It frustrates me terribly at times to read newspaper articles, blogs and other forums and see how religious organisations are copping a caning regarding their official’s sexual exploits, yet I never, ever seem to read anything, not even in any comments about the underlying cause – which in my mind is organized religion’s suppression of natural human sexuality.
If they didn’t attempt to stunt this natural human behaviour so many lives otherwise lost through suicide and murder, destroyed by substance abuse and violence would be saved I'm sure. I truly believe the world would be a better place.
I happen to believe that the majority of people are sexually diverse. Nothing like the percentages of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people that are often bandied around, and put forward the following hypothetical scenario to illustrate this point and hopefully inspire some meaningful discussion on the subject.
My partner also has another hypothetical scenario that I’ll post a little later, but for now this is mine.
Let’s say that we hatched from an egg laid by our mothers in the middle of nowhere. After laying the egg our mother left us to fend for ourselves, which we were easily able to do, and then she vanished into the distance. In other words we were completely alone with absolutely no outside influence from other human beings.
This scenario works for me to imagine in my mind, I guess any other scenario would be appropriate so long as all contact from other human beings was removed.
This is what I hypothesize in relation to human sexuality.
I firstly consider that no matter how our minds were wired or what genitalia we were born with, we would begin to sexually explore our own bodies from as early as we could remember. In fact I’ve read, but can’t remember exactly where, that human babies already do this.
I also consider that at whatever age it happened to occur, that when we first came into contact with another human being, no matter what their mind configuration or genitalia, we would also sexually explore the options available with that other person.
Therefore if a penis person first came in contact with another penis person, they would be likely to explore each other sexually. They may have an instinctual idea that pussy people exist, but without some form of indoctrination influencing their sexual behaviour, I doubt very much that they wouldn’t explore sexual options with this other person.
I also therefore doubt that they would feel any shame afterwards, nor would they feel any need to cover any body parts.
Now to expand on this example a little further and introduce a third person, I propose that all of them would be interested in each other, especially if say the third person had different genitals. I also propose that a threesome would naturally occur and the same would occur when a fourth person entered the group, however at some point there would probably be some pairing-up.
I consider that the first two people upon meeting the third person wouldn’t exclude the third person and claim that they were an item, thus I have serious doubts as to the naturalness of monogamy.
Once more and more people joined the group, smaller groups would start to form based on preference. Some of these groups would be simply heterosexual pairings and some would be simply homosexual pairings, but others would be groups of three or more, some may be strictly same-sex groups and others not.
I don’t necessarily believe that any of these groups would become absolutely exclusive, but at some point I acknowledge that greed and jealousy would enter into the equation and other more complicated issues would arise as a result.
I think podering what would happen in the instances you have described is a waste of time.
I sometimes wonder what society's attitudes would be if man had not invented religion (however unlikely that would be) or ponder why it almost seems to be a defining facet of most religions. In my experience, I have come across far fewer atheists and Humanists who have any problems with people's different sexualities [---][/---] a lot of problems people have originate in religion.
I came across this blog post yesterday:
Private thoughts of a young Kenyan...
As many will know, there has been a lot about the persecution of homosexuals in Africa, but this article is fascinating and gives an historical insight I doubt many were aware of.
There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:
1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?
I'll post my partner's hypothetical scenario below, but first, Getreal, but there are two ways that I can think of to start thinking about this if you're not able to imagine things from scenarios too well.
1. Do you think that the vast majority of people are exclusively heterosexual? Why?
2. (unsure of your sex), if you had never seen another being let alone influenced by another, and a person suddenly appeared with the same genitalia as yours, would you be disgusted by the thought of engaging sexually with this other person or not? Why?
My partner's scenario:
He hypothesizes that if you were able to take a mass of children, say 3,000 of them that had been taken at birth and had never been influenced by another human being, and form three equal, randomly selected groups, that the following would occur:
Group 1 was taught nothing but religious moral values and told that under no circumstances was anybody to be homosexual. That heterosexuality was the only acceptable sexuality and only for the purposes of procreation. He hypothesizes that you would find a very high percentage of compliance, say 90% of these people would be able to conform. Some would rebel, some more would suppress, but the vast majority would comply without questioning.
