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What is sexuality (from the homophobia thread)

Sex Sexuality Sociology

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#1 Bad Wolf

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 04:17 AM

Okay rather than hijack QT's very neat thread regarding homophobia, I thought I'd start a separate discussion to address the question of sexuality.

What is it?  

By sexuality I'm not talking gender I'm talking about who a person is sexually attracted to.

I think first of all, that our fundamental tendencies regarding who we are attracted to are something we are born with.

Second of all I don't think anything is absolute.  I think of it as a scale.  On one end of the scale you have 100% attracted to the opposite sex.  On the opposite end of the scale you have 100% attracted to the same sex.  In the middle of the scale you have equally attracted to both same and opposite sex.

I think there are plenty of people who fall into one of the above three places on the scale.

But there's all that other area on the scale that I also think people fall into.  And maybe it's there where the issue of "choice/lifestyle/practice" comes into play.

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#2 sierraleone

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 04:28 AM

Aren't there people who also say they aren't attracted to the gender, but to the person?

Of course some would say that they are just bi-sexual and like to make that sort of statement to make them seem they are all about love :)
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#3 sierraleone

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 04:32 AM

To answer the question/thread though (sort of forgot about that :blush: ) Sexuality to me is what gender you like to engage with in sexual activity, pure and simple. If they don't prefer one gender over the other than its bi-sexual, no big deal. I'm not big on categorizations anyways. Sexuality has little to do with a person's personality. I've known many "butch" women who were straight, and many "effeminate" men who were straight as well.
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#4 QueenTiye

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 06:15 AM

I'm not sure I understand the question, Lil.

As I've understood what you are asking - sexuality is your overall inclination to want to have sex, and how you express that.

Have I missed the point of the question?  Is the question really about whether or not people have a choice in such matters?

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#5 Iolanthe

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 06:19 AM

sierraleone, on Jun 11 2003, 12:32 PM, said:

Aren't there people who also say they aren't attracted to the gender, but to the person?

Of course some would say that they are just bi-sexual and like to make that sort of statement to make them seem they are all about love :)
On the other hand, too, I've encountered someoned who defines bisexuality in those terms...
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#6 Nikcara

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 06:39 AM

I'm not entirely sure I understand the question either

To me, sexuality is just a desire to have sex, vast majority of people have it, and once you start talking about gender and sexuality things get messy.

Cause you have boys with no attraction at all to girls, no attraction at all to boys, and a whole range in the middle from 'a little attracted to boys but mostly to girls' to 'everyone's equally attractive'

Personally, I don't really pay attention to someone's orientation unless they're hitting on me, at which point it becomes rather obvious they like girls.
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#7 sierraleone

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 06:44 AM

^ at least... they could like both boys and girls ;) :D

With all the homosexuality as thread topics lately I took sexuality automatically as sexual orientation, I didn't even think about it...  :blush:

Edited by sierraleone, 12 June 2003 - 06:45 AM.

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Rule#6: Remember the future.
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#8 Nick

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 03:51 PM

I think sexuality is one of those things that's so tied up in every other aspect of our biologies and psychologies that it really doesn't exist as a separate definable thing.

Straight girls can call another girl "hot" or "beautiful" (and mean it), yet not want to have sex with them.  Straight men can call another guy "handsome", "attractive" . . . tho guys are less inclined to because (IMHO) it's less socially permissable right now.

So . . . it's weird.  We can find people we're not sexually attracted to "attractive".

So how can people tell where sexuality begins and "appreciation of beauty" begin . . . if there even is some defining point . . .

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#9 ArmourMe

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Posted 12 June 2003 - 06:26 PM

This is a question I love to ponder meself, Lil :)  As a bisexual polyamorous identified woman I don't fall onto any map.

I participated extensively in gay rights activism in my 20's and met the occasional "you're not really gay cause you still have attraction to men" stance.  By the same token straight folks feel comfortable with me because I've got children....therefore I can't *really* be queer :D

To me sexual orientation isn't about who I might or might not be currently sleeping with.  Its about who I have the potential to be attracted to.  And I have the potential to be attracted to men and women and am oriented toward having more than one partner at a time.  

