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Orientation or Lifestyle?


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#1 Ziffler

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 02:07 AM

This is probably discussed elsewhere, but I thought it would be a good topic to discuss between us old folks. Not that younger people can't add their thoughts as well, cause you can. But since we lived our asexual lives when there wasn't anything called asexuality except in biology class with worms, we have come to understand ourselves in a different context than the younger generation.

I think maybe the younger folks want asexuality to be an orientation so they have a nitch in society. I know when I was young, I wanted a nitch. I wanted to belong. Back then there wasn't anything like asexuality as an organization or group of individuals. We existed but we didn't know anyone else like us existed. We were alone. Now, asexuals are discovering each other. We are not alone in the universe. For us older asexuals, over time, we just got to where we accepted ourselves as who we are even though we didn't have a name for it. The younger generation now, has a name, and they are identifying with that label so they can have fellowship and not be alone.

My question is simple, but I don't think the answer is all that simple. Is asexuality an orientation or a lifestyle or both or something even different from those?

Being an older asexual, I have never considered it a sexual orientation, but a lifestyle. I am also a nudist, and nudism is a lifestyle. But one could classify nudism as an orientation also if one tried hard enough. I have always enjoyed being nude, all the way back to a little boy. I feel free and natural when I am nude. I enjoy being with other nudists and sharing the commonality of our nudism. Being a nudist comes from deep inside me. Whether or not I go nude, doesn't change the fact that inside me I consider myself a nudist and enjoy nudism. Sort of sounds like an orientation right? But it is a lifestyle, right?

I feel the same with asexuality. I have always been asexual, since I was a little boy. I enjoy not having sex. I like being with other asexuals, online anyways, not been with any in real life, that I know of, and sharing the commonality of our asexuality. Whether or not I choose to have sex doesn't change the fact that I am asexual. So is asexuality an orientation or is it a lifestyle?

Catholic Priests and Nuns live an asexual lifestyle, even though they aren't asexual, because of vows of abstinence. People such as I are virgins because we never wanted to have sex, and thus asexuals living an asexual lifestyle.

I don't know the answer. It's another reason I joined AVEN. I am interested in other peoples ideas as to just what is asexuality?

#2 gbrd143

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 03:08 AM

Well, just to clear up some confusion, the lifestyle of living without sex is celibacy, not asexuality. Not all asexuals are celibate and not all celibates are asexual, even though there is sure to be some overlap.

Asexuality is having no sexual interest in people of any sex or gender. It isn't a voluntary decision to abstain from sex, either for religious reasons, lack of opportunity, fear of intimacy, or etc.

There was mention of the possibility that asexuality might become a lifestyle at some point, but it would be pretty hard for it to be visible. (There were jokes about meetups in local libraries or bookstores.) Single people don't attract a huge amount of notice, aside from some curiosity and the inevitable matchmaker wannabes. Couples living together are normally assumed to be sexual regardless of their sexes, unless perhaps a visitor happens to takes note of totally separate bedrooms.

The reason asexuality has been classified as an orientation is because it is the easiest way to get people to understand that it isn't a voluntary choice. Also, the other minority sexual orientations are currently getting a lot of attention and we are able to capitalize on that to some extent.

It fits on a very simple spectrum:
Sexually attracted to all sexes and genders. (pansexual)
Sexually attracted to both men and women. (bisexual)
Sexually attracted to the opposite sex. (heterosexual)
Sexually attracted to the same sex. (homosexual)
Sexually attracted to neither sex. (asexual)

I hope this makes sense ... I'm running on fumes today.
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#3 mackat5

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 03:10 AM

Lifestyle or orientation? I don't know. For me, it's just who I became because of what happened to me when I was a child. If I had any sexual desire at all, I closed down after the second rape. I did for years consider myself to be "straight" mainly because I liked to look at good looking men. It took me many years to realize that even though I liked to look, I didn't want to do anything. In fact, if a fellow had asked me out, I would have run in fear the other direction!!!

I'll be 64 this year, and never had sex at all. What happened to me wasn't sex, so I have nothing to compare to decide what the answer might be. For me, it is just who I am. I don't even usually talk about sex with most men, because I still have this fear to deal with. But I will be quick to tell sexuals that it is an orientation, because it's the easiest way to tell them about where I am in life. It's the elderly ladies who often don't understand me.

