Masculinity and same-sex attraction

I was talking to an acquaintance who attended a Journey into Manhood weekend. He was disappointed that his attractions to the same sex did not evaporate after the weekend. To be sure, he felt a greater sense of masculinity and much less self-conscious. During the first week or two after the weekend, he seemed to notice women more and did not feel the usual tug to look at gay porn. However, after awhile he noticed something unexpected. At what he felt was the height of his feelings of security about his manhood, he again experienced same-sex attractions. At that point, he began to feel an assault on his sense of manhood. In other words, instead of the sense of diminished masculinity leading to same-sex attraction, it was the other way around. His awareness of same-sex attraction came first and then his reduced sense of himself as a male.

I have noticed this before in the stories of men who describe SSA. The awareness of same-sex attraction in their early years (elementary school, junior high) came prior to struggles over masculinity. I guess once this association is made, one could trigger the other. I wonder if this kind of association is what makes the masculinity enhancing weekends so attractive to reparative therapists.

I see no or little benefit from them on either front although some men, straight and gay, believe they have been helpful. The New Warriors Training Adventure, recommended to SSA men by Richard Cohen and Joseph Nicolosi, rarely alters SSA even though many gay males say that they feel much better about themselves as men after involvement in them.

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  • Mary

    Warren,

    D o you think that some activities or events – while they do not directly influence our SSA one way or another – can have an influence in total that effects our SSA?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    @Mary:

    “An effect” is a bit broad. I think some activities can have an effect on whether or not someone thinks about SSA or is especially tempted to act on SSA. But do I think that masculinity enhancement rids a man of SSA? Perhaps a very few, but I do not see evidence to that effect on any large scale.

  • Katie Cannon

    I’ve been involved with a support group for sexually abused men call malesurvivor.org.

    It certainly seems to me that sexual abuse of boys leads to homosexual behavior. The majority of the men have bisexual behaviors, despite feeling emotionally/romantically straight.

    And it doesn’t seem to much matter if they were abused by either a male or female. They still have sexual identity confusion, or are bisexual (if you want to put it that way).

    Again, this seems the norm, not the exception.

    It seems to me that the effects of sexual abuse on one’s developing sexuality needs further study, though when you get 100 men who were sexually abused into one room, I think it becomes obvious that sexual abuse effects their sexual development. It would be good to end this debate so that these men can get more effective help.

    Why women seem less prone to have sexual identity confusion is interesting, but doesn’t undermine the fact that the effect is real for men.

    Katie

  • Lynn David

    Funny… it wasn’t until I had a relationship with another man that I felt my masculinity was not questionable. I think it’s how you look at yourself and what you see in yourself as imporant that matters. Likely someone who is upset over their homosexual orientation will always feel their masculinity is in question/being attacked. The old EDH?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Katie – thanks for commenting. I want to see if I understand your point. Are you suggesting that all or most homosexual attraction stems from sexual abuse or are you saying that sexually abused boys have a higher likelihood of engaging in homosexual behavior?

    So following your example of 100 sexually abused men in a room, if we had 100 randomly selected gay males in a room, would most of them in your opinion report sexual abuse?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Lynn David – I am really wondering about the order of events. I am beginning to think that the SSA for many if not most men might come first and be a contributing factor to why they often report feeling a diminished sense of masculinity. The ex-gay testimonies often have this order but the attribution for the SSA is the poor fathering or peer wounding which lead to the diminished masculinity and then to the SSA. Given how SSA is viewed by straight males, I wonder if the awareness of SSA, even in a gender conforming boy might alter that boys sense of himself as similar to other boys.

  • Lynn David

    Well, I sure felt that way when I was young. Certain things just kept building up one on top of the other telling me I wasn’t like other men, that I wasn’t a man. You get used to one aspect and it would hit you from another side. Even when I managed a relationship with a woman I felt even worse – and well, that wasn’t the standard fair for a female-male relationship.

    .

    So for me it was like coming to a point of completion that ended the struggle against myself by that acceptance. But hey, people put so much in your head when you’re a kid that you don’t know which way to turn when you are coming of age.

    .

    Honestly, I wish GLSEN was around in my high school. But then it was a Catholic school so the chances of that are slim and none.

  • Katie Cannon

    I’m saying that sexual abuse leads to difficulty in developing one’s own, idiosyncratic sexuality in a less abusive atmosphere — whatever that might have been without profound abuse.

    I am NOT saying sexual abuse CAUSES a homosexual identity.

    It seems to me that the science is good enough to show that there’s a bio-chemical predisposition towards which sex we choose as a potential mate.

    But we are ALSO social animals, and our sexuality is maleable to some extent in the sense that we’re not like fruit flys driven solely by the need to procreate.

    Are there probably instances in which a boy develops a homosexual identity because of repeated homosexual experiences and thus arousal patterns, memories, etc…, and the need to reconcile abuse with love? Probably. But then who cares as long as the guy is happy and able to love another person – a man? Would anyone care if I, as heterosexually identified, chose a man who looked like my abusive dad but loved rather than abused me? I doubt it. Most would see the triumph of love and the human drive towards attachments over abuse as something to celebrate — another color in the rainbow of human resiliency and adaptation.

    I find this whole either/or splitting between nature and nurture disturbing, though understandable give the political climate. Still, there’s every indication that our biological organism doesn’t make a clear distinction between nature and nurture, especially as epigenetic influences are becoming better understood. It seems to me that to pose questions of nature vs. nurture in black and white terms is like asking if light is a wave or a particle.

    Humans are probably born with bio-chemical predispositions to choose one sex as potential mates — but we’re also born with strong attachment systems, plastic brains, and the need to develop identity within a social setting.

    What would happen to the Bonobos if they learned that the sole Truth of who they are as sexual animals lay in their genes or hormones? Would they stop identifying as Peace Makers? And if they did, would they survive?

    Were the majority of Ancient Greek Citizens – read wealthy males – bio-chemically gay? There’s absolutely no indication of this. Their desire to form a social system trumped their bio-chemical predisposition.

    I suspect I’m bio-chemically pre-disposed towards heterosexual mate selection. But throw me into prison for 25 years and my bio-chemical predisposition for attachment would probably find me loving a woman.

    Given that we’re neither fruit flys nor billiard balls, the only political solution for sexual difference is compassion, understanding, and the more thorough internalization of, not only what science indicates about our sexual natures, but also about our natural need for attachment and love.

    Yes, we seem to have bio-chemical sexual pre-dispositions, but there’s every indication that this system works intimately with our attachment system, bio-chemically speaking. I don’t find this a scary proposition, but something worthy of wonder and celebration that we’re such cool creatures. And the Bonobos are too.

    And so to answer your politically loaded question: If you get 100 gay identified men in a room, will there be an over-representation of men who were sexually abused? My guess would be yes – to some extent.

    AND I’ve talked with men who feel they were born gay, but raped straight. And once we take the time to listen to individual stories in extreme circumstances, we begin to make sense out of the complexity of human nature and begin to wonder if the Truth of ourselves is that we have really big brains and these really big brains give rise to mind, and that science may never fully crack open this mystery. Though holding onto Cartesian dualism hardly seems the way to go.

    Maybe the only thing physics can conserve is energy, and if so, then what is the final nature of energy? Maybe information. So each molecule is a mass of information. Thus the bio-chemical information packets we’re born with is in intimate communication with the information packets of our post-uterun environment. No contradiction – no either/or – nature vs. nurture – but like light, we’re both a wave and particle.

    Which makes us really, really cool, whether we’re straight, gay or some other color in the spectrum of the rainbow.

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Just to clarify:

    My original statement was: Get 100 SEXUALLY ABUSED men in a room…. NOT get 100 gay identified men in a room….

    So I was originally pointing to the fact that if you get 100 sexually abused men in a room, the stats are extremely high that you’ll have the majority of men who have participated in adult homosexual behavior — and if they haven’t had sex with men, then they use gay porn, etc….

    If you get 100 GAY IDENTIFIED men in a room is a different question.

    There’s a therapist who believes very strongly that abuse does NOT cause a homosexual identity — ever. Yet even he can point to what he feels is an exception: A 62 year old man comes to the therapist and says: “I’ve always longed to love a woman”. The therapist asks: “So what’s kept you back?”. The guy replies: “Well, I’m gay”.

    If this guy were in a group of 99 other gay identified men, would he be gay or straight or bisexual…. or so influenced by what happened to him as a child that these categories are overly restrictive for this person? And he needs the freedom to practice self-determination — even at the ripe old age of 62? At that age, he might find staying within his social support network makes more sense for him, even if he feels his life could have been otherwise.

    Just as mine could have, just as all of our lives could have been otherwise.

    This isn’t such a frightening thing that our sexual lives are not set in stone when we ask why – what we get is the beauty and wonder of being creatures who evolved to attach and love as a survival mechanism. Looked at this way, we can even choose not to stand in judgement of rubber fetishist, but see his need for attachment, even to rubber where human attachment was too frightening, as an instance of human resiliency rather than some twisted sexual expression.

    We’re really going to have to get over this notion that as long as we stick to adult males or females, then we’re determined to do so in some simplistic billiard ball sort of way — and all other expression goes against human nature. We humans will attach to most anything, though given the opportunity, we prefer to attach to other humans.

    And to sound very 60ish, Love seems to be the answer to develop our own, individual idiom — sexually, creatively, etc…

    And as far as the question in the other thread as to whether a sense of faltering masculinity either follows awareness of homosexual attraction or the other way around — again there’s no answer divorced from an individual’s story. One size does not fit all.

    And for some it seems a matrix, not an either/or.

    For others it seems a task to re-negotiate their sense of masculinity as gay men.

    For others, the task is to re-negotiate their sense of masculinity as straight men who have homosexual fantasies – yet are romantically/emotionally drawn to women. And among this group of men, there seems a connection between prior feelings of depression or incompetence as “masculine-enough” before immersing themselves in homosexual fantasy. Still, it’s a cycle: if you’re authentically motivated towards heterosexual strivings, yet are aware that you have homosexual fantasies, then it’s going to be tough in this culture to feel heterosexual enough, i.e., masculine enough. If you don’t feel masculine enough, then, in this culture, you’re under threat of being demoted to either being “a girl” or “a fag”. So some guys say — screw it…. and throw themselves into a homosexual orgy, only to continue to experience authentic heterosexual strivings.

    A gay man might seem to do something similar, but he ends up still having authentic homosexual strivings, even if he wishes he didn’t.

    Or something like this — and so it seems to me.

    There’s lots to be learned from listening to individuals, and there’s lots to be learned from looking at the exceptional, like what happens when a Mack Truck slams into the side of your sexual development.

    We won’t fully understand how memory works until we understand the Savant, the exceptional, the merely “antedotal” (sp?). We won’t understand brain plasticity until we understand how a person can learn to read, speak, walk and jump when they were born with only one hemisphere.

    And we won’t understand the bio-chemical underpinnings of sexual orientation until we understand the very complex ways chemicals work on the brain, and a very plastic brain at that.

    In the mean time, our ignorance shouldn’t harm either a gay developing boy, a gay man, nor a man who’s sexual sense of self is in flux, unsettled, complex, etc… Tied to feelings of depression, linked to being addicted to the trauma, etc… Or linked to turning abusive memories to a more loving here and now.

    Katie

  • David Blakeslee

    Another anecdotal story…

    Can we really collect all of these in some meaningful way and draw conclusions that are helpful?

    I honestly don’t know how we can.

    JIM and New Warriors, as used by those who want to decrease their SSA are applied in keeping with Bem’s theory of the exotic becoming erotic…that is the theoretical rationale…not science; but then most of psychology is not science.

    Finding examples of where the theory fails anecdotally is not that meaningful; isn’t it a given that all theories fail to work universally?

    From prosac to blood pressure medication to surgery…full of failure, complications and exacerbation.

    If we are arguing for informed consent…well done.

    Any suggested labels for psychotherapy in general?: “The consumer should be aware that psychology tends to over promise and under deliver; that you are more likely to experience a mild improvement in your condition as a function of statistical regression. Moderate improvement is common. Cures are rare. In addition, any improvement may also result in complicating relationships with loved ones.”

  • Warren

    Katie – I doubt many people commenting here would see sexual orientation as nature or nurture. We are just about all interactionists.

    You have more than addressed my question regarding abuse and gay males. However, my question was not would sexual abuse be over represented but would most gay males be abused. Over represented yes, most, no.

    What you advocate is what I promote – assess the individual person, not homosexuality as some condition or entity.

    I think it is a valuable discussion because so many ex-gay therapists/ministries only see the relationship one way – if you are gay it is because you are diminshed in your sense of manhood. I believe that happens to men who might have been completely straight without their shaping experiences. I also believe there are people who become aware of SSA and then feel diminished due to the awareness — and lots of stories in between.

    David – I think Bem may have something to do with the rationale but I bet it is more related to reparative drive theory than EBE. Nicolosi uses the term “kitchen window boy” to describe his prototypical pre-gay boy. If only dad would get him feeling “his guyness” as Richard Cohen likes to say.

    Informed consent would sure be nice.

    The story is an anecdote which I do not generalize to all men but it did trigger some rethinking of other anecdotes I have heard and many ex-gay testimonies which highlight masculinity issues. Many of them say they always felt gay and then later mention the masculinity part. There may be a reason for it.

    In any case, do not take this story as the beginnings of a new theory, just an alternative way to think about common narratives and the observation that NWTA does deliver as promised for a lot of SSA men who stay in it and like it and stay gay.

  • Evan

    I doubt many people commenting here would see sexual orientation as nature or nurture. We are just about all interactionists.

    There is one category in which there is no evidence that interaction would play a major role – the people who went through gender identity problems and who majoritarianly grow up to be gay. As far as I know, most of them go through GID in early life, which makes interaction very unlikely to make a big difference in their future orientation.

    Actually, the case of GID children who experience feelings of intense dissimilarity in gender terms to their same-sex peers long before they experience sexual attractions can be considered a counter-argument to your considerations, Warren.

  • Evan

    This argument is very much like the one about reconstructing the past. The men who realised they were same-sex attracted created a cognition about the cause of their attraction after they realised they were attracted, but the order of events does not guarantee accuracy of observation. Their growing apart from the masculinity sphere may had begun earlier than they realised they were attracted. A later realisation about SSAs led to panic about gender gap and too late realisation that one did not keep up the pace with his peers in terms of development. This is one scenario that describes how later reconstruction could confuse conscious cronology with causality.

  • David Blakeslee

    “just an alternative way to think about common narratives and the observation that NWTA does deliver as promised for a lot of SSA men who stay in it and like it and stay gay.”

    My own, brief exposure to NWTA was riddled with gay identified men in positions of leadership.

    These were not men who sought out NWTA to ameliorate SSA.

    Gay identified men played prominent roles in both San Diego and Portland.

    One particular leader seemed preoccupied with sexual behavior and his gay identity (predator, with NWTA as a forum?).

    Others took their position of leadership responsibly.

    Speaking of Anecdotes: do we have examples of gay identified men who participated in NWTA who reported a decrease in the SSA (spontaneous remission)?

  • Katie Cannon

    Hi Warren,

    Actually, I’ve just now have had the time to look over your blog like I should have to begin with. But it was late at night, and this topic is dear to my heart in a personal way.

    But really, this is a great blog. The best I’ve seen on the topic. Good for you and those who participate. I look forward to reading more. And I’ve only glanced at the links you provide,etc…

    I’ll have to pass this on to other interested folk.

    Thanks for providing an open-minded, balanced forum.

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Bem has some problems with his exotic becomes erotic theory: he gives no room for identificatory love, without which the exotic is merely alien, not erotic.

    It seems to me that relatively well-adjusted gay men experience other men a both familiar and as the exotic other.

    Just as well adjusted heterosexual men experience women as both familiar and as the exotic other.

    Bi men? Who the heck knows… because there are so few fully bisexual men, men who are truly sexually/emotionally/romantically bisexual, most seem to mostly be concerned with fruitless, short-lived, attempts at shoring up a constantly flagging sense of self. But that’s just my experience. Just doesn’t seem orientation in a full sense is really the issue.

    And it seems to me that in a sense, many bisexual men experience both women and men as the erotic other because they identifications, and so experience both man and women as too alien, to “other”.

    Katie

    Katie

  • Drowssap

    Katie Cannon

    Actually, I’ve just now have had the time to look over your blog like I should have to begin with. But it was late at night, and this topic is dear to my heart in a personal way.

    Nobody knows why most men are straight while a few are gay. It could be different reasons for different people. But before you twist your brain in a million different psychoanalytical directions you might want to consider one thing.

    PANDAS is childhood OCD/Tourettes triggered by a common Strep Throat infection. Strep Throat gets into the child’s body and for some reason this triggers an immune response that leads to all sorts of odd behaviors and compulsions. One symptom really stands out.

