I’d have never known about this — I don’t have a t.v. — except I happened to be over at a friend’s house playing Cards Against Humanity (waaaaaat, I did back Exploding Kittens, but it isn’t out yet, deal with it), and they had the half-hour infomercial about Jenner on.
I give ABC props for trying. There was a lot of weird hangups, like the stunned disbelief that Jenner can be transsexual and Republican. (What, didn’t you know that gender defines everything?) But they missed the big elephants in the room. And there’s two of them.
This is a more serious post, so no snarky pictures. Probably. I’m a jackass; snarking will probably still sneak in around the edges. Also, this is a really complicated topic about which people can and have written not just books, but volumes. So inevitably things are going to be overlooked.
I see it like this: the average person doesn’t think much. And certainly not rigorously. This is not an insult — most of the things we do on a given day, even supposedly “Brain Things,” don’t actually need much thought – accreted skills and habits and pattern recognition are good enough, and that’s more efficient than sitting down from abstract first principles to reason things out. Most of the time when we believe that we’re thinking, we’re actually just reacting anyway, as data (x) is shoved through pattern recognition filter (y), and we somehow come up with an answer to complex questions in less time than it takes to sip coffee, all of which can essentially be boiled down to “Yeah, I like it,” or “No, that’s garbage.”
Did you do that? If I said “Vox Day thinks that homosexuality is a birth defect. Do you agree?” If you already have an answer and you haven’t even finished the next sentence yet, you’re not thinking. You’re reacting. Actual thinking takes more time than that.
Because we’re not computers, and working this way is how we avoid getting eaten by panthers or ingesting rotten food.
And yeah, that’s me, too. So when people are in their clueless teen years as full adults who don’t have the experience to have a really rocking pattern-recognition “Oh, I’ve seen bad people like this before,” or “oh, I’ve seen this before, we can’t go here or I’m going to accidentally hurt this person,” they need rules in order to keep themselves from driving themselves into a ditch.
I hurt people in high school. I know people in college who considered me abusive. I didn’t mean to be. In fact, personality-wise, I was pretty much a hyper-yin doormat from hell. If anything, what I needed to be was more forthright, less circumspect, and more properly aggressive in pursuing my goals, so that people knew where I stood and that I was sincere, rather than seeing circumspection and assuming bad intention. And this stuff happened because me and the people I was with were all clueless and sort of figuring this shit out as we went….. with each other…. recipe for disaster.
(Possibly a good argument for dating out of your age range for a while. Cougars and DOM rejoice.)
And societies at large are not interested in the true fulfillment of its individuals, but rather in whatever situation creates the greatest number of basically well-adjusted children. When societies fail to do this, they go extinct, and are usually taken over by the less “enlightened” who had their evolutionary shit together. Nobody reads Avar poetry any more. Word is, they were kinda rockin people. But… no kids. They’re gone. So we got this evolved set of rules. They don’t always make a lot of sense, they don’t suit all the various flavors of humanity, and sometimes, by creating “forbidden fruit syndrome,” they undermine the basic ideas they were created to ensure.
Now we say “hey, we’ve got the basic rules down, we’re good at this,” and are trying to figure out how to expand it so we can have our cake and eat it, too.
Elephant #1. We do a crappy job at being kid-friendly. Including things like trying to take your kids away for letting them walk home from the playground. Our society gives a lot of lip-service to kids while actually being profoundly hostile to them.
Okay, but that’s not the specific elephant I want to address in Today’s Wall of Text.
Elephant #2: Those of us who think of ourselves as Good People need to find a way to Have Societal Rules That Work For Everybody
So. We have sex. Sex is pretty much binary, with a specific and notable exception:
- (asexual – does not biologically exist, see gender)
- Gender Dysphoric (unknown/grey area: has wiring of A, perceives self as B. Filing under sex rather than gender, see below, because it has zero bearing on object of actual sexual desire)
Right now our society is pretty good with 1) and 2), and horrifyingly bad with #3 and #5.
