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May 09, 2009

On Bisexuality

This essay has been moved to my new website and can be found at http://jasonstotts.com/2009/05/on-bisexuality/

5 comments:

madmax said...

Some interesting posts on sexuality. The problem I have though is that it sounds as if you are saying that there is no such thing as a fixed sexual identity. I know you are an Objectivist, as am I, but if I didn't know that I would think you were a post-modern (feminist, critical theorist, etc) making the leftist argument that gender is nothing but a "social construct" and that the ideal society is a genderless society. This is what I would consider "kooky Left" stuff.

I also don't agree that most people are not k0s. I would think that the majority of people *are* k0s and that bisexuality, while not uncommon, is not the majority position. I am a k0 and have always been. I don't say this because of homophobia but because I'm dubious of the claim that most straight people have experienced homosexual desires at some point in their lives. This sounds to me to be driven by the feminist agenda to destroy masculinity and that *is* the feminist / radical egalitarian agenda. That can't be ignored.

With regards to the ancient Greeks, as much as I love that culture, I don't know that it should be held up as the sexual ideal. There was a terrible strain of misogyny in the Classical world. I'm not surprised by the homosexual and bisexual tendencies of the Ancient world given their view of women as barely better than children and not of the same intellectual ability as men. And their pederasty seems the product of terrible ignorance regarding human sexual development. Now, I fully admit that the Christian era that followed was a thousand time worse but I still consider Greek sexuality dysfunctional as well.

So, I think I have some disagreements with you although its nice to see an Objectivist wrestle with human sexuality.

Jason said...

Madmax,

I don't think there gender is an illusion foisted upon us by the evil world corporations (or whatever the feminist line is). I do, however, think that sexuality is more fluid than most people believe. For example, I think that there are three fundamental orientations: heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual, and I think that the lines between these are not as sharp as some people would like to think. The major point of this essay, though, was to argue for the legitimacy of bisexuality as a sexual orientation.

I am not trying to say that everyone is bisexual, nor do I believe that, but I do think that far too many people repress their feelings and desires in order to be "what they are supposed to".

Further, the section about Greece was to show that the concept of masculinity need not be threatened by bisexuality. (I am not advocating pederasty.) The problem is, though, that many people think that a bisexual or homosexual man cannot be masculine (you imply this in your comment). I disagree. I think that the idea of masculinity is about strength, integrity, overcoming, and many other things. I do not think that only heterosexual men can be masculine. Having said that, I still have much work to do on this issue and I have not come to my final conclusions yet.

Thanks for your comments.

~Jason

madmax said...

Jason,

Thanks for the response. I see that your original post was more nuanced than I thought; ie that masculinity is independent of sexual preference. I think that's right and you are right in arguing that Greece demonstrated that. I'm really enjoying your posts on sexuality.

Madmax

Grant said...

Could it be that bisexuals are just people who haven't learned to come to terms with the fact that people, regardless of gender, possess both masculine and feminine characteristics. In fact, the terms "masculine" and "feminine" are seriously misunderstood. Contrary to what most people, including bisexuals, believe, to be considered masculine (or feminine) does not mean that one is completely devoid of the opposite's traits, but only that the opposite's traits are the lesser element. No less real, and no less deserving of attention, but not as commonly expressed.

Bisexuals, I think, are people who do not understand this and, upon recognizing that they have a trait opposite their physiology, conclude that because of this they couldn't possibly be heterosexual and embark upon a period in their lives where they consider themselves homosexual. Then, some time later, the opposite occurs. Circumtance emphasizes their masculine traits and they swing back to calling themselves heterosexual, but with a catch.

Because of their homosexual past, they don't know how to make sense of their newly (re)discovered heterosexuality, and so they invent the term "bisexual."

What I am saying is that call it whatever you want, a given person, at a given time, is only ever truly attracted to a man or a woman, not both.

Issues having to do with open relationships and orgiastic behavior, which seem to disprove my paradigm, are entirely seperate subjects, and revolve primarily around one's view of the relationship between the mind and the body rahter than his sexual orientation.

Jason said...

Grant,

I want to point out the this essay is an attempt to show that bisexuality is a legitimate category of sexual orientation. Thus, I would argue that there are some people who can be attracted to both men and women at the same time in their lives. In fact, this point is not even in dispute as there are objectively people who are bisexual (unless you want to insist that all of these people are confused or insane). Consequently, your asserting that "a given person, at a given time, is only ever truly attracted to a man or a woman, not both" is not helpful as you fail to take into account the reality of the situation. The fact is that bisexuals exist.

Having said that, I think your first paragraph is more interesting. I do think that people may possess masculine or feminine characteristics, but I see sex as a necessary condition for either masculinity or femininity (that is, only a man could truly be masculine and only a woman could be truly feminine). Now, this is not to say that one may not behave however they want, even in "opposition" to their sex. However, one cannot truly be masculine or feminine without the requisite sexual basis.

Now, part of the problem in discussions about masculinity, femininity, and sexual orientation is that the terms masculinity and femininity have not been well defined and are taken to be cultural constructs that are devoid of objective content. I completely disagree and an entire chapter of my book is given to providing an objective account for these terms.

However, the relevant point is that it does not make a man un-masculine to be attracted to both men and women, nor does it make a woman un-feminine to be attracted to both women and men. The instance that it does so is misguided.

~Jason