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Sexual Behavior

Sexual behaviors include practices that stimulate the sexual organs or produce sexual arousal. Although not an exhaustive list, such actions include romantic forms of physical stimulation (e.g., kissing); genital touching (e.g., masturbation); oral, penile–vaginal, or anal sexual intercourse; fantasy; and sexual communication (e.g., sexting). Sexual behaviors are inherent to the human experience, fulfilling needs for recreation, procreation, pleasure, and intimacy. Reflecting the focus of contemporary scholarship, much of what is discussed in this entry pertains primarily to the United States. The United States is a semirestrictive society, expecting sexual abstinence outside of marriage without strongly restricting behavior; society ignores discreet violations of this expectation unless pregnancy occurs. In such settings, it is typical to begin romantic dating during adolescence, to initiate intercourse outside of marriage, ...

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