sexual identity – again…

I’ve posted before on this topic, and thought I’d share a bit more about it. Hopefully, these thoughts will be helpful in aiding fruitful discussion…

I’ve observed a distinction between 3 things that I feel are necessary to distinguish between in order to most helpfully discuss the topic of sexuality. Actually, these three things can, I suggest, be distinguished helpfully when discussing other topics as well… See what you think…

(***NOTE: I do think ‘sexuality’ can be –even should be?– conceived of in a much broader way, but for the purposes of this article, I’ll use the term in its popular sense, which has to do with all things relating to physical sexual activity.***)

The first thing concerning sexuality is…

-sexual desire.

Regardless of how much of our desires is nature and how much is nurture, we can all agree that sexual desire is distinguishable from the second thing concerning sexuality, which is…

acting on that sexual desire.

So far, of course, we’ve said nothing at all about desires or acting on those desires being either good or bad, right or wrong. We’ve simply observed desires and the reality of sometimes acting on them. Now, the next thing concerning sexuality, I will give a value-judgment on. This third thing is…

-to let our entire identity be defined by our sexual desire.

I find this a very unhelpful thing to do. Why would we let some label or word define our entire person?

Take the case of homosexuality, for example. Whatever you might think about it, I suggest it is unhelpful to use that as a defining label (i.e. ‘I am a homosexual.’), as if your sexual desires were the only (or main) thing about the person.

I think these distinctions can help facilitate fruitful discussion of sexuality, but of equal (or more) importance, I think they can help facilitate respect and relationship between those of differing opinions; particularly when one of the persons has (for example) same-sex desires. Here’s why.

If the label ‘homosexual’ completely sums up a persons identity, then it makes it difficult to affirm and respect the person while exploring different perspectives concerning the desires and actions related to homosexuality. Far better, I suggest, to base your identity on relationships or abilities (i.e., brother, sister, mother, father, builder, counsellor, doctor, artist, etc.). This enables you to be a person who has sexual desires, rather than a person who is their sexual desires.

38 thoughts on “sexual identity – again…”

  1. If a person has been oppressed (whether it be their religion, their eating habits, the colour of their skin or their sexuality) then during the transition to liberation they’ll naturally identify strongly with what they see as wrongful oppression.

  2. Thanks Damian,
    I suppose it’s just another example of when such strong identity can confuse and distort the discussion of the issue at hand; or in this case, complicate the ‘transition to liberation’…

    Or have I totally mis-understood you here?

    -d-

  3. Yeah, I’m not really sure. I know a few gay people and they never make a big deal about it. It may be that, as a Christian, gays feel judged by you and feel they have to stand up to you by identifying strongly the very thing they feel you are judging them on. Perhaps it’s similar to what a black may have done in the early days of emancipation when confronted by a redneck; stated loud and proud that they are black.

    In my mind it’s a total non-issue – no “issue at hand” other than our own pre-conceived prejudices. Homosexuality may not be the norm but it certainly seems to be a part of nature. Live and let live mate :)

  4. Thanks Damian,
    I know a few people with same-sex desires myself, and I’m familiar with the tension in the discussions. That’s part of my point, actually. Identifying so totally with a sexual desire makes the sharing of perspectives about those desires much harder.

    And, no, I don’t think conflict about sexuality issues are at all the same kind of conflict over race issues. The three points of distinction above (desires, actions and identity) make perfect sense when talking about sexuality, and none at all when talking about race.

    Homosexuality (which, of course, is only one of many, many possible issues [and not particularly the one I meant to focus on here] within the realm of human sexuality; others being pedophilia, incest, prostitution, pornography, sexual-obsession, etc., etc.) may be a ‘non-issue’ in your mind, but for others it is (directly or indirectly), and it would be good, I suggest, for people to have ways to have respectful and fruitful dialogue about it.