    Though it is not known why, PANDAS patients overwhelmingly obsess about urination, which is not an especially dominant obsession in other OCD cases

    How in the world could a Strep Throat infection make someone obsess about urination? Who would predict something crazy like that? And yet it happens all the time. There is always the possibility that SSA or perhaps the building blocks of SSA or even a small but necessary part of SSA is triggered in a similar way. Every social experience after that might just be the icing on the cake.

  • http://pursuegod.wordpress.com Karen K

    Katie–I appreciated your articulate comments. I agree with a lot of what you are saying.

    Warren–Do you know the stats on the percentage of gay men who have been sexually abused? Not just from one study, but a comprehensive review of the literature? Has there been adequate large scale research addressing this question?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    I think this study is pretty good. Otherwise, the literature is not the best. More than one would expect by chance but not to the degree where we would look at sexual abuse as a necessary cause.

  • Katie Cannon

    It seems to me there’s a significant difference in the way most

    “bisexual” men experience their homosexual attractions as opposed to gay men.

    While it seems to me that sexual abuse can lead to a full homosexuality and identity, most bisexual men seem to be doing something more along the lines of a fetish, or partialism — even if they’re out of the closet.

    No, not all bisexual men come from a sexual abuse history, but it seems to me that a significant number do. On bisexual support groups, their polls show from 42% to 68% of bisexual men (whether identified as such or not) have a sexual abuse history. These polls obviously have the disadvantage that they are not “scientific” enough. The have the advantage that support group populations are at least trying to communicate and figure out how their life is supposed to work.

    Given that most men do not disclose a sexual abuse history easily, these stats, for whatever they’re worth, are still probably low.

    In my experience, most men would rather be caught with their pants down with a man by their wife than finally revisit their child abuse.

    I find it very frustrating that whoever the stat collectors are, they’re not doing a better job of it. Because frankly, I think a better job could be done. The few questionairs that I’ve seen really suck.

    And again, on the support group for sexually abused men — the norm is bisexual activity among both the straight id’d and the bisexual id’d men. Not questioning one’s sexual orientation is so rare that the men who do not will occasionally begin a thread expressing how “odd” they feel. Sort of funny really. The straight man’s in a minority.

    I have not spoken to one therapist who runs groups for sexually abused men who does not have the experience that most men have sexual identity confusion, or are bisexual – however you want to put it.

    Why in the world to the stats not reflect this ubiquitous experience?

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Drowsap,

    I think it might be the case that for some people, a virus can trigger sexual interest.

    But that doesn’t mean that experience doesn’t.

    And even if a virus is the trigger, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still process this through our big, plastic, meaning-making brain, and that our big, plastic meaning-making brain doesn’t in turn change the ways in which the virus works both in our bodies and our big, plastic, meaning-making, brains.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    Katie said,

    I think it might be the case that for some people, a virus can trigger sexual interest.

    But that doesn’t mean that experience doesn’t

    For the purpose of discussion, for a moment let us ignore all possible biological causes and assume that experience is the only major shaper of desire/ attraction, and if I can throw this in, “romantic love.”

    Let’s say, again for the purpose of discussion, that experience leads a boy or young man to have sex with a member of the same sex; let’s say that at some point, he likes it, finds it fills a physical/emotional need and that he continues with same sex relationships. Let’s say he can fall in love with a member of the same sex.

    All right. That’s one thing. Remember, I am pretending experience is the primary shaper.

    However, here is where I run into major problems even with this as a given: why is this man NOT attracted to the opposite sex as well as to the same sex? I am not asking why he doesn’t have sex with women–there are all kinds off reasons why a man might not wind up having sex with a woman. That is not the question. The question is …why does he not feel any interest in women? No desire to touch them or be touched by them? No desire to love them or be loved by them in both a physical and emotional sense?

    If experience accounts for his attractions/desire for men, then what sort of experiences would have shaped his lack of attractions/desire for women, all women?

    Are there really that many men in the world whose life experiences are/were so bad or so unusual that they preclude(d) his finding any women as suitable objects of his desire? When we think of all the men born throughout history and all the traumatic experiences of daily life in the lives of those billions of men, why have only a very small percentage of men had experiences which work to prevent any desire for women?

    Thus, the idea that individual experience can lead some boys to discover and accept same-sex as enjoyable is one thing, but the idea that experience would preclude them not just from having sex with women, but from wanting to have sex with women, is the most confounding thing when I test the experience model.

    If it were mostly about experience, I’d think there’d be a lot more bisexuals, men who were truly bisexual, men who didn’t have to fantasize in order to perform. And, I’d think this would be true for women as well as for men. Neither is the case.

    If there really are men who are truly bi, bi not just in performance but in mind–men who don’t have to fantasize about men in order to perform with women and vice versa–then their experiences have lead them to find both sexes attractive.

    Is it also possible that they find neither sex all that desirable, but that sex is sex, and that sex with another human being, male or female, is preferrable to self-gratification or to no sex at all? I mean, some people just aren’t picky about lots of things, right?

    Just kind of thinking out loud…

  • Lynn David

    So all the married guys who’ve hit on me were sexually abused as youngsters?

    .

    .

    I’ll be nicer the next time I shut one of them down then.

    .

    .

    But then the number of people who identify as bisexual is always rather low often lower than those identifying as homosexual, even moreso with men (women appear to be differently disposed and are emotionally bisexual – at least according to Bailey at Northwestern). That comes to something like 1% – 2% bisexuals for all men if you stretch it out. If 42% to 68% of bisexual men – whether identified as such or not – have a sexual abuse history, then that may just come to 1% of all men and yet Ms Cannon’s website claims that 1 in 6 men (~17%) have been abused. Are the other 94% of those abused identified as heterosexual but still interested in men?

    .

    In the paper to which Warren mentioned above, it is not even known the circumstances surrounding that abuse. Often a gay man may have sexual contact at a young age which by definition might be considered abuse because one of the participants is much older. And yet if you talk to them the younger participant (later in life), it might be found that they often were not enticed or made to have sexual contact but were themselves looking for it. Some may even say they were being coquetish.

    .

    So, I’m not really seeing this great overriding association between sexual abuse and homosexual. Although it might be that your bisexuals or men-seeking, yet-identified heterosexuals may have such an association. But the percentage of bisexuals would seem to say that the ‘problem’ does not come near the 1-in-6 figure for men who are sexually abused. ~17% of the American male population is not bisexual identified.

  • Katie Cannon

    I said straight id’d but with adult homosexual activity AND bisexually id’d. I didn’t say ONLY bisexually id’d.

    (And I was just being silly about the virus thing, just saying it doesn’t matter if we find a bio-chemical cause for some, for others it might be experience).

    I’m straight and, while I can have erotic responses to women which I mostly find quite pleasant, when I get closer up in imagining actually having sex with a woman, it’s really not my thing. I do have a personal homophobic barrier. Let’s say this homophobic barrier has a bio-chemical underpinning and makes me go “yuk” in response to female pheromones on a sexual, though not erotic, level.

    Given that, I still have a fantasy attached to my homophobic barrier. So even if there’s a bio-chemical underpinning, there’s also a psychological underpinning. And this psychological underpinning has to do with my own personal experience. My homophobic barrier is mine alone, built up from my own neurosis.

    And let’s get specific: Gay men who are heterophobic are not all heterophobic in quite the same way: Some are phobic about all things related to women, including high heals and skirts. Some love high heals and skirts and fake breasts, but hate real breasts. Some love breasts but hate the vagina. Lots simply really hate the vagina.

    So all these heterophobic gay men are going to have different fantasies that regulate their heterophobic barrier, and these fantasies are going to be psychologically associated with a narrative story unique to the individual’s life experiences.

    And yes, maybe I and they have a bio-chemical predisposition to build these barriers, but I doubt we’re wholly determined to do so either in the particular way individuals do so, nor with a particular degree of force.

    And it seems to me that many straight id’d men who have sex with men do not simply lack a homophobic barrier, but break through that barrier because of strong heterophobic barriers as well.

    And lots of exclusively heterosexual men have VERY strong heterosexual barriers: the stuff of mysogeny and all the Ted Bundies we see.

    Just as I, as a heterosexual woman, have heterosexual barriers as well as homophobic ones.

    Again, I originally addressed both str8 id’d men and bisexually id’d men. Once a str8 id’d man is caught having sex with men, either his wife or he will at least consider a bisexual identity. The stats on who id’s as bisexual cannot capture the ways in which some play with — rather than adopt – a bisexual identity.

    Katie

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Katie wrote:

    So all these heterophobic gay men are going to have different fantasies that regulate their heterophobic barrier, and these fantasies are going to be psychologically associated with a narrative story unique to the individual’s life experiences.

    I really like how you said this. I have worked with homosexually behaving men who were men of low libido and with little desire for male emotional connection but strong aversion to females. The historical narratives supported the present adjustment. However, with supportive psychotherapy, they uncovered some reasons for the aversion to women, developed a desire to overcome the aversion, did so, and “changed.” The historical narrative changed as well (My dad wasn’t such a bad guy after all. In fact, I think I was way too hard on him, etc.)

  • Ann

    Thus, the idea that individual experience can lead some boys to discover and accept same-sex as enjoyable is one thing, but the idea that experience would preclude them not just from having sex with women, but from wanting to have sex with women, is the most confounding thing when I test the experience model.

    Carole,

    I appreciate what you said as the focus in all of this should be, IMHO, not what individuals decide to do with their life regarding SSA, however, what can be uncovered via research, etc. as to the reason(s) an individual has no attraction to the opposite sex, and if they could, that would be their overwhelming preference.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    Katie, some points…

    1. I suggest reading some writings by evolutionary biologists Paul Ewald, Greg Cochran and then the scientific research of the last two decades about pathogens and the brain, and while you may remain skeptical (which is good, as all people interested in research should remain doubtful until anything is substantiated), I don’t think you’ll laugh at the virus notion. That was my first reaction and the first reaction of many until we read more about it, and until we established the bona fides of the people who indeed think it possible, even likely. The idea has gained traction as a hypothesis among many scientists, but American universities have, to this point, been unwilling to touch it. That’s the only way science has of testing any idea, but politics are, of course, involved. Seems that as the idea has lain before them for about a decade now, and as more have had time to consider it, it’s likely that opposition to its testing has been dissipating, but only little by little. That’s the way of all things, I guess.

    As this virus idea (actually the idea is that SSA may be the result of a side-effect of having contracted a virus early in life or that it is the result of an autoimmune reaction to a viral infection that once made its way to the brain) is so closely related to all the other research world-wide concentrating on viruses, the brain, and behavior, that it may be that while scientists are looking for one thing, they’ll stumble upon another. That’s often how it works in labs. In fact, it was studies of narcoplesy in which they discovered that a very small subpopulation of neurons were either ablated or almost wiped out while leaving everything else around intact, that led to the “germ” hypothesis of SSA to begin with.

    2. I am certainly not suggesting that one’s experiences can’t lead to anything in life, really. I do believe that experience can led human beings to develop a taste for just about anything in life, especially if they are tempermentally of a mind to try it first, to enjoy going against the crowd.

    I saw people in college take risks that I myself would never, ever have considered. I am thinking here, in particular, of their drug experimentation-in some cases taking LSD, even though they had knowledge that others who had done so had had horrendous trips, and even though they had been counseled that such drug use might leave lasting deleterious effects.

    I concluded that the risk-taking was, for them, the real high. However, it was more than risk-taking, for they could have taken risks of a different kind, but they chose that which was also rebellious. Risk taking and rebellion often go hand in hand. (I was a coward, and remain glad that I was.)

    I would imagine that some men and some women, as a matter of their personalities, might do the same with sex–take a risk, go against the tide, experiment with the “forbidden” for the same reason people like to explore the unknown –the excitement of exploring the taboo, the self-gratification that comes to some when they swim upstream.

    Thus, when you spoke of your own fantasies, I was reminded that there are people who want to sample a lot of things in life, especially if they’ve been around it (the taboo or what society has termed the unusual) a lot. You mentioned you have a “yuk” reaction to the ideaa of sex with women, yet you seem to be still interested on some level. I can’t know, of course, but your interest sounds as if it’s really an intellectual interest more than anything else, as even you said it wasn’t sexual. It’s just a thought, but perhaps it’s important to you to view yourself as a person who isn’t afraid of new experiences.

    Perhaps some men who practice sex with both men and women, fall into this category.

    As for men who have been sexually abused as kids (by men), still have sex with men, yet have sex with women, and identify as straight…I would guess the individual story could not be used to generalize much about others, but I also admit to knowing zilch here. This is for the therapists. I would imagine so much depends on the boy’s experience, its context, his reaction to it, etc.

    3. Pheromones–I don’t buy this. Yes, I know of the study in which people smelled sweat and urine, and it’s interesting, but our sense of smell is very unlike that animals, , and so far this pheromone stuff has come up fairly empty. Perhaps the continual improvement in our technology will lead us to one day to be able to detect amounts of this so-far elusive chemical, but so far it doesn’t seem to interest those in the field all that much. However, one never knows, I surely admit.

    4. I really don’t know what to say about gay men reacting positively or negatively to certain parts of the female body since, as far as I know, this hasn’t been studied. Bailey is supposedly conducting research on it right now–trying to find out just what it is about women that turns off gay men.

    I wonder if that will bear fruit. I mean, I am not sure that looking at different body parts of a body says much about why we are attracted to one sex and not to the another. Shown a picture of a woman’s legs, I might have no reaction. Shown a picture of her pubic area, I am sure I’d have another reaction, but what would that telllanyone? I didn’t grow up attracted to men because I felt aversion for a certain part of another woman’s body, did I?

    I have to think that gay men didn’t grow up attracted to men because they didn’t like breasts. They may not have been interested in breasts, but that was because they were attracted to human beings w/out breasts–men.

    I respect Bailey, but even he knows that women who reacted to bonobos doesn’t mean we are attracted to bonobos.

  • Evan

    carole,

    There is research that says men’s and women’s sexualities are different, that makes comparisons likely to mislead conclusions. Women are aroused by monkey sex and men are not; maybe in women sex is disconnected from object identification. Women are probably attracted to what makes them find security, feel being the object of desire and a bit ashamed. I would risk saying that women’s attractions are primarily not sexual, but emotional. Sex is in the back of a woman’s mind usually. It’s the other way around for us men.

    Interesting news about Bailey’s research into gay men’s reactions to women’s bodies. Do you have any other info on that?

    Also, this debate on pheromones and likes and dislikes holds some promise. I saw one study that found people could guess the stress levels of people they never knew or met before just by exposure to their smell. The researchers concluded that, for the first time, there is evidence that pheromones are involved in human unconscious perception. I don’t remember where the study is, but if anyone’s interested I’ll look it up again.

    I think it’s possible that sexual orientation is not entirely consistent on all dimensions of sensory integration. For instance, some men may be attracted visually to other men, but may prefer women’s bodies and be put off by hairiness and masculine skin. Different sensory systems have played different roles on the evolutionary scale for mammals. We have inherited the smell-based sexual discrimination, the oldest modality, from the small mammals, like mice. New World monkeys and big apes have developed trichromatic vision, which made possible finding food from the distance, but also identifying mates based on colour (some female monkeys have a red bottom, which draws male monkeys’ sexual radar). The way we identify conspecifics does not work only one way, IMO. We are the product of superimposed inherited systems of perception which make us advanced and messy. The newest acquired faculty is always the most imprecise, but it offers new big opportunities. We are primarily visual today, but we integrate signals on many different channels of perception that can conflict sometimes. The nose doesn’t lie, but maybe the other senses can. You may not like what you like, so to speak. Wonder why some monkeys are depressed…

    We haven’t lost the genes for pheromone perception, but most of them are junk DNA. We use about 30% of what mice use, and other monkeys can use up to 60% of those receptors, IIRC. It’s bound that smell and pheromone perception still play some role, but the main driver in sexual attractions must be vision. I am looking forward to seeing Bailey’s results on gay men’s perception of women and I hope that scientists will work to understand the complexity of human sexuality beyond bias. It’s not mandatory that results from pheromone studies match studies on brain arousal on watching porn movies. Some straight men might be visually attracted to men but physically averse to them, while some gay men might be visually averse to women but physically sympathetic to their bodies. Freud didn’t like this argument. He wrote somewhere that this argument is similar to ‘hysteria’ making some women strongly dislike what they need most from men. If he is right, then learning can trump the barriers that Katie mentioned here.

  • Ann

    Women are aroused by monkey sex

    huh???? =-0

  • Evan

    Ann,

    It’s no longer a secret women can hide… It changed my view on women after reading the news. And the study.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Ann — I guess you missed this post…

  • Lynn David

    I know I did, but then I have an excuse … 😉

  • carole

    Evan said,

    Women are probably attracted to what makes them find security, feel being the object of desire and a bit ashamed. I would risk saying that women’s attractions are primarily not sexual, but emotional. Sex is in the back of a woman’s mind usually. It’s the other way around for us men.

    I agree with “women are probably attracted to what makes them find security.” I’d add this–women DO indeed react visually to an attractive man. My own experience and those of others (I know this is anecdotal, but let’s face it, women share their thoughts with one another in ways most men do not share) strongly suggest that we do indeed love to look at men, and that bells go off, although I realize the bells are not as loud as those men set off when they look at objects of desire.

