I’ve recently been reviewing what I know about the historical evidence for how homosexuality has been viewed in other times and places, and doing a bit of additional research into the area. This, which is partly a response to comments by my regulars on some recent essays here, has led me to an interesting perspective on modern debates about homosexuality and sexual liberty.
First, let me be clear that I’m deriving my tentative conclusions from considering (translated) primary sources – graffitti preserved in Pompeii, descriptions of the penalties for cross-dressing in Norse sagas, the lampoons of Catullus, and Japanese accounts of homoeroticism among the samurai are among those I’m familiiar with. Closer to the present day, I have read ethnological sources on homosexuality among the Afghans and in the modern Arab world, and made at least one relevant observation first-hand a few years back, in the red-light district of Bangkok.
I’m emphasizing primary sources because this is one of many, many areas where contemporary scholarship is severely corrupted by politics; it is probably no longer possible to achieve tenure at a major American university after giving offense to the homosexual-activist lobby. Fortunately, I don’t have that sort of career issue to worry about, and can therefore speak without fear.
Most educated people in the U.S. and Europe have a default model or construction of homosexual behavior which I will call “romantic homosexuality”. Romantic homosexuality is homoeroticism between equals; men or women of roughly the same age and social position, with the relationship having affective elements similar to the emotional range in heterosexual relationships (from one-night stand through lifetime marriage).
At one opposite extreme from romantic homosexuality is what I’ll call deprivation homosexuality – homoerotic behavior by men or women who are normally heterosexual but isolated from contact with the opposite sex for long periods of time. I won’t discuss this further in this essay except to note that for good analysis of what goes on in (for example) prisons, the difference between deprivation homosexuality and other kinds is significant.
We are generally aware of two other types of homosexual behavior. One is pederasty: homosexuality between adult men and adolescent or prepubescent boys in which the older partner is always, or nearly always, the one doing the penetrating. It is a significant datum, to which I’ll return later, that neither modern Western culture nor any other that I am aware of has a well-defined category equivalent to pederasty among women.
The last category I’ll discuss here is what I’ll call domination sex. In this kind of homoeroticism, penetration is equated with dominating or humiliating an inferior, the slave, the prisoner, the catamite, the helpless object. It is in this spirit that Sioux Indians threatened to rape the corpses of their defeated enemies, and gangsta rappers speak of “making him my bitch”. It provides the threat and the hostile charge when someone says “Fuck you.”
When we examine the behavior of humans in the large, over a broad sweep of history and culture, and compare it with homoerotic behavior in nonhuman primates closely related to us, a startling pattern emerges. Romantic homosexuality is almost all of what we see in homosexual human and higher-primate females, but almost none of what we see in homosexual human and higher-primate males.
Over and over again, the pattern of male homosexual behavior in pre-modern sources is overwhelmingly one of pederasty and domination sex. And not just in pre-modern sources but in most of the present-day world as well. When I tried to brush off a pimp in the red-light district of Bangkok who waved a brochure full of naked women in my face, he didn’t ask me if I wanted to fuck another man instead – he tried to rent me a boy. (I refrained from punching him out, because I recognized that from his point of view it was a reasonable next question.)
We may further note that there are, broadly speaking, two contending models of “normal” — acceptable or semi-acceptable male homosexual behavior — observable in human cultures. In one model, that of the modern West, romantic homosexuality is relatively tolerated, while pederasty and domination sex are considered far more deviant. I’ll call this the homophilic construction. It’s what most of my readers accept as normal.
But in the other, older model, pederasty and domination sex are considered more “normal” than romantic homosexuality. In cultures with this model, the “top” in an episode of pederasty or domination sex is not necessarily considered homosexual or deviant at all; any stigma attaches to the passive partner. Romantic homosexuality is considered far more perverse, because it feminizes both partners. I think of this as the “classical” construction of homosexuality, as it describes the attitudes of ancient Rome – but it persists in cultures as near to our own as South America and the Mediterranean littoral.
It’s the classical construction that is the rule in human cultures. The homophilic one is the exception; in fact, I am not able to identify any culture which held to it until after the Industrial Revolution in Europe. And not all of Europe has acquired it yet. Even in the English-speaking countries, where the homophilic construction is most entrenched, the connotations of sexual insults and threats in our language still reflect the older model.
To put it another way, the male homosexuals of the last two centuries in our culture have engaged in a massive reinvention of homosexuality that is still underway. Specifically the male homosexuals; lesbians began the game with romantic homosexuality as their dominant mode. I have not identified any culture in which it was considered more normal for lesbians to have sex with prepubescent girls or with dominated inferiors.
Why this asymmetry? I suspect, ultimately, it can be traced back to a tragic flaw in mammalian neural architecture – the fact that the limbic system handles sexual arousal and the anger/fear arousal involved in dominance transactions among social animals with adjacent circuitry that can relatively easily become cross-wired
Only this can really account for the observed fact that some (mercifully, only relatively few) human beings derive visceral sexual satisfaction from killing. The use of anal penetration as an expression of dominance, and of accepting it as a submission ritual, probably has the same source. It is phyletically old enough to be found not only in primates but in other mammalian lines as well. And, in the nature of things, it is not a threat females can make; thus, while thrill-killing is neurologically possible to females (and there have in fact been female serial kllers), domination sex has been pretty much outside of the repertoire.
This analysis raises two interesting questions. The first one is about the past: what changed? That is, how did the homophilic construction replace the classical one, where it did? I’m only speculating here, but I think the proximate cause may have been the sentimentalization of family life around the turn of the 19th century in Europe, which in turn was enabled by a sharp fall in infant mortality rates. Both processes started earlier and moved faster in England and the Anglosphere than they did elsewhere.
The other interesting question is whether this reinvention is sustainable in the longer term. If my analysis is correct, modern homosexuals are bucking a pretty strong biological headwind. How strong can be judged by a chilling little statistic I picked up years ago from a how-to manual written by homosexual SM practitioners for newbies, er, learning the ropes; it noted that, adjusted for population size, male homosexuals murder each other at a rate 26 times that of the general population.
That suggests to me that a tendency for male homosexuals to drift into the darker corners of domination sex is still wired in beneath the modern homophilic construction. It might take actual genetic engineering, of a kind we don’t yet have, to fix that wiring. Until then, I wish them luck. Because (and here I make the first and only value claim in this essay) whatever one’s opinion of homophilic homosexuals might be, the behaviors associated with the pederastic/dominating classical style are entangled with abuse and degradation in a way that can only be described as evil. Modern homosexuals deserve praise for their attempt to get shut of them.
> the behaviors associated with the pederastic/dominating classical style are entangled with abuse and degradation in a way that can only be described as evil.
Unless channeled into consensual D/S. It’s probably not a coincidence that the modern BDSM community first took form among gay men and then spread to other communities.
The protect-and-mentor pedastry of the ancient greeks could also be seen as a safe and moral channeling of this.
It’s worth nothing that the notional “NAWGLA” exists (or at least has existed at times in the recent past), generally operating under the name “Butterfly Kisses”. They’re rather hard to track down at the moment, as they keep getting chased off the web….
I’m curious about the circumstances of those alleged 26 times as many murders: were they rapes? Consensual scenes gone awry? Closet-cases proving their masculinity to their buddies by fag-bashing?
I find the statistic fishy: I know a lot of gay men, and they don’t seem very murderous. I don’t suppose your SM how-to manual gives a citation?
What work has been done on the sexual psychology of young boys?
A large part of murders in society are crimes of passion (jealousy)
In heterosexual relations, violence or killing because of jealousy is a domain of the male partners. Now imagine both partners to be male.
I refrained from punching him out, because I recognized that from his point of view it was a reasonable next question.
Why was it necessary for you to *refrain*?
I wonder if the ratios of prostitutes for males (both female and male) to prostitutes for females (both male and female), and the fast that most pornography is geared towards males is effect of the same issue.
About biological imperative: I wonder what would tell us the strange case of hyenas about “penetrative dominance” idea stated here…
I admire your reliance on primary sources. Heavily politicised discussions are a nightmare.
You should really investigate that murder rate statistic. Can you really trust the source from which you pulled it? Was it for America? Worldwide? Until you back that up, it’s not really a useful part of the argument.
On another note, the rise of the homophilic construction seems inextricably linked to increased gender equality and the decline of male sexual dominance over women. It is more acceptable for men today to be seen as nurturing, caring, “feminine” lovers as opposed to soley sexually dominant ones. Maybe there would’ve been men in classical periods who loved other men in this way but did not want to buck the overwhelming social pressure to love in a “masculine” fashion.
As a final question, why would you even consider “punching him out” for suggesting that you’re homosexual? What part of it bothers you?
Why limit your analysis to male homosexuals? There are those who see the same domination/degradation impulse in heterosexual males who demand anal sex from their female partners. And if the homophilic “construction” has been successful, this is really just male behavior, not male homosexual behavior.
