Thursday, 28 February 2013

Gender and sexuality Part 1: Memes

Gender and sexuality issues, misconceptions and myths have been always been bugging me, and as a person outside a traditional heterosexual role I’m exposed to them more frequently and it is frankly becoming just irritating.

Here’s a list of things people say about non-traditional sexualities and gender roles that irritate me:

The biological / unnatural / population control argument (if one could call it an argument)

This is the one that I can’t stand the most, whenever I hear someone use the biological argument it really really winds me up, so get ready for a rant. People don’t realise how offensive and hurtful it is to say “Oh it is not natural because gay people do not procreate” or when people think they’re being clever and oh so liberal by saying “homosexuality must be nature’s way of controlling populations.” Both are the sides of the same coin and they are equally offensive and stupid. I don’t even know where to start breaking down how stupid these arguments are because they’re just plain retarded. Why is there a need to relate something to nature? Is anything we do as modern humans that is natural? Isn’t everything natural anyway if nature is all-pervasive? What is natural and unnatural really? Nature is a very vague, general term that can be argued around in so many ways that it is stupid to even mention it. Even if there was a clear way of distinguishing what’s natural and what’s unnatural, is it so important?

Now if you want to talk specifically about biology and evolution Mr. Smartypants, saying that homosexuals don’t procreate or they control populations, um... last time I checked I had my genitalia intact and my last blood test indicated that I am extremely fertile. If nature intended for me not to reproduce wouldn’t it make me sterile like it does with unfavourable genetic mutations? Nature wouldn’t give me all this sperm if it had this ingenious plan to somehow use me for population control. If you like to talk about animals as a means of distinguishing what’s natural, animals that display homosexual behaviour still reproduce (with the same intact genitalia and fertility of their heterosexual counterparts) but like to bond with the same sex as themselves (or don’t even make a distinction between sexes). In effect gay animals bond with the same-sex romantically instead of being guided by their reproductive instinct, it’s almost like they exhibit higher feelings beyond pure instinct and that’s beautiful. Could it be that homosexuality in animals is actually a sign of higher functions (emotional, social etc.), instead of purely instinctive behaviour? It sure seems so considering that most higher-level animals do exhibit homosexual traits.  But I digress, even if there wasn’t any homosexual behavior in animals it wouldn’t make it any different, it shouldn’t matter.

The fact of the matter is that humans are not like animals. We have created culture and society, complex communication and advanced artifacts. We are not solely governed by our survival instincts and reproduction is not even a goal in today’s overpopulated globe. A lot of the things we do as cultural animals have to do with information exchange and in capitalist societies, selling our time for survival tickets (money). In our modern society a lot of homosexuals choose not to reproduce. Is that unnatural? If so then heterosexuals that choose not to reproduce are also unnatural. Or on the flipside, homosexual and heterosexual people that choose not to reproduce in modern society are nature’s way of preventing overpopulation. Can you hear how stupid that sounds in this context? If there was some natural mechanism that prevents overpopulation, well... nature has failed horribly. 7 billion people on earth is hardly what I would call a controlled population. If anything, nature has made humans in such a way that they were able to escape the state of basic survival, and through advances in technology, production and medicine have ensured the survival and reproduction of individuals who would not have survived otherwise. Homosexuals in modern society can adopt children that would otherwise might have perished, and advances in in-vitro fertilization means that they can even reproduce their own genes without the need to physically procreate. Of course, if they wanted to they could just do it the old fashioned way, and oftentimes they do so even if they don’t want to. In many places where homosexuality is not accepted, closeted or repressed individuals lead traditional heterosexual lives where they do reproduce aplenty. Not to mention places where women routinely get raped lesbian or straight, or where young people have sex before they even have the chance to consider their sexuality. It happens all the time. In fact homosexuality could only be possible as a means of population control only within societies that accept non-traditional gender roles, but now in such places homosexuals can adopt or use surrogates so yeah.. not really.

I am getting bored discussing this, it’s just so obvious to me that it feels even pointless talking about it. To summarise: non-reproduction in healthy homosexuals is simply a matter of choice within a modern society, just as it is with heterosexuals that choose not to. Non-reproduction by choice is clearly not unnatural, and reproduction is not the ultimate goal for the modern human in an overpopulated world. Humans and animals that exhibit homosexual behaviour are also clearly not contributing to population control, as they are fertile and reproduce just the same, especially in homophobic and sexist societies (ie. the majority of the world). Oh and did I mention, who cares if there isn’t a divine explanation for homosexuality? Why the need to explain things as if there is a grander scheme behind everything? Oh I know, because some traditional heterosexuals like to feel there is a purpose and meaning behind their measly existence on the expense of others. Please do not hurt people to justify your existence and to hide your own existential fears of inadequacy. Enough with this, if anyone ever mentions the biological argument they will get a link to this page. Morons.