    However, it makes sense that evolution would have given us women some brakes, brakes which allow us time to gauge a man beyond his looks. After all, we are very, very vulnerable physically. Even a physically weak male is stronger than most of us women. So, while a man may be visually very appealing, I think we possess a shift-down gear or two, gears which allows us time to take stock of him, to measure him, in particular to measure how he is likely to treat us. If he is not judged to be caring (in whatever way “caring” has come to mean to a woman”) then we can’t trust him to care for us even in the most basic physical way, and this is crucial for we are that vulnerable.

    That is why we are attuned to things emotional. If we sense a man will treat us carefully and gently, we are much more likely to feel free to allow the physical attraction to proceed as it will.

    Think about the stories/jokes that abound about men who finally pay attention to the stirrups in the doctor’s office. I think they “get it” when they envision lying flat on one’s back, legs spread wide, feet in stirrups , and a stranger coming at them. That’s a pretty scary thing, they realize. Well, that’s the basic posture of a woman entrusting herself to a man, right?

    Thus, from just a physical standpoint, one can understand a woman’s natural wariness. The first experiences of sex for most girls are not great–in fact, for many early sexual experiences hurt, even when the man is being careful and gentle or thinks he is. Imagine what it’s like for women when the man isn’t caring or gentle.

    So, I think the fact that sex can be painful is why nature has given women some brakes that slow us down and allow us time to judge the guy. Somewhere in our code, nature has given us the instructions that we must choose carefully. Is it any wonder, then, that a man’s character, his non-physical traits, wind up being as important as they are? Of course, there are other reasons women select for protection and security as well, but I don’t think we can forget the basic imperative to choose a man who will not physically hurt you.

    The bonobos. HAHA. This is my simple little theory. We women really do have a sense of humor when it comes to sex. We like playfulness and light-heartedness to surround it , at least sometimes. Now, I’ve never been hooked up to that little device and shown pictures, but I do have a feeling that watching bonobos would make me laugh, at least prompt a giggle or two. We probably find them cute and playful. Perhaps our reaction to watching them is a whole- body reaction. Perhaps something that we respond to as fun gets measured as a sexual response. Or…. perhaps the fun and playfulness of bonobos really does put us in the mood!

    Lastly, Evan, if you go to J. Michael Bailey’s home page at Northwestern, he discusses his former projects and his present projects, and among them is the study in which he wants to measure just what it is about women that gay men either don’t react to or have a negative reaction to.

  • carole

    Evan said,

    Also, this debate on pheromones and likes and dislikes holds some promise. I saw one study that found people could guess the stress levels of people they never knew or met before just by exposure to their smell. The researchers concluded that, for the first time, there is evidence that pheromones are involved in human unconscious perception. I don’t remember where the study is, but if anyone’s interested I’ll look it up again

    .

    I think I read an article about this study, but darned if I can remember the researchers. No sooner had I read it than I read one or two criticisms of the study, which doesn’t, of course, make it unimportant or its conclusions invalid, but which did dampen my enthusiam. I’ll have to search for both. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but sometimes my memory fails me!

    It’s bound that smell and pheromone perception still play some role, but the main driver in sexual attractions must be vision.

    If this is so, why can’t we study kids who have been blind or vision impaired since birth?

  • Katie Cannon

    Wow, this is fun, I wish I had more time. What smart people, and those who are science oriented, would you please type more slowly, I’m having a hard time keeping up :)

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Here’s a really important quote from the article on women liking Bonobo sex and almost anything else:

    “I would wonder if the men weren’t concerned about being labeled as homosexual or perverse by being interested in these things, and therefore their erections were inhibited,” she said.

    If men’s entire erotic/sexual life is to be defined by how much blood-flow there is in their penis, then you’re going to get a very restrictive notion of what the potential erotic life is for men — just as you get a very restrictive notion of what the potential emotional life is for men. Plus, then you have to deal with the conundrum of why it is that men, far more than women (and maybe ONLY men) have sexual fetishes, where sexual fetishes are strictly defined as absolutely needed in order for a man to achieve a full erection. Men are only turned on by either men or women, but not both, and nothing else? That’s silly. Lots are turned on by things like diapers, rubber, shoes, etc….

    Not to mention anal eroticism.

    Men’s more passive longings are shamed in this culture, so they go to the Dominatrix — or fearfully deny any awareness of passive longings on their part and claim it’s only women who are potentially passive, potentially penetrated – by either a look or a medical instrument or dildo, or, goodness forbid, anything at all. The anus is a grave, men’s psyche are Citadels, the entire world of the erotic, ie, bodily-based emotions, must be trained into Phallic Monism, and that Phallic better be aimed at the appropriate object, and only at the appropriate time. Don’t get a hard-on on the bus ride to school, you’ll never live it down.

    Bailey’s study, at least, did NOT claim there was NO increased blood flow to the penis, just that it was “minimal”. Only near or full erections was given “scientific” validity. And, of course, he avoided asking the men to pay attention to other forms of bodily sensation, increased hear-rate, goose-pimples, butterflys, etc…

    Men don’t like Bonobo sex? Men, just like women, would stop and look if they were suddenly confronted with two Bonobos getting it on on the side of he highway.

    Men will only “do” a woman? Come on, they’ll $#%@& a hole in the fence if they have the lube.

    How do we reconcile the notion that women get wet panties when exposed to anything sexual with the notion that women are “less sexual” than men????

    Women are always physically primed with the slightest provocation, but are naturally less sexual than their male counterparts who only respond to very specific and restricted stimuli? That is, if they’re “healthy” men who have been properly policed into feeling SAFE enough for the big erection ONLY when confronted with the right stimuli.

    Ever wondered why male-directed straight porn only hire male actors with really, really, big penises? NOT that all those straight men look…. And certainly not because when they look, it hightens their arousal.

    These studies are confusing the erotic with the sexual. And then permitting women an erotic life while denying men one. Their politically loaded. And if I were a guy, I’d be pissed.

    As a mother of a boy, I’m pissed.

    I hope my son grows up with a full emotional and erotic life, and the ability to perceive himself not just as handsome, but beautiful, and a potential object of desire of a woman who’s a potential subject of desire.

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    I’ll have to read the full article from Bailey — but he begins with stating: “a relatively objective measure is penile response” — same with lots of other measures of bodily change.

    Same with a person’s personal report about their own internal feelings.

    At least in regard to women, if not in regard to men.

    K.

  • Katie Cannon

    In regard to what Lynn David wrote: have sexual contact at a young age which by definition might be considered abuse because one of the participants is much older. And yet if you talk to them the younger participant (later in life), it might be found that they often were not enticed or made to have sexual contact but were themselves looking for it. Some may even say they were being coquetish.

    While I think it’s important to respect an individual’s perception of early sexual activity, it’s also without a doubt that our culture encourages boys to view early sexual activity as sexual initiation rather than an abuse of power. Even if a youngster is “coquetish”, the adult has the responsibility to act like an adult and know the difference between youthful flirting and a consent to have sexual relations.

    Taken too far, the “Man, Boy Love Society”, or whatever they call themselves, becomes just another way of life, and we can let our own children hang out with them and feel good about it.

    I tried posting a link, really don’t know how, but here’s the address, to an article about yet another female teacher who had sexual relations with a young student but only gets a slap on the wrist.

    The double standard is, in my opinion, shocking. How is a boy supposed to NOT take on too much responsibility for adult actions when we, as a society, refuse to recognize that boys ALSO can be harmed sexually? We really don’t like that idea. We really don’t get off on horror flicks of a psycho running down with a chainsaw an attractive young male in eroticised violence.

    We don’t allow males to be sexual victems, or to be penetrated by the Other in any way, and if they are, then the outcome cannot be linked to such penetration, but a reflection of man’s nature, including the unfolding nature of the “coquetish” 6 year old who “enjoys” and actively seeks out sexual “initiation”.

    Even a 6 year old male cannot be passive, but always active.

    The “coquestish” 6 year old girl, on the other hand, might be innocently flirtasious as well, but because HER true nature is passive, adults cannot take advantage of her merely passive nature.

    Anyway, here’s the address to the article of a 45 year old female who sexually abused (and yes, I’ll use the word abuse instead of “initiated”) a 14 year old student, and walked away.

    How messed up is this boy going to be…. How do we provide him a place of recovery when we don’t even recognize he needs to recover? Instead we give him the message that if he doesn’t feel good about his sexual “intitiation” in every way, then he’s a wimp.

    http://www.wftv.com/news/18813620/detail.html

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Carol wrote:

    If experience accounts for his attractions/desire for men, then what sort of experiences would have shaped his lack of attractions/desire for women, all women?

    It really doesn’t matter of the Peacock is attracted to the Peahen if his feathers aren’t long enough, full enough, and glossy enough.

    For men who seem caught in some sort of middle between heterosexual and homosexual, then the fact that they feel their feathers are not worthy of the Peahen, can create compensatory projections onto the female body. Just as many exclusively “heterosexual” men do — if you want to call a guy who kills and sexually mutilates women “heterosexual”.

    My boyfriend was sexually abused by his mother, developed a strong anal obsession as a very young child (age 6 onward). How do you tell the Peahen that your feathers are really quite poor, even if they might LOOK like they’re captivating?

    Not to mention just plain being afraid of women because you were terrorized by your mom.

    K.

  • concerned

    Katie,

    Your comments are a breath of fresh air for this site. It is about time we moved beyond the “I have always been gay” mentality and started looking honestly at how the kinds of things you are describing affect the emotional and psychological development of a child and how those experience influence ones self identity as the child grows into manhood or womanhood. There is so much very useful information out there these days it amazes me that some are still stuck in 80’s and 90’s, especially those in the field of Biology. Oh well, I guess we all have to move along our own path at our own speed.

    Thanks for your insights. I do believe that abuse is such a big part of this struggle for so many and yet there are still some that simply want to ignore or even make fun of it.

  • carole

    Katie said,

    It really doesn’t matter of the Peacock is attracted to the Peahen if his feathers aren’t long enough, full enough, and glossy enough.

    Just for my edification. I’m not taking exception to what you say, just trying to understand. Why do you suppose such a “Peacock” would feel his “feathers” are “long enough, full enough, and glossy enough” for other peacocks but not so for the peahen? In some ways, isn’t it harder to impress or to feel that one measures up to one’s own kind?

    For men who seem caught in some sort of middle between heterosexual and homosexual, then the fact that they feel their feathers are not worthy of the Peahen, can create compensatory projections onto the female body.

    I don’t understand what’s meant by “can create compensatory projections onto the female body.” Can you explain a bit further what you mean? Thanks.

  • Katie Cannon

    Hey Carol,

    My boyfriend doesn’t think his feathers are good enough for women because:

    He was sexually abused by his mom. He has a compulsive anal fetish. And lots of other things too.

    His feathers are great for other peacocks because, well, he has an anal fetish and lots of gay men play the exclussive “top” (penetrator), and think men who only want to be penetrated have fine feathers, the very best feathers even.

    If you’re heterosexual guy, then that old erection is pretty important.

    If you’re a gay/bi bottom, no need for an erection.

    Plus, to get a woman to bed takes at least a little social wooing.

    Lots of bi/gay men will do it with strangers without so much as saying word to eachother. In the dark, all feathers look pretty much the same, probably don’t even need feathers. At least they’re pretty much beside the point. Unless you’re the exclusive top, then you better have a big one :)

    Women: conversation, dinner, have to be at least employable, etc…

    Men: Here I am, free sex.

    LOL.

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Oh, projecting:

    Things like:

    I hate my lazy aspects, I refuse to own that I can sometimes be lazy — I’M not lazy… Mexicans are lazy…. All white people are industrious, all Mexicans are lazy.

    Men: If I admit that I too have safety needs, then I’ll look like a wimp, my feathers will look a tad less full than they’re supposed to. I do not have ANY safety needs. ONLY women have safety needs. If it wasn’t for women’s safety needs, then I wouldn’t be tied down to the ball and chain of women’s safety needs. Instead, I’d rut every single day of my life and my life would be one sexual pleasure after another after another, and my seed would produce more offspring than any other Peacock…. I’m a risk-taker, an island onto myself, utterly free of any dependency needs or bio-chemical bonding hormones… It’s not ME — it’s HER….

    By the way, there’s building evidence that men actually produce more oxcytocin, the attachment hormone, than women in response to sensual touching between men and women, especially kissing. Women’s oxcytocin levels don’t seem to increase at all in response to kissing….

    Just those little islands-onto-themselves males….

    Who tend to die at a younger age than females unless they’re relatively happily married…. and feel relatively safe rather than alone and stressed out.

    Katie

  • carole

    Katie said in answer to a question I asked,

    If you’re a gay/bi bottom, no need for an erection.

    I gotta admit–this blog is a learning place. I’d have had no idea that a guy might prefer this bottom position because he couldn’t achieve an erection (or one that he felt was impressive anyway.) That thought would not have occurred to me. I’ve read, of course, that men find the stimulation of the prostate to be pleasurable, but I assumed that such a man would also have an erection or at that point get one. Count me ignorant.

  • Katie Cannon

    Oh, lots of men enjoy prostrate stimulation — when they’re open to the idea, which a lot aren’t. And yes, prostrate stimulation can be a stimulation for an erection, and when there’s an erection, it can produce an orgasm. It’s supposedly an old prostitute’s trick, cuz at times of peak arousal, but no orgasm, a little prostrate stimulation can go a long way.

    Rob, and many sexually abused males, goes far beyond the ability to enjoy prostrate stimulation.

    For him, and lots of abused males, the anal fetish is quite compulsive as opposed to another source of pleasure among others.

    Also, for many such men, it tied to erectile failure, or the inability to orgasm, or both.

    And for many men, the size of the object used leans towards the masochistic, sort of like cutting, another common compulsion among adults who were sexually abused.

    HUGE amounts of shame is attached to all this.

    Shame is one of those things that makes our feathers seem to us to be all raggedy and ugly.

    It’s interesting to note that women have less sexual confusion than men among those who were sexually abused. But men live under the Myth of Masculinity. Women live under a different Myth.

    Katie

  • Evan

    carole:

    If this is so, why can’t we study kids who have been blind or vision impaired since birth?

    Ann and I have been asking this question on WT’s blog some time ago. But there are no studies on the sexual orientation of congenitally blind people.

  • Ann

    Hi Evan,

    Quick note to say I will read that article about monkeys you and Dr. Throckmorton referred to later today after work. My first, off the top of my head, thought would be that women tend to be turned on more with activity/movement rather than just visual pictures. Think I have referred to this before – women take notice when men are actively engaged in movement, whether it be opening a bottle, fixing the computor, sports (even playing golf), or just moving their hands when they talk. It is sexy to see men buckle their belt or put button their shirt (and not tuck it in). In that sense perhaps watching any activity that is sexual would and can and is a turn on.

    Regarding individuals who are blind – I really wish more attention would be given to this as I think it holds some answers as far as attraction. What do blind people visualize internally when they think of sex? How do they know? What are they attracted to in either gender if they cannot see it? Are they limited in their fluidity as other SSA individuals are?

  • Drowssap

    Since blindness came up

    The most common genetic disase that causes childhood blindness is Leber congenital amaurosis

    The prevalence of LCA is roughly 1 in 80,000 which is the exact kind of ratio you’d expect to find in a genetic disorder.

  • carole

    Someone on the gnxp site once mentioned that his experience suggested that there is a sizable portion of deaf gay men. He pointed to gay bars as offering evidence of this. Others pointed out that they had noticed this as well.

    A scientist interested in the subject was also posting at that time and had read the comments. He mentioned that he had heard anecdotal evidence of this idea before, but that so far that’s all it was—anecdotal. After all, gay or not, the deaf community is a very tightly-knit community, and the fact that there were gay bars with lots of deaf men might not suggest much of anything. It’s kind of like saying there are bars near universities that are populated by a lot of people in their early twienties. People seek out those like them. No big news there.

    As of that post, there was no evidence that had been collected using proper methodology that showed that SSA exists at a higher rate among the deaf than in the general population. This scientist added that were he shown that the numbers really were statistically significant , he’d be immediately suspicious that rubella was involved. ( I stress that he pointed out that he had no such evidence of this.) If numbers really did show something, they could check out the rates of deaf-gay men in areas where the rubella vaccine is administered to most boys and then in areas where it isn’t. They know, for example, in which areas of the country and in the world the rubella vaccine was first given, ( think it was in the mid-seventies) and records can show at what age most kids received it.

    I’d think that if there were indeed a connection between sightedness and sexual attraction, there’d already be plenty of anecdotal evidence, enough for someone to have at least noticed the connection, and perhaps studied it.

  • Ann

    I’d think that if there were indeed a connection between sightedness and sexual attraction, there’d already be plenty of anecdotal evidence, enough for someone to have at least noticed the connection, and perhaps studied it.

