Group blink; group think!

Born gay? If you insist, fine. What's wrong with having been born gay? What's wrong with becoming gay later? And what is a homosexual? What is a "bisexual"? It has been seriously maintained that the latter do not exist. A leading proponent of that theory bases his thesis on his claim never to have met a bisexual, and (in the alternative, I suppose) his view that bisexuals are confused:

....the question of whether you want to spend the rest of your life waking up next to stubble or full breasts is pretty fundamental to our sense of who we are and it is difficult to believe that there is a significant segment of the population who wouldn't care one way or the other.
Are humans so simple that they boil down to either stubble or full breasts? Proponents of crackpot theories love to define the views they then condemn -- in this case bisexuals are nonexistent absurdities unable to see more in a human being than breasts and stubble and who don't care about that. But the people who are claimed not to exist indignantly deny their nonexistence, of course, and some claim harassment by gay activists -- some of whom obviously despise bisexuals for claiming to exist. (I don't know who wrote this, but he is not alone.)

So let it be with Caesar -- bisexual in bed, and Al Gore in politics. (Clearly, neither man was familiar with the idea that democracy is like sex -- but we're getting off point here!)

What are the implications of this? Is there such a thing as a preference? Or is there to be a rule based on the number of sexual experiences? Why is it that a single homosexual experience is so often defined as homosexuality but a single heterosexual experience is not defined as heterosexuality? Is sexual preference a movement-driven definition like race -- where even a minuscule percentage of some racial genes (but not others) defines one's "race"?

What is the purpose of gathering statistics on the blink ratios of "heterosexual" versus "homosexual" eyeballs? (Link via Andrew Sullivan.)

This article includes a picture of a suspect eye.

You blinked! You blinked! You're gay! Hahahahaha!

Why should gay predestination matter to so many? Why is there such a stubborn insistence on placing people into groups and generalizing about them? Why look for a "cause" of sexual desire? It strikes me that there is an obsessive need by some people to look for a single explanation for sexuality (by now almost a gay political holy grail), and thus create a group where there is none. Homosexuals have no more in common with each other than heterosexuals, and in many cases, a given heterosexual and a given homosexual may have more in common with each other than they do with the rest of the members of their very artificially (and arbitrarily) defined "group."

I have seen few things as silly as the compilation of blinking statistics. Even assuming that none of the subjects was distracted by other factors (such as being already self conscious and on top of that being watched by scientists), the most that can be shown here is that for whatever reason, some female homosexuals blink at rate approximating heterosexual men. If that is to be interpreted as evidence that they were born that way, well, that in no way demonstrates that all lesbians were born that way.

Some is not all.

To declare that all homosexuals are "born that way" negates free will in matters of human sexual desire. It is logically preposterous, destructive of freedom, and contradicted by my own personal experience. There are countless things which have turned me off or on at one time or another, and the process is ongoing. Types of people who might have once repelled me now turn me on, and types I once found attractive now aren't. Sexual desire is something I have found to be quite fluid. It makes no sense to declare that I was born with attractions that are always changing. Example: years ago I found piercings offensive. Now they turn me on. (I once hated broccoli, too.) And if you are foolish enough to have a taste for androgyny, well, that is a constantly changing target.

I do not deny that some people are born homosexual -- maybe even a substantial percentage. I believe there are both genetic and prenatal factors. But -- I also believe there are psychological reasons. And there is such a thing as free will. Human freedom.

It is degrading enough to an individual to be judged and classified on the basis of research performed on others whom he never knew nor met. But to be subjected to the extrapolations from statistics on eye blinks? Where do these people get off, anyway? Next they'll be saying that one's political views are genetically determined.

Years ago, the need for the "born that way" thesis was justified along the lines of, "Well we need to refute the claims of the religious conservatives that this is a choice."


Who are "we" -- and why do "we" need to do that?

Doesn't this presuppose that there is no right to choose one's sexual partners, or to be attracted to whatever the hell one is attracted to? To like the stubble on one human, the full breasts on another? (Or on one?) I don't think it should make any difference whether something is chosen or not. Freedom has no such conditions, and if they are imposed, then that concedes the idea that if something is chosen, such a choice may later be restricted. What ought to matter is the right to make that choice. The dignity of the individual is far more important than the right of some "group" to do something that, it is claimed, they "cannot help."

I freely admit that I can help it, and I do help it and help myself whenever I feel like it. My sexual desires and attractions are mine. They do not belong to a group -- whether of statisticians, politicians, political analysts, or adherents to one or another religious text.

I wonder whether defeating religious conservatives is the only reason behind this constant movement to push individuals into a group based on sexual desires. Might something else be going on? Some form of magic -- via creation of groupthink? I guess the idea would be along the line that once people are brainwashed into accepting that they "belong" to an identifiable group, then the next step is the invention of a fraudulent "culture" complete with "leaders" who will tell them what to think, what to wear, who and what to vote for....

(Should there be "leaders" of the "heterosexual community"?)

I think it is truly pathetic that anyone would want to belong to such groups. Not that they don't have a right to do whatever they want, of course. But when they start telling others that they belong in the group they have created for them, that is the beginning of group tyranny. I must reject that even as I defend the right of the group to exist.