Group 2 was taught that every sexuality was acceptable and that all relationships were equal. Polyamorous groups of any size were okay and that while everything was acceptable, that individual preference was to be respected as was individual’s limitations. Everybody was also educated in safe-sex principles. He believes that in this group everybody would find their own individual tastes, completely free to explore, find a preference, develop their sexuality and be free to change their preferences whenever they wished.
Group 3 was taught that under no circumstances was anybody to be heterosexual. That homosexuality was the only acceptable sexuality. He hypothesizes that you would find a very high percentage of compliance, say 90% of these people would be able to conform. Some would rebel, some more would suppress, but the vast majority would comply without questioning.
Perhaps in the egg scenario, this attraction/preference thing wouldn't exist but it's hard to know since it's a hypothetical situation. I'm curious how much our early experiences of sexuality effects our freedom to explore.
In your three group scenario, there is very little mention of anyone having a in-born disposition toward one type of sexuality; it's pretty much socially determined.
Yes, so is mine. People are so guarded about their own sexuality, perhaps they know the consequences of not conforming strictly to monogamous heterosexuality, or maybe that as yet unproved "gay gene" exists and that's the reason? I just don't buy the easy way out very often and I've wanted to really discuss this issue (and an in-born disposition if that's what others truly think) in depth with intelligent people for a long time.Marian wrote:This is ... speculation.
My partner believes that much of human sexuality has been distorted by religion.In your three group scenario, there is very little mention of anyone having a in-born disposition toward one type of sexuality; it's pretty much socially determined.
In short, this isn't the kind of thing that can be decided upon using a thought experiment. Unless we can actually do this kind of experiment and see what the result is, then I have to agree with getreal, it's just idle speculation.
I'm in no doubt simply through my own life experience that the ratio between heterosexuality and other sexualities is nowhere near the 90% - 10% figure that is sometimes dragged out.
You ask 1000 school boys what sexuality they are and they'll all tell you they are heterosexual.
You ark 1000 men in public if they are straight and you'll get mostly pleasant responses. You ask the same men if they are gay and you'll get your head punched in at least half of the time.
This topic is so difficult to approach because of the irrefutable stigma that exists in society.
Okay, this is all anecdotal, actually it's not even that, it's hypothetical and it is idle speculation.
With regard to why you believe that you very rarely see straight people turning gay or vice versa, well, how do you know that you very rarely see that? How many straight men make their same-sex encounters known? Why don't they?
You've asked a couple of good questions though, please understand that my mood is good while responding. I guess that's what the smilies are for huh?
I suspect that the majority (not sure how big a majority "vast" is) of people are exclusively heterosexual in behaviour, and predominantly heterosexual in desire. And that the cause of their predominant heterosexuality is likely to be both genetic and learned. I think it is possible that human beings are "naturally" more heterosexual than other mammals, because of certain unique characteristics, like cryptic ovulation. Humans have evolved so that most (hetero)sexual activity occurs when there is no chance of conception. I think that humans use sex to sustain and strengthen pair bonding, and while there are distant evolutionary reasons for that, it is all tied up with human culture and notions of romantic love. And it's hard to separate these things out. But I think that perhaps it is better to think about sexuality and sexual behaviour not only in terms of heterosexuality versus homosexuality versus bisexuality, but also in terms of monogamous versus serial monogamous versus polygamous versus promiscuous tendencies. I think these things are complicated and interconnected.Kaoru wrote:1. Do you think that the vast majority of people are exclusively heterosexual? Why?
