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Conservatives are crazy, but never quite as crazy as when they talk about sex, particularly homosexuality.  Consider the conservative theory of human sexuality, which, as best as I can figure, amounts to this:

Sexual orientation is something that is biologically innate, or else it is something that is freely chosen.  Sexual orientation is "natural" or it is "chosen."
When conservatives want to yell at gays and lesbians (i.e., marginalize them and deny them civil rights) they reveal their heterosexist colors by denying that homosexuality is "natural" and insisting that it is a (bad) "choice."

As in my last two diaries, I want to examine the rhetorical strategy used by the Right to build in an advantage for itself and put the Left on the defensive.  The problem here is that the conservative theory of human sexuality is such a ginormous steaming pile of fuck-all that I barely know where to begin.  It is so pernicious it might have been created by Satan, and I'm an atheist so you know I'm serious about that.

Lest the task seem insurmountable, I've decided to take it a shovelful at a time.  In other words, I won't try to say everything in one diary, because no one has that kind of endurance.  Below the squiggle, I begin this Sisyphean task by formulating a question.  I doubt there is a single "right answer" to the question, so, as much as anything, I'm soliciting informed opinions and feedback.  

I'm going to approach my question via a brief detour through two important feminist texts, Marilyn Frye's Willful Virgin: Essays in Feminism, 1976-1992 and bell hooks's Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center.  

In “A Lesbian’s Perspective on Women’s Studies,” Frye speaks of a “feminist political strategy” that includes “the conversion of women to a woman-identified and woman-directed sexuality and eroticism” (pp. 54).  Some of her "straight" feminist colleagues said: “but I cannot just decide to be a Lesbian…women just don’t turn me on” (pp. 55).  So Frye asked: “Why not?  Why don’t women turn you on?…I do not mean these questions rhetorically.  I am completely serious” (pp. 55).  

Let me highlight the political strategy: If a person is committed to resisting patriarchy and one of the key mechanisms by which patriarchy is perpetuated is heterosexism, then the commitment to resist patriarchy should incline a person (at least) to reflect on the seeming naturalness or, rather, the unavoidability of heterosexuality.  

On my interpretation, Frye was not "recruiting" women to the Symbiotic Lesbianese Army.  Rather, she was urging straight women not to take their heterosexuality as a fait accompli, something biologically determined and fixed, prior to and unaffected by all social experience.  As a feminist philosopher, she was encouraging her straight colleagues to engage in honest self-examination as heterosexuals.  

As Frye notes, heterosexuals can make choices to remold their experience and understanding of sexuality, intimacy, affection, physical and mental excitation, such that

in time, we actually do alter our desires, wishes, needs…It may be that it would not be wise for a heterosexual woman to engage in retraining her erotic desires; it may be that it would be wise.  But the fact those desires have a history and that history includes coercive pressure does not mean she does not have many choices to make with respect to those desires (Frye, Willful Virgin, pp. 57).
That passage merits close study.  But let me move on and share a passage from bell hooks.  In the chapter "Ending Female Sexual Oppression," hooks writes:
A feminist movement that aims to eliminate sexist oppression, and in that context sexual oppression, cannot ignore or dismiss the choice women make to be heterosexual.  Despite heterosexism, many women have acknowledged and accepted that they do not have to be heterosexual...[yet they] have chosen to be exclusively or primarily heterosexual...By choosing they exercise sexual freedom (hooks, Feminist Theory, pp. 156).
These passages suggest that heterosexuality is not a fixed, inalterable biological given.  They suggest that "choice" -- or something like "choice" -- conceivably plays a role in a fuller, truer account of human sexuality.  Of course, when the Right talks about "choosing" one's sexual orientation, they refer only to gays and lesbians, never to straight men and women (which is interesting).  And the Right's notion of "choice" is, in almost any context, shallow and dumb, and has almost nothing in common with the richer understanding evoked by Frye and hooks.

-------------------------

Which brings me to my question.  It's a question I've had for a long time but which I've never asked forthrightly because it's so delicate.

The Right claims, not that sexual orientation is a choice, but that homosexuality is a choice.  And, they insist, it is a bad (i.e., a morally wrong) choice.  The Left responds by saying that all sexual orientation is innate, a biological given.  Thus, no one chooses to be gay or lesbian.

But why such a categorical denial that choice, or something like choice, could play a role in the very complex subject of human sexuality?  By so strenuously denying that homosexuality involves any kind of choosing, the Left seems to concede that there's something...unsavory or questionable about homosexuality.  Otherwise, why would it matter if it were (in some sense of the word) "chosen"?  Why would that even be a problem?

If Frye is right, if heterosexuality involves various choices, acts of coercion, unnoticed rewards and punishments, then progressives stand to learn a great deal by treating sexual orientation, not as some brute biological "fact," but as a political project that shapes institutions and laws, as well as our most intimate relationships and self-understanding.  And if hooks is right, then rather than deny any trace of "choice" in sexual orientation -- as though being gay or lesbian is not something anyone would freely choose -- it might be truer (and better politics) to affirm "choice" as a type of freedom.

Amirite?

Originally posted to Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 04:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, Mad Men on Daily Kos, and Community Spotlight.

Poll

Do you think that sexual orientation is a given biological fact? Or is the story more complicated?

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| 176 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  "choice" (24+ / 0-)

    You wrote

    And if hooks is right, then rather than deny any trace of "choice" in sexual orientation -- as though being gay or lesbian is not something anyone would freely choose -- it might be truer (and better politics) to affirm "choice" as a type of freedom.
    Sigh.

    Maybe as of yesterday that might be true in some of our more liberated urban areas, but it was certainly not true in 1971 when I accepted the fact that trying NOT to be gay was a losing position for me. You make some good points in this diary, but until ENDA is passed, "choice", as I see it, is a dangerous position to take in political terms.

    Especially since what the lesbian feminism of the 1970s taught is was that men and women are different when it comes to the issue of sexual orientation. It's interesting that no men speak in this diary.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 04:45:11 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, Dave. (16+ / 0-)

      You're right that I cite only two people, both females.  That's a limitation to the diary, and (to be honest I can't deny) a limit to my thinking about this sort of question.  But I really don't know where I come down on some of these questions.  Part of what drives this diary is not conviction but real curiosity.

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 04:53:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm of the opinion our tastes evolve (8+ / 0-)

      I know for example that my tastes in what I eat have changed considerably over the years as have my favorite colors, ideas about what is right and proper, even how far from home I feel comfortable going without supervision.

      I'm going to suggest that both set and setting play a role in establishing your sense of identity. If you challenge your identity and venture experimentally outside your known limitations to try things you have been told you should never try it can be scary.

      One day near the start of Ramadan I borrowed a company car and spent more than a month circumnavigating the Arabian peninsula going far outside the limits of the bilingual signage.

      I had no idea what to expect might happen but things did happen. Driving in sandstorms with big trucks coming at you fast out of the gloom hogging the road was scary. Signs that said "beyond this point the road is not maintained were scary".

      I blew an engine in the middle of the Rub al Khali 600 clicks south of the furthest outpost of what I considered civilization. It was wonderful in that I met people who were wonderful. Even though we didn't share a language we liked the same music.

      I expect that what doesn't kill you makes you more willing to take the next step.

      You can be brought up to have a religion and a political perspective that change as you become more informed about the world, and that can apply to your sexuality and sense of role in a relationship as well.

      I'm still uncomfortable with the idea that you can be free to do whatever you want and still not free unless you are free to do the things you don't want.

      The idea is that since much of our behavior is programmed in by parents, teachers, peers employers, telling us what we should like and dislike; if you don't challenge that you can't ever really be you.

      Sometimes you just reach a place where you are comfortable and you want to stay there and not go any farther. Does that really make you timid?

      Dress codes, regular attendance at meetings a prerequisite of being a member of a group of students, the same association of the number of your interactions with a group as forming your identity with a group all seem to want us to make choices and then stick to them.

      All I know is what I do and I don't feel comfortable doing the same things all the time.

      "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

      by rktect on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 04:44:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ditto. (10+ / 0-)

      I've been pretty extensively exposed to the GLBT crowd since I was twenty or so.  I spent two or three years hanging out in a gay bar...my bisexual ex worked there and it was way easier to park and get pool tables at than any other bar in the city.  Being hit on by drunk gay men seemed like a pretty small price to pay.  Also, the well drinks were cheap.

      But there's never been a moment in my life when I doubted that I was straight.  I've thought it through carefully, pictured it, french-kissed a guy once on a dare, and it was all nothing, nothing, nothing.

      I'm still leaning toward sexual orientation being a continuum.  Maybe if you're somewhere in the middle, you can move yourself a few notches one way or the other.  The mind's a funny place.  But the seesaw is weighted so heavily in one direction for me that I just can't see it being a choice, exactly.

      Also, you're out of date.  What the Right's saying now is that it doesn't matter if sexual preferences are inborn, because sexual behavior is a choice.  And if you're willing to assume gay is bad, then anyone who is giving vent to gay desires is making a bad choice.

      Apparently if you're really gay, you're just supposed to abstain entirely.

      I support a Biblical definition of marriage. When do I get my concubines and second wife?

      by jackdabastard on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:53:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the continuum idea is true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, FogCityJohn

        I came out at 17, was engaged to be married to a man that summer, but fell for a woman in my dorm. Realized what I felt for her was what I should have felt for him and broke it off for both our sakes.

        15 years later I dated a woman who truly wanted to be lesbian (her strongest emotional connections were with women) and felt she had found everything she wanted in a spouse in me. But lesbian sex and or real desire for me just didn't work for her.

        She is now married to a great guy, he and are so much alike in our personalities, thought processes, etc. she teases about finding a male me.

        I, too, am now married to the love of my life 1 year legally, 22 years together in three weeks, and the four of us are great friends.

        So am not convinced what is or isn't changeable. I love my male friends, I just don't desire them, although even being a happily married women I still have female friends I'd consider if anything happened to my incredible wife. Would take a few years of grieving first, but it would still be another woman for me.

  •  You may not be right. Here's why I suspect so: (25+ / 0-)

    What Frye and Hooks are trying to say, as I see it, is that women (note too when they were writing and in the societal and cultural context) may have been coerced from a young age to accept a heterosexist and paternalistic world-view and the "choice" would be to look at who they really were and not what society wanted them to be.

    They were suggesting that, as gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons can do, make a choice to come out or make a choice to take control over and own their heterosexuality. At least that's how I read it.

    I would have to study those quotes more in context, but I would suggest that this is more akin to "coming out" than "choice".

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

    by commonmass on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 04:51:26 PM PDT

  •  Determinism is always dangerous territory.. (14+ / 0-)

    Because of that pernicious fact of "Human Will." It may be that in the subterranean depths of human feeling, that desire is..as Buddha claimed...the root of all human action, and the root of all human problems.

    If we accept that "will" exists as a force in "desire," we also have to admit that one's desires are not merely determined at birth, but some product of both will and desire.

    This also means that we cannot really parse out what parts of our desire is willful and what parts are inherant. We are involved, probably at the pre-language level, in forming those desires, and yet, at birth, there is a "tendency" towards all forms of desire.

