The Content of Their Character: Judging On the Basis Of Beliefs

Martin_luther_king_jr_speaking_at_t“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

“Hey mister don’t look down on me
For what I believe in…”

-The Minutemen

Mitt_romneyThere’s this trope. Lots of people say it, on many sides of many cultural divides: liberal and conservative, secular and believer. And it’s come up a lot in the Presidential campaign: especially regarding the now-retired candidate Mitt Romney, with pundits and opinion-makers and the candidate himself decrying how prejudiced it was for people to refuse to vote for Romney because of his Mormon beliefs.

There’s this trope. And it goes like this: It’s not right to judge people for what they believe.

So here’s what I want to know:

JusticeWhat the hell else am I supposed to judge people on?

What basis are we supposed to use to judge people, if not their beliefs?

Yes, their actions, of course. But our actions are shaped and decided by our beliefs. Why shouldn’t people’s beliefs be a relevant factor in guessing what their actions are likely to be? Beliefs shouldn’t be the only thing we judge people on, for sure — but why should we ignore them entirely?

I mean — “the content of their character.” Aren’t our beliefs a huge part of that? How are we supposed to judge people by the content of their character and not judge them on the basis of their beliefs?

Pat_robertsonIf someone believes that gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to adopt because homosexuality is a crime against God and humanity, should I really not judge them on their morality? If someone believes that their tax money shouldn’t pay for poor children’s health care because “those people are always looking for a handout,” should I not judge them on their compassion? If someone believes that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago despite human historical records dating well before that, should I not judge them on their good sense? If someone believes that all human beings have been infested by space aliens, should I not judge them on their sanity? If someone believes that they don’t have to reduce their fuel consumption because one person can’t make any difference — or because the Rapture is coming and none of this pollution and global warming stuff will matter — should I not judge them on their social responsibility? And if someone believes that the moon landing didn’t happen because they read it in the Some Guy On The Internet Journal, should I not judge them on their… well, on their judgment, their ability to discern, among other things, what is and is not a good source of information?

I look at these questions, and I get very puzzled. Why, again, is it not appropriate to judge people for what they believe?

Ganesh2Now, if you’re talking about something like employment or housing rights, then the “don’t judge people on their beliefs” concept suddenly makes a lot more sense. A person’s belief in the infinite wisdom and mercy of Ganesh is irrelevant to how good they are at software design; a person’s belief in the Celestial Kingdom is irrelevant to whether they’ll pay their rent or their bank loan on time.

NgltfI can think of a few exceptions to this rule — if someone believes that God wants homosexual sex eradicated from the Earth, that would probably disqualify them from an executive position at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. But on the whole, personal beliefs, including religious ones, aren’t relevant to questions like housing and employment. And they shouldn’t be.

VoteBut for a lot of other questions — ranging from who you vote for to who you marry — personal beliefs are very relevant indeed.

So maybe a better principle would be, “Don’t judge people irrelevantly on the basis of their beliefs.”

And of course I understand that religious prejudice — which is a lot of what people mean when they say, “Don’t judge people for what they believe” — has a long and ugly history, in the U.S. and in the world. I understand the desire to not be bigoted, the will to fight bigotry in yourself and others. I share that desire and that will. Passionately.

Protocols_of_the_elders_of_zionBut I would argue that much of that ugly prejudice is, and always has been, based on false perceptions of people’s beliefs… not an actual perception of their actual beliefs. Ignorance and vicious lies about people with different beliefs are the foundation of religious prejudice. (Well, one of the foundations…) People hate Jews because they supposedly have plans to take over the world; Catholics because they supposedly grind up babies into communion wafers; Mormons because they supposedly all have six wives on the sly; atheists because we’re supposedly selfish, nihilistic hedonists with no basis for morality. People hate those with different beliefs because of lies they’ve been told about them. They rarely hate those with different beliefs because of what those people actually believe. They often don’t even know what those beliefs are.

And maybe more to the point:

You can’t always judge an individual person’s beliefs simply because of the religious group they belong to.

Religion_worldsvgFor most people, religious beliefs are only part of a whole constellation of beliefs, and for many people it’s not a very important part. So even if what you know about the Jewish or Catholic or Mormon faith is more or less accurate, you still won’t necessarily be able to judge any individual Jew or Catholic or Mormon simply because of the religious group they belong to.

