Poston and Baumle 2005

For discussion of general issues pertaining to asexuality.
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Mr. Paradox
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Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Mr. Paradox » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:47 am

Thanks to the Admin for finding this reference, and the pretzelboy for getting a copy out of the author.

viewtopic.php?p=1012#p1012

This was presented at a major sociological conference in 2005 but hasn't yet been published. This may be because it's kind of crap. I dig their conceptual approach, but they just don't have useful data to work with. The significance of ethnicity is intriguing, but impossible to interpret given the survey questions. Does anyone see anything of use in here?
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby KAGU143 » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:54 am

It was useful to me because I could see that they were taking us absolutely seriously and because they seem to believe that asexuality needs to be researched in more depth.
I think they missed the boat when they tried to categorize people who haven't had sex in the past year as asexual, however.
I think that category did nothing but muddle their results.

I was also somewhat bummed to discover that, according to their survey, I am now too old to be counted. :(
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Mr. Paradox » Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:19 am

Yeah, I was really into it up until they presented the NSFG. It wasn't their fault that the survey was so spotty, but they shouldn't have wasted their time analysing it, and they definitely shouldn't have presented conclusions like, "asexuals are more likely to _______" based on it. They could have channelled this social-constructivist methodology and research effort into a smaller survey of their own and actually come up with something useful.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby spin » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:17 pm

*disclaimer: has not yet read article*

So it appears the academic community is having the same issues the media, the mainstream and the asexual community itself is having, n distinguishing orientation from behavior? A shame.

(I'll read it eventually, really I will. . .)

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Emmarainbow » Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:24 pm

It identified 3 ways asexual can be determined; from behaviour (having sex in the past year), desire (fancying men/women) and identification (using asexual as your label). Unfortunately, the survey it got the data from had questions for desire being 'fancy only men, mostly men, equally men/women, mostly women, only women, not sure' which is a bit of a rubbish way to identify asexuals (what about hetero/homo romantics?) and identification was 'homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, something else' and the number of 'something elses' that aren't asexual is quite impressive. So yeah - not very useful data, but nice that they're thinking about it. It also found that lots of the 'not sure' and 'something else' responses were in long-term relationships that was interesting. But meh.

I also thought it was really good until it started using those rather rubbish questions! Alas. A lot of the data for groups such as 'identification/desire = asexual' wasn't significant, so shows that we're kinda similar to the general population, but a lot of the bahaviour linked stuff was. Ah well. Hopefully we're not the only ones to look at it and think 'that's a rubbish investigation of an interesting idea!' and they'll do a better job.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby pretzelboy » Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:35 pm

I've now read it and am generally unimpressed. Granted, I tend to be very opinionated about these things, and the only published work on asexuality that I thought was good were the two papers by Tony Bogaert and the one from the 70's about asexual and autoerotic women (still probably the best work on the subject despite the many points I disagree with it.) I guess when I read stuff like this (or the paper "Asexuality: Classification and Characterization" found in the knowledge base), I feel like I have the really patronizing attitude, "Awww, you're trying. That's really great" while really thinking that their methodology is crap and it doesn't help that they're researching something they don't really seem to know all that much about.

And every time I saw the words "essentialist" or "social constructivist" I felt like rolling my eyes. I still don't really understand what these terms mean, if anything at all--but I don't think the authors of this paper did either. I have a working idea in my own mind (in which both are valuable), but I don't think that's how others use them. This paper tended to use "essentialist" to mean several different things all kind of lumped together into one category that basically meant "a totally idiotic way of understanding categories that couldn't survive even the briefest scrutiny," and then they gladly knock down the straw man they've set up. To me, if "social constructivist" categories are to mean anything, presumably, they should somehow have something to do with how a category is constructed/created and understood within a given society/social context. The way it was used in that paper, the term meant (if anything at all), it is "something that isn't the straw man we called 'essentialist.'" But it rather conspicuously had nothing to do with socially constructed/understood meanings, and had nothing more to do with society than the "essentialist" category. I think the terms were just (overused) as buzzwords, but as I said, i can be rather opinionated with regard to some things.