Actually, eyeball movements are a good way to determine sexual preference. If a guy's eyeballs move in the direction of a sexually attractive woman, statistics show that more often than not, he is heterosexual. Likewise, if his eyeballs move in the direction of a sexually attractive man, he is statistically more likely to be homosexual. There are also statistically significant movements of blood to the erectile tissue of the penis -- capable of exact measurement by scientists -- which provide even more "proof."

Further studies are in order! Perhaps government testing kits could be supplied to the schools and other places of social engineering, lest someone be left out of some group.

Here here! The eyes have it!

posted by Eric on 10.11.03 at 03:46 PM


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On of my (male) clerks is adamant that men cannot be bisexual--but women can. He is (ostensibly) straight. We ladies believe he is indulging in wishful thinking....

Susie   ·  October 12, 2003 4:18 AM

He may be right according to his (and many other people's) definition of the word "bisexual." This is what I touched on by analogizing to race. There may be different a definition of bisexuality (culturally imposed, of course) for men and women. Women may be given the "benefit of the doubt" -- whereas, the thinking goes, any man who admits to even a single homosexual act is "homosexual" -- for men an all-embracing definition subsuming considerations of bisexuality. Thus, a woman who has had sex with men and women is allowed to be bisexual, but a man who has (even a single experience) is always homosexual.

This should only matter, of course, to those who worry about other people's views of what they are, and/or who have a longing for defining.

But it is not logical at all, and I know far too many men I'd logically have to call bisexual (for lack of a better word). They will not call themselves that, because sane people do not stigmatize themselves. So, like most bisexuals, they call themselves heterosexual, because the word "bisexual" spells trouble. (I respect that, and I would never call them bisexual except in this anonymous setting.) The same thing is true for gay men who are attracted to women but live in "gay ghettos" like the Castro: social conformity demands silence.

Which brings to mind another question: who defines? Are the words "gay" "straight" and "bisexual" labels we can freely place on ourselves, or must they be approved (and/or withheld) by others?

The need for these words (and even concepts) is well worth debating. I think they are inherently tyrannical, but I did not create them. (I blog about them here because I think the ancients were right.)

Thanks for your post!

Eric Scheie   ·  October 12, 2003 4:54 AM

The trichotomy is misleading or doesn't really say it as far as my own preferences/orientation are concerned. A bit about my own history if I may: I've been female-oriented (gynosexual) as long as I can remember, before I ever heard of sex. I played with girls and I liked reading and enacting stories and fairy tales in which girls or women were the central characters, e.g., L. Frank Baum's Oz stories. When I first heard of homosexuality in terms of a man in love with another man, I thought it was strange. Not wrong or immoral or disgusting, just alien to anything I'd ever seen or felt. It was too male-oriented for me. But when I heard about lesbianism, a woman in love with another woman, I was immediately turned on, for I had long been having fantasies of women being captured by other women. Lesbianism, too, was strange, but in a different sort of way. When I learned about homosexuals of either sex being persecuted, esp. by the law, I was against that, I knew that was wrong, just instinctively.
As I grew a bit older, in my late teens, I began to be drawn to the male a bit more. Paradoxically, it was during that time that I also had the greatest fear and revulsion toward the thought of being raped by other men. I'm still about 5% male-oriented.
[continued so as not to exceed limit...]

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  October 12, 2003 6:26 PM

Since I'm not 100% female-oriented, since I do have that 5% or so male-orientation, I suppose some would classify me as "bisexual" -- and then assume that I'm 50%-50%, indifferent, flip of a coin, to stubble or smoothness, angularity or roundness. And I'm not! Sorry, it just doesn't work that way for me. I _could_, if I had to, have sex with another man, and I'd certainly prefer a man to an ugly woman. (I have also thought recently that, if the subversive rats were to succeed in overthrowing the Constitution and reviving "sodomy" laws, I might well openly defy them by finding a willing man and doing the forbidden thing with him.) But I _prefer_ to _prefer_ a woman, the smoothness and roundness. If I were ever to make a long-term (or lifetime or eternal) commitment, it would be to a woman. Sex is not only wanting but _wanting to want_, and sexual orientation is _wanting_ to _want_ to _want_ a particular type of human being.
Androgynists to the contrary, I find that men and women are different and that difference is primarily in the face. At least it is for me. That's what I always notice first, always have. There is a masculine type of face and a feminine type of face, the masculine more linear or angular on the whole, the feminine more circular on the whole. Some men look more sharply masculine than other men, some women look more smoothly feminine that other women, but on the whole the two sexes are discernably different. Therefore, e.g., beards, short hair, etc., and certain type of hats suit men better. And it is to the feminine face (and hair) that I am drawn.
I thought that your author, Mr. Foreman, was arriving at that when he detoured and went for that smell or "pheremone" theory. Sorry, doesn't do it for me at all. Uh-uh. I don't have that good a sense of smell, and I'm extremely visually-oriented. Most of the time, I'm aroused by pictures of women which don't exude any smell at all, except maybe of paper. It's the visual, colors, shapes, and, esp., the shape of her face, eyes, mouth, etc., and hair that turn me on. Also, a female voice can be very arousing. The whole thing is excruciatingly complex and mysterious and can't be reduced to any one thing.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  October 12, 2003 6:55 PM

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