traits to become an alternative gender. There was likely variation among tribes and individuals.

Amazons were noted for their masculine interests from early childhood, and as adults they often became famous for their bravery as warriors and skill as hunters. In some cultures, parents with no son selected a daughter to raise as a hunter, and she grew up to fill all the male roles, including taking a woman as a wife. Since Amazons were not socially defined as women, they gained their status through hunting and military abilities rather than through motherhood and women's craft work. For example, a famous amazon named Woman Chief was a leader of the Crow Indians in the mid-19th century; she was the third-highest ranked warrior in the tribe and had four wives.

The amazon's avoidance of sex with a man protected her from pregnancy, and thus ensured her continued activity as a hunter or warrior. (The Kaska Indians of the Canadian subarctic believed if such a female had sex with a man, her luck in finding game would be destroyed. Her sexual affairs and marriage with a woman were the accepted norm.) Some tribes, like the Mohave, held that the true father of a child was the last person to have had sex with the mother before the baby's birth. This meant that an amazon could easily claim paternity of her wife's child after this wife had been impregnated by a man. Therefore, not only was marriage between an amazon and a woman socially recognized, so were their children as part of the family.

Same-Sex Marriage

The wife of an amazon was not defined as a lesbian, but rather as a "normal" woman because she did women's labor roles. Likewise, the husband of a berdache was not defined as a berdache merely because he had sex with a male. The community defined him based on his gender role as a "man" (i.e., a hunter and/or warrior) rather than on his sexual behavior. This gender-defined role did not categorize people as "heterosexual" versus "homosexual," but rather left a certain fluidity for individuals to follow their sexual tastes as they were attracted to specific individuals of whichever sex. In tribes that accepted marriage for the berdache or the amazon, the clan membership of one's intended spouse was much more important than one's sex.

While a berdache could not marry another berdache (since they occupied the same gender, and thus would not complement each other's differences), the fluidity of gender roles meant that a person who married a berdache or an amazon was not stigmatized as different and could later marry heterosexually. In fact, many tribes that accepted same-sex marriages did considerable kidding to the husband of the berdache and the wife of the amazon. This joking likely helped to break up these marriages after a time, so that the person would be heterosexually married at some point in his or her life. Conversely, some tribes allowed people to marry a person of the same sex only after they had produced children, while others viewed adopting orphaned children to be the prime duty of same-sex couples. By these various practices, social pressures ensured that most people would either beget or adopt children. After a person had done so, the sex of their lover did not much matter to society; what was important was that their gender role differed from that of their spouse.

European Impact

This view changed drastically after the arrival of the Europeans. Bringing with them their homophobic Christian religion, Spanish conquerors in Latin America used the Indians' acceptance of "sodomy" as a major justification for their conquest and plunder of the New World. Likewise, the English settlers brought a similar condemnation, and the early U.S. and Canadian governments followed a policy of suppressing Native Americans' sexuality as well as their native religions. The berdache and amazon traditions went underground, and the sex associated with them became a secret matter, since it was persecuted by reservation officials and Christian missionaries.

In the 20th century, while Christian condemnation of homosexuality has influenced many modem American Indians, those who have retained their traditions continue to respect berdaches and amazons. This attitude had a significant impact on the white founders of the homophile and gay liberation movements in the United States and Canada. In turn, younger gay and lesbian Indians have been influenced by gay liberation ideology to stand up openly in their urban or reservation Indian community. With a recent renaissance in American Indian culture, appreciation for the strength and the magic of human diversity has helped to revive respect for berdaches and amazons among contemporary Native Americans. Rather than expecting everyone to conform, traditionalist Indians respect the different gifts that gays and lesbians can provide as a benefit for society. With this social support, gay and lesbian Indians are assuming leadership roles and making many important contributions to their communities.


Allen, P. G. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.

Blackwood, E. Sexuality and Gender in Certain Native American Tribes: The Case of Cross-Gender Females. Signs, Vol. 10, No. 4 (1984), pp. 27-42.

Roscoe, W. The Zuni Man-Woman. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1991.

Williams, W. L. The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.

Walter L. Williams


Folklore, Literature, and Humor
The Imaginary and the Real

Among the terms used for physical contact with an animal that facilitates human sexual arousal or orgasm have been zoophilia (stroking or petting an animal as an erotic stimulus), bestiality (contact involving human or animal genitals that is not pathological but rather due to "low morality" and great sexual desire with no opportunity for natural indulgence), zooerasty (direct sexual contact as in bestiality but with a decidedly pathological component), and mixoscopic zoophilia (sexual pleasure experienced while watching copulating animals). To confuse matters further, sodomy and buggery have also been used to include sexual contact with animals, particularly in legal writings. It was perhaps to bypass this terminological thicket that Kinsey adopted the neutral phrase "animal contacts." This entry uses the term bestiality because it is the one most commonly used in sexological and other writings, dating back to the late 17th century.

Folklore, Literature, and Humor

Folklore about bestiality is ancient, widespread, and enduring. Greek mythology tells of the god Zeus becoming a swan to seduce Leda, a bull to abduct Europa, and an eagle to carry off the beautiful youth Ganymede, with whom Zeus had fallen in love. Many other cultures have myths of men and particularly women mating with animals. According to the explorer Rasmussen, the Copper Eskimos said that the first white men were offspring of an Eskimo woman and a dog. A modem myth attributes the death of the Russian empress Catherine the Great to a mishap while attempting coitus with a bull (or horse).

Literary references are also widespread, from the fairy tales Beauty and the Beast and The Frog Prince to such erotic stories as the tale of the ape-as-lover in The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, to the ballet Swan Lake and the character of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer-Night's Dream, to Balzac's novelette A Passion in the Desert about a love affair between a soldier and a female panther. In this category belongs the giant ape King Kong's cinematic infatuation with a human heroine. Currently, Piers Anthony's immensely popular Xanth fantasy novels portray numerous interspecies couplings, resulting in such hybrids as flying centaurs (i.e., offspring of a centaur and a hippogriff, which are, respectively, offspring of a human and a horse, and a horse and a griffin, which itself is hybrid offspring of a lion and an eagle).

Most of these narratives involve a symbolically hyperpotent male animal mating with a human female, often with curious progeny. When it comes to humor, the plot changes. Legman provides numerous jokes about human males copulating with many kinds of animals (most typically sheep and pigs) or males raped by animals (typically apes, bulls, or dogs). The late comedian Lenny Bruce recited, "Psychopathia sexualis/I'm in love with a horse that comes from Dallas...," and told a parable about a man and a chicken to illustrate the indiscriminate libido of the male sex. In Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, Woody Alien's movie psychiatrist falls in love with a winsome sheep named Daisy, but the discovery of the affair drives him to the gutter, to drink Woolite in despair. "The Sheep Dip" by contemporary songwriter Roger Dietz addresses the same theme. Limericks, however, take a more catholic coverage of seduced females, males copulating with every conceivable sort of animal, and male rape, plus other scenarios such as the sexually omnivorous woman and ludicrous creature infants.


Real-life sexual contacts between humans and beasts have also been reported across ages and cultures. Herodotus, Pindar, and Plutarch wrote of sacred congress with goats in ancient Egypt, and one may conjecture that the Hebrews and their neighbors practiced bestiality because the Bible explicitly forbids it. African and American Indian tribes and the Chinese are all reported to have tolerated some bestiality in the past, mostly by men.

During the Middle Ages, thousands of female witches were accused of having sex with the devil in animal form, although such accusations do not prove fact. The court records available in Europe and the United States, dating back to the 14th century and continuing into the 20th century, nearly always show males, rather than females, as the human parties. The animals have typically been mares, pigs, and sheep, and occasionally other domesticated farm animals, such as goats, rabbits, and chickens.