    I came to this conclusion in a moment when I was young and in a house that several acuaintences had rented. MTV was just a "thing" and the guys in the house were mesmerized by the prospect of Music Video ALL DAY! Suddenly, Sting came on, singing one of his hits, "An Englishman in New York," and one of the straight guys, one of the doggiest of the mandogs, always had a new woman in the house, and was in his room with them more than in the house,  suddenly blurted out.. "Oh man. I would F*** HIM." I was more or less stunned. Being a closeted gay guy, I thought, wow. I knew I would have the same reaction, but some guys were so erotic, so sensual, so appealing to people that even STRAIGHT guys felt lust and desire in their presence. And everyone knew Sting was straight too.

    This puzzled me for a long time. Can a desire be partly a "will" as well as an "inborn tendency?" Apparently so. If one takes "gay" to be bad, then one can shape the will to a certain extent toward either gayness or straightness, and yet, the tendency remains the limits of the expression.

    So in the realm of human desire, the issue does not lend itself easily to the realm of pure logic. The presence of Human Will confounds it, and muddlies the waters, and for each of us, remains a mystery. The Right is only partly correct that "will" is a major influence on gender orientation, and only for some people some of the time. And they are clearly wrong that "gay" is "bad" because it is relatively exceptional among most men. But this is not an easily defined issue, and language tends to fail us since most of the desire takes place at the Pre-linguistic level, and will only enters into it at the level of primitive humanness, just as the desire for "God" or "religion."

    I have no idea if I am on the same track as you are Silencio. I just take these observations as my personal ideas, and so, the discussion continues.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 04:51:38 PM PDT

    •  Yeah (6+ / 0-)

      to me, and this may be a limited way of seeing it, I really don't know, but to me the tough question concerns determinism versus, let's say, the plasticity of (sexual and intimate) desire.  I think that gibes with what you're saying, no?

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:03:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I think that is what I am saying. (6+ / 0-)

        Desire seems rather plastic, even as ethics does seem situational, God seems variable, and sex seems to be a mystery of changeble nature. I do not know how far to go in thinking Desire can be broken down into its constituent parts... any thoughts on that?

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:55:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A lot, I tend to think. (4+ / 0-)

          I'm uneasy with biological determinism, or anything close to it.  The Right, especially, seems vastly to underestimate the complexity of human behavior and volition.

          "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

          by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:03:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, I think they dont even try. (6+ / 0-)

            I think they are fixed on an "agenda" of "control" and to elevate their own particular brand of Desires onto the world, since that would elevate their own status and sense of meaning. It may be no more complex than that for them. They may see status within a hierarchy which dominates all other hierarchies and brain styles; artist, musician, mathemetician, semanticist, interpersonal, all the various ways to organize the world within a hierarchy. (These correspond to the 16 or so types of Intelligence which Gardner writes about..) The struggle  for pre-eminence of the particular brain style called "Ecstatic Religionist" IS one of the kinds of Intelligence, and the other ways of organizing the world simply do not rise to the level of importance for them.

            It may be that the main difference between the Hard Right and eveyone else is that they fail to see how anyone can POSSIBLY think differently than they do. They are parochial in their desire to establish their desire on the world, and it seems that this is the one thing they never give up on.

            Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

            by OregonOak on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:11:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think they know that they are unable to perceive (4+ / 0-)

              a great number of subtleties. That they are essentially color blind to certain determining factors. And that gives them great anxiety.

              As primates, we have a very deep bias towards fitting in with our group. Outcasts rarely survived long, and never in comfort, so ostracism is very threatening and figuring way to avoid it, or consolidate their own place in the group, are very high priorities.

              So being color blind to something that may have the consequence of ostracism produces great anxiety. And those who lack the awareness and insight to analyze that anxiety and consciously determine whether or not the threat is real are left with the unresolved anxiety. And they act out of that anxiety. Because when left at an unconscious level, what provokes anxiety is a survival issue.

              Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
              ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

              by FarWestGirl on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:33:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I think including bisexuality opens up the (10+ / 0-)

            discussion. A friend shared with me in college that he knew he was gay before he was ten, and I have never felt drawn to women. But people who are somewhere in the middle, who feel drawn to both genders in varying degrees, do have choices. I can easily imagine that for those folks which attraction you choose to pay attention to or act on then shapes subsequent experiences.

            From what I've read bisexuality is rather more common than many assume.



            Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

            by Wee Mama on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:46:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As a bisexual man I found that "monogamy" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Wee Mama, Silencio

              was the core issue, when all was said and done ...

              As of 1971, it seemed for me that my IDEAL domestic situation would be either a trio or a quartet -- but the REALISTIC expectation was "single lifestyle".

              At that time the monogamy expectation was not nearly as great among young (gay) men as among women of the same age. (What understatement!)  But while a Bi Guy combined many of the advantages of "masculine, straight-acting," as specified in Village Voice personal ads, it also came with a stigma.  Part was political: in theory, bisexual men could not be trusted to support the right organizations with the same zeal as "real" gay men.  Part was "ewww factor" ... y'know:  "girl cooties -- we've gottem".

              So that made us (me) "exotic" ... we (I) were suitable for an occasional exploratory fling , or even a "regular trick" status  --  but in terms of pairing off, the choice was either/or.   On those terms, and with the passage of time the advantages of Heteronormative Privilege became more and more obvious.  Full integration into the Gay and Lesbian Community  ( B, T, T, Q and Q would not become part of the rhetoric until a decade later) was somewhere between unlikely and impossible -- but with a little discretion (and dishonesty) a Straight Identified lifestyle was entirely possible

              Except for one two things   denial of a portion of one's self-hood and ongoing denial of an important component in one's sexuality.  (In general, straight women were not yet familiarized with "Pegging"  or much inclined to take it seriously even if they had seen it practiced on VHS.)

              One "regrets" but one "adapts."

              •  I know at least one young woman who knew in (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Silencio

                advance that the young man she was drawn to was bisexual, and they ended up marrying in the full knowledge of that. How they worked all the rest out, whether it was a monogamous marriage or an open one, I don't know.

                That was in the past five years, though. I can well imagine it was different earlier.



                Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

                by Wee Mama on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 02:11:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  There's a 60:40 chance she "changed" him (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Wee Mama, Silencio

                  As with any other bridegroom flaws,  "expectation of change"  is generally a mistake ...

                  Still: If  Priests can choose to be celibate, bisexual men can choose to be monogamous .... (or sneaky).

                  Besides  this  ain't the swinging 70s anymore ... and expectations of monogamy are pretty much a ConsTEA2shunal Right, now ...   just ask Dan Savage.

                  And, as the testosterone levels drop -- monogamy gets easier.

                  "Bed Death ... it's not just for Lesbians any more"

                •  We started out with (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Silencio, Wee Mama

                  a bi man and a bi woman, and an open marriage. We evolved into polyamory and kink over 25 years.

                  Help me get my utilities on! I can't eat this elephant by myself. http://www.gofundme.com/8xw014

                  by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 05:31:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Plasticity is a good term. We have to remember (9+ / 0-)

        that, as biological organisms, there are feedback loops that tend to reinforce or extinguish behaviors, (and consequently, desires). I think there are very few behaviors and desires that can remain unaffected by ongoing feedback.

        OTOH, those few are unique to the individual, not the species at large, hence the abject failure of 'ex-gay therapy', much of which is essentially aversion therapy, trying to associate unpleasant stimulus with certain desires or behaviors.

        Skinneristic approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be very effective for some things with some people, but they can't 'reprogram' anything with anyone.

        I think we're looking for rules in the wrong places/wrong levels. Not really sure how to express it.

        Conservatives are looking for an overall rule that they can depend on and point to with surety. So they don't have to differentiate on their own, (which they tend to lack the capacity to do).

        I think what we have, (and they may not be able to deal with), is that certain aspects of people are immutable. Those aspects are strongly set, almost certainly before birth, and cannot be changed. BUT. Which aspects are immutable varies by individual, (that's where they're going to hang up). Sexual orientation may be immutable in some percentage of people, but it can be affected by situations or outside influences in many people.

        You end up in a situation where there is no overall reliable rule, (sexual orientation is biologically determined and immutable for everyone), the rule depends on a secondary determination, (sexual orientation is strongly determined and immutable in some people) which many of them can't perceive. We get into a 'known unknowns' situation that they can't parse and they can't get comfortable with the uncertainty.

        ::sigh::

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
        ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

        by FarWestGirl on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:24:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is really important, I think. Well said. (4+ / 0-)

          The level of sophistication it takes to see how "rules of desire" are both immutable, but diverse, and modified by a secondary rule, which is individual based on experience, makes the wish for some to have a "simple, steadfast, reliable" rule for desires extremely strong. When a person has a strong immutable rule for "group identification," also a prelinguistic desire, that person may not be sophisticated enough to perceive that others simply do not have that deep attraction, or have it less and subsidiary to other desires which can take a myriad of forms. Desire for Artistic Expression. Desire to Speak. Desire to Organize Others, Desire to Form Family, etc. etc.  

          It is easy to see how, in these people, anger and frusration at others, sometimes all of humanity, develops into a kind of authoritarianism. Hence, the more diversity of desire which is approved of by society produces a stronger feeling of alienation, and a stronger desire for authoritarianism. The Weimar Period in Germany was a case example of this, and many conflicts in societies around the world today are at their root the conflicting desires of "traditional" people yearning for a simple rule for all, and "modern" people yearning for the individual expression of desires.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 06:00:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  yes, FarWestGirl, my observation is that sexual (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio, FarWestGirl

          orientation is not "either/or" but resides upon a spectrum. And likely that spectrum is not a "bell curve."

          Socialization is important, of course, but IMO, sexual preference and/or comfort zone, is inherited as well as a product of social mores.  

          It is a mix.

          In Georgia, acting the fool with a gun is not only legal, it is encouraged by the governor and the state legislature.

          by Mayfly on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:41:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Where does desire come from? (11+ / 0-)

      So I'm a man who's pretty much exclusively attracted to men. In an aesthetic and emotional way I occasionally find a particular woman to be sexy, but it's not a strong enough feeling for me to pursue women.

      But even among men, I don't find all men sexy. Who does? But even among my men friends there's no agreement as to who is sexy. How many times have I been out walking with a friend who says something like, 'Did you see that?' And I have literally no idea whom they are talking about. Meanwhile my head is turning at people they don't notice.

      "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

      by Demi Moaned on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:05:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that is the key to desire... (5+ / 0-)

        Desire is a very complex thing, and I think it has pre-linguistic parts to it, or subconscious, if we like to call it that, and a willful part to it, and a social part to it.

        I think the discussion of Desire is a very difficult one, and I dont know if many people, either psychologists, authors or philosophers have delved too deeply there. I think the development of desire is what the Right claims to be very malleable, and so, there is no way to claim Desire is Inborn, if I understand what they are saying. But their claim is superficial, since it is only a claim, a hunch, an assertion, and its really hard to justify classifying entire groups of people as "wrong" on something that has failed analysis or explanation.