That assumes that I would have the thought of engaging sexually with her. If I had never seen another being, would sexual engagement occur to me? Well, maybe it would eventually, but I suspect there would be many other priorities. And no, I would not be disgusted. But absence of disgust does not equate to presence of desire. Disgust is an interesting topic that could warrant a thread all to itself (there's an interesting entry in the blog The Proper Study of Mankind about it, and see also "Dirt, disgust, and disease: is hygiene in our genes?", by Valerie Curtis and Adam Biran, downloadable as a pdf file). I don't think that all disgust towards homosexual behaviour (or, for that matter, heterosexual behaviour) is culturally created. Some of it is surely related to the fact that the parts of the body involved in sexual activity are the same as or very close to the parts of the body involved in the elimination of bodily wastes, and disgust about such things is more ... um ... fundamental.Kaoru wrote:2. (unsure of your sex), if you had never seen another being let alone influenced by another, and a person suddenly appeared with the same genitalia as yours, would you be disgusted by the thought of engaging sexually with this other person or not? Why?
Nah. Don't believe it for a minute. I think that's giving learning a far too dominant role, and ignoring evolutionary biology. (Sheesh! I'm normally the one who complains when the opposite happens!)Kaoru wrote:Group 3 was taught that under no circumstances was anybody to be heterosexual. That homosexuality was the only acceptable sexuality. [My partner] hypothesizes that you would find a very high percentage of compliance, say 90% of these people would be able to conform. Some would rebel, some more would suppress, but the vast majority would comply without questioning.
I am very much interested in the ideas of women seeing as my experience with this subject is from the perspective as a woman now, but having been raised as a male and hence all the mental data that I've collected has been mainly from gay and bi men.
It all helps to form a more solid understandings of things, I really hate being told "that's just the way it is". Thank goodness I'm not getting those responses here like I have been on other forums.
Women's sexuality needs to be seen within the societal context, especially since our sexuality has and continues to be controlled usually by men (although not always). Really difficult to figure out where one stands sexually if one hasn't had the freedom to explore, figuratively and literally .Kaoru wrote: I am very much interested in the ideas of women seeing as my experience with this subject is from the perspective as a woman now, but having been raised as a male and hence all the mental data that I've collected has been mainly from gay and bi men.
It's interesting that you bring up a change in perspective from male to female. I watched a program quite a while ago about adults who were brought up as either male and female but were born with either both genitalia or had surgery as infants to one sex or the other. The participants talked about feeling 'drawn' to either being male or female, as if there was something inherent within them that caused this rather than societal pressure. Some of the participants wanted to change to the opposite sex.
In some of these cases, I'd think that their sexuality would be tied up (maybe literally) with their wanting to be male or female as the case might be. My own experience is as heterosexual but on the occasion that I have been offered sex with a woman, I've found myself hesitant but curious. Not hesitant out of disgust or anything remotely like that but more out of fear/being unsure. Physiologically, my attraction has been predominately for men but I noticed there is a definite emotional component involved in this attraction; it's not merely physical.
And I'm normally the one on the receiving end of those complaints! As you might expect, I agree with you on most points Emma, although I think this issue has further complications that muddy the waters of understanding yet more. Humans conflate sex with the act of coupling - but sex is simply a form of reproduction that involves the recombination of the genes of more than one individual. Coupling (or what we commonly consider the act of sex) is only really sex if it results in the recombination of the respective partner's genes - but usually in humans coupling it is a mechanism by which we derive enjoyment, strengthen pair-bonds or establish closer social relationships. These non-reproductive uses of coupling have no requirement for the prescribed gender specificity involved in sex. Biologically speaking there is nothing to prevent any combination of couplings from occurring per se, since the action is a useful social and personal experience, however, sex is a complication of coupling - which is why certain couplings are a bad idea (mostly because of inbreeding, so father daughter, mother son and brother sister couplings are the examples where it's a bad idea - oddly enough in Bonobos, which are far better at segregating coupling from sex than humans, the only real taboo is mother son coupling). Also, where coupling is likely to cause harm it's probably a bad idea (so it's best to exclude prepubescents from the act). Outside of these concerns there is the potential for STD, but that is a standing danger in any form of coupling (including reproductive coupling), so it has no bearing on this discussion.Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I think that's giving learning a far too dominant role, and ignoring evolutionary biology. (Sheesh! I'm normally the one who complains when the opposite happens!)
