Monday, September 10, 2007

Why I've never been that jazzed about the "gay gene" as a political argument, in a nutshell:

This entry from Queer Sighted:

On March 9, I broke an extremely disturbing story on a blog posting by one of this nation's most influential and powerful religious leaders, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Rev. Mohler praised the opportunity, thanks to advances in genetic science, to root out sin in the womb by altering the gay gene and save souls from the abominable sin and tortured life of homosexuality even before birth.

This QueerSighted post quickly led to a blogosphere and media frenzy culminating in a story in the nation's leading and most influential national newspaper, The New York Times. And the Times got it wrong, missing the real import of the story. In fact, almost no one seems to have understood the true meaning and impact of this story. The Times headline suggests that a leading Evangelical leader has embraced nature over nurture. But the real headline is, "So What?"

...Rev. Mohler's extraordinary and earthshaking point is that the hand of God, the creator, is to be found everywhere--nothing is accidental and everything is by design. Mohler has laid the groundwork for sweeping away any role that science and reason might have played in the education of America and the advance of a humanist and rational society. Science may be right, suggests Mohler, homosexuality is determined genetically along with the inclination to all sin. What science has uncovered is the mechanism that God has used to carry out his punishment of man for the fall, for original sin...

The work of Jesus is to wash away original sin and his followers have the obligation to further that holy mission. Mohler is celebrating science as a potential new tool that can now be used by good Christians to do the work of Jesus and remove sin even in the womb.

...Or to put it another way, the nature vs nurture debate is somewhere between futile and irrelevant. A Mount Sinai of proof that homosexuality is biologically determined changes nothing for Dr. Mohler. God is perfect. God has made homosexuals, but Mohler's point is that God has cursed us with the burden of homosexual temptation as punishment for the sin of Eden and the fall of man. The agony of Child birth and subservience to man is Eve's punishment. Homosexuality is Adam's punishment. Pity the lesbian; God screwed her twice.

...Mohler himself says it best in his latest blog entry, "All manifestations of homosexuality are thus representations of human sinfulness and rebellion against God's express will. Nothing can alter this fact, and no discovery in science or any other human endeavor can change God's verdict."


In other words, God says it's kreplach and God says the hell with it. And with you, too, if you don't get with His Program. Circular argument: see "argument, circular."

But at the same time, it makes perfect sense. The whole point of homophobia as well as fundamentalist zeal is that -it's not rational.- You can't go, aha! I will now prove with infallible logic and reason that you are wrong! Okay, I'm ready for my civil rights now, Mr. De Mille! They don't care. It won't work.

Yeah, of course, a lot of people do understand that the point of this very public argument isn't actually to convince the hardcore bigots (although hope springeth eternal in the bosoms of the scarlet and pink letter'd more often than they let on, i am beginning to suspect); it's about swaying the fence-sitters. And yeah, to an extent, with some people, this seems to have worked, in the sense of: "No, Mom and Dad and various Community Pillars, it isn't just a phase I took up to annoy you; -this is actually who I am.- It's not gonna change, and it's not about you. Please to be dealing with it." At this point I think the general culture has gotten that memo, though, as much as it's probably going to.

The other part of this is predicated on the assumption that people will be more sympathetic to your plight if they realize that it's not something that you can change.

I have always had huge problems with this assumption. The general theme of this last post (and the posts inspiring it) reminded me of why:

Pity. Is implicit in that argument. "Look, I can't help it, okay? It's just who I am. I'd be like you if I could, really. Fuck knows it's preferable to be just like you. I've tried and I've tried. *tears* But I can't. So, lay off, and let me live my life."

First of all, I can't remember: exactly when in any other civil rights struggle was "I was born this way" particularly conducive to melting the hearts of bigots? Or for that matter winning legal battles? It's an honest question: I truly don't know, especially the second part. Maybe there -was- some legal precedent back in the day, and that's why people are pushing this line. Because it works. Short-term at least. Well...okay; but...

But. Even assuming people like Moher don't set the terms for the next phase of the battle. What are the drawbacks to this approach? Who gets left behind? And most of all, what are we sacrificing?

Because me, I always thought

life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

was the point. I am pursuing my happiness, not to mention my liberty and indeed life; it is not interfering with yours. The onus is on you, reactionary bigots, to make a case that it is otherwise, and frankly, you've done a piss-poor job of it thus far, and I for one am not interested in more of these stupid red herrings. You don't get to frame the terms. This is not a theocracy.

