Re: Homosexuality: male & female

Mike/Damon or Peni R. Griffin (
Thu, 19 Sep 1996 00:45:45 GMT

>They are bisexual, because it takes a certain amount of interest in the
>other sex to father children, but people who are fully homosexual cannot
>even manage that.
What makes you think that? A man sufficiently motivated by a desire
to conform to society's expectations of him may be able to squeeze his
eyes shut and fantasize long enough to complete sexual union often
enough to father children. Plenty of men who define themselves *now*
as fully homosexual have children. I have known people of both sexes
who have experimented with sexual activity outside their preferences,
out of societal pressure, out of curiosity, or even out of boredom,
without making any lifestyle change or altering their
self-definitions. Christopher Isherwood describes such an experiment
in *Christopher and His Kind.* He concluded that, okay, if he worked
at it, he could act straight, but couldn't find a compelling reason
to; calling Isherwood "bisexual" on the basis of this experiment would
give a completely false impression of his life. And what about the
author of *Reading from the Heart,* a memoir of a life spent reading
romance novels? She spent the first fifty years of her life reading
romance novels, identifying herself as a heterosexual, marrying
(twice) and never particularly enjoying sex, and eventually, after
discovering lesbian romances in her late middle age after her second
divorce, decides at that point that she's a lesbian -- without, so far
as I can tell, taking any steps to find a woman with whom to enter an
erotic relationship. She called herself a lesbian when all her sexual
experience was with men; she did not decide she was bi. If she had
participated in a study prior to making that identification of herself
she would have called herself a heterosexual woman. What about the
numerous nineteenth century women who formed lasting affectionate
friendships, which modern people choose to decide were lesbian, but
which their contemporaries viewed as asexual? (Katherine Lee Bates
and her companion/housemate Katherine Coman, for example.) We cannot
tell, at this distance in history, whether any of these friendships
had a sexual component, and our deciding that they must have because
we cannot admit ambiguous sexual states adds nothing to our

I am not saying here that there is no biological cause for attraction
to one's own or the other gender. That would be silly. I think every
emotion is firmly rooted in biology (not that my thinking that proves
anything). I'm saying that assuming the existence of three standard
expressions of human sexuality, and conducting studies trying to
determine the causes of those states, when people have such a hard
time agreeing on what constitutes each state, is starting at the wrong
end. The question is not: What makes a homosexual? or even Is
homosexuality a real condition? but Are there standard cross-cultural
states of sexual expression firmly rooted in human biology, and if so
what are they?

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