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#4 Nero laughed

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 03:24 AM

Greybird has made a lot of sense and clarification which I can agree with. I feel it is my orientation (which I was ignorant of) that has affected my lifestyle all these years.
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#5 cijay

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 03:56 PM

The way I see it (and repeat I see it) is that there are people (with the orientation) of asexuality but the style they're living their lives is that of a family with parent/s people ASSUME are sexually involved and their children...so I'll say they're living the 'sexual' lifestyle. Any of my parents or grandparents could be asexual (orientation) but were living the 'sexual' lifestyle in order to have their children...and just because it was expected.

I always felt that asexuality is my orientation AND my lifestyle (the style in which I lead my life) but it's not necessarily so with others.
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#6 Ziffler

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Posted 20 May 2006 - 09:00 PM

Greybird....

Sexually attracted to all sexes and genders. (pansexual)
Sexually attracted to both men and women. (bisexual)


Okay!

I'm gonna show my ignorance here:

But arent they the same?

If there are more than 2 genders, please let me know cause I have missed something somewhere?

#7 Aeriel

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 11:05 AM

There are definitely more than two genders (in this instance, by 'gender' I mean only the physical markers of sex). There are intersexed people and androgynes, just to give a couple of examples. There are people with AIS and PAIS (androgen insensitivity syndrome and partial androgen insensitivity syndrome) who appear female in most respects but are genetically male, carrying an XY chromosome.

Here's a fascinating gender-bending story:
http://www.medhelp.o...ories/jane2.htm

If you expand the meaning of 'gender' to encompass more than simply the possession of a certain set of sexual organs, gender becomes a spectrum, with males on one end and females on the other.

There is tons of info about this on the net; here's just one site that might be useful:
http://web.uvic.ca/~...HowMany.html#TS

I got interested in this a while back, before I realized I was asexual, trying to find, as you say, a niche where I fit.
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#8 Spaghetti Munster

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 01:59 PM

Quite true, Aeriel. :)

There is a continuum between male and female regarding physical aspects (such as being intersexed, or "IS"), as well as a different continuum between gender roles (acting as male or female), and yet there is another for gender identity (how one views themselves as being male or female, masculine or feminine, and anywhere in between).

And since sometimes, for instance with transgendered and especially transsexual people, it might be difficult to determine if one should be labeled heterosexual or homosexual or whatnot. So, here are two more terms:

Androphilic: attracted to males (regardless of who you are)

Gynephilic: attracted to females (regardless of who you are)


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#9 Ziffler

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 10:29 PM

WOW!!!!! I'm learning so much on this one thread.

You people have been studying things I never thought of looking into.

Ok, I posted this on another thread someplace, I think it was on a welcome thread but I want to put it here, cause it's how I view things.

Right or wrong, it's how I see things. I am always open to learn and change my views as I prove them wrong or need to be clarified.

I claim that I am non-sexual. On AVEN that means asexual. I still don't like that term, mainly because in biology class way back in the dark ages, asexual meant something totally different than not interested in sex. :D

Okay. I see orientation and sexualness as seperate things.

Orientation is who or what you are attracted to. I have to include "what" because there are some people that are attracted to animals sexually. Gives me the creeps but hey, we are who we are.

Sexualness is the level of desire for sex that a person has.

Both of these are my definitions.

Okay, I see things on these two lines.

Heterosexual--------------------Bisexual--------------------Homosexual

Sexual---------------------------------------------------------Non-sexual

Top line being orientation and bottom line being sexualness.

Top line can be anywhere on that line as to who you are attracted to. Not sexually necessarily but attracted to in general. Who are the people that make you turn around twice to look at.

Bottom line is the desire to have sex. From very strong at one end to no desire at all on the other.

Using both lines to indentify yourself, one can be a heterosexual with strong desire for sex to no desire for sex. One can be a homosexual with a strong desire for sex to no desire for sex. One can be partially homosexual and partially heterosexual with a strong desire to no desire for sex.

I believe that most people fit around the middle of both lines. They are more attracted to one gender over the other but are interested to some degree in both genders. Every now and again they find someone of the opposite gender and same gender that they find attractive. At the same time, I think most people fit somewhere in the middle of the sexualness line. Some feel more desire for sex than others but most have some desire with a few at the extreme ends with either more desire than they can control or no desire at all.