    Again, this post is not meant to be an ‘anti-homosexual’ (i.e. anti-people-with-same-sex-desires) post, but rather was suggesting those three points of distinction (desires, actions and identity) as being helpful for discussion…

  5. I was just explaining why it is that you might encounter more people who identify themselves to you as “homosexual”. I find that the gays that I know have relegated this label to a small corner of their lives in much the same way that I don’t spend time thinking about or telling people about how I’m heterosexual.

    There’s plenty of discussion about homosexuality (especially with regard to possible evolutionary, environmental or developmental origins) where people’s use of labels doesn’t seem to get in the way.

    If I’m talking with a group of people about the topic of sexuality and someone says “I am a homosexual” I don’t feel that this in any way impacts negatively on the conversation. However, if I felt that homosexuality was morally wrong and someone said that of course it’s going to be a barrier. But the barrier is not the sexual orientation of the person but the fact that we have two, opposing views or morality.

    I would suggest that what gets in the way most if you are wanting to have a discussion is judgementalism.

  6. Cheers Damian,

    There’s a difference between making judgments (something we all do continually about all kinds of things) and being judgmentalistic. I see common, normal judgment-making as the healthy middle-ground between a careless apathy (…’to each their own, I don’t care.’… ) and an obsessed fundamentalism (…’everyone should be like me, my ideas are right’…). Judging is not the problem – how we do so… is.

    Again, my three points were not specifically aimed at homosexuality, but rather intended as a helpful aid for discussing all kinds of things to do with sexuality.

    As for the statement, ‘I am a homosexual’, I find that a very logically and rationally problematic statement. Does it mean that ‘I am’ the ‘same’-‘gender’? or… ‘same’-‘sexuality’? etc. Again, I find the three points quite helpful. It’s really quite simple, really. It’s far easier to talk about different perspectives on same-sex desires with some who understands themself as having those desires (i.e. ‘I am a person with same-sex desires’), rather than being those desires (i.e., ‘I am a homosexual’)…

    Each person and each conversation is different, of course. Patience, good listening skills and tact are essential things for discussing such things…

  7. I am a snowboarder.
    I am a person who sometimes snowboards.

    I am a vegetarian.
    I am a person who won’t eat meat.

    Semantics perhaps?

  8. I really can understand why you’re thinking of it as just semantics. I really can.
    Sexuality is just so different than any other area. The act of intercourse is the fullest expression of intimacy between two people. It’s not like sharing a ride in a cab with a stranger; you’re sharing your entire self with the other person. That’s the stark difference between sex within committment (whatever cultural form it takes, marriage, covenant, etc.) and, for example, prostitution (or a one-night-stand). Within committment, you’re not only sharing your bodies, but heart (emotions), life, possessions, possibly children, and much more. With no committment, you’re only sharing your bodies and the time and place where you ‘do the deed’. Of course, this post was not about the difference between committed sex-acts and un-committted sex-acts, but it’s worth noting, in this sense, that the area of sexual morality is unlike any other. You can result in an entire other person being born because of it. The effects of sex are colossal.
    I only say the above to distinguish the effects of sex, as opposed to the effects of snowboarding or vegitarianism.

    But, yes, I would also say that it’s unhelpful to let either of those examples sum up your entire identity as well. Someone, could (possibly) take their snow-boarding too seriously. Not in the sense of being too good, or practising too much, etc., but they could seek such a dangerous course, or put it so much ahead of their relationships, that, yes, snowboarding could be a problem. And likewise, people can be quite ‘attached’ to their vegitarianism, and if their vegitarianism was keeping them from getting the nourishment they needed, it could be a very real problem indeed.

    They are, of course, not 1-to-1 examples. The effects and possible outcomes of the three are quite different, But my general point, I think, is actually enhanced. If someone ‘clings’ to something, it’s much harder to talk about it, etc.

  9. If someone ‘clings’ to something, it’s much harder to talk about it, etc.

    I agree. But I’d also observe that people ‘cling’ more when they are defensive. Hence the point of my original comments.

  10. I also wanted to suggest an expression of your two examples which better aligns with our topic…

    I am a snowboarder

    I am a person who enjoys (desires) snowboarding experiences.