And the foundations of a genuine democracy are not rooted in pity.

41 comments:

Chuckie K said...

Pity aside, I can't buy that the dispositions, behaviors and relationships subsumes under 'gay' comprise some one, unitary phenomena with some one, unitary explanation.
Hell, people should have the right to the relationships they want regardless of the reason, and perhaps even with greater right when they choose them, rather than 'suffer' them.

Rootietoot said...

Ok here's the problem I see with the Good reverend's argument. Sin is, by it's very nature, a decision. It is not something you do because you can't help it, like having blue eyes or cerebral palsy.
Therefore, if homosexuality is genetic, it cannot be a sin, because it isn't a choice. Now, if all sin is genetically determined, then we're all just fucked because we didn't make the choice to behave in a sinful way, and free will is null, which effectively eliminates our ability to choose Christ as our Savior and that leads us to predestination, a concept which Baptists reject outright, and since Rev Mohler is Baptist, he just contradicted himself.

So there.

Daisy said...

Rootie Toot jams!!!

((((Amens!)))(((singing)))

R. Mildred said...

Now, if all sin is genetically determined, then we're all just fucked because we didn't make the choice to behave in a sinful way, and free will is null, which effectively eliminates our ability to choose Christ as our Savior and that leads us to predestination, a concept which Baptists reject outright, and since Rev Mohler is Baptist, he just contradicted himself.

YOu don't even need to get that complicated, half of what he's saying makes more sense within a gnostic framework where satan is the great creator diety and the demiurge (jehovah) merely moved in later and took over hte running of the whole shebang.

Fundies positing deeply heretical gnostic derivative theology is just weird no matter how you look at it really.

though not as weird as protestants going with the whole war on christmas thing, when all are gathred to celebrate Christ's birth by worshipping icons of a jolly fat anti-buddha and to place expensive presents at the foot of a giant green phallus covered with dangling balls while the homeless freeze to death in the streets outside.

Quoth the Belledame; The whole point of homophobia as well as fundamentalist zeal is that -it's not rational.- You can't go, aha! I will now prove with infallible logic and reason that you are wrong! Okay, I'm ready for my civil rights now, Mr. De Mille! They don't care. It won't work.

Elizabeth McClung said...

The problem is that the smaller the minority, the more reasons you need to give why the larger majority should give a flying f....udge. Compound that with the problem that for men there is some sort of "ick" factor which overtakes their reasoning capacity - I think if gays and lesbians would promise to never, ever have sex, we could probably get a lot more rights. Course that would defeat the purpose of coming out as gay and lesbian wouldn't it?

belledame222 said...

you'd be surprised...

as for "reasons," though, to me it's really simple, at least to resonate in U.S. ears:

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness. It's the American Way.

People keep losing the plot of who's being invasive of whose lives: the gay folk, or the reactionary right wing. And who's more likely to turn on -them-, next, because they're more interested in meddling with -everyone's- business. It's not about "poor us." It's about "poor YOU, next."

cicely said...

I always get a bit torn on this one. Firstly I think it's true to say that the rise in acceptance of homosexuality in society generally can be attributed precisely to the growth in understanding that it's as natural for a gay person to be gay as it is for a straight person to be straight. That's not to be taken lightly in terms of peoples actual lives. It's an arguement - yes - on one hand - but many - even perhaps most of us (true in surveys I've seen) experience it as our own personal understanding of our experience and from there comes the arguement. When social constructivist feminists want to argue that sexual orientation can be chosen - political lesbianism - the lesbian continuum -all women are lesbians really - and all that - they actually ask those of us who understand our lesbianism to be innate to deny it, or at least go along with 'it doesn't matter'. But who is anyone to decide what matters to someone else at that level? What's feminist about that? I can have it matter to me - as a descriptor of my experience - and also understand that any two consenting adults who choose to relate intimately should have the right to do so and it's nobody elses business why, how, or whatever.

The godbags who won't accept homosexuality will argue whatever they have to argue to support their position, and in the extremely unlikely to impossible event that a single gay gene was ever discovered they'd argue to have it tampered with or removed to create 'normalcy'. We all know that, but it ain't going to happen, imo, (and the science suggests it won't) and even if it did, by that time such a thing would be unacceptable to too many people anyway. That would be my hope and my expectation at least.

cicely said...