Jimmy_carterJimmy Carter, for instance. Jimmy Carter is a born-again Baptist, and was when he was President. But he also opposed the death penalty; and supported the Equal Rights Amendment; and opposed the Briggs Initiative which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in California public schools. I disagree with many of his positions and actions — but if he were the Democratic nominee for President this year, I’d vote for him, and I’d do it reasonably happily. His born-again Baptism isn’t completely irrelevant to me, but it’s obviously only one part of his belief system, and when it comes to the Presidency, the other parts are a lot more relevant.

So maybe we need to modify the principle again. How about this:

“Don’t judge people irrelevantly on the basis of their beliefs — and don’t judge them inaccurately on the basis of what you think their beliefs are.”

EyeBut what if my perception of someone’s beliefs is accurate? What if it’s based on things they’ve said — and done — and not just on the group they belong to? And what if their beliefs are relevant to the topic at hand, to whatever question it is that I’m deciding on
 whether it’s who I want to vote for or who I want to marry?

Why on Earth shouldn’t I judge them on the basis of their beliefs?

JudgeMaybe the problem is with the word “judge.” It’s something of a harsh word, with strongly negative connotations these days. We’re not supposed to be judgmental. It implies, not just the forming of an opinion, but the passing of a sentence.

So okay. Feel free to substitute another word if you like. Instead of “judge,” read “assess.” “Discern.” “Conclude.” “Form an opinion.” “Evaluate.” “Appraise.” “Critique.” If you don’t like the word “judge,” any of these will do.

Mitt_romney_laptopBut when Mitt Romney said that “Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom… Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone”; when he cited religious scripture to support his opposition to same-sex marriage… then you’re effing well right I’m going to judge him on it. Or critique him, or appraise him, or form an opinion of him.

Barack_obamaI never cared very much that he’s a Mormon. Voting against someone just because they’re a Mormon would be just as wrong as voting against someone just because they’re an atheist. If Romney were a Mormon in the way that Jimmy Carter is a born-again Baptist, I wouldn’t have given two figs about his religion. I don’t care about the specific religious group that Romney or Carter, Mike Huckabee or Barack Obama, or any other current or former Presidential candidate, belongs to. But I damn well reserve the right to judge them for the content of their character.

And that includes their beliefs.

“Best Erotic Comics 2008″ — A Couple of Cool Reviews

Bec_2008_2My new book, Best Erotic Comics 2008, has gotten a couple of nifty reviews already, and I thought y’all might like to see them.

The excellent and prolific sex writer, editor, and blogger, Rachel Kramer Bussel (most recently editor of Best Sex Writing 2008), has written a very glowing and nicely thorough review of the book on Amazon. She gave it five stars, and says, among other things:

This first in the annual series shows comics that aren’t just designed to turn you on (though some of them surely will), but also tell humorous, honest stories about a range of sexualities, using various artistic styles that show readers just how many ways one can interpret sex.

And Audacia Ray (blogger and author of Naked on the Internet: Hookups, Downloads, and Cashing in on Internet Sexploration) has created a very nice video review of the book. Embedding the video doesn’t seem like an option, but you can watch it on Audacia’s Live Girl Review blog.

You can buy Best Erotic Comics 2008 at Last Gasp (the publisher), and at many locations and online stores, including Powell’s and Amazon. Many thanks to Rachel and Audacia for the kinds words. So glad you liked the book!

Manipulating Sex Fears For Fun and Profit: The Blowfish Blog

Enzyte_bobThere’ve been a couple of interesting news items about sex in the last couple of weeks, and I have a piece about them over at the Blowfish Blog. In one news item, a manager of a “take the disgusting sex scenes out of your DVDs” business has been arrested on suspicion of having sex with two 14-year-old girls, and was apparently using the “clean up your DVDs” business as a cover for a porn studio. In the other piece of news, the manufacturers of Enzyte, the obviously fakoid “natural male enhancement” pills advertised ad nauseum on TV, are being prosecuted for serious fraud.

So what do these stories have to do with each other? Find out, in my Blowfish piece, Manipulating Sex Fears For Fun and Profit. Here’s the teaser:

“Interesting stories,” you say. “But what do they have to do with each other?”

Just this:

They illustrate how easy it is, in a culture that’s riddled with shame, fear, and anxiety about sex, for frauds and liars to use that shame and fear and anxiety as a cover for their misdeeds.