    I am a vegitarian

    (this one’s more complicated)
    I am a person who desires to be healthy, and who believes that the best way to do this is to not eat meat. (of course, there are other reasons for vegitarianism…)

  11. people ‘cling’ more when they are defensive

    …and people are defensive when they feel their person or identity is under attack… Hence my point about identity.

    :)

    -d-

  12. So “the realm of human sexuality” includes “homosexuality” and other “issues” “pedophilia, incest, prostitution, pornography, sexual-obsession, etc., etc.”!!
    Surely “homosexuality” belongs with “heterosexuality” as a group describing gender preference. To place it in a group of deviations is surely a distortion.

  13. I’m curious, Ken (and thanks for the comment),

    Are you quite sure (from your perspective) that (for example) incest is a ‘deviation’? What arguments would you put forward to support that?
    If you don’t think it’s a deviation, then why did you call my (brief and non-comprehensive) list a ‘group of deviations’?

  14. Yes I’m sure. The odd ones out are probably pornography and prostitution which probably (at least in their mildest forms) do not offend many (most?) people so perhaps deviation may be inappropriate (or too strong) to them. However pedophilia and incest do raise very strong intuitions of rejection or disgust – possibly for good evolutionary reasons.

    My point, of course, was that homosexuality is purely a neutral statement about sexual orientation – the same as heterosexual or even bisexual. While we can appropriately make a moral judgement about the ‘deviations’ in the list, I don’t think moral judgements are appropriate for sexual orientation in themselves. That was my objection to inclusion of homosexuality in th list.

  15. The reality is, we all make judgments all the time about all kinds of things. You have made some judgments, for example, that pornography and prostitution shouldn’t be called ‘deviations’ (at least in some forms)…

    People will always come to different conclusions in their judgments about this or that. That’s the way things are. My points (above – original post) are intended to help in that process of discussion, relating, sharing perspectives…

  16. Interesting thoughts all.

    Ken, if “pedophilia and incest do raise strong intuitions of rejection and disgust possibly for good evolutionary reasons” then wouldnt it follow that homosexuality would raise the same intuitions – in that homosexual relationships dont do much for the offspring numbers. In fact if homosexuality is genetic then I wonder how do these genes get passed on, is it through those that have kids before ‘coming out’ – are people ‘coming out’ earlier now that homosexuality is more acceptable? Will that in turn mean less offspring with the gene? Sorry to get off the topic a bit Dale – its the biologist in me asking that lot. The idea of sexuality and identity is an interesting one – I’ve heard some folk say that our sexuality permeates everything we do and others that, like you, suggest it is just a part of us, not something that defines us. I observe that with employment law and human rights law in general one isnt allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexuality, age, race or religion – I assume because these don’t define a person and shouldnt be used to define a person. Would you agree that “I am a Christian” is as unhelpful as “I am a homosexual”?
    Cheers, Jack

  17. Oh Oh Oh – what’s with the purple sqaure thing – isnt purple the colour for homosexuals (I’m sure someone once told me the purple teletubby with the handbag was gay). I dont know Dale, what if I’m defined by this, can I sue …

  18. Thanks Jack,
    Yes, the purple square thing is conclusive –nay, scientific– proof of your sexual desires… :) Nah, it’s a new comment-avatar-generator option WordPress offers. I quite like it.

    I’ve also often thought that from a evolutionary standpoint, homosexuality in a species would seem to be more of a hindrance (or barrier?) to reproduction than pedophilia or incest, but I’m no biologist…

    As for the statement “I am a Christian” being unhelpful, I think it’s a bit different (though I see your point). My point is that letting desires be the foundation of your identity is always less of a… well… sure foundation. The thing about wanting things is that we don’t always get them, and even when we do, we often discover they don’t make us as happy as we thought they would… (not that life is about being ‘happy’, though…)

  19. Oh dear, I shouldn’t have used the word deviation. It’s diverted the argument.

    My point came from a position of compassion, not judgement (or evolution). In the past we had a strong consensus that homosexuality was “wrong”, illegal, should be condemned, etc. Today we have a far more enlightened view and realise that many of our attitudes were based on misconceptions, myths, prejudice and outright misinformation.

