Sebastian Zearing

how to be progressive without being a stupid liberal

Tag Archives: gender

Sexuality, androphilia, gynephilia, and gay genes

Edit 28 July 2015: This post argues that strong social pressures are the primary reason homosexuality occurs with such high frequency (vs. ~0%). Though I do not rescind the claim of social pressure affecting rates of homosexuality, I do now believe that the intrinsic noisiness involved in differentiating the androphilic brain from the gynephilic brain in the developing human is probably the greater causal factor in the high rates of homosexuality. A better treatment can be found here.

I hang out at Lion/halfsigma’s blog occasionally, and something he posted yesterday caught my eye. You can read it yourself, but the post was about Obama’s recent call to end conversion therapies for LBGT youth. I won’t comment on that topic itself, other than to note I don’t see anything wrong with governments banning unproven/disproven/known deleterious medical interventions, particularly in youth where consent is squishy. Instead, I want to comment on the responses to his post, in particular JayMan’s comment and hyperlinked post about the topic of the causes of homosexuality. I wrote a reply there, but I want to make a post for my own blog on the topic.

The first thing I want to very forcefully clarify on this topic is that sexuality is patently and obviously genetic. Whether or not you have a Y-chromosome predicts with around 93~98% accuracy whether you find women or men sexually attractive. Almost all the people that have the specifically genetic entity known as the Y-chromosome are sexually attracted to women, and almost all the people that do not have that genetic entity are sexually attracted to men.

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Social Constructs and Social Wrappers

Gender is a social construct, they say. And race/ethnicity. And lots of other things that most people can stare at and say, “but but… these distinctions obviously exist and are real!” And they would be right, except that they’ve failed to understand what a construct is (though that may be the fault of either intentional or unintentional obfuscation on the part of the “social construct” advocates). I think the term “social construct” leads to these kinds of misunderstandings for two reasons. One, the word “construct” itself connotes “not real” even though it definitely doesn’t denote that (here’s where the obfuscation comes from). Two, the term doesn’t imply any kind of connection to something objectively real, even though there often may be an actual connection. The term as it’s most often used should be replaced with “social wrapper.” But what is being wrapped? Well here’s a list:

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The Intersubjective

The intersubjective is a fascinating concept which I first found here. I will describe how I think of the concept, but I encourage all readers to visit that page.

The objective and the subjective are ordinary notions of how to categorize the epistemology of claims. Claims like “vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream” or perhaps occasionally “the photograph depicts a white and gold dress” are understood to be claims about the relation between the psychology of an individual and things in the world. Subjective claims such as these can be false, like if I actually did like chocolate ice cream more than vanilla, but the truth or falsehood can only be ascertained by those with direct access to that individual’s psychology, i.e. only the claimant. Consequently, most people are content spending very little time figuring out the truth of subjective claims. Claims like “chocolate ice cream contains more antioxidants” or “there is a peak in the reflective spectrum of the dress at 483 nm,” on the other hand, are not claims about the relation between the psychology of an individual and things in the world, but rather about things in the world themselves, and so can be measured and reported directly.

The intersubjective adds a third category. It asserts an epistemological category characterized by relations among many separate psychologies and/or among many separate psychologies and things in the world. You can jump straight to the examples, or continue with a strong caveat to all of this that stems from the difference between epistemology and ontology.

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Essentialism is False

Essentialism, or the Platonic Theory of Forms, is the idea that entities in the world are imperfect instantiations of perfect exemplars that exist in metaphysical realms apart. The exemplars are known as “essences,” and the imperfections as “accidents.” Essentialism was instigated by mathematics, especially geometry. In geometry, one can imagine many kinds of entities, such as circles, lines, midpoints, etc, and these entities are understood to exist in some perfect sense. A circle is the set of all points at a constant distance (radius) from its center. We can try drawing a circle, and we quickly realize that we cannot do so. There is no such thing as real circle. All circles try to be perfect but fail. Tiny perturbations, imperceptible deviations—these all conspire to prevent perfect circles.

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My Sexuality

This post was originally published at therationalqueer.wordpress.com.

As an exercise in full disclosure, I want to make sure my own sexuality is clear, so that the careful reader can understand and weigh the biases which I may bring to the table in my analyses, even against my sincerest efforts. I generally don’t identify with a sexuality. I don’t come out to new acquaintances with “I’m gay” or “I’m bi,” but rather make references to past boyfriends, LGBTQ groups I’ve belonged to, or just letting others come to their own conclusions based on observations of my social life and behavior. As a Kinsey 4-5, I find it difficult to label myself as gay, but bisexual doesn’t perfectly fit either. Instead of trying to label myself, I’ll stick to “queer” (which is the very essence of a non-label), and describe my attractions and history and let you come to your own conclusions. Note: I am male.

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