Monday, December 18, 2006

Where did your sexuality come from?

I've been thinking a lot about sexuality recently (for work/academic reasons), and was wondering what you think of the subject. Where does your sexuality come from? Are we born with it? Or does society give it to us? Or do we have a choice? Or is it a mixture of all of the above? Historical studies have questioned the idea of firm categories like "homosexual" and "heterosexual", pointing out that in other cultures, sexuality is organised along different lines - there's a tribe called The Sambia, for example, where all the young men have homosexual sex for a period of their lives. In Greek times, it was considered normal for a man to have sex with a teenage boy. In western society, Kinsey has claimed that most people are bisexual, but the majority of us end up identifying as "heterosexual", with a minority as "homosexual", because that's how society likes to classify things.

So if you'd been born into a different time or place, you'd have ended up with a different way of expressing your sexuality.

But is sexuality just society? Are we all born with the same fluid potential, and then society imprints us a sexuality? Or is there more to it than that? I was "different" from a very early age - for some reason I didn't seem to pick up on the cues that little boys should be rough and not like dolls. I played with girls. I had dolls. Why didn't I get the right social conditioning? Perhaps we start off with a set of sexual potentials, and for most people they're pretty wide, and society shapes them, but there's still a "biological" bit which specifies the absolute parameters. So no matter what society I was born into, I still think I'd have ended up mainly fancying men and being a bit girly.

Maybe it's a bit like your body shape. Society determines to an extent how fat or thin or muscly we are. We might be born into a society where there's lots of food and advertising to eat. Or one where being a skinny super-model is lauded. Or one where it's good to be a Charles Atlas figure. So we eat, starve or exercise accordingly. But our bodies still have limits on how muscley or thin or plump we can get. Or maybe it's like being right or left-handed. Most people apparently have the capacity to be ambidextrous, but because most of the stuff in our society favours right-handedness, we simply go with the flow. It's only the really really left-handed people who can't do that.

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing what you think about your sexuality and how you think you ended up the way you did.


digital_jay said...

I have done a lot of writing about this subject on other blogs that I have. I have yet to actually breach the subject on my blogger.

It isn't a simple or easy thing to sum up in a comment, well for some it maybe but I am a thinker and the types of replies that I would give to this would result in several commented replies.

Basically though so as I am not wasting a comment:

Sexuality is something that is born into us, it is something that belongs in our genetic as well as psychological profile, it is both a choice and a way of life.

We have the capacity to choose what we will be it is just society that dictates the normal.

Please do swing in past my blog if you would like to read more of this, but if you do then please give it till tomorrow afternoon.



jetpack said...

presumably in those sexually liberated cultures and tribes, there are some individuals who are not interested in the normative behaviour of having sex with people of the same gender... I wonder how that is perceived by the other members of that tribe. Do they make it a requirement, and is a lack of interest perceived as being deviant? just a thought

Tom SF said...

I suspect JetPack is applying a western perception of sexuality upon others of a different mindset. I do not believe such a tribe could be called sexually liberated - just their norms differ to ours and it is quite possible they might treat any deviation from their norms in a harsher way than we treat ours.