Heterosexuality becomes important when reproduction is desired or required, since it provides the only possible method of reproducing (even if it is carried out via artificial means). It is this that is likely to drive the predominance of heterosexuality in a population - any individuals with a genetic or behavioural preference for heterosexual coupling will stand a higher chance of influencing subsequent generations with their genes and/or their behaviour. Also, once offspring exist there is a requirement to care for them, which in general terms favours a closely pair-bonded couple who have equal investment in their offspring, or a wider related family consortium, which reduces the scope for building additional close bonds, since such activity has a series of time and resource costs associated. This is a recipe for monogamous bonding in heterosexual couples. Religions have seized on this basic model for an efficient reproductive mechanism at population level (all the better to propagate their memes) and they have formalised it according to the constraints of their time (i.e. they are not formulated with modern contraception, mechanisation, disposable income, welfare and support networks, etc. in mind).
Kaoru, I'd like to take your egg idea a step further to give it a real life context, but to do that we need to describe nonhuman animals. Then I'd like to add the human elements to the generic animal to make a few points that I think are relevant.
There are species out there which lay eggs and leave them, so their emerging offspring are entirely alone in the world. Mostly this happens with insects and other invertebrates. These offspring develop without cues from a parent and yet they know how to continue the behaviour of their lineage. This is readily dismissed by invoking the basic behaviour of many invertebrates that appears to be strongly hard-wired. But some "higher" animals use this method too - and sometimes their behaviour is far more complex. Cuckoos, cuckoo ducks and some other birds have independently evolved life strategies that involve finding a host parent to rear their young, so their offspring never come into contact with a member of its own species until it's time to find a mate. So mate selection must be hard-wired in some species (and by extension of that we can probably include gender, since the individuals who pair with the same sex will not contribute to the next generation).
In other birds mate choice is far less hard-wired. By swapping the eggs of different species of finch so that the offspring are raised by a different species to their own, some types of finch will seek mates from the species of their foster parent - suggesting some kind of imprinting rather than a hard-wired response. Oddly enough, a closely related species of finch doesn't imprint on foster parents at all and will seek mates of its own species (I'm sorry I don't remember which species or the reference for this research - we covered it at Uni in our Evolution of Sex and Sexual Strategies lectures 14 years ago).
So the egg concept leaves us with the basic question that Emma identified - there's a trade off between the importance of nature and nurture. It's difficult to see what the outcome of this trade-off is likely to be for any organism, until we look at the broader behaviour of it as a species - including the cultural and environmental conditions that are likely to favour different strategies. On top of that there is the selection pressure for heterosexuality working at both the genetic and behavioural level, so I strongly doubt that homosexuality could become predominant in any population without considerable and sustained efforts being made to overcome basic selection (at least for more than a few generations).
This suggests to me that any genetic predilection for homosexuality that may exist in a population probably exists because of the cultural/religious pressure to suppress same sex coupling, rather that despite it. Historically, those unfortunate individuals who were forced to "live a lie" and have heterosexual relationships and families in order to fit in with the social norm would have been far less likely to reproduce if it wasn't for religious bigotry forcing them to conform. That is of course assuming a genetic component to homosexuality - something I have simple not seen enough evidence to make my mind up about. Still, it's ironic to think that homophobia may actually have led to a far greater proportion of the population being gay than might otherwise have been the case...
Sorry - I seem to have gone off on a bit of a rant there... this is an interesting topic and sex is a much more complex field than it might first seem and it's rather beyond me since I've not looked at the research for well over a decade.
I agree, but wouldn’t that make their sexuality a preference. If they’ve tried and not liked, or tried and just prefer same-sex, then it’s a preference surely? Therefore should those who claim that their sexual preference is heterosexual, only be able to claim that once they’ve tried something else?Marian: I've heard that often attraction and preference occur within the brain rather than just a physical response. I think that two homosexual men with no bi-sexual interests would probably not be all that interested in a three-some with a woman except perhaps a one-time thing out of pure curiosity. This is my speculation.
Granted it may not be the highest priority, but I do think that it would eventually occur.Emma: That assumes that I would have the thought of engaging sexually with her. If I had never seen another being, would sexual engagement occur to me? Well, maybe it would eventually, but I suspect there would be many other priorities.
