Evolutionary perspective[ edit ] From an evolutionary point of view, sexual suggestiveness evolved in order to aid in securing a sexual partner or mate. Once the individual has decided on a mate to pursue, sexual suggestiveness helps in attracting the mate - this is a skill which has been sexually selected sexual selection for during evolution. Sexually suggestive behaviors include things such as "showing more skin" and flirting. Both of these examples are behaviors which the individual would intentionally display.
There is also research to suggest that sexually suggestive behaviors may not always be deliberate. For example, when females were in the work place and ovulating they were more likely to engage in sexually suggestive behaviors e. This may be because the female unwittingly behaves in a more sexual way and therefore puts out more sexually suggestive cues.
There are far more displays of sexually suggestive behavior in modern-day life than there ever has been before and not just within advertising. The idea that sex sells is evident in many aspects of daily modern life particularly within social media and film where female sexual ornaments are a focal point. For example, young adolescents engage in more sexual behaviors if they have been exposed to more sexual content in the media or on television.
People, predominantly women, often act in a way that they themselves do not consider to be sexually suggestive but which can be misinterpreted by others. Men have adapted through sexual selection to have the maximum number of offspring possible, and therefore exhibit certain behaviors that facilitate maximum reproduction. Men perceive sexually suggestive behavior and other sexual cues, including biological ornaments , as signs of reproductive ability and willingness.
At their most fertile stage in their menstrual cycle , during estrus , women are far less likely to engage in rape-risky behaviors such as walking alone late at night, than women who are in the least fertile stage of their menstrual cycle, the luteal phase or women using hormonal contraception. Sexual suggestiveness, rape, and all other sexual behaviors, are proven to be products of past evolution. In the case of rape, however, just because it is natural does not make it acceptable.
There is flirting with a sexual motivation, which is done with a view to engaging in Human sexual activity and there is also flirting with a fun motivation, in which the interaction itself is the pleasurable part. However, flirting can sometimes lead to unintentional responses. If the motivation behind sexually suggestive behavior is misinterpreted or miscommunicated, then a sexual response could be elicited where it is not wanted.
If escalated, this can lead to sexual harassment in the workplace or sexual coercion in a relationship. Males and females have different thresholds for the perception of sexual suggestiveness or intent. Males are, in general, more sexually occupied than females. To support this assumption research shows that males perceive people as more interested in a sexual encounter than females do. During the evolution of human sexuality , the fact that females are the choosy gender meant that males who were able to quickly detect a female's willingness were the males who passed along their genes effectively.
In light of this, males, therefore, tend to read sexual acceptance signals in friendly actions even when this may not be the females intention. Recent research has shown that females are more likely than males to flirt with the intention of developing a new relationship,  or with the intention of intensifying an existing relationship. It is these gender differences that can explain the potential miscommunication of social actions.
Cultural differences[ edit ] Since the s there has a been a dramatic increase in the understanding of human sexuality from an evolutionary perspective. What may be a culturally appropriate display of 'sexiness' in one culture may be considered inappropriate in another, and vice versa. It can be argued that religion is a significant factor in the cultural differences of sexual suggestiveness, especially with regards to what displays of suggestiveness are considered appropriate.
In the media[ edit ] General[ edit ] A considerable amount of research has concluded that sexually suggestive content is pervasive in the media. The most common type of sexually suggestive content in adolescent programming is in the form of a sexual innuendo. Sexual innuendoes give a suggestive alternative meaning to an otherwise neutral phrase. For example, the use of the phrase "bend over backwards" when describing a colleague, in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother , is used by the main character Barney to imply something in both a figurative sense i.
Sexual content in the form of innuendo , suggestive imagery and double entendre is used as a tool in advertising. While the physical properties of the model are the most sexually suggestive, a number of non-verbal communicative features have also been identified as being provocative, such as the models pose plumped lips, cocked head to show the neck as well as verbal communicative features such as suggestive comments.
It has been put forth that watching a high level of television, in which there is a lot of sexually suggestive behavior, can lead to the initiation of sexual intercourse at a younger age than those who watch the least amount of sexually suggestive programming. S are more common among adolescents who begin sexual activity earlier, demonstrating that earlier sexualization, for which sexually suggestive content in the media has been implicated, has far reaching effects.
Research conducted with the cultivation theory in mind, has found that there is an association between people with a high regular exposure to sexually oriented genres such as soap operas and hip-hop music and more liberal attitudes towards sexual behavior like the acceptance of pre-marital sex, as well as non-relational sex and sexual harassment. Research has shown that the effects of sexually suggestive references in the media are also moderated by the developmental stage of the viewer.
For example, 12 year olds have more difficulty correctly interpreting innuendos than 14 year olds.