Is being heterosexual a choice rather than genetically predetermined?
Debate Rounds (5)
It is natural to have a sex drive that can be, and is regularly directed toward and results in procreation. However, species maintenance is not the only objective when it comes to sex. To obtain pleasure through sex is an objective that is stated and fulfilled more frequently than is a desire advance the human species. The human species would "die out" if we didn't procreate, period. My argument does not depend on this natural fact, but rather focuses on sexual attraction as it is applied to either gender. I am making the point that behavior is not driven by genetic code, but is based on acquired preferences. I can accept your conclusion that nature provides a built in mechanism for driving us toward procreation, while maintaining that culture drives us toward many attractions that are not dependent on procreation. Sexual activity and attraction in our culture, when not dependent upon a desire to produce offspring, is driven by the perception of attractiveness. We can have a genetic preference for a certain diet that has little to do with what we actually eat. I am not judging the correctness of one's decision to eat the wrong diet or to use sex in an unprescribed way. I am making reference to how gender-preference decisions are arrived at through personal experiences and judgements.
You assert two things in your most recent argument that seem to contradict each other, or at least do not justify each other. "However, species maintenance is not the only objective when it comes to sex. To obtain pleasure through sex is an objective that is stated and fulfilled more frequently than is a desire advance the human species." I don't believe that obtaining pleasure through the sexual act has much to do with actual sexual ATTRACTION. If a guy offers a straight guy felatio, the straight guy can close his eyes and pretend that it is a girl doing it to him, and still receive the same amount of PHYSICAL pleasure to his genitals that he would from a girl. But, the sexual attraction that we feel towards each other, compelling us to form relationships and to have sex is a built in mechanism. I do not disagree that environmental factors such as taboos almost certainly play a role. However, a sexual attraction for more than just physical pleasure and catharsis (which can be obtained by masturbating) comes from an animalistic urge to reproduce, which is only possible with a member of the opposite sex. This point I believe can be reinforced by the fact that homosexuals are in the vast minority, as affirmed by a US census: 7% of women and 8% of men identify as some form of LGBT.
Thank you for your interesting arguments. I'll just jump right in with a quote. "Should we deny that a person has an attraction to the same gender when it, in fact exists." I am not disagreeing that attraction to the same gender exists. It was my understanding that the key point was whether this attraction was genetic or not. You say that you don't think homosexual tendencies and behaviors can be linked to an evolutionary trait, which I think is most obviously true, as they would've died out. But you say that it is culture that overrides our DNA to make us act certain ways. But how, in a culture so homophobic and anti-gay, could someone's genetic drive towards the other gender be overridden so that they go to the same gender? It can't, and is obviously caused by some sort of genetic difference. This is why people can be in the closet their whole lives: obviously it's not culture that influences them to be gay, because if the culture was pro-gay, they wouldn't be in the closet, they would be openly gay. Also, you can't say that since we don't live in olden times where we were running through the jungle, that our evolutionary behavior doesn't manifest in our daily lives. We still respond to stressors like a stressful job or lots of homework with the fight or flight response, even though we aren't getting attacked by Wooly Mammoths anymore. The same is for homosexuality; our brains didn't say "oh we don't really need to reproduce that much anymore, so actually I like men". That's just not how it works. We carry our behaviors with us that make us this species. And I do not believe that "cultural attraction" can override our genetic makeup telling us to mate with the opposite gender. And in the case of gay people it is a genetic abnormality, and not a cultural preference, because nobody would choose to be demonized from their society.
I did make reference to same sex "attraction" and not necessarily to a "tendency" toward those relationships.
You make a good point about the difficulty of allowing culture to override DNA given our lack of tolerance for a gay lifestyle. You correctly asked why, in the absence of a "genetic abnormality" anyone would choose that difficult. The answer lies partly in an examination of why we would "choose" to do anything that makes us uncomfortable, is risky, potentially unhealthy or is counter productive. People don't attribute a tendency toward procrastination to genetics. They might hate that trait and are unsure of the reasons that they continue to do it. A purely genetic response would remove the variability of choice, acquired tendencies and preferences, and create a purely homogenous trait-based culture subdivided and grouped solely by genetic indicators. Individual perspective would play an insignificant role. Our preferences, decisions and attractions are shaped primarily by the information we receive and how we perceive and process that information, rather than on genetics. Genetic codes, defined in the womb lay dormant while the mind is continually active, gathering information that is often incomplete or flawed, and is making decisions that have no traces back to a genetic predisposition. These genetic codes, established before birth would be predictive of future and present behavior. A baby, emerging from the womb with heterosexual attraction built in, should display that attraction immediately and measurably, since advancing the species is such a strong instinct. By altering or removing the genetic code, you could change the baby's future mind. Your earlier statistics state that our culture is 90% heterosexual. Statistics will also show that homosexuality has been on the rise even beyond the increase that is attributable to greater acceptance. The fact that, as it becomes more acceptable, the incidence increases demonstrates the pull cultural influences. We do not know how an individual would respond if born into 90% homosexual culture. While it might be informative, if not worthwhile to examine same sex attraction, this discussion focuses primarily on heterosexual attraction and the driving forces behind it. I believe in the role that genetics plays as far as defining our physical characteristics and initial mental capacity. But I don't believe that it drives our future attractions or preferences. To that, I give most of the credit to an acquired perspective.