    Carol,

    I am not sure if much study has been given to it at all. Knowing that we “like what we see” or don’t, it seems as though much more awareness would be given to this aspect of attraction. I believe it is our primary sense and the one that solidifies all the other senses. If we smell something that appeals to us, we want to see it. If we feel something that appeals to us, we want to see it so we can form an image of it to recall. How do people who are blind envision an object if they have not seen it? It seems as though they would be much more open minded about what they are attracted to as they would use all of their other senses to discern what is pleasurable to them without being locked in by what a person looks like.

  • carole

    All I know is anecdotal: a girl on my floor in the college dorm had been blind since birth. She was a gregarious sort, more than happy to answer questions from those of us who pummeled her with questions.

    She said what you might expect–that her sense of hearing, her sense of touch was what she most relied on, smell too, of course She said, “I don’t need to see.” She was heterosexual, and I don’t think we ever thought of asking her why anymore than we would have asked ourselves why we were heterosexual.

    For now, I’d argue that if you were to take any of the 5 senses away, you’d not change a person’s sexuality.

  • carole

    Oh, I should have added, however, that I do think hypotheses about the senses ought to be studied. I wonder if they have done such things with mice?

  • Evan

    Ann,

    I’m with carole on this one. I’m thinking that if someone lacks a few sensory modalities, the way the brain makes sense of genders and the basic components of sexuality are not fundamentally changed. For instance, someone can be stressed whether or not they have intact vision. Similarly they can learn how genders are different using one sense to compensate for the lack of another. Vision is a medium, but sexuality depends on feelings. At worst, congenitally blind people would lack any visual imprinting that would influence what they find attractive (mothers for boys, fathers for girls).

    My first, off the top of my head, thought would be that women tend to be turned on more with activity/movement rather than just visual pictures.

    … women take notice when men are actively engaged in movement

    I thought as much, but “men” are specific, just as “women” are to men. Monkeys are considered non-human. Here’s my 5-sec explanation: women relate to sexuality and feelings empathically, that is, if they hear a female monkey moaning they might get a feeling that it’s sexually relevant, since women’s sexuality is more internal, emotionally and physically. Men place a great emphasis on physical looks in what they identify as sexually relevant, so seeing a monkey having sex doesn’t hold any promise.

  • Evan

    Katie Cannon,

    I read your posts, you’ve got good material to debate here on this blog. I wouldn’t know where to start. It’s not exactly about ‘what goes first, a sense of diminished masculinity or same-sex attractions’ that Warren wanted to discuss here. I’ll reply to your posts on a different topic sometimes soon. Stick around, nice to have you here.

  • Ann

    but sexuality depends on feelings.

    Evan,

    Yes, I agree. I still maintain that individuals without any visual reference can tell us a lot about how they developed these feelings and why they are exclusive to the same gender – or are they?

  • Katie Cannon

    Evan,

    Thanks.

    The issue of which comes first, a diminished sense of masculinity, which leads to homosexual attractions, or awareness of homosexual attractions which leads to a diminished sense of masculinity seems to be specific to the individual person. At least in my experience.

    I guess if we look at the very young boy who seems to be on a homosexual track, then we could ask which comes first, but I doubt a very young child would have much of an answer.

    Once we get to older people who can make sense out of such questions and thus ponder them the best they can, then, it seems, there’s a variety of answers.

    Just don’t think we can get away from phenomenology when it comes to sexual feelings and emotional longings.

    Among non-gay identified sexually abused men, it’s often feelings of depression, inadequacy, anxiety, etc… that come before their homosexual fantasies. Most would probably be considered Schizoid (though in the U.S. the diagnosis of Narcissicism seems to be more popular for those who probably more Schizoid than pathologically Narcissistic), and the homosexual fantasies seem to play the role of escape into fantasy that the Schizoid likes to employ as their major coping mechanism.

    Why homosexuality? Here’s things I’ve heard: That if feels like a penis extension. This is commonly mentioned.

    As a compensatory alternative for the continued interest in penis-in-vagina dynamic of otherwise heterosexual men, ie, it’s at least still a penis and a mucous membrane, though not the one the originally desired.

    That you don’t have to DO anything, you only have to be passive yet still experience sexual gratification.

    That it feels like a “masculinity injection”.

    Etc….

    Gay men, on the other hand, even ones who struggle to renogotiate their sense of masculinity in a predominantly heterosexual world, more simply feel attracted to masculinity.

    The other men feel attracted to femininity, but tend to feel emasculated, though not feminine per se. Some feel quite simply that their penises are straight, their butts gay. When they fantasize about penetrating, they fantasize about being the penetrator with a woman.

    When they feel a failure of being the penetrator (both physically and socially), then they seem to fall back on their butts, and fantasize about being penetrated by another male.

    Most feel that they are neither straight enough to be straight nor gay enough to be gay.

    Right now there are several men who are gay id’d, leading a gay life, but feel that they’ve done so simply because it was the easier solution. They are slowly coming out of the straight closet.

    There are two men who feel that they are more predisposed to being gay, but have massive flashbacks when trying to be sexual with men because they were raped by men, so they are learning to adjust to heterosexuality. While they find women less exciting, at least they don’t have anxiety attacks.

    There have been some gay id’d men who have used female sex surragates in order to see if they could perhaps adjust enough to heterosexuality to be satisfied enough to be a stable partner to a female.

    Just seems to me that the extreme example of sexually abused men reflects a very fundamental reality: that our senses — be it visual, olfactory, etc…. are themselves impacted by experience.

    And even if we found the “scientific” answer to which of our senses are most involved in sexual/emotional attractions, they are involved under a political, social, historical, familial, regime. There’s simply no scientific explanation for the dominant homo-erotic/homosexual political regime of Ancient Greece outside of taking into account the Myth of Citizenship of Ancient Greece.

    And there’s no science of heterosexuality or homosexuality outside of the Myths of our historical period either because I doubt we, though not the Greeks, live under absolute Freedom such that all we’re seeing is the unfolding of our bio-chemical makeup in it’s barest form.

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Evan,

    Do you really think men don’t like Monkey sex?

    Come on. Of course they do. Men like seeing all sorts of humpy bumpy. Who do you think downloads all those animal farm movies?

    How many men through out history do you think has had sex with animals as opposed to women?

    First off, these studies are implying that wet panties in women is equivalent to a full erection in a man. But there’s more to sexual readiness in women than wet panties. Full sexual readiness in women is a rather complicated physical happening, involving relatively large muscular changes of the uterus which causes the uterus to move.

    Wet panties is more like the pre-come of a man, which many men produce way before they produce a full erection.

    Again, these studies considered only a near or full erection as scientific.

    Where there was “merely” increased blood-flow, they considered a weak scientific indication of arousal in men — for some reason. Though increased blood flow can often result in pre-come in men — that little bit of fluid that you get on the tip of your penis early in sexual arousal. This little bit of fluid might be more alike to a woman’s wet panties than a full erection.

    At any rate, it seems to me that men are potentially just as polymorphously perverse as women — ie, they potentially have as broad an erotic life as women, but are policed into not having one — unless of course they become truly perverse, then boys will just be boys…. because they can’t help but be polymorphously perverse….

    And again, what these studies are saying is that, whereas in women, their subjective reports are what matters, subjectivity in men doesn’t matter, only the size of the their hard-ons.

    Then they turn around and ask a really important question: are the men too inhibited to get a full hard-on despite increased blood flow?

    It’s pretty readily accepted that one of the reasons a man has a strict fetish, like not being able to get a hard on except when he’s touching an apron string, is because it’s only under conditions of holding an apron string that he feels safe enough to get a hard on….

    The obverse of this would be that men might only feel safe enough to get a full erection in a clinical setting when confronted with what he perceives to be the safe object — ie, the appropriate object.

    Also, many men need some physical stimulation to get a full erection. Women who are orgasmic do not need stimulation for wet panties. Gosh women are great, aren’t they? Also, some women experience orgasms without any stimulation at all. Then again, we’re permitted to retain our polymorphoulsy perverse natures as long as we don’t laugh at men in bed. That’s about all we have to do, be a decent cheerleader and don’t laugh.

    The rest lies on your male shoulders — well, on your ability to pretend that you have a restricted emotional life, which entails distancing one’s self from one’s body because that’s where emotions live, and then training one’s self to shift a polymorphously pleasurable body to one that overly concentrates on the full erection as the sign of manhood. Just as these studies do.

    Katie

  • Ann

    Women who are orgasmic do not need stimulation for wet panties. Gosh women are great, aren’t they? Also, some women experience orgasms without any stimulation at all.

    Katie is right on the money!

  • Drowssap

    Katie “Cannon”

    This might sound like a crazy question but are you a member of the trangender community? I’ve read thousands of posts and over time I started to notice patterns in the way that different groups express themselves. Sorry in advance if I’m wrong.

  • Katie Cannon

    No, I’m not transgendered — very funny.

    I’m a 45 year old woman who’s more or less always been on a gendered developmental pathway congruent with my sex since a very young age.

    I did go through a period where I wasn’t thrilled about being female, but didn’t think being male was a better path, other than I sort of envy you guys for being able to wash your car without a shirt on :)

    So, what seems transgendered?

    Katie

  • Ann

    Do men of any age need physical stimulation to have a wet dream?

  • Drowssap

    Katie Cannon

    Doh! Sorry about that! I don’t know, I guess at least to me you don’t write like a girl. 😎 I can’t put my finger on it.

  • Evan

    Katie Cannon:

    The issue of which comes first, a diminished sense of masculinity, which leads to homosexual attractions, or awareness of homosexual attractions which leads to a diminished sense of masculinity seems to be specific to the individual person. At least in my experience.

    What do you mean by your experience? You’ve just answered Drowssap you’re not a former man.

    I guess if we look at the very young boy who seems to be on a homosexual track, then we could ask which comes first, but I doubt a very young child would have much of an answer.

    Why would it be difficult to ask whom is he attracted to and check a few questions on patterns of socialisation, play style and feelings of adequacy around his gender peers? Right now educators and researchers are already going further with preventing depression and psycho-problems and are monitoring children with difficult temperaments to identify problems before they hit too hard. It can be done the same with these issues, when they produce distress.

    the homosexual fantasies seem to play the role of escape into fantasy that the Schizoid likes to employ as their major coping mechanism.

    Any references on this?

    That you don’t have to DO anything, you only have to be passive yet still experience sexual gratification.

    I think you’re right about this in a social way too, besides the physical, considering that gay men score lower on aggressiveness. I think it’s plausible that some of them might have been attracted to women, but were rejected by both worlds and found their place in gay networking. Especially men who did not go through an atypical childhood, but were too shy to adjust to the mating competition sometimes later. It’s my impression that this is the case with some, surely not most of them. It’s like their motivation would be rejecting women because they were rejected, a sort of revenge. A “See me? See how good I look? Well, too bad for you I am gay and I’m having a lot of fun. Go back to your six-pack Joe or die alone” kind of thing.

    Most feel that they are neither straight enough to be straight nor gay enough to be gay.

    Are these cases of people you know?

    And there’s no science of heterosexuality or homosexuality outside of the Myths of our historical period either because I doubt we, though not the Greeks, live under absolute Freedom such that all we’re seeing is the unfolding of our bio-chemical makeup in it’s barest form.

    We can’t escape our own culture completely at any point in time, but we can and have to do what we’re best at right now. Science can, at worst, put society through some therapy until it comes clean with the subject. Eric Vilain, the gender expert from UCLA, thinks that everyone is a bit gay and that this will be reflected in the results of genetic studies waiting to be revealed, he doesn’t think it’s going to be a normal-abnormal divide. Considering that some have tried to be straight but failed in spite of their best efforts, it will be interesting to find out why some fail even if they want to have a choice.

  • Evan

    Katie Cannon said:

    Do you really think men don’t like Monkey sex?

    Come on. Of course they do. Men like seeing all sorts of humpy bumpy. Who do you think downloads all those animal farm movies?

    We’re a large species and I can’t vouch for all, but I think they might download it for the women involved and subjected to zoophilic acts. I don’t think this type is in great demand, though. Maybe that study failed to include a few male clients of farm movies, but they wouldn’t be representative for anything. Women, on the other hand, were more aroused by monkey sex than by neutral stimuli. Researchers made it clear that monkeys don’t have sex like we do, so there wasn’t an actual movie but about 10 seconds of fast copulation, but that was enough to make women thrilled. Weird, huh?

    How many men through out history do you think has had sex with animals as opposed to women?

    I don’t think there can be reliable statistics on zoophiles, but probably most of them are men living isolated in farm environments.

    Again, these studies considered only a near or full erection as scientific.

    There’s a whole literature on best practices in sex research methodology. It doesn’t serve any purpose to split hairs on that, but they have set some generous thresholds for what is a sign of penile arousal and what not. Beyond some level, the penile enlargement is big enough to signal the gauge that it’s an erection big enough for engaging in actual sex. If a guy can’t get an erection with a woman, he can’t have sex with her. If he gets it with a man, you’d have to stretch things pretty far to consider him heterosexual.

    On the subject of vaginal photoplethysmography, I was never so curious to get into professional details why they consider it good enough for research. I know it’s controversial, but they still use it therefore it shows something. But the studies on sexual arousal are not so clear for women as they are for men. That’s why some wonder if women really have a sexual orientation like men have. Maybe women didn’t need one back in the prehistoric age, since men found them anyway.

    it seems to me that men are potentially just as polymorphously perverse as women — ie, they potentially have as broad an erotic life as women, but are policed into not having one — unless of course they become truly perverse, then boys will just be boys…. because they can’t help but be polymorphously perverse….

    Freud used this term for infants, as far as I remember, to say that children have a plastic sexual potential (they are polymorphously perverse) that is shaped by social constraints to develop into adult heterosexuality. So those who grow up perverse, fail to fixate their arousal to their genitals and their sexual object to the opposite sex. What you said sounds like an answer to anything, but there’s an evolutionary argument that says women are attracted to men who signal health and status, not to someone of dubious sexual inclinations. Health includes being able to have erections and impregnate the woman, not so much waiting for her to peg him.

    And again, what these studies are saying is that, whereas in women, their subjective reports are what matters, subjectivity in men doesn’t matter, only the size of the their hard-ons.

    It’s common method for both men and women, but only men’s subjective reports matched their erections. Women downplayed their arousal to monkeys and lesbians/gays.

    The obverse of this would be that men might only feel safe enough to get a full erection in a clinical setting when confronted with what he perceives to be the safe object — ie, the appropriate object.

    Let me make one thing clear: erections can be controlled a bit, but one cannot command one when he’s not aroused. So you might argue that men withheld their erections to stimuli they didn’t want, but they couldn’t fake one when it matched their stated orientation. But then, you said we’re poly-perverse, so we could just control some and let others go, right? Considering it was anonymous research, no one would be labelled anything if they didn’t match reports with measures. There are other studies in which homophobic straight men failed to control their erections when watching men-on-men porn. So there isn’t much of control for men when it’s genuine.

  • Ann

    Considering that some have tried to be straight but failed in spite of their best efforts, it will be interesting to find out why some fail even if they want to have a choice.

    Evan,

    If this could be the concentrated focus I think we would have most of the answers to the questions that have perplexed so many for so long. Your statement above transcends both the political and social contentions that seem to be the current focus which has gotten us, well, NO WHERE.

  • Evan

    Ann,

    Right. People, straight or gay, are still too political about it, as if there were something to hide. If anyone’s OK with finding the truth, I say we see the facts for both men and women. After the Sanders study comes out, they promised they’ll do another genetic study on the sexual orientation of women, so we’ll have the entire picture right from the roots.

  • http://pursuegod.wordpress.com Karen K

    In regards to the deaf–I don’t think there is solid study to say one way or another whether homosexuality is more prevelant among the deaf. Though I have heard that as well. The interesting thing is that there is a higher rate of sexual abuse indicated in some studies for the deaf (and those with disabilities in general). Part of this is because deaf children will sometimes be sent to schools for the deaf–as young as five years old. And, they live in dormitories where they may be abused by older residents etc. This seems to be something that can occur at any boarding school.

    Also, a very, very small minority of parents learn sign language enough to communicate deeply with their deaf children. And the parent who does is usually the mother. So, for many deaf, there can be a break down in the relationship with parents because of the lack of ability to communicate clearly, particularly with the father (think Mr. Holland’s Opus for example).

    If there was a higher percentage among deaf, then these sociological factors would have to be considered, not just biological–like rubella, etc. Plus, deafness can result from different sources– not just rubella.

  • carole

    Ann,

    I’ll try to find the % who are deaf because of rubella. I know it’s as high as 1/3 and maybe higher, but frankly, I forget. I may not be able to search for it right now, however.

    The point is that if they actually were able to establish that the numbers of SSA were significantly higher among the deaf, they’d likely be able to look for specific signs which either supoorted or refuted that it was rubella that caused the loss of hearing. There is, I believe, specific biological evidence of deafness from a rubella infection.