The first data on frequency of bestiality were collected by Kinsey. He found that about eight percent of males (mostly of rural background) had sexual contact with animals, and 3.6 percent of females. The males' partners were generally farm animals, while the females' partners were mostly pet dogs and cats. Hunt's data from 1974 show similar animal categories but a decrease over 20 years to 4.9 percent for males and 1.9 percent for females, attributed to a declining rural environment in the United States, plus greater opportunity and less inhibition for sex with other humans since the 1960s and the "sexual revolution." Both studies show actual incidents were infrequent for most subjects and rare after adolescence.

Kinsey found vaginal or anal copulation the most frequent form of contact for males, followed by masturbating the male or female animal. Contacts also included fellation by the animal of the male, and masturbation by friction against the animal's body. Kinsey's females showed a different pattern, usually general body contact or masturbation of the animal. Only a small minority experienced cunnilingus from the animal, or coitus. Hunt's sample showed higher percentages of oral contacts, especially among females, with no actual female-animal coitus. Other sources report occasional sexual contact by males with dead animals and masturbation with animal tissue.

Live sex shows have sometimes involved bestiality, reportedly dating back to ancient Rome. These performances follow the folklore paradigm of women copulating with symbolically stud-like animals: pony, donkey, large dog. (This may be the origin of the phrase "dog and pony show," a carefully prepared and elaborate presentation or performance.)

Some studies of sexual fantasy have shown that a small percentage of both sexes, but more men than women, fantasize about sex with animals.

The helping professions disagree whether bestiality is mostly harmless or usually pathological. Some researchers distinguish between cases resulting from lack of other partners coupled with high desire and lack of fastidiousness about animals, and cases showing sadism, obsessive-compulsive traits, or other neurotic symptoms. A few Freudian psychotherapists suggest that more cases than previously imagined might involve personality disturbances. Physical harm has been occasionally reported, such as injury to the genitals or allergic reactions.


Bestiality has been almost universally proscribed in religious and civil laws in western Europe and in the United States from a tradition dating back to the Roman Empire of the fourth century A.D. and earlier to biblical injunctions in Exodus 22:19 and Leviticus 20:15-16. For many centuries, punishments were Draconian, usually death for both parties, as specified in Leviticus and merging with the medieval practice of subjecting animals to prosecution and punishment for the same crimes as their human cohorts.

In the United States, state statutes have included bestiality, variously named sodomy, buggery, crime against nature, and deviate sexual intercourse (among others). These laws proscribed any penile penetration into orifices other than the vagina of one's wife, which was formerly punishable at common law by death. Because the offense is defined in terms of penetration into a bodily orifice by the human or animal penis (ejaculation not being necessary), it does not include all forms of human-animal sexuality.

Currently, bestiality laws vary widely from state to state. Pennsylvania, for example, includes it in the offense of "voluntary deviate sexual intercourse," while Texas considers it an offense under the "public lewdness" category and only if it is committed in a public place or if the individual "is reckless about whether another is present who will be offended or alarmed by his act." States also vary as to whether particular types of animals, such as birds, are named in the law. "Beast" and "animal," however, are usually interpreted by the courts to mean any non-human living creature, regardless of zoological taxonomy.

The Imaginary and the Real

Real and imagined incidences of human-animal sexual contact differ sharply. In folklore and literature, bestiality is most often romanticized seduction and coitus by a large, virile beast of an ultimately not unwilling human female. However, as researchers have shown, few females have sexual contact with animals, even fewer have actual coitus, and far fewer still with large animals.

It seems that most sexual acts with animals involve human males, but such acts take up comparatively little space in the totality of fictional situations devoted to bestiality themes. Sex between animals and males seems to be regarded more as a subject for the most slapstick humor rather than as grist for a serious tale. Perhaps male bestiality is regarded as totally "beyond the fringe" and somehow more abnormal than female bestiality. In the very few serious fictional situations about men being sexually attracted to animals, the animal is usually identified as "really human" early on, or is unusually heroic or beautiful. Balzac's female panther is not an animal with which a real human male would have coitus - any more than a real human female would willingly have congress with a large ape - but is a literary symbol of female power.

With the increase in women-written erotica, a women's folklore of bestiality may be emerging. With the apparent lesser interest of women, however, such efforts are likely to be relatively rare.

Given the infrequency of actual human-animal sexual contacts, what can be said of the folklore and mythology about such forms of sexuality? Psychologically, one can speculate that tales of animal sex may be wish-fulfillment fantasies, centering on breaking taboos and motivated by yearnings for the exotic. From a literary viewpoint, animals can represent nature, and copulation with an animal may exhibit a yearning to become "natural" oneself. In addition, the animal may represent the power of free, "uncivilized" sexuality, as that is perceived by the taleteller. Finally, in mythology, sexuality animal-style is the prerogative and province of the gods or of semi-deities like satyrs and fauns. In their copulation as beasts and with humans, the gods transcend human rules and link human with animal. Thus, many psychological, literary, and mythological processes interact in tales of human-animal sexual behavior.

But given how common farm animals were in the past and how common household pets have been for centuries, why are actual human-animal sexual contacts relatively rare? And why are these contacts almost always considered "fringey" in some way—if not grossly illegal and immoral, then the province of gods and the sacred, or an experience with enchantment, or a last-ditch desperate need for sex by the immature, the desperately lonely, or the mentally ill? Humans have exploited animals ruthlessly and systematically for food and labor; why not for sex? Like Sherlock Holmes's remark about the dog that did not bark in the night, one sometimes does not notice what is not there. But there are no animal brothels or markets to sell live animals for sex. The mere thought causes nervous tittering. Nor do children seem to "play veterinarian" routinely with the household Schnauzer. Even rebellious students and artists, perpetrators of outrageous acts, do not embrace animals (so to speak) as symbols of radicalism.

It is not quite true that there are no animal brothels because there is little interest. Hunt's 4.9 percent of males translates into millions of men in the United States, probably as many or more than the transvestites who seek large-size female clothing. Such clothing is not hard to find if one is alert, and mail-order catalogs for them are advertised discreetly in many places. Yet there is no "underground network" of animal aficionados or beastly pornography as there is for pedophilia. Also unlike transvestites, pedophiles, and other "sexual minorities," people involved in sex with animals do not seem to become involved in mutual support, advocacy, or even self-help. And it is not because bestiality is illegal. Pedophilia, prostitution, and homosexuality are all more or less illegal in the United States, and scores of groups exist to discuss, normalize, or treat these practices. Presuming the presently dominant view in modem sexology that sexual preferences are fundamentally learned and therefore free of "innate" biological mechanisms, it might be expected, say, that modern urban singles would turn to pets for sexual release when the bar scene flags. Why then have they not learned to do so?

Without denying that much sexual behavior is learned, we conjecture that bestiality confronts a genuinely biological species-specific limitation on human sexuality. All animals, in fact, preferentially mate with their own species. When they do not, it is usually within the artificial environment of captivity. The social scientist may argue that the (infrequent) occurrence of human-animal sex completely destroys the biological argument. However, this reflects a misconception of biology, for its mechanisms do not work with one hundred percent efficiency (in fact nothing in nature or in culture works all the time); from the viewpoint of evolutionary biology, it is sufficient that a mechanism work with high efficiency most of the time.

It is likely that such a biological mechanism for species-specific mating would not work independent of learning and culture, but rather upon learning: we learn easily and directly to prefer other humans as sex partners to Schnauzers, sheep, dogs, or chickens. No biological processes or mechanisms are presently known to achieve this "ethological isolation" in humans; however, few sexologists have looked for them. More research, by open-minded yet skeptical individuals, could shed light on this aspect of human sexuality. Judging from the absence of normative human-animal sexuality in the cross-cultural record, these biological mechanisms are extremely widespread. In short, human-animal sexuality is rare, but we do not know why.