    Today, we (largely) accept homosexuality as just part of the wide spectrum of human (and other animal) sexual behavior. Certainly these is no scientific basis for the previous judgemental attitudes and, in fact, we have a far better understanding of human sexual variation.

    Out attitudes are now more enlightened and consequently more accepting and this is reflected in our culture.

    That’s why I think it is inappropriate (and hurtful to many) to include homosexuality together with “pedophilia, incest, prostitution, pornography, sexual-obsession.”

    Jack, I don’t think the link between evolutionary mechanisms and attitudes is that black and white. Certainly these is no evidence for a “homosexual gene” and today we see genetic factors as more a “nature via nurture” and “nurture via nature” thing – far from simple. I guess the thing we have to start with is that homosexuality is a fact. It exists. It’s part of the rich variation in life. It doesn’t depend on our baility to understand or explain it.

  20. Ken says,

    My point came from a position of compassion, not judgement (or evolution).

    and also says,

    I think it is inappropriate (and hurtful to many) to include homosexuality together with “pedophilia, incest,
    prostitution, pornography, sexual-obsession.”

    But your statement ‘I think it is inappropriate’ assumes a judgment…
    I’m not trying to be a stickler or pin you down (we all make casual comments that we would have worded other ways upon further reflection) but again, Ken, I think it’s really important to understand that we all make judgments about all kinds of things all the time. What we need is to judge well.

    Again, I’m well aware that homosexuality ‘exists’. So does pedophilia. Existence of a behaviour doesn’t give us an a priori indication as to its morality, but your calling it part of the ‘rich’ variation in life seems to indicate that… Now, I’m not equating homosexuality with pedophilia, but would you call pedophilia a part of the ‘rich variation in life’? Like it or not, we make judgments about these things. (If our church didn’t screen our children’s workers for child abuse we would be very, very neglegint. THAT is how real and necessary ‘judging’ is… ) My simple suggestion has been, and is, that distinguishing between desires, actions and identity will help discuss the matter. Compassion is needed in ALL such areas, not just with homosexuality… It’s an assumption for me.

    Also, we’re far from the first civilisation who has broadly accepted homosexual behaviour. And it’s too simplistic an analysis, I suggest, to present a ‘old’ v. ‘new’ framework. Ancient people had much the same views for much the same reasons, and I’m quite sure basic anatomy (not …”misconceptions, myths, prejudice and outright misinformation”… ) had at least something to do with the views of many an ancient conclusion that homosexuality was ‘wrong’.

  21. Of course that’s my judgement – I did say “I think.” And obviously I’ve had enough time to think about this and, yes, I do think I judge well. No need for a diversionary lecture on that.

    You seem to be talking around the issue. Talking about desires and actions etc. Maybe there isn’t even an issue here to discuss. Clarify for me – do you think homosexuality is “wrong”? And, if so, how do you handle that personal judgement in your interaction with others (a significant proportion of which would be homosexual)?

  22. Thanks Ken,

    I didn’t mean to ‘lecture’ you, and I don’t think it was diversionary. I thought (and still do) think it’s a key point that we all make judgments…

    As for me ‘talking around the issue’, I would like to think that I’m trying to give the issue the respect and patient analysis that it deserves. Simplistic treatments are often given. One is ‘homosexuality is wrong because it just is, durnit…’; and the other is ‘homosexuality exists therefore it can’t be wrong’. Both of those fail to actually think about the issue. My thoughts have been (and still are) that distinguishing between desires, action and identity can help us all to think at a deeper, more thoughtful level.