  • carole

    Just another thought—-

    Situation: Man gets erection when exposed to stimulus he likes (as opposed to an erection due to nervousness, fear, etc.)

    Result: Man wants to have sex, raring to go right then and there

    Situation: Woman feels a stirring when exposed to stimulus she likes:

    Result: Woman might or might not want to proceed further at that point–sooooo many variables control the choice!

  • Ann

    Carole,

    I think your response was for Karen K, however, I just want to say that I believe rubella and other childhood diseases, including chicken pox, and their vaccinations (I know that is controversial) can and does cause loss of hearing. I also can see how it can attack and shut down other vital parts of our bodies. I know two people who are deaf because of chicken pox, however, neither are attracted to the same gender. I also know someone who had a seizure from a rubella vaccination as a toddler, lost his hearing, and is SGA. I honestly think you and Drowssap have touched on an interesting, if not very valid possibility about germs, etc. and the havoc they can wreak on a child’s body. It also applies to the one constant throughout time and that is physical illnesses caused by germs.

  • Ann

    Situation: Woman feels a stirring when exposed to stimulus she likes:

    Result: Woman might or might not want to proceed further at that point–sooooo many variables control the choice!

    Carole,

    I also believe that when men think of sex, they are thinking of the end result of that thought – an orgasm. That makes the decision to proceed much easier about the circumstances and consequences involved. They are less discriminating – there is a goal in mind. Kind of like when they go to the store – they know what they want and are in and out (pardon the pun) with the goal they went for. When women think of sex, well, we know an orgasm is possible but that is not necessarily our driving force. We enjoy the process. Isn’t it the same as when we go shopping – we know what we want but enjoy the process and all that goes into it.

  • carole

    Ann said,

    I also believe that when men think of sex, they are thinking of the end result of that thought – an orgasm. That makes the decision to proceed much easier about the circumstances and consequences involved. They are less discriminating – there is a goal in mind. Kind of like when they go to the store – they know what they want and are in and out (pardon the pun) with the goal they went for. When women think of sex, well, we know an orgasm is possible but that is not necessarily our driving force. We enjoy the process. Isn’t it the same as when we go shopping – we know what we want but enjoy the process and all that goes into it.

    I was going to take out just a few sentence to highlight, but the whole thing was so good I just had to quote the whole thing. Good job, Ann.

    “Yes” to all of it, and it’s not just the result of social, cultural conditioning. Surely the differences in anatomical construction between men and women account for most of this. That is why in my post I said, “Man gets erection” while “Woman feels a stirring.” That stirring has to build to the point that she wants to have sex; and if it does, she enjoys the journey to its destination. The guy already has reached the point that he is ready to have sex once he gets the erection. Hopefully, most men learn the journey is pleasurable too.

  • carole

    Yes, sorry, Ann. My comment about measles should have been addressed to Karen.

    Those for whom rubella has caused a lot of problems often have more than just hearing loss. Many are undersized, for example.

    Ann said,

    I honestly think you and Drowssap have touched on an interesting, if not very valid possibility about germs, etc. and the havoc they can wreak on a child’s body

    .

    I think Drowssap would agree with me that we are not discounting that personal experiences, particularly in one’s youth, can lead people in all sorts of directions in life. I certainly believe that. I don’t, however, believe that personal experience accounts for the greatest % of homosexuality.

    He and I are interested not with same-sex behavior (as practiced by some cultures or in boarding schools, prisons, etc.) but by exclusive homosexuality. Perhaps that distinction doesn’t matter to others, but he and I do make the distinction. (Sorry to speak for you Drowssap; if I am wrong, please feel free to correct me.) And, yes, I do know that many on this stie don’t think too much of the ideas of evolutionary biologists, but that he and I do. To the biologist, the fact that a person doesn’t eat is not all that interesting. There may be a variety of reasons he or she doesn’t eat (lack of food, has chosen to go on a diet, is observing a religious rite, is saving the food for others in the family, etc.) The interesting thing to the biologist is the person who hasn’t the desire to eat (feels even a revulsion when food is placed in front of him ) even with or without all all those other factors. And it’s almost always a biological reason that is the cause of that person’s lack of appetite.

    Thus, yes, we tend to look for the biological–why no appetite for the opposite sex?

  • Ann

    He and I are interested not with same-sex behavior (as practiced by some cultures or in boarding schools, prisons, etc.) but by exclusive homosexuality

    Carole,

    This is what I am interested in as well – contrary to the assumptions others have about my interest in this subject, I have never been concerned about same sex attraction or behavior or the people who are content with their orientation. It is the inability of individuals to have opposite gender attractions and sexual feelings that has my focus. If given the choice, most would overwhelmingly say they would prefer to be heterosexual. This is what they want but feel it is an impossibility for them. Why others pretend that these individuals do not exist or deserve something so reasonable is unconscionable to me.

  • carole

    Ann said,

    It is the inability of individuals to have opposite gender attractions and sexual feelings that has my focus. If given the choice, most would overwhelmingly say they would prefer to be heterosexual. This is what they want but feel it is an impossibility for them. Why others pretend that these individuals do not exist or deserve something so reasonable is unconscionable to me.

    I see what you are saying. Since I have been reading posts on this board, which is not really all that long, I’ve noticed that there are those that truly seem to respect that desire to which you refer, and those who seem to somehow feel threatened or upset in some way when those desires are expressed.

  • Ann

    I see what you are saying.

    Thank you Carole – I appreciate this and your observation.

  • Drowssap

    Carole

    He and I are interested not with same-sex behavior (as practiced by some cultures or in boarding schools, prisons, etc.) but by exclusive homosexuality. Perhaps that distinction doesn’t matter to others, but he and I do make the distinction. (Sorry to speak for you Drowssap; if I am wrong, please feel free to correct me.)

    Feel free to speak for me, you are exactly right. 😎

  • Jayhuck

    Ann,

    What about black people who want to be white? If there was a way for them to do this, would you support them? I am just curious!

  • Jayhuck

    And more importantly Ann, tell me why or why not! Do you think other black people would be offended by some blacks deciding to turn white? Why or why not?

  • carole

    Jayhuck, your question was not directed at me, but if it helps, I can try to answer what might be the reason for women, even though I can only see things from a straight woman’s point of view. For men, I can relate what a couple of friends have shared with me.

    For a woman–she might want to experience what it is like to love a man and have him love her, emotionally and physically. Looking at her body, she may feel it “fits” with a man’s. That is not a trivial thing if that’s what she is feeling.

    She might yearn for this “fitting” for many reason, the most powerful of which might be her yearning to conceive and bear children. The rearing of children can, of course, take place in other ways, but many women feel a yearning so great that it feels as if something is welling up from the depths. That’s what’s called the maternal instinct. It’s an incredibly powerful drive.

    Perhaps for a woman with SSA, it’s emotionally painful to her not to conceive in a natural act of love the way she sees that she’s been made and a man has been made. . Look at straight women who try to get pregnant and can’t. Surely you see that many of them are emotinally devastated by this, and each of them has to work out her feelings in her own way. It doesn’t do any good–in fact, it does harm– to tell them such a woman, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

    Now, I could list all kinds of other reasons for why a woman with SSA might long to be straight, might yearn to love a man, wished she loved a man, but the example I gave is, I feel, one so powerful , and one which is rooted, not just in the cultural, but in the biological drive, that I’ll not list more.

    As for gay men, two friends came to mind when I read Ann’s comments and then later read your questions of her. True, I’ve no way of knowing how representative they are of gay men in general, but I can tell you what these two have expressed. One is now 75 and the other is 44 so they are far apart in their generations and in other ways as well, yet very similar in what they have expressed. I’ll tell you about the younger one for the sake of time.

    He is a large animal vet in fairly rural Oregon. He was born and raised in a small town and went away to CA for college and vet school, went back to Oregon to live. Attractive, bright, personable, no trauma in his background. Told us that were a shot offered to him that would turn him straight, he’d “be in line in a NY minute.”

    When my husband asked him “Why?” he offered this: “It just doesn’t feel right. Never did. ” He grew frustrated explaining what “didn’t feel right.” Finally, he lifted his hands, and said, “I’d give anything to be able to feel for a woman what my brother feels for his wife and my father feels for Mom.” He went on to explain his desire for a family. Later, he explained to me that as a young man he had loved a woman, loved her deeply, but in his words, he “couldn’t make his emotions match the physical.” Hey, I didn’t ask for him to explain that any further. There was obviously heartbreak in there, and I wasn’t about to probe. I can’t begin to know what he was feeling or what he experienced. I just listened.

    Before you jump to the conclusion that society has given him the idea that there is something wrong with him, no, not true at all. He is too much the man of science to see it that way . Furthermore , he is an agnostic, and his family are not religious at all. There was no religious pressure on him –ever. When he was younger, he did live in a big city for a while and didn’t like it, not the people, not the lifestyle (the big city lifestyle) etc. He loves the country life.

    He is not a self-loathing man at all. His is a life busy with work and friends and hobbies, particularly fishing and boating. He doesn’t broadcast that he is gay, but the small town in which he lives does know.

    I don’t feel that I can speak for his feelings any further. I can’t get into his head, but I can only relay what he told us and respect his feelings.

    As for skin color–it’s obvious that you are okay with equating skin color to sexual orientation as I have read you compare the two before. This analogy works for you . I would offer, though, that skin color doesn’t prevent the physical union of a man and a woman and the conceiving of children whom two people joined in union then spend a lifetime together nurturing (raising and nurturing them and the grandchildren that often follow).

    I think it would be kind of you to consider that some people, not you, but some people, feel a biological drive to have a family in that way. Perhaps to them, it’s like scratching an itch, or maybe it’s like needing to eat or sleep. It may be the biology of it all, Jayhuck. Some straight men and women never feel the strong drive to have kids, and I imagine that some gay men and women feel the same. Others, gay or straight, want those kids and that family and extended family very much. Others may also want those kids and that extended family in what they feel is the most biologically natural way. That kind of union, that kind of experience may be important to them in ways it just isn’t to you.

    I have heard you speak of diversity of thought and behavior–well, this is one such example.

    Anyway, that’s what two of my gay male friends have conveyed. When I read Ann’s comments, I thought immediately of them. I know there are other reasons, but the reason most dear to their hearts is the one I gave you.

    You know, when I think of my friends’ feelings, I wonder–maybe it’s like a person who loves to travel. Say he goes to Europe, to Asia, to Africa, and experiences all the wonders of those places, his visits enriching his life. Nevertheless, does such a traveler still look at other horizons, places he’s never been, yearning to reach for those horizons too?

  • Jayhuck

    Wow Carole – that had almost nothing to do with my question, but thanks for the prose :)

  • Jayhuck

    And for the record Carole – quotes like the one you offered can be explained away quite understandably by the fact that society still sees gay people as pariahs – as less-then-equal – gay people by and large are not afforded many of the opportunities or rights that married people have – hence the feelings your friend expressed:

    ” Finally, he lifted his hands, and said, “I’d give anything to be able to feel for a woman what my brother feels for his wife and my father feels for Mom.” He went on to explain his desire for a family. Later, he explained to me that as a young man he had loved a woman, loved her deeply, but in his words, he “couldn’t make his emotions match the physical.” Hey, I didn’t ask for him to explain that any further. There was obviously heartbreak in there, and I wasn’t about to probe. I can’t begin to know what he was feeling or what he experienced. I just listened.

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    If it helps – I have had and expressed exactly the same feelings that your friend expressed – about it not feelings “right” – what I came to find out is that I was wanting something I had put on a pedestal – a family, children, someone to love – those things that society to willingly doles out to straight couples but makes it difficult if not impossible for gay people to have – although these things are changing. So while I sympathize – nay, empathize with your friend, his reasoning is easy to understand given the climate in society, even today.

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    The GREAT thing about today, is that there ARE gay families – thousands of them – society is changing – and your friends, both of whom are older, may not understand what younger gay people are coming to find out – that they CAN have a family and a marriage – to someone of the same sex – they can even have children – its a wonderful thing, and it makes me happy. The feelings that friends expresses aren’t new – they are in fact quite old, and I think part and parcel of those generations growing up being made to feel that they are less because they could never have those things. Its not difficult for me to understand why they would say such things. I, am in the process of having a child myself – and it makes me ecstatic :)

  • Jayhuck

    Carole – for goodness sake – surely you can understand the pressure that society can put upon a person, regardless of their scientific or religious leanings – LOL. No one is immune to that.

  • carole

    Jayhuck,

    Can you not at least entertain the notion that no two people feel things in exactly the same way, just as no two people perceive things in the same way?

    Can you not admit that your own experiences in life as a person, not just a gay person, but as a person, are vastly different from the experiences and feelings of another human being?

    My gosh, the fact that women all over the planet for eons upon eons have wanted to have their own biological children with men they love who, in turn, wanted to have their own biological children with women they loved should tell you how ingrained is that biological drive for some. Or do you deny its importance to so many? I didn’t ask you if you thought it was right or wrong to feel that way, but do you deny the existence of that powerful force in the lives of men and women who have peopled this planet?

    Can you not understand a woman’s desire for this? A man’s? No amount of technology can help them conceive and reproduce in a natural way, which to them may be important, even if not to you. How can you presume he or she should feel as you do?

    It’s wonderful that new technologies have allowed infertile couples or those who couldn’t carry a baby to term to have their own biological children, but you seem to dismiss that , at least in some people, there is a drive to conceive and carry in the natural way.

    My gosh, Jayhuck, the individual feelings of another person on this subject has no harmful effect on you. Why do their feelings upset you so… because it’s obvious that they do. Each time this subject comes up, you take offense that someone might wish to make a change if he or she could. They don’t want to change you. They don’t want to make choices for you. Still, you seem driven to judge them and deride them for their choices. Can you not allow them the dignity of their feelings much as you want dignity from society yourself?

    The only way you can allow them that dignity is to accept that you may not know at all how they feel and why they feel as they do as no two people have the exact same experiences in life or the same desires for the same reasons, etc.

    Have you considered that your experiences and feelings resulting from your interaction with society and culture is not what my friend(s) experienced or was not perceived by my friend(s) in the same way as you?

    Furthermore, since we know not what causes a person’s attractions, have you considered the possibility that what has caused yours is not at all what has caused his and so perhaps that could account for why your feelings and conclusions are so different from his?

    There is a dismissiveness in your tone and in your content that speaks not of understanding and sympathy at all, but of either arrogance or fear, perhaps both.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    I remember you wrote on this blog that we’re all shades of grey in terms of sexual orientation. Now you compare someone who wants to be able to love someone of the opposite sex with people who want to change the colour of their skin from black to white. It seems to me you are now equating black and white with gay and straight, which goes against your previous statements.

    Ann didn’t say that people who are completely homosexual (Kinsey 6) should be able to become completely heterosexual (Kinsey 0), she agreed with one of my statements that we shoud be able to find out why some feel no degree of choice to be able to have a meaningful relationship with a person of the opposite sex. I’d say that’s different from wanting to change from black to white.

    BTW, why shouldn’t straight people have the right (and the means) to become gay, Jayhuck? Are you opposing this right that they could have?

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    My Gosh – could you at least entertain the notion that I have some insight into how gay people feel? I understand your friend’s feelings because I’ve had them myself. Could you also possibly entertain the idea that society can and DOES influence how people feel – and that it does put pressure onto gay, and even straight people to want and desire certain things? How many gay people, out of societal pressure, have gotten married and had kids, only to accept who they are later in life – how many lives are ruined because people can’t or wont’ accept who they are.

    Evan,

    I’m not going against what I said at all. Even in terms of the orientation spectrum, there are those are are predominately gay – so much so that trying to have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex is doomed to failure. These are the ones I’m talking about – when someone wants to change something so bad because society has given them the idea that their life will be “easier” or “happier” if they do so – this goes whether they want to be white or they want to be straight

    And both you and Carole have a done a great job of skirting the question which was – knowing there are black people who do indeed want to be white – Michael Jackson is a good example of someone who has tried – would you or would you not support their effort and why? Just curious

  • Jayhuck

    Evan,

    One other thing – I think motives matter – it seems you and Ann don’t. So if the reason a person wants to change is simply because they have put certain things on a pedestal – or better yet, if the reasons are psychologically unhealthy – should we just let them try to change without tackling the reasons behind their desire for such things? I think not. I don’t think any psychologist or psychiatrist worth his/her salt would disagree with me either. It is telling of the anti-gay attitudes you and Carole seem to share in how readily you accept those wanting to change without looking at WHY they want to. A good psychologist would ask why!

    I also think that anyone wanting such a thing should be made fully aware of the dangers involved in doing so – obviously, and Warren knows this better than perhaps all of us, anyone wanting to change, there are those people, a majority one might say, who have tried to change and been hurt deeply in the process – not only them but their spouses/significant others and children – people close to them who have been hurt as well. I’m not so dismissive of these things.

  • Jayhuck

    Evan,

    FYI – I’m not just talking about the extreme ends of the spectrum either

  • Jayhuck

    Evan,

    Let me restate your own question – Why shouldn’t white people have the right and the means to become black (an often repressed minority that still suffers at the hands of bigotry and prejudice)? Think about what you are saying Evan – Seriously!