For me, I find myself in the middle of the top line. I find both female and male individuals that I find attractive for whatever reason or the other. On the bottom line, I am all the way to the non-sexual end. I have no desire for sex whatsoever and never had. I wouldn't even do sex to please someone I liked a lot.

That's why I have a problem with asexuality being an orientation. I see why it's classified as an orientation. So it fits into the grand scheme of things. But I don't see where it fits on the top line. Unless there are a group of people out there that find NO gender attractive. Then they would be the true asexuals. But thus far, I haven't found anyone that says they don't see anyone as attractive to them.

Okay, scholars. Time for you to shoot holes in my ideas.

I'm ready to learn some more.

#10 gbrd143

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 03:14 AM

No need to shoot any holes in your ideas at all - you are perfectly describing the origins of the AVEN symbol!

The horizontal axis is for the range between homosexual and heterosexual.
The vertical axis is for the range between wanting sex all the time and wanting it never.

The bottom part of the triangle is for those who don't want sex at all and then it gradually blends into the top part because all aspects of sexuality tend to blend across a spectrum. A lot of our AVEN members fall into the grey area, but they would still be considered predominantly asexual, just as a person who is almost always sexually attracted to their own sex would be considered predominantly gay.

It's all about who you are SEXUALLY attracted to. Asexuals are sexually attracted to nobody, regardless of their gender or physical sex.

Now, there are OTHER kinds of attraction that can come into play for asexuals, but they aren't sexual in nature.
For instance, I am emotionally attracted to androgynous people, almost always men, but there have been a few exceptions. I have gradually figured out that my attraction to people is based on their gender rather than their sex.
I had no clue that this was the case until I came to AVEN.
I never knew that I was a male instead of a female mentally. Such a concept never even occured to me until I took a gender test. Then I took several just to see if it was true and they all matched. :shock:

Talk about a "DOH" reaction! It explained SO many things that had never quite made sense to me.

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#11 Ziffler

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 03:21 AM

Asexuals are sexually attracted to nobody, regardless of their gender or physical sex.


I like that. That has always been a truth in my life.

Even though I am attracted to people of both genders, I am NOT sexually attracted to anyone.

I am so happy I didnt get shot down right off the bat! LOL.

It's hard on the self image. LOL.

#12 UnicornLady

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Posted 02 July 2006 - 07:56 AM

I'd say that for myself, A is an aspect of orientation. I would describe myself as bi-emotional (I can 'fall in love' emotionally with men or women), but asexual, in that I don't want to have sex with either. When I was younger, I wondered for some years if I was a lesbian, but while I did form an emotional attachment to a woman, I realised that, if opportunity occurred, I would no more want to have sex with her than I would with a man.

I still regard my asexuality as part of the spectrum of Queer identity in the sense of not being part of the hetero mainstream.
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#13 Rabger

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:49 AM

Asexuality is an orientation. Just like sexuality. There is the sexual orientation, and then the romantic orientation. Two different things. But, asexuality is def an orientation. If being sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex makes one of the hetero-sexual orientation, why wouldn't being sexually attracted to no sex not also be one?

#14 jay williams

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 04:02 AM

Asexuality is an orientation. Just like sexuality. There is the sexual orientation, and then the romantic orientation. Two different things. But, asexuality is def an orientation.


Yes! You are right. Well said!
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#15 Ziffler

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 01:27 PM

Ok, The waters are Muddy again........................................

Rabger wrote:
There is the sexual orientation, and then the romantic orientation.


A romantic orientation????????? What about a heterosexual who is romantic? Does that mean he/she is cross oriented?

Ok, here on AVEN there are men/women looking for relationships. Some with opposite gender and some with same gender. But they want a relationship and they are attracted to a gender. That in my book gives them an orientation of heterosexual or homosexual. Otherwise a dog or cat would provide the relationship just as completely and for some people they do.

I'm not saying that asexuality isn't an orientation. I don't know. But I don't believe using the logic that if being attracted sexually is an orientation then not being attracted sexually must be an orientation also.

I definately can't see how being romantic can be an orientation. Of course, I have never had a romantic day in my life. But I know people that are very romantic and they are sexuals.

