• Jack Cummins
    4.4k
    I am writing this thread while reading, 'The Descent of Man', by Grayson Pearson(2016). In this book, he is looking at the male stereotype and the idea of what it means to be a man. He comes from the perspective of being a crossdresser, or transvestite. He says, 'When I was a teenager in the 1970s I may have been more obsessed about how to dress as a woman but paid scant attention to the aesthetic of the male body.' This particular statement seems so important in relation to bodies, gender and stereotypes.

    There is so much controversy around gender, especially transgender issues. I am so puzzled by gender fundamentalism and when people make such an issue of people's choices of gender identification and transitions. When people are so opposed to others' identification, I wonder how much is about projection. Here, I am speaking about strong feelings about those who identity as transgender,or as non-binary,being seen as a threat to some people.

    Some sociological writers see gender as a social construction and the postmodernist, Judith Butler, saw gender as social performance. It is such a complex area of philosophy, dependent on ideas of masculinity and femininity. To what extent are these biological or social constructions? This area of gender and sexual identity may challenge essentialism and be controversial politically. How may this area be approached critically in philosophy?
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k
    In this thread, if anyone is confused by my intention, I am in favour of understanding the nature of the LGBTIQ spectrum. Some may be threatened by people who identify in various positions on this spectrum. I am concerned with looking at this in connection with philosophy and, understanding diversity in expression of gender identity and sexuality.
  • introbert
    80
    I got in trouble for using a bad word in one of my posts. I am not against lgtbq but I used a derogatory word in my post. It is a fascinating word to me because of its symbolism of collectivism versus individualism. I can't find much explanation for how or why the term is used to describe gays but I speculate that it has something to do with American individualism and conservatism and about the appropriate kinds of relationships between men and how they should relate. I think individualism is in decline and the idea of the rugged individualist or the cowboy or the liberal has given way to a kind of social ethos that is collective. For example an individual person like myself today that tends not to have any friends could be on the verge of suicide, but maybe in a more individualist society the socially outgoing person would be. I think the way people used to be about gender and sexuality was more about how the individual person felt about it, but now there is kind of a collective consensus forming that is being pushed by popular movements which is represented by this offensive word I used. Even if gender and sexuality was individually determined, with the majority of men expressing their heterosexual instincts and being adverse to close and intimate relations with each other, there would still be social constructions as individuality doesn't take place in a vacuum. I am an individualist person who was at an early age homophobic, but I have been swayed by popular opinion to accept lgtbq, but at the same time I am wary of possible threats to individuality.
  • introbert
    80
    My previous response was in reference to your mention of the male stereotype of masculinity and what it means to be a man. Individuality and masculinity, versus collectivity and lgtbq. Of course, the person you reference is following his/her own individual instincts, but would not have a critical mass of similar people to become the dominant culture so has to depend on collectivity and popular movement.

    Regarding the second paragraph you wrote transphobia likely comes from individual sexual preference. Individuality I believe, even though it is the root of transexuals identity, is against them and lgtbq because majority individual sexual preference is heterosexual, and individuality is not to play nice with others, can be hurtful and insensitive to others. This is because individual communications are not meant to join people together, but to keep separate. Insulting and being mean and abrasive is very individualistic, whereas collectivism involves understanding and forming bonds with others.

    Regarding third paragraph, it is a tough question. I think each person expresses instinct. Although, the way instinct is defined and talked about, denies it plays a role in human behavior. But I believe instinct, or something like it is the basis of sexual behavior, but ultimately the culture it produces is going to defend those instincts. I think whether someone is more individualistic or more collective is also instinctual, like being introvert of extrovert or conservative or liberal, and that influences how people will be swayed by the cultures produced by competing instincts.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Biology (sex ~ one's junk at birth) is impersonal and psycho-socialology (how one libidinally relates-represents one's junk to other individuals (sexuality) and groups (gender)) "constructs" the personal. The existential trauma of binary-gender norming is more acute for those for whom conforming to binary-gender norms in a given historical social situation is both oppressive and self-harming.
  • Bitter Crank
    11.1k
    I'm an essentialist, so I don't think that sexuality is constructed. However, what is possible in terms of expression is determined by society's established norms and limits.

    So, people are born male and female. They aren't "assigned" a sex, their sex is identified. They are born with a variable sexual orientation ranging between entirely homosexual and entirely heterosexual. Orientation isn't constructed either.