        I think Buddha notes that Desire, the quality of Desire is inborn, and that it is therefore immature, our most basic and undeveloped part of our animal past, and causes us the most pain in life AS a primitive part of us. I do not think there is much discussion about what forms the desire takes, whether for money, property, status, sex, food, or any particular type of person. It seems to be enough to class all Desires under this primitive form of feeling, and although the Right comes to this in a different way, they may be saying exactly this. That desire is something we are born with, and yet, like hatred or fear, something to learn to transcend. They also apply this to Heterosexual relationships.

        And there is the key, I think. How does the Right view Desire, and why do they make such a big stink about people who possess Desire differently than they do? How did they come up with Desire for God as the bestest and finest Desire of All? Is that valid? Or is that merely a style of brain? I would argue that. I would argue that Desire for God is just another form of Primitive brain feelings, and cannot be justified as a superior form, especially considering its effects on the world and civilisation recently.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:53:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Richard Dawkins (7+ / 0-)

    Nice diary.

    I once read something by Dawkins on this topic. I don't remember the exact argument but it had to do with evidence pertaining to biological determination of sexual orientation. And he was basically saying that the issue should be immaterial to whether a gay person was proud (the term he used).

    And I'm basically with Dawkins. The truth is we don't know to what extent sexual attraction is controlled by innate biological factors. And just because I have no choice in the matter doesn't make it OK. Dan Savage says there's been some evidence recently that a sexual attraction to children may be biologically innate, but that doesn't mean we want to legalize the behavior.

    The only argument that matters in favor of same-sex eroticism is the ability of the participants to give free and informed consent and the fact that the behavior does not harm anyone.

    "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

    by Demi Moaned on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 04:57:01 PM PDT

    •  If I understand your post correctly (5+ / 0-)

      I'm inclined to agree with it.  If I'm getting you correctly, I'd  say the "scientific" question should be immaterial.  Whether it is immaterial politically -- well, conservative bigots exist, so it isn't.  But as you say, free behavior that doesn't harm anyone else, and is personally meaningful and consensual...that's almost the classic definition of personal liberty.

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:08:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Giving it some more thought, to augment my (16+ / 0-)

    above comment, I really do see this kind of feminist theory very much akin to "coming out". Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, transgendered, what have you, feminism and what was called in my mother's day "Women's Lib" was VERY MUCH a kind of "coming out". It still is. It's about being able to define yourself for yourself and not allowing anyone else to tell you who or how you should be.

    The reasons, I think, why some conservatives have a problem with this--be it feminism or the LGBT rights movement which is highly informed by feminism and feminist theory, is because it leaves the matter of who you are to personal discovery and individual conscience.

    That's radical stuff, even if some of our Founders held the same values as to individual conscience.

    SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

    by commonmass on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:02:50 PM PDT

  •  I imagine that for some folks it may be (7+ / 0-)

    biology; for others, environment; for most folks, a combination of both.

    Until we know simply everything there is to know about our genetic makeup and how it works, and until everyone can develop themselves without pressure of any kind, we'll never know for sure.

    Actually, I'm hoping it's complex and "messy," and for one really good political reason.  If it's nurture, then non-heterosexuals are "defective" -- cue the eugenicists! -- and if it's nurture, then non-heterosexuals are "sick" and in need of "treatment."  If it's messy, then at least the bigots get confused. :-)

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:11:41 PM PDT

    •  Ahhh, but that's where flipping the script (4+ / 0-)

      is important.  If an emphasis falls on nurture...well, heterosexuals are nurtured, socialized just like everyone else.  Instead of fixating on homosexuality, turn things around and make heterosexual normativity account for itself.  (At least that's a strategy I've been mulling over in these diaries.)

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:15:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hard to flip the script (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, alx9090, FarWestGirl, NancyWH

        when your enemies are around the corner with baseball bats.

        Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

        by corvo on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:51:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My dad is convinced that all this (5+ / 0-)

      increase in homosexuality (really just being out about it) is caused by some environmental pollution. When scientists figure out what it is, then it will be problem solved.

      I'm not sure where he got that idea- maybe because our alligators are being feminized by pollution. An odd thing about an alligator's gender is it is truly environmental. Instead of being genetically determined, it is determined by the incubation temperature.

    •  I am interested to know how sexual orientation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, Wee Mama, NancyWH

      could be a combination of biology and environment for
      most folks.

      Not 'why would you (corvo) assert that' - that too - but why would it be so? For example, I'm a straight male, and I see that as a tacit trait determined exclusively by biology.

      As a personal example of a 'combination' trait, my academic background is physics and math - that is, to me, clearly a product of biology (I'm wired that way) and of environment - academic opportunity, reward, encouragement, etc.

      But I simply cannot imagine any exogenous forces that would alter my (biological, I'm assuming) attraction to females.

      And I think that it is the same way for everyone, regardless of the sex/gender that they are attracted to.

  •  My favorite comeback line on the question of (15+ / 0-)

    choice, for a long time, has been "So, when did you choose to be straight?" It's nice to watch the apoplectic sputtering that goes on.

    That aside for the moment, for most of the gays and lesbians I know well enough to talk seriously about it, if there was a choice, it certainly wasn't either a conscious or a deliberate one.

    On the third hand, are masturbatory fantasies to be a signifier? Because my range of choices when I'm turning myself on might legitimately be said to be at least as strong an indication of potential sexual direction.

    You wanted questions, fortunately - I've got a lot more of them than I do answers.

    In a strictly patriarchal society, what sexual orientation women have simply does not matter, for the most part. As long as control is strong enough, it will make no difference to whether they are part of the reproductive structure of the society, since that is determined by the men who consider them chattel. There's a strong possibility that under a structure such as the harem, lesbian proclivity might be seen as a positive, since it may make the structure easier to manage. There might even be a legitimate place in the structure for homosexuality, since fewer men will actually get the chance at a male/female relationship unless they first acquire wealth and power.

    I'll quit rambling for the moment - the real question is how to phrase some of this in a way that the blockheads who've never really thought about the concept of sexuality and what its permutations might be, are forced to at least do a double-take, and possibly to consider alternatives.

    mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

    by serendipityisabitch on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:14:42 PM PDT

    •  The question (10+ / 0-)

      "when did you choose to be straight?" I find fascinating.  I want to say -- and this may plainly be a false analogy, but I'll run with it -- I want to say, "When did you choose to speak English?"  Clearly speaking English is contingent, in no way determined -- yet it's not something any native speaker chooses.  (This is a related but different issue: I think 'choice' is not even the right concept.)

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:21:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmm. Ask a child who's raised in a bi-lingual (9+ / 0-)

        household that one. I'd be interested in that answer myself. Otherwise, very much not the same question.

        mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

        by serendipityisabitch on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:28:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I would suggest a better question is (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, blueoasis, Avilyn, NancyWH

        whether/when the person chose to be a parent. Not just biologically but actively. It is linked to sexuality for many of us. And those who don't have the 'natural' inclination get a s#!tload of criticism about it.

        I certainly see a continuum that has not been explored very open mindedly. It is part of the struggle of social sciences to NOT expect humans to be easily categorized. We have too many variables, over a long period of time, to expect anything but a lot of variation. The more sexuality has become shared, with pornography, etc. the more variations are accepted. The more parenting has become part time, less involved, the less influence compared to peers.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:41:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Are you suggesting (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Avilyn, NancyWH

          a certain social coercion involved in parenting?  That whether there's some sort of biological, I dunno, urge to reproduce, that there's also a hefty amount of social coercion also?  Am I reading your comment correctly?

          "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

          by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 07:01:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There's definitely social coercion (5+ / 0-)

            and stigmatism if you choose to remain childless or proclaim that you don't like children very much.

            I've been married for over 12 yrs now, got married when I was 25.  Usually the first question everyone asked after the initial "Congratulations" was "When are you having kids?".   It was a given that we would be having kids, just a question on the timing.  And nobody wanted to take the "We're not" seriously.  Even my Gyn at my yearly check-ups would ask to make sure we still weren't planning on kids before renewing my BC script.  Even when you explain to them that you don't have the patience or the temperament to be a parent, and you know this about yourself, they try to convince you "Oh, it's different when it's your own kid."  And you want me to take that risk?  I don't think so!

            And if you let people know that you don't like kids very much?  Well, you may as well be a monster.  People don't seem to understand that someone might not like the little devils running around screaming/constantly demanding attention/never-ending questions/not being able to live your life the way you want on your schedule because you've got this little dependent thing that has to come first.   No thanks.

            Erm.   OK, sorry, that was a bit more rant-ish than I'd intended originally, but it struck a nerve.  :-)

            Miss Aji? She blogs here now.
            I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape."

            by Avilyn on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 09:49:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think this is on the money. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Avilyn, NancyWH, Daulphin

              I think you're describing heterosexism in action, with the many (usually unacknowledged) assumptions about THE purpose of sex, THE purpose of lifetime commitment, and of course THE life plans of women (or what "should" be included in a woman's life plan).

              It's telling to think about how many adults, married or not, who choose not to reproduce have to account for (explain) that decision, when, on the other hand, people who do reproduce never have to justify the decision (unless racism or classism is involved).  Yet it seems clear to me that, in some or many cases, choosing not to have children is the more responsible decision.  At times, in fact, I think it could easily be argued that some people are irresponsible to have children.  Yet even to whisper that sounds presumptuous and (I'm sure to some) offensive.

              "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

              by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 10:11:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Just in case you're checking back this far. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Silencio

              Thanks for the very clear response from someone who is coming from that perspective. This is part of gender identity that is so embedded many people really don't get that it is normal for some NOT to want the child/parenting experience.  

              I had an overwhelming desire to have children and be around a lot of their childhoods. I had two, enjoyed them and being a parent thoroughly. And TOTALLY believe the earth will be much better off if those who don't want to be parents are left to follow their own bliss. (Climate scientists have projected a worldwide imperative of 1 child per family to reduce the population to a sustainable level < 2 billion by 2100. Right. Will we threaten parents that only the 1st child will get vaccines?)

              What would we have missed if Dr Zeus had not decided he would entertain other people's children instead of having his own.??

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 09:58:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry I had an important meeting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Silencio

            Wednesday am to prepare for and had to not come back.

            Fortunately Avilyn came by and wrote a great response from someone who's lived that role. (My response to her below.)

            My ex and I had immediately agreed on a ZPG family. We got one of each and neither plans to have any of their own due to the overpopulation issue. Interestingly, their millennial peers are also more into this than the boomers or gen x.

            I pretty much consider marriage about designating your committed sex partner. If that results in a family, ok. But as my daughter likes to point out, there are now almost 30 ways to create a child if standard biology doesn't do it. You don't have to be married.

            Because this just happened Monday. I was on my way to an appt on the bus when a young gal got on with 3 of the most beautiful children you could ever imagine. Probably 18 mo, 3 and 5. Well dressed, well behaved, while mom was on her cell phone explaining that she and their father are not married (but are committed to raising their children) and are almost out of time where they are getting shelter and she was looking for another place.