Oh, and I'll just add that it irks me when people interpret my insistence on describing my own understanding as some kind of 'admission' that I can't help it and I'm expecting pity. It's a positive statement. This is how I understand myself, and I don't think there's anything wrong with me. If I'm to be pitied it would only be for the homophobic crap I've had to deal with, not for the fact of me.

Sore point. I told you.

Alon Levy said...

I don't think it's had much to do with the realization that homosexuality is natural. Scientists have been arguing for a gay gene for 10-15 years. Instead, what's likelier is that for political reasons, having to do with battles over SSM and civil unions, American acceptance of homosexuality has skyrocketed in the last 3 years, leading people to stop brushing off the scientific arguments for a gay gene.

(Incidentally, the best thing the Democrats can do is endorse gay marriage in those states where a majority supports it, such as New York and New Jersey. On the one hand, it'll pass, normalizing SSM and increasing its national support further, until Congress can pass an SSM law. On the other, it'll enrage the Republican base, possibly leading it to vote for unelectable Romney in the primaries instead of electable Giuliani.)

belledame222 said...

cicely, yeah, i hear you. I know we've talked about this before. And I know this seems like a fine line, but:

It's not the idea that gayness may or may not be inborn in itself that I have a problem with. I just have no idea. I tend to lean toward there are multiple roots of sexuality, and I won't argue with any individual's understanding of hir own sexuality. And I think if it were somehow possible to do a scientifically objective study of this for the sake of basic research alone, with no political implications--well, sure, that'd be interesting.

What I have a problem with is the idea that this is a good basis for arguing for -civil rights.- I think there are better ones, and I think -politically- this avenue has reached the end of its usefulness. What's wrong with "it doesn't MATTER how my sexuality developed, there's nothing wrong with it and it's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS?"

queen emily said...

Hey that reminds me of ME. Or rather, something I wrote on the subject of choice versus genetics and sexual orientation

http://sexualambiguities.blogspot.com/2007/05/uh-huh.html

Team Sparkle Pony... assemble!

belledame222 said...

...it occurs to me that it might be significant that we're coming from different cultures and particularly different legal systems here, although i always thought there were probably a lot of parallels.

AL: so you're saying people have been confusing cause with effect, there? It's possible.

and: I hope you're right about Romney being unelectable, because that guy gives me the willies.

queen emily said...

>>>...it occurs to me that it might be significant that we're coming from different cultures and particularly different legal systems here, although i always thought there were probably a lot of parallels.

Oh yeah, there'd be some definite legal system differences. But then, there's differences between the states here on things like age of consent etc.

Politically, the Christian Right is pretty much a nutter fringe here, though the government co-opts a lot of its policies from there. No so much of that God Bless America (uh Australia), apple pie and being teh straight, more stealthy politicians who present policies about "family" as though they're *not* derived from their personal, religiously influenced homophobia.

But the general shape of things is still vaguely similar I reckon.

belledame222 said...

yeah, i guess that might have something to do with my strong need to focus on "hi! that whole theocracy thing? didn't work out real well the first time; that's at least a part (the better part) of -why- we have the Constitution and basic worldview we do in the first place." and why, exasperating and limiting as "free choice" and "free speech" and individualism and so on can be from a progressive viewpoint--how can you address systemic issues when you barely recognize systems' existence in the first place?--as far as I'm concerned, it beats the hell out of the most popular alternatives I've been seeing.

queen emily said...

No, it makes sense. And I think framing queer rights in that kind of universalist free choice/free speech is actually strategically a much better way to go about it--particularly considering that "freedom" and rugged individualism has always been a much stronger discourse in the US than here (however rubbish you are in practice, eg McCarthyism is *also* a noticeably strong current in US culture).

Slightly laterally, but still on the topic of religion and sex, I always find people wearing crosses inordinately sexy. I used to date this Catholic girl, and we had hot, religious-fetishy sex. Makes me wish I still believed in, like, stuff.

cicely said...

I don't think it's had much to do with the realization that homosexuality is natural. Scientists have been arguing for a gay gene for 10-15 years. Instead, what's likelier is that for political reasons, having to do with battles over SSM and civil unions, American acceptance of homosexuality has skyrocketed in the last 3 years, leading people to stop brushing off the scientific arguments for a gay gene.