To find out more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Friday Cat Blogging: Catfish Blogging

And now, a cute picture of our cat.

Catfish_blogging

Catfish often likes to keep me company while I write, as has been documented before. But here, she seems to determined, not just to keep me company, but to get in on the action herself. (Or maybe she’s just determined to get in my way, so I pay attention to her instead of that ridiculous piece of plastic I’m so fixated on.)

So I thought I’d let her take a guest spot this week. Here’s a few thoughts Catfish has come up with while walking across my keyboard:

lp;p

,u888888888888y6777777777777777

nmmmm

loooooooooooooooooookiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

She’s new to this blogging business, so while I encourage lively debate as always, I’m going to ask commenters to be gentle. And no, I don’t agree with her about the nmmmm issue; but she does make some interesting points that I think are worth considering.

“Strive to keep the door open”: An Interview with “Mistakes Were Made” Co-Author Carol Tavris

Mistakes_were_madeAs regular readers will know, I recently had one of those “books that changed my life” experiences. For Santamas, Ingrid gave me Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, the book on cognitive dissonance and our rationalizations thereof… and I quickly became fascinated, bordering on obsessive. I couldn’t shut up about the book for weeks, and I’ve already blogged about it in a two part post.

And I was fortunate enough to get an interview this week with one of the book’s co-authors, Carol Tavris. We talked about cognitive dissonance and rationalization, and how they relate to international politics, gay sex, religion, wedding plans, and other burning issues of the day.

Greta: Thank you so much for talking with me. Let’s start with a really basic question: How did you and Elliot get interested in this topic? How long have you been researching it, and what made you decide to pursue it?

GeorgewbushCarol: The two of us have been friends for over 30 years, sharing a passion for psychological science and its relevance to human problems. I’d gone to visit Elliot as he was beginning to lose his vision to macular degeneration, and we were talking about George W. Bush. Bush had already become the poster boy for the inability to admit a mistake — that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that warranted preemptive action, that Iraqis would be greeting our soldiers by dancing in the streets — and Elliot and I got to talking about this universal glitch of the human mind: Why it is that most individuals, when confronted by evidence that they are wrong or made a mistake, do not say, “Hey! thanks for that great information!” Rather than change their point of view, they cling even more tenaciously to their beliefs or courses of action.

Social_animalElliot has been at the forefront of the scientific study of self-justification for many years; he has conducted many experiments that have illuminated its workings in all corners of our lives. His research and writings are world famous, and his understanding of cognitive dissonance began to answer questions that had motivated my own writing over the years — why so many professionals are unable to give up theories and practices that have been shown to be wrong, including therapists who cling to outdated methods or theories like “repression,” scientists who are unconsciously corrupted by conflicts of interest, and social workers who fed the daycare sex-abuse hysteria with the notion that “children never lie” about sexual matters.

And so we said to each other, in effect, “say, we are on to something important here.” We decided to pool our areas of expertise to examine how self-justification operates across many domains, from the public sphere of politics, justice, and war to our most private lives — and how, with a little self-awareness, conscious effort, and sense of humor we can all learn to beat the brain’s wiring. The title was Elliot’s, which is ironic, since, as he says, he’s only ever made one mistake himself in his life, oh, around 1973.

ThinkingThe book had a very strong effect on me, as you probably noticed from my review. As a writer and a thinker, of course, but also in my personal life. I’ve been much more conscious about rationalizing, and I think I’ve been better about copping to it when I make mistakes. But I’m also seeing what you mean when you say that rationalization is necessary. When I’m trying to be super-conscious about it, it can be paralyzing — it’s hard to make decisions, I keep second-guessing myself. And I’ve been getting kind of overwhelmed with guilt over very small misdeeds. (I’ve been apologizing to my girlfriend ad nauseum. She finally had to tell me to knock it off.)

Yes, anything is bad in excess — even chocolate and apologies! OK, maybe not chocolate.

My question: Is that something you’ve dealt with as you’ve been researching and writing about this subject? And if so, how do you cope with it? You, personally — but also, what’s your professional advice about it? How do you stay conscious about rationalization so it doesn’t screw things up for you and everyone else… but still let yourself rationalize enough to get on with your life? How do you strike that balance?

