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On gender difference & political correctness

I’m ambivalent about gay marriage in part because, in studying the history of the institution, we learn it is defined by gender difference.  Up until the 1990s, those cultures which have recognized same-sex unions either called  them something different than marriage or, if they did call them marriage, required one partner to live in the guise of the opposite sex.

And while today, we do not define gender roles as strictly as did most societies until the second half of the century just concluded — and as do many nations around the world, particularly the Islamic world, we can still see differences between the genders, particularly in the gay community.  Just contrast how gay men and lesbians relate to one another.

Despite these noticeable differences, the politically correct voices in academia and the gay movement, balk at acknowledging the reality of this experience.  In one breath, they tell us gender is a social construct, but in the next, they tell us sexual orientation is predetermined, it is, so speak, encoded in our DNA, leading blogger Gregory of Yardale to ask:

How is it the left can simultaneously claim that gender is a purely social construct, but homosexuality is determined by genetics?

Gender differences are more than just physiological, and our sexual orientation may well develop from a great variety of factors, some nature, some nurture.

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24 Comments

  1. Because I believe gender is an inborn reality, I don’t include drag or transexuality as part of homosexuality. Gay is men who identify as masculine who love other men who identify as masculine. I don’t know anything about the experience of males who don’t identify as masculine. Effeminacy and transexuality are forms of heterosexuality–they are the feminine in one person being attracted to the masculine in another person. In order to secure rights, trannies, drags, and twinks, etc. should join up with their fellow heterosexuals and get the heck off my flag. And stay out of my parade.

    The movie Bruno will continue to flog the stereotype that gay means men who are effeminate. I’m getting tired of that image when, for me, gay means Achilles, David, Walt Whitman, Richard I, Lawrence of Arabia, Alexander the Great, Yukio Mishima, Herman Melville, and all those men who were fully and completely male. Men who wish to undercut and subvert their inborn masculinity are perverts, IMHO. They are rejecting what they were created to be and need help to regain their lost masculinity. They don’t need support for their perversion.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 1, 2009 @ 4:16 pm - July 1, 2009

  2. How is it the left can simultaneously claim that gender is a purely social construct…?
    They don’t.
    This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

    I am sure you will find some number of feminist and other thinkers on the left who have espoused this view. You will also find many on the left (including feminists) who disagree. Pretending that the view of gender being “purely” (Greggory’s word, not mine) a social construct is a universally- or even widely-held belief among all of “the left” (scores of millions of them in this country alone) is a pure fantasy, necessary for the oh-so-cunning, “Gotcha!” question. Since it’s false, the entire question fails.

    And it’s not just “the left” that claims sexuality is genetically-determined – ie, nature. All of the recent studies point to an innate setting that is extremely resistant to change, despite some ability for one’s nurture to nudge someone along a bit one way or the other on the Kinsey scale. I can only assume that the GOP distrust for “elites” has gotten to the point where all scientists are now assumed to be part of the left if they release information considered to be disloyal to Republican orthodoxy. “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

    Comment by torrentprime — July 1, 2009 @ 4:27 pm - July 1, 2009

  3. You’re ambivalent about gay marriage? Since when?

    Comment by Ignatius — July 1, 2009 @ 4:33 pm - July 1, 2009

  4. I wonder if Gregory of Yardale likes V the K, or thinks V is a douche. /injoke

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 1, 2009 @ 4:34 pm - July 1, 2009

  5. A demonstration of Obama Party intelligence.

    I am sure you will find some number of feminist and other thinkers on the left who have espoused this view.

    Preceded, of course, by:

    They don’t.

    In summary, torrentprime claims that no one on the left thinks or says this, followed by the statement that people on the left do think and say that.

    Sort of like how Obama can claim that he would never tax employer-provided health benefits while demanding that employer-provided health benefits be taxed. When you live in a world where reality is whatever you define it as being, this is what happens.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 1, 2009 @ 4:40 pm - July 1, 2009

  6. How is it the left can simultaneously claim that gender is a purely social construct, but homosexuality is determined by genetics?