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Martha Cornog
Timothy Perper


Bisexuals are persons sexually attracted to people of either sex. They may or may not have had overt sexual activity with either or both sexes. Bisexuality can also mean possessing the characteristics of both sexes, although this definition is not widely held by scholars or researchers today.

There is no commonly agreed upon theory or understanding of bisexuality. Freud believed that everyone has the potential for bisexuality. Kinsey was the first researcher to describe sexual orientation on a continuum. (See also Ambisexuality.) He developed a seven-point rating scale (0 - 6) from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality to measure sexual experiences. A bisexual experience placed a person on the scale between a Kinsey 1 and 5. Klein, a psychiatrist from San Diego, describes bisexuality as a "complex state of sexual relatedness characterized by sexual intimacy with both sexes." He describes 21 different factors that make up a person's sexual orientation. Coleman, a researcher from the University of Minnesota, measures bisexuality in several dimensions (e.g., behavior, sex fantasy content, and emotional attachments). There are many other definitions and descriptions of bisexuality.

Individuals may experience bisexuality in various ways. A child or an adolescent, for example, may have a same-sex genital experience. Many of Kinsey's subjects who had homosexual experiences during early or middle adolescent sexual experimentation later identified themselves as heterosexuals, while others named themselves later as homosexual; few identified themselves as bisexual.

Others experience bisexuality as a situational or transitory experience. This often occurs when one sex is isolated from the other sex (e.g., in the armed services, in a sex-segregated school or college, or in prison). If heterosexual, these people generally return to that orientation when they can do so.

Bisexuality may also be a transitional or sequential process whereby the person is changing from one orientation to another. Most often, people experiencing this process have repressed or fought their real orientation for years, then experimented, and finally embraced their real orientation; for example, a man who married, had children, and later found his emotional or sexual desires could not be fulfilled in marriage. Such a person may fantasize or experience a same-sex lover, then eventually move to a same-sex relationship.

Bisexuality can also be experienced when a self-identified heterosexual seeks occasional impersonal homosexual contacts. An example is the "tearoom trade" practice (i.e., anonymous sex in a public restroom). This kind of sexual experience is similar to prostitution: the sex is impersonal, and performed to release sexual tension. One study found that tearoom trade participants were conservative, middle-class businessmen who were highly respected in their community. These people often deny their homosexual preference, hiding it through marriage and impersonal sexual contacts.

Finally, there are those who self-identify as bisexual. In the 1990s, this is not a popular identification in American culture for several reasons. First, Americans tend to be bipolar thinkers and classify sexual orientation as either heterosexual or homosexual. In this type of thinking, it is difficult to recognize true bisexuals. Second, Americans value monogamy, even though the majority do not practice it. Bisexuality implies that a person needs to be sexually involved with both sexes to be fulfilled. Finally, in this age of AIDS, many believe that bisexuals, along with intravenous-drug users, are primarily responsible for the transmissions of AIDS to the heterosexual population.

Historically, however, bisexuality is probably as old as life on this planet, or as Goethe wrote, as old as the human race. Ford and Beach, in their cross-cultural work Patterns of Sexual Behavior, found that 64 percent of the societies they studied considered bisexuality normal and natural. These societies expected, approved, and even prescribed bisexual experiences, especially for males.

Not much is known about past female sexuality; only in recent history are women providing historical records of themselves. It is known that lesbian experiences, while hidden, have existed since early times. (The word "lesbian" comes from Sappho, an ancient Greek poetess, who lived on an island, Lesbos, with a community of women.) Plato, in his Symposium, recognized female bisexuality, as did Plutarch when he remarked that "at Sparta love was held in such honor that even the most respectable women became infatuated with girls."

Bisexuality is not exclusive to humans; it is found in species throughout the phylogenetic order and thus is a constant variable in life. Evidence indicates that humans are born with at least a bisexual potential, although even bisexualism has been seen as limiting to human sexual experience (see Eroticism). Humans, unlike other species, are born with a panerotic orientation potential; bisexuality is that part of the orientation involving other humans: a person can also feel erotically oriented to oneself, to the animate and inanimate world, and to the transcendent dimension of life.


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Duberman, M. The Bisexual Debate. In J. H. Gagnon, ed., Human Sexuality in Today's World. Boston: Little, Brown, 1977.

Ford, C. S., and F. A. Beach. Patterns of Sexual Behavior. New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1951.

Gramick, J. Homosexuality and Bisexuality Are as Natural and Normal as Heterosexuality. In R. T. Francoeur, ed., Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Human Sexuality. Second Ed., Guilford, Conn.: Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc., 1989.

Stayton, W.R. A Theory of Sexual Orientation: The Universe as a Turn On. Topics in Clinical Nursing. Vol. 1, No. 4 (Jan. 1980), pp. 1-7.

Weinrich. J. D. Sexual Landscapes: Why We Are What We Are, Why We Love Whom We Love. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987.

Wolman, B. B., and J. Money. Handbook of Human Sexuality. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1980.

William R. Stayton


Iwan Bloch (1872-1922), a German physician, might best be described as the intellectual founder of modem sexology. Bloch emphasized in his writings that sex could not be understood from the point of view of any one discipline or profession but that it required an interdisciplinary effort and the cooperation of various professions. One of the central figures in the German sexological movement, he probably was the mostly widely read in all fields and is said to have possessed a personal library of 80,000 volumes. His concept of the importance of historical, literary, sociological, ethnographic, and biological evidence as the basis of Sexual wissenschaft (sexual science) was carried out in his own research.

He concentrated on sexually transmitted diseases, since he felt that once these were overcome, humanity could look forward to a bright future. As part of this effort he also felt it was essential for society to come to terms with prostitution. Though originally he held that homosexuality was a sign of degeneration, through his research and Hirschfeld's influence he came to believe that homosexuality was not morbid but spontaneous and occurred in individuals who were able to function as well as other members of society. He distinguished homosexuality per se from pedophilia, pederasty, hermaphroditism, misogyny, and "pseudo-homosexuality."

He was a prolific and insightful writer, but his citations are often somewhat careless, and he has been badly served by translators in those few works that did get translated into English, with the exception of the translation by M. Eden Paul. Bloch sometimes wrote under pseudonyms, including Eugen Dühren.


Bloch, I. Die Prostitution. 2 vols. Berlin: L. Marcus, 1912-25.

Bloch, I. Der Ursprung der Syphilis. 2 vols. Jena: G. Fischer, 1901-11.

Bloch, I. Sexual Life of Our Time. Translated by M. Eden Paul. London: Heinemann, 1908.

Bloch, I. [Eugen Dühren, pseud.]. Das Geschlechtsleben in England. 3 vols. Berlin: Barsdorf, 1901-03. (The English translation of this work is inaccurate and misleading.)

Van. L. Bullough


Body Imagery at the Center for Marital and Sexual Studies

Many cultures have a preoccupation with the physical and aesthetic aspects of the human body. Chinese foot binding took on an erotic connotation and went from being originally a sign of wealth and status to being a sign of eroticism and sexual arousal of the male with respect to the deformed foot. In the past, teeth in various cultures have been knocked out, drilled, colored, chipped, filed, and decorated to denote beauty and sexual attractiveness. Even recently in America, a diamond has been noted in the tooth of a young man.

Decorating the skin by tattooing, painting, burning, or scarring in some way have been means of attracting others. Tattooing in America has been seen more often in men in the past but has taken on a new sexual meaning for women, who are having tattoos placed on the buttocks and near and on the genital areas.

Rings have been placed in nipples and labia for sexual purposes in the American female. In fact the genitalia in various societies, and among some groups in our own, have been altered in various ways by shaving, hacking, piercing, and cutting and by insertion of various objects into them.

This was true in the past as well. There is evidence, for example, that the Hellenistic ideal for the male gymnastic competitors who performed nude was to have a foreskin of a certain length. Even today, clients in body-imagery work may complain about the length of the foreskin or lack thereof.

