INTRODUCING THE SEX-SCRIPT HYPOTHESIS
As deeply as we understand ourselves, sex
remains a mystery.
We notice inside ourselves sexual responses we did not create:
fantasies that seem to have a life of their own,
drives that seem to possess us rather than we possessing them,
images that arise in our minds without being invited,
& urges that sometimes run counter to our more rational desires.
This chapter will outline a new hypothesis of
Each of us has been imprinted with one or more sex-scripts
—stories deeply ingrained in our minds,
fantasies that shape our sexual responses.
There are four defining elements of the
1. Our sexual responses are imprinted in us before age 20.
2. Our sex-scripts are permanent, not changeable by re-learning.
3. Altho we did not choose our sexual responses,
we are always responsible for our sexual behavior.
That is, we can choose to follow, resist, or transcend our inclinations.
4. Because sex-scripts are imprinted accidentally at critical
changing the culture will not modify already-imprinted sexual fantasies.
A. Sex-Scripts—A New Model of Human Sexuality.
The sex-script hypothesis seeks to pull
our experience of sex under a new explanatory model
—a new paradigm that makes more sense than the older theories.
Previous models of human sexuality have either emphasized biology
—seeking to understand human sexuality by exploring animal sexuality—
or they have gone to the opposite extreme
—attempting to understand human sexuality as a cultural invention.
Both of these approaches have significant
merit and validity:
Certainly, human sexuality has grown out of the sexuality of animals,
who were having sex for millions of years before homo sapiens evolved.
And certainly human sexuality is profoundly shaped by every culture.
But there might also be a third factor—sexual imprinting—
which is neither given by genes (biological theories of sex)
nor exclusively a product of enculturation (social theories of sex).
2 IMPRINTED SEXUAL
FANTASIES: A NEW KEY
FOR SEXOLOGY by JAMES
Those theories of sex that look to the animals for understanding
note that human sexuality must have emerged from animal sexuality,
since much of our sexual anatomy and behavior is also found in animals.
But how much insight can we gain into our own sexuality
by studying the sexuality of the other animals?
The sexual hormones we share might explain the impetus behind sex.
But nothing in animal sexuality explains why symbols ‘turn us on’.
The stories we have in our heads make our sexuality distinctively human.
Freud recognized that our beliefs about sex
shape our sexuality.
But his research was limited to his small circle of patients and friends
and to his deep introspection into his own sexual dynamics.
He was extremely limited by the culture of his time,
which did not regard sex as a valid subject for study and discussion.
Perhaps Freud fell victim to a fallacy we can easily understand:
When we notice that something feels ‘natural’ to us,
we assume that we have discovered a law of nature.
So to what degree were Freud’s theories about sex
a projection on the rest of the human race of his own imprinted
The sex-script hypothesis is more modest than
And these ideas are not presented as settled scientific principles.
Rather, the sex-script hypothesis is an educated guess,
based on years of reading, observing, & thinking.
This new model will have to be tested and debated for a few generations
before some modification of it becomes an established scientific theory.
Sexology as a scientific discipline develops
because (despite immense interest in sex) it is difficult to study
People are reluctant to talk about their sexual fantasies.
We usually do not share our sex-scripts even with our sexual partners
—who have deep interest in our sexual fantasies
and perhaps a right to know what stories we bring with us into bed.
In contrast to Freud, who laid down his ideas
about sex as law,
scientific sexology proceeds more carefully.
The hypothesis explored in this book draws heavily on the work of John
perhaps the most influential sexologist of the 20th century. (See Bibliography.)
The sex-script hypothesis consists of conjectures, speculations, &
If these guesses are correct, people will find them helpful
for understanding their own sexuality and the sexuality of other human
If these guesses are wrong, intelligent people will reject them
and construct models that more easily embrace all the facts.
Forming hypotheses is the first step in scientific research.
These ideas will have to be tested, challenged, revised, & defended
by the next few generations of sexologists.
Chapter I INTRODUCING
The two pages above are the opening pages of
Imprinted Sexual Fantasies
by James Park.
This link leads to the table of contents,
from which you can read the rest of this chapter.