I’m not going to make any friends with this post, but here it goes:
I do not believe in the “born this way” theory.
I will say it again, in gigantic bold red text, in case you didn’t hear me:
I do not believe in the “born this way” theory.
“Born This Way” is bunk, whether it’s used to describe homosexuality or anything else.
I find it absurd that an abstract thought, such as a like or dislike, can be physically (genetically) caused, especially since you can’t know anything about the existence of whatever the thing is until you empirically experience it.
Do I have a genetic predisposition to like economic conservatism? Or Hinduism? Or the Eiffel Tower? Italian food? The Doors’ music? The poetry of Emily Dickinson? Mid to late Renaissance art of eastern French painters? Of course not.
If I said I did, people would rightly say I was off my rocker. Neither I nor my DNA can even know those things exist until I experience them. Most people know that and it is considered common sense.
Why is it not considered insane when the topic in question is gender or sex?
I have several thoughts and theories about this, and- surprise!- some of them involve patriarchy and misogyny:
A. The idea that sex differences are inherently known by and considered important by your very DNA comes from the belief that genital differences are so crucial that they are actually ingrained into you.
1. This is illogical because no matter how important something is, you must experience it in order to know about it. Neither you nor your DNA can know of something’s existence before you perceive it or experience it.
a. Republicanism is different from liberalism. Does that mean your DNA instinctively knows what these arbitrary, worldly topics are? What if you grew up in, or are descended from people who grew up in, a place where these concepts aren’t even practiced?
b. Fire trucks are different from doorknobs. Does a man born in a tribe on a desert island in the middle of a third world area therefore instinctively know what doorknobs and fire trucks are, and that they are different…because of his DNA?
c. It is equally illogical to claim one can have instinctive knowledge of physical sex differences unless one is exposed to them.
B. This idea that someone’s genitalia is a universally or innately important aspect of partner choice or sexual attraction comes from sexism and patriarchy.
1. Right wingers support this view because they believe pregnancy to be the goal of sex, and also because they believe traditional sex roles are important and want them backed up by “science,” since people aren’t as easily swayed by religious excuses anymore.
2. Left wingers support this view because they have adopted the “male” model of sexuality and attraction.
a. This model, which classifies sexuality as “hetero” or “homo,” is based on a frame of mind that appeals to “masculine” ideals (as defined by patriarchy): you love someone or are attracted to them based on their genitals. It’s a very genital-oriented, physical view of attraction. “Do you like cock or cunt?”
3. Part of the reason patriarchy uses genitalia as a criteria for sexual attraction is because men are trained to view sex (which they equate with PIV– penis in vagina) as an act of the penis dominating the vagina, and, consequently, the man dominating the woman.
a. Therefore, the genitalia of the sexual actors is, to them, of utmost importance.
b. Also, if they can make one’s sexual orientation seem “natural,” they can further promote the idea that the sex of one’s genitalia is an important aspect of physical intimacy, and use this as a cudgel to beat the “PIV is natural; sex with men is fun” viewpoint into women’s heads.
C. The classifications of sexual attraction into “heterosexuality” and “homosexuality” didn’t always exist.
1. Just as we don’t have any official classification or category for “blonde-lovers,” “people who love tall people,” or “people attracted to those with freckles,” before the 19th Century there was no word or concept to describe someone who was attracted specifically to those of the same sex. Sure, there were homosexuals (just as there are blonde lovers) but there was no name for them, because the concept wasn’t considered crucial.
2. The reason there was no categorization for “homosexual” or “heterosexual” was because any and all sex acts and desires that did not fit under the “one man, one woman, penis-in-vagina, in marriage, for the purpose of reproduction” model were merely lumped together as “unnatural” or “sin” and shunned. Therefore, someone who had sex with animals, someone who raped little girls, and someone who had sex outside of marriage, were, on some level, all thrown together in one bag.
3. Towards the late 19th Century, male “homosexuality” began to be discussed. This is probably because of the proliferation of modern masculinity.
a. Modern masculinity was ushered in by the likes of Freud and his “penis envy” theory (on the secular side), and the Freemasons and phallus-worshiping occult groups like the Ordo Templi Orientis (on the spiritual side).
b. These men promoted both the spiritual idea of “Spermo-Gnosticism” and the “scientifically” proven superiority of the male organs, and, therefore, the acceptability of male homosexuality, at least in the form of collective male self-love coupled with disgust and contempt towards women and female bodies. Male homosexuality- especially as an “exodus” away from the drudgery of women, married life, and stifling “emotion”- was promoted and embraced in some circles as “liberation.” At least for men.
c. The beliefs that men- and, therefore, the penis- were superior- made it necessary for these men to promote attraction to the penis per se, especially for other men.
D. Just because something is not chosen, doesn’t mean it was caused by genetics.
1. Many little children do not like broccoli. Is this dislike caused by genetics, because it is not chosen by the child?
2. A preference can be caused by the experiences one has in one’s life, not just internal reasons. If you had a great birthday party while in a blue room when you were 5, you may habitually associate the color blue with good feelings.