The gay liberation movement, which saw the foreskin as a visual and tactile erotic organ, has decried its loss. Where this concept is internalized, the subject who is circumcised often feels mutilated. Where there is some disfigurement, as the person sees it, this part of the body often becomes a focus that can become obsessional. Even a small, almost invisible scar, or a toe that is considered to be too small or too big, can be a problem for some people.

American concerns about the body are manifest in obsession with height, weight, breasts, and penis size. Other matters of concern involving physical characteristics relate to the shape or description of various parts of the body. The centerfold of Playboy, in many cases, tends to be the measure of female self-acceptance and the definition of what many men see as an ideal sex partner.

In one way or another, we implant, reduce, or alter body parts to suit our concept of the body beautiful. How we feel about ourselves as persons is often reflected in how we see ourselves physically. We want to be "somebody." We want to feel like "somebody." Nobody wants to be a "nobody."

Where there is self-acceptance, we like who we are as a person. We may recognize that we should lose weight for reasons of better health, or that it would be nice if our breasts were larger or smaller but it is OK that they are the way they are. In many cases, we know that the breasts, for example, could be changed, but it is not important to our self-concept to do so. People who are self-accepting also tend to be able to feel confident and comfortable in asking for and going out on a date or having sex with a partner.

Body Imagery at the Center for Marital and Sexual Studies

In the process of conducting research with sexually dysfunctional individuals and couples at the Center for Marital and Sexual Studies, in Long Beach, it was observed that a poor body image and a poor self-concept often went together. Treatment modalities were developed to change this.

Following a sexological examination, clients are asked to remove their robe and stand nude facing a three-way tailor's mirror while a male and female therapy team is present. Clients are asked to place their hands on their head and to give tactile, visual, and emotional feedback on every part of their body. They examine themselves from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. They express how they feel about each part of their body on all levels.

In evaluating their body, it is important that they look at it, since self-concept often is carried over from remarks and comments received in childhood from significant others. In working with clients, we found that a slim, trim, attractive male or female would often see himself or herself as that chubby youngster who was teased about being fat. The kid that everyone called ugly is now a good-looking young man or woman. Sometimes they saw themselves as inadequate sexually due to the size of the penis or the breasts whereas these features have little to do with sexual functioning.

During the examination, clients are asked to point out their best and worst physical features and to rate their overall body image on a scale of 0-100, 0 being the least worthwhile and 100 the most positive. Following a rating of 75, for example, they would be asked to justify the 25 missing points. Where do they lose the points in terms of what they see, and how do they feel about what they observe in the mirror?

Often their negative feelings stem from one or two minor imperfections. These seem out of proportion to the overall positive feelings they have felt for the rest of their body. A small scar can be seen as a major imperfection; although the therapists may see it as insignificant, it is important to be aware that the significance of a scar often goes beyond the scar itself to a view of any kind of disfigurement as being less than perfect.

Once the body imagery is completed, the wings of the mirror are closed around the person so he or she is alone and unseen in a world of mirrors. Are there any new views never seen before? Do new views raise or lower previous ratings? How many images of self are seen by turning the head without moving the feet? The number seen ranges from three to infinity, depending on the broadness of the vision of the subject.

This process can also be carried out at home. In doing it alone with a full-length mirror, it is suggested that the person write a response to each part of the body. While not as effective as ongoing dialogue with a dual-sex therapy team, this technique has been judged effective by most participants in university sexuality classes.

Some people have never looked at themselves in a mirror nude, let alone let anyone else see them nude. It forces one to become more comfortable with the self. Once a person becomes comfortable with his or her own body, feeling comfortable in the presence of others is easier. If a person is unable to accept his or her own body how can that person accept the body of a partner?

Another way of helping clients is through the guided-imagery procedure, which at the Center follows the body-imagery work. Guided imagery is usually done by having a person either lie supine or sit in a chair with the eyes closed while he or she is guided through a series of experiences. This may include music of some kind played softly in the background. It can be viewed as a form of hypnosis in which the client is led by the person talking them through a series of experiences. It usually starts with some focus on relaxation before the client is led through the series of steps to resolve the problem.

The dual sex therapy team directs the client to close their eyes and enter their body in fantasy. They may enter through any opening or directly through the skin or skull by osmosis. They are led from wherever they entered up or down in the body until the brain, heart, lungs, genitalia, seat of emotions, sexuality, masculinity, or femininity are explored. What do you see? What color is it? How do you feel about the function you are observing? Does it function well? Are you satisfied with it? If not, what do you see the problem to be? Blocks to sexual function are examined in detail (i.e., neural pathways from the brain to the penis or vagina). Removing the blocks is the client's responsibility. Most choose to remove them with the therapists' help, if requested.

Clients then are free to examine anything they wish, and through fantasy, to visualize the inside of the body. Therapists accompany them and dialogue enroute. Can they see out their closed eyes, penis, vagina, nipples? What do they see? Fantastic variations! Sexual problems may be resolved through fantasy - usually fantasy of coitus.

Finally, a rating is requested on the inside of the body. Where and why are points lost? Exit anyway you wish, and when you are out tell how you came out. Open your eyes; tell how you felt about the fantasy trip inside the body.

Where self-concept evaluations are unrealistically low, there is an attempt made to bring the evaluations into a more realistic perspective by therapy.

In those cases where clients are so fearful of either penetration or orgasm that they become severely disturbed at the point where either of these situations occurs, guided imagery can be extremely important in having them become relaxed enough to visualize penetration of the genitals. The therapist cautiously suggests to them what they will feel and helps them become comfortable with those sensations and feelings. In cases of vaginismus, visualization can facilitate relaxation. As the visualization proceeds, the partner inserts a finger to help stretch the vaginal introitus to make penetration without muscle spasms possible. When a woman equates orgasm with dying, guided imagery can talk her through the experience of orgasm so that she knows and understands what to expect. Fear of any of these situations can be factors in the inability to function sexually. The relaxation achieved in guided imagery helps the client work through fears and anxiety so that sexual function is possible.

In summary, research findings suggest that self-concept and body image are important aspects of one's sexual persona. Sex educators and counselors should stress the importance of positive self-concept and body imagery for developing a good sexual relationship.


Anderson, B. L., and J. LeGrand. Body Image for Women: Conceptualization, Assessment, and a Test of its Importance to Sexual Dysfunction and Medical Illness. Journal of Sex Research. Vol. 28 (Aug. 1991), pp. 457-78.

Eilberg-Schwartz, H. People of the Body for the People of the Book. Journal of the History of Sexuality. Vol. 2 (July 1991), pp. 1-24.

Gregersen, E. Sexual Practices: The Story of Human Sexuality. New York: Franklin Watts, 1983.

Harrell, T., and R. Stolp. Effects of Erotic Guided Imagery on Female Sexual Arousal and Emotional response. Journal of Sex Research. Vol. 21 (Aug. 1985), pp. 292-304.

Hartman, W. E., and M.A. Fithian. Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction: A Bio-Psycho-Social Approach. Long Beach, Calif.: Center for Marital and Sexual Studies, 1972.

Hartman, W. E., M.A. Fithian, and D.Johnson. Nudist Society. New York: Crown, 1970. Updated and edited by I. Bancroft. Los Angeles: Elysium Growth Press, 1992.

Hill, J. Women Talking - Explorations in Being Female. Secaucus, N.J.: Lyle Stuart, 1976.

Kirkendall, L.A., and L. G. McBride. Preadolescent and Adolescent Imagery and Sexual Fantasies: Beliefs and Experiences. In Childhood and Adolescent Sexology. Vol. 7 of Handbook of Sexology, edited by M. E. Perry. New York: Elsevier, 1990.

Smith, D., and R. Over. Enhancement of Fantasy-induced Sexual Arousal in Men Through Training in Sexual Imagery. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 19 (Oct. 1991), pp. 477-89.