    For most people, the available and approved sexual roles match the individual reasonably well. Most men and women are heterosexual, and heterosexuality is the norm. How one lives out one's heterosexual life will vary from society to society. Homosexuality has generally not been a readily accepted norm, and how one lives as a homosexual will depend on what society tolerates.

    It has become technically possible to build a movement based on ideas about non-binary gender roles, and so it exists. My personal view of the non-binary gender movement is that a lot of what is said is baloney. But then, I'm 75 and this was never my issue.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k
    I am aware that many don't think that gender and sexuality is constructed, and that view does come from a postmodern perspective. The issues are complex and I would not wish to gloss over nature and nurture. The basis for my own thread discussion is that there has been a fair amount of backlash in the area of LGBTIQ issues in the last couple of years. I was startled by the way in which threads on transgender, mainly opposed to people who identify as transgender, became so active and popular on the site.

    I am not trying to start one of that kind, because I am not wishing to dig up transphobia, because I would get stressed out. It is significant that you, as a gay man, have replied. My intention was to try to start some discussion without trans and homophobic bias. Nevertheless, as my perspective is from this perspective as opposed to the opposite way round, it is likely that very few people will be interested. The moderators here are fairly open minded and do seek to prevent trans and homophobia.

    I understand essentialism is a little different in the area of gender, with acceptance of gender from gay issues. Some may accept gay issues and be completely opposed to trans issues on the basis of essentialism. I am inclined to bracket the two together in relation to androgyny, which was the original meaning of Freud's idea of bisexuality. However, in spite of a move towards acceptance of the LGBTIQ spectrum in psychology, it is hard to know hoe the backlash towards trans issues, especially as there is so much bullying and violence towards sexual minorities is viewed. Essentialism may be used in various ways, and even though it may exist outside of religious thinking, it could easily be about reinforcing 'normality' even in the development of secular, totalitarian regimes.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I do see the whole construction of gender and sexuality as one of the problems arising from the tradition of Christianity and its conventions. I have known so many people who struggle in this context. As people move towards a less religious approach, in some ways there is a more tolerant attitude but I am not sure that some of the basic hostilities still remain with religious fundamentalism being replaced by essentialism as a form of scientific fundamentalism. The postmodern deconstruction and critical theory, including queer theory had its place, but these ideas are not prominent now, and there may be a complete mixture of ideas about sexuality, not just about LGBTIQ issues, but even ideas about sexuality and morality amongst heterosexual people.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    The idea of instinct is important because even within animal populations there is diversity. The majority of people may conform to basics of heterosexuality and gender identity. The way people who don't are viewed may vary. In creating this thread, I am not simply wishing to think about the minority perspectives. However, I am wondering how tolerance and intolerance works. In particular, stereotypes may be one of the reasons why people struggle with identity issues.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    In reply to your second post, the idea of consensus is an important issue for many. There is so much confusion around gender. In the past, girls who got pregnant outside of marriage were often institutionalised. Michael Foucault's understanding of the politics of sexuality is important. If anything, it may be that in the time of the information age, there ie lack of consensus. Diversity of sexuality and gender identity exists, but, also, diversity of views on the nature of diversity exists, which may create whirlpools of confusion and conflicts in social groups and impact on individuals, especially those who do not fit into the mainstream. Sexual desire and the body may be complex areas of identity for many in the twentieth first century.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    I think binary-gender norming is inherently autocratic / theocratic / corporatocratic and is, therefore, incompatible with – subverted by – decentralizing, stakeholder-controlling social arraangenents (e.g. economic democracy, libertarian socialism, etc).
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    Sex is biological. Many people have used gender and sex synonymously for decades.

    I do believe sexual preferences can change simply because my attraction to people has changed. At the same time it seems kind of obvious to me that we are born with certain sexual preferences.

    I do not think there is much to understand. Some people are different to others so they are often treated different due to ignorance. The political movement is an attempt to right wrongs but as with any political movement there is greed for power and a certain stirring of ‘us against them’ internally and externally.
  • Bitter Crank
    11.1k
    My guess is that a lot of the sturm und drang swirling around sexuality, gender, and diversity is absent from most people's lives. The sturm und drang is self-inflicted suffering which some of us bring upon ourselves by following the news closely. It's a feature of modern life: There are multiple channels for every viewpoint on every topic. The plethora of sources leads to hyperawareness of every split-hair opinion and how they conflict or compliment each other.