  • http://pursuegod.wordpress.com Karen K

    I can only speak for myself, but I desire a straight relationship because it feels healthy. As much as a lesbian relationship meets a lot of needs for me, it left me with a feeling that something is not right. Not because of societal pressure, but because there really is something not right about it. Its like the feeling one might get after telling a lie. Or, eating too much chocolate cake. A discomfort in my spirit that I went against how I am designed to operate.

    I just watched the movie “Milk.” I was expecting it to come across inspiring, and even though it was an interesting and good film to watch, what I came away with was how male dominated the film was. There was something bizarre about a virtually completely male world like that. It felt so unhealthy. For me that is what is wrong with homosexuality. That is what doesn’t feel quite right. There is an imbalance in same-sex relationships. There is a reason why God created two genders and why it takes a man and woman together to form life. There is a harmony and balance there that cannot be achieved with male/male or female/female.

    So, for me, my sense that “something is not right” is not about societal pressure, its that there truly is something not right about it.

  • Ann

    What about black people who want to be white? If there was a way for them to do this, would you support them? I am just curious!

    Jayhuck,

    I doubt whether I will be able to give a better explanation than Carole or Evan have already given you regarding your question, however, perhaps I can add a few thoughts.

    To begin, I think we might be talking about two different things or set of circumstances. Your question regarding the change of skin color from black to white is a cosmetic procedure and I am not qualified to answer how it would be done but I do know that people bleach their skin to fullfill their desire to have a lighter shade of skin color. I also know that people straighten their hair and have their facial features altered to look more caucasian. Do I support them in this endeavor? My answer would be that I believe the ability for any individual to have a choice, in any given set of circumstances, is paramount to their well being and that is more important to me than my own personal opinion about their decision. As you know, I do not like the idea of abortion, however, I would never allow my personal opinion or thoughts to interfere in the right for someone to make their own personal choice – I am just always hoping they choose for life.

    And more importantly Ann, tell me why or why not! Do you think other black people would be offended by some blacks deciding to turn white? Why or why not?

    I am not sure what the individual mentality would be for someone to be offended by another’s decision to change. Is it like the person who decides to stop drinking alcohol and now his buddies at the bar are mad at him? Is it like the person who decides to convert to Judaism and the Catholic Church shuns him? Is it like the person who has gender assignment surgery and is disowned by their family? Is it like the heretofor gay identified man or woman who has made a personal decision to delibertly live a traditional life with the opposite gender and is now ostracized by the gay community for doing so? To answer your question more specifically, I would just say that no one likes their long held, hard fought belief system to be challanged. It is more comfortable to right, even if it is at the expense of others who think they have to follow this belief system. I am cautious of anyone who tries to intervene or hold another back from personal progress just to accommodate their own agenda – I think it is selfish and cruel.

    The difference I referred to earlier is really simple. I have said many, many times on this blog that it isn’t what people do with their lives regarding who they love or have sex with that matters to me. You and many others do not have any moral dilemma or discontent about your sexual orientation. I believe the only thing left to accomplish is to have legal rights equal to those in traditional marriages. You cannot force anyone to accept same gender relationships, but hopefully you can receive the same equal rights. The above people are not part of my concern or discussion in this matter. My concern is with those individuals who do not think the same as you – *gasp* – yes, people actually do have the right to have different thoughts about things, especially how they want to live their life. For the men, they were born with penises and testicles, semen and sperm – they do not want that changed or altered – everything is in the right place except they do not have the physical desire to generate an erection with a woman. For the women, they are born with a vagina and they do not want that altered or changed – it is capable of receiving a penis EXCEPT there is no physical desire for that to happen. In both of these scenarios, they want to know WHY. They are overwhelming unhappy and discontent with their inability to have romantic and sexual feelings for the opposite gender. They overwhelmingly want to have traditional lives. Your line of answers to them are not acceptable because it is not their truth. It is unconscionable to pretend like these individuals do not exist and to discount them just to accommodate a long, self serving, and increasingly antiquated belief system.

  • Ann

    One other thing – I think motives matter – it seems you and Ann don’t. So if the reason a person wants to change is simply because they have put certain things on a pedestal – or better yet, if the reasons are psychologically unhealthy – should we just let them try to change without tackling the reasons behind their desire for such things?

    Jayhuck,

    I do think motives matter, however, they should be the personal ones of the individual, not your’s or any one else’s.

  • carole

    I got my answer from you, Jayhuck, at least the only one that matters . I just wanted to make sure that after reading many of your posts on this subject, usually revealed through discussions between you and Ann or you and Eddy, that I had actually heard you correctly.

    In answer to my quesions, you said,

    My Gosh – could you at least entertain the notion that I have some insight into how gay people feel? I understand your friend’s feelings because I’ve had them myself.

    1. First, I see that you mock my language by your use of “my gosh.” You do it twice. It is indicative of your propensity to resort to sarcasm. The phrase is a common interjection, Jayhuck, and you know that it is, yet you use it to mimic. Why? There are lots of specific reasons people resort to sarcasm. The most common is their feeling that the logos of their argument is missing so they adopt another strategy that is essentially a disguised ad hominem attack . The mocking of someone’s language is a disguised strategy to mock the person himself since the user of sarcasm doesn’t wish to attack directly, knowing ad hominems are likely to further discredit either himself or the arguments he is trying to advance.

    It never works except, perhaps, when it is employed by children on weaker children who are susceptible to verbal bullying, and even then, the user eventually loses his credibility with all the other children. It works even less with adults, for it’s a weak strategy that further detracts from the user’s ethos.

    Sarcasm is also used as a strategy of distraction. For instance, its use often provokes another into anger, and anger often results in the other person losing focus on his logic and in destroying his own ethos as he responds in kind.

    Another common reason that a person mimics is that he has taken offense at the use of a word or phrase. That can happen in print since one’s intonation and inflection are missing, but “my gosh”? It’s hard for me to understand that “my gosh” would be a phrase that offended anyone who is a native English language user or one who has spoken and written American English for years unless that offended person is one who wishes to see intended harm behind every nook and cranny.

    I understand your friend’s feelings because I’ve had them myself.

    2. The entire argument I presented was that no one—and I do mean no one— knows exactly how and why another feels as he does. You can only hope to empathize, and while this human capacity is a wonderful one, it falls far short of enabling any human being to know exactly how another feels as he does and why he feels as he does. If we had that ability then we’d each BE one another and obviously, we are not. As individuals, if my friend is “x” and you are “y,” by arguing that you know how he feels AND why he feels as he does, you are arguing that x=y. No, Jayhuck, you and he are not the same person.

    Thus, I got my answer–It’s”No.’ You really can not entertain the notions I asked you about, and ironically, that speaks not of an ability to empathize, but a disinclination or even an outright refusal to do so.

  • Evan

    Jayhuck:

    I’m not going against what I said at all. Even in terms of the orientation spectrum, there are those [who] are predominately gay – so much so that trying to have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex is doomed to failure.

    I think motives matter – it seems [for] you and Ann [they] don’t.

    Motives do matter, Jayhuck, also for the people who want to know whether their attractions are the product of development or not. But for you any attempt at trying to understand that is a priori suspect. You have already decided what the causes are for anyone and that they are good. Of course you didn’t – then why are you assuming that someone can only want to change for the wrong reasons?

    There are also men who have not been attracted to their own sex as long as they can remember. They may have memories of crushes on girls, hopes and dreams built around a life with a female. But they may also have attractions to their own gender. What is your message to these men? You have to be gay, your reasons are not your reasons, resistance is futile, give up. How many should do that if “we’re all grey”? If for these men, who were not born with attractions to their own gender, developmental forces played a big part in that, then they must have the option to work to adjust to that identity that fits their childhood and teenage background. It’s more intrusive to tell them that they should ignore their past attractions, erase their former self and focus on their present same-sex attractions because there can be no other reason why they should think it’s wrong besides social pressure. Maybe it’s their memories, their worldview built on sensations and longings that will always be with them however they identify. Would you like them to bury all that so that others would be more secure in their identity? It seems to me that today it’s not so much social pressure to identify as straight that is working in the social setting as it is the pressure to identify as gay. There are many people who reject effeminate men or masculine women and label them gay or lesbian because they perceive them to be different. I’m sure many of us have seen our friends or colleagues keeping distance, rejecting or gossiping about this type of people. I have to say that, before I stumbled on psychology and brain studies and got to a new perspective on the human mind and behaviour, I was quite stupid myself about the effects of rejection. I’ve learned a great deal about dealing with sensitive people, including gender non-conformists, depressed people, anxious people, etc. I’m still wasting a lot of time explaining others that they’re not doing the right thing by marginalising other people because they perceive them to be disagreeable.

    Now, you make an argument like this: gays are marginalised – then – same-sex attractions must be automatically right and any attempt at reducing them must be for the wrong reasons. But if in some men, same-sex attractions have a developmental contribution, both all-time gays’ marginalisation by society and your dismissal of any attempts at change are wrong. It doesn’t have to be either-or. You may be right about the cases of men who have been always attracted to men and wrong about others. It will be clearer when science will have more to say on the causes of sexual orientation. For me, it’s more suspect that you and others assume that same-sex attractions must be right in all cases even if you don’t know what causes them.

    knowing there are black people who do indeed want to be white – Michael Jackson is a good example of someone who has tried – would you or would you not support their effort and why?

    Whether you’re black or white doesn’t prevent you from having biological children with someone of the opposite sex that you love. Nothing compares to that, Jayhuck.

    Michael Jackson would be, in my book, the last person on earth to shape his appearance based on social pressure. Everything he’s done is in its own league, however you want to name that… I would bet that his passion for metamorphosis in many ways has something to do with his sexual orientation, actually. :)

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    Thank you for your lecture on sarcasm and apparently you can’t entertain the notions I asked of you either! Fair enough I suppose

  • Ann

    And more importantly Ann, tell me why or why not! Do you think other black people would be offended by some blacks deciding to turn white? Why or why not?

    Jayhuck,

    I answered your question by referring to the differences in appearances only – it is my knowledge that we are all the same inside.

  • Jayhuck

    Oh Evan,

    Whether you’re black or white doesn’t prevent you from having biological children with someone of the opposite sex that you love. Nothing compares to that, Jayhuck.

    My Friend Allison who is married to her female partner would disagree – they are very much in love and they have two,wonderful, biological daughters.

    Nothing compares to love – that agree with Evan – whether that love is same-sex or opposite sex, it does not matter. Now that gay people are starting to acquire equal rights with opposite sex couples, I think this problem of some gay people being made to feel that they are missing out will become less and less an issue.

    As for science Evan – I am tired of you, Drowssap and Carol doing your utmost to pathologize something that is not a pathology – that something being homosexuality – your anti-gay attitudes and leanings come out loud and clear in your writings and your views. Same Sex attractions ARE right Evan – Homosexuality is not a pathology – you are going to have to grapple with that fact at some point in your life. Gay people deserve the same rights as any others – the right to marry, to have kids and the legal protections necessary to be with and take care of the person they love.

    When men have attractions to both genders, I look at where their attractions predominately lie – Who are they MOST attracted to?

    And thanks to you both, AGAIN, for refusing to answer my question. :)

  • Jayhuck

    Evan,

    I never said someone will always want to change for the wrong reasons – religious reasons make sense to me – I think its a dangerous path to take, and if history shows us anything, its that many people can be hurt in this process – but other reasons ARE suspect and smack of societal pressure.

  • Ann

    your anti-gay attitudes and leanings come out loud and clear in your writings and your views.

    Jayhuck,

    Oops – you did it again – accusing someone of being anti-gay just because they offer a different opinion than you – ouch! I believe Evan, Drowssap, and Carole have all been very up front about their interest in this subject and being anti-gay is not one of them.

  • Ann

    Gay people deserve the same rights as any others – the right to marry, to have kids and the legal protections necessary to be with and take care of the person they love.

    Jayhuck,

    And I think all this is happening – it is just not the same kind of individual or set of circumstances we are referring to.

  • carole

    Jayhuck,

    I think you have constructed a Maginot Line.

  • Jayhuck

    Oh Carole – if you compare my words with an ammunitions that France constructed with Germany – you and I have issues that go beyond the simple – LOL :)

    Ann,

    Anyone who opposes gay people or their search for equal rights in any way is anti-gay – its not a hard concept to grasp 😉

  • Jayhuck

    Ann,

    Ouch indeed :)

  • Jayhuck

    Let’s make this perfectly clear – Carole and Drowssap are anti-gay in many if not most of the things they say – the rest of the world evolves and progresses without them THANK GOD – but they are there – I think its good for us to engage such people – to take them to task as it were :) Gay people are not going away and gay married couples along with gay families are only going to grow – Yay is my only response :)

  • Lynn David
  • Lynn David

    Though yes, they say none now infect man… can they be sure?

  • Evan

    Jayhuck,

    I think you got me wrong on the subject. My views on this subject may have evolved since I’ve been writing on this blog, but I don’t think I ever said that I consider homosexual attractions or behaviours to be pathological. I remember a few times I explicitly said that I don’t consider them so, that I think they are a normal variation, in that they are widespread in varying degrees in the population without actually producing major distress or dysfunctionality in most people.

    By saying that attractions can have an important developmental component I am not saying that they are pathological, that they involve a denaturation of an instinct or something similar. Remember that there is one American psychologist from the Cornell University, Daryl Bem, who is also gay-identified and who proposed an influential theory on sexual orientation in which development plays a big role for all orientations. If you go back to my arguments, you can see that I support people’s right to work in the direction that they think is good for them, whether it’s primarily same-gender attracted who want to have a meaningful relation with someone of the opposite-sex or primarily other-sex attracted who want to feel more for a person of the same sex. I fail to see how this is anti-gay, without being anti-straight too. It seems to me that feeling threatened by choice harbours some resentment, but I won’t speculate on what kind.

    Just to remind you, this row started after Ann agreed with a few lines from one of my messages:

    Considering that some have tried to be straight but failed in spite of their best efforts, it will be interesting to find out why some fail even if they want to have a choice.

    Then you asked her whether someone should be allowed to change the colour of their skin, etc. I don’t think you can ever suspect Ann of anti-gay attitude, considering that she is the one who attended Michael Bussee’s partner vigil last year and she has always had very kind and balanced attitudes on this blog. This debate started from our exchange, so your quick judgement of carole and Drowssap’s positions on this blog seems to address something else that is on your mind. They are the main supporters of Cochrane’s theory on the germ causation, but that has nothing to do with what we were debating until this moment.

    Well, now that I brought Bem into discussion again, he says that same-gender attractions are preceded by feelings of gender dissimilarity around peers. This contradicts Warren’s argument on this topic. :)

  • carole

    Jayhuck said,

    Carole and Drowssap are anti-gay in many if not most of the things they say.

    Jayhuck, these words come from a novel I feel contains a great deal of wisdom:

    All of them, all except Phineas, constructed at infinite cost to themselves these Maginot Lines against this enemy they thought they saw across the frontier, this enemy who never attacked that way-if he ever attacked at all; if he was indeed the enemy.

    –John Knowles

    The enemies, the monsters that we think we see all around us, we build defenses against at “great cost to ourselves,” and sadly they are not who we think they are, not where we think they are, and most importantly, they may not be enemies at all. The book’s protagonist says, “I killed my enemy before I ever stepped foot on the battlefield”–the enemy was his belief that everyone else was was his enemy. He came to know that his enemy was himself. He was his own persecutor, and his carefully built Maginot Line came at great cost to himself.

    We all have to guard against the enemy within; I certainly know I do, and we need to take care not to build fortifications, not to employ defenses that make us feel safe, for they may not keep out real enemies at all, and just as important, they may be defenses so high and so strong that they wall out friends as much as any foes.

    You see, Jayhuck, you did indeed ultimately resort to direct ad hominem attacks. It’s your pattern. On this thread came first your indirect attack of me, administered by sarcasm. Second came a more direct attack by labeling me –“anti-gay.” And, for good measure, you employed an auxiliary strategy by labeling someone who is not even involved in this discussion, Drowssap. The next logical step in the process would be the employment of the most inflammatory “defense”, the ad hominem use of “homophobic,” right?

    When you don’t like someone’s ideas or your interpretation of their ideas, you ultimately resort to name calling. It’s a defense. Yes, it is one of those fortifications that make up your own Maginot Line.

    When you don’t like an idea, instead of attacking the idea, you attack the persons by labeling them. Once having labeled them, you can discount their ideas when it’s convenient. Discounting their ideas, you can label them. It’s a vicious, illogical circle.

    So, does this mean that you are anti-straight, Jayhuck? I hope not. I choose to think not.

    Some evidence that you are not is your past practice: Your ad hominems are distributed in an equal-opportunity fashion. You have thrown them at everyone regardless of their sexual orientation. All that’s needed is that they offer a point of view that doesn’t coincide with yours, and let me point out that your world view is limited by experience as are the perspectives of each and every one of us, which is, btw, the only point I was trying to make when you jumped in with all your defenses up.