            I could not help but hear the cell phone conversations, including that she had had to leave her job ... reason I didn't hear. Did all I could to distract the kids when they got fussy so she could focus. Then Dad joined them, clearly beloved by those kids and also very down/overwhelmed.

             Small world.  Same family, all at the same stop on my way to the appt Weds am. Looking just as nicely dressed, well behaved and not quite as overwhelmed. Being an atheist, I hope a lot. So why have they not gotten married?? Lotsa different ways to do life.

            "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

            by Ginny in CO on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 10:34:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I'm a straight guy who thinks it's a given (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, Wee Mama, NancyWH

        biological fact ;)

        I think that language is the wrong analogy - a better one might be 'when did you choose to have color vision' (as opposed to R-G or other color-blindness). But the preference for that analogy is reinforced by my own notion that sexual preference is determined by biology (the hardware) as opposed to higher cognitive functioning - such as learning a language (the software) - if you will permit a crude analogy of my own as I criticize yours ;)

        •  You're at least the second person to say (4+ / 0-)

          my analogy to language is a non-starter.  I considered an analogy to color perception and handedness, too.  I guess part of my problem is that I'm not clear what work I want an analogy to do, anyway.

          "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

          by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:00:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, since it generated discussion, (5+ / 0-)

            you can't call it a 'non-starter', now, can you? ;)

            Look, I know we can agree that 'proof by analogy is fraud'.

            And 'clearing the decks' is an important part of this discussion. So I think you have initiated something really important here. Good for you for doing this!

            "only Silencio could go to China, amirite?" :D

            •  I can run with your analogy to language (4+ / 0-)

              There are seven billion people on this planet making decisions in 4000 some odd languages.

              Its not unreasonable to suggest that language to some degree reflects culture and the behavior considered normal and heterosexual in different cultures ranges widely.

              For example men in dresses holding hands, and caressing eachother while they talk, kissing and painting their faces and otherwise behaving in a manner we might consider effeminate is typical for young warriors in some tribes.

              The choice appears to evolve from mothers painting babies and dressing them and teaching them to be elaborately affectionate with one another that's just how they grow up

              "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

              by rktect on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:11:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Recc'd for OMO pic (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                serendipityisabitch, Silencio

                This is the most aesthetically developed visual culture in the world, imho. Sorry for the OT, but do folks know their habitat is in danger of being stripped from them to grow ethanol from sugar cane?

                As for the questions raised in this diary, they are indeed thorny and loaded ones, most easily answered with still more questions.

                 A teacher of cranio-sacral therapy, Hugh Milne once told me that the less good sex a person got, the more they were likely to be sticking their long noses into others' bedrooms and making censorious judgements.

                It rang true then, 16 years ago, and evidence keeps piling up in favor. If the repug show-world is straight vanilla sex with one's lifetime, opposite gender companion, oops spouse, then why are so many of their most vociferous blowhard fans of that lifestyle getting caught with their dicks in the 'wrong' places?

                Seeing how naturally omnisexual the animal kingdom can be suggests to me that we are all bisexual by birth, but strong conditioning plays a part in how stuck the closet door is jammed.

                The other topic that comes to mind is bisexuality and monogamy, as someone posted upthread. Especially since the HIV years, many women in relationship may be fine with the idea of their partner being able to swing both ways, but they are deeply (and understandably) disturbed by their partner acting out for reasons of sexual hygiene and infection risk factors. They wouldn't want them going off the reservation with someone of either gender.

                And them's my profound thoughts upon this hoary matter!

                Thanks for starting an interesting discussion, silencio!

                why? just kos..... *just cause*

                by melo on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 02:17:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  HIV was more of a constraint in the eighties (0+ / 0-)

                  People today assume they can get tested and use protection and be safe having consensual sex in most places but I suppose there are still enough people getting the disease from rape, forced marital congress with HIV positive males, people who are too impaired to check their partners have been recently tested and those who cave to the claim that condoms dull the sensation to put the lie to that.

                  "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

                  by rktect on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 03:01:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  You hit on something with some serious historical (13+ / 0-)

      noteworthiness:

      In a strictly patriarchal society, what sexual orientation women have simply does not matter, for the most part. As long as control is strong enough, it will make no difference to whether they are part of the reproductive structure of the society, since that is determined by the men who consider them chattel.
      Most Western countries in the modern day (since, say, the 17th Century or even before) that had "sodomy" laws did NOT have laws banning lesbian assignations. Because "what sexual orientation women have simply does not matter, &c.)

      In a way, that's one of the worst sexist stings. Chattel indeed, or as the GOP might call them today, "baby factories".

      As for masturbatory fantasies, that's an interesting question though I think a Freudian analysis of that was out of date by the time Freud finished practicing. What turns us on in private is not always what turns us on "in public", and I think it is long past time for everyone to be liberated on that front. That's a shout out to all those bi folks out there!

      SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

      by commonmass on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:24:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Women can't get women pregnant and so don't (6+ / 0-)

        threaten inheritance.



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 08:52:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But... but, WeeMama, men can't get men pregnant (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio, Wee Mama, FarWestGirl, NancyWH

          either, so sodomy laws wouldn't apply under that argument, either.

          Besides, knowing the human capacity for infinite self-deception, issues of inheritance for infertile or incapable males are as likely as not to have been resolved by the introduction of a third party into the equation.

          mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

          by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 12:20:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  In that context consider Genesis (5+ / 0-)

          The old testament stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Abram and Sarai, the various families of Moses tell us a lot about what people thought might influence inheritance.

          For example can a son be adopted and inherit?

          Can a favorite of a Patriarch be designated an heir even without any blood ties?

          Is an inheritance something that just goes to the legitimate heirs of a legitimate marriage.

          What about the entitlement to an inheritance from a sister wife who is barren versus the offspring of a handmaiden?

          What if the sister wife routinely goes with other men, has them visit her in her tent and then gets impregnated by a god or an angel after the handmaiden has produced a first born son.

          Can an inheritance be traded away?

          Can a lesbian matriarch or regent choose another amazon to be her heir?

          "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

          by rktect on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:25:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I musta missed something when I read Genesis. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Silencio, NancyWH, melo
            Can a lesbian matriarch or regent choose another amazon to be her heir?
            ;)

            So, how do we use this to undermine this society's concept of Traditional Sexuality? In a way that will be heard?

            mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

            by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 06:26:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Lilith as living in the crown of ianna's tree (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch, NancyWH

              First take the Book of Genesis as largely a collection of earlier stories such as the epic of Gilgamesh. Particularly as Akkadian is the root language from which early semitic roots derive.

              In Judaism Lilith is the first wife of Adam and created as a paired opposite, equal but different. A female demon unwilling to be subservient to men in a marriage. "A hag whose screeches are like those of an owl."

              Phenomenologically her form is that of the Amanita mushroom used in antiquity as an intoxicant that granted visions. Since its also lethal in some cases Lilith as drugs generally can be one mean bitch to mess with.

              She stands as a proud frontally facing nude her talons embedded in the backs of the lions she stands on and at her feet she is  flanked by owls which makes her both wise and fierce.

              Her talons or roots are impressive. In her hands she holds the rods and reels of line used to measure weigh and judge. As rod and circle they are also also symbols of sexual congress which in her hands are taken as symbols of promiscuity and harlotry

              Lilith was a goddess of the night, of lust, and a symbol of a woman's power to know for herself what was right and proper as regarded a time for reproduction.

              Inanna is the goddess of love – but not marriage. She is connected with extramarital sex and sensual affairs, prowling streets and taverns for sexual adventure.[15] In the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh points out Inanna's infamous ill-treatment of her lovers. Inanna also has a very complicated relationship with her lover, Dumuzi, in "Inanna's Descent to the Underworld"
              Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of feminine lust


              The semitic root L-Y-L layil in Hebrew, as layl in Arabic, means "night". Talmudic and Yiddish use of Lilith follows Hebrew.
              She is considered by Inanna to be "the zu bird living in the crown of the huluppu tree whose wood she plans to use to build a new throne" or in other words a power with which to oppose the Patriarchal rule of men.
              In Akkadian the terms lili and līlītu mean spirits. Some uses of līlītu are listed in The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (CAD, 1956, L.190), in Wolfram von Soden's Akkadisches Handwörterbuch (AHw, p. 553), and Reallexikon der Assyriologie (RLA, p. 47).[5]

              The Sumerian she-demons lili have no etymologic relation to Akkadian lilu, "evening".[6]

              Archibald Sayce (1882)[7] considered that Hebrew lilit (or lilith) Hebrew: לילית‎; and Akkadian: līlītu are from proto-Semitic. Charles Fossey (1902)[8] has this literally translating to "female night being/demon", although cuneiform inscriptions exist where Līlīt and Līlītu refers to disease-bearing wind spirits.[citation needed] Another possibility is association not with "night", but with "wind", thus identifying the Akkadian Lil-itu as a loan from the Sumerian lil, "air" — specifically from Ninlil, "lady air", goddess of the south wind (and wife of Enlil) — and itud, "moon".[citation needed]

              You have to understand Ianna as a "lady of the night" (female, night being, demon) and Lilith as leaving Adam who wished to make her subservient, to mate with archangel Samael who is the accuser, seducer and destroyer of men.
              Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e2-anna; Cuneiform:

              "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

              by rktect on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 10:23:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think you're dodging the question, (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Silencio, NancyWH

                but it was a good dodge, and I'm reccing it anyway. ;)

                mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

                by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 11:55:25 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  For some reason the Qetesh half of the post (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  serendipityisabitch, NancyWH

                  where I got into answering your question in more depth got lost. Qetesh or in hebrew Kodesh is the Holy sacred prostitute who men would visit at Kadesh or the highplaces where the watersheds that men farmed had their source in the ba maat's of places of desire as an eros for wisdom.

                  In the above the Egyptian version of Inanna/Lilith, the frontally facing nude standing on lions offers the peace of the Lotus blooms to Min, the mummy whose erect phallus symbolises Egyptian Resurrection from the dead, and Anat's spear of war to Reshef the Syrian who constantly menaced the Egyptian province of Canaan about the time the sons of Israel decided to undertake its conquest and the Egyptians ended up warring with Megiddo for all of the 18th and a good part of the 19th dynasties.

                  Now as I understand your question what you were really after was some support for my assertion that there was ever any biblical reference to some Amazonian matriarchy in which women like Jezebel had little need of men and matrimony to determine their reproductive choices or sexuality and had the power to make or break kings and determine the rightful inheritance to regions as large as the province of Canaan.

                  I offer the wisdom of Solomon who was intoxicated by the Queen of Sheba, (her desire) visited the high places to offer worship to Asherah or Hathor, and in the end saw his kingdom fall to the worshippers of She, the queen who stands on the backs of Assyrian lions.

                  "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

                  by rktect on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 12:49:57 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, no. The question was: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NancyWH
                    So, how do we use this to undermine this society's concept of Traditional Sexuality? In a way that will be heard?
                    For me, the rest of it was kind of like doing a full Grimm's reference based on Disney's Snow White. Interesting, but not relevant. But it had some graphics I hadn't seen, and you know your stuff.

                    mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

                    by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 12:54:57 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Traditional sexuality wasn't too prudish (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      NancyWH

                      Men went with men and women with women.

