The attribute or characteristic of being male or female, usually taken to involve more than the ability or disposition to play the appropriate role in sexual reproduction. Today, as much emphasis is placed on an individual's awareness of and response to culturally and socially derived gender differences as on biological factors in the development of sexuality.
Sexuality has been an important topic in developmental psychology. In psychoanalysis, in particular, Sigmund Freud's ideas on infantile sexuality have been immensely influential. Recent years have seen a growth of interest in sexuality and gender differences in such varied fields of study as sociology, social historical and cultural studies, and politics.
In Western society at least, increasing openmindedness toward homosexuality and certain other forms of sexual behavior previously termed “deviant” has resulted in a radical revision of values and attitudes. Gender differences no longer appear so clear cut and, perhaps in reaction to a lack of consensus over what defines the norm, sexuality has emerged as a significant and necessary part of one’s definition of self and sexual identity an essential aspect of one’s relation to society.
1. Interest in sexual activity.
2. All that has to do with sexual activity.
3. The quality or state of being distinguished by sex.