I think that the story you told is incomplete without an understanding of the evolution of heterosexuality in the same era. In a Greece or a Rome where prostitution was commonplace, where men had domination sex with women at least as much as with men, I wonder how much this is really a story of homosexuality as of sexuality.
The Victorians weren’t inventing companionate marriage from whole cloth, but it was certainly a pretty new idea that it was the only form of relationship. Even now, we have rich-old-man/young-attractive-woman as a model; surely that’s just a gender-switched form of pederasty? How much difference is there really between Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion and Tiberius in Capri?
It just seems that telling this story as exclusively one of homosexuality is missing so much.
>You should really investigate that murder rate statistic. Can you really trust the source from which you pulled it?
Alas, the book was lent to me by a gay friend many years ago; I no longer have it.
>As a final question, why would you even consider â€œpunching him outâ€ for suggesting that youâ€™re homosexual? What part of it bothers you?
The suggestion that, because I refused his women, I must be a pederast.
>Romantic homosexuality is almost all of what we see in homosexual human and higher-primate females, but almost none of what we see in homosexual human and higher-primate males.
This isn’t the case for most animal species (I found this Wikipedia article fascinating), and I’d be surprised if it was true for higher primates or for pre-civilisation homo sapiens.
I suspect that the homophilic construction fits our biological imperatives much better than the last few millennia of sexual repression.
>The suggestion that I was a pederast.
You consider it appropriate to respond to speech with violence?
(I have no problem with that response, but I’m surprised given what I know (or apparently don’t) about your politics)
>Why limit your analysis to male homosexuals? There are those who see the same domination/degradation impulse in heterosexual males who demand anal sex from their female partners.
I have no argument with that conclusion.
>And if the homophilic â€œconstructionâ€ has been successful, this is really just male behavior, not male homosexual behavior.
Certainly. The difference is that women are extremely effective at evoking romantic behavior from heterosexual men, something homosexual partners don’t do very reliably. We know there are measurable neurological differences between heterosexual and homosexual males, so the next question is whether the difference in incidence is because the romantic response is only weakly present in the latter.
To the extent that’s the case, the difference between “male” behavior and “male homosexual behavior” is real.
Selling a child’s body has nothing to do with speech.
>You consider it appropriate to respond to speech with violence?
Under some circumstances. An insult may be intended to establish hostile relations, in which case low-level violence can be appropriate and, in fact, half-expected by the insulting party. But the pimp wasn’t uttering fighting words; he was asking what, from his point of view, was a reasonable question.
And that is all I’m going to say about this aspect of the matter. Do not rat-hole this thread by attempting to further parse a punch that never took place.
>And that is all Iâ€™m going to say about this aspect of the matter. Do not rat-hole this thread by attempting to further parse a punch that never took place.
lol, I’d just refrained from posting something about how I shouldn’t post something off-topic about hate-speech laws before you added that.
Very interesting analysis. I always had a moderate amount of feeling of disgust about male homosexuals but none of that for female ones and wondered where could that come from. (Given that I don’t believe in the “social programming” explanation.)
My original hypothesis was the following. Pretty much the only way to construct something sort of an objective take on moral sentiments (as opposed to ethics: for example, why do we tend to respect hard-working family guys more than drunkards even when both behave perfectly ethically?) is basically a question of time-preferences: present-oriented behaviour with high time-preferences often strikes as disgusting, or at the very least, ignoble. (Drugs, booze, promiscuity, reckless spending on credit cards etc.). Thus, I assumed the reason must probably be that male homosexuality is often connected with high time-preferences (for which there is lots of anecdotal evidence), and my gut reaction might be a gut reaction against that.
Now it seems you have another explanation. I looked more carefully into my gut reactions and found I have nothing against penetrators: Alexander the Great having a very feminine “bottom” boyfriend in the movie with the same title doesn’t strike me at all as something making him less of a macho man or something. It almost looks normal. It is the penetrated ones only, who invoke my gut reaction of disgust.
Why? From your theory it seems because being anally penetrated is both biologically and historically parallel with being abused, being violated, probably the disgust I feel is the same kind of disgust I would feel about a man who surrenders to an attacker and lets himself be beaten without trying to stand up and give a fight.
” It is more acceptable for men today to be seen as nurturing, caring, â€œfeminineâ€ lovers as opposed to soley sexually dominant ones.”
Acceptable, yes, but it doesn’t mean it works. How many times did I fall into the “nice guy” (i.e. boring guy) trap because I believed times have truly changed and it truly works this way now…
BTW – feel free to correct me if it’s factually wrong but basing partner relationships / marriages on romantic feelings is a pretty recent historical phenomenon amongst straight couples too.
Look back a few centuries in history and all you find is arranged marriages: the parents finding a suitable partner for their child, the child says “Meh. Whatever. I suppose you gotta marry someone.” and there they go. Basically what kept couples together is community expectations arising from religious expectations, and sexual desire (officially supressed, but of course was still always present when no one was looking) and parental feelings, and romance wasn’t present. AFAIK romance is certainly not biological, it’s purely cultural.
I can even try to make a guess where did romance come from. As long as people were very religious, marriages were based on the command to be fruitful and multiply or the god will smite you and the priest will damn you and the community will shut you out, plus, of course, desire and parental feelings.
When religion started to fade, many other things occupied the hole it left, and one of those was culture and arts. Hihger arts often took a certain “redemptory” dimension etc.
And romance is basically the “art-ification” of desire, the expression of desire in a community that “worships” arts and culture.
ESR, do you think gays are born or made?
It seems that the only acceptable answer, politically, is that they are born, it is in their genes. But I am aware of no scientific study that has ever shown this. This assertion is more ideology than real science.
I used to live next to a couple of guy gays, one of them had previously been married and had a kid. I always thought this gave the lie to the notion it is genetic. For this guy, it was at least partially a choice.
What say you?
Don’t be so sure, Darren. It used to be overwhelmingly common for gay men to marry women and father children just to hide their status. The likely end of that is why I suspect there’s such a strong movement to “defend marriage”: if gay men can openly fall in love with other men and express that love in the same way that straight men can, then the number of marriages between men and women will decrease.
That man was obviously unhappy enough with his life married to a woman that he chose to exit it, at (presumably, given the treatment men typically get in divorce court) substantial financial and social cost.
It’s been repeatedly demonstrated that sexual orientation is a matter of wiring, not choice. Expression of that orientation may be a matter of choice for some men – but, as with any choice that denies a person’s essential being, for a gay man to choose to behave as a straight man almost never leads to happiness.
do you think gays are born or made?
Some are born homosexual, others achieve homosexuality, and some…er, never mind. In all seriousness, it’s probably multiple factors.
It seems that the only acceptable answer, politically, is that they are born, it is in their genes.
Not necessarily the genes. There was a study that showed that gay men were more likely to have older brothers – that a boy fetus somehow changed the uterine environment for subsequent boys.
Homosexual behavior doesn’t serve the sexual function at all. Which is to have children and the partners to bond together long enough to bring the offspring to self reliant adulthood. We are men and women and can override any pull or tendency in us that deals with deviant behavior. Bad behavior can be unlearned and good behavior learned. No homosexuals are not born. This is a choice. Just like drug addiction with effort this bad behavior can be overcome. It is know that homosexuals are more sick oftener and live shorter lives. There is more domestic violence in these relationships. There are real reasons why societies frowns on this behavior. We are not helping these people by buying into the falsehood that this is an attractive alternative life style. My view might be not be political correct. But is is true and based in reality. I think we should have compassion on these people with this problem and really help them by encouraging them to get help to overcome their bad behavior.
You’d be a lot more convincing on this if you enumerated actual misconceptions common to, as you say, “the homosexual-activist lobby”. Otherwise, you look exactly like someone ready to shoot their mouth off and then claim that any critics simply can’t handle the truth–people about to explain all about the natural inferiority of black folks generally start with the same disclaimer about how brave they are for speaking out against the establishment.
No, I’m not saying you’re a bigot (I’m also not saying you’re not a bigot); I’m just saying that you sound that way.
I was under the impression that, at least in Athens, while penetrative sex with a boy wasn’t expressly forbidden, it was certainly looked down on, and not part of the ideal. Are you using (paraphrasing here) “penetrating partner” where you should be using “active partner”?
I don’t think the conclusion follows from the premise; are you certain you’re not essentializing things which aren’t immutable? Yes, this is a constant throughout most of history, but all of these societies that you’re comparing were not a perfect cross-section of all possible arrangements of humanity. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that they were all, or nearly all, profoundly patriarchal, for instance. When inequality and dominance are built into a culture at such a basic level, is it so outrageous to suggest that this may be a significant part of the reason why it shows up in other contexts? For instance, you mention prison sexuality above; the language here clearly feminizes the dominated. It’s hard to conceive of what this would look like if prisoners weren’t trying to dominate women, and just shoving men into that role because they’re available.