I am attracted to certain people of both genders. I don't know why certain people excite me, but when I see them, I get flustered and have a strong desire to meet them and get to know them. That would make me bisexual.

But I never act upon that desire. I'm not romantic. I don't want a sexual relationship. And frankly, I don't want any relationship. That makes me asexual or really messed up. lol.

So, as I read the posts at AVEN and on this thread, and hear of all the different ideas of asexuality and what is and what isn't an orientation, or what people want to be orientations, I get really confused. And that is why I don't like labels. They put you in a box that doesn't fit.

Okay, Thanks to everyone for posting in this thread. I am learning. It is interesting to hear peoples views on what is an orientation, a lifestyle, a condition or just is.

Thanks.

#16 Spaghetti Munster

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 03:29 PM

The views on sexuality are as varied as the number of people who discuss it.

Pertinent to this thread, one might separate romance from sex. Romance itself can be a wonderful thing, and one can feel romance for or be romatic with a person (of any gender) and really not have sex be a part of it.

Perhaps as humans evolved, romance and the subsequent coitus often go together as generally expected such that they are percieved as being part of the whole human mating ritual.

But some of us (asexuals) are rather turned off by the sex act, yet can crave and enjoy romance.

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#17 Calla_Lily

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Posted 04 July 2006 - 10:33 PM

[quote="Kelly Kelly"]
But some of us (asexuals) are rather turned off by the sex act, yet can crave and enjoy romance.


*nods wildly in agreement*
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#18 Rabger

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Posted 06 July 2006 - 08:59 PM

A romantic orientation????????? What about a heterosexual who is romantic? Does that mean he/she is cross oriented?


It's really not that complicated. EVERYONE has 2 orientations, sexual and romantic. Your average hetero-sexual would technically be a hetero-sexual hetero-romantic, meaning that they are sexually and romantically attracted to someone of the opposite sex. But just because someone is capable of sexual feelings doesn't mean they are capable of romantic. There are hetero-sexual a-romantics out there but few people in the world recognize this. But in this example, hetero-sexual is just describing 1 orientation, sexual. When people use this they generally mean both, either because its just easier to say or because they don't know any better. But there is a huge difference.

I have a friend that considers herself a lesbian, but for years she was confused as to whether or not she was bi, because of the stupid ridged labels of our society. See, what she really is, and when she explained herself to me and I gave her this label, she was so excited because it fit so well, is a bi-sexual homo-romantic. What this means is that she is sexually attracted to both sexes (although moreso to women), but is only romantically attracted to women. Because of this she considers herself a lesbian to be simple.

Ok, here on AVEN there are men/women looking for relationships. Some with opposite gender and some with same gender. But they want a relationship and they are attracted to a gender. That in my book gives them an orientation of heterosexual or homosexual.


I am asexual, and I'm a little insulted that you are saying otherwise. I am homo-asexual, NOT homo-sexual. If you want to be technical you could call this asexual homo-romantic. A homo-asexual label is just a simplier term, since, if you are homo, but also asexual, in that you don't experience any sexual attraction but as still attracted to the same sex, that attraction must therefore be romantic in nature. But I am not sexual by any means. Calling me a homo-sexual is just wrong and insulting. Insulting simply because I'm not. Wrong as I just explained.

Otherwise a dog or cat would provide the relationship just as completely and for some people they do.


Animals are often like children to a person, they are their family, great friends and supports. But rarely is there a romantic attraction involved. If there are, that's considered a type of fetish I believe, which is usually sexual but can be romantic in nature. I think perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, as you seem to be implying that sexual orientation is by far the most important, and romantic feelings are rather irrelevant, or that they are commonly directed toward pets (which as far as I know is rare in a romantic sense). Just because someone loves someone, that doesn't mean its romantic. It doesn't mean that anyone they love is added into their orientation.

I'm not saying that asexuality isn't an orientation. I don't know. But I don't believe using the logic that if being attracted sexually is an orientation then not being attracted sexually must be an orientation also.


If the entire purpose of "hetero-sexual" is that they are sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, and this sexual attraction is what designates their orientation, then I do not see why you disagree that the orientation of asexuality is not an orientation. A sexual orientation is about sexual attraction. Asexuality is a sexual orientation. It is about sexual attraction. But where hetero- is implying an opposite sex sexual attraction, asexual is simply implying a no sex sexual attraction. You can't say one thing makes an orientation and the same thing with a very mild difference doesn't.