And I agree with other posters that the method used in data analysis pose enough problems to call the validity of any of the conclusions into serious doubt. But hey, at least they're trying.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Mr. Paradox » Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:54 pm

Actually, I thought the essentialist vs. social constructivist distinction was one point well made. While the essentialist position as they told it was a bit flimsy, we shouldn't fail to notice that this is the position a great number of us AVENites take. Namely, that we have within us an innate essence -- usually genetic, in the modern worldview -- that makes us quantifiably asexual instead of homo-, hetero-, or bisexual. In their contrasting approach, "asexuality" is a socially constructed category for some combination of behaviour, feelings, and identity. It's just admitting that there's no single litmus test for who's really asexual, because it's an invented idea.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby pretzelboy » Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:42 pm

The way I think of the terms essentialist vs. social constructivist (admitted differently than others), is that an "essentialist" category has to do with some innate something about a person (like biological sex, patters of sexual attraction/sexual fantasy), and a social constructivist category is how members of particular group are perceived, what they are believed to be like (how what they believe themselves to be like), how they socially identify, ect. Even the ways that we group people is a function of society. I see both as valuable as long as we recognize the difference.

Thus, under this way of thinking about things, a category like "biologically male" would be an essentialist category dealing with anatomical issues, whereas "man" would be a social constructivist category dealing with what a particular culture believes men are supposed to be like etc. Problems arise when the two are conflated (and I think this is what people use to mean "essentialist category" when they use it as a pejorative.) Thus people think that the ideas about what men are like/should be like in their culture somehow naturally flow from the biological category of "male," despite the fact that different cultures can have very different ideas about what the biological males in their culture are supposed to be like.

I find it quite useful to simultaneously use both levels, placing the "social constructivist" category as a construct built upon the "essentialist" category--biological male is a very real category that is quite useful to have (in the medical profession, for example.) Within asexuality, a definition like, "a person who doesn't experience sexual attraction" is under this sort of schema an "essentialist" category, whereas "a person is asexual if they call themselves asexual" is something of the social constructivist category.

Within modern society, the social constructivist category for asexuality is a bit problematic: who is constructing it? Most people have never heard of asexuality, so they have no notion of what asexuality is are what "all" asexuals are like (and thus, no socially constructed category). The only socially constructed idea of asexuality that exists is that which exists within asexual discourse. However, the self-identify as asexual way of looking at things fundamentally relies on on the "essenialist category" of a person who doesn't feel sexual attraction. We all say, "No one can tell you who is and who isn't asexual. You have to decide for yourself." However, no one actually believes this. If someone who has "normal" levels of sexual desire but has decided to become celibate starts calling themself asexual, we will tell them that they're wrong. They are not asexual; they're celibate. The "only you can decide if you're asexual or not" only applies to people who at least come somewhere close to the "no sexual attraction" definition. It seems to me to be more of a solution to the problem of the fuzzy border between sexual and asexual than anything else.

We have a question: when did I become asexual? If it is a sexual orientation, then I have always been asexual. If it is a social identity, I have only been asexual since I found out about AVEN.

I guess that because I use the terms differently than most people, I have a certain skepticism toward essentialist category bashing.

edit: As I think about it some more, I should probably come up with my own terms for what it is I'm trying to say rather than use already loaded ones. Perhaps I should call it "innate categories" (like biologically male) and "identity categories" (like what biologically males are believed to be like in a particular cultural, at a particular time.)

I'm also still not sure what exactly "social constructivist" category is supposed to mean in the paper. Essentialist categories are supposed to be "bad" because, among other reasons, they rely on binary categories (either you're A or you're B.) So I don't exactly see how making asexuality 7 categories based on combinations of 3 binary options is supposed to make something "social constructivist." (And it seems ironic that categories EITHER have to be essentialist OR social constructivist, given how much proponents of the latter like to beat up the former for its insistence on binary options.)