I think I'm disagreeing with you, alon, but I'm not sure! I'm not really talking about America on it's own - for one thing - and for another I think the increased (but still limited) outness and visibility of gay men and lesbians post Stonewall and via international gay rights moments and activism over many years has meant that many more straight people actually know us personally and find it that much more unreasonable to dismiss as us so different from themselves overall. For many this would be regardless of the existence, or not, of any such thing as a single gay gene. They're simply looking at the actual people in front of them and around them (including in the mass media), and experiencing them 'as' themselves - however that came about - hearing their stories and accepting them - proof or no proof (where those of us who do 'say' we feel that we were born gay).

The scientific evidence, such as it is, doesn't point to a single gay gene anyway. All that is indisputable now in terms of innateness - through studies of identical twins raised together and apart against non-identical twin siblings, non-twin siblings and then against the background population, is that the more genetic or otherwise biological material that is shared, the higher the concordance for homosexuality. (The likeliehood that if one same sex sibling is homosexual the other will be as well.) Why this is, no-one seems to know. Hormonal 'washes' in the womb is the latest thing I've heard - and certainly, if they had the power, the theocrats would be looking at injecting 'normalising' hormones during pregnancy. I can see where those folks aren't going to give up trying to 'disappear' or punish us under any circumstances but, as Belle said, they're not rational.

So, I do agree, belle, innateness isn't a great political arguement - reasonable people getting to know us is the best road - but for some (most?) of us it might still be the truth. What can we do with it? If we can't speak it for fear of drawing attention to new ways nutters can fuck us over, (or so that political lesbians can more easily recruit) isn't it just another closet? Maybe that's the problem I have around it.

belledame222 said...

for another I think the increased (but still limited) outness and visibility of gay men and lesbians post Stonewall and via international gay rights moments and activism over many years has meant that many more straight people actually know us personally and find it that much more unreasonable to dismiss as us so different from themselves overall. For many this would be regardless of the existence, or not, of any such thing as a single gay gene. They're simply looking at the actual people in front of them and around them (including in the mass media), and experiencing them 'as' themselves - however that came about - hearing their stories and accepting them - proof or no proof (where those of us who do 'say' we feel that we were born gay).

Well, THAT, I agree with. And see, that's what transcends the whole "rational debate" thing for a lot of people. You can have the best-constructed argument in the world, but I think most of the time it doesn't do nearly as much as, "oh, shit, that's my son/best friend/mom/godmother you're talking about." Of itself, at least. I think the arguments are what help create the structure and (to a point) legal framework that start to make for a space in which that coming out process is more possible/safer.

As for

but for some (most?) of us it might still be the truth. What can we do with it? If we can't speak it for fear of drawing attention to new ways nutters can fuck us over, (or so that political lesbians can more easily recruit) isn't it just another closet? Maybe that's the problem I have around it.

--look, I'm definitely not saying "don't say 'I was born this way'" (and even if I did, who the hell am I? tell me to go to hell...) I just don't think it's a useful entry point to "...and so you haev to accept me and you can't deny me my civil rights, so nyergh." I certainly think "reparative therapy" is bollocks, for instance...

belledame222 said...

I mean, so I guess what I'm saying is, to me the point of the QueerSighted article isn't about "oh, shit, we'd better change the party line about why we are the way we are;" it's, look, guys, these people are COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL. They are arguing from authority, and it's totally alien to everything a -lot- of us, not just the queerfolks among us, stand for; so, let's focus on THAT. Stop reacting and start going on the offensive. These people are inimical and it's time to stop letting them frame the terms.

queen emily said...

BD have you ever spent any time in the UK? Bollocks, innit, you've a well nice vocabulary yeah.

Or is it just too much Spike n Giles on Buffy? ^_^

belledame222 said...

my best friend is Irish. also I pick up slang from various popcult & liter'ry sources like milk in the fridge.

queen emily said...

Hehe I thought so. Sorry thread, as you were.

cicely said...

What I have a problem with is the idea that this is a good basis for arguing for -civil rights.- I think there are better ones, and I think -politically- this avenue has reached the end of its usefulness. What's wrong with "it doesn't MATTER how my sexuality developed, there's nothing wrong with it and it's NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS?"