Is there, for instance, any historical precedent for the relatively new popularity of pegging and yaoi among certain groups of women? If something like this suddenly (in the scheme of things) appears, what does that say about the immutability of any of what you describe?
This sounds a lot like Paul Cameron’s oft-repeated bit, “You are 15 times more apt to be killed by a Gay than a heterosexual”. Cameron’s methods were, to put it kindly, far from rigorous. Citing a book that you don’t name and can’t find is, at the very least, poor form.
Are you new here? Responding to insults with threats of violence is pretty standard for Eric.
Is it because you have a visceral reaction to being feminized–to being less macho? If you have the same reaction to transwomen, maybe your disgust is primarily a reaction to femininity.
Stephen, your entire thesis is revealed by your statement that “We are men and women and can override any pull or tendency in us that deals with deviant behavior.” Yes, we can. Will we be happy doing so? The overwhelming majority of human experience says no.
Your arguments are the same as those spouted by fundamentalist Christians. If you’re going to tell us that being gay is wrong because God says so, please go away. We’re trying to have a rational discussion here, and arguments based in religion are the very definition of irrational.
I think of sexual orientation as being a lot like height. It’s difficult to predict, and it’s the result of an impossibly complex tangle of factors, but the result is essentially immutable, unless you want to do something so Procrustean that you may end up with nothing left. Consider how difficult it is to convince people that they’re not gay, and how even when they’re so convinced, they usually end up leading lives of despair and shame, frequently culminating in suicide.
Presumably it’s about as fun for a gay person to re-enter the closet as it would be for any straight person to commit to pretending, for the rest of their lives, to be attracted solely to men, to have sex only with men, and to live in romantic arrangements only with men. I think the reaction to the “ex-gay” movement is understandable, given what the closet meant for people, back before the gay rights movement.
Oh, look, the is-ought fallacy. Our purpose is to love nasty, brutish and short lives, kill each other and have as many kids as possible. Except it’s not, because we’re sapient, and we get to choose our own damned purpose.
Meanwhile, I’ll believe your rants against the horrors of homosexuality after you start railing against old people getting married, or against masturbation.
You know, the above should have been “live nasty, brutish and short lives”, but I think it works with the typo just as well.
You’re giving him way more benefit of the doubt than I think he deserves. Is there any reason not to assume that he’s a fundamentalist of some Abrahamic stripe?
Oh, look, a straw man. Might as well knock it down, shall we?
The twentieth-century anthropological revolution was the discovery that preagricultural peoples live happier lives and enjoy more free time than we do here in civilization.
grendelkhan: Is there any reason not to assume that heâ€™s a fundamentalist of some Abrahamic stripe?
Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity. Just because he sounds like a fundamentalist does not prove that he is one, and if not, he deserves the opportunity to see the error of his ways. (He does if he is one, too, but that’s considerably less likely.)
Eric: Alas, the book was lent to me by a gay friend many years ago; I no longer have it.
Are you referring to SM 101? I do not have a copy either, but it’s fairly widely available.
>Are you referring to SM 101? I do not have a copy either, but itâ€™s fairly widely available.
That rings very faint bells, and might be it. Alas, all I remember about the book other than a few prominent facts from it was that it was a skinny paperback with a dead-black cover, printed on cheap grayish paper – looked very undergroundy.
Stephen: you seem to be working under the misconception that homosexuality is an attractive lifestyle. Personally, I’ve never been beaten up because I was a geek. Nobody goes “geek-bashing”. Faggots, on the other hand, suffer the risk of random attacks. And you think anybody CHOOSES that? Surely you need intellectual supplementation!
Natural selection favors the species, not the individual. If homosexuality conferred some other benefit which was valuable to a tribe, then tribes with homosexuals could easily outcompete tribes composed exclusively of heterosexuals. When you look at modern humans, homosexuals’ mean intelligence is a full standard deviation above that of the general population, which would certainly be beneficial in the evolutionary environment. But I’m not sure yet to which degree the homosexual intelligence advantage applied in that environment.
As some others have implied here already, I think you are putting too much emphasis on the distinction between homosexuality and heterosexuality and ignoring some of the obvious commonalities.
For example, you say “Over and over again, the pattern of male homosexual behavior in pre-modern sources is overwhelmingly one of pederasty and domination sex. ” and “But in the other, older model, pederasty and domination sex are considered more â€œnormalâ€ than romantic homosexuality. ”
To a large extent the same was true of heterosexuality. The pederasty you point to has an obvious analog in the fact that girls were (and in some places still are) frequently married off at a young age to older men… romance was not the priority. Similarly, in the domination sex realm, wives and daughters of defeated foes were probably more subject to rape, humiliation etc. than the defeated foes themselves (the foes would likely be dead by that point).
Similarly, the rise of romantic partnerships is a relatively recent phenomenon in both the hetero- and homosexual communities. True, I think the homosexual community has lagged behind, but they do seem to be making up for lost time. I think it more likely that you are describing an evolution in human (or possibly just male ) sexuality rather than strictly an evolution in homosexual sexuality.
Further, it seems to me that this evolution in sexuality pretty closely maps to the evolution of our political/philosophical/moral thought i.e. equality of women and the primacy of the individual over the family, tribe or state.
You wonder if this new construction of male homosexuality can endure without some biological engineering to excise these darker impulses. It seems to me that once the underlying culture changed to allow this new construction for relationships both hetero- and homosexuals adopted it pretty readily. So I think it will endure as long as the underlying culture allows for it… which I hope is forever.
To me, it’s quite clear that the paradigm shift in male homosexuality happened as a result of egalitarianism. We used to be a very hierarchical society: monarchs, aristocrats, and subjects; popes, bishops, and priests. Now even the idea of family hierarchy is changing, with both spouses being considered equal, in the courts giving more and more rights to the children to resist the will of their parents. We are attempting to eliminate class/race boundaries. Women have been masculinized, and men have been feminized. Due to modern travel and communication, cultures are becoming more homogenized.
BTw, when I refer to SM 101, I mean a book by that title, not the middle section of John Ringo’s novel Ghost…
While you can say “gay community” and point to something, you can never say “gay civilization”, for a very important
reason having to do with the validity of the concept.
@grendelkhan: This is a bit off-topic, but usually patriarchal societes ends up dominant, as they are associated with pastoral civilization, and are more aggresive, and because pastoral / wandering tribes needs to have some generic way of predicting things (not associated with single place / single circumstances like matriarchal settler tribes) they end up inventing science. Therefore it is hard to find modern matriarchal societies. Even original sources are more rare, I think.
>The twentieth-century anthropological revolution was the discovery that preagricultural peoples live happier lives and enjoy more free time than we do here in civilization.
Hardly a new discovery — compare any of the 17th- or 18th-century stuff on the Noble Savage, for instance.
>To a large extent the same was true of heterosexuality.
No. Several other commenters have been making this same claim. but it’s obviously false. The analog of the classical construction of homosexuality among heterosexuals would be a value system in which romantic attachment between men and women was considered perverse and demeaning, and disfavored relative to relationships organized around pederasty and dominance sex.
There has never been any human culture in which this was the case. There are good reasons that it cannot be; romantic attachment isn’t just a spandrel, it’s part of a vitally important mechanism for maximizing parental investment in the young.
The heterosexual and homosexual cases are not symmetrical; attempts to make them so lead to absurdities like equating homosexual pederasty with prepubescents to May-December marriages. I call this absurd because the latter have symmetrical benefits well understood by evolutionary biologists. The older male gets a woman with no reproductive history (thus, no loyalties to offspring that aren’t his) and the maximum possible number of ovulations in front of her. The younger female gets a man who is established and wealthy, and has already demonstrated that he can win status and selection games. (In cultures with low average wealth this was a big, big deal.)
It’s true that before the modern era, many people didn’t have the privilege of marrying those to whom they were romantically attached. This does not erase the fact that romantic attachment was behaviorally normal for heterosexuals of pre-modern times in a way it was not in (male) homosexual relationships of pre-modern times; nor does it erase the fact that heterosexual marriage to romantic partners was universally favored when it was economically available as an option while homosexual marriage to romantic partners was not.
My own gut disgust reaction to homosexual men disappeared after a single experience with a bisexual man who had a crush on me. I learned that men just plain do not turn me on. Hence, I no longer had anything to fear in that department. On the other hand, women DO turn me on, big time, independent of any mental or emotional connection. If it were the other way around, if men DID turn me on, I doubt I could do anything about that, either. Except suppress it, as I do with women other than my wife.