    So, does this mean you think that my gay friend who said he would, if he could, be straight, is anti-gay too? Would you jump to that conclusion about him even though you’ve never exchanged a word with him, even though you know not a thing about him except the few facts about him I offered? Is it enough that all you know is that he would prefer to be straight? Would you name-call his ideas or him?

    When we see enemies everywhere, it’s time to take a closer look at just who the enemy is.

  • carole

    Lyn David,

    I read that not long ago–amazing.

  • Drowssap

    WHA!?! Ok wait a minute, I missed this whole debate. I’m not anti-gay. The only reason I’m interested in the subject is because I have a gay relative who I like a lot. If it wasn’t for him I would have never read one article on the subject.

    Side Note: Whether it comes off as positive or negative every day I become more convinced that Cochran is right.

    Scientists find strong evidence that Type 1 Diabetes is triggered by a common childhood infection

    Relevant part to SSA

    “of identical twins have shown that when one twin has the disease, the other twin will only have approximately a 40 per cent chance of developing diabetes”

    SSA isn’t even 40% concordant. I think it’s something like 25% or 30%. I should also note that the Diabetes virus is an enterovirus. Kids pick that up from dirty food or by putting dirty things into their mouths.

  • Patrick

    I am curious about what the implications would be to the gay rights movement if it was confirmed that in fact an infectious organism was responsible for SSA. (Note I am not saying that this has an bearing on searching out such a cause).

    Would there be renewed attempts to label homosexuality as a pathology? Should it be labelled a pathology (if a virus is the cause of it) ?

    Would there be any point in gay rights if we can be eliminated by time and a vaccine?

    Thoughts ?

  • Drowssap

    Patrick

    If SSA is determined to be the result of an early, childhood infection people should have a choice. Choice for parents and choice for adults. Whatever people choose is up to them.

  • Drowssap

    Patrick

    I should note that Enteroviruses cause A LOT more than just Diabetes.

    If a virus leads to SSA in one person it might lead to Gender Dysphoria, Depression or pretty much anything in someone else. That’s where genes come in to play. Somebody with one gene may react a certain way, while somebody with different genes may have a completely different response.

    Another article on this.

    Viruses May Cause Type 1 Diabetes

    “A second study from Cambridge University researchers found that rare genetic mutations in a gene involved with the body’s response to viruses reduce the risk of juvenile diabetes.”

  • minty

    If they found a cure for left-handedness, or a vaccine for blondness, those who chose to stay blond or left-handed would still have their rights. Consensual human behavior is still consensual human behavior, regardless of the cause, so it shouldn’t have an impact IMO

    On the other hand, proof that sexuality is malleable strengthens religious arguments against homosexuality, no? And having it caused by an icky virus no less! An icky virus for which there is a cure!

    To the extent that the public is uneasy with the “special” rights being pushed for by gay people, anything that suggests it is changeable might give them an excuse to deny those rights. And that’s why Kinsey 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s need to pick a side, and STAY there! IMO.

  • minty

    On second thought, having definitive proof that it is caused by a virus would completely undermine the homosexuality-as-choice idea. It’s not a choice, or a moral failing – it’s a virus! Which would strengthen the side for full equality.

  • Drowssap

    minty

    I’m not exactly sure how society might react but it would be interesting. I’m beginning to suspect that even before scientists figure out if it’s triggered by a virus or how sexual orientation works in the brain they will stumble across a way to reverse it with stem cells, gene therapy or some other advanced technology. I’ve been reading a lot about regenerative medicine lately and the field is going completely bonkers around the world. Even China is investing huge into stem cell research.

    You have to guess that in any given study 3% +/- of the men are gay. It’s only a matter of time until somebody doing work on Multiple Sclerosis, Depression, Parkinson’s, etc etc injects somebody with stem cells or other growth factors that accidentally reverse SSA. In all honesty it could happen by accident in the next 10 years.

  • Evan

    minty,

    I think you’re right. Actually, strictly for the sake of the argument, if variations in sexual orientation are caused by pathogens, the outcomes and the theory about it are morally neutral. There’s nothing pro or anti in this theory that carole and Drowssap support on this blog, because the basic rationale comes from evolutionary theory.

    To the extent that the public is uneasy with the “special” rights being pushed for by gay people, anything that suggests it is changeable might give them an excuse to deny those rights. And that’s why Kinsey 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s need to pick a side, and STAY there! IMO.

    minty, this is what created conflict in the first place, the fact that people have been told that they can only pick a side and stay there. This kind of thinking antagonised people in categories that have been invented in the 19th century. It created conflict between people and inside them. More recently, this Bailey ‘school of thought’ on sexuality is pushing for identifying sexual orientation based on non-sexual behaviors and cues, going further in restricting people’s freedom to identify as they think appropriate. This is a sort of determinism that is very damaging for the sense of individuality and creates a sense of tyranny of identity. This is the paradox: some think that there will only be equal rights and tolerance for gays when it’s proven to be biological, but pushing this agenda will restrict other people’s choices and make them despondent about their own options in life. You can’t solve social conflict by having one side win against another.

  • concerned

    Evan,

    You are right on. The difficulties have arisen from the equal rights for gays when they begin to label others as they are in order to make claims that are not true. This only marginalizes other groups in society. It has to be up to the individual to determine what they are comfortable with, never for a group to push them one way or the other. This is difficult when we are social beings who tend to need to identify with a group. We can easily be influenced by false information that we think will answer questions for us. What I have come to realize for myself is that the false information is coming fast and furious from both sides of any debate because both sides are playing the same political games in order to gain power. When I can let go of the need for position and power I find I can actually be at peace within myself as long as someone else is not trying to convince me that what I am doing is wrong.

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    You are absolutely right that we have to guard against the enemy within – I do as well. But sometimes that enemy can be prejudice and bigotry – and these things can often be subtle. I don’t believe that everyone with anti-gay attitudes is a bad person – I definitely don’t believe that about you. I have my own problems with prejudice for goodness sakes. I have many friends who know I’m gay, but I also know they wrestle with prejudice when it comes to gay people sometimes – that doesn’t mean I love them less.

    You failed to answer my question though Carole – and you either fail to see how powerful society can be when it comes to putting pressure on minorities, or you just don’t acknowledge it. I DO believe that gay people, and even those in other minorities, can and do deal with self-hatred, of their “otherness” as it were – its not that uncommon. Whether your friend is dealing with any of these things is, as you said before, not anything we can know for sure, but I DO know that I have felt as he did – that I would be straight – and my reasons for doing so are all tied up into what society was teaching me I “should” be – the things I saw on TV, the things I read, the things I was taught – they all ingrained in me the idea that if I wasn’t straight, if I wasn’t married, if I didn’t have kids, I was somehow less a person. And like I said before, gay people are not the only minority that this kind of thing happens to – so I see a great deal of importance into trying to figure out WHY someone would say such a thing – I would be concerned in the same way I would be concerned if someone who is African American wanted to be white – and they are out there. You dismiss these things, and I don’t – because too often, deep down, the reasons for saying things like that comes from a hatred of who you are – or a belief that if you were different, things would be EASIER – neither of these reasons are healthy.

  • Jayhuck

    would = wanted

  • Jayhuck

    Evan,

    I think its fun and interesting to speculate about what causes someone’s orientation – I see no need to stop such discussion – but I appreciate and understand what Minty is saying. We have to LIVE in the present, and presently gay people are in need of full and equal rights with their straight neighbor – they need protection for themselves, for their partners and for their children – for their families.

  • Jayhuck

    Drowssap –

    Just a quick question – I will refrain from using that term with you in the future if you will be honest and tell me if you support equal rights for gay people? – Do you support gay marriage or at the very least civil unions that bestow on gay couples ALL the rights that marriage does, and not a dumbed-down version?

  • Jayhuck

    Carole,

    For what its worth, I am truly sorry about leveling that label at you without any clarification. :)

  • Drowssap

    Jayhuck

    Do you support gay marriage or at the very least civil unions

    To be honest I don’t think about that so much. I’m more interested in the scientific end of the debate. From the outside looking in I don’t see any obvious problems with civil unions. But I dunno, I haven’t really thought about it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    @Jayhuck: This is off topic. The topic was never marriage, being anti-gay or pro-gay. No one needs to answer off-topic questions.

  • Ann

    His awareness of same-sex attraction came first and then his reduced sense of himself as a male.

    It makes sense that SSA comes as a spontaneous response and that the feeling of not understanding it or being able to reconcile it would bring on the deeper, more analytical feelings of reduced sense of being a male.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    Jayhuck,

    No one exists in a vacuum. Of course I know that. Society and culture have effects on all of us. Similarly, the individual himself exerts his own influence on that culture as well. Some cultures allow for greater individual freedom than others.

    I simply don’t think it’s wise of us to be so cocksure when we assign our experiences to others; just because you or I have something very important in common with another person it does not necessarily follow that he or she shares the exact feelings and ideas with us.. Shared experiences don’t necessarily lead to the same conclusion. As I mentioned before, all we can hope for is empathy, but that’s as close as we can get to “walking in another’s shoes.”

    For instance, if it were true that an oppressed minority would all arrive at the same conclusions in life because of similar experiences, then about 51% of the whole population of the earth would think the same way—women. Women have been for most of all time in most places an oppressed “minority,” chattel, mere possessions.

    My grandmother had horrible, horrible things done to her because she was a woman). I have my own story. Yes, I, a straight woman, a woman whom some might feel has had it pretty easy in life, had something very bad happen because I happened to be a woman. Put it this way–had I not been a woman the incident would not have happened to me. My inclusion as a member of a group–female–was directly responsible for what happened.

    However, I realize everyone has a story, and some of us have not-so-nice stories because of our membership in a group. You– because you are gay. I –because I am a woman. Others because of this or that. So, I surely do know that society shapes attitudes that often result in actions which hurt innocent people. I certainly do know that. What thinking, feeling person doesn’t?

    However, let’s not get into what the men call a pissing contest (I would surely lose–LOL) because everyone has a story if he or she has lived long enough, whether he or she belongs to an oppressed minority or not.

    So, I don’t expect others who had my experience to feel or think exactly as I do. We aren’t clones of one another even if we have important, life-altering experiences in common. I may have forces of society acting upon me, but as an intelligent adult, I am also an agent of my own life. So are you.

    The friend I told you about? Consider this. He didn’t tell me the following details. I found this out a day or so after he told us he’d change in a New York minute if he could. His aunt, my best friend, shared this. It helps me understand why he would feel wistful, and why he said he would be straight if he could. He has had two failed relationships, both with men he met in the city. In each case , neither man wanted to live in a small, rural town while my friend practiced veterinary medicine. They didn’t like the isolation, didn’t share his hobbies. On top of it all, he told his aunt that neither man wanted monogamy and he does.

    He has chosen to stay where he is. He loves nature and being a vet. His life there and his work there are more important to his happiness than moving to a city away from the life he loves.

    His aunt said that he figures that were he straight, the odds of his finding a woman who’d be very happy living there with him and sharing his life would be much greater. Maybe it will still happen for him that he finds a guy that wants the same life he does, but at 44, no family of his own, no prospects, I can empathize.

    However, like all of us, he too is the agent of his own life, as much as any of us can be anyway. He’s educated, has money, an ability to move and modify his life so perhaps one day he’ll reconsider and move away to find someone with whom he can share his life or perhaps not. I can understand, however, his feelings that the things that would make him happiest in life would be much easier to find were he straight. As it is, he has had to make stark choices that most straight people might not have had to make.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    Jayhuck said,

    You failed to answer my question though Carole – and you either fail to see how powerful society can be when it comes to putting pressure on minorities, or you just don’t acknowledge it.

    I just lost a long response to cyberspace, so I will try to be more succinct in this.

    1. Jayhuck, I am a woman. At the risk of getting into what men often call a “pissing contest” (which I know I would lose) do you think I don’t know, that I myself haven’t experienced the “powerful” effects of society and its pressure? I didn’t think there was a need to respond to that, but I’ll offer this:

    I belong to a much oppressed majority –female–and I too have a personal story that might enable me to a win a metaphorical pissing contest against many of the oppressed and abused in this country, but I don’t wish to engage in such a contest for several reasons, not the least of which is that, bad as it was, it doesn’t compare to what millions of women since the beginning of time have endured. Everyone who’s lived on this earth long enough has a personal story, and for many of us, that story of some life-altering event beyond our control derives from our belonging to a certain group.

    However, what of those people whose stories don’t derive from their membership in an oppressed group? Are their stories any less human, any less moving, any less indicative of unfairness and tragedy, any less deserving of our attempts at empathy? I don’t believe so.

    2. You said in a response to Evan,

    I never said someone will always want to change for the wrong reasons – religious reasons make sense to me

    This confuses me, Jayhuck. Your statement says that “religious reasons make sense” to you. Thus, it seems that if a person’s religious convictions make them feel as if they’d rather be straight, you at least acknowledge that their reasons make sense to you. Why not extend that understanding to others? Their convictions may be “religious” too, as the word itself can be used in its generic sense, but as suchit is no less compelling in referring to values deeply revered.

    As I said, my friend is not religious at all, but he is a man of great integrity and values, and it seems that if you can make “sense” of religious convictions, then at least you might make sense of another’s individual reasons.

    I will add what I know in the hopes that sense can be made. This information came to me not from him, but from his aunt, my best friend (which is how we know him so well). He has had two failed relationships with men. In each case, the men were not enamored of his life in a small town nor his love of nature and living close to nature. In addition, neither man felt that their relationship should remain monogamous, and monogamy is something that he values.

    Thus, like all of us who have to make choices, he made his. He stayed put, in the place he loves, doing what he loves to do. His aunt explained that he felt that were he straight, the odds of his finding a woman who’d want to share with him the things he loved would be much greater, and who can argue that? It’s in the numbers. He realizes odds are that if he wishes to find a partner with whom to share his life, he has to give up other things that nurture him–the job he loves, the life close to nature. Chances are a straight person wouldn’t have to make those stark choices.

    Maybe one day he’ll change his mind, but for now, at the age of 44, he has made his choice. I don’t have problems empathizing with that.

    Also, thanks for understanding how I felt about the labeling.

  • Drowssap

    There is one pretty strong piece of circumstantial evidence that diminished masculinity is not a trigger for SSA.

    Does anything else work like that?

    The short answer is no!

    Is lazyness a trigger for Narcolepsy? Are emotionally neglectful mothers a trigger for Autism? Is watching too many horror movies as a preteen a trigger for Schizophrenia? Are Type A parents a trigger for Tourettes in their children? This is not the general direction that science is headed. If there isn’t compelling evidence why suspect that SSA will be the one exception?

    So what direction are things headed? Every few months scientists find evidence that something previously thought to be caused by heredity or lifestyle is in fact triggered by a common infection in genetically susceptible people. That’s the blueprint. I can reliably guess that over the next year more evidence will be released the supports the notion that Autism, Schizophrenia, Tourettes and Narcolepsy are all triggered by common infections. Watch the headlines, it’s the same story over and over again.

  • Ann

    Drowssap,

    Do you think it is possible that the fever that comes with infections could be the cause of what triggers the things you listed? I know if fevers get too high much damage can be done, especially in babies and small children.

  • concerned

    Drowssap,

    I wonder if that is what you are seeing in the headlines because that is what you are looking for. Others see quite differing evidence cropping up as possible causes for some of these conditions. Just a thought!

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    Do you think it is possible that the fever that comes with infections could be the cause of what triggers the things you listed?

    In fact the fever and various other immune responses are more likely to be responsible than the infection itself.

    Example:

    Schizophrenia does not appear to be directly caused by flu virus. What happens is that the flu virus triggers a maternal immune response that includes a protein called called Interleukin 6. This protein helps fight infection but it also damages the developing child’s brain which can lead to Schiz. The first trimester is the danger zone. After that the danger goes way down.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    I wonder if that is what you are seeing in the headlines because that is what you are looking for.

    I used to believe that pretty much everything was caused by genes. Then I ran into something called “evidence.” 😎 It didn’t take me long to figure out that everything I believed was wrong.

    Scientists are not using Freudian theory to objectively explain increasing numbers of phenomenon. And contrary to what most people might think in most cases genes aren’t doing much better. The blueprint is genetic susceptability + environmental damage. This blueprint has become the default especially in regards to children. 60 year old people can have genetic disorders because they’ve already had their kids. 10 year olds can’t.

  • Drowssap

    concerned

    I wouldn’t call this “Freudian” but here is an area where childhood experience can lead to maladaptive adult behaviors.

    Childhood abuse can lead to binge drinking

    These people probably don’t realize that they are self medicating. It makes sense that abuse, neglect or teasing could lead to emotional or behavioral difficulties. But SSA is not a behavioral difficulty. Many if not most gay men will tell you they’ve never been attracted the female body…. ever. Scientists don’t know why this phenomenon would exist but it sounds a whole lot like biology. Mounting circumstantial evidence suggests thats probably the case.