    This isn't to say the issues aren't real -- just that we can be over-exposed to them.

    Example: Above I wrote "sexuality, gender, and diversity" employing the Oxford comma. The head of the NHS in the UK has ordered people to avoid the Oxford comma. Uproar followed. Most people don't give a rat's ass one way or the other, but I find the Oxford comma essential to my mental health.

    I have a grand nephew who is either gay or trans -- it isn't clear to me which. He recently moved to NYC to attend a fashion school. Sometimes it seems like being "trans" is just a more complicated way of being "gay". This isn't new, of course. For some, being gay has always been pretty simple. For others, it has always been more complex. So, some gays are just guys, but some gays like to play far more complex roles.

    We aspire to be many things. Generally our options are limited by numerous constraints -- insufficient economic resources; historical and geographical limitations; insufficient talent; lack of nerve, and so on. We would like to have been [fill in the blank] but we didn't know how to make it happen, or we were shot down.

    Most of the people I know who have transitioned from one gender to the other were happier for having done so. They came closer to being the person they aspired to be. Their transition might or might not have involved surgery and hormones. What is critical is that they were able to approximate the person they aspired to be.

    Any of us might "transition" from the sort of person we have been to the sort of person we aspire to be.
  • TiredThinker
    575
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kT0HJkr1jj4

    This video is informative. My takeaway is there are two sexes and a few people that biologically didn't develop correctly. Sounds like a disorder to have chromosomal mix ups, but I suppose there would be a stigma to call it that. As far as gender identification I don't see the point. It sometimes seems like some people have a very narrow view of what any sex can be. Clearly women can behave more masculine according to however that is defined, and feminine males. Why give ones personal collection of behaviors a label?
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    To my knowledge there existed terms like effeminate and manly that were applied to men and women respectively for ages. The LGBTIQ phenomenon is simply these variations in gender/sexuality coming to a head or like a submarine, until now underwater, finally surfacing for all to see. There isn't anything that wasn't there already, it's just that in the present this community is in the limelight because they've decided to make a stand, it's now or never! Given how sensitive the issue is, especially since being anti-LGBTIQ is bad for businese & political careers, how much it's trending nowadays, it makes sense for these folks to, well, strike while the iron is hot!

    As for biology & psychology, as these disciplines view whatever is placed in front of them as either well or sick, they've got a lot on their hands, navigating this treacherous terrain is going to be an uphill task.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    religiousJack Cummins

    Religion has issues with sexual/gender variations. Did this carry over to early psychological studies? Homosexuality was, at one point, considered a mental illness (re Alan Turing). I'm not aware of the current status of being gay in psychology. I bet it's been removed from the DSM (diagnostic & statistical manual), but hopefully in Heideggerian fashion, sous rature (to remind us of how much the world has changed over the past 2 centuries).
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    what it means to be a man.Jack Cummins

    A man, last I checked, is a set of physical (strong) and mental (dominating) attributes. I've simplified the attributes as they don't seem to matter to my point.

    The same goes for a woman.

    The physical attributes seem to be rigidly defined by genetics (XX female, XY male), but not so the mental atrributes which seem fluid in comparison.

    Hence, I believe, LGBTIQ!

    Note also that being strong applies to women too - some women are built like a linebacker!

    It seems just having a penis is not sufficent to make one a man and possessing a vagina doesn't mean one is woman.

    Fascinating!
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    Women, on average, are considerably physically weaker than men and shorter than men. These physical factors are quite a difference (ie. A man can potentially kill with a few blows whereas a woman has very little chance of doing so in comparison).

    Other than that the psychological differences that are most widely known (by anyone who has studied an ounce of psychology) is from the Big Five psychological traits. Women are higher in ‘Neuroticism’ and ‘Agreeableness’. Men are more likely to be aggressive too and the chance of someone with extremely high/low IQ being male is higher than them being female (this later ‘fact’ is not exactly hard cast though but the evidence available does appear to point to this).

    Also, some homosexual women are more masculine than feminine and some homosexual men are more feminine than masculine … what I am curious about is whether or not there is any connection between more ‘feminine’/‘masculine’ psychological traits and sexual prefer and/or ‘gender identity’?

