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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sexual Script is defined as what leads up to sexual encounters in which are learned interactions. Sexual encounters are considered to be scripted if the parties involved use any of these five devices:

  • References to predictable stages
  • References to common knowledge
  • The production of consensus through seamless torn-talking & collaborative talk
  • The use of hypothetical & general instances
  • Active voicing[1]

Sociologists believe that emotion emerges in relation to dominant sexual scripts and sexual identity. Sexual script is also believed to have different scripts for males and females in relation to sexual activity. In sexual script's link to sexual activity; sexuality, sexual norms, social construction and gender roles all play a part in what makes sexual script differ between males and females.


Sexual Script

Culturally, sexual script has been used as a guideline for appropriate sexual behavior and sexual encounters. Sexual behavior and encounters then become learned interactions. Research on sexual scripts and sexual script theory have concluded that sexual scripts are gendered. Thus, sexual scripts have been described by researchers as a form of social construction. Sexual Script Theory (SST, Gagnon & Simon, 1973) and its application in clinical practice are founded on the undeniable reality that the subjective understandings of each person about his or her sexuality (and called a sexual script) substantively determine that person's choice of sexual actions and the subsequent qualitative experiencing of those sexual acts. Scripts refer to social functions. They dictate what one should be doing at a particular time and in a particular place if one is to play the role characteristically associated with that script. There may be several people involved in the same situation, but they may differ in the roles that they have been given or have chosen to enact.

Sexual Script theory is a form of social scripting theory which has been defined clearly by Michael W. Wiederman who says, "Social scripting theory points to the fact that much of sexual behavior seems to follow a script. Similar to scripts that stage actors use to guide their behavior, social scripts instruct members of a society as to appropriate behavior and the meanings to attach to certain behaviors." [2]. Social scripting theory directly relates to sexual scripts as it is just a specified example regarding sexual encounters and sexual behavior in social context. Social Theory is also a useful resource in determining the construction of social scripts.

Social Construction

Social construction and social constructionism is the socially created nature of social life.

Social construction is important to sexual script because sexual scripts can come from how a child is raised through the beliefs of social construction.

Women in the social construction of gender are believed to be, and still are in the shadow of the phrase, seen and not heard.[3] In other words, women are to be subjected to Male Gaze in order to be a part of the social construction system and maintain social norms of a long living society.


Sexuality is the behavior of human beings with regard to the activities that causes or is associated with sexual arousal. It is influenced by the genetically inherited sexual response patterns, societal attitudes toward sex, and each individual's upbringing. "Physiology sets only very broad limits on human sexuality; most of the enormous variation found among humans results from learning and conditioning. What is deviant in one society may be normal in another. Sexuality covers gender identity, sexual orientation, and actual practices, as well as one's acceptance of these aspects of one's personality, which may be more important than their specifics." [1]

Sexual Norms

A sexual norm can be an individual or a social norm, which is a rule that is socially enforced.
Norms affect a wide variety of human behavior.

Social norms regarding sexuality are present in most cultures. For example, the norm in most cultures
consists of heterosexual acts between married individuals. Sexual norms are constantly changing and
normal sexual behavior is a spectrum and cannot be rigidly defined.

Deviance from normal sexual behavior is common and can be classified in several ways. If non-restrictive
sexual norms are regarded positively they may be called "sexual freedom:, "sexual liberation", or "free love".
If regarded negatively they may be called "sexual license" or "licentiousness". Restrictive behavior when judged
negatively is called sexual oppression"; if judged positively they are called "chastity", sexual restraint", or "sexual decency".[2]

In the west, sexual normality can be defined as any sexual practice which does not involve sexual perversions.
There has been a liberalization in attitudes which has resulted in the legalization of homosexuality in many countries.
There is a tendency in Western countries toward serial monogamy as a normal heterosexual lifestyle.[4]

Gender Roles

Gender Schema Theory also plays a part in sexual script because studies show that males and females interact in different ways, even from a young age.

In 1991, Martha Boston and Gary Levy found that through their research observations, children, primarily boys, were better with being able to sequence own-sex rather than other-sex scripts.

"As well as acquiring knowledge about the sex-role stereotypes of their culture, young children also develop sex-typed attitudes, preferences, and behaviors that pervade many aspects of their lives." [5] At a young age, children learn from their sex-roles in which later relate to the way in which they interact through their sexual scripting.

Men are expected to initiate and guide sexual activity and to be assertive and knowledgeable about sexual activity, and women are expected to be passive, compliant with the initiation of sexual activity, and responsive and pleased with a sexual encounter as it progresses.

A double standard exists in the traditional heterosexual sexual script. It endorses different sexual behavior for women and men, whereby women are expected to confine sexual behavior to the context of a committed relationship and men are expected to engage in sexual behavior in all kinds of relationships. Research, however, demonstrates that the expectation that women and men follow this traditional sexual script has lessened and become more subtle over time, especially in the context of established relationships, and that couples may use other kinds of scripts instead.


  1. ^ Hannah Firth, Celia Kitzinger, Reformulating Sexual Script Theory. Theory and Psychology, 11 (2). pp. 209-232. Sass, November 2007.
  2. ^ Michael Wiederman, The Gendered Nature of Sexual Scripts. The Family Journal, Vol. 13, No. 4, 496-502. Sage Publications, 2005
  3. ^ Social Construction of Gender.
  4. ^ Stanton L. Jones, Heather R. Hostler, Sexual Script Theory: An Integrative Exploration of the Possibilities and Limits of Sexual Self-Definition. 2002.
  5. ^ Lisa Serbin, Kimberly Powlishta, Judith Gulko, The Development of Sex Typing in Middle Childhood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Volume 58, No. 2. 1993.

Tony Bilton et al, Introductory Sociology, 3rd Edition. London, Macmillan, 1996:669.

Gary Levy, Martha Boston, Preschoolers' Recall of Own-Sex and Other-Sex Gender Scripts. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155(3). pp. 369–371. 2001.

Lyndsey Moon, The Heterpsexualisation of Emotion: Sexual Scripts and Feeling Frames. August 2006. <>

"Sexual Norms." Spiritus-Temporis. <>.

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