                      I like your phrase "to undermine this societies concept of traditional sexuality". In my estimation that is exactly what the traditional exercise of sexuality is all about, to help people live their fantasies and make them real.

                      While it may have aggravated the priesthood the made for TV Borgia and Thrones lifestyle is probably pretty close to accurate for traditional sexuality as more of a tool than innocent love or lust.

                      Priests who traditionally for some 3500 years now have inhabited a culture in which "celibate" men preferred disposable young boys for sex to the rigors of the marriage bed in which they were tied to wives who became shrewish hags that screeched as owls were not making an uncommon choice of lifestyle.

                      Boys who looked like innocent maidens but were in fact crafty and seductive traps were themselves not uncommon.

                      Young noble men and women looking to live the life and have the power of priests and priestesses as accountant, scribe or counselor to the rich and famous abounded.

                      Throughout history the essence of sexuality outside of marriage was not to encourage fertility by any means necessary but rather to seduce and by seduction gain power.

                      I'll use the example of Frank Underwood (House of Cards) and his somewhat normal relationships with wives and lovers to illustrate my point.

                      "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

                      by rktect on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 01:20:27 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Okay. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        NancyWH, serendipityisabitch

                        Your reflections are interesting.  But they're anthropological and sweepingly historical.  This diary is about sexual politics and the rhetoric of those politics in today's world.  The diary is very specific and contextualized.  Thus, as interesting as it is, this sub-thread does not advance that line of questioning (at least not yet).  The diary does not address sex in Babylonia or among the Borgias.  It's about our political context.

                        "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

                        by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 01:34:58 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  When we look at what is normal or traditional (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          melo

                          going back as far as you like, with the exception of some puritanical Victorian dogma about what should be right and proper, Heterosexuality is no more normal than homosexuality, especially as regards sexual politics.

                          Lets be specific and contextualized. Take New Orleans, New York, London  or Paris in the gay nineties. You don't have to go back to the Borgias. Take Washington DC in the fifties with Ray Cohn and J Edgar Hoover.

                          Going beyond gender and diversity look at the role reversal. Traditional women were not confined to the kitchen or laundry in building the west.

                          Let me put it to you that traditional sexuality in the fifties involved wife swapping in Levittown.

                          The sexual politics of Madison Avenue attempted to make women second class citizens, that isn't their traditional role in the Americas.

                          In the twenties with flappers, in the thirties, with the Amelia Earheart's Fanny Vandegrift's and Nelie Bly's who took men's challenges to be explorers in their own right and then wrote about it; in the forties with Rosy the riveter, women in unions and also in combat.

                          In the sixties women who engaged in sexual politics started to be called feminists and in my experience women have proven themselves to have transcended sexual politics to be able to deal with men as people.

                          "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

                          by rktect on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:39:23 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Wait, what? Your view of the problem is that (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Silencio

                            women don't have a problem with a patriarchal system any more?

                            Perhaps I could supply you with a few recent links to diaries which might give you a bit more recent input?

                            mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

                            by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:43:27 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, there is a war on woman raging (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            melo

                            Women are going to win that war, are winning that war with leaders like Wendy Davis, Allison Grimes, Elizabeth Warren and in my neck of the woods Shenna Bellows.

                            You have victory in your grasp if you get out your vote as I fully expect you will. Then it gets reclassified as no longer a problem just for women but a problem for all of us who join with you in trying to get rid of all the Republicans who tie themselves to such ideas.

                            "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

                            by rktect on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 02:05:51 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Tell you what (0+ / 0-)

                            Let's talk about the specific question posed in the diary, as almost everyone else has done.  

                            "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

                            by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:47:29 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The diary is addressing sexual orientation (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            melo

                            And conservatives incredibly naive approach to it following what they consider to be their traditional values.

                            Sexual orientation is something that is biologically innate, or else it is something that is freely chosen.  Sexual orientation is "natural" or it is "chosen."
                            That suggests sexual orientation is something fixed in place. You are born with it that's who you are. For many individuals that may in fact be the case, but for others it doesn't begin to address the range of options.

                            My perspective on that is Republicans have adopted as their traditional values a number of Victorian myths. The list is long and jaw dropping on the level of Aikens "Women have ways to shut that process down" jaw dropping.

                            My take on sexual orientation is that it evolves according to set and setting much like political orientation

                            If you go back and look at sexual orientation historically it has a very wide range of positions that make us as a species what I would consider opportunistic sexual omnivores.

                            Our orientation as a species tends to evolve according to whats available to forage and in that process occupy any number of niches that are not strictly speaking CIS, gay, lesbian, bi or trans.

                            In some cases our orientation can be all of the above as the situation warrants. People can occupy a committed relationship as a couple that dates other couples or individuals pansexually. For many its not nearly as limited  a menu as traditional values would suggest.

                            "la vida no vale nada un lugar solita" "The Limits of Control Jim Jarmusch

                            by rktect on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 02:26:17 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

    •  "When did you choose to start having gay sex?" (4+ / 0-)

      You're dealing with people who basically assume that all people are born straight but, for one reason or another, choose to do gay things.  In the most literal sense, they're correct that most homosexual acts (as well as all the cultural trappings of the identity) are not coerced and therefore are chosen.  When you subscribe to a worldview in which nefarious forces are always and everywhere at war with "nature and nature's God", it's easy to see gay as something being deliberately introduced and cultivated in individuals, who otherwise might well have gone on to become "normal".

      Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

      by Visceral on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 10:14:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It is /all/ a mess, and /all/ a ridiculous dich... (10+ / 0-)

    It is /all/ a mess, and /all/ a ridiculous dichotomy that does not exist. I see your poll, at least, credits the existence of bisexuality, but your diary doesn't.

    I have not met too many people in my life who aren't somewhat bisexual. Yes, I've of course met people who've only had sex with members of the opposite sex, or only the same. But, the vast majority of the people I know have at least had the "there's a time and a place for /everything/, and that place is college" experience. Even the ones I don't know that well seem comfortable sharing their experiences with me.

    So, sure, some of my friends from that era identify as straight... even though, at the very least, /we/ ended up in bed together. Can't speak for their then-future, now-past experiences, certainly not to their current lives. But, to a person, they (and I) enjoyed the experience. Are they straight, bi, gay? Or did college let them try without the buy? Who knows.

    There's just as false a binary in gender as their is in sexuality. I'm a pretty man. Not handsome, pretty-to the point where I've been "accused" of being a woman. Hips, lips, and ass, I got. A beard? Today's five o'clock shadow won't show up until 5 o'clock. Next Wednesday.

    But a choice? I /choose/ who I sleep with. I don't, at all, choose who I'm attracted to. Right now, I'm married to a wonderful woman. we're monogamous. 364 days a year.

    •  You don't want to know what I did in college, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, white blitz, NancyWH

      or whom, but you're right on. Even in the mid-80's sexuality was becoming fluid in many ways, and I don't think that was even new, it was just "more out".

      SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

      by commonmass on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:44:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Whether or not you are correct, and I'm inclined (6+ / 0-)

      to agree with you, the question is still how to best shake up the "traditional" viewpoint, which has trouble even accepting that there might be a) a range of sexuality, or b) fluidity around any given sexual choice.

      Things are looser overall than they were when I was a wee sprat, but partly because of that, the pushback and the reluctance to explore in that area have both increased in some groups.

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 05:57:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Excellently summarized: (5+ / 0-)
        the question is still how to best shake up the "traditional" viewpoint, which has trouble even accepting that there might be a) a range of sexuality, or b) fluidity around any given sexual choice.

        "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

        by Silencio on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:02:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think it has to do with coming out and staying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio

          out.

          We are out about being polyamorous. "Oh, I'm going out for dinner with my boyfriend," I said several times while Bear was in the hospital. I could have said, "a friend". But this is what I can do toward the total fight.

          Help me get my utilities on! I can't eat this elephant by myself. http://www.gofundme.com/8xw014

          by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 05:36:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I suspect you were replying to orwelldesign, but (5+ / 0-)

        I'll give you my two cents on that, and I hope OD chimes in too.

        What it is going to take is the "traditional" viewpoint to die out, and that is happening. It's easy to blame it on, say, religion, but there are plenty of people who are not in the least religious who hold on to misogynist and homophobic attitudes.

        While that is happening, there is an increasing number of people from older generations who have "softened" to feminism and non-heterosexual orientations.

        Which brings me to this: who will be oppressed next? I'm not talking about immigrants, who have always been oppressed unless they had a Royal Grant. I wonder, whom?

        SPES MEA IN DEO EST.

        by commonmass on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 06:05:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  hey good (6+ / 0-)

    thanks diarist, very nice. I have been missing this for a long while. Fine that this thinking (wisdom) is still out there.

  •  I can accept "choice" only in the sense (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, Silencio, Wee Mama, sfbob, NancyWH

    that people's sexuality exists on a continuum from purely heterosexual to purely homosexual.  Anyone between those two endpoints could "decide" that their lives are easier if they find someone they are attracted to who meets society's criteria of who they "should" be attracted to.  In other words, most humans are bisexuals, and they choose to be attracted to members of the gender society prefers they be with.

    (Until they meet the love of their lives, who happens to be the gender that society tells them they are not supposed to fall in love with.  Rut-roh.)

    It shouldn't matter whether it's a choice or not, and, maybe in fifty or a hundred years it won't.  But, for now, we need to acknowledge that sexuality is a combination of things (biological and social) that are outside a person's control.  Quick -- name five people who have genuinely chosen their sexuality and who can change it at will.

    We'll wait.

  •  I'm not usually... (3+ / 0-)

    ...this cranky in my comments, but I've become increasingly bored and impatient with the entire question. Maybe it's being in my seventh decade with far more of life behind me than ahead; maybe it's just the heat.

    It can be fun to get down in the weeds and there are many interesting exchanges above, but that it's an issue at all is only because of arbitrary judgements formed within some segments of society. It's hinted at here...

    The Right claims, not that sexual orientation is a choice, but that homosexuality is a choice.  And, they insist, it is a bad (i.e., a morally wrong) choice.
    ...but the "choice" argument was invented as an easy justification for the conclusion: it's "bad." IOW: "We" don't approve, so "you" should change.

    Yet, as we've seen from history, when any other trait neither chosen nor inherently "bad," but upon which discriminatory laws and practices are based - race, sex, nationality, what have you - is involved, reasons that those sharing the trait are deserving of lesser treatment are just as easily invented: "They" are lazy and stupid, or weak and emotional, or moochers, or violent, untrustworthy, seditious, or fill in the blanks.

    It might be equally interesting to kick around the reasons some men are attracted to willowy blonds and others to petite redheads, or some women to brawny "type-A"s and some to men who are passive and small, just as it could be to examine why some people are naturally inclined to music, athletics, mathematics or loving Brussels sprouts and hating chocolate.

    For all I know, studies have been done on all these traits and their possible origins. But I do know this: none are drivers of either national discourse or public policy. Interesting though they may be, most people just don't much give a damn about them.  

