UNDERSTANDING SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTICS

Dictionary meaning of the word Sexuality is “Understanding our sexuality is about the sexual feelings and attractions we feel towards other people, not about who we have sex with.“ For me, Sexuality is much more than just sexual feelings. It is that part of my personality that makes me a woman. It is what makes me different from a man.

Sexuality is a very complex topic, more so because of the rising awareness of homosexuality, trans-genders, bi-sexual and asexual. But in this topic I only want to limit myself to heterosexuality because homosexuality (and others) is another vast topic that cannot be covered in the same article.

Let me start with a very basic question that usually arises in the minds of every teenager – why are men so obsessed with the breast of a woman? If I go back to my biology class in school, we were taught about the reproductive organs and the only job of breasts was to produce milk for the little one that is born out of the woman. Then why are breasts considered seductive to an extent that in any culture throughout the globe, women with bare breasts is not considered decent.

Similarly, why are young girls so attracted to well-built boys? A good height, muscular built and deep voice makes a man popular among women. Again what is the relation?

Nature made us capable of reproducing just like all other animals and reproduction is second basic instinct of every animal (including humans) after the survival instinct. And all animals, including humans want to have the best and finest progeny. That would obviously depend on our own health and the health of our partner. So, now the question arises how we really know if our partner is sexually healthy and if we can have healthy babies with that person. To judge this, we are blessed with these secondary sexual characteristics.

When a boy looks at a girl and is instantly attracted to her, he feels a surge of emotions inside him – all of them make him feel that “he is falling in love with her; love at first sight”. Subconsciously, his mind is evaluating how strong and healthy their children would be. Heavy breasts and hips are a sign of high fat percentage in a women’s body.  A woman’s body needs at least 12% of body fat to have healthy pregnancy. Women with wider pelvis find it easier to deliver babies naturally. Women with full figure are also considered healthy enough to take care and nurse the babies after birth. For all these reasons, a woman with a full figure is considered a healthy mate by men. This is the reason that for years 36-25-36 was considered a perfect figure.  So, when a teenaged boy gets attracted to a girl of the same age with a full figure and falls instantly in love with her, we know that his mind subconsciously is evaluating the health of babies that he can produce with her.

What about girls? If you ask a teenaged girl to describe the man she would like to marry – she would mostly talk about his physical appearance. She would say things like attractive muscular body, a good height, a deep voice and many more. If you ask a woman in mid-20s to describe the man she would like to marry – she would talk a little less about his physical appearance than the teenaged one and will also talk about his earning capacity, his ability to understand her, be romantic and many more. If you ask a woman in her mid-30s to describe a man she would like to marry – she would hardly say anything about his physical appearance but more about his earning capacity, his status in society, his character and many such things.

Before the human civilization was formed, a man was considered a healthy mate based on his ability to protect his family from the danger of wild animals and other groups of tribal men. But now with money being the most powerful weapon of today’s world, a man is considered a healthy mate based on his earning capacity and his ability to provide for his family. Of course, in today’s world where women are as educated as men, earning as much as men – women have little to worry about her survival because she has earning capacity. But when it comes to maternity and giving birth to babies, even the most successful women need emotional support of a man and many times financial support too.

Teenaged girl still gives much importance to physical appearance of the man because she is still unaware of how this world works and in absence of that awareness, she goes by her natural instinct that is inbuilt in her. Naturally, women get attracted to men with decent height, built and voice because these factors determine the quality of his sperms. As she grows up and understands the world better, she begins to look for more practical ways to make her life and life of her future children more secure financially and emotionally.

This is about secondary sexual characteristics of human beings which partially explains what men and women get attracted  to and why, of course there are a million exceptions to this theory because each one of us is wired differently based on our upbringing, value system, genes and basically our personality.

More I think about our secondary sexual characteristics, more I believe that it is very important to educate our teenagers with this information. So, when a little boy grows up and finds himself staring at a girl’s chest – all he is told is that it is rude and you should not disrespect a girl by staring at her body like this. Why are we teaching our boys that their natural instinct is something so wrong? We should rather tell them that it is natural for you to stare at a girl’s body like that but since it is considered disrespectful to do that, he should not give in to the urge to stare at the girl’s body and instead respect her.

Similarly, when a little girl grows up to be a teenager and her body develops like one of a woman, she is told to dress in a certain way that would not expose her cleavage or her thighs. She is told to stay away from boys with whom she had been friends till now. And exactly when she has started liking the importance from boys, she is told that she would be considered indecent if she gets too close to the boys. We should rather tell the girls that it is natural to get this kind of importance from boys at this age but it is only short-lived. We should tell her that she should not be conscious of her own body.

Wouldn’t it be better if we got the girls and boys together and told them what is happening to their bodies and their desires are entirely natural? That doesn’t really mean that we tell them to give in to those desires but as adults explain them that even though their desires are natural, giving in to those desires has tough consequences which they are not emotionally mature enough to deal with. Also explain to them, these desires can lead them to trouble if they get involved with people having bad intentions. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Author’s Bio: Prabhjot Kaur Saini, is a Software Engineer and is      currently working in Bangalore. She is an engineer by profession and  also  a  thinker  and  writer  with a philosophical heart. She can be contacted at: ‘prabhjot.varsha@gmail.com.’ Read her Other Articles on this site. 

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