Monday, March 07, 2005

Flavours of Sexuality

Flavours of Sexuality
To understand modern opinions of sexuality, especially as it applies to the marriage of same sex individuals, we must look back to the early days of our species, well before language developed. Even before tribes gathered for the common good of those with some characteristics in common.

In those days of bands of a few people, often from four to 20 in number, the welfare of the group depended to a great extent on the ability of the group to increase its number. Sometimes that happens by acquiring individuals from other groups, but more often it meant by having babies. As death at birth and in childhood was so common, it became an accepted rule that anything that stood in the way of reproduction of as many babies as possible was wrong.

Males and females of reproductive age, those capable of making babies and growing them to adulthood, held great status in early social groups. Survival is the one instinct that all living things have in common. So those who can increase the numbers and those who could protect the clan were the leaders who called the shots about almost everything.

As these people knew nothing about physiology, hormones and proteins, and little more than the basics of sex as the means of beginning procreation, any sexual act that was not directed toward reproduction was considered to be wrong. They may have been taboo, as they would sap the sexual energy of those who had the genitalia of men and women, who would be assumed capable of reproduction.

For the majority of the clan who would have been heterosexual, any non-heterosexual sex act would have appeared to be a matter of choice. It would require punishment, even banishment or death, by the clan, to teach the offender and others socially acceptable behaviour.

Fast forward a few million years to the beginnings of recorded human history. In ancient Greece, for example, soldiers (whether married or not) would be away from their home cities for months or even years at a time. The practice of homosexual sex became common among the lower ranks of the military when no other way to release sexual needs presented itself. Rape was common when one army invaded an enemy city, overtook it and occupied it. But the majority of time that soldiers or sailors were away from home, they were together, with no heterosexual pleasures available to them.

Homosexual sex was forbidden by military leaders, as it was deemed to be "unnatural," referring to the old and accepted meaning that it was not directed toward reproduction (of more soldiers for the future).

Even today, in any setting where people all of one sex are together for long periods of time without any resort to release of sexual needs with someone of the opposite sex, acts of homosexuality are common. Prisons are prime examples of such situations, and many examples can be shown from prison records and anecdotes, but homosexuality is more common than many realize among other groups where people of one sex live together exclusively.

As a result of recent medical research, we now know that homosexual tendencies in the general population result more from genetic makeup than from circumstance or choice. However, since single-sex groupings produce homosexual activities and these tend to be well covered by the media, many still believe that homosexuality is a matter of choice.

As a result, they act as if all homosexuality is a matter of choice. They do not understand the concept of hormonal balances being different in a minority of people than it is in the general population. This concept has not been well publicized by the media or within social groupings such as religions, so they stick with the old idea that homosexuality is a matter of choice. A bad and wrong choice. A choice that must be eliminated, and the "offenders" punished.

This brings us to homosexual marriage and the controversial situation of a homosexual person or a homosexual couple raising a child who is naturally heterosexual.

Will a child who grows up in a homosexual environment (with homosexual adoptive parents), despite being naturally heterosexual, necessarily or even optionally grow up to accept a homosexual lifestyle for themselves? This question secretly maintains strength because of our ancient instinct toward survival—children must be taught to be heterosexual for the survival of the species, the tribe, the clan, the family, the culture.

An abundance of evidence, both anecdotal and from studies, shows that children grow to naturally have feelings of being masculine or feminine. Most who have feelings of being male want to have mates who are female, and vice versa, despite the environment they grew up in. And despite what kind of genitalia they may have been born with.

Recent research has shown that one in 4000 babies born in the UK is what is called "intersex." An intersex person may have genitalia, reproductive and other sex-related organs (such as protruding breasts) of either sex, or even of both sexes. Yet these characteristics do not determine whether the child enjoys boy or girl kinds of activities as children or whether they will be interested in men or women as adults. The subject of intersex individuals is so poorly understood and confusing that some people call such persons the "third sex".

Intersex individuals are the best evidence that what we call homosexuality may be mostly a matter over which they have no control, that is their preference for mating.

Is it possible that some self-proclaimed homosexuals have this preference by choice? Consider the possibility that a person who has experienced confused sexuality or poor relations with those of the opposite sex because of social underdevelopment or lack of physical beauty may find solace with another person of the same sex. That person may readily accept a new definition of their sexuality because they have found a soulmate with whom they can share their lives comfortably.

That is choice. But it may not have been the first choice of these people as they were growing up. It may instead have been a refuge from a cruel world with someone who shares some of the same experiences. A woman may prefer the comforting maternal instincts of another woman, whereas a man may find personal peace with another man who can at least understand the trouble he has had finding a mate of the opposite sex.

But will these people necessarily teach their children that mating with someone of the same sex is good and right? If medical studies are correct, such teaching, if it ever exists, would be overcome by the drive of the individual child of such a family to mate with someone of the opposite sex.

With seven billion people in the world today, and that number expected to rise to 9.5 billion by mid-century, there is little risk that homosexual unions of any kind will present a risk to survival of the human species.

Arguments against union of same-sex couples are based mostly on emotion. Those that derive from teaching within religions are based on countless generations of misinformation dutifully passed along as if it were truth given by God. Any human belief that is passed along to enough successive generations comes to be thought of as having come from God. That, sadly, is also human nature.

But what of marriage of same sex couples? First of all, "marriage" is a word, nothing more. The human race derives no reproductive benefit from couples who marry with the intent of never having children. Yet we do not deny these couples the right to buy a marriage certificate and be treated publicly as a legitimate couple.

If married heterosexual couples who have no intention of having children receive recognition, by the state and by religions, as being married in every sense of the word, there is no logical (or unemotional) reason for denying the right to marry to homosexual couples.

Marriage, by its original intent, was supposed to give the approval of God and state to couples to mate for the purpose of having children. Mating of married heterosexual couples who do not intend to have children (and have the means to prevent this from happening) defies the original purpose of marriage.

Homosexual couples deserve the same rights.

However, if the problem of "same-sex unions" is strictly one of semantics, specifically the definition of the word "marriage", then that word could be abandoned or broken down in such a way that it has hyphenated meanings. That is, there could be "marriage-for-the-purpose-of-having-children," "marriage-with-the-intent-of not-having children," and so on. If a distinction must be made to accommodate homosexual couples (likely a violation of human rights in some countries), then the word marriage or its replacement could be defined in more specific terms.
Definitions could be specific enough that no one could dispute them. If necessary marriage certificates could be made up accordingly for each category.

The furor over same sex couples accomplishes little, except to make many people upset unnecessarily, but it does tend to make homosexual unions a more attractive possibility for those inclined toward it. Those people who are so inclined will see that a sizable minority of society agrees with their preferences for mates. If the situation were not raised publicly, they would not be aware that anyone else feels the same way as they do. They would remain, as they always have, in the dark alleys of society.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around

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