I absolutely disagree. I suggest talk to some people from cultures who have traditionally engaged in arranged marriages. The disdain heaped on “love marriages” is exactly what you are claiming doesn’t exist. (Granted this is fading among the younger generations but it still exists) I’ll agree that there may be a difference in degree, but not in kind.
I never suggested that romantic attachment is a spandrel. I’ll refer to the work of Helen Fisher where she identifies three separate processes in the brain associated with bonding and reproduction…. lust, romantic love and attachment. So we are wired for all three. But just as clearly, throughout history and through different cultures these three process have received different emphasis from underlying cultural norms… with romantic love getting the short end of the stick.
I put it to you that romantic love was suppressed in heterosexual arrangements in the past. Perhaps not to the same degree, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that every 13 year old bride throughout history was in love with her new husband on their wedding night.
I absolutely agree that equating homosexual pederasty with May-December marriages is absurd. Thank goodness I didn’t do it. You are constructing a straw man to knock down.
There is a difference between a May-December marriages we understand it in our western culture, and what is essentially and adult-child marriage that can be seen in other cultures and in the past. You are confounding the two. Indeed there is a difference between how we view marriage in our culture now … i.e. a joining of equals and how it was viewed in the past regardless of the ages of those involved. If essentially owning your bride doesn’t qualify as dominance sex in your book, what does?
In any case I did not equate pederasty with May-December marriages, I said it was analogous to the child marriage scenario. And there is a difference between equal and analogous that you are also ignoring.
I don’t think you have supported the assertion that “marriage to romantic partners was universally favored [in pre-modern times] when it was economically available”. Granted I’ll go talk to my anthropologist friend and do some reading but as of right now, I’m at all not convinced. “Universally favored” is particularly hard to demonstrate. Further having attached a qualifier of “economically available” to heterosexual romantic attachment, don’t you have to attach a similar qualifier to homosexual attachment? “Culturally available” seems appropriate.
“To me, itâ€™s quite clear that the paradigm shift in male homosexuality happened as a result of egalitarianism.”
Well, for the sake of gays I hope it isn’t so because in that case it won’t last. Egalitarianism just cannot last – it’s a crime against Reason. The whole point of having a braint to think with is to understand differences between phenomena, understand their causes, and to how to use this understanding for benefitting either ourselves or others. Similarly, to use Reason properly would be to study and to try to understand the reason of the differences between people, and to use this understanding to assign different roles, different responsibilities, and with it, of course, different rights. Egalitarianism is nothing but the plain simple refusal to even think about such matters, this is why I called it a crime against Reason.
To some extent it is understandable. Inequality between people in the past was too often based on superstition rather than thinking, I know that well enough. And it was another problem that in the past people often quickly judged things to be good or bad, superior or inferior, without understanding the first thing about (Classical) philosophy: that good or bad are meaningful only with regard to a purpose: there is no other definition of good or bad than fitness for a purpose.
A pluralistic (tolerant) society can be conceived as a plurality of purposes, meaning the same thing can be good for one purpose and bad for another. But egalitarianism is an over-reaction to the original problem, because it’s nothing but an outright refusal to think in terms of good and bad, thus, it does not mean a plurality of purposes, but even the (tacit) denial of purposes.
To use a fitting example, if someone would argue that homosexual relationships are, in certain circumstances, from one point of view, for one purpose, superior to heterosexual ones, I would find the proposal interesting. And of course, that, in certain other circumstances, from another point of view, for another purpose, are inferior. All such proposals would mean one is really willing to give some thought to the matter.
But the idea that hetero- and homosexual relationships are simply “equal” is nothing but the outright refusal to reason about the matter, its a refusal to think.
Egalitarianism surely won’t last, because refusing to think about differences, about good and bad, leads to a refusal to think about, compare, evaluate and judge purposes, and in the long run, just how can you get anything done without it?
However, there is a chance that plurality, tolerance, alongside with the toleration of homosexuality, can survive the inevitable collapse of egalitarianism. One can only hope it happens so – it does not really look very likely, because just like egalitarianism was an extreme over-reaction to the previous extreme of superstitious dogmatism, the most likely outcome is another over-reaction to another extreme, probably, to some kind of fascist extreme. Which I would hate just like you do. The best I can think to do is to reduce the extremism of egalitarianism, meaning, not being afraid to compare and evaluate purposes and with it, to talk about good and bad, with hoping that if the egalitarian extreme can be made a bit milder, the inevitable over-reaction in the future will be a bit a milder than it otherwise would be.
>The disdain heaped on â€œlove marriagesâ€ is exactly what you are claiming doesnâ€™t exist.
It’s a mistaken comparison. To be truly equivalent to the classical construction of homosexuality, love marriages would have to be disfavored relative to arranged marriages in which men routinely have sex with prepubescent girls.
The rest of your reply suffers from similar errors. You compare apples with oranges, then blithely assert that the oranges are really apples.
I was glad to see ESR bring up a point I was noticing being overlooked in many of the posts, namely that there is a great deal of empirical evidence for romantic attachment and concepts of love cross-culturally and historically. See “The Evolution of Desire” by Dr. David M. Buss for an excellent discussion of evolutionary psychology with loads of empirical evidence cited and discussed. The only other thing I would mention in regard to this comment is that one striking feature of homosexuality is that it seems homosexuals (both gays and lesbians) tend to follow similar sexual strategies/behaviors to heterosexuals of the same sex – e.g. gay men favor physical beauty and youth over status and lesbians are more interested in signs of commitment than in youth or beauty (on average, of course). One explanation for why the gay male community has historically been so promiscuous (leaving out for a moment the consideration of domination/submissiveness) is because men like to be promiscuous when they can get away with it, and when their sex partners feel the same way, there’s not as strong an incentive to pull out the adaptations for commitment and romantic relationships. Straight men would probably engage in random, anonymous sex in similar numbers to gay men if women were as willing to (which would be because it was equally reproductively viable). I am inclined to view the domination/inequal relationship question less as a specific trait of homosexuality and more as a confluence of a few factors: 1) Men on average prefer short-term mating strategies (casual sex) when they can get it, 2) for a number of other evolutionary reasons, men have evolved to be aggressive and to seek social status and dominance (chiefly because these traits lead to the resources that women tend to value in a mate), and 3) the limited pool of partners combined with the social stigma would probably lead to ‘established’ homosexuals being able to express their preference towards young, physically attractive males. That last one is pure speculation on my part as is the following: could homosexual male preference for pre-pubescent/adolescent males be a lingering preference for feminized/young features? The fact that heterosexual men do not find pre-pubescent males attractive (i.e. as ‘feminized) makes this unlikely, I’d think.
>But the idea that hetero- and homosexual relationships are simply â€œequalâ€ is nothing but the outright refusal to reason about the matter, its a refusal to think.
Indeed. The PC crowd seem terrified that conceding any non-equivalence will legitimize stoning gays to death. But their insistence makes for a brittle position, because it implies that once the “equivalence” defense is punctured in any way, gays won’t have any defenses left.
>lesbians are more interested in signs of commitment than in youth or beauty
So much so that they sometimes neglect to pick a partner who will reliably turn them on. Google for “Lesbian Bed Death” to discover the consequences.
It’s a subtler failure mode than the ones normally associated with male homosexuality, but it’s there nevertheless.
>he fact that heterosexual men do not find pre-pubescent males attractive (i.e. as â€˜feminized) makes this unlikely, Iâ€™d think.
You probably meant “pre-pubescent females” here.
With that change, your argument is cogent. And it’s another place where the male-distillate theory of homosexual behavior breaks down. If male homosexual behavior were simply male behavior freed from the constraints implied by female mating strategies, we would expect to see some major consequences that we don’t:
1. Sexual use of pre-pubescent girls by heterosexual men would have been extremely common in pre-modern societies. In fact it was not; such behavior is usually heavily stigmatized even in societies that institutionalize homosexual pederasty.
2. There would be extant genres of erotic poetry addressed from men to pre-pubescent girls, analogous to the pederastic love poetry and songs well attested in the Islamic world. That is to say, there would be times and places in which this behavior was culturally aboveground rather than underground. I am not aware of any such.
3. Today, pre-pubescent girls would routinely be criminally trafficked for the use of heterosexual men – the market for them would be large. In fact the market for them appears to be a very small, specialty one catering to child abusers who are relatively indifferent to the sex of their victims.
“That last one is pure speculation on my part as is the following: could homosexual male preference for pre-pubescent/adolescent males be a lingering preference for feminized/young features? ”
Can’t it be a just a matter of degree? That people aren’t 100% straight or 100% gay but there is a degree, probably in the form of a bell curve strongly skewered to the straight side. And while a hypothetical 100% gay might prefer a mature and macho man, they are very rare, and most are just 60% or 70% gays who prefer partners who simply aren’t so 100% masculine, who have feminine features?
OTOH the problem with this theory is that why should young automatically mean feminine?