    If most people were to make a guess I assume they would expect homosexual men to be some degree more likely to exhibit psychological trait patterning associated with women, or that transgender people (not on any hormonal treatment) would also lean, psychologically speaking, toward their ‘gender identity’. Such things may just be too difficult to assess atm though given that psychological studies require huge data sets over a pretty large time period.

    One thing is for sure atm. There are people out there (a minority on both ‘sides’) that are actively - yet maybe unconsciously) doing nothing much more than hindering progression and understanding by using the subject as a means to propel other ideas/feelings.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    The idea of people hindering progress in understanding is the reason why I started the thread. There can be extremism in both directions. So much discussion may involve unconscious projection. Also, there is so much information on the internet, some which may be more helpful than others.

    When I was working in mental health care there were clear policies about how all people should be respected. This also involved training. Of course, it is possible just to pay lip service to it.Generally, it may be more difficult for people to be accepting of the LGBTIQ spectrum if they were brought up in a culture where it was seen as being unacceptable. I was brought up in Catholicism but never even realised that there were issues around gender and sexuality there until I came across certain attitudes at university. I do consider myself as bisexual and realised this when I was about 5 years old. My parents were a little homophobic but I never really discussed sexuality with them much. The youth club at my church had a lot of drinking and loads of affairs, although heterosexual ones. Funnily enough, the song 'Tainted Love' by Soft Cell was one of the most frequently played songs, but I am not sure if anyone there realised the gay connotations of the song.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    So, in short, there doesn't seem to be a pattern except what, after reading you, seems to be the misleading one viz. men liking men and women liking women.

    Perhaps we can make some headway if we break it down into possible combinations using the following characteristics:

    1. Junk (penis/vagina)
    2. Build (virile/effeminate)
    3. Personality (virile/effeminate)
    4. Genetics (XX/XY)

    There are a total of 2 × 2 × 2 × 2 = 16 different sexuality/gender types. Which exist and which don't might give us clues to get to the bottom of the LGBTIQ phenomenon.

    It's unknown to me whether all these reduce to genetics. There could be genetic defects variations that underpin it all.

    Who knows, it could be an infection, maybe there's a microbe out there that messes up which gender we identify ourselves as. A Paul W. Ewald (biologist, Wikipedia has a page on him) hypothesized that schizophrenics don't find partners and start families and ergo, he claims, their prevalence in the population doesn't make any sense (the genes responsible would've been deselected over generations). The only other explanation, according to him, is that schizophrenia is an infection and he's optimistic that the causative microbe will be discovered soon. Homosexuality too doesn't make evolutionary/genetic sense (man-man and woman-woman pairs can't reproduce, they're dead ends, evolutionarily). I'll leave you to connect the dots!
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    One of the most influential case studies about gender is one involving the sexologist, John Money, and a child who lost his penis in a childhood circumcision. A decision was made to give the child surgery and female hormones at adolescence to make the child female. For many years, this was understood, especially in sociology, as a success. However, in time it became apparent that the teenager was very unhappy and ended up having reverse treatment to become a man again. He wrote a book with his story and was planning to have an artificial penis constructed, but a while later he committed suicide.

    It is a very sad story and does challenge the nurture approach to gender. A large factor was that in spite of feminising hormones, the teenager was still fairly masculine looking. One of the main ways in which the scenario has been viewed has been to make professionals more hesitant to make decisions about intersex children and to enable them to be more involved in gender choice.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    An interesting tale of a medical blunder! Mirrors how trans men feel and how they experience life, but I'm sure all we need to do is swap sex and gender in different ways for this story to be relatable to all.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    The story is probably one which most people can relate to because it is so tragic and the person was male. It is not clear whether he committed suicide simply because there were some other issues going on in his, but it seems likely that what he had been through affected him significantly.

    Also, where my parents lived, there was a transman, who got outed in his community. In distress he smashed a window in his local church. He got sent to Holloway(women's) prison and killed himself while there. This story shows the way in which outing people publicly can affect them so much and some people think that they have the 'right' to do so and,
    there is also a lot of bullying.

    The issue of where to place trans people is also a major one in prisons and hospitals. Some flexi gender facilities do ease the situation. It may involve staff thinking creatively to manage the situation. I know one manager who has asked potential nursing staff candidates at interviews a question about managing a trans scenario. Apparently, it really threw some of them and it may be that this was something that they never ever expected to get asked.
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    How on earth can you realise you are bisexual at 5 yrs old? That makes no sense to me whatsoever so I am assuming you meant something else maybe?
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    Homosexuality is clearly not an ‘evolutionary dead end’ because it occurs in many species and has not disappeared for millions of years.