Thinking as I go... I'm not sure - with reasonable people anyway - that this avenue has 'completely' outlived it's usefulness - at least in targetting not very political and maybe somewhat 'traditional' or mildly religious fence-sitters, but not nutters - in tandem with what I've written above though - i.e personal experience of gay men and lesbians - but I wouldn't argue it alone. I agree wholeheartedly with your arguement - that it shouldn't matter how anyone's sexuality came to be re civil rights but just stated baldly, might it be too radical for some of the supporters we need at the moment? Strategy-wise it's an all or nothing approach to the great mass of people out there isn't it?

On the other hand, it wouldn't be a good idea to set in stone any idea that someone should have to 'prove' their homosexuality was innate in order to receive civil rights! In which case - 'it doesn't matter', for that purpose, would be the only way to go.

belledame222 said...

yeah, i guess it is too broad to speak as though there were one monolithic approach. i def. think that on a personal level, if that's what's gonna be the entry point with whoever you're talking to, then, go for it. i just think when it comes to the macro, political-legal level, I would just...not even frame it that way. We already have (in the U.S.) the understanding that it isn't kosher to discriminate on the basis of religious belief; that is not something one is "born" with, but it's understood that it's a profound part of one's identity and deeply felt, not something that people can (or should!) just go, oh, okay, I don't feel this way anymore, sure, I'll give up all these practices and so on and so forth...

cicely said...

I mean, so I guess what I'm saying is, to me the point of the QueerSighted article isn't about "oh, shit, we'd better change the party line about why we are the way we are;" it's, look, guys, these people are COMPLETELY IRRATIONAL. They are arguing from authority, and it's totally alien to everything a -lot- of us, not just the queerfolks among us, stand for; so, let's focus on THAT. Stop reacting and start going on the offensive. These people are inimical and it's time to stop letting them frame the terms.

We keep cross-posting...

But the completely irrational aren't the majority - they're just loud. Still, going on the offensive, not letting them frame the terms is appealing - yes.

I understand that *you're* not saying I shouldn't say 'I was born gay'. I was involved in a very intense convo with feminists in the not too distant past though in which I was asked to 'prove it'. This was after someone had said it was necessary for feminists to be 'hard on the idea of innate sexual orientation' because it was politically destructive. Maybe I'm experiencing an echoe which is a bit distorted.

belledame222 said...

I was involved in a very intense convo with feminists in the not too distant past though in which I was asked to 'prove it'.

o lordie. and you were supposed to do this, how? smack them with the empathy wand so that they can know how you actually feel or at least show a modicum of interest? ugh. sorry, the world really is full of assholes...

belledame222 said...


But the completely irrational aren't the majority - they're just loud.


well, that's true for most hateful mofos, including the sort of feminists to whom i suspect you're referring. unfortunately "loud" is often enough to set the agenda. squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.

but yeah, i think, again, there are at least several different "conversations" up for grabs here--one is the sort of position statement or soundbite that political organizations use; the other is how you talk to people on a more informal, intimate level. I think there can be different approaches for different situations. hell, probably should be.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Whooeee.

I once or twice saw someone trying to argue that they never saw straight people claiming they knew they were straight before puberty, so the fact that some gay people did was evidence for Nebulous Childcare Irregularities (We're Not Going To Say Abuse, Just Insinuate It).

And I was all ... whoa, you ... really weren't terribly alert in elementary school, were you? It was clear to me in second or third grade that there was something interesting and touch-craving related about how I reacted to that one boy, and that it was something I Would Understand When I Was Older, so I dealt with it in time-honored elementary school fashion, beat him in a wrestling match, and sat on him.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

But anyway, in the universe of "Aww, he pulled her hair, isn't puppy love cute", I think most people just don't notice heterosexuality starting to put out its feelers. Fish. Water.

To, uh, finish the actual thought there.

Chuckie K said...

I don't bleive "what if' has any place in serious political discussion, so I apologize in advance, because I'm doing it right now.
And as long as I'm meta-labelling my comment, it's not remotely snark either.
This question just got me thinking.

If rights were premised on a genetic 'gay' propensity, would the absence of the appropriate gene exclude you from the rights? If your desire and happiness had some other source?

And by-the-by, that brutal constructivist story to me suggests some really foggy use of the concept 'construction.' It can indeed mean make from scratch, but in social science it also encompasses the body of practices, and I suspect a far larger body, that attaches interpretations to that which exists independent of interpretations and if fact without inherent meaning.