    Now, as for a direct answer to your question, I (no doubt frustratingly to you) would want to ask for a definition of what you mean by ‘homosexuality’. Do you mean homosexual desires? Homosexual actions?
    The second part of your question I can speak (type) to… (though I’m confused by what you mean by a …’significant proportion’ of ‘others’… )

    The way I seek –and admittedly sometimes fail– to relate to all ‘others’ (be it my wife, a stranger or anyone) is with love. I’ll explain by paraphrasing N.T. Wright on how love works. Love objectively acknowledges the ‘other’ as an ‘other’ (distinguishes between self and other), while seeking to remain in rich, subjective relationship to it. In terms of relating to someone with same-sex desires/actions (or an identity based on either or both), I would want to follow this pattern. I would seek common ground to establish a relationship. There is likely many things I would have in common with the person. If it was a good opportunity to share our differing perspectives on same-sex desires/actions, I would happily share with them, provided I sensed it would be fuitful and not hurtful. Among many other things, I would respect them enough to be honest, and not patronise them by avoiding the issue (especially if they were seeking to discuss it)… I’ll leave it there, as I’m not quite sure what you’re really asking…

  23. Dale you mention the judgements required when screening church workers for child abuse risk. Assuming for a minute that society reached a point where folk spoke in complete honesty about their sexual desires, would it really make any difference if someone applying for the job said:

    I desire sexual connection with children, or
    I act on my desire to have a sexual connection with children, or
    I am a child sex abuser

    Isnt there some line in the Bible about it being a sin to even look at another with lust – can’t remember how it goes but I have a faint recollection about being taught that the desire was just as sinful as acting on it (could be totally wrong on that – as I say, its a faint recollection ; )

  24. Thoughtful question Jack,
    First, the case of pedophilia is a good example (because there is less disagreement as to the immoral nature of it than, for example, homosexuality). An interesting movie related to this is ‘the Woodsman’ (w/ Kevin Bacon). It surveys a man’s struggle to re-enter society after serving time for pedophilia.
    As for your example, the response would, of course, depend on the protocol of the organisation (in my example, our children’s programmes at my church), etc. I do think there could possibly be some major differences based on the different statements, though some laws might prevent the organisation giving the person a ‘chance’ at the job; and (as you mention) there is also the assumption of honesty. If you’ll allow me, let me suggest a much more realistic example.
    I doubt a convicted child-sex-offender would apply for a paid position in child-care (unless they did so with deliberate intent to gain access to a child, but in that case, they wouldn’t give any of those three statements), but a good example might be that of applying for a cleaning or maintenance position in (for example) a building which leased spaces to various businesses – including a child-care centre. I actually doubt many such building-owners would have many (or any) processes in place to screen for child-sex-offenders, but given they did; and given that the applicant was honest about his/her prior conviction, the employer would (if the law permitted) have some options; certainly involving discussion with the child-care centre…
    Now, here, the three different statements would indicate different kinds of concerns.
    Before interacting with the three options, let me say this… First, you have the safety of the children. Then you have several things after that. The (likely or possible) desire of the child-sex-offender to re-enter society, to live a (reasonably) normal life and to develop self control over his/her desire for sexual connection with children – or indeed to over-come or lose such desire completely (I believe the neurological term for this is ‘neuroplasticity’)… I can only imagine the difficulty facing such a person attempting to change. They would need support. People who gave them chances, whilst, of course, never putting a child in danger. It’s a VERY tricky issue, actually (and again, ‘The Woodsman’ presents the issue very well)…
    Now – the three options…

    If the applicant admitted the proclivity towards those kinds of desires, but the employer (and the child-care centre) was prepared to support his/her journey toward healing, then I think that could be a wonderful thing – provided, of course, that proper supervision was in place…

    Now (I’ll skip to the last one and come back to the second), if a person said ‘I am a child sex offender’, they could mean that in the sense a) ‘I have been convicted of child sex crimes’, or b) ‘I am a person with those desires and I think they are fine and am not trying to change…’ A is one thing, B is quite another…

    Now, if they said, ‘I (currently) act (willfully) on my desire to have a sexual connection with children’, then the person hearing such words has a moral responsibility to seek legal action and notify parents (or guardians) of the child affected…

    So anyway, this comment is quite long, but hopefully the shift to a more likely example helps to see how the different statements could have very different results. And a key point to consider here is the possible desire (yes, another desire; nay even a conflicting desire!) to gain control of (or lose) those desires…

    Hope this makes sense…

    -d-

  25. Oh yes, and your comment about the Bible verse…

    Yes, I think the various shades of meaning in that verse, one is that ‘desires’ and ‘actions’ are intimately related…
    Take the example of an affair. People don’t generally just ‘jump’ into bed with one another. The ‘road’ to the action an affair’ is paved with desire for the person (or the experience), etc.

