Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CM at others' comboxes -- 7

... though with considerable elaborations.

Despite the initial different-looking headline at Jay Anderson's (about Michael Steele) ... I posted the following in response to someone who flatly and dogmatically declared "being gay is not a choice." Something which is simply not true (elaborations here, but not at Jay's, are in italics)
Goreds, anyone who says "being gay is not a choice" doesn't know what in the world he's thinking about. He doesn't know "being" "gay" and "choice" all mean.

To be a little less cryptic, saying "being gay is not a choice," notwithstanding the indubitable fact that our sexual desires feel as if they come from nowhere, presupposes"
  1. sexual orientation as an ontological category ("being") which is, frankly, ass-hattery, as any competent historian of the history of sexuality from Freud to Foucault could tell you. In other words, the very fact that the construction of sexuality and its salient categories are in some sense historical (as the Biblical revisionists insist when they wish to argue that St. Paul and the Hellenistic world had no concept of what we would call "a homosexual orientation"¹) means that it cannot be a human "essence";
  2. sexuality as a binary-exclusive category rather than a continuum (who are the Bs in LGBT, then?). In other words, the minute anyone is bisexual, the whole concept of a gay-straight dichotomy -- which is essential to the "nature" argument about its genesis, the notion that sexuality is a "being," and the rhetorical force of the "discrimination" complaints -- it all collapses. Bisexuals can only act like straights or like gays, which shows that the "essence" of sexuality is doing, not being (or they could act like either at different times, I suppose, but that's just as anti-essentialist);
  3. choice as a self-conscious, pure creative act without condition or influence ("I *will* it thus). I mostly said my piece about this subject here. Homosexuality is a choice in the sense that all acquired personality traits are choices, i.e., they're affected by how we act, but they're not something for which we are conscious of having deliberately opted;
  4. "gay" as a term having nothing to do with self-identification or self-consciousness. See discussion at the end. Though somewhat snarkily, I've actually been told this by the only actively-gay friend I've ever had who knew about my issues. I was a virgin at the time, and I used "we" or "us" in some reference having to do with some cultural aspect of homosexuality. He got offended and said "until you've [locker-room term for sex], you ain't one of us."
Sorry ... but you've just been propagandized all your life with ideas that don't make a lick of sense once you examine them (and not necessarily when you examine them from a specifically "conservative Catholic" POV). And particularly when you examine the general underpinnings outside the context of homosexuality. In a world where the with-it researchers don't even think sex (i.e., male-female) is biologically given, why on earth should this be the only thing in life that biologically given.²

Personality and identity formation are both fascinating subjects, except when the H word gets mentioned, in which case, PC orthodoxy toes the line. There's way more to be said about identity than petulant little "It is not a choice, everyone else is ignorant" squibs.

Just ask yourself this what does "being gay" mean if it does not refer to observable behavior (which is often both chosen and changeable)? If it neither refers to some eternal state separated from matters of behavior, nor primarily a matter of self-identification (either would be both chosen and changeable), then *what* *is* *it*? So is it a biological thing .... but if so, then why can't you give a blood/gene/semen/skin/breath/whatever test for it?
¹ A statement that, as far as it goes, is true enough.
² Don't get me started on the absurd bad-faith of saying that "gender" is socially constructed, while somehow arguing that "who turns you on" is both innate and defined by "gender."


Smiley said...

Hi Courage Man

I stumbled on to your blog today. The problem begins not with sexual orientation it lies much earlier and that is the blurring of the differences between masculinity and femininity.
We (i mean people born post WWII) have been conditioned by education systems to think that there are no differenced between men and women, the concept of masculinity and femininity have been wiped out. This brings up a problem because now men and women look and dress the same way, men behave way to emotionally which is against their nature and women to stoically which is against their nature. It is precisely this going against our masculinity and femininity which at adolescence starts misfiring and leads to tendencies. Now in previous times societal disapproval of those tendencies and a good idea of sin led to correction of the tendencies. sadly today our society actively promotes homosexual lifestyles and the tendencies are encouraged. Leading to the grave mortal sins on te souls of our teenagers. It is sad that this happens, our youngsters need so much or formation and prayers.
I wish you all the best in your struggles and i pray for you.

Jay said...

Don't you think you're reading too much into that comment? I think it's pretty easy to see that when the individual said, "Being gay is not a choice," they simply meant that homosexual feelings are not consciously chosen by those who have them.

I mean, seriously, most people I know think that having exclusive attractions to the same sex means that you are gay, and when people talk about "choice," they're very simplistic about it. No one means all this philosophical "acquiring" stuff; they mean a simple conscious choice, like choosing an apple over an orange.

With that in mind, I think it's pretty easy to say that, "Being gay is not a choice." I usually just answer that with, "Right, but having gay sex is, and that is sinful."

Keep it simple. :)

Warren said...

I love it when common sense and logic blow the doors off someone's carefully constructed set of ideas.

It seems to me that wishful-thinking is the new quantum-mechanics layer below all the shinest modern philosophies.

One observes a nearly Heisenbergian uncertainty principle about truth, as neither wave nor particle, neither truth, nor falsehood, but rather, something different depending on how (or from where) it is observed.

Sexuality is of course, part of your nature, unless it isn't. And it's fixed in stone, unless it isn't. And it's diverse, except when it's not. And it's 10% of the population except where it isn't. And it's even (somehow) part of the grand evolutionary scheme of things, and not a dead-end or cul-de-sac.