    I'd suggest it's of far more value to examine the makeup and history of those - what do they comprise: 30%? 35%? 40%? - of the national populace perceiving the trait in question as a threat. Y'know: those who give so much of a damn about with whom people they don't even know are having sex.

    Perhaps they should be the ones treated like lab specimens for others to examine and debate how they got to be the way they are. There are far more of them than there are of us, and they're the ones making all the trouble.

    •  I believe that is what the diarist is attempting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, NancyWH

      to do.

      It's not so much a question of examination and debate of their stance as it is how to push them off balance and get them thinking about it.

      The question is: How do you threaten Tradition effectively?

      mouseover the bar (I'm practicing for DK5)

      by serendipityisabitch on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 12:32:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Steven -- Siab has it right. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch, NancyWH, melo

      When you say

      Perhaps they should be the ones treated like lab specimens for others to examine and debate how they got to be the way they are. There are far more of them than there are of us, and they're the ones making all the trouble.
      That's exactly what I'm suggesting be done.  I'm not asking a scientific or metaphysical question.  I'm thinking about how these questions operate politically and in public perception.  And the passage that I quoted from you is consistent with my thinking.

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:31:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps it's only my crankiness... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, NancyWH, Wee Mama, melo

        ...that puts me in the odd position of missing your point while apparently agreeing with it. Odder still is that what you quote was meant more facetiously than anything else. It's simply not something I expect to happen in any meaningful way.    

        But maybe we're talking past each other and I should offer some clarification.

        Although I fully agree with your final assertion that "it might be truer (and better politics) to affirm "choice" as a type of freedom" - and have done so in many debates over the years, if only by way of neutralizing the "choice" narrative as a basis of policy and law - it happens to be the case that I've never known a single one among the thousands of gay men and women with whom I've spoken about it to contend that "choice" played any part in the origins of their desires.  

        At my stage of life, I've come to view the fact that it ever came up in conversation at all as merely symptomatic of - I'll use your term - traditional sexuality's efforts to force us unto the position of questioning and/or justifying our own nature and, therefore, a time-wasting distraction from our - well, my, anyway - central goal.

        After at least 45 years of hearing the issue bandied about with no resolution - and fully expecting it to continue long after I'm dead - I've taken the position that all conceivable arguments ultimately favor the full legal and social equality of any and all sexual orientations, rendering the origins or makeup of anyone's sexuality purely academic.        

           

  •  It would be fair to pose as a hypothetical (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, NancyWH

    And particularly in light of the quotes you chose:

    In the complete absence of pressure to conform what would human sexuality look like?

    I do think that the situation is sufficiently complex that none of your poll choices is really satisfactory.

    I can tell you that, as others have related, I expended a good deal of energy in trying to deny or ignore the fact that I was erotically drawn almost exclusively to men, only to have to admit I couldn't do that.

    This doesn't mean that at some point in my past I was entirely incapable of performing sexually with a woman or that it will never happen in the future. Though I can no longer see that as more than the most abstract of possibilities.

    I would actually also be inclined to say that I was far more inclined to be romantically drawn to women than to men though how much of this was based on expectations, both internal and external, I can't really say for sure. To be honest I did not, until I began to come to terms with my sexuality, conceive of being romantically involved with another guy. The possibility just didn't occur to me. Though once it did occur to me I of course did my best to make up for lost time.

    When we talk about "innateness" I think most of us assume we're talking about genetic inheritance but the reality I suspect is that there are other factors at work that we have not even begun to work out which would still qualify as "innate" and yet not inherited. I believe there is some evidence linking birth order with the probability that a son will grow up to be gay but it is certainly not a simple process. As for how that applies to women I don't think there's enough to go on at this point. Certainly there are reasons to presume that a certain amount of bias at work that accounts for the relative paucity of research but it is not impossible that the processes are at least distinct.

    I can say that there is quite a difference between erotic pull and behavior. I know not a few gay men who were married to women and had families--some of them fairly large. Some were deeply closeted; others were making a strategic choice based on their a desire for a family when the options were limited or lacking. They often left their wives once their children were grown. I think we are less likely to see this sort of thing in the future for the very simple reason that it is no longer necessary. The fact remains that regardless of what and who turned them on they formed relationships with women not necessarily based on some sort of deception. Still that does not dismiss the fact that those men were gay and not heterosexual. I don't know enough lesbians to say whether similar things have played out with them or not.

    Ultimately I think it likely that there is a continuum of sexual and romantic feeling and expression but I wonder if we will ever see that unfold in a completely uncoerced way. And even if we reach that point it still will not discount the reality of sexual orientation.

  •  What if men and women are different? (5+ / 0-)

    I'm a straight man, but I lived on Capitol Hill in Seattle and had tons of gay friends (both male and female).

    Almost all of my gay male friends have said they were born gay. They didn't choose it. They were boys attracted to other boys when they were 8 or 12 or 16 years old. Which seems to support the idea that they were born gay. Their sexuality was hard-wired in their brain. Or their DNA or whatever.

    But my gay/lesbian female friends didn't necessarily seem to have it hard-wired. Many of them had switched back and forth from gay to straight. They were much less likely to say, "I knew I was a lesbian when I was just a little kid."

    I might be wrong, but I don't think we can lump gay men and lesbian women into the same categories (and I think cross-dressers are a separate category -- I've known men who were straight in their sexuality, but liked to dress in women's clothes). And transgender people are another separate category -- I knew at least two people who went through gender-changing surgery and switched from male to female and then were lesbians. And that's cool.

    I suppose it's possible that, occasionally, some gay men chose to be gay (and it wasn't hardwired) or vice versa. Maybe some lesbians were destined to love women since they were a little girl. I'm just saying that my experience with gay men and lesbian women suggests that gay men are born gay and women might be more likely to choose their sexual preference.

    That's just my opinion.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Tue Jul 15, 2014 at 11:31:09 PM PDT

  •  From my point of view (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, Silencio

    the words 'heterosexual', 'homosexual' and 'bisexual' make little sense; they tend to hinder and misdirect thought instead of facilitating it.

    The worst problem with those words is that they conflate biological sex and sexual orientation in a way that has no basis in reality, and by doing so they cripple the thought process. When applied to a transgender person the homo/hetero division makes it harder, not easier to communicate the orientation of the person; when applied to an intersex person, the words are inherently ill-defined.

    Although I realize that it is not a feasible proposition in everyday communications, I greatly prefer the words 'androphilia' and 'gynophilia', i.e., attraction to men and women. With these words, it is possible to precisely and unambiguously communicate the sexual orientation in all situations, without making any irrelevant assumptions.

    These words also point out what is wrong with the word 'bisexual'. It assumes a single axis -- bisexuality -- on which to project the orientation of a person. This is also a fallacy that can be noticed by trying to apply the word to an asexual person; since the person is equally (which is, not at all) attracted to both sexes, they are fully bisexual. This is, of course, nonsense. Instead of one axis, there are the two axes of androphilia and gynophilia, and the orientation of a person can be communicated by stating their position on both axes.

    I also realize that words like 'gay', 'lesbian' or 'bi' may be a significant part of self-identity. I am not trying to deny anyone the usage of such words; it is only in a context like this diary where the phenomena themselves are studied that I feel that it is also advantageous to closely examine the words with which we try to communicate the related ideas.

    On the question of choice, I believe that the orientation itself is not a matter of choice; this is not the same thing as claiming that it would necessarily be both innate and immutable (neither of which I believe to be universally true). Furthermore, from believing that it can change over time does not follow that it should be changed according to some preconceived notions of what is 'acceptable'.

    So yes, it is a complicated issue, and inserting (arbitrary) moral directives into it only makes it worse.

    •  Some additional thoughts (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH, Silencio, melo

      To append my previous post, one of the obvious advantages of using 'androphilia' and 'gynophilia' is that it would be patently absurd to claim that either of them is 'wrong', in the sense some people claim that homosexuality is wrong. Thus, discrimination is a built-in feature of the words 'homosexuality' and 'heterosexuality'. Instead of affirming something that people have in common, as in, "I like men. Oh, you do too? Isn't that great?" they underline the concept of otherness: "I am a heterosexual, but you are a homosexual, so much unlike me."

      Furthermore, the homo/hetero/bi construct ignores that there can also be negative preferences; in reality a disposition can be anything from a strong attraction to indifference to strong repulsion. In the 'philia' construct the negative axis can be expressed by using 'phobia' instead, not as a sign of prejudice but as a strongly felt preference against shared intimacy (the same way molecules are said to be hydrophilic or hydrophobic depending on whether they are attracted or repelled by water (and then some do both!)). And that isn't 'wrong', either, any more than it's wrong to not like cooked cauliflower.

      In summary, I believe that the best way to confront heteronormative speech is to redefine the terms. E.g., when a man expresses their disapproval of male homosexuality, ask them what's wrong with liking men -- you know, many people do that voluntarily, and it's kind of an important detail if the person in question wishes to find someone who would tolerate them.

      •  Oh, good. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio

        I'm not the only one up.  Good thoughts!  Have to mull over more later.

        "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

        by NancyWH on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:23:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent points. (4+ / 0-)

        Whether or not your proposed terms "stick," the truth is that much of the concrete discrimination and bigotry is hardened and conveyed by language, by a particular way of 'naming' things that make our perceptions fall in predictable (and often unhelpful) grooves.  I especially like your suggestion that the broad (and hardened) categories of hetero/homo/bi are themselves inadequate.

        Of course, how to "get at" these points in political debate is another matter.  That is, how to move people's thinking about these things from within the familiar vocabulary, rather than confronting them with new vocabulary (even if this is a truer vocabulary), is part of what interests me.

        "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

        by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:27:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio, NancyWH, melo

          Though, those terms are not 'mine' to propose. Androphilia and gynephilia are already being used in behavioral sciences, to avoid the kind of ambiguities that arise from the usage of the terms 'homosexual' and 'heterosexual'. And realistically speaking, they won't ever be adopted outside academic circles, either. That's why I believe that when confronted about the issue, the best approach is to simply reply, "I like men/women/hugs and snuggles/Chubby Hubby/(fill in blank). Why are you trying to dictate who can like what?"

    •  I feel the need to interject here (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, Sarsaparilla, NancyWH, Wee Mama, melo

      One of the things the bisexual movement did in the 80s and 90s was to reclaim and redefine the definition of bisexuality from quantitative psychological theory ala Kinsey and Klein and treat it as a term defined by autobiography and autoethnography similar to gay and lesbian.  Just as gay and lesbian are defined subculturally in addition to clinically, so is bi. A bi person is someone who defines themselves as bi in addition to or distinct from overlapping membership in other communities.

      •  Very true (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, NancyWH, melo

        And that is exactly why I added the paragraph about the significance of the words 'gay', 'lesbian' and 'bi' in forming the respective subcultures and self-identities. If anything, when discussing the usage of the word 'bisexual' I was trying to dispel the ghost of the Kinsey type model where the strength of attraction is seen as essentially constant, with only its target varying (or in statistical terms, androphilia and gynophilia are presented as variables with perfect negative correlation) when in reality there isn't any significant correlation between the respective attractions.