  26. Hi,
    I’m a christian and i have been really unsure for a while about all of this stuff…. I’m not sure if I’m gay, bi or just confused to be honest. I feel like I switch back and forth all the time. I read your article and to be honest i’d never thought about things like that before. I’ll probably be unsure about whether the desires are from God or not for quite a while, bt I agree that whatever i think about the desires, I don’t have to let them totally define my entire self… Sure, I wanna be accepted for who I am, but that doesn’t have to be my sexuality… which isn’t exactly stable if you know what i mean… :)
    it’s just real confusing all the mixed messages you get, ya know? not just from christians, either. I don’t mind people having an opinion about it also. I’d rather they just be honest, and talk about things for real. It really annoys me when people say one thing and it feels like they are just trying to humor you or be nice…
    anyway thanks

  27. Hi ‘questioning’,
    Thanks for sharing! How’d you find my blog? (I’m always keen to know… )
    I’m glad you found at least parts of my post helpful, and yes, whatever anyone concludes as to the rightness or wrongness of same-sex desire, they certainly don’t have to be defined by it. I think relationships (to parents, siblings, close friends, etc.) are a much better foundation for identity…
    I think this step allows and helps us to be able to think better about it all.

  28. Dale, discussion with you is frustrating.

    Surely sometimes it’s just simpler to make clear statements instead of talking around an issue. This just gives the impression of either attempting to avoid revealing one’s attitude, or being unclear about what ones attitude really is.

    Ont these issues what the world needs now is clarity. Otherwise we end up justifying anything.

  29. I’m curious why you find this so frustrating. I don’t mean to be – honestly!

    I think it’s easier to be clear when it comes to issues that are simple. However, for issues that are more complex (not to mention emotional, controversial, etc.), a more nuanced, patient analysis is sometimes the best way to be clear.

    I’m also curious as to your language about the world ‘needing’ clarity. I agree completely! I, too, am concerned about ‘justifying anything’. Sex is a powerful thing. It can bring life, and it can destroy. Very important topic, methinks…

  30. I find the proposition of homosexuality as a ‘deviation’ to be intriguing.

    Amongst those who don’t give into wishful thinking, evolution is not debatable. Evolution is simply how things are and how we understand things came to be. I also don’t believe in some sort of mythical god.

    Any idea about a god is just people’s creation of a security blanket. Belief in god is childish. Sorry if you are offended by that truth. I thought I should play my cards so that I can be open and honest.

    Compassion, judgment, morality and all those other subjective and postmodern arguments aside lets talk about what’s best for the ongoing evolution of the human species.

    It is obvious that the main stream of human evolution is heterosexual. Naturally heterosexuality is the only advantageous form to promote the continuation of humanity. Anything that works against that or encourages negative mutations that could hurt the species is a deviation and should be discouraged.

    Homosexuality is a deviation that naturally discourages the continuation of healthy human genes that work towards the reproduction and continued evolution of humanity. Should it not therefore be discouraged?

    We can most certainly be nice about it and accept those of a homosexual nature into our communities in the same way we accept any deviation from the evolutionary norm, but anything that interrupts a healthy and strong evolution should be discouraged.

    We could argue the same about religion considering it has a tendency to outwork itself violently in ways that harm humanity.