I can no more change this aspect of who I am than I can change my gender or my skin color.

Can those of you who identify as 100% straight imagine CHOOSING to become gay?  (its just imagination!  give it a try!  :p)  I could no more force myself to become 100% straight than you could force yourself to become 100% gay.

Orientation is always a combination of inborn and learned traits...but the inborn portions are THERE.  Just as a straight person's orientation is definitely toward the opposite sex, a queer person's orientation is toward the same sex.  You can deny it :D  But then explain your OWN orientation toward opposite sex partners?

I'm not in any way judeo christian in my spiritual beliefs - my frame of referance for my value system is largely biological.  Does X contribute to the healthy & sustained longevity of the species?  That's my touch stone.  As a social species, its pretty darned hard to argue that loving social relationships are BAD for the species.  The more relating, the more DIVERSITY of relating, the better viability of our social health as a species - just as with any thing else in nature.  Diversity ensures longevity.

I'm also living in Seattle - big queer population here.  If you've grown up with out-of-the-closet-living-healthy-lives queer people all around you who tell their tales of oppression as teens/young adults before they believed in their right to BE who they truly are.....well, its just very hard to doubt that there's a huge wide range of sexual orientations in the human species.

#10 Rhea

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Posted 13 June 2003 - 01:44 AM

Here's a really interesting Washington State paper on sexuality:

http://www.bothell.w...g/sexuality.htm

Quote

Sexuality is used rather, say Jackson and Scott, to refer to “erotic desires, practices and identities” or “aspects of personal and social life which have erotic significance.”

(There are references to scholarly works including Foucault's, which Cardie mentioned earlier)

The World Health Organization defines sexuality thus (emphasis is mine):

Quote

Sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, ethical, legal, historical and religious and spiritual factors.

And the most telling of all, the American Psychiatric Association's outright statement that homosexuality is biological and that so-called conversion therapy is harmful (this comes from a San Francisco Chronicle article because I can't find it on the APA site any more):

http://www.sfgate.co.../15/MN22620.DTL

Quote

Meeting in Chicago, the psychologists approved a resolution warning that ``societal ignorance and prejudice,'' combined with family pressure, cause some gays and lesbians to seek ``conversion'' therapy that may do them serious harm. The resolution was adopted by an overwhelming voice vote conducted during the bi-annual meeting of the association's Council of Representatives, a policy-making body.

The resolution reaffirmed the association's position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and warned psychologists not to make ``deceptive statements'' about the scientific validity of their techniques.

They explicitly believe that homsexuality is biological, not psychological.

And at religioustolerance.org, this is what they say:

http://www.religious...rg/hom_prof.htm

Quote

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders. The American Psychological Association declared that it was not a disorder in 1975.

Recent statements by professional organizations include:

The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1973.
The American Law Institute continually updates its Model Penal Code, which is a group of laws that they suggest be implemented at the state level. They recommend to legislators: "that private sexual behavior between consenting adults should be removed from the list of crimes and thereby legalized."
The American Bar Association in 1974 expressed its approval of the Model Penal Code, including its decriminalization of consensual adult homosexual acts.
The World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses in 1981.
The American Psychological Association released a Statement on Homosexuality in 1994-JUL. Their first two paragraphs are:
The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Study after study documents the mental health of gay men and lesbians. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals.

Nor is homosexuality a matter of individual choice. Research suggests that the homosexual orientation is in place very early in the life cycle, possibly even before birth. It is found in about ten percent of the population, a figure which is surprisingly constant across cultures, irrespective of the different moral values and standards of a particular culture. Contrary to what some imply, the incidence of homosexuality in a population does not appear to change with new moral codes or social mores. Research findings suggest that efforts to repair homosexuals are nothing more than social prejudice garbed in psychological accouterments.

Just for purposes of reference, both the Academy of Pediatrics and the Council on Child and Adolescent Health have also stated that homosexuality is not a choice.

UC Davis has excellent links to scientific research here:

http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/

Note that I *tried* to stick to scholarly/medical sources.

Edited by Rhea, 13 June 2003 - 01:50 AM.

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