Circles of Sexuality and Definitions

Sexual Pleasure

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This two-pager by the Interagency Gender Working Group and USAID covers basic definitions gender, sexual orientation and sexual pleasure.


Sensuality

Awareness and feeling with one’s own body and other people’s bodies, especially the
body of a sexual partner. Sensuality enables us to feel good about how our bodies look
and feel and what they can do. Sensuality also allows us to enjoy the pleasure our
bodies can give ourselves and others.


Intimacy

The ability and need to be close to another human being and accept closeness in return.
Aspects of sensuality can include sharing, caring, emotional risk-taking, and
vulnerability.


Sexual orientation and gender identity

A person’s understanding of who he or she is sexually, including:
• Gender identity: a person’s internal sense of being a man or a woman, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth.
• Gender expression: how one’s characteristics and behaviors conform to or transgress gender norms and roles of femininity and masculinity.
• Sexual orientation: whether a person’s primary attraction is to the opposite sex
(heterosexuality), the same-sex (homosexuality), or both sexes (bisexuality).


Sexual health and reproduction

One’s capacity to reproduce and the behaviors and attitudes that support sexual health
and enjoyment. This includes factual information about sexual anatomy, sexual
intercourse and different sex acts, reproduction, contraception, STI prevention, and selfcare, among others.


Sexual behaviors and practices

Who does what with which body parts, items, and/or partners.


Sexual power and agency

Power within sexual relations. This includes:
• Power within, derived from a sense of self-worth and understanding of one’s preferences and values, which enable a person to realize sexual well-being and health.
• Power to influence, consent, and/or decline.
• Power with others to negotiate and decide.
• Power over others; using sex to manipulate, control, or harm other people.

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