So the arguments discussed here wiould amount on the one hand to attaching yet another interpretation to 'gay' behavior for political effect and on the other to divesting it of some substantial interpretations for political effect.

I would think that the political weight of the Christian homphobes reflects their relative power in a segmented electorate more than it does their absolute numbers. the old-style Republicans and old-style Democrats pretty much balance out. Either group alone substantially outnumbers the C-h's. That balance lends disproportionate power to the an organized swing vote. Kind lof like a less obvious case of what you see in the horse-trading among parties in a parliamentary system with proportional representation.

cicely said...

cicely:I was involved in a very intense convo with feminists in the not too distant past though in which I was asked to 'prove it'.

BD:o lordie. and you were supposed to do this, how? smack them with the empathy wand so that they can know how you actually feel or at least show a modicum of interest? ugh. sorry, the world really is full of assholes...


Well, I kind of fell for it and went off looking for whatever proof was out there in a way I'd never actually, purposefully, done before! That's when I found the twin study references.

Also, I mentioned a National Geographic doco I'd seen on pay tv a few years ago now - which seems to have disappeared without a trace. (I lent my video-ed off the telly copy to someone and never got it back...and it's not on Nat Geo films history or for sale lists on their website...) It was called 'Out In Nature - homosexuality in the animal kingdom'. The film covered reported instances of, not only one off opportunistic sexual pairings, but seasonal and/or lifetime homosexual pairings - including the raising of young - of quite a large number of mammals, fish and birds. It was actually quite humourous in parts. It raised every possible objection viewers opposed to any idea of naturally occurring homosexuality could logically have, and debunked them one by one with the circumstantial facts.

It also noted that geologists have been observing homosexual behaviour among animals for perhaps over a hundred years, but most have been afraid to make any written reference to it. One guy did write - earlyish last century I think - that he'd observed two female elephants doing something that 'could only be described as an abomination in the eyes of god.' (The Creator...)

Need I say more?

BD: ...unfortunately "loud" is often enough to set the agenda. squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.

Yeah, there's that. And the other thing, that lobbies have a disproportionate amount of power because of the way the system works. Democracy isn't perfect, but it's the best we've got, and all that.

belledame222 said...

Oh, yeah, there's this great book called "Biological Exuberance," if ever you want more info on the queer sex-ay in the Animal Kingdom. generally i would've thought it was a better counter to Religious Right types than "show me yer creds" feminists, though.

what exactly -was- those particular feminists' deal, anyway?

Anonymous said...

NerdRoom@WAKEUP.com

Many Nerds won't be returning. Some old timers I remember from last year, people like Trenchcoat Mafia, Silk Dragon Shirt, probably won't be coming back next year.
Spamming blogs I put their names up, immortalizing them, if only until the blog owner erases everything::::
1. Trenchcoat Mafia
2. Silk Dragon Shirt
3. Piano Case Coffin
4. The Distinguished English Gentleman
5. The Haggard English Gentleman
6. Beta Nerd, and of course
7. Rosie The Transsexual
Rosie's original name was just Rosie, due to his rosie cheeks. They shared he has a high level of knowledge, a tactic the gods employ to create a false sense of security. This of course is the segment which they dump so many transsexuals into.
I too enjoy irony, and therefore Rosie has now become Rosie The Transsexual.
Who else has a nickname in the NerdRoom?

I'd like to remind you many of the people in the NerdRoom are good men. I hope this is reflected in what they are allowed to learn and the progress they're allowed to make.
I'd also like to remind you their predecessors, REAL nerds from a generation ago who fill the computer swap meet, are WONDERFUL men, and since I likely won't be going again I want to remember them as well.

Actually the comparison of the two is a testiment to the devolution of society which will be used as justification for the Apocalypse:::
Today's nerds are NOT wonderful men. They grew up with the internet and many consider pornography as an acceptable vice. They gamble freely, enjoy evil imagry in video games and engage in sexual pursuits their predicessors never did.
This issue is a microcosim of our deterioration.

belledame222 said...

uh...damn. that's what I'VE always said...

cicely said...

what exactly -was- those particular feminists' deal, anyway?