>The PC crowd seem terrified that conceding any non-equivalence will legitimize stoning gays to death. But their insistence makes for a brittle position, because it implies that once the â€œequivalenceâ€ defense is punctured in any way, gays wonâ€™t have any defenses left.
“Equal” in this context should be read as “should be equal before the law”. Why should the government have an interest in your sexual orientation?
>You probably meant â€œpre-pubescent femalesâ€ here.
No, he meant males. The theory was that homosexual pederasty was a result of heterosexual brain circuitry getting confused by the feminine features of pre-pubescent boys.
> So much so that they sometimes neglect to pick a partner who will
> reliably turn them on. Google for â€œLesbian Bed Deathâ€ to discover
> the consequences.
The concept of “Lesbian Bed Death” needs to be coupled with the other cultural concept of “U-Haul Lesbian.” Which is premised on the joke: “Q: How does a lesbian drive to her second date? A: In a U-Haul.”
(For readers outside the USA, U-Haul is a brand of moving truck, the stereotype is that lesbians commit to living together very quickly.) Parallel to that is the stereotype joke about gay men: “Q: How does a gay man drive to his second date? A: What’s a second date?”
Both are horrible and unfair stereotypes, however, along with lesbian bed death, and alleged male homosexual promiscuity, they illustrate where lesbians and gay men fall on two dimensions: libido and commitment. Allegedly at opposite corners, which seems to align with the realities of the different rates and investments that men and women biologically have for reproduction. This seems to be true regardless of the futility of homosexual sexual relationships in regards to reproduction.
To add to the point, lesbianism is VERY different from homosexual male relationships. To draw many parallels between them is unlikely to be fruitful.
Who on earth is backing the kind of fanciful egalitarianism you’re pulling from thin air? Refusing to think about differences? Who?
That’s only true if women aren’t considered to be lesser-status than men simply because they’re women. For a relationship between males to be clearly unequal, you need to have an obvious differential in power–a massive disparity in age, for example.
There are straightforward physical reasons for this; transmen can get away with looking like youngish guys, but transwomen have a much harder time passing. It’s by no means universal, but there you have it.
I don’t think folks here are interested in parallels so much as they are in contrasts; the idea being that you can see essential male nature in gay men, and essential female nature in lesbians. Given how skeptical I am of claims about essential nature–they have a history best described as “loathsomely incorrect”–you can imagine how well I agree with this. But I do think that we can get some (far less sweeping) insights about men and women in this particular culture.
ESR, can you give a pointer to the Pompeiian graffiti?
Given your dismissive response, it is pretty clear your mind is closed on this matter, but let me leave you with some parting thoughts. Romantic love has really only come to prominence in our society in the last few hundred years. You are taking romantic love between heterosexuals and projecting it back through time and across cultural boundaries as the essential norm, while ignoring both the pedophilic and dominance aspects of heterosexual relationships that are in evidence in the historical and anthropological record. In other circumstances I would call you quaintly naive.
Unfortunately you do not accord homosexual relationships the same courtesy. Rather than take the emerging emphasis on romantic attachment among homosexuals and projecting it back you do the opposite. You dig through the historical record and pull forward examples of pederasty and dominance sex and assert that they are the norm for homosexuals (particularly male homosexuals). To quote your original post:
“That suggests to me that a tendency for male homosexuals to drift into the darker corners of domination sex is still wired in beneath the modern homophilic construction. It might take actual genetic engineering, of a kind we donâ€™t yet have, to fix this. Until then, I wish them luck. Because (and here I make the first and only value claim in this essay) whatever oneâ€™s opinion of homophilic homosexuals might be, the behaviors associated with the pederastic/dominating classical style are entangled with abuse and degradation in a way that can only be described as evil. Modern homosexuals deserve praise for their attempt to get shut of them”
In short, you have bought hook, line and sinker the standard bigot position that gay men are at their core (“wired in” in your words) pedophiles, prone to sexual violence and incapable of love. Further you have implied that the emerging emphasis that homosexuals are placing on love, commitment, attachment and relationships is nothing more than an artifice… a charade to gain respectability. And you openly ponder if that charade is sustainable without genetic engineering.
I’m not surprised to see that sentiment expressed, I see it all too often. But I am surprised to see it expressed by you… an anarchist and pagan with presumably at least a passing familiarity with polyamory.
Shenpen: While some researchers, such as Kinsey, have postulated a continuum of sexuality, more recent research suggests that it might be a bit deficient. For one, though primarily hererosexual males sometimes report homosexual experimentation at a young age, the incidence of an ongoing bisexual prefence among males is very small. Men seem to be much more “one or the other” than females. For silly anecdotal evidence (admittedly culturally biased) think of the number of straight girls willing to make out with other females for fun, to turn on guys, or what have you, vs the number of males engaging in analagous behavior. More seriously, a number of psychological studies with at least limited cross cultural sampling find an almost negligible rate of ongoing bisexual behavior in men
As to my equating of pre-pubescent with feminine, this is because sexual-specific traits become manifest at puberty, and children display traits more similar to post-pubescent women than men. By way of example, facial and body fat distributions in children are closed to female norms. Obviously the major sex traits, like breasts and waist to hip ratio are not the same. In fact, though I wasn’t ready to support my speculation earlier, at this point esr and the following have all but convinced me to go ahead and reject it. Namely, waist to hip ratio and to a lesser degree breast development are so central to heterosexual standards of beauty and feminized facial features so much less important than both sexes’ preference for symmetry that I can’t imagine any “feminization” of pre-pubescent males being a factor.
Jeff Read wrote:
Almost certainly not true, see Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene.
Do you have a source for the “higher intelligence for homosexuals” claim? I’ve never heard it before.
If homosexuality is genetic, my guess is that it’s probably a side-effect of having too many or the wrong combination of otherwise beneficial genes, in much the same way that sickle cell anemia occurs in individuals having two copies of a recessive gene where a single copy conveys malaria resistance. (I doubt that there’s a simple recessive gene for homosexuality). Rather, I imagine that genes for traits that provide other benefits to individuals–perhaps intelligence, as Jeff implies–in some combination trigger homosexuality. If that were not the case, it’s hard to understand why a gene that increased the likelihood of homosexuality wouldn’t be rapidly eliminated from the gene pool, given that individuals with it would be at least somewhat less likely to reproduce. Autism (which apparently has a strong genetic
Alternatively, perhaps homosexuality is immutable, but has a purely environmental/developmental cause, like the older brother hypothesis that Adrian mentioned. I agree with others on this thread that it seems unlikely that many people would choose to be gay even in our current, relatively enlightened, culture.
Russell Nelson >you seem to be working under the misconception that homosexuality is an attractive lifestyle. Personally, Iâ€™ve never been beaten up because I was a geek. Nobody goes â€œgeek-bashingâ€. Faggots, on the other hand, suffer the risk of random attacks. And you think anybody CHOOSES that? Surely you need intellectual supplementation!
I am not under the misconception of that homosexuality is an attractive lifestyle. But Gay activist are pushing that. I do not agree with or support beating up any group of people. I have heard of attacks on gays but have never know personally a gay who was. At least where I live it must be rare. I live in Orlando Florida and the city has sponsored gay parades and Disney World is famous for its high population of gays. I am not stating my opinion in a vacuum. Just because I do not believe in persecuting homosexuals doesn’t mean that this is a good life style. There really is nothing new under the Sun. This issue has been discussed and debated since ancient times. Including the cultures where Christianity was born. It never has bothered me to be unpopular or out of the majority opinion. I have always sought to learn and find wisdom preferring that instead. I thought that was what a geek was.
>In short, you have bought hook, line and sinker the standard bigot position that gay men are at their core (â€wired inâ€ in your words) pedophiles, prone to sexual violence and incapable of love.
No, that’s obvious nonsense. If that were true, the homophilic construction would be impossible.
Hm… What did Plutarch mean by “a band cemented by friendship grounded upon love is never to be broken” then? As I understand the homosexuality was a very common practice in the militaries of Ancient Greece. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_the_militaries_of_ancient_Greece According to Wikipedia and some other sources there was no domination, soldiers loved one another sexually to boost the fighting spirit, morale and bravery.
Well, if you think about it the economical benefits (e.g. tax discounts if they exists) for comitted heterosexual marriages makes perfect sense in that it is beneficial to society to have stable cells of reproduction and education. So not the case of homosexual partnership/marriages.
>No, thatâ€™s obvious nonsense. If that were true, the homophilic construction would be impossible.
Eric, you openly questioned if it was possible without genetic engineering to sustain it … “of a kind we donâ€™t yet have”.