William E. Hartman
Marilyn A. Fithian


Bondage refers to restraining, binding, or otherwise immobilizing a person within a sadomasochistic scene. Bondage can range from the simple binding of an individual's hands to more elaborate methods. Bondage devotees use a wide variety of implements, including ropes, straps, and chains; gags, masks, and blinders; wrist, arm, ankle cuffs, and handcuffs; thumb cuffs, "butt plugs," and corsets; racks, stocks, and suspension and inversion devices.

Often seen as an end in itself, bondage may be separated from other sadomasochistic practices. Practitioners emphasize that it is consensual and planned.

Bondage is a common preference among sadomasochists. Spengler, for example, found that 60 percent of his sample were interested in it, and 67 percent of the males and 88 percent of the females studied by Breslow preferred it. In his analysis of letters published in a sexually oriented magazine, Baumeister also found that bondage was prevalent among the majority of correspondents.

Bondage and discipline (B & D) is used to describe the combination of restraint and control with punishment or humiliation.


Baumeister, R. F. Gender Differences in Masochistic Scripts. The Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 25 (November 1988), pp. 478-99.

Breslow, N., L. Evans, and J. Langley. "On the Prevalence and Roles of Females in the Sadomasochistic Subculture: Report on an Empirical Study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 14 (1985), pp. 303-17.

Spengler, A. Manifest Sadomasochism of Males: Results of an Empirical Study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 6 (1977), pp. 441-56.

Thomas S. Weinberg


There are, broadly speaking, two methods of retail bookselling in the field of sexology: through a bookstore and by mail order, which in some cases includes "by appointment" arrangements. This entry discusses mainly the mail-order method.

For several reasons, the bookstore environment is not ideally suited for a bookseller who specializes in the field of human sexuality. First, the individuals most in need of materials of this sort - "the young, the shy, the misfits, the impotent, the maladjusted," as Peter Fryer describes them in Private Case-Public Scandal—are likely to be intimidated in such places. Second, scholars and professionals who need the materials for research or counseling often do not have the time to visit bookstores. Finally, casual browsers often damage inventory; this is a major problem, not only in bookstores but also in libraries, for books dealing with sexuality.

The mail-order business conveniently avoids all these drawbacks. It allows the sexually inexperienced to obtain what they want to enrich their fantasies or lives without embarrassment; the busy scholars can have their secretaries do their ordering for them; the casual smut hound, amusingly, finds himself in a position similar to that of the embarrassed misfit in the bookstore. Success in the mail-order (or customer-by-appointment) business has four basic ingredients: the customer, the mailing list and catalogs, the want list, and the inventory.

Customers for sexological books break down into five broad groups: (1) collectors; (2) researchers; (3) information seekers; (4) institutions, libraries, and other booksellers; and (5) individuals who want to find out more about their particular sexual needs; the latter might also fit into any one of the four preceding groups. Each of the groups is somewhat different from the others.

The collectors, and specifically those who collect paperbacks, are primarily interested in two things: publishers and the artists who do the cover illustrations. Weekend-long conventions are devoted to these subjects, and there are several fan publications, which contain articles and checklists displaying the most arcane knowledge of the paperback publishing business, including that part of it dedicated to erotica. Publishers such as Brandon House and Essex House (subsidiaries of the Parliament News empire of Milton Luros), Greenleaf Classics, Holloway House, and other paperback purveyors of erotica from about 1967-1974 all have their collectors.

Essex House is almost unique among them in that it required authors to use their real names rather than pseudonyms, common in so much of the field. Among the authors of the 50 titles issued by the house are Charles Bukowski, Philip José Farmer, and Michael Perkins. Their books command premium prices when found. Greenleaf Classics, ostensibly a publisher of conventional paperback pornography, was responsible for some amazingly stylish gay erotica by authors such as C. J. Bradbury Robinson (not a pseudonym) and the late Richard Amory, a San José schoolteacher whose real name was Richard Love. At the same time, Greenleaf was also guilty of piracy by illegally issuing the first American editions of Henry Miller's Rosy Crucifixion trilogy.

Some collectors specialize in books that are of a curious shape, have unusual bindings, or are in some other way uncommon. Pop-up editions of the Kama Sutra are an example of such books but there are others published in more limited editions. Among the rarer examples is a book on circumcision printed in fewer than 100 copies, each of which is tall and narrow in shape and cannot be opened without the removal of a prepuce-shaped paper cap.

Some books are given special value by their collector. One collector of gay books tried to put bindings on them to match the content, theme, or tide. Included in his collection was Casimir Dukahz's The Asbestos Diary, bound in nontoxic asbestos with the title blocked in silver on the front cover. To be successful in selling such unique books, the bookseller has to have a customer in mind when he or she purchases them.

There are some important ground rules to follow in selling sex books successfully. Knowledge of the customer is important. Nonspecific inquiries from a stranger should elicit a reply in appropriately generalized terms. Such inquiries are too time-consuming and other sources are available, including libraries and bookstores. More welcome are specific enquiries, since they indicate a serious interest in the subject and quite possibly will lead to a profitable working relationship for both the bookseller and the customer. Again, a catalog should be sent, but in the event that the bookseller has several available on different aspects of the particular request, the catalog most closely approximating the request should be sent since catalogs cost money. Personal visits from customers are not ruled out in the mail-order business, but prudence dictates that visitors should be long-standing customers or referrals from such customers.

An important part of successful bookselling of erotica is a search service, the willingness and ability to locate scarce and hard-to-find titles. Searches can be done successfully only through an extensive network of contacts, both among collectors and among other booksellers. Many finds are due simply to serendipity. For example, a customer saw in Tokyo a copy of an important German work on erotic theater at a price he was unable to pay. He mentioned it to one of the authors of this entry in passing, and by chance shortly afterwards, while scouting for books in Europe, another and cheaper copy was located and purchased for the customer.

The lifeblood of the mail-order bookseller is the mailing list and catalogs. They ultimately are the most effective advertising that the bookseller has, particularly if they are attractively presented and if the entries are annotated in a professional manner. Care also should be taken to match specialties to the appropriate individuals on the mailing list.

The mailing list is compiled from various sources. Certain institutions or individuals working in the area of eroticism or related subjects should be included on the list. Referrals of customers from other booksellers add to the list, as do collectors who somehow hear about the bookseller. Advertising in specialized scholarly publications aimed at sex researchers is also important. Each catalog should have a cover sheet incorporating a "list of lists" to give customers the opportunity to see the scope of the business (and to order from back catalogs).

Catalogs themselves are not inexpensive to produce. They must be compiled, and in some instances the compiler must be paid; to this must be added printing and postage. The mail-order bookseller can stay in business only by keeping down costs, and this means sending catalogs to those primarily interested in buying. Many charge for catalogs while others limit the number of catalogs they send before purging from the mailing list those customers who have not responded. We believe that after sending three of our catalogs—whether they are general catalogue or specialized—we should have received a positive response of some sort, preferably firm orders. This also implies that the bookseller needs to know something of the customer's needs in order to send the catalogs from which the customer is most likely to order merchandise.

One customer who collects the publications of New York's Olympia Press provided the bookseller with a useful checklist of the titles he needed to complete his library. This serves to alert the bookseller of a potential customer whenever a book on the list appears on the market. The bookseller can also put such titles on the want list, which is sent out to other book dealers.