Well, this was before I even knew about the existence of any kind of blogosphere, let alone the feminist one - around mid 2005. I'd been invited onto the michfest board by someone who goes to fest and I'd been participating on the board for about a year, struggling through debates on just about everything with the core of radfem residents there. It's where I first encountered your friend and mine - Heart. (Lucky Nkle too...) She (Heart) was the actual woman who made the comment about feminists having to be hard on the idea of innate sexual orientation. I guess she was quite slippery because she managed to offend me (and others) while at the same time actually putting forward an arguement I don't disagree with i.e. that civil rights shouldn't ultimately depend on a biological explanation for homosexuality. She wrote - and I quote:

And we have to be hard on it when lesbians or gay men argue that that they are lesbian or gay (or bi) and it's inborn or innate or whatever, because that's no different from saying that heterosexuality is innate or biological....when the lesbian/gay/bisexual community agrees with the hardwiring theory, radical feminism argues with that because (1) it participates in the patriarchal rationale for compulsory heterosexuality; (2) it results in civil rights being contingent on biological hardwiring rather than being contigent on being *human*.

You see how, according to Heart, if I continue to even *express* what I've always felt to be true about myself, whether that ultimately proves to be right or wrong, I'm helping the patriarchy. But I'm not 'agreeing with the hardwiring theory' - I'm describing my understanding of my own lived life. She who lives according to one type of scripture or another and became a lesbian like- yesterday - can perhaps not understand this?

cicely said...

I should add that the conversation I'm referring to then went off following Hearts lead in a way. The conclusion drawn by other radfem participants was something along the lines that I have a pathological need to be right that my lesbianism is innate, which isn't very helpful to anybody. 'Why does it matter so much?'; 'Why do you have to say 'I can't help it - I'd be like you (straight) if I could.' ?? Which was never what I was saying - see my earlier post. I feel that I'm one of those among us who's suffered the smallest degree of internalised homophobia. I'd say none, if that were logically possible. Anyway, that's the sort of thing I was fielding.

belledame222 said...

ARRRRGGGGHHHH -throws things and swears- SHE wrote that?? SHE WROTE THAT??? she's still fucking married!! she drips hetnormativity from every weepy spore! i don't think she's ever had sexual relations or so much as expressed attraction to a woman in her gorram life! not that i know of! and, and, and...

gAHHHHHHH

well, i take that with about as much seriousness as i do her handwringing about how WOC are "morphing into the oppressor" and how Nobody Knows The Trouble She's Seen 'cause on account of she married black men.

Heart, Race Traitor, Political Lesbian, More Gender-Subversive Than Thou, and an UTTER pain in my crack.

pillock.

belledame222 said...

The conclusion drawn by other radfem participants was something along the lines that I have a pathological need to be right

and, uhhh, if it's some of the other same people i know and love?

HELLO, MIZ POT, THIS IS MIZ KETTLE ON LINE TWO FOR YOU, PLEASE HOLD FOR THE NEXT MILLENIUM here is some light motherfucking music *plays thrash metal at top volume*

Alon Levy said...

well, that's true for most hateful mofos, including the sort of feminists to whom i suspect you're referring. unfortunately "loud" is often enough to set the agenda. squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that.

That's true... but you can always use that to your advantage. The trick is to use issues that split the loud minority from the silent majority; the loud minority then typically makes the mistake of campaigning on that issue, pissing off the majority. This is what I'm basically proposing vis-à-vis enraging the Christian right into nominating Romney.

Of course, this requires the Democrats to acknowledge the existence of issues other than health care, education, and Iraq, so it likely won't happen.

AL: so you're saying people have been confusing cause with effect, there? It's possible.

Basically, yeah. The only kind of person who's likely to be familiar with recent research into biology is a biologist. The papers have occasionally run articles about the gay gene, but that research is still fairly obscure. It's a bit like string theory or the heritability of IQ: most people have heard about it, but not enough to prevent them from brushing it off if it conflicts with their intuition.

Anyway, contact with gay people likely does increase acceptance... though it has to be more than just casual acquaintance. I haven't read The Nature of Prejudice yet, but I read a random selection in the middle to decide whether it was worth it (and it was). The part in question was about how whites who had regular casual contact with blacks were no likelier to support desegregation than those who didn't. However, in situations of camaraderie, they were. The US military was segregated in WW2, but sometimes, units that suffered heavy losses were fused together, leading to integrated companies and platoons; whites who ended up in such integrated units became far more anti-segregation than whites who didn't.

cicely said...