  •  I feel there's a spectrum (6+ / 0-)

    from totally gay to totally straight.  I grew up having "crushes" on males and females.  My daughter is openly bisexual, and my sister "came out" as bi- last year June.  I don't see how a person differentiates who they "love" or lust after by gender.  Lovable is lovable. Sexy is sexy.  And now, alas, it is 6 am, and I must leave for work.  But at least I got my place
    mark in early!  

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 03:02:23 AM PDT

  •  Hear hear (7+ / 0-)

    While I think resist-the patriarchy lesbian feminist rhetoric has gotten a bit moldy, your point is very well taken.  Nobody has ever gotten a good ride from biological determinism as such except hereditary nobility and upper caste members of rigidly stratified societies.  Generally the eventual application is -- well, if it is all in the genes, and we don't like it...just kill the carriers.  And yet, in our shame based culture, we've glommed on to this Ann Landers can't help it excuse with a  vengeance, left and right.  We might as well be debating realism and nominalism on the road to Canterbury.  

    There are many gay and trans people I respect deeply who are very much of the "I had no choice" school.  And I think all this stuff is a spectrum.  Several spectra, along different dimensions.  I strongly suspect that where you land on the spectrum is a very complex mix of nature and nurture -- the only place those two can actually be teased apart is in the minds of solipsists and fools.  

    I really think whether I had a choice or not is fairly irrelevant.  Nothing I have done -- and I'm a full on medical trans person who came out bi at 18 and transitioned at 29-- deprived me of anything functional in the human experience, except for the ability to have kids.   Nothing about my gender or sexuality is about harming other people (unless they ask nicely and we have a safeword).  I have many little hints of a genetic component in what I am, especially when I consider the other trans women I know well,  and no few cultural cues as well.  How the hell would I really know if something were genetic or not?  And why the fuck should it matter?  It matters only because in a world where people destroy each other and themselves over issues of essential gender and essential sexuality, I have no home, and so must have a way to be "real".  Begging the larger society for admission, based on some lack of control, is horrible.  Probably necessary, mind you -- but bankrupt nonetheless.  

    I'm with Stephen Jay Gould on this one  -- determinism is something we really don't know enough to posit and a historical folly.  It will be a long long time before we have that much knowledge of cascading and interdependent gene expression.  The political necessity that has taken us down this road is what it is, and for some people in some lives, it translates to personal necessity as well.  But as biology or as a firm place to stand, I think determinism is the worst sort of nonsense.  We just don't know.  We don't have the tools to know yet, though we are (slowly) building them.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 04:16:22 AM PDT

    •  Lots of agreement here. (4+ / 0-)

      The "question" should be mute and immaterial.  Human variation that a mature society shouldn't obsess over.  

      You also point out the sense in which the framing of the issue is simply a false dichotomy: brute biological determinism (always dangerous to defend) or an unconstrained choice (which is a superficial way of conceiving almost any choice a human ever made).

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:22:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While I find... (7+ / 0-)

        Many bothersome things in sociobiology, I rather appreciated EO Wilson's description of nature as a beach, with streams running down to the ocean, and nurture as the wind, with your life as a beach ball.  Mostly we run down a track but we can be bumped from track to track, and the wind can even change the shape of tracks if it is strong enough, or run the ball over clear sand.  It is a flawed but in some ways lovely analogy (to me).

        Almost everything in America -- including this site, with our goal of more better democrats -- is warped by opposition to America's authoritarian and religious traditions.  So whatever we say that carves out little spots for human dignity is pretty much OK, as long as it isn't too pernicious in itself.  Every election is another existential contest with people who regard folks like me as abominations better dead.  So with our necessary personal stories, or the lengths we take conformity before breaking away (to save our own lives and live in truth, whatever the origins of the need).  But Huxley was right too -- "sit down before truth as little child, or I will learn nothing" -- I think it is (at least once in awhile) important to tease out what is likely to be true or unknown from those things which history and our lives in history lead us to believe.

        Anyway, good topic :)

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 05:51:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Isn't this the truth (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Silencio, jessical, NancyWH, melo
          Every election is another existential contest with people who regard folks like me as abominations better dead.
          An existential contest, very aptly said.

          I think that even more than homophobia, the mindless hatred directed at trans persons reveals the pathologies of a bigoted mind. There isn't anything written in the Bible to hide behind, neither do the bigots bother to disguise their intent with dishonest slogans like "love the sinner but hate the sin." No, it's just unapologetic, naked fear and hatred of 'otherness'. To me, such a mind is utterly incomprehensible.

          •  Have had 20 years to understand it (5+ / 0-)

            and I think it is in the end not so hard. People are punished and rewarded in a gender-based context from the first breath.  It is no wonder that folks freak out badly when confronted by someone who transgresses that boundary, or that so much gets invested in it.  We are taught to class our virtues as manly or womanly, it burrows right to the sense of self. The reaction of most people is revulsion, contempt, and the assumption of madness.  The oldest poem I know about trans people, written by Catallus a couple of millennia ago, expresses that same feeling -- oh god, I can almost identify with this, and oh noes!

            To be fair, pre-existing ideology does not seem to be the determinant of actual behavior, when confronted by a trans person.  Good democratic folks who would support trans rights in theory have sometimes proven to be bigots of the first water in person, and people who devote 10 percent of their salaries to the Mormons have sometimes been the best and truest allies in the workplace.  As current events with immigrant children are demonstrating, right wing ideology tends to obscure the most basic values of decency, and I'm a total liberal and identify with the values of other liberals.  But person to person, the freaky varies wildly.

            Anyway...

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 07:28:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I had a relatively sheltered childhood (5+ / 0-)

              By all accounts my clash with the conformity-demanding society didn't happen until I was six years old, or thereabouts. I have tried to figure it out ever since. I kind of understand the aversion people feel towards the unknown, even if I don't share the sentiment; however, what I don't understand, even now, is the hatred. Where does it come from? Why do people willingly nurture something so ugly and destructive inside themselves?

              But, I guess that the question goes far beyond mere gender issues.

    •  And the goal is not to Determine Genetic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jessical, Silencio

      predisposition, the goal is to see what the contribution of genetic or other evolutionary steering device (hormonal? tribal survival? variation in personal development?) IS to the formation of gender. It does not matter really, in the way that other human attributes matter. It only matters inasmuch as people are questioning hierarchy of tradition, and checking to see if those older traditions are efffective in building civilisation or harming it. That is the political part.

      In some ways, then, the quest for the parsing of personal gender influences is an academic one, which has limited application in the world of the political, since we can decide the issue on other kinds of moral choices; what maximizes the human experience for the greatest good?

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:27:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Primarly innate... (5+ / 0-)

    I've done some study on the subject, though I'd like to thank you for sharing this article/discussion on the subject because it brought forth a few things that I had not previously considered.

    I do believe that sexual orientation is primarily driven by biology. We are attracted to what we are attracted to. There is nothing wrong with that.

    However, during the article I started thinking that maybe we are not attracted to certain people (i.e. same sex) because of walls we have built around ourselves due to culture, upbringing, etc. If we step outside our comfort zone, we may find that we are attracted to more types of people than we originally thought. And I say this while accepting Dave in Northridge's point about "trying NOT to be gay was a losing position for me" as a very valid point.

  •  sex is only sex... (0+ / 0-)

    HEY! everybody here, it’s  not complicated --  sex is only sex.  all that LGBT stuff is only in peoples’ minds.  ok, same as some folks get PTSD, their sex lives get screwed up too.    or like some people get cancer.  it is simply a matter of different kinds of human strength and weakness.

    as to CONSERVATIVES, it’s less about the category of sex, more about the demise of the family.  family values.    families go to hell for all kinds of reasons, but as of the 20th century, the traditional family is pretty much toast.

  •  Speaking as a biologist, it would surprise me to (4+ / 0-)

    find that sexual orientation was wholly or even primarily a social construct. After all, sex and reproduction are the very targets of evolution; the right plugs and spaces have to match to get the next generation. That the course of evolution had left some imprints to increase the likeliness of that is what I would expect.

    That said, there is some room to explain how some of the other varieties of erotic interest have arisen. There is fairly good evidence now that one of the significant factors in male homosexuality (or androphilia) is the number of older brothers. The exact mechanism is not yet clear, but the mother is exposed to male hormones during a pregnancy with a boy and it is believed to tie into that. There is also some data to support the idea that a homosexual sibling can increase the "fitness" of nieces and nephews. Combining those suggests an evolutionary angle that can account for the presence of homosexual men.

    The higher frequency of bisexuality among women has less data around it, but others have pointed out that it might have advantages in polygynous settings, and certainly there have been enough of those to offer room for its selection (or at least for it not to be selected out).

    The expressions of masculinity and femininity, the outward features that signal who is who, are obviously not biologically determined.



    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 06:54:16 AM PDT

    •  About that... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      serendipityisabitch, melo

      I defer to you and to others with relevant scientific training and knowledge.

      But, for my purposes, the political needs to be distinguished from the scientific.  Homosexuality is as "natural" to humans as anything else.  Gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals have existed throughout history.  That alone proves that it's a normal behavior in need of no special "explanation."  (In fact, I don't think the ancient Greeks even had a special term designating "homosexual."  It was just another form of human behavior and interaction.)

      Too often we -- our culture -- conflates the "moral" and the "natural."  We think if we call something "natural," that makes it "moral."  But that's a well-recognized fallacy.  The political problem stems from positing that heterosexuality is natural and therefore a type of normative (moral) baseline.  Then it seems to be important to come up with explanations that aim to show the "naturalness" of homosexuality, so that it too can count as "moral."

      Investigating human sexuality is a valid scientific enterprise, obviously.  But when "the science" gets too quickly and imperceptibly blended with "the political," then "the scientific" almost becomes a red herring, a type of diversion.

      (I'm not sure what my "therefore" is, but I'm pretty sure I have one.)  :)

      "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

      by Silencio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 07:18:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I am quite aware that science cannot explain (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio, melo

        morals! The gap between "is" and "ought" can never be bridged by science.

        I also agree that homosexuality has been present throughout history. What I was commenting on was whether the erotic impulse toward others is grounded first of all in biology and then modulated to some degree by culture, or whether erotic desire is wholly malleable and socially constructed. For biological reasons, I believe that the default setting is heterosexual attraction and that there is variation in this as in all biological traits. Some of that variation, like male homosexuality, may even be selected for in evolutionary terms.

        Evoutionary selection by itself tells us nothing about whether a trait is good or bad - that can only be accomplished by other kinds of analysis.



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 07:43:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And too, to really go out on a limb... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wee Mama, melo, Silencio

          There is some school of thought (Axelrod, Wilson) where Social Behavior becomes evolutionarily important and selected for in  hostile environment. I dont think it is too far to stretch to say that alternate sexual behavior DOES have survival value for Social Groups, and that is why we see alternate sexual behavior in all social mammals.

          In other words, there is a positive survival benefit from some men in the group, or tribe, to only relate to me, some to relate to both men and women and women to relate only to women and women to both genders. It may turn out in the calculus of survival that the bonds of communication and cooperation from such alternate sexualities are the factor leading to human survival in Tribal form.