Good point. So if you're Lesbian for instance, you have your sexuality repressed just because society dies that to women, but when you are allowed to express your sexuality, you're made to express one that isn't natural for you.Marian: Women's sexuality needs to be seen within the societal context, especially since our sexuality has and continues to be controlled usually by men (although not always). Really difficult to figure out where one stands sexually if one hasn't had the freedom to explore, figuratively and literally.
I've never been offered, nor necessarily pro-active in this area either, but Marian I can only assume that my reaction would be the same as yours.Marian: on the occasion that I have been offered sex with a woman, I've found myself hesitant but curious. Not hesitant out of disgust or anything remotely like that but more out of fear/being unsure.
How was I with my first heterosexual sexual encounter though? Eager, very eager, couldn't wait and was very involved. So why wouldn't I be as eager to try with another woman? I've never thought of it like this, but it's made me realise something to me at least about myself:
I have had the occasional erotic dream (while sleeping, not a day-dream) that involves other women. and they are fabulous, but if the situation arose in real life, I'd be hesitant. That smacks of something learned to me!
Paolo - I'm getting to your great response. I've just been busy.
I know this is stating the obvious, but heterosexuals are not attracted to every member of the opposite sex, and homosexuals are not attracted to every member of the same sex, and bisexuals are not attracted to ... well, everyone. We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, picky. If I were single, I might hesitate about having a sexual relationship with another woman, if the opportunity arose. But then I would also probably hesitate about having a sexual relationship with a man. To put it more strongly, I am physically and/or emotionally repelled by a lot of people, male and female. Lots of things put me off. I do not believe that "being put off" can be described as wholly or mainly a learned response. I think a lot of it is, for want of a better word, instinctive.Kaoru wrote:Granted it may not be the highest priority, but I do think that it would eventually occur.Emma wrote:That assumes that I would have the thought of engaging sexually with her. If I had never seen another being, would sexual engagement occur to me? Well, maybe it would eventually, but I suspect there would be many other priorities.
So, to return to your thought experiment, Kaoru, if I, an imaginary human being who has not yet encountered another human being, were to meet my first human being, it is possible, I think probable, that I just might not fancy him or her, that the idea of sexual interaction might have no appeal at all. That might be the case if that other human being showed obvious signs of sickness, for example, or was painfully thin or immensely fat,* or if he or she was much younger than I am, or much older. It might also be the case if that other human being was rude and arrogant or rather dull and vapid, or had an irritating high-pitched laugh, or was a chain smoker, or was covered head to toe in tattoos and piercings, or professed a love of country and western and wouldn't stop singing, off key. But it might also be the case if that other human being had breasts and no penis. And let's face it, he or she might not fancy me either.
Wouldn't there need to be an element of attraction, as Emma so wonderfully expressed it, before trying? I don't think it's merely one or the other but a mixture between attraction and learning. Biological and social.Kaoru wrote: I agree, but wouldn’t that make their sexuality a preference. If they’ve tried and not liked, or tried and just prefer same-sex, then it’s a preference surely? Therefore should those who claim that their sexual preference is heterosexual, only be able to claim that once they’ve tried something else?
Or you struggle with figure out exactly where you do stand sexually. If one's parents are say Xian and against homosexuality, it's gonna be a tough time coming out, imo. So you end up maybe forcing yourself to go against your grain, so to speak.Kaoru wrote: So if you're Lesbian for instance, you have your sexuality repressed just because society dies that to women, but when you are allowed to express your sexuality, you're made to express one that isn't natural for you.
No doubt we are conditioned from day one to conform to the expectations of our parents and society. Any deviance from that is quickly dealt with all sorts of 'techniques', ie. shaming by parents, name-calling by children, taunting by peers etc etc. In fact, we are taught to ignore a very great deal of all that goes on around us but that's another story.Kaoru wrote:I have had the occasional erotic dream (while sleeping, not a day-dream) that involves other women. and they are fabulous, but if the situation arose in real life, I'd be hesitant. That smacks of something learned to me!
In my experience of being asked, there was some definite physiological arousal on my part but I didn't feel 'driven' to continue like I do when a man I am attracted to expresses an interest.