AngerWhen I wrote my first book, on anger, that was the hardest lesson: How do you decide which battles are worth fighting — when is anger morally and politically necessary — and when should you let things go. It is the same here. None of us could get through the day if we stopped to examine everything we do: “What, exactly, are the data for brushing your teeth?” But there are guidelines, and I try to follow them myself.

EyeFirst, the more important the decision, the more vigilant we have to be. Knowing that we will start reducing dissonance the moment we make a choice, for example, means forcing ourselves to keep an open mind about disconfirming evidence that might come along later. If the decision is unimportant, it’s no big deal; let it go; reducing dissonance lets you sleep at night. If the decision could have major consequences in your life, personally or professionally, strive to keep the door open. Intellectually, this is crucial — to keep an open mind about, say, hormone replacement therapy or medical procedures or psychological beliefs that are important to us. On the latter, many developmental psychologists and parents still can’t give up the belief that parents determine everything about how their kids turn out. I’ve modified my own views about the power of genetics in human behavior — I was once a radical behaviorist.

Of course, as we say in the relationships chapter, sometimes it is good to blind ourselves to disconfirming evidence — say, to our loved ones’ flaws and foibles!

Another good example of rationalization sometimes being necessary. :-)

Interview continues below the fold.

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Best Erotic Comics 2008 Is Here!

Bec_2008

It’s here at last! Best Erotic Comics 2008 has arrived at the Last Gasp warehouse. It’s available for sale at Last Gasp, and is already available at many locations and online stores, including Powell’s and Amazon.

A literary and artistic exploration of human sexuality — and a fun dirty book, featuring today’s smartest, raunchiest, funniest, filthiest, most beautiful, and most arousing adult comics! Best Erotic Comics 2008 smashes the divide between literary/art comics and adult comics by including both the hottest work from the literary/art comics world — and the highest-quality work from the adult comics world. Artists include Daniel Clowes, Phoebe Gloeckner, Gilbert Hernandez, Michael Manning, Toshio Saeki, Colleen Coover, Ellen Forney, and many others. The wide variety includes work that’s kinky and vanilla, sweet and perverse, and straight, lesbian, and gay. Features recent comics, a handful of vintage Hall of Fame gems — and some works never published before! 200 pages. Color and b&w.

Work by: Belasco, Marzia Borino & Mauro Balloni, Susannah Breslin, Katie Carmen, Cephalopod Products, Daniel Clowes, Vince Coleman, Colleen Coover, John Cuneo, Dave Davenport, El Bute, Jessica Fink, Ellen Forney, Phoebe Gloeckner, Daphne Gottlieb and Diane DiMassa, Justin Hall, Gilbert Hernandez, Molly Kiely, Ralf Konig, Dale Lazarov & Steve MacIsaac, Michael Manning, Erika Moen, Quinn, Sandez Rey, Trina Robbins, Toshio Saeki, and Dori Seda. Cover art by Ellen Forney.

I’m immensely proud of this book, and am delighted with how it turned out. I think I really did do what I set out to accomplish: make an adult comics collection that’s both arty and dirty, with comics that will make you think, make you grin, and make you want to whack off. And everyone who’s seen the book has commented on its tremendous variety: not just a variety of sexual preferences and practices, but a variety of moods and stories and artistic styles.

Bec_2008_2I’ll be blogging about this book a lot in the coming weeks, with artist interviews and links to reviews. But for right now, I just wanted to let y’all know: It’s here.

Duelling Billboards

One_nationHere’s a nifty godless video that I think you’ll enjoy. It’s a video response to those awful, arrogant, theocratic, willfully ignorant “God Speaks” billboards you see blighting highways across the country. Comedian and videographer Mario DiGiorgio shows what his billboard replies would be if he had the money…. and his replies are freakin’ hilarious.

Of course there’s a couple that I would do differently. (My personal answer to “Have you read my #1 bestseller?” would have to be, “You mean The God Delusion?”) But that’s half the fun of the video, what makes it a game: thinking about which ones you like, which ones you’d do differently, which ones you’d keep exactly the same. And most of them are spot-on, with a couple that almost made me spit my coffee onto the keyboard.

Video below the fold, since putting them above the fold fucks up my archives.

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Mixing Brown and White: Rice, Pasta, and Pointless Carbs

BreadI’m not an Atkins devotee. Far from it. Grains and bread have been a staple of the human diet for millenia, and I think any diet plan that treats them like Satan incarnate is a bit off the rails.