          To put it another way, WITHOUT gayness and bisexuality, tribes had a much tougher time being effective tribes. WITH gayness and bisexuality, tribes found themselves at a competitive advantage in havng substitute parents, extra hands for warfare, people who could spend more time on art and technology, and storytelling and "tribal improvements" such as education, nursing and medical tasks.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:19:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The reason culture conflates moral with natural (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Silencio

        In this context we are talking about Christianity. But in truth, any faith or culture will see themselves as "The People" made in the image of, or by the hand of some spirit or god" and this gives them the Doctrinal Authority to declare (exclusively) that how they define holy, is also what is natural.

        Their god created or manages nature, therefore the order of that god (as per the interpretation by "The People") is defined as natural.

        See King James Bible: To against the order of God is as the sin of Witchcraft.

        So to go against that order in their opinion is to be prideful and is a statement that you know better than god how nature is supposed to work, and then members of "The People[of god]" get all uppity at the implied insult.

        1 Samuel 15:23 - For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry...
        This is the root of all cries, Christian Supremacists make whenever they feel the need to go all Values Voters on us.

        The bible as interpreted now and for quite some time, is against homosexuality and likens it and other sins with some pretty disgusting things. So this conflates the issues when trying to have an objective discussion about sexuality, identity, gender, and attraction from a scientific perspective as opposed to a religious one, specially a Biblical one.

        Chaos and Cosmos
        One of the oustanding characteristics of traditional societies is the opposition that the assume between their inhabited territory and the unknown and indeterminate space that surrounds it. The former is the world (more precisely our world), the cosmos; everything outside it is no longer a cosmos but a sort of "other world," a foreign, chaoitic space, peopled by ghosts, demons, "foreigners" (who are assimilated to demons and souls of the dead).
        Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane pp29
        This isn't just the root of Xenophobia, but really of any being seen even within the world who fails to satisfy the prerequisites of belonging and proper-ness according to the orthodoxy. If you don't fit in a recognized category for that world, or if you seem to exhibit characteristics that are a prerequisite for the demonic, otherworldly, fey, or just wrong, then expect rejection or even persecution (read corrective acts).
        For modern consciousness, a physiological act--eating, sex, and so on--is in sum only an organic phenomenon, however much it may still be encumbered by tabus (imposing, for example, particular rules for "eating properly" or forbidding some sexual behavior disapproved by social morality). But for the primitive, such an act is never simply physiological; it is, or can become a sacrament, that is, a communion with the sacred. ibid pp14.
        Please note I am not justifying nor advocating homophobia or gender bias, I simply point to the dynamic behind it in the context of this conversation.

        "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

        by GreenMother on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 07:16:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  One of the problems with biology ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silencio, melo, GreenMother

      ... is the bewildering array of reproductive strategies out there in other species, along with the "dual function" nature of many adaptations among social animals. That, and the evolutionary psychology of human sexual orientation faces a number of problems including:

      1. The limited number of surviving hominids sharing a recent common ancestor.
      2. The failure to identify a canonical heterosexual body or phenotype, much less genetics.
      3. Profound difficulties making behavioral inferences of extinct organisms or living organisms in extinct ecological contexts (such as paleolithic megafauna.)

      But, sexual orientation is obviously a social construct because who identifies/is identified as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual depends almost entirely on social gender, class, history, and culture, never mind that every credible theory developmental biology and psychology since the Grand Synthesis has attempted to account for both genetic and environmental factors.

  •  My position is this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, melo, GreenMother

    Sexuality is either a choice or it is not.

    And regardless of whether or not it is, my sexuality is not your fucking business and not your right to control.

    The whole question of nature vs. nurture vs. choice helps us forget the fact that, regardless of what the source of our sexuality is, our sexuality is our right.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 08:00:39 AM PDT

  •  I wonder how SEX got to be so important a question (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, Wee Mama, melo, GreenMother

    It seems to me that GENDER, SEX, ORIENTATION questions only gain such prominence and importance because of the context of severe Heterosexual Male Suppression and Economic Domination.

    I dont think, in a normal society, not much ado would be paid to any of it, as sex is basically like breathing, eating, walking, moving. I think we will look back in a future century and say.. wow.. "Those people were REALLy tied up tighter than ticks about not much of anything. They should have discussed the economic conditions which underlay all the anxiety and stress over gender hierarchies they created."

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 09:43:44 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the great diary. I have not read all (4+ / 0-)

    the comments, but...I have always thought that 'most' people were on the 'bisexual spectrum' (did I just coin a new phrase?!) in that I think if people are really honest with themselves they are 'attracted' to both male and female. We then 'choose' which way we want to be.
    I am a married straight gal, but I can be honest with myself and realize that I am attracted to 'some' women...not all, but that can also be said for the men I am attracted to. There are some men that totally turn me off. Why is it so hard in our society to say, I am bisexual but choose to be with a man?! Or woman for that matter and then switch it right up again?!
    I think that the reason is the word choose and society being what it is with regards to sexuality. It is easier for me (attracted to both sexes) to say that I am heterosexual. I don't have all the answers and I realize the diarist isn't really asking for a right answer but this has helped me to be a little more honest with my wording and how I relate to others. I do think that some are just hard wired to be either gay/straight but most definitely not all.
    Thanks for the lively discussion, going to read some more comments.
    Peace and Blessings!

    “When you victim-blame, be aware that in all likelihood, at least one woman you know and love silently decides she cannot trust you.” ` Steph Guthrie

    by Penny GC on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 09:44:03 AM PDT

  •  The point of social constructivism... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio

    ... isn't that sexuality and gender can or should be legally or medically coerced. It's to point out that cultures construct boundaries and identities for sexual and gender expression that are not the same even within our own culture, much less across different cultures and different periods of time.

    Even within our own culture, we have straight-identified MSM who need to be understood on their own terms and not necessarily redefined as closeted gay or bi men. (They might change identity at a later date, but that's their decision.) As I've been bluntly told by men from the Middle East and South America, American concepts of LGBT are NOT cross-cultural and assuming they are creates a bit of conflict.

    And looking at the social construction of sexuality means that we can look at the development of the "heterosexual" person vs. the "invert" as essential medical and psychological differences following the professionalism of clinical psychology after Krafft-Ebing and Freud.

  •   I think it's an XY axis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, GreenMother

    With some being very heterosexual, some very homosexual, and everything in between in one direction, and in the other direction some having a very strong drive and some a very weak/nonexistent drive.

    Oh, and I think you are born in a general place on "graph," with some having a wider range of attractions, and a wide range of strength of drive, but generally running in a specific area.

    That's barring something that affects you physically that interferes with your hormonal balance, like disease or injury.

    In other words, it's more complicated, and not just one way or the other. As my deceased spouse used to say, there are as many genders and sexes as there are people.



    Women create the entire labor force.
    ---------------------------------------------
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 11:31:13 AM PDT

  •  The Closet as Choice (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, melo, Renee

    Dunno if others have touched on this, but it seems to me that the endurance of the right-wing talking point that being gay is a (bad) choice is explained in no small part by the fact that a sizeable percentage of people on the right--particularly in positions of power--are actively choosing to be (good) straight by staying in the closet.

    The choice of the closet explains the deep-seated fear of sex, the need to police the sex of others (using the state to do so wherever possible), and the deep resentment and fear about public "displays" of the "homosexual agenda" being "forced down their throats."

    And, yes, thank you for making the point that those on the left who reply with the "born this way" argument tacitly admit to the shame set up from jump by the right.  "I cannot control it" has always struck me as validating the same sex-phobia and lack of sexual imagination that the right mandates.  

  •  Sexy times w girls (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio

    As a "straight" woman, there is a great deal of fun and pleasure when "running with another woman" socially.  It is very sexy and everyone around a social girl on girl petting feels the effect.  It is a good way to attract men as a team.

  •  Is it a myth (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, Calvino Partigiani

    that rats turned gay when a certain number were overcrowded into cages?

    Sometimes I wonder if the rise of gay-ok-ness may have something to do with overpopulation.

    As a species could we possibly be responsible for making sweeping collective -even possibly unconscious- decisions to express sexuality in ways that do not further burden a groaning planet with more mouths to feed?

    Socio-economics may even play a role, as in a failing labour environment featuring robotisation, outsourcing and the like, the possibilities of earning enough to 'set up house' and for a man to have a wife and pop out 2.3 kids are dwindling, whereas any autoworker (for example) could envision and probably afford that 50 years ago. Sexual energy demands expression and choices can be highly situational, such as men who would define themselves as straight behaving homosexually while in prison for example.

    I think jealousy can play a part in conservatives' irrationality vis-a-vis others' lifestyle choices too. If Mr X is struggling with a challenge to finance his growing family's material needs, he has probably less funds available to express his own different personal fantasies of looking fabulous and dressing up like Elton John, or spending big bucks on redecorating his apartment.

    What I also find bizarre is the cognitive dissonance in some men that liking active gay sex but not passive doesn't make them anything but 'normal'. Or sex with transfolk, another big wtf. The levels of denial in these sort of attitudes make my head explode! Why not just be honest and admit what you like and be done with moralising about it?

    As for how to cauterise this aberrational thinking on a personal or political level, it is relevant, and makes this into an Action Diary.

    I. Just. Don't. Know.

    About as tricky as solving the I-P divisions.

    why? just kos..... *just cause*

    by melo on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 03:06:37 AM PDT

  •  When one is forced to choose consistently (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio, Renee

    something that does not ring true with the deepest self, then over time that person develops deep anomie. Even if they have not comprehended the source of their feelings of wrongness and alienation or unhappiness. This is the deepest pit of a closet.

    You are attracted to types of people. And the major categories of types is homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality.

    That is how Western Culture frames the topic of sexual attraction.

    And while yes, this provides hidden rewards and punishments to people who comply, fit or don't fit in with society's expectation of sexual comportment, it does not truly touch upon the nature of any given person in question and how they experience sexual attraction and with whom.

    And when you mix all that up with other categories like "gender roles" it complicates it even further.

    One can be a straight male or female, and not satisfy society's expectation of preconceived gender roles/norms.

    One can be a Bisexual or Homosexual male or female and satisfy all the expectations of society's gender roles except for the fact that one is not heterosexual--meaning one can be attracted to the same sex occasionally or exclusively.

    And also, Human Sexuality falls on a spectrum. It's difficult to objectively classify norms or even pathologies with few exceptions, because the "One Size Fits All" doesn't even work for individuals who are exclusively heterosexual, much less all the other kinds of sexual expressions that can occur in any given population.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:49:08 AM PDT

  •  T & Red for the conversation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 07:18:44 AM PDT

  •  The delicate question IMO is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio

    how many people who claim the straight label have actually chosen that path because it has been hammered into them by family, culture and religion? When I hear the right prattling on about being gay by not ACTING gay what I hear is a lot of folks in the closet. Otherwise, how would they even get that idea?

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 01:03:47 PM PDT

  •  I've always felt that it doesn't matter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silencio

    if sexuality is a choice.

    Religion, after all, is a protected activity under civil rights laws.

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