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week 2. childhood and sexual education

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Welcome to Week 2!

This week, we will discuss your past - how your experiences were growing up; how your culture and family have shaped who you are now and impacted your sexual experiences. Their childhood and the sociocultural environment highly influence people’s sexual development and sexuality. 


The topics covered this week are the most intense and difficult ones of the whole program, but we are sure that it will bring various new insights to your sexuality and sexual experiences. Please take enough time to read and reflect.

For the best experience, we recommend to view this page in a full-page view on the desktop, but feel free to view it on mobile with your preference!


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5 min read

+ 5 videos (4 min, 5 min, 5 min, 7 min, 7 min each)

3.5 min read  + 4 min video 

2 min read  + 4 videos (6 min, 5 min, 8 min, 6 min)

10+ minute reflections

culture and sex



It is no surprise that researches show that culture and religious beliefs affect people’s sexuality. 

Religious beliefs shape society’s values and traditions around sexual meaning, rituals, and practices. These traditional values may limit sexual education or sexual behaviors (e.g., masturbation), making people feel guilt and anxiety when engaged in any sexual behaviors. [1][2] 

This presentation of guilt and anxiety could affect a woman about her sexuality. She may feel that society would judge her if she is sexually active. This affects how she views herself as a sexual being and leads to some sexual problems. [3]

Let’s look at some examples. Mixed with religious beliefs, all the cultural beliefs and norms put on women could impact their understanding of healthy sexuality and their sexual well being.

Asian women consider lack of sexual desire to be healthy

because they are NOT socially allowed to have sexual desire. [4]

Iranian women are expected to be a "khanoum" who is responsible for maintaining their family's honor

while men are free from such social responsibility.

Iranian-American women’s perceptions are not that much of a difference. [6] 

Latino women are impacted by the concept of “marianismo” from Catholic, which asks them to be sexually moral, self-sacrificing, passive, and care-taking.

Meanwhile, the Hispanic males follow the model of “machismo” that defines a man’s masculinity. [7]

Black women are impacted byJezebel”, the historical prejudice representating hypersexual, manipulative, seductive, and promiscuous

White men used this image to justify the pervasive sexual assault of enslaved black women, that black women were somehow ‘asking for it’, even after emancipation. [8][9] In addition, in many black communities where religion is the essential lifestyle, their own community has been degrading the black women. [10]

In India, women, or men, who do not meet expected gender norms, including women who fail to menstruate or trans people, are called “Hijra,” meaning the other. They are forced to live separately from town. [11]

White, western women are expected to be "good", or "innocent" from Christianity

they are judged to be seductive or proactive in their romantic relationships. [5]

Supplement material

* for the video 'Female sexuality in the Middle East', please watch from 15:50 to 19:10. where they talk about women and men having hardships to fit themselves to traditional gender identity. e.g., women scared of taking initiatives during sex because they don't want to seen as someone had sexual experience; men having performance anxiety



sex ed

Culture also affects sexual education. This is important because it may halt people from forming a healthy sexual relationship.

For example, many married couples do not engage in intercourse. Researchers point out various reasons for this unconsummated marriage: lack of education about sex, knowledge of genital anatomy, or the physiology of the sex. [12] 


Orthodox Jews typically get their first sexual education after the engagement. A man and a woman, set up by a matchmaker, meet at a public place to converse. Without building physical intimacy, the couple may become engaged after several meetings. [13] Many Arab women were not exposed to sufficient sex-related knowledge, and suffer from vaginismus. [14] 


Then, where do people get sexual information when the culture limits such education? 

Pornography is the primary source of information, especially among the male population, regardless of the culture. [3] This leads to an increase in coercive sex, sexual violence, and victimization. [15] 

Mini-reflection: Let's take a moment to think about these.


Did your parents provide you with developmentally appropriate information about sexuality?


Were you allowed to explore your own body in private?


Did your parents give you the idea that your sexuality and your body are good?

family and sex

family and sex

According to Dr. Aline P. Zoldbrod, learning to be a sexual person is not the automatic process many people think it is. You LEARN, or don't learn, how to be sexual from your experience of many non-sexual events you had in your family. 

We call this event of learning the milestones in sexual development. 