Back orders from old catalogs can pose a complicated economic situation, since prices change. Pricing used books is always a bit of a tightrope act. Skill and experience, combined with supply and demand, are the basic ingredients for pricing an item. In addition, the strangely inverted values found in the secondhand-erotica market only complicate the issue. This is because the collector of a well-known and collected modern author (e.g., James Joyce or D. H. Lawrence) who has unlimited financial resources can complete his or her library easily by a telephone call to one of the big specialist New York dealers. In contrast, a paperback pornography collector, no matter how well financed, is hard put to locate easily and on short notice some of the more exotic paperback pornography. Joyce and Lawrence are respectable; paperback erotica is not so well regarded. It is more subject to censorship and is less likely to survive and enter the used-book market. Even many of the original classics in sexology are in short supply, as are the sexological works published in Germany from 1900 to 1932. One reason for this scarcity is that Magnus Hirschfeld, X. Bloch, and many of the other scholars researching human sexuality were Jews, socialists, or homosexuals and were not "politically correct" in Nazi Germany. Not only Nazi Germany destroyed such books; even in the United States there has been periodic destruction of what many regard as smut.

The scarcity of a book and the demand for it are closely correlated with price. Prices change. A book priced at $20 in 1984 can be worth more or less than that at a later time, depending on the current market. This is often difficult for the customer to understand and is well illustrated by an incident that occurred in a Boston used-book store. A customer who very much wanted a book that had been autographed by Ernest Hemingway refused to pay the $300 requested by the bookstore owners because the intact dust jacket indicated it had cost only $3.95 when new.

One of the difficulties in being a bookseller who specializes in erotica and sexological works is that one rarely can purchase the general collections that come on the market. Going through such collections to find one or two titles does not justify the time or money spent on acquisition and cataloging. Though occasionally specialized collections of sex books and erotica do come on the market, the specialist in this area mostly has to rely on other secondhand retail outlets for stock. This is difficult when the bookseller is just starting in business but as one becomes better known, other booksellers become increasingly likely to make contact when they have books available in the sex or erotic area. Some books sell better than others in the used market, and there are some that end up in a stagnant inventory which does not move at all.

In conclusion, the business of buying and selling books in the field of sexology presents considerably more challenges than conventional bookselling. Starting out, the newcomer has few if any guidelines available to him or her. Book Auction Records and similar publications seldom include any yardsticks on which to base prices, and there is no reliable guide to collecting in the field to enable booksellers to distinguish the good material from the bad when they see it. Eroticism and sexology are not easy subjects for booksellers to specialize in, but they can be rewarding both in financial terms and in terms of friendship. Speaking personally, we have met many interesting people and dealt with institutions we might otherwise never have encountered.


Fryer, P. Private Case-Public Scandal. London: Secker and Warburg, 1966.

Ivan Stormgart
Mary Cook


Buddhism, one of the major religions of the world, was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who lived in northern India from 560 B.C. to 480 B.C. His followers seek to emulate his example of perfect morality, wisdom, and compassion, culminating in a transformation of consciousness known as enlightenment. Buddhism teaches that greed, hatred, and delusion separate the individual from the true perception of the nature of things, namely that the apparent substantiality of all objects, including the self, is illusion; everything mundane is impermanent and ultimately unsatisfying. The central beliefs of Buddhism are based on the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, the last of which is the Eightfold Path by which enlightenment may be attained and the individual self-annihilated in nirvana.

It is common to divide Buddhism into two main branches. The Theravada (Way of the Elders) is the more conservative of the two; it is dominant in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand. The Mahayana (Great Vehicle) is more diverse and liberal; it is found mainly in China, Korea, and Japan, and among Tibetan peoples, where it is distinguished by its emphasis on the Buddhist Tantras.

Most Buddhist schools de-emphasized sexual desire, and traditionally Buddhist monks have been celibate. But this is not so of the school of Mi-tsung (Mantrayana, mantra means secret, Tantrayana, or Tantrism), the True Word school (Chen-yen Tsung), or the Esoteric school of Buddhism. The term Tantrism, or Tantra, refers to a pan-Indian religious movement that arose in about the sixth century A.D. within both Buddhism and Hinduism and to the texts (either Buddhist or Hindu) setting forth its practices and beliefs. The main emphasis of Tantrism is on the development of the devotee's dormant psycho-physical powers by means of special meditations and ritual techniques. These are essentially esoteric and must be passed on personally from master to initiate. Stressing the coordination of the body, speech, and mind, they include the use of symbolic gestures (mudras); the uttering of potent formulas (mantras); the entering (through meditation) of sacred diagrams (mandalas) and yantras; the meditator's creative visualization of and identification with specific divine forms; and the physical, iconographic, or mental use of sexual forces and symbols. Although the particulars of practice vary between the Buddhist and Hindu Tantras and within each of these traditions form one text or lineage to another, they all stress the realization, within the body, of the union of polar opposites, whether these be conceived of as devotee and goddess, the masculine principle (Shiva) and the feminine (Shakti), reason and compassion, or samsara and nirvana. Tantrism is traditionally practiced in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and other countries where Tibetan Buddhism is followed, as well as in India.

Sex was the major subject of Mi-tsung. Mi-tung was very similar to some sects of Taoism, and stressed the sexual union. Even Mi-tung said, "Buddheity is in the female generative organs." In China, the Tibetan Esoteric Sect (Tsang Mi-tsung, or Tibetan Mi-tsung) flourished in Yuan Dynasty, especially from the time of Kubilai Khan (1216-94 A.D.). Even the Chinese standard history Yuan Shi [The History of the Yuan Dynasty] recorded some kind of sexual Tantrism as follows:

He [Ha-ma, prime minister] also presented to the emperor [Hui-tsung, 1333-67 A.D.] the Tibetan monk Ka-lin-chen, who was an expert in the secret [Tantric] ritual. The monk said to the emperor: "Your Majesty rules over all in the empire and owns all riches within the four seas. But Your Majesty should not think of this life only. Man's life is brief, therefore this secret method of the Supreme Joy [which ensures longevity] should be practiced." The emperor thereupon practiced this method, which is called "Discipline in Pairs." It is also called "yen-t'ieh-erh," and "secret." All these practices refer to the art of the bedchamber. The emperor then summoned Indian monks to direct those ceremonies, and conferred upon a Tibetan monk the title of Ta-yuan-kuo-shih [Master of the Great Yuan Empire]. They all took girls of good families, some four, some three, for these disciplines and called that "to sacrifice" (kung-yang). Then the emperor daily engaged in these practices, assembling for the purpose great numbers of women and girls, and found his joy only in this dissolute pleasure. He also selected a number from among his concubines and made them perform the dance of the 16 Dakini (Shih-liu-t'ien-mo, the 16 Heavenly Devils) and the Eight Males (pa-lang) [the 16 may represent Tantric she-devils, who had intercourse with men representing their male companions, one pair of women with one man]. The brothers of the emperor and those men called "companions" all engaged in front of the emperor in these lewd embraces, men and women being naked. The hall where these things took place was called Chieh-chi-wu-kai ("Everything without obstacle"). Ruler and statesmen thus displayed their lewdness, and the crowd of monks went in and out the palace, and were allowed to do anything they liked. [Translated by R. H. van Gulik.]

Needham, J. Science and Civilisation in China. Vol. 2, Sect. 8-18. Cambridge, U.K.: At the University Press, 1956.

Ruan, F. F. Sex in China: Studies in Sexology in Chinese Culture. New York: Plenum Press, 1991.

Van Gulik, R. H. Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society From ca. 1500 B.C. till 1644 A.D. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1961.

Fang-fu Ruan



Masturbation and bukkake
Bukkake on the Internet
The Mainstreaming of Bukkake
Sexual Health


The history and act of bukkake, involving the sexual act of showering someone with semen from one or several men who masturbate then ejaculate on the recipient by turns or simultaneously is not common knowledge in society. Originating from Japan, bukkake is a practice in many parts of the world. There is a paucity of literature on bukkake however; an internet search of popular web sites is one method to resource information on bukkake, its history, types of acts and promotion through photographic images. Bukkake as a sex practice has not been previously investigated. It is not recognized or discussed by health professionals so the prevalence and potential risks remains undocumented thereby hindering possible health promotions and responsible censorship.  The acts of Bukkake occur in group sex and could be potential health risks in the era of HIV/AIDS.