You’re right; that is profoundly silly. But it does provide an interesting jumping-off point, in that it brings one to consider the degree to which the popularity of, say, “My Chemical Romance”, is due to Gerard Way and Frank Iero making out with each other for an audience. As far as I’m aware, this is a relatively new thing, as is the popularity of women writing gay slash fiction (it used to be just a few diehard Trekkies here in the States; now it seems to be universal among adolescent girls.)
A quick Google brings up this review from 1978. Off the top of my head, I’d be cautious about drawing conclusions from that sort of thing, since higher social status means higher mobility, which means greater ability to come out, which might skew the results. I’m just handwaving, though; I don’t know.
Should childless couples be required to refund their bennies if they don’t produce sprogs for the greater glory of the State? Perhaps if they fall below a required rate? Production must be maintained in our modern baby factories!
Childless couples, when such laws were put into place, were extreme outliers, particularly those who were childless by choice.
Frankly, I think it would be more useful today for the state not to recognize marriage. Why should a secular, pluralistic state recognize such an institution? One can make an argument for a confessional state of some sort doing so, because it purports belief in a set of values greater than itself. A secular state that adheres to no specific religious or other rigid philosophical constructs should be unconcerned wholly with recognizing/regulating social constructs, unless such a construct is greatly and objectively contrary to the state interest in its first cause (i.e., terrorist organizations). It should fail to recognize or regulate marriages, religions, corporations, etc.
>Eric, you openly questioned if it was possible without genetic engineering to sustain it â€¦ â€œof a kind we donâ€™t yet haveâ€.
You appear to need to work on your reading comprehension.
Russell Nelson wrote:
> you seem to be working under the misconception that homosexuality
> is an attractive lifestyle.
Apparently, it is attractive enough that many people engage in it. Surely an economist like you knows that any choice is a combination of costs and benefits, such as the cost of the (tiny) risk of being beaten up, against the benefit of a relationship that suits you. From what I understand the lifestyle of a gang member is attractive to some too, despite the vastly higher risk of being beaten up in that lifestyle.
So, the simple fact is that people do choose the homosexual lifestyle, because they consider it more attractive than the alternatives. That is not a value judgment on my part, it is a simple statement of fact. People choose the heterosexual lifestyle too, if they consider the alternatives less attractive. This is the basics of personal economics.
You might want to argue that there are very strong incentives that encourage that choice (despite the disincentives), and that these incentives are outside the control of the individual. You are probably right, but that is a different argument.
“The other interesting question is whether this reinvention is sustainable in the longer term. If my analysis is correct, modern homosexuals are bucking a pretty strong biological headwind.”
“That suggests to me that a tendency for male homosexuals to drift into the darker corners of domination sex is still wired in beneath the modern homophilic construction. It might take actual genetic engineering, of a kind we donâ€™t yet have, to fix this.”
“Eric, you openly questioned if it [the homophilic construction] was possible without genetic engineering to sustain it …”
My reading comprehension is just fine.
Travis, what part of the phrase “beneath the modern homophilic construction” did you fail to understand?
Pot. Kettle. Black.
Travis, read it again. I believe his suggestion was that there may be a genetic component linking homosexuality and BDSM, the modern homophilic construction is bucking this trend, it may or may not be succesful despite this, but that even if successful it might require genetic engineering to eliminate the underlying link.
Eric, you really weren’t as clear as you could have been there. I had to be extremely careful parsing your statements to spot that, and most people simply don’t parse that carefully, even the smart ones. Just clearly identifying what you meant by “this” would have helped I think.
>Travis, read it again. I believe his suggestion was that there may be a genetic component linking homosexuality and BDSM, the modern homophilic construction is bucking this trend, it may or may not be succesful despite this, but that even if successful it might require genetic engineering to eliminate the underlying link.
I’ll see if I can edit the original post to make this clearer.
>More seriously, a number of psychological studies with at least limited cross cultural sampling find an almost negligible rate of ongoing bisexual behavior in men
Correct. I have previously blogged about this
Hmm… although now that I think about it further, suggesting that the modern homophilic construction might not last because of the link, and that genetic engineering might be necessary to eliminate the link, is tantamount to saying that genetic engineering might be necessary to sustain the modern construction. Did you mean to suggest that it might fail because of it, or only that it’s an ongoing obstacle to watch out for?
>Did you mean to suggest that it might fail because of it, or only that itâ€™s an ongoing obstacle to watch out for?
Er, how are those two cases different?
Could it be that bisexuality is merely under-reported because men tend to be more one way than the other? I’m sorry, but I’m accustomed to thinking in terms of statistical distributions.
You go ahead and run that by the religious folks, and see how that works out for you. In the meantime, could you leave the pie-in-the-sky imaginings for later, and explain why the state’s opinion of same-sex couples (especially if they can adopt and raise children whose parents are in no position to do so) should or should not differ from that of opposite-sex couples who aren’t raising children?
The problem is that while it is indeed a choice to live out of the closet, it’s not a choice whether or not to be gay. The choice you posit does indeed exist, but you left out that the alternative to living, as you say, “the homosexual lifestyle”, is a lifetime spent closeted, in fear, shame and self-loathing. It’s disturbing how quickly the memory of just how terrible the universal closet was has gone down the memory hole.
So, no, there’s nothing wrong with taking an economic view of things. You just need to follow it to its logical conclusion–given the trouble that comes with being out, it’s still worth it because the closet is worse.
They are different if there already exists a countervailing force in homosexual males that offsets the tendency towards dominance sex that you assert is intrinsic. If, as I argue, homosexuals possess the same capacity for romantic attachment that is so obvious to you in heterosexual relationships (and among lesbians) then a cultural emphasis on romantic attachment can bring it to the fore and suppress the darker impulses that you so concerned about. In which case this link is merely an obstacle.
(I’d go even further, cultural emphasis isn’t even necessary, only cultural tolerance, it is coming to the fore already.)
If however, you think then homosexuals possess no such capacity for romantic attachment then you would view the homophilic construction as fundamentally flawed…. a house built on sand and in need of some serious intervention a la genetic engineering or some pretty stringent cultural rules. You didn’t full out endorse this view, but you appear to entertain it.
I fall on the side of homosexuals (including males) possessing a capacity for romantic attachment. I’ve seen it among my friends, both gay and straight. And to my eye, there is no discernable difference.
Eric, you seemed to react pretty viscerally to any suggestion that homosexual males possess this capacity, dismissing it out of hand as an attempt to draw a (false in your view) equivalence between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Perhaps I misread you, but I concluded that you don’t think a capacity for romantic love and long term attachment exists among homosexual men in any fundamental way. I dispute that. There are differences between gay male brains and straight male brains, but they aren’t THAT different.
The link you described seemed to me to be something that would apply to individual relationships, but not all of them. It would be an issue (opponents would keep bringing it up) for the longterm success of romantic gay male relationships as a socially acceptable thing, but wouldn’t prevent it. Upon first reading, and for my initial response, I assumed you were viewing it the same way. It wasn’t until I reread my first response that your take wasn’t actually clear, and that Travis might have been reading you correctly.
I do question whether the link is actually there or not as a genetic thing… but i have little of substance to say on it.
>Perhaps I misread you, but I concluded that you donâ€™t think a capacity for romantic love and long term attachment exists among homosexual men in any fundamental way.
You totally misread me. As I have pointed out least twice now, it is a necessary consequence of my analysis that such capacity must exist; otherwise the homophilic reconstruction of the last two centuries would have been impossible.
The question is one of degree. To illustrate this, let me propose a scenario:
We could live in a universe where the neural wiring for romantic love and long-term attachment is present in both heterosexual and homosexual males, but only reliably invoked by female partners. So homosexual males have it, but because their sexual response to females is defective, the romance circuitry very seldom activates. Occasionally, two of them get lucky.
Such a model would be testable by looking at the frequency distribution of the lengths of sexual relationships. The romantic circuitry is designed to promote long relationships so children will get nurturance during their dependency period. If we looked at the length distributions for male heterosexuals and male homosexuals and saw a large difference – the one to expect from the adaptive explanation would be that heterosexuals have more long-term relationships and fewer one-night stands – then that would be telling us something important.
Mind you, I’m not asserting the above model or statistics to be true. They’re plausible, but AFAIK we lack the evidence to confirm them. I’m just trying to illustrate how I think we should investigate and reason about such things – not with anti-homosexual bias, but not with a squeamish unwillingness to face facts, either.
>As I understand the homosexuality was a very common practice in the militaries of Ancient Greece.
The very article you cite says “Military pederasty was encouraged as a means to improve troop morale”. It wasn’t homophilically constructed in the modern way; it was (mostly) men fucking adolescent or perhaps even preadolescent boys.
The primary sources are clear that androphilia (homosexual relationships between age- and status-equals) were the exception rather than the rule, in the Greek military and elsewhere.
>Could it be that bisexuality is merely under-reported because men tend to be more one way than the other? Iâ€™m sorry, but Iâ€™m accustomed to thinking in terms of statistical distributions.