I definately can't see how being romantic can be an orientation. Of course, I have never had a romantic day in my life. But I know people that are very romantic and they are sexuals.


I've already explained that. But, if you have any questions regarding it, please ask. I'll try to address it more thoroughly. Being sexual and romantic isn't a conflict of interest.

I am attracted to certain people of both genders. I don't know why certain people excite me, but when I see them, I get flustered and have a strong desire to meet them and get to know them. That would make me bisexual.


That would make you bi-sexual only if you are sexually attracted to them. Are you? If you are, that's fine. But then realize that this would make you a sexual, not asexual. It sounds like it would be more of a romantic nature, and I understand that if you don't really know the person, this might not seem very romantic. However, romantic feelings range just as sexual do, from very weak to very strong. On that note, others have proposed a 3rd orientation, the affectionate orientation. This has been used when someone is unable or unwilling to make a clear distinction between friendship and romantic feelings.

We don't know what pulls us toward certain people. Hormones, the many types of attractions (sexual, romantic, intellectual, aesthetic, etc), personalities, etc. It's not always simple, but its also not always sexual.

But I never act upon that desire. I'm not romantic. I don't want a sexual relationship. And frankly, I don't want any relationship. That makes me asexual or really messed up. lol.


When you use the word desire, it doesn't sound like you mean sexual desire (sexual desire is the desire to engage in some sort of sexual activity). This may really complicated things, but some asexuals do experience sexual attraction. Which is why I think the current def of asexuality needs to be tweeked. However, what they and all asexuals lack if primary sexual desire (sometimes in a relationship, asexuals may desire to please their partners sexually. This is secondary sexual desire. Primary is when the sexual aspect is self centered. As in, to whatever extent, the person wishes sexual pleasure). To the point, it sounds like you are not talking about this type of sexual desire, and if youre not, that would probably make you asexual. But please keep in mind that just because someone is romantic, that does not mean that they want a sexual relationship. And just because you may be attracted to someone in one way, that does not mean that it has to be sexual or romantic in nature.

So, as I read the posts at AVEN and on this thread, and hear of all the different ideas of asexuality and what is and what isn't an orientation, or what people want to be orientations, I get really confused. And that is why I don't like labels. They put you in a box that doesn't fit.


I completely understand that, and thats why I don't care if someone chooses to use labels or not. But if you do, they have to be used correctly. The problem with most boxes, especially those about orientation, is that they are way too limited. For most of our culture, things were seen in a very simple, everyone is the same, bianary system. You had males/men and females/women. Sex and gender were the same (this isn't true, sex is biological whereas gender is mental, a construct of society). Men and women were ALL hetero-sexual. They were all sexually attracted to the opposite sex. They were all romantically attracted to the opposite sex, because you could not have romantic feelings without sexual. No exceptions. There was only one type of desire, attraction, interest. But as we explore sexuality, orientation, etc., we now find that this old way of thinking is not true. There is a huge range of feelings that can not be expressed with the current way of thinking. So we need to expand these terms, to separate them, to get to the real meaning and realize that not only are they not the same, but they don't have to be connected either. This is what I and others are trying to do. Not just create more boxes to stick people in, but to give people more options and perhaps a better understanding of themselves, so they can pick from the array of choices, to mix and match them to fit their individuality, instead of trying to shove themselves into pre-made boxes. One size does not fit all.

#19 jay williams

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 12:40 AM

Hey Rabger! That was one awesome rant!
Those who get pissed off by anything I say should just ignore anything I say. If anything I say appears to resemble an opinion, it was purely inadvertent. If it seems like I have said something meaningful, then it was purely by accident.

#20 Rabger

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Posted 07 July 2006 - 10:46 PM

Hey Rabger! That was one awesome rant!


Thank you. Thank you very much 8)

#21 PollyB

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 07:31 PM

I've been thinking for days about jumping into this one, but every time somebody else brings in a new idea I think, hang on a minute... I do believe some of this is about subjective use of language. The human race is many and rich and various, and I'm not sure there is a way of knowing, outside our own experience, how a sexual or romantic attraction feels to another person. I am still attracted in one way or another to other women (but, like Unicorn Lady, have finally realised I don't want sex with them, although I have assumed I was lesbian in every way in the past). It was complicated for me by feminist politics, although I was never a "political lesbian" in the sense of a 1970s feminist who consciously decided to be lesbian.