Masturbation and bukkake

The practice of bukkake involves the manual stimulation and excitement of the male sexual organs to orgasm and ejaculation of semen commonly referred to as masturbation.  Masturbation by men is a practice found throughout history, having been condemned and persecuted by religious, moral watchdogs and the medical profession. Scholars investigating belief systems, attitudes, understanding about the masturbatory behavior, have extensively researched masturbation.  Historically the Bible refers to Onan who “spilled his seed upon the ground” to avoid impregnating his dead brother’s wife (resulting in his death as the Lord was displeased.  The word onanism became a synonym for masturbation in most early literary references for semen ejaculation not directly for the purpose of procreation.  In the 18th century the publication of L’Onanisme by Samuel-August Tissot supported the Church’s view of masturbation as a mortal sin, which equated masturbation with moral condemnation and medical abnormality affecting the nervous system resulting in madness. 

Emerging from the erroneous attitudes of the past, much positive challenging discourse on masturbation and its practice within the religious, cultural, medical and research arenas lead to masturbation in most cultures as an acceptable sexual practice though not readily discussed in society. Many studies have documented the prevalence of masturbation of adult men through out their life span whether alone or with a sexual partner, however surveys appear to omit any enquiry to masturbation in group situations or ejaculation on an individual.

Masturbation is reported to be a normal practise in many sex related surveys, Kinsey in the 1950s indicated 92 percent of male respondents masturbated to orgasm at least once.  Although there are scholarly references related to masturbation in groups such as “circle jerks”, “Jack off parties “, “Jack and Jill off parties “ and “eat the soggy biscuit”; the sexual act of ejaculating on an individual/s is not described.  Whereas oral sex or masturbation related to penetrative sex and routine sexual activities also associated with group sex are frequently described.  Ironically, even though masturbation is a common sexual practice and may be inexhaustible as a topic, the actual terminology and practice of bukkake is not known making it almost enigmatic to the layperson but common in pornography terminology. Literature dealing with masturbation and sex in history does not document the act of bukkake.  

Bukkake on the Internet

Information on bukkake in the context of it’s actual nature is not commonly available and appear to be found in non scholarly resources such as the online resource web site wikipedia  and pornographic web sites focused on bukkake.

Bukkake, supposedly originating in ancient Japan, refers to showering a recipient with semen from one or several men who ejaculate by turns or simultaneously.

Bukkake has been reference to incidents when unfaithful women were publicly humiliated by being tied up while every man in the village ejaculated all over her to show his distaste.

It appears over time the act of bukkake has gained wider interest across the world and has gone from cult like status to an accepted sexual practice for some. Debuting in porn videos in the 80's by Japanese specialists, bukkake has a large worldwide following with organized groups having generated several popular schools and techniques, each with distinct practices and own forms. Facials in the sexual context are a form of bukkake whereby the ejaculate is directed on the face of the recipient and is often the final part of other sexual acts. Reputable and reliable academic sources on Bukkake are virtually non-existent, while the majority of primary resources coming from the internet are pornographic and graphic.

The Internet provides easy anonymous access for exploration of a variety of paraphilic desires and explicit activities such as bukkake.  An internet search in early 2005 using the search engine of Google, using the word “bukkake” resulted in over 604, 000 results of web sites or general messages posted on the web associated with Bukkake. In May 2006, the same search produced 9,030,000 results indicating an increase of interest and promotion in bukkake in just a year. This figure appears to be on the rise.

Alternative a Google scholar search yields 11 results with one of these being a poster presentation on bukkake by this author while the others are word associated or not even relevant. Interestingly, “known” sexual health dictionaries, guides, books on “bizarre or kinky” sex, masturbation[1] or paraphilia do not list  or mention bukkake making it’s pornographic nature non detectable in most censorship surveillances.

The Mainstreaming of Bukkake

Countless active groups have formed world wide on the internet that have a shared sexual interest in bukkake, each with its own variations within its country, group dynamics and individual preferences.  These groups through forums and chat rooms advertise for members and promote bukkake events, many with commercial interest trying to “seduce” potential customers who may become recipients of continued exposure to the pornographic nature of bukkake through unwanted solicitations known as spam and the potential to allow additional sites to open new browser windows. Hypothetically, an individual’s initial interest in bukkake may be humorous, repulsive or marginally bizarre but this in turn could develop into a “riveting” compulsion seeking further images of bukkake, which are freely available and accessible on the internet.  Such copious amount of pornographic material on bukkake may lead to a possible addiction and encourage initiation to a novice, yet fuel an already growing phenomenon.

Sexual Health

It is important for a health professional to know the basic information on bukkake to gage an informed opinion and understanding. Currently the internet is a wealth of information on bukkake however; the predominately-pornographic content may present a moralistic dilemma for some individuals. Various pornographic web sites details different forms and types of bukkake each naturally lend themselves to a variety of suggested techniques to enhance the experience. Globally specific schools of bukkake have emerged and are often described on the web accompanied with pornagraphic images. American bukkake involves a female recipient (usually a porn performer) and, 50-100 men. The receiver consents because they love semen gaining extreme pleasure from the act lasting 60-90 minutes. Each ejaculation details are sensationalized as the recipient expresses satisfaction.

Japanese bukkake follows traditional imagery of, degrading the female recipient to a certain extent. Punishment, forced bukkake and a S&M activity are common. The recipient is usually

speechless and motionless during the session.  European bukkake involves group sex with multiple penetrations of the female “gang bang” style of every orifice until the pull out and ejaculate all over her face and / or body. The next man then moves in where the previous one left off, with one ejaculating at a time.  Eastern European bukkake fuses elements from the other types; degradation has led the Czech style bukkake pushing the limits.  Women are bound and gagged, forced to submit to multiple facial ejaculations then left at the end lying on the ground, still bound, and on a layer of ejaculate for some time after the completed session. The men may leave and then return for a repeat session.  Forced bukkake has a more constructed “role play” scenario; the recipient is against their will bound using bondage equipment and gagged, then covered with semen.  A funnel may be used to direct the ejaculate into the forced open mouth of the recipient. Receivers of forced Bukkake report extreme pleasure through submission.  Gay bukkake apparently first introduced into the gay community in the mid 90's, mainly in group sex situations, at times to initiate new members.  All participants are male and often involve the recipient ejaculating on himself.


Bukkake is a potentially unsafe sexual practice, the skin is a protective layer however if broken it can be a portal for infection, likewise the eyes not only “sting” from semen but are another point of pathogen entry, as is the mouth if semen is directed to it especially with cuts and gum or dental disease. The risks, and if any, the benefit of applying male ejaculate on the skin needs to be investigated. Risks from bukkake are difficult to differentiate especially if the practice is part of sexual acts involving unprotected oral or penetrative sex. It is therefore difficult to isolate semen contact as a sole risk factor It is known that Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and HIV are widely spread through unprotected sex, however like oral sex; semen exposure is not widely viewed as a high risk factor. HIV is found in semen and without medication such as antiretrovirals to suppress HIV in the body, the seminal HIV viral load can be high, raising risk of HIV infection via the eyes, mouth or broken skin.  Non-sexual intra-familial transmission of HIV is also possible suggesting that non-sexual routes of transmission could occur on rare occasions.  HIV transmission is due to sexual contact or overt blood contact, bukkake involves both. Biologically semen is a blood component and the act of bukkake is sexual. Bukkake is usually associated with group sex, “gang bangs” and orgies; the health risk for the recipient/s is a major concern. Group sex and bukkake are being commonly observed at sex on premises venues such as saunas, sex clubs and public places. Knowledge of risk factors is vital, as is the individual’s knowledge of their own HIV status and whether participants would make disclosure of HIV status and if so what means of assessment or surveillance could be made?


