A rose by any other name?

It’s too easy to point at this kind of thinking, shake our heads and mutter, “…and this is why you got Brexit and Trump”. The thing is with clichés is that they are obviously based on an observable phenomenon other people can see as clearly as the person offering it. Whether or not the pithy cliché is completely accurate or not isn’t the point; there’s something true within the theme.

Witness this outstanding article by Brandon Ambrosino;

The invention of ‘heterosexuality’.

Before you click that link, a warning; it’s a 3,000+ word essay, so have a comfortable seat and a hot beverage ready if you’re planning on reading it.

A good rule to apply before reading anything on any subject is to consider the motivation of the writer when creating the content. This rule is particularly relevant to articles about sex in “news” media. My personal view is that these can be broken down into broad categories of;

1. Designed for prurient titillation – most stories about the sex lives of celebrities fall into this bucket,
2. Medical/informative – a new treatment for an STD, for example. There can be quite an overlap with category (1) at the same time, though, and
3. Persuasive – this is a variation on Sailer’s First Law of Female Journalism. Put simply, “you normies are doing it wrong and, if only you would find me hot, you’d be so much happier and a better person”. Hence the current swathe of opinion pieces explaining how straight men are being transphobic for not getting aroused by men in dresses.

Guess which category Brandon’s BBC essay fall into?

An early clue can be found as to the motivation of the article;

“Sex has no history,” writes queer theorist David Halperin at the University of Michigan, because it’s “grounded in the functioning of the body.” Sexuality, on the other hand, precisely because it’s a “cultural production,” does have a history. In other words, while sex is something that appears hardwired into most species, the naming and categorising of those acts, and those who practise those acts, is a historical phenomenon, and can and should be studied as such.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it? The “queer theorist’s” statement that sexuality is a “cultural production” is accepted as fact and remains completely unchallenged for the remainder of the article.

Everything that then follows is built upon that foundation;

Or put another way: there have always been sexual instincts throughout the animal world (sex). But at a specific point in time, humans attached meaning to these instincts (sexuality). When humans talk about heterosexuality, we’re talking about the second thing.

We then have a potted history about the invention of the terms “heterosexual” and “homosexual”, chucking in reference to another term invented at the same time, “heterogenit”, which was a synonym for bestiality. Because shagging animals is such a normal part of life’s rich tapestry that it needs a less pejorative term, doesn’t it?

One could be excused for wondering at this point whether the article’s headline could be amended to “The invention of the word ‘heterosexuality’’ and result in a much shorter opinion piece?

But of course, we know where this is going….

“Normal” is a loaded word, of course, and it has been misused throughout history. Hierarchical ordering leading to slavery was at one time accepted as normal, as was a geocentric cosmology. It was only by questioning the foundations of the consensus view that “normal” phenomena were dethroned from their privileged positions.

Normal” in my world describes the frequent naturally-occurring version of something. I’m not aware of a radically-different meaning universally-accepted by English speakers. If that makes the adjective “loaded”, we’ve not got much common ground on which we can converse.

Subsequent paragraphs continue to convince us that commonly-understood nouns and adjectives have a different meaning to those we previously thought. Everything you hold as true is wrong, is a theme we are being told, for example;

Socially, too, heterosexuality is losing its “high ground,” as it were. If there was a time when homosexual indiscretions were the scandals du jour, we’ve since moved on to another world, one riddled with the heterosexual affairs of politicians and celebrities, complete with pictures, text messages, and more than a few video tapes. Popular culture is replete with images of dysfunctional straight relationships and marriages. Further, between 1960 and 1980, Katz notes, the divorce rate rose 90%. And while it’s dropped considerably over the past three decades, it hasn’t recovered so much that anyone can claim “relationship instability” is something exclusive to homosexuality, as Katz shrewdly notes.

Sure, being outed as gay was a scandal in the past…..perhaps because it was illegal?
Heterosexual affairs by the rich and famous are scandals….. perhaps because the participants are rich and famous?
Affairs, in general, are scandalous…..perhaps because they are evidence of a failure of trust and human nature is to be shocked by this?

Let’s cut to the main message, found in the final paragraph. Clearly this isn’t a category 1 or 2 article about sex, it’s a “please find me hot” category 3. What is it the writer is trying to convince us to do that we currently frustrate him by refusing to?

The line between heterosexuality and homosexuality isn’t just blurry, as some take Kinsey’s research to imply – it’s an invention, a myth, and an outdated one. Men and women will continue to have different-genital sex with each other until the human species is no more. But heterosexuality – as a social marker, as a way of life, as an identity – may well die out long before then.

Bill’s Opinion

This article was paid for by the British taxpayer. They have paid for someone to explain to them that they are having the wrong kind of sex.

The reason they are having the wrong kind of sex is because, according to Critical Theory, as hinted at by the “queer theorist”, we are born with no inherent qualities. Everything we desire and act upon is a result of societal factors. We are empty vessels, tabula rasa, and if only we could start again, we could build a utopia where everyone would be happy to stick their bits into anyone or anything.

You can believe that to be true.

I don’t believe it to be true and my evidence is my existence; an inherent desire to put their bits into members of the opposite sex for thousands of preceding generations, predating language and recognisable societal groups has resulted in my birth. If that innate desire didn’t exist and was simply a result of a social construct, how did the society come into existence in the first place?

5 Replies to “A rose by any other name?”

  1. Your sales pitch lead in to reading it just didn’t get me over the line enough to click it.

    So I will have to accept your assessment of same. Apart from your summary, I guess he has also discovered the gay gene or some other scientific pink breakthrough to justify the voluminous nature of his thesis.

    1. That’s the logical flaw though, isn’t it? If there IS a “gay gene”, or more likely a complex combination, then sexuality can’t be a societal construct. People are born that way.

      If people are born that way we can’t be whateverphobic for finding one group attractive and another not so.

      Critical Theory has this huge logic problem which we are seeing battle out in real time.

      1. It’s all too hard for me to explain why I think that this stuff is on the front page. And yes if what you said above was the case, then we would have much more reason to pay attention to the findings and they would be front page material.

        Until then it’s just another from of activism in my view.

  2. It is possible to explain the existence of our host with the consideration that his forebears liked to put their bits in anything. Including occasionally the intentional or accidental replication of their genes via what we now know as heterosexual activity. They were probably just horny buggers (heh) seeking a port in a storm.

    If we embrace the power of “and” in this situation, you can be both homosexual and heterosexual in the modern vernacular, pass your genes on, and not be categorised (or even stigmatised) as either at various points in history.

    I am not sure you are saying you have to be exclusive, but you can be both. The labelling is a modern human practice – with evidence that it has been at various stages either cool, or uncool going back several thousands of years. Neanderthals were probably less picky, but l am struggling to find a written opinion to support this.

    It is a little late on a Friday for absolute clarity of thoughts my part, but we may be in agreement here.

    1. “….. his forebears liked to put their bits in anything”.

      I didn’t realise the Islington Walkabout had been open for so long.

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