As to the original question, even after the term "sexual orientation" had been devised, debate raged furiously among lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and other queers, for decades, and still does, about whether orientation was also a choice, in other words whether it is the product of culture, genetics, or some intricate combination of the two. I just think it is brilliant that we are endlessly discovering that we, the human race, are more complicated and more individual than we thought we were, which is why I still love identifying as queer. OK, I might have muddied the waters again, with thick London clay. Knew I wouldn't keep this cautious new girl attitude up for long!

#22 Rabger

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 08:01 PM

about whether orientation was also a choice, in other words whether it is the product of culture, genetics, or some intricate combination of the two.


Orientation is complex, there is no doubt about that. And everyone is different. But as a whole, I think what most people consider their orientations to be is a product of culture, though this is largely for hetero-sexuals. What do I mean by this? Simply that most hetero-sexuals aren't in all actuality, hetero-sexual, but that they follow this path and repress other thoughts or desires based on society. Why is this moreso based on hetero-sexuals? There is evidence, both in our own world history along with our closest living relatives, that humans are probably largely bi-sexual or pan-sexual. Society and custom seem to dictate what is deemed more proper, such as in our society its hetero-sexual, based pretty much on the simple fact that this is the combination for reproduction. But in other societies, other things are seemed more proper, in which case that deemed more proper is more wide-spread than hetero-sexuality, which is only allowed during certain times, specifically for breeding. Or the society is more accepting and open all together, and there is more of a vas array of partners of difference sexes and genders.

Why do I think this affects hetero-sexuals moreso in this particular society than, say, a-, bi-, or homo-sexuals? Because these are minorities, frowned upon, disagreed with. I think the person has to be open enough and have strong enough feelings in this direction (as each person is different) in order to accept themselves and "rebel" in a sense against the force that are trying to tell them they must be something else. If these non-hetero-sexual feelings are so strong that you can overcome the power of since-you-were-born mass social pressure and follow your heart, they must be true for you.

This is also the case for some hetero-sexuals, in that these feelings are more true for them. But evidence suggests that it is far fewer than those that actually believe themselves to be hetero-sexual. Orientation is not a choice, it is largely an ingrained part of who you are. But society is a powerful force, and humans are adaptable, social creatures. I believe that in any society, the majority orientation can not be true for all of the majority.

One more try to explain. Lets use the Kinsey Scale (as flawed as it is). 1 being 100% hetero-sexual and 6 being 100% homo-sexual. I mean this in a natural context and not social. If most humans fall between 3 or 4, for example, then most humans would be bi-sexual without outside influence. But society as a whole says you are supposed to feel as if you were a 1, these in the middle feelings may not be strong either way (for some people they are, I'm just making a basic general example), and so that person would unconsciously follow the status quo. If the person's feelings are a 5 or 6, then a 1 is much further away and much more against their true feelings, and so that person is less likely to be able to follow the status quo and feel happy or complete, because its much less a part of them naturally than if they were a 3 or 4. But even Kinsey said that few people fall on the far ends, and that includes a 1 as much as a 6.

#23 UnicornLady

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Posted 08 July 2006 - 09:20 PM

Rabger, Wordwitch:
Yes, I think culture has a lot to do with it: I know it's a clichÚ example, but just compare the expectation and idealisation of some kinds of gay male relationships in ancient Greek society with the extreme homophobia of other societies.

On the subject of 'political lesbians', oh struth... I remember feeling a distinct chill when a woman to whom I was attracted at university in the '80s said she thought she ought to be "more political". It meant I got the brush-off when she went for a walking Butch Stereotype (even to the dungarees!) who made most men look effeminate... The amusing thing was, I remembered the Butch Stereotype when she was a big-haired heterosexual in First Year: she'd done a Women's Studies course and come back as a 'political lesbian'! Even more ironically, when she was straight, she'd got off with a guy I'd found attractive in a drinking-coffee-and-talking-about-mediŠval-poetry way...[/i]
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#24 Rabger

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 08:03 PM

It meant I got the brush-off when she went for a walking Butch Stereotype (even to the dungarees!) who made most men look effeminate... The amusing thing was, I remembered the Butch Stereotype when she was a big-haired heterosexual in First Year: she'd done a Women's Studies course and come back as a 'political lesbian'


I'm a little dense, could you explain what you mean by "political lesbian"? I get the feeling you mean more than simply a lesbian into politics.