    Doublethink: The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
    – George Orwell

    Comment by Neko — July 1, 2009 @ 5:29 pm - July 1, 2009

  7. What torrentprime really meant: Gender/sexuality are genetic when it’s necessary to advance 1 policy objective, but they are social constructs when it’s necessary to advance a different policy objective.

    Comment by V the K — July 1, 2009 @ 5:47 pm - July 1, 2009

  8. Well, here’s Ashpenaz flaunting ignorance about transsexuality again. I thought we went over this last time.

    Transsexuality has nothing to do with heterosexuality. It is orthogonal to heterosexuality. It is also orthogonal to homosexuality.

    Gender identity and sexual preference are different things. There are gay, straight and bi transsexuals.

    So if, as you say, you don’t know anything about transsexuality, kindly spare us your opinions about it, OK?

    Comment by MaggieL — July 1, 2009 @ 5:48 pm - July 1, 2009

  9. By the way, I’m sure *nobody* **ever** told Ashpenaz he was “rejecting what he was created to be” by being gay. *snicker*

    Comment by MaggieL — July 1, 2009 @ 5:51 pm - July 1, 2009

  10. MaggieL,

    I was about to post a comment supporting Ashpenaz, but you took me by surprise. Well said, and enlightening for me. While I’ve never understood transsexuality, you have given me an interesting perspective to ponder. It is neither gay nor straight, and has nothing to do with preference. Interesting. I will give it some serious thought. Thanks.

    Comment by John in Dublin CA — July 1, 2009 @ 5:59 pm - July 1, 2009

  11. Ok, good–transexuality has nothing to do with homosexuality. We agree on that one. Stay off my flag.

    Homosexuality is not a perversion. It is a natural occurrence, as seen by current animal observation studies. It seems that most species have some kind of homosexuality.

    Being naturally homosexual does not require that I support, or even believe in, transexuality or effeminacy. I think both are mental problems which can be resolved with therapy. Drag is something men, gay and straight, like to do. Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Tyler Perry, et. al., are all straight and have drag personas. Many of the drag queens at Stonewall were probably happily married heterosexuals. I don’t have to like drag, though I do sort of like Alice Cooper. Especially his politics.

    It’s not important to me whether uniformed people think my homosexual orientation is unnatural. I’m man enough to stand up for myself. I can point to science about the naturalness of homosexuality. There is nothing natural about men wanting to be women.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 1, 2009 @ 6:10 pm - July 1, 2009

  12. Uh–that’s “uninformed” people. Though I would be happy with the attention of uniformed people as well.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 1, 2009 @ 6:12 pm - July 1, 2009

  13. I have no problem posting a comment supporting Ash. Ash, I don’t always agree with you and I often find your comments a mixed bag, but I appreciate your participation and dislike seeing some take it upon themselves telling others when and on what topics they should comment.

    Comment by Ignatius — July 1, 2009 @ 6:16 pm - July 1, 2009

  14. It’s not important to me whether *uniformed* [emphasis added] people think my homosexual orientation is unnatural.

    It is to me, just a little ;-)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 1, 2009 @ 6:38 pm - July 1, 2009

  15. Homosexuality is not a perversion. It is a natural occurrence, as seen by current animal observation studies. It seems that most species have some kind of homosexuality.

    Oh boy. I cringe when I hear arguments about whether a quality is okay with humans, by pointing out that it happens in the animal kingdom. In fact, people have used the argument that homosexuality is wrong because it doesn’t occur in the animal kingdom. Leaving aside the fact that the statement is false, we humans do a lot of things that other animals don’t do. Like get married, go to school, write, use computers, have religion and go to churches, etc. Funny, these persons never advocate eliminating those things.

    As for the point of the post.

    How is it the left can simultaneously claim that gender is a purely social construct, but homosexuality is determined by genetics?

    I’m not quite sure what it means. First of all, I’m sure there are some people that believe the latter part. Most people say that they are “born” that way, or that their sexual orientation was not a choice. No one knows for sure yet what causes it, although there has been some genetic connections regarding sexual orientation.

    Again, I’m not sure what “gender is a purely social construct” is supposed to mean. So I don’t even know if it contradicts the latter statement or not. I don’t know anyone who says that gender is not determined by genetics. And when someone is born with a certain gender, there are certain roles that are assumed for that person. As Dan stated, these roles are not as strictly defined as they used to be. For example, most people don’t automatically assume that a male will be sexually attracted to women anymore.

