Sexuality: State of being VS. Behavior?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mscriv, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    #1
    Sexuality is often debated here in the PRSI whether it be from a political or a religious perspective. So, I've got a question I want to throw out there because I think it's worth asking and hopefully we can have some meaningful discussion.

    Why is sexuality viewed as a state of being rather than as a behavioral choice? In our effort to better understand or define the human condition we have come to the conclusion regarding attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual response that an individual is either born heterosexual or homosexual (one way or the other).

    I've heard people on both sides of the debate decry those who identify as bisexual stating that they are simply in denial of their actual sexuality. Bisexuals are either homosexuals who are afraid to fully embrace who they are or heterosexuals who are just more open to experimentation.

    In debates on this website I've often seen people on the homosexual side defend their view by asking individuals on the hetersexual side to explain when in their life they "chose to be hetersexual".

    What if this "default" view of things is completely off base? Why are we so insistent that sexuality, which is simply one part of human identity, be boxed into predetermined categories? Is it possible that instead of defining sexuality by the object of our attractions that the actual "state of being" when it comes to human sexuality is simply that we are beings who are sexual by nature? We have the capacity for relationships and intimacy and inherent within this desire for conneciton is a complementary desire for physical connection and expression.

    Is this idea really that frightening? Is it truly that threatening to believe that all of us make a choice regarding our sexual behavior, regarding how we connect with others? Is it beyond the scope of belief that our attractions are not fixed but fluid; that they are a complex characteristic within us that has been influenced by our experiences; that instead of nature vs. nurture the actual answer is a combination of both? Why does it have to be "or" instead of "both/and"? It sure would end a lot of debate if we could all agree that we aren't divided into categories by our DNA or our genes, but that we are all humans endowed with the same capacities and that it is our choice how we go about the process of living our lives.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Moyank24 macrumors 601

    Moyank24

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    #2
    2 Thoughts...

    The Kinsey Scale might be a worthwhile addition to this discussion, as it certainly relates to the idea that sexuality isn't black and white.

    The second relates to "choice". One of the reasons why choice is such a major point in discussions on homosexuality is those that "oppose" or "disagree" with homosexuality always bring up the fact that this is a choice we have made. It just makes it easier to justify discrimination when they feel that we are choosing to do the wrong thing.

    I can make a choice when deciding to be intimate with someone, but is the actual attraction really a choice? It may be easier for men to tell (physically at least), but our bodies certainly respond (making intercourse more enjoyable) to those who we are attracted to.
     
  3. Huntn, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014

    Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #3
    For sexuality, I believe choice can be made for experimentation or not, but in the end your choices are not so much choices, but who you are, whether it be gay, straight, or bi.

    I am straight and when I was growing up and as an adult, it was females that attracted my eye, my romantic and sexual desires, not a choice, but a desire based on what I believe is/was my sexual chemistry. Thinking of a sexual act with a male held no attraction for me. I imagine if it had been males who I was attracted to, this would not have been a choice either, but sexual attraction based on my chemistry.
     
  4. mscriv thread starter macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    #4
    Good point Moyank. I do understand the way in which the word "choice" is "charged" in the political arena of same sex marriage. However, I believe this is precisely because that debate is being argued from the exact "state of being" position that I am questioning.

    When the SSM debate is framed in this way then the homosexual side has no choice but to frame their view from a civil rights perspective claiming that there is no choice in the matter, we are all either born one way or another. However, if we could open our minds to consider what I'm proposing then the civil rights aspect is nullified since we understand that everyone, regardless of same sex attraction or opposite sex attraction, is making a choice.

    From this perspective the debate now becomes about the definition of marriage from a legal standpoint and ceases to be a civil rights issue. If all human beings have the legal freedom to engage in intimate human relationships and the government wants to grant one form of those relationships (marriage) with special legal benefits (taxes, death benefits, etc.) then would it not follow that all human beings are free to seek a "marriage" relationship with any other human being of their choice, regardless of gender. The issue becomes about humanity in general as opposed to dividing humans up into categories based on attraction and declaring which group has certain rights.

    The heterosexual side of the debate is guilty of the same "state of being" bias. They want to argue that there is a "default" position (heterosexuality) that is "normal" and therefore anything other is not deserving of legal benefit. What I'm proposing places heterosexuality and homosexuality on equal footing. If they are both a choice then from a legal standpoint neither can claim the other to be outside the bounds of the law.

