Sexual Expression

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Sexual expression is a somewhat vague term that is used to describe not only sexual activities we engage in but ways we communicate and present ourselves to the world as a sexual being. Our sexual expression is unique, and while sex educators often say that everyone is a sexual being, there are some folks who would describe themselves as having no interest in or form of sexual expression at all.

It's hard to offer a definitive definition of sexual expression because it depends on how an individual defines sexuality for themselves. Certainly, sexual expression includes the expression of our sexual thoughts, feelings, desires, fears, hopes, and dreams. It's tied to sexual behavior, sexual orientation, sexual identity, and gender.

Examples of Sexual Expression

  • Individual expression: choices you make in terms of how you dress, talk, or move through the world that reflect aspects of your sexual self.
  • Interpersonal interactions: the way you relate to others, and the extent to which you connect physically or emotionally with other people can say a lot about who you are sexually.
  • Cultural/educational engagement: the kinds of things you read, the movies and TV you watch, the music you listen to, the performances you choose to go to or participate in.
  • Explicit sexual activities alone or with a partner or partners.
  • Consumer behavior: where you shop and what you buy may express parts of your sexuality.
  • Political engagement: not just who you vote for, but what sorts of organizations you support can be a way of expressing your sexuality.
  • Spirituality: whether that means that sex is a form of spiritual practice or that your practice of religion or spirituality is tied to how you feel about yourself as sexual.
  • And lots more!

In every community and culture, there are restrictions on sexual expression. Some are about preventing honest or open expression of sexual thoughts or desires. For other groups, there is tremendous pressure to be very sexual, and not overly expressing one's sexuality is seen as suspicious. From a sexual health perspective, the only boundaries around sexual expression are that they do not include coercive sexual acts and that your right to express yourself sexually be balanced against other people's rights to privacy and autonomy.