The idea of sexual script brings a new metaphor and imagery for understanding human sexual activity as social and learned interactions. The concept was introduced by sociologists John H. Gagnon and William Simon in their book Sexual Conduct.
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According to the sexual script theory, human sexuality is largely determined by culturally-prescribed scripts, or templates for behavior. These gender-normative scripts are typically heterosexual, where men are depicted as sexually active and assertive, while favoring nonrelational sex. Conversely, women are described as sexually passive and seeking relational sex.
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References Appendix: Other Studies in Progress. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of the task order is to develop a working knowledge base about the use of new media such as the Internet, social networking sites, cell phones, online video games, and MP3 players among adolescents and the potential impact on their sexual activity.
The cultural celebration of heterosexuality as the accepted standard dominates major social institutions and permeates cultural sexual messages. The reception of these heteronormative messages influences the formation of individualized sexual scripts; however, how individuals apply these individualized scripts to understanding the sexual lives of others is little understood. More specifically, what are the effects of heteronormative sexual scripting for imagining a sexual scenario not marked by a male—female partnership? This study asked a sample of heterosexual, bisexual, and non-identified college students at a 4-year private institution in the northeastern United States to define lesbian sex.
Romance novel researchers and fans offered their comments, questions and critiques on the study, and the editor of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies invited me to write a piece reflecting on [End Page 1] my original article and on the exchange—in particular, on the methodological and disciplinary issues that seemed to be at stake. My goals are to provide additional details about how that study was developed, so as to clarify and contextualize the findings from the research, and to make some suggestions, based on my own limited experience, for how romance novel researchers might proceed going forward. To that end, this paper will include an evaluation of previous research on romance novels, an explanation for the rationale behind the methodology of the sexual script study, a critical evaluation of the strengths and limitations of that study, and some suggestions for what might be done by future romance novel researchers.