But I do try to limit what I call “pointless carbs.” White bread, refined sugar, Twinkies. That sort of thing.

And I run into a problem when it comes to rice and pasta.

PastaOn the one hand, white rice and white pasta definitely count as pointless carbs. They’re made from grains — in the case of white rice, they are grains — that have had most of the icky fiber and nutrients processed out of them, leaving behind only the glucosey goodness.

On the other hand, I think brown rice and whole-wheat pasta taste like peat moss.

So a few years ago, Ingrid and I went to a restaurant with a wonderfully elegant solution to this problem. (The Big Sky Cafe in San Luis Obispo, if you want to know.)

They had mixed brown and white rice.

And ever since then, that’s how I’ve been making rice. Pasta, too. Half brown, half white.

Brown_and_white_riceI actually think it tastes way better than the plain white rice and pasta that my Midwestern palate was nurtured on. You get this lovely complexity of flavor and texture with the mix. The stronger, earthier flavor of the brown gives a nice balance to the milder flavor of the white, and vice versa. And you get the dense, rough texture of the brown, without feeling like you’re chewing through a hay bale. It’s definitely a best of both worlds deal, a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

I realize that plain brown rice and plain whole wheat pasta would probably be better for me. But I don’t like them, and I’m not going to eat them, and it’s not better for me if I don’t eat them. Mixing is a good compromise. The harm reduction model of healthy eating.

Kitchen_timerThe only tricky part is the timing. Cooking times are different for brown and white rice and pasta, so you have to finesse that. It’s really not hard, though. You can cut the Gordian knot if you like: make the brown and white in separate pans, and mix them when they’re done. But if you want to cook them in the same pan, just put in enough water for both, put in the one with the longer cooking time, and then put in the one with the shorter cooking time later, timed so they finish together.

Example: If your whole-wheat pasta takes 12 minutes and your white pasta takes 10, just start cooking the whole wheat pasta, and put in the white pasta 2 minutes later.

Or for rice: If your brown rice takes 40 minutes and your white rice takes 20, start cooking the brown rice, and add the white rice 20 minutes later. Be sure to start with the right amount of water for both. (I know, your mother told you never to remove the lid when you’re cooking rice; but really, nothing terrible will happen if you just do it once.)

Anyway. This works really well for us, and I thought I’d pass it along. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

Acting Out

Please note: This post discusses my personal sex life, and my personal sexual fantasies, in a fair amount of detail. Family members and others who don’t want to read about that stuff: Now would be a good time to disembark.

This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.

Ultimate_guide_to_sexual_fantasySex advice writers — including me — are always telling people to spice up their sex lives by trying to act out their fantasies.

And when they do, these sex advice writers — again, including me — generally warn people of some issues and pitfalls that can come with trying to act out fantasies. Like: Your partner may freak out when they hear what you have in mind. Your partner may try it, but not really like it and not want to try again. Your partner may like it more than you imagined, and want to go further with it than you want. You may like it more than you imagined, and want to go farther with it than you’d thought you would. (How many people have “tried out the fantasy” of same-sex sex, and had the results of their “experiment” turn out to be, “Okay, I guess I’m gay”?)

But there’s one potential fantasy-acting pitfall that doesn’t get talked about as much, so I want to talk about it now:

It may be disappointing.

Even if your partner is totally game and everything goes according to plan — it may be disappointing.

Savage_loveI was thinking about this because of a recent letter to Savage Love. (Good old Savage Love; always good for inspiration.) A 42-year-old gay man was acting out his superhero bondage fantasies for the first time. And I quote, since the letter-writer says it better than I could:

“The first time I did it, it was incredibly hot, but since then, it’s felt like something’s missing. Even when they’re sexy and friendly, it just feels lacking somehow. At times, I even feel a bit ridiculous.”

Mr. Savage’s advice was good, as it often is. But in this case, I think it was also — not dismissive exactly, but incomplete. He basically said a) if acting out your fantasy is making you unhappy, don’t do it, and b) relax and try not to be too self-conscious, since that’ll ruin any kind of sex, fantasy-acting or no.

All of which is excellent advice.

But I think Mr. Savage was overlooking an important possibility. Sometimes acting out a fantasy is just disappointing. And not just because you’re being uptight or self-conscious, or your partner isn’t as into it as you are, or any of the other standard pitfalls.

Sometimes it’s disappointing because fantasy and reality are not the same thing.