Speaking of lesbians, I used to go to the GLBT Center in my area and went to the Women's Group. Everyone was over 10 years older than I was. At least half of them where in hetero-marriages and finally coming out to themselves and others as lesbians. What I noticed was that some women, especially soon after they come out, try to set themselves into a stereotype because they feel they need to do this to BE a lesbian. I saw some women really trying to be butch, or at least andro, when it was obvious to everyone else that they were total femmes. It took a year or two before they finally stopped trying to be something they weren't, and realized that you can be femme or andro on your own, and still be gay.

I look like a stereotypical lesbian. It's not because I want to fit into a stereotype or anything, its simply who I am and what I looked like even before I came out. But while people may consider me to a butch when they first meet me, anyone that gets to know me finds out I'm really not. I consider myself to be a hard andro. I'm closer to the butchy side, but I can pull off at least some type of femme when I'm in the mood.

#25 PollyB

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 12:04 AM

No it was me that first tossed off the "political lesbian" phrase - comes from radical feminism of approx the early 1970s, in the UK anyway. It was a similar time to the situation you describe, Rabger - quite a lot of women leaving heterosexual situations including marriages, and coming out as lesbians - but the phrase implied that it could be done as an entirely conscious choice, the natural next step of radical (enough) feminism. Obviously some would have come out anyway and some others eventually went back in again.

#26 UnicornLady

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 10:28 PM

No it was me that first tossed off the "political lesbian" phrase - comes from radical feminism of approx the early 1970s, in the UK anyway. It was a similar time to the situation you describe, Rabger - quite a lot of women leaving heterosexual situations including marriages, and coming out as lesbians - but the phrase implied that it could be done as an entirely conscious choice, the natural next step of radical (enough) feminism.


Yes - that's exactly what the woman I was describing was like. She had been quite actively heterosexual in First Year, then went on a Women's Studies course, and came back a Butch Stereotype. What made me rather concerned about it was that she had apparently been seduced by a tutor, who by the sound of it thought it was part of her duties on the course... Not at all ethical, IMO.
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#27 Erita

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 02:12 AM

It's all about who you are SEXUALLY attracted to. Asexuals are sexually attracted to nobody, regardless of their gender or physical sex.

I have gradually figured out that my attraction to people is based on their gender rather than their sex.
I had no clue that this was the case until I came to AVEN.
I never knew that I was a male instead of a female mentally. Such a concept never even occured to me until I took a gender test. Then I took several just to see if it was true and they all matched. :shock:
-Greybird


OK, I'll bite. How can you be mentally male or female? I will admit that as a group, men have a tendency to think/act in certain ways, and so do women, but I've always had major trouble with the "Men and women are separate species" theory. To me, important as gender is, we are all human first and male or female second. Perhaps it's because I have some attributes that people would consider typically male, but I refuse to be told that I'm not a "real" woman! Also, in the context of personal attraction, what is the difference between sex and gender? I'm confused! Thanks for answering - I'd really like to know! :)

#28 Erita

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 02:50 AM

A romantic orientation????????? What about a heterosexual who is romantic? Does that mean he/she is cross oriented?


OK, this one I understand. I love social history, and if you look back at the 19th century, especially, a nice/respectable/normal/natural (pick your adjective) woman was supposed to fall romantically in love without being at all interested in sex, while a man was always supposed to be interested in sex and only romantic as a secondary thing. Have you ever heard the expression "Women use sex to get love; men use love to get sex"?

Likewise, at Versailles during Marie Antoinette's time, it was considered fashionable for women to have deeply emotional "romantic" friendships with other women, in which no sex was involved. Marie Antoinette had such a relationship with the Princesse de Lamballe (sp?) - i.e: pining for one's friend when separated too long, giving each other love tokens, swearing eternal devotion, etc.