    My question was not really one I expected to be answered because the data sets are too tricky I reckon. If you know of a study that measures the Big Five for gays, lesbians and bisexuals I’d be interested to look at the data.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I didn't know much about sex at age 5. Even when children told me 'the facts of life' at age 9, I refused to believe it until someone showed it written down in a book. The reason I realised that I was bi was because I realised that sometimes I had crushes on girls and, sometimes, boys, as well as teachers of both genders. However, I never told anyone this until about age 12.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Too bad, eh? Many great thinkers were of ambiguous gender/sex. I just read the Wikipedia entry on Joan D'Arc, patron saint of France; she had to cross-dress as a man to be given respect. Whether, in the end, she actually turned into a man (in mind) is not mentioned. Is it true that for a woman to be taken seriously, she has to be a man? That's wrong in so many ways than I'd care to mention. Oh well!

    Homosexuality is clearly not an ‘evolutionary dead end’ because it occurs in many species and has not disappeared for millions of years.

    My question was not really one I expected to be answered because the data sets are too tricky I reckon. If you know of a study that measures the Big Five for gays, lesbians and bisexuals I’d be interested to look at the data.
    I like sushi

    :up: No patterns is the only explanation why we're so perplexed. Back in the old days it was exactly the opposite, LGBTIQ were outliers - they didn't make sense to heterosexuals who were the majority.

    Quite possibly if the LGBTIQ community is growing in numbers, it's natural birth control - we are on the cusp of a population crisis.
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    Okay. Makes sense. I haven’t thought that far back for a longtime in regards to childhood crushes … I guess it was possible I had crushes too that far back :)
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    You are not making a whole lot of sense here. If there is no data presented you are just voicing your opinion.

    I do not think for a second that the numbers (by percentage) is growing at all. Such members in western society have been forced into hiding due to various factors including religious dogma and lack of a figurehead through which to relate themselves to the mainstream norms of sexual behaviour and attitudes in society.

    I always like to use the example of the Philippines here when it comes to transgenders. It is a normal thing over there and has been for a long time. I practically every fastfood chain there is someone who is transgender working there and it has been like that for a long time.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    It is likely that there have always been gender dysphoric people but that it was only with medical advances that the approach changed. Because people could not have the physical transition it is hard to know to what extent they were. I know that different people have viewed Joan of Arc in various ways. The one writer who definitely wrote from a gender dysphoric, female to male point of view was Radcyffe Hall, in, 'The Well of Loneliness'. Virginia Wolf's 'Orlando' is also an interesting critique on gender. Some science fiction writers, like Ursula Le Gunn and Marion Zimmer Bradley also explore androgyny.

    The arts have always been an area for the exploration of gender ambiguity. Recently, I saw some documentaries of 70s and 80s music and couldn't believe how feminine some of the men looked in bands like Sweet and Japan. And, of course there is Sam Smith, who couldn't be given a Brit award because they couldn't be fitted into the male or female vocalist categories.

    In some societies there are alternative gender categories, like the Hijra in India and the berdache of North America. These groups incorporated those who had various physical intersex conditions and psychological ones, and the North Americans also spoke of some as being 'two spirit' people. It is possible to also see eunuchs as an alternative gender category. Their removal of the testicles was to enable singing not to change with the voice breaking, but it may also have been partly about androgyny.

    The idea of androgyny may be the archetypal or mythical aspect of transgender. One Jungian writer, June Singer wrote a book on androgyny. However, she was not writing about transgender but mainly psychological androgyny. However, the transgender journey may be seen as connected to androgyny even though the person is wishing to change to resemble the opposite gender as far as possible. Cross dressers and non-binary may be seen clearly in relation to the idea of androgyny and the archetypal hermaphrodite.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    To hazard a guess I'd say gender dysphoria is basically an embryological relic - from the zygote to a certain point in the fetus' development, we can't tell the difference between male & female, morphologically speaking that is (DNA-wise we can). Imagine now that the fetus in those early stages were conscious and had eyes. If it looked in the mirror, it wouldn't be able to say whether it's a boy or a girl. A wild theory pops into view - maybe fetuses are conscious much, much, earlier than we believe (post-nervous system development) they are and there's a tiny mirror inside the womb and of course there has to be some light! :grin:
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