    I do believe attraction is a choice, albeit probably more so subconscious than conscious. The brain is not a static organ, but an elastic one. Various aspects of our identity, personality, and proclivities can be changed, shaped, and guided. Attraction is definitely one of these aspects and is a complex combination of our "nature" and "nurture". Our bodies are capable of responding to sexual stimuli and our emotions are capable of drawing us toward physical expression. If physical attraction was clearly categorized and it was solely "one way or the other" then bisexuality would be impossible from a physical standpoint. Another example is rape/abuse victims whose bodies physically respond when touched by their abuser. Attraction is not as simple as we make it out to be.
     
  5. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    Both.

    It is a set of conditions — most out of one's control and conscious choosing — that compel behaviors which are specifically chosen and at least somewhat within one's control.

    Hunger is not within one's control or choosing. What one puts in their mouth at any given moment to satisfy their hunger is at least somewhat within one's control.
     
  6. tshrimp macrumors 6502

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    #6
    This leads me to a question that I am uncomfortable asking my homosexual friends that maybe someone here can answer.

    I have never once gone up to anyone and made the statement that "I am a heterosexual" (not sure I have ever even made the statement to anyone); however, when we go out to eat for example, they are quick to make the statement "I am a homosexual". One of them makes the statement to every new person he meets.

    I probably should not be so hesitant to ask them, but for some reason I am. Anyone here know why the difference?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  7. Moyank24 macrumors 601

    Moyank24

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    #7
    I guess it would depend on the context. If they're walking up to random people and blurting that out with no other conversation that would be extremely weird.

    I've never gone up to anyone and just said that. However, I get asked all of the time (especially when I'm with my children) about my "husband". At that point, depending on who it is and what the situation is, I'll out myself.
     
  8. chrono1081 macrumors 604

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    #8
    I personally never out myself, especially where I live. Not even some of my closest friends know I'm gay and none of my family does.

    If someone does ask me (which is rare but has happened when I get repeatedly asked why I'm not married or don't have a girlfriend, rude questions in my book) then I simply dodge the question since it's none of their business.
     
  9. tshrimp, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014

    tshrimp macrumors 6502

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    #9
    One example...At work he got up and walked to our boss and said "I just wanted you to know I am gay". She said "Okay, thanks". And that was it.

    While checking out at a restaurant he gave the person his credit card and then made the statement "by the way this is my fiance", and pointed to his fiance.
     
  10. Moyank24 macrumors 601

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    #10
    Gotcha.

    That's not a homosexual thing - it sounds like your friend is just weird. And proud. :D
     
  11. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #11

    I've mentioned many times that I have a wife (or "this is my wife").

    Couldn't that be construed as a declaration of my heterosexuality?
     
  12. dec. Suspended

    dec.

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    #12
    In my experience gays who are that straight forward and open about it as in bringing it up without being asked about it usually have had a history of where they had been living very closeted before and just are overly appreciative of being in a situation where they don't need to worry about it anymore. Or they are just being weird. Or insecure and they try to prove something. Or obnoxious. Or something else.

    ----------

    I agree completely with that. I often find it bizarre that people talk about "shoving someones sexuality down their throat" just for mentioning that they are gay.

    I don't go out telling everyone that I'm gay but I never tried to hide it as there are far too many day-to-day situations where I'd have to purposely avoid topics. Example: I've been married to my husband for 7 years now, I came to Canada because of him and I have a very weird British/German accent, so people ask me where I'm from and what brought me to Canada. "The snow"? I don't think so :D . Other examples are when we hire contractors, landscapers etc. - we always introduce ourselves as what we are just like a straight person would say "and this is my wife". When we go shopping and look at stuff, it's pretty obvious from the way we interact that we're a couple.

    Edit: I did go through a phase when I came out at 18 and was pretty open about it, mainly because I enjoyed the shock value that it still had back in 1990, especially as I was part of the beer drinking, head banging metal scene and found it fun to confuse the typical metal heads just as much as the "regular" people who had the image of stereotypical gays being all feminine and stuff, a few people actually did change their mind about that after we talked.
     
  13. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    It would appear to me that they are overlooking the level that heterosexuality is displayed, though easily overlooked because it is "the norm". I work in an office where everyone (AFAIK) is heterosexual, and we're always talking about our spouses ... kids ... date nights ... etc.
     
  14. mscriv thread starter macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    #14
    Citizenzen, in my mind you are illustrating my point. Hunger is a universal human drive just like sex is a universal human drive. The drive is not specific just like hunger is not specific. One feels hungry, there is no specific hunger for one food vs. hunger for another food. Sure, we say things like man I sure am hungry for some __________ (food of choice), but the actual hunger in our body is not directed or "attracted" to a specific food item.