Acting out a fantasy is not the same experience as having a fantasy. It can’t be.

Three_kinds_of_asking_for_itIn a fantasy, everything is perfect. Everything goes exactly the way you want it; everything happens at the exact right moment. You always get fucked exactly when and how you want; get your pants taken off with the exact right kind of eagerness or sensuality; get your nipples licked with the exact right pressure, at exactly the right moment.

Naughty_spanking_storiesEven in dominant-submissive fantasies. No, make that especially in dominant-submissive fantasies. You always get spanked exactly as hard as you want; get the cock or the dildo shoved into your ass with the exact right amount of roughness; get forced to do the things that you most desperately want to be forced to do.

Example: I have frequent, intense fantasies of being made to do things I don’t want to do. I have fantasies of being spanked or beaten harder than I really like; being forced to submit to more pain than is pleasurable, and then some; being made to do things I find shameful and degrading. In short, being made to suffer.

But of course, the reality of that kind of play is radically different from the fantasy. In the fantasy, the resistance and suffering and submission all go down like sweet butter. In reality, it’s a struggle. In reality, being hit harder than I really like… it’s hard. It hurts, and it’s hard.

It’s not that it’s not worth it. It totally is. But it’s a very different sort of pleasure than it is in my fantasies.

George_clooneyAnd I think the difference between fantasy and reality is double especially true if you have fantasies of being some other person: being George Clooney or Catherine the Great, Superman or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When it’s just you, alone in your head with nothing but your right hand or the sex toy of your choice to keep you company, it’s much easier to disappear into your character. When you’re actually acting it out in real life, then unless you’re a very skilled actor indeed, it’s a whole lot harder to lose yourself, to just be Superman or Catherine the Great, to forget that the real you is still there in the room acting out this role.

SupermanAnd I’m guessing that’s what happened with Mr. Superheroes In Bondage. The fact that his first time was a home run and the times after that were strikeouts… that makes me think it even more. I’m guessing that the first time, he was overcome with that sweet, wonderful, “I’m finally doing this! I’ve wanted so badly to do this, for years, and now at last I really am!” excitement.

But that doesn’t last. It can’t last. And when it fades, you’re left with the reality of acting out your fantasy, and how that does or doesn’t work for you in the long run.

Renaissance_faireNow, of course that’s not to say you shouldn’t try. Acting out a fantasy and having a fantasy aren’t the same — but that’s not to say that one is better than the other. Sometimes acting out a fantasy will be disappointing; sometimes it will exceed your wildest hopes and expectations; sometimes it will take you off in a completely different, unexpected direction. And sometimes it will just be different. Not better, not worse, simply a different kind of pleasure entirely.

And you need to be prepared for that. When you’re acting out a fantasy — for the first time, but also for the second or third or fifth — you need to be prepared for the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that the “acting-out” part of “acting out your fantasy” is going to be very different from the “fantasy” part.

And you need to be okay with that.

Fuck Anything That Flies: Bisexuality, Fruit Flies, and the Causes of Sexual Orientation: The Blowfish Blog

FliesI have a new piece up on the Blowfish blog. Inspired by a post on Pharyngula, it talks about what causes sexual orientation in fruit flies… and what this fact does, and does not, tell us about what causes sexual orientation in people. And it talks about the problem of approaching this question based on what, philosophically or politically, we would like the answer to be, instead of what answer the evidence is pointing to.

It’s titled, Fuck Anything That Flies: Bisexuality, Fruit Flies, and the Causes of Sexual Orientation, and here’s the teaser:

Now, PZ Myers, Pharyngula blogger of song and story, warns that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what this might mean for human sexuality. And I think he’s right to do so. Human beings are rather more complex than fruit flies. And our sexuality is, to put it mildly, a lot more complex. Fruit flies don’t, for instance, get hot for spanking, for latex, for women in seamed stockings, for men in seamed stockings, for bits and saddles, for stuffed animals, for cartoon characters, for curly-haired brunettes who look like Bette Davis.

So the fact that sexual orientation is genetically determined in fruit flies doesn’t prove, even a little bit, that it’s genetically determined in humans.

But it does tell us something about humans, and human sexuality.

It doesn’t tell us that our sexual orientation is genetically determined, or even genetically influenced.

But it tells us that it might be.

It tells us that it’s not ridiculous to consider the possibility.

To find out more about this possiblity, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!