    As I sit here and type scientists around the world are injecting people with a whole variety of stem cells and regenerative medicines and therapies. I can say with relative confidence that during the next 20 years (maybe way less) somebody is going to accidentally turns SSA into OSA. That’s the end game that will finally end the debate.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    For some reason, this is not posting so I’ll try it one last time.

    Jayhuck said,

    You failed to answer my question though Carole – and you either fail to see how powerful society can be when it comes to putting pressure on minorities, or you just don’t acknowledge it.

    Of course, I realize the pressures of culture and society. I figured the point was understood, but evidently not. I think all thinking and feeling people understand the point, but since you want it, here is a response:

    Stating the obvious, I am a woman. I am a member of an oppressed majority. What makes you assume I would not understand, would not have experienced such pressures myself?

    I don’t want to get into what men call a “pissing contest” for several reasons (I would surely lose a literal one), not the least of which is, it accomplishes nothing. Yes, my being a member of what has been a vulnerable group since the beginning of time has been responsible for life-altering events; one in particular might actually make me in some minds the “winner” of a metaphorical pissing contest against you or others who’ve experienced the unfortunate slings and arrows of life . Yet, what of it?

    All of us, if we live long enough, suffer such things, endure the unfairness and pain life can throw our way. As experiences, it matters not that we may have suffered them because of our membership in a group. Unfairness is unfairness. Tragedy is tragedy. Innocents attacked are innocents attacked. Bleeding is bleeding. Pain is pain.

    Yes, we all have our stories.

    You also said in response to Evan,

    I never said someone will always want to change for the wrong reasons – religious reasons make sense to me

    I do have difficulty understanding why you can at least make sense of “religious reasons,” yet not others. Consider the generic meaning of “religious”–someone can hold certain values very deeply and live his or her life based on those values even if those values are not perceived as passed down by a diety.

    You state that you want to know why people might feel as they do, why they might say they would prefer to be straight. All right. I’d think some reasons might be obvious, but to accommodate your question, I’ll share this. While he told me some things, I did not hear the following from the lips of my friend himself, but from his aunt, my best friend.

    Her nephew has had two failed relationships with men. He explained to her that in both cases, neither man wanted to live the country life he loves. In addition, neither man felt that their relationship should remain physically monogamous while he did.

    He has had to choose… as all of us do in our lives. We and he are luckier than most people on this globe, for most of us do have some choices. He is educated, has money, and can move away where it is more likely that he might meet someone with whom to live his life. However, for now anyway, he has made his choice. He has remained where he is, realizing that he isn’t likely to meet a man with whom he can share his life while still holding to the country life and the job he loves, things which enrich his life. Those things are “religious” to him.

    Perhaps one day he will change his mind; perhaps he will get lucky and meet someone who wants what he does, but it’s easy to see that sheer numbers are not encouraging. Were he straight, the odds that he’d have found someone who’d be happy to share a life with him where he is with the values he has, would be much greater.

    At least from my point of view, his reasons are very human–they are both practical and “religious” in that they are rooted in deeply-held values regarding being close to nature and performing a service he loves.

    I can empathize with that.

    Also, I appreciate your follow-up comment about regretting labeling.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    Is there a reason things are posting?

  • Ann

    Many if not most gay men will tell you they’ve never been attracted the female body…. ever. Scientists don’t know why this phenomenon would exist but it sounds a whole lot like biology. Mounting circumstantial evidence suggests thats probably the case.

    Drowssap,

    Would you consider this a separate issue than SSA? Is no attraction to the opposite gender an indicator of same gender attraction or is it a given or is SSA a completely separate issue? Do you know of any research or studies that have been done on this?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    Testing…

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    I’ve read that up to 1% of the population is “asexual.” These people didn’t lose interest in sex over time. They never had any to begin with. Since their population is so large I have to imagine that most of these people grew up in normal homes.

    Times Online: No sex, please! I’m asexual

    From the point of view of Mother Nature this is no different from homosexuality. Why this happens nobody knows but I can guarantee you that Mother Nature’s plan is not to eliminate all interest in sex in 1% of the population.

    Is it possible for a microbe to trigger an immune response that leads to SSA in some people and “NO”SA in others? Scientists haven’t looked because quite frankly they aren’t allowed to look but there is no obvious reason this couldn’t happen.

  • Drowssap

    WHOAH!!!! Asexuals have a group and the first thing I read blew me away.

    Asexuality.org

    Am I the only one?

    At least since high school, I’ve been aware that I was sexually different from my peers. I don’t know if there was a first moment when I realized this, but I have a few memories that stand out. Once I was riding on a bus with a few other male students. The conversation turned to a topic many asexuals have come to dread: “Who do you think is hot?”

  • Ann

    Thanks Drowssap – I guess I am wondering if there is NO sexual attraction to the opposite gender, does that then indicate or is it a precursor to same gender attraction? Does one normally follow the other?

  • Ann

    Asexuality.org

    This is the first time I have ever read or heard of asexuality being an orientation.

  • Katie Cannon

    Admittedly, I haven’t read all the new posts, but Drowsap wrote that science is moving in the direction of saying that habits and emotional environment, etc… plays no role in Autism, etc….

    Seems to me that science is very much moving in the direction of reconsidering these environmental factors because we now seem to know that genes are just pretty much little strings of potential information, but that they need to be turned on to express themselves. And they’re turned on by the epigenome. And the epigenome might be super sensitive to things like habits, especially in humans and other smart animals.

    My understanding of this is that our biological organism doesn’t make a clear distinction between the genetic and the environment, and the days of either/or is going out the window.

    Anyway, take a look at epigenetics, seems this genetic argument is a bit out -dated. Not that even trained, full-time, award-winning, geneticists yet understand epigenetic, and thus genetics…. And I’m sure I don’t either. But everything I learned about genetics in college seems all too simple anymore.

    And the reason you can have two twins, one with a genetic disorder, the other without one, has to do with something involving the way the twins vie for resources, and one is more apt to absorb whatever it is that triggers the genetic expression….

    As well as the twin’s differing epigentics. Yes, same genes, different epigenetics.

    As far as things like Autism, there’s good indication that one of the things that Autistic people have in common is a mother who went through a period of mourning (not depression) while pregnant.

    Anyway, it seems to me that these gentetic arguments are being made without reference to epigentic influence, and how the epigenome is created or what it is.

    K.

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    It silly to me that people on both the developmental side of the dabate as well as those on the genetic side of the debate too often fail to realize that 1) some people might be born with a genetic predisposition while others aren’t and their environment played a huge role in their sexual development.

    One does not negate the other, and vice versa.

    As far as people in the gray zone just deciding whether they’re more attracted to men or women — most bisexual people don’t feel it’s a matter of one apple or the other apple. It’s a matter of apples and oranges — there’s not one scale like the Kinsey scale — there’s two scales.

    Most bisexual people feel they have two compartments, one of which is filled by men, the other by women.

    They don’t have one compartment that’s attracted to both men and women.

    And frankly, when you take this population, it seems clear to me that environment is playing a huge role.

    Take care,

    Katie

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    I guess I am wondering if there is NO sexual attraction to the opposite gender, does that then indicate or is it a precursor to same gender attraction?

    I don’t know but I wouldn’t think so. If you read some of the posts on asexuality.org people say flatly that they have no interest in sex of any type. Never have, don’t believe they ever will. I think it’s a completely unrelated phenomenon from homosexuality.

  • Drowssap

    Katie Cannon

    Seems to me that science is very much moving in the direction of reconsidering these environmental factors because we now seem to know that genes are just pretty much little strings of potential information, but that they need to be turned on to express themselves. And they’re turned on by the epigenome. And the epigenome might be super sensitive to things like habits, especially in humans and other smart animals.

    Autism is not caused by habits or how genes interact with habits. Various studies have implicated Cytomegalovirus as an Autism trigger and recently flu virus has also been implicated. Genes probably play a role in susceptability.

    Stealth Adapted Cytomegalovirus Infections as a Cause of Autism

  • Katie Cannon

    They’ll probably find that it’s a cause of one form of Autism. But most believe that Autism is an umbrella for a variety of illnesses that have similar behavioral manifestations.

    And we know that one way to get Autism is to be raised in conditions like the Romanian institutions of old. Yes, this type of Autism is not like other types, but it’s a type, one caused by the underdevelopment of the brain in a fairly global manner.

    K.

  • Katie Cannon

    There are people for whom heterosexuality is maladaptive, so of course homosexuality can also be.

    I don’t mind answering Jahyhuck’s question: I support gay marriage. I have gay friends with admirable and enviable relationships.

    But that doesn’t also mean that some people use homosexuality in ways that not only is not conducive to mating, but is destructive of it. Just as some people use heterosexuality.

    And when this is the case, then people should be able to get help, and in the course of getting help, should be given the political freedom to come to a better understanding of who they feel is a potential mate.

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    Drowsap,

    The problem with the Baily studies is simple: Under those conditions the bisexually identified guys didn’t get aroused enough by both men and women to be considered bisexual.

    But in real life there are guys who get aroused by both men and women. For many of them, I doubt they would at the same time, or within the same time period.

    Many bisexually active men find that their arousal patterns go back and forth in a state-dependent fashion.

    You might say that, ok, in real life there are men who find they get a hard on by women while in certain states, and then by men in other states, but because they don’t do so within a restricted time period, then they aren’t really bisexual….. But then what are they?

    Katie

  • Katie Cannon

    QUESTION:

    How are we defining “sexual orientation”?

    What sexual behavior are we willing to admit as an “orientation” and what behaviors are we not willing to admit?

    Can anyone join? Can a pedophile? If not, why not?

    Katie

  • Ann

    Drowssap,

    Putting asexuality aside, if someone does not have sexual attraction to the opposite gender, does that usually indicate that they will have or develop sexual attraction to their own gender? A little slant on the topic of this thread, what, if either, comes first?

  • Ann

    How are we defining “sexual orientation”?

    Katie Cannon,

    I never knew and still don’t know how to define sexual orientation because it can be different and in varing degrees in all people. I have used the term before and always questioned whether I was using it correctly to fit what I was trying to articulate.

  • Drowssap

    Ann

    if someone does not have sexual attraction to the opposite gender, does that usually indicate that they will have or develop sexual attraction to their own gender?

    I wouldn’t think so but I have no evidence either way.

  • Drowssap

    Katie Cannon

    They’ll probably find that it’s a cause of one form of Autism.

    You are almost certainly correct. It’s a safe bet that a variety of different infections trigger a range of symptoms. Genes probably mediate which microbes someone is vulnerable to and which symptoms become pronounced. In some rare cases Autism may be triggered by genes alone.

  • Drowssap

    Katie Cannon

    An addendum. Autism might be triggered by high levels of pollution or environmental toxins as well. Anything that can cause neurological damage needs to be looked into.

  • Ann

    Anything that can cause neurological damage needs to be looked into.

    including, IMHO, continuing research on the neurotoxin, Thimerisol

  • Evan

    Ann and others

    THe type of question you asked can’t be answered right now for one reason: there is no actual model of sexual orientation. There are definitions (APA defines it by attractions, as distinct from behaviours) and there are measurements of products of sexual orientation (brain arousal and physical arousal), but there is no functional model of sexual orientation. If scientists’ perspective on humans as animals is right, then the aim of studying sexual orientation would be to get to a mechanistic explanation of attractions and behaviour, like we see in animals like mice. If that objective remains unmet, then there will be no science of sexual orientation, but only scientific study of sexual orientation (steps towards…).

    Answering your question needs solving this problem, but researchers may be able to tell from their experience how most of the time people become aware of their sexual orientation. But they don’t have a model that predicts and explains that in each individual, so what they would casually share would not be science.

    I think the question that Warren asked on this topic involves this aspect. Say a number of men claim to have a feeling of diminished masculinity and that they think this has something to do with changes in their attractions. Lab folks could retort: OK, let’s see your brain when you feel that. Ah, wait, we don’t have any way to measure a sense of masculinity (what’s that?), but anyway you probably feel some anxiety. We could measure your sexual arousal, though.

    This is where the science on this is right now, in a few words.

  • Evan

    Drowssap,

    You know, this idea of sexual orientation being directed in only one, non-reproductive direction, as a result of a brain condition is not so new. A German psychiatrist, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, wrote in 1886:

    X., formerly healthy, and of blameless life, was in-

    fected with syphilis in 1867. In 1879 paralysis of the

    left abducens occurred. Thereafter mental weakness was

    noticed, with a change of his disposition and character.

    Headache, occasional incoherence of speech, failure of

    power of thought and logic, occasional inequality of pupils,

    and paresis of the right facial muscles, were observed.

    X., aged thirty-seven, showed no trace of lues when

    examined. The paralysis of the left abducens was still

    present. The left eye was amblyopic. He was mentally

    weak. Concerning the trial that was before him, he said

    it was nothing but a harmless misunderstanding. Indi-

    cations of aphasia. Weakness of memory, particularly

    for recent events. Superficial emotional reaction; rapid

    exhaustion of memory and ability to speak. Proved:

    that the ethical defect and the perverse sexual impulse

    are the symptoms of an abnormal condition of brain

    induced by lues.

    Suspension of criminal proceedings (personal case,

    “Jahrbücher für Psychiatrie”).

    PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS, translated by F. J. REBMAN, New York, Rebman Company, 141 WEST 36th STREET, p. 468.

    The terms and style belong to that century…

    You don’t see this kind of approach today, that thinkers on sex & brain took in individual cases. Variations in sexual orientation produced by brain conditions, sexual history, trauma or abuse? No way, it has to be a dignified cause for both, out of anyone’s control.

    Kind of makes you wonder. We have more technology, but minds are getting closed.

  • Drowssap

    Evan

    We have more technology, but minds are getting closed.

    You are so right. In many ways I think there was a lot more common sense floating around 100 or 200 years ago.

    BTW, that study is a great find!

  • Katie Cannon

    Evan,

    While I agree that “science” of sex is looking for mechanistic explanations generally, at least to the extent that mice are mechanistic, if we choose Chimps and Bonobos as our closest animal models, then that strict mechanized view also goes by the wayside.

    Drowsap,

    What do you make of the very different sexual arrangements of the Bonobos vs. the Chimps?

    What do you make of the pervasive homosexual practice of the Ancient Greeks (not to mention other cultures who also practice homosexual acts on a regular basis)?

    What do you make of the fact that a deprived environment can create autistic like behavior?

    What do you make of the fact that Harlow’s Monkies rarely procreated because their deprived sensual environment impeded their ability to learn HOW to mate?

    What do you make of the fact that even second and third generations of Harlow’s Monkies also reproduced at much lower rates, despite the fact they were raised in enriched environments?

    And yes, while we may not like it, one of the reasons — and it is just one – the reproduction was reduced was because of increased levels of homosexual behavior. Were the “gay”? No, just not selective, just not in tune with social cues, mating rituals, etc….

    Was it not the environment? Could it be a Bug they all caught?

    Were the Ancient Greeks also infected with the Homosexual Bug? Most of the upper classes?

    Are Bonobos infected with the Homosexual Bug, but Chimps aren’t?

    Or is sexual expression in both humans and other smart animals intimately tied to our attachment systems, and thus to our social systems?

    Katie

  • Drowssap

    Katie Cannon

    What do you make of the fact that a deprived environment can create autistic like behavior?

    A deprived “feral” environment is not natural to humans. Since humans didn’t have to commonly face that problem we didn’t evolve coping mechanisms.

    I think you might have your facts confused on monkeys and the Greeks. You are confusing temporary behavior with lifetime, preferential homosexuality. There might be a thousands reasons why that behavior exists.

  • Katie Cannon

    I’m confusing temporary behavior with lifetime, preferential homosexuality?

    Bonobos are bisexual throughout their lives.

    The Greeks were too, at least the upper male class was.

    You write: “There might be a thousand reasons why that behavior may exist”

    What behavior? Temporary or lifetime? Or both?

    To keep things simple: What about those Greeks? Genetically gay or bisexual? Or just doing what the Greeks did because of a different concept of beauty, of sexual relations, of social and political order, etc?

    Katie

  • Drowssap

    Katie Cannon

    Bonobos are bisexual throughout their lives.

    The Greeks were too, at least the upper male class was.

    There is an enormous difference between bisexual behavior and lifetime, preferential homosexuality.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2008/11/23/new-study-casts-doubt-on-older-brother-hypothesis-and-reparative-drive-theory/#comments carole

    testing–can’t seem to post

  • Katie Cannon

    In what way is there a “tremendous” difference?

    Sure, the Greeks still engaged in procreative sex, but there’s indications that many, just how many is anyone’s guess, that they did so with a sense of reluctance because homosexual sex was considered by large segments of the political order to be the more Beautiful sexual expression, while procreative sex was merely a means to an end, not Beautiful in and of itself.

    So, sort of the like the closeted married gay guy today who prefers men, but marries out of a sense of social propriety.

    So again, in what way is there a “tremendous” difference?

    Katie