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Old 07-11-2003, 06:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Is sexuality socially constructed?

To what extent do you believe sexual desire and sexual preference to be biologically driven vs. socially constructed? Can one choose the object of one's desire, or is it a purely chemical reaction? Can a person who defines themselves as heterosexual choose to be homosexual, and vice versa?

It's pretty clear that, to a large extent, our society attempts to limit and define our sexual choices. To what extent can we will ourselves to override that programming?
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Old 07-11-2003, 06:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
Man has the mental capabilities to overcome society, always has. You need to look at the animal kingdom, where there is less of a social structure to tell them what to do and think. The animals are biological driven. I've heard of some homosexuality in the kingdom, but don't have any articles to post, just what i have heard.
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Old 07-11-2003, 09:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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what a great question to ponder!
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Old 07-11-2003, 09:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Good question, lurkette!

I think society can do very little to influence someone's actual sexual orientation, although it can go a long way towards forcing people to deny those feelings.

I also think that society forces a choice upon us. I can be straight, gay, bi, whatever, and nobody cares. But once I've made my choice, I'd better stick to it; society makes no room for a straight man who just wants one night outside himself, with another man.
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Old 07-11-2003, 12:29 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I would say that to a very large extent our sexuality is biological. All creatures are sexual creatures, driven to reproduce, watch any nature program and you will of course see that this is a given! To almost all animals, reproduction is the only ultimate motivation for anything.

That being said, I would agree that social pressures does distort WHO we wish to reproduce with. However I can't say that I know to what extent this happens. Various studies have been done, and various papers written, but to me the evidence is, as of yet, inconclusive. So I will agree that social pressure is an issue, but how big of one, i don't know.
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Old 07-11-2003, 01:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've always thought that people are the sum of their experiences, so I lean more towards nurture than nature. You can't help what you're attracted to... but you don't really discover sexuality until puberty or later. While genetics might affect hormone levels that make people more masculine or effeminate, I think sexual orientation is determined more by one's upbringing than by an inherited genetic trait.
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Old 07-12-2003, 07:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Whether or not something is a social construction is always a difficult question to answer -- the best way is to look at other societies, and see how they vary. It's not sufficient to answer the question (since there can be other ways to explain cultural differences than social construction), but it does rule out nature as a causal explanation.

As far as sexuality is concerned, the only aspect I know enough about to comment on is homosexuality. And here it is clear that our categories of homo-, bi-, and heterosexual are not natural categories. In ancient Greece it appears that the norm was to be attracted to attractive people, regardless of gender. There were very few long term homosexual relationships, but it was not considered unusual for a teacher to be attracted to his (male) students, and have a sexual relationship with them.

This indicates to me that, at the very least, the gender to which one is attracted is pliable. It may not be the case that it is infinitely pliable -- i.e., there may be people that are only attracted to persons of the same/opposite gender, and whatever they might do, that's not going to change -- it's certainly not the case that it's simply a matter of choosing, but rather a matter of training oneself. Given that, though, I tend to think that, for most people, the gender to which one is attracted is influenced by nature, but also heavily influenced by environment and choice.
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Old 07-12-2003, 08:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If I was to take a wild shot at this, I'd say it's biologically driven. Society regulates how well you can come to grips with your sexuality and how you handle it. Does the fact that there is more hetero then homo sexuals cause the latter to change their views?
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Old 07-12-2003, 12:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
Location: Groningen, Netherlands
I think the things or attributes that turn someone on or off are partly decided by genes and partly by life experiences, like the relationship with the parents and of the parents, and experiences with partners and friends.
If something that attracted me to my girlfriend turns out to be a major source of frustration in the long run, good chance I'd be less likely to be attracted to this feature again.
On the other hand I could think about it and deal with it and start to like it -and her- alot more. In that sense I think I have some control over what I move towards, or away from.
Over the past couple of years I've been having more and more...kinky..fantasies, mainly because they're such a major turnon, but if I were more conventional I might be motivated to pursue more vanilla fantasies. But I wouldn't be sure how succesful I'd be though.

It seems that a fair percentage of pedophiles seriously try their hardest to overcome their attraction to children, even to the extent of forcing themselves into a conventional marriage and spend their lives longing for that wich they KNOW they can't have.