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby pretzelboy » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:37 pm

I think I'm going to have to retract somewhat my last comment. After having gotten myself in something of an argument oven on AVEN about causes of asexuality, I think I have a better idea of what "essentialist" categories are (or at least one way of defining it.) A person new to the site gave the not-uncommon question "what made me asexual." For whatever reason, on this particular occasion, I gave some of my own thoughts on the subject that I've sort of been kicking around in my head of late. I (very naively) didn't think it would be anything controversial. I mean, it makes perfect sense to me, right? After a couple more posts trying to clarify what I meant and remove misunderstandings, I see that a lot of people seem to believe that they are born asexual and that sexual orientation for everyone is something people are born with (despite the fact that there is conclusive proof that this is wrong).

So does "essentialist category" have the meaning of "essence preceding existence" as opposed to the existential view in which "existence precedes essence." So that, in an essentialist understanding of asexuality, asexuality is written into my genes so that asexuality has been part of my "essence" from the moment of conception when my DNA was formed? But if that is essentialism, we don't need to appeal to the social constructedness of meaning/categories etc. in order to disagree with it or find a way of explaining asexuality without being essentialist. In the position I took there, I only looked at asexuality as a biological/psychological category and (I think) had no difficulty avoiding the "essentialist" understanding. If anyone understands what essentialist views vs. social constrivist views are, I would be greatly obliged if you could help me figure this out. I feel very confused.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Mr. Paradox » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:29 pm

If we were employing an essentialist definition, we would say that a person is only asexual if they meet X, Y, and Z criteria coinciding with an unchangeable asexual nature which existed before we had the words to describe it. This nature could be genetic, behavioural, hormonal, psychological, spiritual, or any number of other things. The important implication is that we have discovered an asexual cohort in the population.

In a constructivist definition, we would take the stance that the asexual label is one created through a process of consensus, and thus you "are" asexual only inasmuch as you're recognised as such. We hold strict criteria for this recognition (even if it's only self-identification), but those criteria are ours alone. The implication is that we create asexual cohorts in the population by creating and re-defining the category to encompass or exclude certain perceived traits.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby pretzelboy » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:55 pm

Thanks. It makes more sense now. Although I now have no idea if my understanding of asexuality given above is essentialist or social constructivist. If we modify "essentialist" to omit the seemingly metaphysical concept of an "asexual nature" with a psychological reality of the subjective experience of "little or no sexual attraction" and abandon any attempt to fit everyone neatly into an asexual/sexual binary, then I'm totally fine with having such an essentialist concept. Understood in this way, I think the essentialist and social constructivist understandings are complementary rather than mutually exclusive. This seems to be how a large number asexual people feel, in a sense, when they first discover asexuality. Long before, they've realized something about themselves, but may or may not be able to figure out what exactly, then after learning about asexuality, they may take on an asexual identity. But this identity has to with assuming a label for oneself, which I believe to be partly saying that a definition fits them, partly choosing to self-identify as part of group with people with something in common. But there is a definite sense in which the person has been asexual (as a sexual orientation) long before the find out about asexuality, and a sense in which they become asexual (as a self-identification). Understanding things like this, I see no reason to need an essentialist/social constructivist binary.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Dargon » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:15 pm

pretzelboy wrote:...I see that a lot of people seem to believe that they are born asexual and that sexual orientation for everyone is something people are born with (despite the fact that there is conclusive proof that this is wrong).


Source please?

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Shockwave » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:06 pm

pretzelboy wrote:I see that a lot of people seem to believe that they are born asexual and that sexual orientation for everyone is something people are born with (despite the fact that there is conclusive proof that this is wrong).


Be careful with your phrasing, pretzelboy. Conclusive proof is a fallacy. It even doesn't exist in the hard sciences, let alone the social sciences. The best you can get is strong evidence that supports a theory. And the reason there are still so many theories out there is because most, if not all, of them are supported by strong evidence.

I think so many people subscribe to the idea that they were born asexual because in saying that they became that way as a result of outside influences you are also implying that they can be changed. That implication tends to weaken the argument that others should accept us for who we are not try to "fix" us.