The history of bukkake is quite extensive, from origins as a ritual degradation in villages of rural Japan to the sexual mainstream.  Bukkake is far removed from the “the great terror of masturbation” originally advocated by Tissot and embraced early in history by others. Such anti masturbation views based on society’s value system and belief in a weak hypothesis spread like a snownball effect that was destructive. 

Social and medical attitudes towards masturbation has changed and with it sexual behaviour to the extent that those partaking in acts of bukkake accept masturbating on an individual/s as an acceptable activity within “closed doors” amongst consenting adults. Bukkake is not openly discussed in society, hindering an examination of possible health and censorship issues.  If the term is widely known, it can be included in censorship list to prevent unsolicited exposure to bukkake’s pornographic content on the internet. The pornographic nature of the act or the repulsive connotations does not welcome open debate or reviews. A non-judgmental and non-prejudicial approach is required to reach an understanding of bukkake.  Sexual health professionals need to be aware of this practice and address the possible risk factors of bukkake to promote safer sex practices


Bullough, V.L. (2002) Masturbation: A Historical Overview.  Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14 (2/3), 17-33.

Cornog M. (2003). The Big Book of Masturbation.San Francisco: Down There Press

(1986) Onania; or the heinous sin of self pollution; a supplement to the onania. New York, Garland Publishing.

Tannahill R. (1995)  Sex in History. London: Abacus

Galbreath N, Berlin F & Sawyer D.(2002)  Paraphilias and the Internet.  In A. Cooper (ed), Sex & the internet a guidebook for clinicians (pp.187-205). New York: Brunner-Routledge

Hudson J and Doong N. Bake a Cake? Exposing the Sexual Practice of Bukkake. XVII World Congress of Sexology, July 10-15, 2005; (abstract # 3201)

Hudson J, Weerakoon P and Skowronski D. Bukkake: A missing Paraphilia or Pornography? 8th Congress of the European Federation of Sexology, PragueCzech Republic June 04-08, 2006 (poster presentation ID 171: T09-P-04).

French M.A. , Herring B.L. Kaldor JM et al  Intrafamilial transmission of HIV-1 infection from individuals with unrecognised HIV-1 infection. AIDS 2003, 17: 1977-1981

Hudson  J,  Weerakoon  P, Prestage G and Lee G.  Risky business: Locations where married men have sex with men. 8th Congress of the European Federation of Sexology, PragueCzech Republic June 04-08  2006 (poster presentation ID 170: T06-P-09)

Stengers J and Van Neck A (translated by Hoffmann K) (2001). Masturbation: The history of a great terror. New York: Palgrave

           Jeff Hudson



Butch and Femme in the Lesbian Community
Butch and Fern, Top and Bottom, Among Gay Men

It is a common misperception that all homosexual relationships are characterized by one partner playing the man's role in sex while the other plays the woman's role. Because this misperception is so widespread and so irritating to the homosexual community, most accounts of this phenomenon aimed at heterosexual readers concentrate on debunking the stereotype. (See also Homosexuality.) This entry discusses how various sex roles are enacted within the gay community. However, the patterns described are extremely fluid and cannot be viewed as simply corresponding to the polarities of "masculine" or "butch" and "feminine" or "femme."

The terms "butch" and "femme" (or "fem") refer to several different phenomena. Primarily, they refer to mannerisms: (e.g., how a person walks). Especially in the lesbian community, they also refer to particular aspects of personality with masculine or feminine connotations, including how those personalities express themselves during sex. For example, in bed, the butch's role is to make sure that the femme has an orgasm, but many butches refuse to let the femme return the favor (which illustrates, by the way, that homosexuals do not merely assume heterosexual roles).

The terms "top" and "bottom" were originally used by gay men to describe particular sexual preferences for, respectively, insertive and receptive sexual intercourse, especially anal intercourse. They are now used by both lesbians and gay men in sadomasochistic and bondage contexts as synonyms for the terms "S" (sadist) and "M" (masochist), respectively, especially when it is B & D (bondage and discipline) and not S & M that is at issue. The precise meaning is determined by the context: in a leather bar, the secondary meanings would probably be understood; in other bars, the primary meanings would be.

Butch and Femme in the Lesbian Community

The phenomenon of butch and femme has historically undergone remarkable transformations among lesbians. Allegedly, butch and femme was an extremely important phenomenon in working-class lesbian social circles in the 1950s. As one lesbian who served in the armed services in Korea put it, the femme washed the dishes, then handed them to the butch to be dried—and every other aspect of home life and sex life was dictated by similar circumscribed role playing.

In the 1960s and 1970s, such roles supposedly were abandoned except in the most politically incorrect circles. But the late 1980s and 1990s brought a renaissance of discussion about them in most lesbian circles, even those that continue to insist that they are outdated. JoAnne Loulan and Susie Bright are lesbian sexologists who have written extensively about this dimension.

Butch and Fern, Top and Bottom, Among Gay Men

Few gay men in modem Western societies can be characterized as taking only a masculine or a feminine role in sex, although in the United States men who prefer anal intercourse often indicate a preference for the top (inserting) role by wearing keys or a bandana handkerchief on the left side, and for the bottom (insertee) role by wearing such items on the right. (For a short time, such preferences could also be signalled by the side on which a man wore an earring. However, fashion has now overtaken communication, and the side on which an earring is worn has no significance.) Although these preferences are real, they can quickly change, as they could, for example, for a young man wearing a bandana on his right who, upon seeing a handsome fellow also wearing a handkerchief on the right, switches his to the left before the other fellow has seen him. These preferences also seem to be far more prominent among devotees of anal intercourse; those who prefer oral-genital contacts are apparently far less likely to have a preference for insertor or insertee. Those preferring anal intercourse do tend to engage in oral-genital sex too, but arguably they do so more as foreplay than as the main event.

Often in the United States today, gay men are typically expected to be versatile, not only in top versus bottom roles but also in the choice of particular acts (e.g., oral, anal, masturbatory). This is less true in other countries, especially those with macho cultures. But even in countries (such as Mexico) where anal intercourse is the rule and one is supposed to declare one's insertor/insertee preference (insertor is considered better) in every possible way (e.g., stance, mannerisms, voice), there is far more flexibility than observation of the outward cultural signs suggests. For example, in Mexico it is not so much that some men are inserters and others are insertees, but rather that in a particular pairing one man is thought to be more macho than the other and so always is the insertor; but in pairing of the same two men with others each might possibly play the reverse role.

Gay men who display a specific top or bottom preference do not necessarily display this preference through masculine or feminine characteristics in personality, mannerisms, or demeanor. Some gay men with stereotypical masculine interests and mannerisms are enthusiastic bottoms, while feminine-acting individuals who prefer the top role (although apparently much less common) also exist.

Nor can one assume that the top, while apparently in control of the sexual interaction, is also controlling it in a more general sense. It is a common expectation of many patrons of the leather-bar scene, for example, that the top is supposed to do to the bottom only what the bottom has already asked the top to do, and that the top should let the bottom control the pace and duration of the activities—even though part of the "scene" may involve the simulation of the bottom's lack of control.


Some, but far from all, members of the gay male and lesbian communities have specific preferences for specific genitoerotic roles; that is, there are particular scenarios involving certain sexual acts and not others which they find particularly arousing. Many of these roles have dominance/submission, masculine/feminine, or insertor/insertee aspects, which do not merely copy the superficially similar erotic practices of some heterosexual couples. In fact, many lesbians and gay men have little interest in such matters. At a typical young-crowd gay disco, for example, one sees few if any exposed key rings or bandanna handkerchiefs. Much of the variability in gay men's sexual expression is along the dimension of anal intercourse, with those preferring this mode of expression being more likely to make top and bottom distinctions than those preferring other outlets of sexual expression.

James D. Weinrich

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