Is there anyone here tried to stop themselves from liking somebody, or tried to make himself fall in love with someone?
I've managed to keep myself from falling in love, but it would always linger in the background.

In ancient Greece it appears that the norm was to be attracted to attractive people, regardless of gender. There were very few long term homosexual relationships, but it was not considered unusual for a teacher to be attracted to his (male) students, and have a sexual relationship with them.
Also it was quite stylish for a man of position to ehm, have a young boy (around 12 years old) as a compagnion. Something about the young beauty that would reflect on them. They'd hang around, naked and perform sexual services on them.
For the boy and his family this was considered an honour and it added to their status.
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Old 07-12-2003, 01:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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chemically it has been tested and proven that people are more attracted to some and not to others. for example the "scent" of like your sibling is similar to yours and therefore you do not respond to it. while (for lack of a better phrase) well-breed females and men have stronger scents and attract everyone, sexually or not.

i feel that a person is constructed almost completely by their social environment. there's only so much that can be shapped; attitude, ideals/beliefs, sexuality, etc... these things are i'd say, at most, semi-genetically defined, and the rest is up to family friends and society to shape. *speech about how we are the future of america... * lol

anyway as far as sexuality, i'd say what we see as SEXUAL, is based on society but not our actual sexuality. for instance in other countries where women are more covered, hair is seen as much more sexier. you get the idea. ok well that all i got, just some ideas
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Old 07-12-2003, 02:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
I would say it's a combination of nurture and nature. Nature tends to lay the basic foundation, and then our culture gives the definitions. Take the definition of healthy as an example. When talking about women, today's definition of healthy is of a very svelte woman being attractive. Now, rewind to the middle ages when being full figured was the desired look for a woman. I can only speculate as to the reasoning of this, but, our current culture seems to be heading for women taking up less space which still has some remaining aspects of when women were expected to wear corsets to slim their figure. During the Middle Ages, disease was rampant. In general, people assumed that if a woman was full figured, she ate well and that she wasn't touched by disease. Culture comes about through our environment. During the Middle Ages, the people adapted to what was around them. Survival of the fittest is defined by nature, who is the fittest is defined by culture.
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Old 07-12-2003, 05:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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'Society' is a pooly propped-up, paper thin, veneer . . you CANNOT win over mother nature . . we are hard-wired to eat food and procreate . . end of story!
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Old 07-14-2003, 12:19 AM   #13 (permalink)
Location: Australia, Perth
to an extent, this pressure society puts on us, namely the media though, is the same as you kinda experience in high school or something. That is to say, we have to try to accept what is cool so we can be like evryone esle and fit in. Although the pressure is there, i'd like to think that once you get through this, you should have the ability to think for yourslef and make your own decisions, based on you "gut instinct" or free will (biology). Maybe the media still unconsciously effects us all, though i dunno.
They also show sexuality as merely the physcial quantifiable body, whereas it is more than that..well maybe not to some people. Although i think thats where we have some ability to escape its programming.
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Old 07-14-2003, 01:42 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally posted by asaris

As far as sexuality is concerned, the only aspect I know enough about to comment on is homosexuality. And here it is clear that our categories of homo-, bi-, and heterosexual are not natural categories. In ancient Greece it appears that the norm was to be attracted to attractive people, regardless of gender. There were very few long term homosexual relationships, but it was not considered unusual for a teacher to be attracted to his (male) students, and have a sexual relationship with them.

actually, thats not quite correct... women were often viewed as vessels for childbirth and nothing more. Homosexual relationships were usually short term like you said, and generally of the form of Old man (teacher) - Young man (student). The Young man would eventually grow old, and then he would act as the teacher to subsequent young men.

Anyway, since humans are social by definition , i find it unlikely that sexuality is not =)
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Old 07-17-2003, 10:45 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Applying this to myself, I think I could force myself to perform homosexual sex acts, but I don't think I could convince myself to enjoy them. I'm just not programmed to be attracted to males, and I don't think that conditioning could change the natural attraction to females that I was born with. It could probably supress it, but not remove it.
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