We also have gender. Gender isn’t sex. Sex is biological, hardwired, predetermined. it is gradually becoming apparent to us, because of science, that gender is also biological, and may or may not be hardwired/predetermined.
This is a truly massive discovery which up-ends centuries of tradition, assuming, for lack of better evidence (because that’s how science works), that behavior is fundamentally a choice thing. And it is. But desire is not. Sexual desire is biological indeed.
Note to man-haters masquerading as feminists: that shoe fits on the other foot, too. Sorry. I’m a straight male, and I’m not attracted to heavy-set gals, let alone morbidly obese ones. I’m just not; it’s a visceral turn-off for me. And no amount of trying to shame and humiliate me by calling me “fat-phobic” is going to change that, any more than chanting at somebody in bad Latin is going to make a gay dude straight. Go find the chubby-chasers. They looooove those extra pounds, and they’ll be happy to let you know it.
So. We have Gender. Gender is all over the map, because if sexual desire has a biological basis, then this gets complicated fast:
- Heterosexual – naturally monogamous/”faithful” (desires ONE member of the opposite sex and could care less about the rest. Requires zero willpower to be monogamous: will never cheat because the concept actually makes no sense to this person)
- Heterosexual – naturally nonmonogamous (desires more than one member of the opposite sex. Maybe one or two people, maybe lots of people. Requires willpower in either mild to “I just can’t get there” quantities to be faithfully monogamous).
- Homosexual – monogamous
- Homosexual – non-monogamous
- Pansexual – (has potential desire for everyone)
- Asexual – (not attracted to anyone, feels no sexual desire at all)
- Pedophilia (a horrifying and tragic dysfunction most of us can’t even mention without instinctual apoplexy. Since kids by definition can’t consent and are therefore not partners, but victims – we have no child-friendly way of handling this and must isolate pedophiles from potential victims)
Then start thinking about actual tastes which drive your desire: preferred build? Big brain vs. Six-Pack Abs? ….and all of a sudden any chance we at Chez Happycrow had of making convenient tree-shaped charts turns into this frenzied bush of lines and confusion and three-dimensional Venn Diagrams and…
Well, shit. That’s why they have whole academic departments devoted to this thing. So, screw that. If we need an academic department to address it, we’ve gone too fine-grained. Let’s back up a step.
As a society, we automatically extend sympathy to Group #1. The members of Groups 2 we mostly extend sympathy to, so long as nobody’s getting their hearts broken or spreading diseases. (Hence the polyamory movement). The people in 3-6 (plus anybody I’ve overlooked) would like a little of that sympathy, too, and don’t think that being in a numerical minority disqualifies them from same.
That strikes me as entirely reasonable.
(Cat7 deserves sympathy, too. Imagine how that has got to suck. But since we’re still talking about a predatory impulse, it gets no mercy. We need to understand how desire works and find a way to reroute it before we can help these folks. But like swapping sex and/or species for a costume party, that belongs to science fiction for now.) Granted, some of the members of Groups 2-6 totally suck. That’s okay. Lots and lots of “normal” straight people suck, too. I’m much, much more concerned about whether somebody rocks, or whether somebody sucks, than about what category they belong to.
So let’s make a compromise:
- This is a new discussion for most of our civilization.
- Lots of us get uncomfortable with this stuff, for various reasons, and we need to grow up and deal with that. — Full disclosure, I’m not immune either. I get the squirms with transsexuals, myself. Not b/c of anything intellectual, and even less for any issue of personal merit, but because I have an unusually strong sense of smell, and they don’t smell right to me. The transsexual woman doesn’t smell like a woman to me, and that disconnect gives me the squeems (smell is visceral and largely subconscious). Yes, people who know Happycrow in real life, I can smell you. Deal with it. Point is, my discomfort should be my problem, not theirs.
- We’re going to screw up while we’re figuring out what rules actually work for everybody.
Let’s extend our natural human sympathies …. to everybody who’s human.
Because if you can’t do that… you suck. And in that case, you’ve got something much more basic to worry about than who sleeps with whom.