Studies of physiological arousal when subjects are shown pictures of naked men and women aren’t subject to under-reporting bias, because they don’t rely on self-reports. That’s where the strongest evidence for the rarity of actual male bisexuality comes from.
You seem to have made a number of modifications of the original post for clarity. Was this one of them or did I blank on it originally?
“Most educated people in the U.S. and Europe have a default model or construction of homosexual behavior which I will call â€œromantic homosexualityâ€. Romantic homosexuality is homoeroticism between equals; men or women of roughly the same age and social position, with the relationship having affective elements similar to the emotional range in heterosexual relationships (from one-night stand through lifetime marriage).”
>Was this one of them or did I blank on it originally?
You blanked. That paragraph is unaltered since the original post.
Didn’t Mohammed marry a nine-year-old? Was this normal in Arab society at the time? Is there any evidence for or against the claim that he waited till she hit puberty to consummate the marriage?
This was a thoughtful and insightful post – bravo. I’d mainly just caution against too quickly jumping to conclusions from these data points. Better to collect many stylized facts about sexuality and then try to explain them all together via some simple set of assumptions.
>Didnâ€™t Mohammed marry a nine-year-old?
I had heard this was the case, but did not know whether it could be confirmed from primary sources. this detailed investigation confirms that it can be. Not only is there sound reason to believe Mohammed had sex with a prepubertal girl, but textual evidence suggests that such marriages were common enough at the time to require specific codicil in the marriage law laid down by the Quran.
Later Muslims rejected this practice, and most Islamic scholars maintain – contrary to the primary evidence – that Mohammed did not have sex with his bride Aisha until she was around 14. I knew before finding the primary evidence that Muslims get very angry and defensive when the Aisha story is brought up. On the other hand, the Grand Mufti of Saudia Arabia reaffirmed Shari’a law support for marriage to girls as young as 10 years old in 2006.
How we should interpret these facts is not clear. I am not aware of any evidence suggesting that Arab men of any period generally preferred marriage to pre-pubescent girls over marriage with sexually mature young women. Mohammed himself had between ten and twelve older wives; his first and principal wife Khadijah was fifteen years older than he, and Islamic tradition praises his choice of a mature and experienced woman. The Grand Mufti may have been backed into a corner by Wahhabist literalism about Quranic law, with the specific sanction of child marriage only as a consequence of that.
On the other hand, one of the most disturbing facets of modern Arab-world culture is persistent evidence of extremely high rates of sexual child abuse. Addressing this problem is high on the public agenda of reformist Arabs.
You have done well to bring this up. If I had to pick the human culture in which heterosexual male behavior towards females most closely resembles the domination- and pederasty-centric classical construction of homosexuality, it would be that of Islamic Arabs. I almost mentioned this in my original post, but refrained in order to avoid off-topic flamewars,
Mea Culpa then.
Given more emphasis that paragraph influences the meaning of much of what follows and I think that your subesequent clarifications are improvements as well. It reads profoundly differently this time around.
Especially if you skip over the paragraph on deprivation sex. Not that it wasn’t a valid point, but I think its construction and position create a mental break in the reader (at least in me) between the discussion of romantic homosexuality which preceeded it and the discussion of pederasty and dominance sex that followed.
I still think you are tip toeing past any hint of dominance sex among heterosexual males in the historical record. I’m not normally one to toe the feminist party line, but they do have a pretty fundamental point. In any society where females are not the social and legal equals of males, relationships between the sexes (including but not limited to marriage and sex) will be colored by that power imbalance. Similarly, there is plenty of evidence to point to a common practice of raping of women in conquered territories.
You pointed out that the “top” in a homosexual relationship wasn’t even considered homosexual or deviant at all in some times and places. I think it is reasonable to conclude from that that being the top in a homosexual relationship was considered analgous to heterosexual sex in those societies. The top was still the man… the dominant one.
I think (but could be wrong) that your view is that females envoke feelings of romantic love in their male partners which offsets any underlying societal power imbalance … at least when it comes to sex. Possible, but I think its a stretch and it doen’t explain the behavior of victorious armies.
I think dominance sex is an identifiable component in the classical heterosexual construction just as it was in the classic homosexual one. Consequently I think that your identifying a penchant for dominance sex as an aspect of male homosexual sexual experssion and not an aspect of male sexual expression generally is questionable. (Clearly this is something we disagree on.)
Finally, I also assert that if heterosexual males didn’t need some genetic engineering in the wake of women’s lib, then that is pretty good evidence that homosexuals probably don’t need it either and that the homophilic construction can endure without it.
(I’m flashing on “The Gate to Women’s Country” by Sherri S. Tepper. There are probably some feminists out there who argue that heterosexual males DO need a little genetic engineering.)
On the topic of your other interesting… What changed?
I think sentimentalization of the family is a pretty narrow focus, but you didn’t really elaborate on it and how that would impact the homophilic construction.
Another factor could easily be of influence are extended adolescence. In historic times, a child of 12 or so was considered to be aproaching adulthood in many societies and expected to begin taking on adult roles. Now days, that doesn’t happen until 18 or so. We don’t view a 12 year old as “almost an adult” and I expect that explains why we don’t view them as acceptable sexual partners for adults of either orientation.
However, I think the answer to what chaned is more fundamental than that. Over the past few hundred years we (at least here in the west) have effectively shifted from living in heirarchical societies to much more egalitarian ones. Women’s lib, “We hold these truths to be self evident…” etc. When you live in an society of equals, it is not at all suprising to me that the form of sexual expression that asserts itself is the one that most closely accomodates that fact. I think this change is so profound and has had such a profound impact on both marriage and sex, that drawing conclusions about sex or marriage on one side of the boundary and projecting them across to the other is tricky.
Re Neural wiring, romantic love etc:
>We could live in a universe where the neural wiring for romantic love and long-term attachment is present in both heterosexual and homosexual males, but only reliably invoked by female partners.
We could also live in a universe where the neural wiring for fomantic love is more funcational in homosexuals males than in the average male. (Yes I did hear several people scoff). To the extent that you think that homosexuality is the result of a “feminization” of the male (and that is a pretty common view), then it is not an unreasonable question to ask. If homosexual men possess other characteristics normally associated with women, why not a penchant for romantic love?
>Such a model would be testable by looking at the frequency distribution …
It wouldn’t be as easy as you make it sound. The number of factors you would have to control for is pretty immense They have started to use brain imaging technology on the topics of lust, love and attachment which also might provide some interesting information, but that is still pretty new.
>Such a model would be testable by looking at the frequency distribution â€¦
This will be easier to test when we get full marriage equality. At the moment the state sanctions and subsidises long-term heterosexual relationships.
On top of that social norms reinforce marriage for heterosexual couples; apparently there was some resistance to the idea of gay marriage within the gay community since a significant minority were quite happy to remain free from these pressures.
>I think (but could be wrong) that your view is that females envoke feelings of romantic love in their male partners which offsets any underlying societal power imbalance
No, I’m asserting something more fundamental than that; it’s that “societal power imbalance” doesn’t matter a damn to this discussion. It’s a red herring. At best, a distraction – and at worst, talking about it is a tactic to avoid facing uncomfortable truths.
Here’s why I think that. Consider a pre-modern society: we’ll make it Ancient Rome for concreteness. Two men in it: one is J. Random Heterosexual, the other J. Random Homosexual. Both are adult male heads of household of what would now be middle-class status, with the terrifying privileges this gives them under Roman law. Both have wives and keep slaves. In accordance with the custom of the day, both wives and slaves are sexually available to them.
Now I’m going to tell two stories about average behavior based on how the Romans themselves reported average behavior, Again, this is from primary sources: satires, especially, are revealing.
J. Random Heterosexual fucks his wife and occasionally a slave-girl. The slave girl will be young, no doubt, because heterosexual men like that – but she will also definitely be post-pubertal because heterosexual men like breasts and hips and other secondary sexual characteristics found in post-pubertal females. She will have little or no choice about bedding him. He will not have romantic feelings about her. It is, however, pretty likely that he will have romantic feelings about his wife; Roman men were expected to, even when the marriage was arranged for dynastic purposes, and in fact Roman custom normally granted both sexes a fairly high degree of choice in who they married even though a single adult of either sex was nominally under the near-absolute authority of the senior male of his or her family.
J. Random Homosexual will fuck his wife, too, but on the bare minimum of occasions he can get away with to fulfill the customary requirements for offspring. (At various times from the early Republic on, there were laws making it a crime to be unmarried too long; a Censor could exercise his authority under the regimen morum to severely punish offenders). Mostly he will fuck slave-boys in a manner we would now describe as pederastic/pedophilic child abuse, with all the pathological connotations that has of getting his jollies from the very fact of their helplessness and subordination. He will not have romantic feelings for his wife, because the sexual charge required to ground them in is absent (it is a matter of record, and satire, that Roman women married to men of homosexual inclination complained of this). He will not have romantic feelings for the slave-boys, because men basically don’t do that – and on the rare occasions that they do, the scorn directed at them is withering.
