A nice n’ weird one on sexual identity today. For reference, here’s a recent article by the guy I’ll talk about and on the same topic.
Back when I was in school we had a sort of networking skills club for 17-18yr olds that held regular lectures by various big names. One of these was Peter Tatchell*, an LGBT+ rights campaigner, and I remember him suggesting something like a scale of gender. That’s in fact the main thing I took away from his lecture, the idea of a scale. It made a lot of sense to me at the time. My philosophical mind inclines towards variables and numerous peculiarities: I find a scale’s better for describing most things rather than a supposedly objective categorical divide.
So what does that actually mean?
Well, in the case of gender it’s saying there’s a long line that probably has a hetero female mindset at one end and a hetero male at the other. Everyone is somewhere on that line. They all have a peg on it, like a moving point on a measuring scale, a pointer that focusses the gaze on a particular number of centimetres. Each person chooses – to a greater or lesser extent – where that pointer goes on the line. Everyone is bisexual.
It’s saying that for everyone gender is fluid and changeable. That no-one is set-in-stone hetero, homo, bi-pan-omnio. Actually, although the line doesn’t necessarily say it, that you can make yourself attracted to anything. People fuck sheep and cars, it shouldn’t be so difficult therefore to build enough desire to fuck a human you’d normally ignore.
I’ve not seen whatever science there is on it, but I’m not convinced by the argument that genetics has much to do with gender preferences: that people are born one way or the other. Hetero or homo, it’s usually said. I have good reason to think any science that supposedly supports writ-in-stone gender has been misinterpreted.
Let’s step out for a moment to consider what sort of gender we’re talking about: it’s the progressive, lefty kind i.e. a person’s sense of their femininity, neutrality, or masculinity, and of their sexual preferences. It’s the kind that lets a male adopt character traits and lifestyle choices we traditionally link with females, and vice-versa. A sort where the description “A broader statement of gender identity, rather than simple statement of sex organs.” makes sense.
I think any science that says gender is not usually variable in this way is wrong because, basically, if genes aren’t smart enough to stop men ejaculating when they’re just having a wank, why should they be smart enough to stop a man enjoying sex with another man, or having his prostate massaged. If the clitoris doesn’t shut off just because there’s no penis nearby, why should it shut off because of a woman’s tongue, or a foreign finger? There’s nothing biological about it except that the pleasure-providing parts of our organs are the biggest prostitutes ever. They’ll accept anything for a bit of release.
We stop them with our minds. You know, like with either sex having a wank, it’s a matter of what stimulates you. What gets your blood going. And that isn’t something particular. I mean if you want proof, take a trip over to 4chan /d to see all the weird shit to which people have acclimatised their libido. Pretty sure you’re not born with an inclination towards hardcore porn too. Like when you’re a baby or a kid, I imagine most would be pretty disconcerted by what they’d see. Not really born a fan. It’s all what you tell yourself you like.
Now there are clearly some areas where sex organs and chemical balances – the biologically male and female factors – can effect behaviour. Menstrual cycles and pregnancy would be obvious examples of things men generally just won’t and can’t go through, no matter how feminine they feel. And women generally won’t have everything associated with being able to impregnate maybe 30% of the humans you come across. So those are parts of being a biological female or male that sets a line of objective difference between the two. But people can take hormones to acquire the chemical balance of other genders, and it’s only in the most extreme biological sense in which there can be the near-unchangeable difference of organs. Even there people can choose neutrality – they can have all but their pleasure-givers shut off or removed.
Perhaps more importantly however, it what we’ve already said: sexual desire and stimulation can come from any direction, and you can learn to be stimulated by certain people, objects, activities. A lot of human brain activity is about connection and association so it’s not that difficult to imagine we can re-wire ourselves along what you might call ‘unusual’ lines. Again I mention there are people who have sex with their cars, amongst other things.
The human mind is an incredibly powerful thing: it can exercise control over its emotional responses to given stimuli. The only problem is, once it’s developed a selection of emotional responses to something, it’s going to be pestered by those same responses when trying to change them. This is how we get people so devoted to certain causes, they just become so caught up in the emotional cycles related to their ideas and preferences. This is how we get alcoholics and drug-users. I mean scientifically it’s all chemicals anyway, right? It’s no major news that we can influence how those chemicals move, when they move, which ones move.
I’m saying it’s still the scale. I’m saying we can build whatever mental structures and landscapes we want. In that sense, you know, there’s no major difference between a human with one physical set-up and another. Obviously the physico-biological make-up influences things. Losing legs for example is still relevant and will result in a change of your emotional responses to things. But we’re creative. We are allowed to build alternatives. We can construct false breasts and balls as much as false legs and blades. We are allowed to make these changes to ourselves, because at our core there is no religious or scientific rulebook that tells us what we’re allowed to do. The only limitation is literally what we can imagine and force into our realities.
Do you think a medieval horseman could ever have imagined a hovercraft or a plane? Barely, in unfulfilled fevre-dreams. And yet here we are, a thousand or so years later, with those fevre-dreams fulfilled.
So I’m saying let that quite legitimate idea of a gender scale fill your mind with possibilities rather than anger or whatever. It still gives you all the control. It still gives you the ultimate decision at any and every time. Fear of the possibility that you could become…well, whatever you want, probably isn’t a good thing is it? I mean it’s still what you want – it’s not like you’re one of Douglas Adam’s ultra-evolutionary beings that randomly changes it’s fundamental nature and structure roughly every ten minutes. You know, in comparison to being one of those things, being able to work to become more or less whatever you’d want sounds pretty good. No?
Anyway, I obviously came to believe in this scale thing and it’s done wonders for my, well, life. Let’s not get any more specific than that.
Sounds like bullshit but it’s gold, honestly. Check it out.
*to be honest he seemed and seems like a bit of a twat, but given his life experiences and the sort of campaiging he does, it’s probably acceptable. We need some twats to have the absolute confidence to push socially strange subjects into the public consciousness http://petertatchell.net/