    Our diet is the result of how we choose to act upon our hunger. It is based on the complex nature of our natural tastes (I love potatoes, my wife can't stand them) and our experiential tastes (foods we have experience with and thus enjoy or avoid). Again, we see the role of nature vs. nurture in the complexities of our desire for and behavioral choices in relation to food.

    Just like one's food tastes can change or be cultivated I also believe one's sexual tastes (attraction) can change or be cultivated.
     
  15. vega07 macrumors 65816

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    #15
    And your point is?
     
  16. Renzatic Suspended

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    I'm of the opposite opinion. If sexuality were a choice, rather than something hardwired, then we as a species would be entirely bisexual. We'd probably end up looking quite a bit different, without as much exaggerated physical differences between the sexes, and society as a whole would be strikingly different. To explain the former, with men being equally attracted to both sexes, we wouldn't necessarily be drawn towards women with delicate features, a perky chest, and round hips. Women, having a similar sexual mindset, wouldn't differentiate as much between strong, masculine men, and smaller, more physically plain ones. A truly bisexual humanity, where we all sleep with whoever whenever cuz we don't care one way or another, would be a far more androgynous one.

    But there's something in our brains that makes some people attracted to boobs, and others pecs, and that eventually becomes our sexuality. That's nature, pure and simple. Nurture only defines what we're attracted to based on previous experiences with the sex we're attracted to by default.
     
  17. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    To a degree I may agree with you. Just like culture will influence what foods one is exposed to, I could see how culture could likewise influence how one expresses their sexuality.

    But I would ask you, in America today you could choose from virtually any cuisine you like, based on nothing more or less than personal taste and the desire for what one wishes to consume at that moment.

    Why shouldn't sex be treated the same way? Why shouldn't our sexual hunger be satisfied with the same freedom with which we choose our food?

    (Consenting adults only — of course)
     
  18. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

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    No reason, no reason at all.
     
  19. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 603

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    There is no "vs". Attraction is attraction, really nothing you can do to change/control what your attracted to.

    Whether your straight, bi, or gay ....... the only choice is the choice of action, not the choice of what you desire.

    To say bisexuals are just experimenting doesn't make sense to me. Who experiments in sexual behavior with someone they are not attracted too?

    I believe what people are attracted to sometimes changes. Which is why some whom were bisexual are now just gay, and vice versa. That also applies to being straight then turning gay/bi, and vice versa.

    As a straight guy, my attraction for different types of females have varied over time. I don't see why changes in attraction from bisexuals and gays should be any differ.
     
  20. Huntn, Feb 26, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014

    Huntn macrumors G5

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    #20
    I believe a sociobiologist would disagree with you.

    I don't believe anyone who is an expert on this subject would describe attraction as simply "one way or the other", in that there are many possibilities, and bisexual appears to be just as possible as the other two choices.

    I assume you are straight. How do you remember your attraction to the other sex when you were growing up. Were you ambivalent about sexual attractions, like tossing a coin, you could have gone either way, or did you have a specific preference?
     
  21. tshrimp macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I was asked for the scenario, so gave it to them. I think you might have gotten into the conversation toward the end not knowing the exact context.

    BTW...those who answered, I thank you.
     
  22. mscriv thread starter macrumors 601

    mscriv

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    #22
    I don't think anyone is arguing against individuals having the freedom to make that choice. I didn't start this thread with the intention of debating the morality of sexual behavior, but more to discuss the views of sexuality being an immutable "hardwired" state vs. it being a changeable behavioral choice.
     
  23. Huntn macrumors G5

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    #23
    I've responded a couple of times asking how you felt when you grew up and wondering why that is not worthy of a reply?
     
  24. sviato macrumors 68020

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    #24
    I never understood the need flaunt homosexuality. I'm heterosexual but I don't need parades or to always bring it up to let people know that I am. I think people who force it into conversation like your friend are just using it as another way to get attention.
     
  25. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #25
    I actually lean toward changeable. I think a lot is determined by the culture and how one is taught what is acceptable and what is not. I do believe that if homosexuality was seen as perfectly acceptable and there were movies, music, television and games that routinely glorified the beauty and sanctity of homosexual love, that there'd be more homosexuality than we have today.

    "Hardwired" doesn't take into account the conditioning of culture, which I believe is a tremendous influence on our thoughts, values, choices and behavior.
     

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