Thank you for your arguments. You say "Your earlier statistics state that our culture is 90% heterosexual. Statistics will also show that homosexuality has been on the rise even beyond the increase that is attributable to greater acceptance. The fact that, as it becomes more acceptable, the incidence increases demonstrates the pull cultural influences." I would like to clarify that the statistic was of more cases of declared homosexuality; that is, you can't know for certain if someone is homosexual or not unless they tell you they are homosexual. So as time passes and our culture moves away from homosexual prejudice, more people are coming out and saying they are gay, and I don't think that you can actually claim that more people are gay as time goes by. There's no way of proving it. This furthers my claim in my opinion that homo or heterosexuality IS linked to genetics, but as our culture becomes more tolerant, more people are coming out and saying that they are gay. Now since this has all been extrapolation and anecdotes, let me provide some data. According to Richard Horton of PBS, there are several biological factors that could result in homosexuality. For instance, fruit flies, which display strikingly similar sexual tendencies to humans (such as courting, fighting over mates, etc.) have been shown to exhibit homosexuality, where two males would rub genitals together, lick each other's genitals, and rub male partners with their forelegs. These homosexual fruit flies, after analysis of their genetics in contrast to fruit flies displaying heterosexual tendencies, had an abno rmally activated gene called the W gene, which is found in humans, which the heterosexual flies did not have activated. In addition, A scientiest named LeVay found in a longitudinal study of homosexuals and heterosexuals that the homosexuals had a part of their hypothalamus severely smaller than their heterosexual counterparts.
Horton, Richard. "A 'gay Gene?'" Pbs.org. N.p., July 1995. Web
You stated the following:
"So as time passes and our culture moves away from homosexual prejudice, more people are coming out and saying they are gay, and I don't think that you can actually claim that more people are gay as time goes by. There's no way of proving it. This furthers my claim in my opinion that homo or heterosexuality IS linked to genetics, but as our culture becomes more tolerant, more people are coming out and saying that they are gay."
You indicated, correctly that there is no way of proving an unknown but then state your opinion that the mere existence of an unprovable unknown furthers your claim of a genetic link. You then state that cultural acceptance causes more people to "say" that they are gay. I'm not sure I understand the logic of these references.
I would agree that heterosexuality IS linked to genetics in the following way. The physical structure (apparatus) to support procreation is clearly attributable to genetics. I am less clear that there is a genetic determinant causing us to be, at some point attracted to say, a blonde female, or blonde anything, or female anything. Still, I am willing to make the presumption that there is in fact, a genetic link supporting heterosexual attraction, which is the point of this discussion. But, as I stated previously, I believe that those attractions are most strongly influenced by our perceptions, beliefs and conclusions about ourselves and others. Attractions, including those of a sexual nature are always subject to change, and do. But they change only as new beliefs are adopted. I don't believe that mere genetic manipulation would reverse the acquired beliefs that we have chosen to adopt. If you, too accept this, then you are signing onto the position that I have taken.
I appreciate your references to the fruit fly study, but don't be led by the title to believe that they've discovered a "gay gene". I would say of this study that most of your references to it point only to correlations, and that correlation does not imply causation. Horton observed fruit flies engaging in homosexual activities, but if they are so strikingly similar to humans, perhaps they are affected by environmental factors as well. Or, maybe the absence of adopted beliefs and molded perceptions might cause fruit flies to be driven by genetics alone. Through genetic manipulation you might change the mind and sexual orientation of the fruit fly, thereby proving that they are driven at least primarily by genetics. Ask yourself whether the same genetic manipulation would cause a human subject to suddenly and conclusively "become" gay or straight and to immediately be attracted to the "other" sex. The fruit fly article rightly, in my opinion, concludes that it is a "huge (and dangerous ) leap to extrapolate observations from fruit flies to humans." It also states that "Such arguments by analogy seem hopelessly inadequate." As far as LeVay's observations, "he noted that it was impossible to be certain whether the anatomical differences between the brains of gay and straight men were a cause or a consequence of their preference." LeVay saw the dilemma faced with these types of studies as indicated by his use of the word "impossible".
The studies are helpful to generate useful dialogue, but leave us with the same unanswered questions that we had hoped they would resolve.
In the acknowledged absence of scientific proof, we are ultimately left to support our positions with well developed conclusions from our own observations.
Yours were well-presented and appreciated.
I've enjoyed the debate and I thank you for your acceptance and participation.
Henrysmolen forfeited this round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Midnight1131 1 year ago
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