To be a person who can have loving and sexual relationship with another person, you have to be comfortable with your own body. You have to like being touched, and link love and touch. You also have to trust another person, that your partner will listen to you and care about you. You have to be comfortable with getting vulnerable and take care of yourself emotionally. 

To be able to have passionate sex with a beloved partner, you need to have witnessed several positive non-sexual themes in your family-of-origin during childhood and adolescence. (If you experienced sexual abuse or rape, then your negative experiences were sexual ones. But the way the abuse or rape was handled in your family also will affect your sexuality.) [16] 

Milestones of sexual development by Dr. Zoldbrod 



Zero Sexuality

Ground zero sexuality refers to the first three milestones - love, touch, and trust. Specifically, the ability to connect touch and trust is the first step that cascades good physical and emotional associations. Consistent, good experiences with loving touch help you to build such crucial links. A person may need to FEEL FIRST in their body before they are sexually aroused. 


Therefore, if a person fails to achieve any of these milestones, there is a high chance that the person will have sexual problems. The person may feel hard to sexually "let themselves go." For a person grown up with a very unaffectionate or unsympathetic family, the person may not feel themselves to be a sexual being. The person might not be motivated to get into a relationship with another person, not just romantic relationships but friendships and other relationships, given that their relationships with their family was not pleasant.


Let's think about your experience growing up, to assess your own ground-zero sexuality

01. Love

  • Do you feel that your parents loved you?

  • Do you expect other people to love you?

02. Touch

03. Trust & Empathy

  • Do you associate touching and love, or touching and safety?

  • Does touch from a loved person feel natural?

  • Does it make you feel secure to make eye contact with someone you like or love?

  • Do you enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of making love?

  • Do you have trouble trusting others?

  • Do you associate touching and trust?

  • Do you have trouble trusting your partner, even though you consciously realize that he/she is trustworthy?

  • Do you have trouble relaxing in your body when you are alone, or with a trusted person?

  • Can you let deep feelings of relaxation in your body be a path to a sexual trance when you are alone, or with a beloved, trusted person?

Supplement video

attachment style


and relationship

Before we start, take this quiz from the attachment project. 

Note that this is not meant to be a diagnosis, but is meant to be a helpful way to generally identify potential attachment styles and tendencies!

now, let's learn about your attachment style and how it impacts your relationship. 

Attachment theory is a theory of emotion regulation and control.[17] Attachment develops through everyday iteration with your parents or caregivers as you grow-up, and it may impact how you engage with your romantic partner. There are four labels used to describe attachment style.

positive view of others

positive view of self





negative view of self

negative view 

of others

The attachment style impacts the way you treat sex with your partner. If you are insecurely attached, you could be scared of having sex and being physically intimate, whereas you would feel comfortable with physical intimacy if you are securely attached. [19] Research shows that adult attachment style is highly related to sexual desire and, therefore, sexual and relationship satisfaction. [20] 

People with insecure attachment styles tend to be scared of asking their partners even to engage in protected sex because they are scared of abandonment. They put the partner’s sexual interests and needs before their own sexual health concerns because they believe their self is less worthy of love and value. [21]

Secure people tend to have a positive view of self and others and their relationships. They find it easy to become emotionally close to others, feel comfortable depending on others, and have others rely on them. They tend to have higher satisfaction and adjustment in their relationship than people with other attachment styles. 

Anxious have a negative view of the self and a positive view of the others. They want to be emotionally intimate with others, but they think that others are reluctant to get as close as they would like. They also worry that others do not find them valuable as much as they value others. This sometimes leads them to be overly dependent on attachment figure, and blame themselves for their partner’s lack of responsiveness.

Avoidant a favorable view of the self and a negative view of others. They feel comfortable without close emotional relationships and continuously look for their independence. They often deny needing close relationships, and sometimes even think that intimate relationships are less meaningful

Disorganized have an unstable fluctuating view of self and others. People with losses or traumatic experiences often develop this style of attachment. [18] They want emotionally close relationships, but feel uncomfortable getting close to others or have difficulties in completely trusting others. They are also worried that they will hurt themselves if they develop close relationships with others. This leads them to seek less intimacy from attachments and suppress and deny their feelings.