Anyway, contact with gay people likely does increase acceptance... though it has to be more than just casual acquaintance.

Yes, although the more visible and 'everywhere' we become, the less crucial that will be. And when you're just talking to straight people you know who treat you as just another person in the world - my thing is asking them if they can say what made them straight. (Or bi or whatever on the scale of orientation). The key thing for me is exactly the sentence - it's as natural for a gay person to be gay as it is for a straight person to be straight. I realise that this is excepting societal pressure etc, but you know what I mean. How natural? The same natural as for you. There's no debate. Being gay doesn't affect the whole potential character of a person any more than being left-handed does, and there are about as many of us as there are left-handed people - I think. Not sure about that, but close anyway.

I take the same approach to transexuality - or whatever. You accept people as they explain themselves to you and the rest is - as Martin Luther King said - the content of their character. Realising also that some peoples potential character is thwarted by the treatment they receive in the world - all the complicated issues - but again - you know what I mean. Civil rights are about the humane, fair and equal treatment of human beings. That encompasses economics as well as sexism, racism and all the rest of the isms.

That's why BD, I very much share your insistence that it's reasonable to expect, not 'no conflict', but not under-handed, bullying or otherwise unpleasant behaviour in the blogosphere. I think it's absolutely fair to judge people by their treatment of others even, maybe especially, anonymously from a keyboard. I know I do.

Trinity said...

Somehow I hadn't found this post... but eh.

Yeah, genes schmenes, I'm not sure how these things work either.

but I used to really not like "born that way" for the reasons cited: it's a pity party, assuming that everyone would be het if they could means het's actually better in a way, etc.

Now I really... eh. I don't care. I think it becomes just as fraught to try and discover why society MADE U KWEER. or as some of our rad pals might put it, why society makes some poor women who can't break free of the Pat het (despite that the ones saying this are often het themselves, actually, oddly)

and that... well, it worries me now because it's all too easy to turn that into supposing we have some kind of responsibility for our desires, and that I'm not comfortable with.

cicely said...

I used to really not like "born that way" for the reasons cited: it's a pity party, assuming that everyone would be het if they could means het's actually better in a way, etc.

Now I really... eh. I don't care. I think it becomes just as fraught to try and discover why society MADE U KWEER. or as some of our rad pals might put it, why society makes some poor women who can't break free of the Pat het (despite that the ones saying this are often het themselves, actually, oddly)

and that... well, it worries me now because it's all too easy to turn that into supposing we have some kind of responsibility for our desires, and that I'm not comfortable with.


No, me either...except it gets tricky when you get into pedophilia. I do tend to think of this as some kind of sexual orientation or kink, and feel sympathy for persons who find themselves involuntarily sexually attracted to children. People - mainly if not exclusively men - who may also be otherwise no different from anybody else. They may not be responsible for their desires, but they have to find ways to resist acting on them for the obvious reasons. It's no accident that many homophobes speak as if they believe male homosexuality and pedohilia to be one and the same thing. I guess that's another danger in 'born that way' as an arguement. The fact is - if society - and/or the lawmakers - deem homosexuality to be 'bad', it doesn't matter why it exists or how it came about. So, you're right, BD, it's going to be more important to argue that it really doesn't matter why consenting adults want to have intimate relationships, they should be entitled to equal human and civil rights. This is in tandem with the reality that, as more people get to know gay people personally etc, as above - it will help many fencesitters to wonder how it could be right to discriminate against them if they were born gay, before they get to the wider position. We have to use everything we can get. Actually, that's the reason I came back to this thread today...

In this mornings Australian Newspaper I came across this article - and I quote:

SINGAPORE: Heterosexuals should set the social tone in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, defending the city-state's refusal to decriminalise gay sex.

"My view is that gayness is something which is mostly in-born. Some people are like that, some people are not. How they live their own lives is really for them to decide," Mr Lee said.

But he added: "I think the tone of society should really be set by the heterosexuals, and that's the way many Singaporeans feel."


Brick wall, dead end, wrong way, go back! We have to make our impact on the way enough people feel - one by fucking one. I guess cultural visibilty (tv, all media) and actual integration or assimilation(?) generally, while preserving our own important community connections,is probably the most powerful road.