  31. Thanks, ‘Menthu’, for an excellent comment.
    (how did you find my blog? …always curious… )
    I not only respect your right to have come to different conclusions as me regarding divinity, morality, etc.; but I also respect your courage to state your ( admittedly non-P.C. ) thoughts about evolution and homosexuality.
    Indeed, one of Jack’s comments above raised (at least implicitly) the idea that the pattern laid down by evolution would be in discontinuity with homosexuality. Indeed, homosexuality, being inherently non-reproductive, seems to swim ‘against the reproductive flow’ (so to speak) of evolution…
    Of course, I’d want to disagree with your (theoretical) equation of homosexuality and ‘religion’. One has to do with a person’s sexual desires and action and the other with views about reality (i.e. world-view) and subsequent beliefs, values and actions…
    I’d be very curious to see what connection(s) –if any– you see between the biological evolutionary ‘flow’ and other kinds of sexual behaviours; like pedophilia, rape, incest, etc.
    Cheers…

  32. Often people let PC arguments get in the way of proper discussions, even those who claim to not like religion and support evolution.

    Pedophilia often physically damages the young people involved and so is easy to argue as a destructive deviation. Often it involves the damage of reproductive organs and leaves the victim unable to reproduce later in life. On another side it often leaves the victim emotionally unable to approach sexuality in a healthy manner later in life, meaning that it has a detrimental effect on the healthy continuation of the evolutionary process.

    It may need to be clarified what exactly pedophilia is. Is it socially or biologically defined? What would be the difference between the two definitions?

    Incest is seen to produce unhelpful mutations and problems when resulting in children, so should be discouraged.

    Rape, and this may offend some, is often just an outworking of a man’s biological need to reproduce. It isn’t nice and results often in the physical and emotional damage of the victim, but we seem to have a double standard towards it.

    I watched a group of cows and bulls not long ago. One of the cows was on heat and three bulls were continually trying to mount her. Clearly she was distressed and often tried to get away from them. Nobody discouraged this since it was clearly biologically natural. In a sense it needed to take place for the cows to continue reproducing.

    We accept that outcome of evolution, yet we would imprison a man who tried the same thing. People are just animals who have developed some social etiquette, so whilst we might not like rape, it is biologically understandable.

    It is here that the argument can be made that if a woman dresses provocatively and in so doing is demonstrating that she is ‘on heat’ it is feasible to draw the conclusion that it is then biologically natural for a man to respond to that in the same way the bull would with the cow. It is evolutionary outcomes at work.

  33. There’s a danger, Menthu, that people may interpret your saying that rape is ‘biologically understandable’ as a form of acceptance.

    Just because we observe something in nature doesn’t necessarily make it appropriate for our species. Especially when you add the complication of our need to live in a society and the degree to which our minds and identity of self play an important role in our function.

    In fact, many people deny evolution because they think that in order to believe that it happens they also have to believe that they are obliged in some way to live it.

    Any time you use a contraceptive you are flying in the face of evolution and I’ve got absolutely no problem with that. The same goes with the argument against homosexuality. To my way of thinking being gay is only ‘wrong’ if your goal is to produce plenty of offspring. And at this stage of humanity I don’t believe that this is a burning issue.

    In reading your interpretation of evolutionary processes and how they might apply in our human society I’m a little suspicious that you might not have communicated what you mean clearly. (At first glance I was tempted to think that you were an undercover creationist).

  34. A creationist? You have no idea how funny that accusation would be. I once had a creationist in tears. I struggled to believe how stupid his ideas were.

    It would take an absolute idiot to think that recognizing something like rape as biologically understandable was akin to acceptance. With the social constructs we have in place in the western world right now it is entirely unacceptable. That doesn’t mean it will always be so.

    Hypothetically speaking if we ever faced a scenario where humanity was near extinction because of natural global forces or our own doing and the only way to continue our existence was to reproduce and if females were not willing to undertake the necessary actions to continue humanity, would it not be in the best interests of our species for rape to occur? I am not saying it is nice, but it is only social forces and circumstances that define whether something is right or wrong.

    I don’t think educated westerners using contraceptives is good for humanity at all. Globally we face a situation where the uneducated masses are placing unhealthy pressures on the world and the educated class is diminishing because they are not reproducing at the same rate. The educated class is the only answer for the world’s ills.