In the late 19th and early 20th century at elite British "public" schools, boys were also expected to have very romantic friendships with each other. Looking back, we tend to see these as homosexual relationships, but according to most of those who had them, there was little if any actual sex involved. (For an example, see the relationship between Charles and Sebastian in Evelyn Waugh's famous novel, "Brideshead Revisited".) Two boys could have a romantic passion for each other that might even be spoiled if it got sexual, and those who had them almost always went on to marry women later in life and consider themselves 100% heterosexual. All this to say that "romantic" and "sexual" are not one and the same, and that people's ideas of sexual orientation and normal sexual development have varied greatly in different times and places!

Once useful adjective I've learned here at AVEN is "a-romantic", meaning someone who is not romantically attracted to anyone, the same way they are not sexually attracted to anyone. A person can be heterosexual and romantic, homosexual and romantic, heterosexual and a-romantic, homosexual and a-romantic, a-heterosexual and romantic, a-homosexual and romantic, or asexual and a-romantic. Have I confused you enough yet? :wink:

#29 gbrd143

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 03:14 AM

OK, I'll bite. How can you be mentally male or female? I will admit that as a group, men have a tendency to think/act in certain ways, and so do women, but I've always had major trouble with the "Men and women are separate species" theory. To me, important as gender is, we are all human first and male or female second. Perhaps it's because I have some attributes that people would consider typically male, but I refuse to be told that I'm not a "real" woman! Also, in the context of personal attraction, what is the difference between sex and gender? I'm confused! Thanks for answering - I'd really like to know!


To put it very simply - sex is between your legs.
Gender is between your ears.

There are notable gender differences in both thinking and behavior. Most of them are pretty well known and they lead to a lot of the typical misunderstandings that occur between men and women. (Also a lot of the humor! :lol: )

Men typically focus on tasks rather than relationships. Ask a man who is a parent to describe himself and he will probably first tell you what he does for a living. Ask a woman the same thing and she will probably first tell you about her family.
Men tend to want to solve their own problems whereas women prefer the committee approach. Etc, etc ...

These are just a couple of examples, and of course they are very much based on stereotypes. Very few people are entirely polarized into only one gender, but the majority are at least mostly of the gender that matches their physical sex. I'm not. I'm not entirely male-minded by any means, but I am very bewildered by a lot of typically female thought and behavior. I can't identify with it at all. Men are much easier for me to understand and I have identified with them more than with women since my very early childhood.

I happen to be drawn to people who, like myself, are not strongly polarized into either male or female genders. To me it just feels more comfortable to be around people who are perfectly willing to be seen as eccentric or strange. There is nothing sexual about it. It's just a feeling of companionship and compatibility.
"Normal" people are just so discouragingly .... normal. :?

I hope I haven't offended any normal people. :shock:
That is, if any should ever happen to read this! :lol:

(Note: If I ever call you normal, you should consider yourself insulted!)

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#30 Rabger

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 12:30 PM

I happen to be drawn to people who, like myself, are not strongly polarized into either male or female genders.


I agree. I myself identify as hard andro, and for those that don't know what that means, "andro" means equally masculine and feminine while adding the "hard" means slightly more masculine. So basically, I'm maybe 60% masculine and 40% feminine. As of late, I've been wondering if lesbian terms such as these could actually be used as genders more than the basic "man" and "woman" thing, which could also be used purely to give an estimated age or stage of development for a sex. As in, my sex is female, and I'm a woman in that I've passed through puberty and am fully developed biologically, but my gender is hard andro.

To Erita, I agree with what Greybird said in that sex is what's between your legs and gender is what's between your ears. But to add onto that, sex is biological such as XX or XY genes which governs which genials you'll have. But gender is largely a social construct, which means what makes a man or a woman differs depending on the society. There are some biological differences mentally, true, but they are not nearly as far apart as our society wants people to believe, and they are far from universal as in ALL males or females will have this biological mentality. Societies encourage different attributes for the sexes, such as insisting first and foremost that sex and gender should match, male with men and female with women, no mixing and nothing inbetween. That's stupid, but that's how it tries to make us see things. Bianary. In many cases, biological mental attributes are taken and encouraged to the extremes. We create our own gender roles, not because this is just how men and women really are, but because this is how the society thinks they should be. An example is that we encourage men to be aggressive and competetive whereas women should be gentle and sensitive. If someone doesn't naturally fit into this, we try to train them to be this way. And to those people that do naturally fit into this, we still encourage them to be more extreme than they may really be.

Stereotypes and gender roles SUCK.




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