I, myself believe that sexual orientation and most other personality traits are the product of nurture rather than nature but I know I will probably never be proven right (or wrong). However, I also believe that it is ultimately irrelevant how or why we turned out to be asexual. We are who we are and we should embrace the diversity inherent in the human condition.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby pretzelboy » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:51 pm

I probably worded things a bit too strongly. On the other hand, I think in this instance we do have conclusive proof. It is impossible to prove that A causes B. But we might have more luck with A doesn't cause B. I've been looking through the studies dealing with twins and sexual orientation, and they tend to find a strong correlation between the sexual orientation of identical twins. (It is a lot higher than that of non-identical twins.) Unfortunately, I don't understand a lot of the stats involved, but the data can easily be found on google (try "twin registry" and "sexual orientation"). However, if one twin is gay/lesbian, the other one is too is a lot less than a 100%. In this sense, I think it is safe to say that this "proves" that the statements "DNA determines sexual orientation" and "DNA, together with prenatal environment determines sexual orientation" are wrong. (You can never prove that all swans are white by induction, but it definitely is possible to prove that not all swans are white. All you have to do if find a black one.) This is all I had meant. All the data shows (or suggests) is that this point is that prenatal things strongly influence sexual orientation.

I realize that a lot of people take a lot of comfort in the idea that their sexual orientation is something they are born with. I think it comes from the (false dichotomy) between a) I was born this way b) I chose to be this way. We all know it wasn't b) My own view is that probably a combination of lots of prenatal factors along with our social development, experiences and environmental factors are the causes of sexual orientation (i.e. it's complicated). I don't know to what extent sexual orientation is changeable and to what extent it is fixed. Attempts to "cure" people's sexual orientation have not shown a lot of success, though they have shown a good amount of failure. And it seems that attempts to make asexuals into sexuals haven't fared much better. So I'm all for accepting ourselves as we are rather than trying to fit ourselves into molds we just don't fit into. It's just that I'm not so big on doing so with misunderstandings of what scientists have and have not found.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Shockwave » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:20 pm

Unfortunately, the fact that there is a less than 100% instance of identical twins having the same sexual orientation only supports the premise that it is not always genetically or prenatally determined. Having data like that to back up your argument makes it a lot stronger though. Just remember that strong statements can weaken an argument (as your swan analogy shows).

I also want to make it clear that I'm not trying to discount the substance of your argument, I'm merely offering constructive criticism on your style.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Mr. Paradox » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:00 am

pretzelboy wrote:If we modify "essentialist" to omit the seemingly metaphysical concept of an "asexual nature" with a psychological reality of the subjective experience of "little or no sexual attraction" and abandon any attempt to fit everyone neatly into an asexual/sexual binary, then I'm totally fine with having such an essentialist concept.

"Little or no sexual attraction" cannot be an essentialist criterion; it's far too wooly, and its meaning is completely subjective. It's a social constructivist definition in that it's a description of an asexual ideal type with which we can compare ourselves or others. Essentialist criteria would be things like, you are structurally incapable of arousal and/or orgasm; you have a specific genetic sequence causing this condition; X hormone is below a certain threshold; you are one of the chosen few with a pure soul. An "asexual nature" is in no way extricable from the essentialist approach, and for this reason an essentialist definition of a term cannot be reconciled with a social constructivist definition, which denies this to be the case.

But socially constructed criteria don't have to imply that we invented the phenomena we're trying to describe. There are still the same genetic, hormonal, environmental, and other variables which might be responsible for someone falling into the category we create, and statistically speaking some of these may strongly correlate with asexuality. It still leaves the possibility open that a person could trace the reasons for their asexuality back to birth, but they don't have to because there's nothing to prove. Asexuality is our concept to do with as we wish.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Dargon » Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:14 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/03/science/03cell.html