The born this way / not a choice stupidity

This is the second thing that pisses me off so much it drives me up the wall. “Oh it’s not their choice they were born this way.” Fuck off, I don’t need your pity or you justifying my sexual orientation as if it is some genetic disorder that I inherited and I’m so unfortunate I have to live with it for the rest of my life. The only unfortunate thing about being born non-heterosexual in this world is ignorant comments like this. No, nobody chooses to be attracted to the same sex just like nobody chooses to be attracted to the opposite sex, sexuality is like an expression, an emotion. We still don’t know how sexuality is determined, whether it is genetic, whether it is determined by hormones during pregnancy or early neural development, nobody knows. Which of these would satisfy the “born this way” argument? If it’s genetic does that make it more ok than if it’s hormonal? Or perhaps it would better if it was neurobiological? Maybe if it’s genetic then there is a mutant recessive gene, or if it’s hormonal then there might have been a hormone imbalance in the uterus due to stress. This is what the born this way / not a choice argument insinuates, that something outside the individual’s control happened that has led them to be “this way” and therefore it is not their ‘fault’. It insinuates there is a fault but it wasn’t intentional. By saying that it’s ok because it was predetermined and not a choice also suggests that if it was a choice it would be wrong, but since it wasn’t a choice it’s ok. “These people didn’t have a choice they were born like that.” That is how terrible it sounds however well-intended people that say this may be. There’s one simple way around this argument, don’t use it. Sexual diversity just exists and it’s a wonderful thing, it doesn’t have to be a “way” someone is born into. Babies are not born with sexual attraction to a particular sex and they are not born with a gender identity. Sexuality and gender are things that gradually develop and we discover and explore them as we grow up. We may discover a sexual or romantic attraction towards men, or towards women, or both or neither. We may discover that what we perceive as our gender does not match with our genitals. Nobody is born in any “way,” you are not born hetero or homo or bi or trans or asexual, and you don’t choose it either. You discover it. What should be a beautiful gradual process of discovery, filled with wonder and excitement, games and trials, often becomes a traumatic and extremely painful process for children that discover that their own personal expressions of sexuality and gender is not aligned with what their surrounding environment considers acceptable. And that is just sad.

The whatever people do in their privacy of their own homes wisecrack

I heard someone say the other day, speaking about gay people: "I have no problem with what floats anybody's boat" which reminds me of the other mantra that similarly open-minded people say: “whatever people do in their privacy of their own homes is their own business.” Thanks guys for being so open-minded, now shut the hell up. Saying that same-sex attraction is something that floats someone’s boat as if it is some kind of kink or fetish doesn’t make you sound acceptant, it makes you sound ignorant. Saying that same-sex attraction is something that happens behind closed doors and something personal and it’s not your business also makes you sound pretty moronic. Actually it should be your business. Same-sex attraction and all the other non-hetero sexualities are not private, they are public and all around us, they are probably more real than what you consider heterosexuality, and they are surely neither kinks nor fetishes. I’m not gonna go on much about this cos it’s pretty straightforward. If you consider yourself an open-minded person please don’t use such phrases lest you risk sounding like a bigot.

The gay/lesbian lifestyle/community/group categorisation

Ugh, seriously? Do I need to delve into this anymore? There is no such thing as a gay lifestyle. Being gay is no more a lifestyle than being straight. There is a variety of lifestyles that gay people and straight people choose to dabble in, and essentially these different lifestyles share the same characteristics regardless of orientation. There is no such thing as a singular lifestyle, nor is there a “community” or a “group” of homosexuals. People are all individuals and may feel affinities to particular groups throughout their lives depending on their interests, but there is not one group, or one singular community that homosexuals subscribe to. It’s not a cult. Again this is pretty obvious so I won’t rant much. Sharing the same orientation doesn’t make you the same with everyone that has the same orientation. It’s just one thing you have in common, amongst the thousands of things you don’t have in common. Are all heterosexuals the same? Part of some culty heterosexual community? Nope. It’s pretty dated to say gay lifestyle or gay community. To be honest the words gay and lesbian are starting to sound pretty dated. Can we please stop categorising people depending on their attraction to others and treat everyone as individuals? Thanks. (NB. There are however times that gays become a community - when their rights are being threatened and they are being prejudiced against, then they need to stick for each other.)

The gay men are more feminine/ lesbians more masculine comment and other dualities

Finally the last point in my list. Western society likes to divide things into masculine and feminine, and gay people seem unable to escape this duality themselves. Gays are feminine men and lesbians masculine women. That in itself is stupid together with any kind of heteronormative thinking like for example the idea that in a gay relationship one takes the male role and one takes the female role. This dual thinking, this dichotomy, is a cultural construct that needs to be overcome. I’ve met straight men and lesbians that are very feminine, and gay men and straight women that are very masculine. I’ve met gay and straight men and women that sometimes exhibit masculine characteristics and sometimes exhibit feminine characteristics, sometimes at the same time and in varying degrees. It is time we get over this separation of masculine and feminine, and just be... “humanine” a beautiful amalgamation, an influx and intermix of what was previously considered as separate characteristics into one singular everchanging expression.