    Abortions and contraceptives amongst the educated middle and upper classes in the world are increasingly creating an unsustainable scenario. This may place no immediate danger on the human species but it does not take long to extrapolate a disastrous scenario for humanity over a long period of time.

    This is further stressed by the problem faced because of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome that continues to be passed on from generation to generation amongst the poor in our world. As these people continue to breed at high rates while the educated west breeds at low rates it is easy to see a potential catastrophe looming.

    Homosexuality poses a similar problem. It seems to be a lot more prolific amongst the educated west. This only further restricts the healthy gene pool of the educated west while allowing those placing a burden on the world to dramatically increase.

    I know these arguments aren’t nice, but we need to remove subjective and socially constructed niceties from these discussions so we can further the betterment of our species.

  35. Interesting exchanges!
    I’m tempted to question both of you on a few things, but I’m quite interested to see how points or principles of agreement you might find…

  36. Menthu,

    I once had a creationist in tears.

    Wow, you must really understand evolution then.

    But seriously.

    I know where you are coming from with your appeal to remove “subjective and socially constructed niceties” – we shouldn’t let our feelings about a topic stand in the way of understanding the bare truth. By way of disclaimer, I’m reading Steven Pinker’s Blank Slate at the moment and agree entirely with what he has to say so far (that genes account for much or what and who we are).

    My issue with the angle you are taking is that you appear to be saying that the “educated middle and upper classes” shouldn’t be slowing down breeding whilst the other should. I never made any distinction as to whether contraception or homosexuality was good or bad depending on class or education.

    It sounds a lot like you’re pulling out the social Darwinism card to suit the ‘race’ or group of people you think are more worthy of survival. But if this is at the core of your argument then I would ask why you think we (and I say ‘we’ because we’re communicating via the Internet which puts us up there) are the ‘best’ and therefore should be procreating more than the others?

    If you were genuinely concerned with particular gene pools affecting the survival of the planet wouldn’t you be targeting exactly these upper class consumers who are inflicting so much damage to the earth’s ecosystems?

    I’m interested in the truth too but from what you’ve written so far I’d have to observe that you have an underlying elitist streak that is clouding your perspectives. And whether you believe in evolution or creation this has got to be fundamentally bad science.

  37. “Rape, and this may offend some, is often just an outworking of a man’s biological need to reproduce. It isn’t nice and results often in the physical and emotional damage of the victim, but we seem to have a double standard towards it.

    I watched a group of cows and bulls not long ago. One of the cows was on heat and three bulls were continually trying to mount her. Clearly she was distressed and often tried to get away from them. Nobody discouraged this since it was clearly biologically natural. In a sense it needed to take place for the cows to continue reproducing.

    We accept that outcome of evolution, yet we would imprison a man who tried the same thing. People are just animals who have developed some social etiquette, so whilst we might not like rape, it is biologically understandable.”

    BULL!

    I am being very nice and restrained and trying not to say something stronger here. As someone who has been raped that has to be one of the most offensive things I have ever read. Rape can and does have zero to do with reproduction. (yes, there are cases of rape in developing countries purely to inseminate women, but that is quite a different kettle of fish).

    Stop and think about the damage that your comments cause, think them through, and be sure that’s what you really really think. I am aware that you’re not accepting it as ok, but that still doesn’t justify such an ignorant, offensive statement.

    Sorry Dale – had to comment on that one, and (hopefully) doing so somewhat politely as it’s your blog and not mine!

    Oh my word, I just read this –

    “It is here that the argument can be made that if a woman dresses provocatively and in so doing is demonstrating that she is ‘on heat’ it is feasible to draw the conclusion that it is then biologically natural for a man to respond to that in the same way the bull would with the cow.”

    Did my dress mean I was saying I was ‘on heat’ and up for it??? Offensive, offensive, offensive.

    Grrrrr.

  38. No worries about the rant, Rachel – go for it! :)

    ‘Menthu’ hasn’t bothered to stick around and defend his social Darwinism… :)

    -d-

    p.s. – welcome to the blog!

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