Musch simpler than human sexual behavior, but none the less does point to there being at least some genetic component.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Omnes et Nihil » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:51 pm

pretzelboy wrote:I probably worded things a bit too strongly. On the other hand, I think in this instance we do have conclusive proof. It is impossible to prove that A causes B. But we might have more luck with A doesn't cause B. I've been looking through the studies dealing with twins and sexual orientation, and they tend to find a strong correlation between the sexual orientation of identical twins. (It is a lot higher than that of non-identical twins.) Unfortunately, I don't understand a lot of the stats involved, but the data can easily be found on google (try "twin registry" and "sexual orientation"). However, if one twin is gay/lesbian, the other one is too is a lot less than a 100%. In this sense, I think it is safe to say that this "proves" that the statements "DNA determines sexual orientation" and "DNA, together with prenatal environment determines sexual orientation" are wrong. (You can never prove that all swans are white by induction, but it definitely is possible to prove that not all swans are white. All you have to do if find a black one.) This is all I had meant. All the data shows (or suggests) is that this point is that prenatal things strongly influence sexual orientation.


Several points addressing why scientists findings, whatever they may appear to be, might not be so clear-cut...
1) Identical twins may share a placenta, and may develop in either 1 or 2 amniotic sacs. SO, prenatal environment might be similar, might be different.
2) Sometimes, environmental factors can "switch" genes on and off. A plant growing at the bottom of a mountain may have certain features while a genetically identical plant growing at the top of the mountain may have other features, but both of those sets of features may be completely 100% genetically determined. This is different from an "environment" argument, because genes restrict the possibilities. The plant might be blue or red, for instance, but it won't be yellow ever no matter what.

For these two reasons... especially since pre-natal environment (i.e. androgen exposure which would differ between separate amniotic sacs) is thought to be somehow linked in some way with sexual orientation... a significantly lower than perfect correlation DOES NOT conclusively prove anything about DNA and prenatal environment in twins.

3) There may be many genes associated with various aspects of whatever we happen to be talking about when we're talking about sexual orientation, with many different environmental on-off patterns.
4) Genes or combinations of genes may code for predispositions that need to be triggered by envionmental factors or other genes or...
5) How does "sexual orientation" measured in these epic twin studies? What operational definition is being used in these studies? It's probably not surprising that... there isn't a lot of agreement on how to determine someone's sexual orientation-- usually the best one can do is ask-- and there isn't a lot of agreement about what sexual orientation even is. Evidence that it is or isn't genetic? What is this "it" to begin with?
6) The possibility that we're dealing with genes for "homosexuality", "heterosexuality", "bisexuality" etc. as separate entities. That would throw a wrench into all these discussions.

For these other reasons, especially #5... a lot of the different studies can't necessarily be compared. We're not talking about apples and apples, we're talking apples and butternut squash. Goodness, if the "science" were all so clear and agreed upon, we might have to get down to the larger political issues as to why we're having all these nonsensical conversations and doing these nonsensical studies in the first place.

pretzelboy wrote:I realize that a lot of people take a lot of comfort in the idea that their sexual orientation is something they are born with. [...] It's just that I'm not so big on doing so with misunderstandings of what scientists have and have not found.


Even if we assume that
1) it makes sense to be looking for a gene for something that is historically and culturally contingent, and which has only existed a short time-- doing a twin study implies this belief, even if it's being referred to as evidence against genes AND
2) there IS conclusive evidence of something being or not being genetic...

We still have the problem that science itself bears the same biases as the people doing it.

Keep in mind that there was a time when there was "conclusive scientific evidence" for white supremacy and also for male supremacy. Despite popular belief, and the best efforts of scientists, science isn't objective. I think it can get very dangerous to forget that... despite the best of intentions.

Referring to "misunderstandings of what scientists have and have not found" and "conclusive evidence" for some origin of sexual orientation (because if there's conclusive evidence that it's not biological, then there's conclusive evidence that it's social in some capacity)... that's NOT a politically neutral thing. It can't be-- that's using science to talk politics.