3. Preferences are not only caused by the nature of the thing being preferred. They can also change because your viewpoint has changed (and changes of viewpoint can be un-chosen). This is why when the broccoli-hating child grows up he may become a broccoli lover. Neither his taste buds nor the broccoli nor his DNA have changed- only his mentality did.
E. Saying homosexuality was “caused” by something is homophobic.
1. It implies that someone’s sexual preferences matter, because one is asking how they got there, and therefore, that such preferences are not normal or are necessary to “fix.”
2. It implies that heterosexuality is the default and therefore that only homosexuality has a “cause.” No one ever asks what “caused” someone to be straight. It’s just assumed that this is the default state of a human.
3. If homosexuality can be caused by something, then there can be a way to “un-cause” it, and to “cure” it, many hope.
F. Some people can choose their sexuality.
1. We all have different levels of control over our preferences. This depends on a combination of how skilled we are in controlling our minds, and on how strong the preference is. It also may depend on how much or little we know about why the preference got there, and on how much the preference was influenced or caused by things outside us, like our experiences.
2. Patriarchy pushes heterosexuality onto women to keep them addicted to and dependent upon men, and to boost men’s egos.
a. Therefore, patriarchy and the men behind it don’t want women figuring out that they can choose to ignore men and become lesbians, nor do men want women learning that much heterosexuality is a deliberate trap men have placed on women. No wonder the patriarchal-under-the-surface “Born This Way” movement loves the theory of innate sex preferences!
b. A man who can convince a woman she’s “born heterosexual” can trick her into developing feelings for him, and into attributing the trauma-bonding effect many women experience during PIV sex as “love.”
G. Talking about homosexuality-as-genetic or “innate” hides the political, cultural, social, and psychological reasons why many people become straight or gay, and why homophobia exists and who perpetrates it.
1. It lumps both male and female homosexuals into one box, ignoring the fact that the experiences of male and female homosexuals, and the reasons for their homosexuality and their oppression, are often very different.
a. Gay males often (but not always) choose male partners because of disgust for females or female bodies. Gay men’s oppression at the hands of patriarchal society largely is confined to an enormous “cock-block”; that is, many gay men feel their main problem is not being able to put their penis where they want.
b. Gay females- lesbians- often choose female partners, or discover lesbian feelings within themselves- out of desperation, especially that of there being “no good men” out there, or out of the realization that women in general tend to be less nasty than men (because of socialization). Lesbians face violence, including the threat of “corrective rape” designed to make them “love the dick,” discrimination by male homosexuals, including sexual violence, taunts, and groping, and regular anti-female discrimination in non-homophobic and non-homosexual contexts.
c. As homophobic as it is, male culture- with its non-private locker rooms, “playful” slaps on the ass between athletes, male genital size comparison, and generic “love for one’s fellow man,” indicate a vastly different cause of much male homosexuality, or at least self-discovery among gays. Male culture promotes “man loving” while discouraging female bonding, leaving lesbians with less inclination to attach to other women or even discover a lesbian orientation, and also less ways in which to carry out such attractions.
d. Male homosexuals are hated for different reasons and by different sets of people. Gays are despised by masculinity-performing men who fear gay men may treat them the way men treat women, and may use their weaponized male sexuality against them instead of women. No one wants to be on the wrong end of a penis in patriarchy, one might say. Gay men are also hated because they remind men that sexually dominating women is not an unavoidable destiny in a male’s life.
e. Lesbians are despised by straight men who are outraged that someone- especially a woman- might reject or deny what Marilyn Frye calls “the magic of the penis.” Yet, unlike gays, lesbians are hated by their own movement, in the form of male homosexuals who expect both gay and straight women to fund their AIDS relief campaigns and yet do not return the favor and support feminist concerns, or even outright insult or assault females in general, in a sexual manner.
f. The “born this way” theory of genetically-caused homosexuality implies that this hatred of both male and female gays is due merely to homophobes’ belief of the “unnaturalness” of such orientations, and that no difference between gayphobia and lesbophobia exist or need to be analyzed.
H. Modern culture, which promotes raw masculinity removed of its pretty religious, altruistic, sensitive, or family oriented packaging, rejects the idea of a spirit or an inner “being.”
1. Modern culture, including patriarchal ideas of “science,” prefer to reduce human beings and human personalities (especially those of women) to robotics. We are not homo- or hetero-sexual because of our life experiences, our souls, or our viewpoints, they tell us. We like the things we like because we are “wired” to do so.
2. If we can convince human beings they attract to their partners only because of some robotic-like “wiring,” we cheapen respect for human beings and human feelings in general. We foster the idea of humans as interchangeable and replaceable, if only you find someone with the same likes, traits, or looks.
This also fosters male sexuality’s wet dream: that people will no longer associate sex with love, or at least affection, and that we will all be reduced to body parts, “safe” at last from the smothering influence of the emotions of that horrible Eternal Mother.