    I can point to science about the naturalness of homosexuality. There is nothing natural about men wanting to be women.

    Frankly, Ashpenaz, I don’t know if men being sexually attracted to men is more natural than men identifying as a woman. All I can tell you is that most women are sexually attracted to men, and that seems to be okay. And that most women identify as a woman, and that seems to be okay. the one big difference I see is that if a man wants to act on his attraction to other men, it’s fairly easy to do so, more so today than in the past (and we don’t have to use silly euphemisms to do so). But for a man who identifies as a woman and wants to act on that, that’s obviously more difficult.

    Comment by Pat — July 2, 2009 @ 7:09 am - July 2, 2009

  16. I’m not sure what “gender is a purely social construct” is supposed to mean.

    Well, you could have googled it before commenting perhaps. The belief that behavioral patterns and preferences of men and women are created artificially is very widespread in left-wing academic circles; i.e. boys would want to play with dolls if society didn’t pressure them to play football and fight.

    Comment by V the K — July 2, 2009 @ 7:55 am - July 2, 2009

  17. Coining a new phrase over at Benkof’s Gays Defend Marriage Mark Barton points out the need to ‘shove gay pegs into straight holes’ in regards to the human need to classify and organize. Tis a funky fact that people get theirr undies all twisted when things just don’t fit into the nice tidy boxes that are carefully constructed by parents, clergy, politics and even ourselves.

    I love Rosie the Riviter, Jennifer Beals (sp) ALex in Flashdance, Michael Jackson, and the other gender benders out there who end up being who they want to be.

    Sorry if the humans around us don’t fit into the boxes you have created, but just like snowflakes we are all original.

    Comment by rusty — July 2, 2009 @ 10:09 am - July 2, 2009

  18. sorry, the Barton phrase was “pounding gay pegs into straight holes…”. . .but it is all about pressuring folk into categories and dissing individuals for not following expected norms.

    Comment by rusty — July 2, 2009 @ 10:32 am - July 2, 2009

  19. Flamboyance is not the same thing as effeminacy. Adam Lambert is extremely masculine and he is also flamboyant. In nature, the males are frequently colorful and exotic–like the peacock. I think a bit of masculine flamboyance is great and is the marker of many gays such as Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, Elton John, etc. None of those men express the desire to be women.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 2, 2009 @ 11:19 am - July 2, 2009

  20. Ok, amusing approach for the ‘exists in nature’..

    Don’t Lions eat their young? :-)

    Comment by The Livewire — July 2, 2009 @ 12:35 pm - July 2, 2009

  21. Adam Lambert is extremely masculine

    ROFL :-)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 2, 2009 @ 2:23 pm - July 2, 2009

  22. Adam Lambert is extremely masculine

    And Janet Napolitano is very pretty.

    Comment by V the K — July 2, 2009 @ 6:24 pm - July 2, 2009

  23. Without casting any aspersions on Adam – Maybe he is “extremely masculine” in the same sense in which Michael Jackson’s behavior with kids was somehow, allegedly no different than a typical heterosexual summer camp counselor?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 2, 2009 @ 7:04 pm - July 2, 2009

  24. Well, you could have googled it before commenting perhaps.

    Actually, I did, V the K. Perhaps what I meant to say was that I didn’t see what the person who wrote it meant by it. In other words, to use your example, did the person really mean (by purely a social construct)that without any interference, a boy would be equally likely to play with dolls than play football. Or we would have some boys play with dolls, but because of defined gender roles, those boys who would play with dolls are discouraged from doing so, and thus, don’t. Since I didn’t see any contradiction, I wasn’t sure what the author of that quote meant.

    Adam Lambert is extremely masculine and he is also flamboyant.

    I think your pushing it here, Ashpenaz. I get the feeling that since you a) have expressed your dislike of effeminate men, and b) like Adam Lambert, that you had to conclude that c) Adam Lambert is masculine.

    It’s okay if you want to admit that some effeminate men are okay too.

    Comment by Pat — July 3, 2009 @ 8:31 am - July 3, 2009

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