Edit: Wow, I sound like I'm slamming you there. Not my intention. I don't always realise how things might sound until I come back to them. I've really got to watch that.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:31 pm

I generally try to refrain from absolutist statements involving total certainty, but I suppose I make an exception for when I am annoyed. I recall noting several years ago that in many discussions about the place of gay/lesbian people in society, it seems everyone knows with quite a bit of certainty what “makes people gay.” Those who believe that God’s plan is for sex to be enjoyed only in the context of marriage, defined as being between a man and a woman, frequently make confident assertions that people are gay because they grew up with a strong mother and a weak or absent father. Or it’s because they hate people of the opposite sex. Or it’s because they were sexually abused as children. But it is definitely because something bad happened to them to cause them to be in that broken state, and getting their broken sexuality fixed is part of the healing that God wants to do in their lives. Similarly, people who want gay men/lesbians to be accepted by society are frequently just as confident that they know what makes people gay or lesbian: they were born that way (or for those who want a religious bent to take away the previous group’s alleged presumption of a monopoly on religion, it’s because God made them that way). Maybe scientists haven’t found “the gay gene” yet, but we know they will. And when they do, our position will be vindicated/proved. Or maybe we don’t even need the scientists to find evidence; the fact that sexual orientation wasn’t a conscious choice proves that it must be determined before birth. What seemed clear to me, that that people’s views of the cause of homosexuality were essentially ad hoc “scientific” theories asserted to justify their own politics. I became skeptical of both.
Within this context, I gladly accepted data that indicated that genetics strongly influence, but do not determine sexual orientation: reality is a lot more complicated, it seemed, than anything that nicely fit anyone’s politics. Another strange fact: lots of people ask what makes some people gay, and now some people are asking what makes people asexual, but I don’t really anyone ever talking about (let alone make confident assertions about) what makes people bisexual (excluding the people who want to say that everyone is “born bisexual.”) Occasionally I have seen people ask what makes people straight.
Discussions of what causes asexuality generally assume that there are only 4 possible causes of asexuality. 1) people are born that way 2) low hormones 3) sexual repression for religious/cultural reasons 4) sexual victimization. Therefore, if we can eliminate 2-4 in any particular case (or in general), we have proved that someone is asexual because they were born asexual. It doesn’t matter if the discussion is done by asexuals, people who have heard about asexuality for the first time, doctors, sex therapists or whoever, with the exception of speculation in “Prevalence of asexuality in a probability sample” I have heard virtually no speculation on other options.
I’m also inclined to think that saying that someone is born X sexual orientation smacks of teleology. If we define sexual orientation as a stable pattern of sexual attraction, there is a definite sense in which no one has a sexual orientation until puberty (though it also seems obvious that development of a sexual orientation at puberty is strongly influenced by a variety of factors dealing with development before then, including prenatal development.) It may be possible that people’s brains are “wired” in such a way that all puberty has to do is flip the on switch, and that this wiring was set before birth. So far, the evidence isn’t there, which doesn’t stop people from making confident assertions about it to justify their own politics/identity

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Omnes et Nihil » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:08 pm

pretzelboy wrote: So far, the evidence isn’t there, which doesn’t stop people from making confident assertions about it to justify their own politics/identity


I absolutely agree with that.

The real question though is why people are looking for a "cause" of sexual orientation, or specific sexual orientations, to begin with. Proof or no proof is completely beside the point. [My rant was that if we're going to talk about scientific evidence, we should consider all the interpretations of the data... not just some that appear convienent. But I don't for a moment think that it is helpful-- or even makes sense-- to talk about scientific evidence surrounding the "causes" of sexual orientation. In fact, I think that argument is inherently problematic...]

Arguing that sexual orientation (of any kind) genetic / learned / socialised / set in the woomb / ordained by some higher power / otherwise caused... basically all boils down to accepting the premise: if people can be made heterosexual, they should be made heterosexual; and if people can't be made heterosexual, then society should accept everyone as they are.

It's a brilliant tactic to avoid challenging heteronormativity... because no matter what cause of sexual orientation people believe, and no matter what legal and social rights people believe people should have as a result, we're still protecting heterosexuality's pedestal.

Personally, I'd rather see that pedestal fall, and give people social and political rights regardless of whether their love for other people is caused by genes, their mother or the spaghetti monster.

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Re: Poston and Baumle 2005

Postby Shockwave » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:41 pm

Omnes et Nihil wrote:...caused by genes, their mother or the spaghetti monster.


Well, now we know the cause of ghosts' asexuality anyway...

You really shouldn't eat a god's offspring.