Modulo a few relatively minor details, we’re basically describing the sexual customs of pretty much every civilized human society before about 1750, outside of sub-Saharan Africa (which is a special case for reasons I won’t go into here because they’re basically irrelevant). In polygynous societies a man may have secondary wives who are intermediate in status between senior wife and slave-girl, and have romantic feelings for them; that is, really, about the largest variation that matters for this discussion.
Now, the key thing to understand is that both J. Random Homo and J. Random Hetero are at the same position in their culture’s societal-power-imbalance gradient. Therefore, the similarities in their behavior – including the fact that they both occasionally buy slaves to fuck them and their wives have little to say about the matter – can be explained by social and sexual power imbalances. But the differences in behavior cannot be.
And the differences are stark. For J. Random Hetero, romantic feeling is a normal part of his relational life, and all the women he fucks are post-pubertal females to which he has a species-normal sexual response not particularly compromised by a desire to humiliate or sexually dominate them. There will be heterosexual men with that taste, of course, but they will be a relatively small cohort of outliers in the Roman population, as they are in ours.
For J. Random Homo, on the other hand, romantic feeling will rarely if ever be part of his repertoire. He will know of homosexual relations between social-power equals as a theoretical possibility, but have actual contempt for men who engage in them, considering such men effeminate and perverted. Behavior which we would today characterize as brutal pederastic and pedophilic abuse will be what is in fact normal for him. You may be sure that when he buys a boy with a peach-bottomed butt at the slave market, he is not going to be earnestly inquiring about the kid’s preferences before penetrating the kid’s anus.
Explain that difference away, if you can, by “societal power imbalance”.
>At various times from the early Republic on, there were laws making it a crime to be unmarried too long; a Censor could exercise his authority under the regimen morum to severely punish offenders
1. Coercive pressure from the state to engage in heteronormative marriage.
>He will not have romantic feelings for the slave-boys, because men basically donâ€™t do that – and on the rare occasions that they do, the scorn directed at them is withering.
>He will know of homosexual relations between social-power equals as a theoretical possibility, but have actual contempt for men who engage in them, considering such men effeminate and perverted.
2. Social sanctions for engaging in homophilic behaviour.
From a society demonstating (1) and (2) you cannot make any inferences about basic genetic wiring.
>1. Coercive pressure from the state to engage in heteronormative marriage.
I would be extremely interested to hear your theory of how coercive pressure for heteronormative marriage explains pederastic abuse of purchased children. As opposed to, say, hiring adult male prostitutes on the sly.
Go ahead. I’m waiting. I expect your explanation will be…entertaining, if unintentionally so.
“I got blood on my hands and theirs no remorse, I got blood on my dick cuz I fucked your copse” is an amusingly relevent lyric.
>I would be extremely interested to hear your theory of how coercive pressure for heteronormative marriage explains pederastic abuse of purchased children
You managed to completely miss my point. I did not claim to have such a theory; I made a negative claim that certain inferences were not possible based on the information presented. The mistake you made was in in the claim:
>both J. Random Homo and J. Random Hetero are at the same position in their cultureâ€™s societal-power-imbalance gradient.
which is complete nonsense since one of them is a member of an oppressed minority.
>As opposed to, say, hiring adult male prostitutes on the sly.
I’m not convinced that this was uncommon; I suspect your primary resources suffer from reporting bias. I would however predict higher rates of pederasty in Roman society than in ours, based on oppurtunity and the psychological damage inflicted by the closet (certain other Romans spring to mind).
>talking about it is a tactic to avoid facing uncomfortable truths.
I have to ask, what uncomfortable truths do you think I am avoiding? Please feel free to state them as clearly and bluntly as you think necessary.
>J. Random Heterosexual fucks his wife and occasionally a slave-girl. The slave girl will be young, no doubt, because heterosexual men like that – but she will also definitely be post-pubertal because heterosexual men like breasts and hips and other secondary sexual characteristics found in post-pubertal females
>J. Random Homosexual … [mostly] will fuck slave-boys in a manner we would now describe as pederastic/pedophilic child abuse, with all the pathological connotations that has of getting his jollies from the very fact of their helplessness and subordination.
Do your primary sources establish that J. Random Homo is getting his jollies from the helplessness and subordination? Or is that something you have inferred? Conversely do your primary sources establish that J. Random Hetro doesn’t get his jollies from the helplessness and subordination? Or is that something you have inferred?
@pete: You don’t have to predict the rates of pederasty in Roman society, they are in the historical record. Neither do you have to speculate on causes like psychological damage. The human male is a sexual opportunist and pederasty was a socially accepted form of sexual expression in Roman society. Indeed, it was the ONLY socially acceptable form available to homosexuals as Eric has established. That is more than enough to explain the results.
@esr: Let me take a different tack to make my point. In your original post, you identified three components of homosexual sexuality… romantic, pederasty, and dominance. (I’ll skip over depravation sex as well although you might want to apply the concept to J Random Homo).
Let’s put aside the romantic and pederasty and focus specifically on dominance sex. You described it thusly: “In this kind of homoeroticism, penetration is equated with dominating or humiliating an inferior, the slave, the prisoner, the catamite, the helpless object. ” And the example you gave was of the Sioux warriors threatening to rape the corpses of their enemies. Is it really your position that heterosexual males don’t have a similar capacity? It seems trivially obvious to me that they do, raping wives and daughters of enemies is a pretty well established behavior in history.
I conclude therefore that dominance sex should be acknowledged as part of the human male’s sexual repetoir (an unsavory part to be sure, but still a part), and not solely as part of the homosexual males. Do you agree or disagree. If disagree… why?
ESR: Much honor for venturing into a minefield.
A couple of points.
Heterosexual romance may not have been the norm for marriage, but it was very widely acknowledged long before the modern era. There are a fair number of heterosexual romances included in the canon of classical legends: Hero and Leander, Pyramus and Thisbe. The medieval cult of “courtly love” was huge. By the time of the Renaissance, stories of tragically thwarted or happy-ending successful lovers were commonplace in literature. About 20 of the 100 stories in the Decameron deal with romantic love, including several where the lovers overcome misfortune and opposition to achieve happiness in marriage. By Shakespeare’s day, it was becoming more and more of a cultural norm. Virtually all of Shakespeare’s comedies feature a successful love-match, and sometimes several. In The Merry Wives of Windsor, the “happy ending” is that while Falstaff was being thoroughly humbled, Anne Page evaded the arranged marriages intended by her mother and father, instead marrying her “true love”.
As noted, nowhere in pre-modern literature, in any culture, is there any comparable depiction of homosexual romance.
However, pre-modern homosexuality was not always dominance and/or pederastic. According to Suetonius, the Emperor Galba (3 BCE-69 CE; reigned June 68-January 69) was “a homosexual invert [who preferred] mature and very sturdy men.” Even when there was a dominance element, there could also be a romantic element. The “Sacred Band” of Thebes was composed of pairs of homosexual “lovers” (one older, one younger) – but they were expected to fight to the death rather than abandon each another.
The future will be interesting, of course. Like many other received truths about human behavior, the present dogmas about homosexuality are going to collide brutally with the revelations of neuroscience and genetics. It is entirely possible that sometime in the next 20-50 years, techniques will be found that effectively eliminate homosexual development in children. (I’ve encountered people who are reflexively certain this is impossible.) Some of this may result from the elimination of birth abnormalities; that is, homosexuality may arise in part from variations in the uterine environment that are potentially damaging. Eliminate the variations, and eliminate both the damage and homosexuality, perhaps. In any case, most, perhaps nearly all parents would apply such a treatment. The “homosexual culture” may go the way of “deaf culture”.
Something that just doesn’t much attention is that a number of studies find that homosexuals were disproportionately victims of child sexual abuse. But we dare not examine the possibility of a connection between the two.
I’ve mentioned before that there are a number of studies, both correlational and longitudinal, that find that homosexuals are disproportionately victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). I have also mentioned that disproportionate substance abuse problems (including IV drugs, alcohol, and tobacco) are well documented in the homosexual population–as is the case with adult survivors of CSA.
A new book, Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States, published by Oxford University Press, summarizes a variety of studies, and acknowledges that MSM (which is the new Politically Correct term for Men who have Sex with Men) are indeed, at least three times more likely to have been sexually abused as children than heterosexual men. (p. 92) The chapter summary acknowledges that there might be a connection between childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual orientation. Throughout the body of the chapter, the authors continue the little pretense that MSMs were sexually abused as children because they were already homosexual, and were attracting men, or in some way initiated the sexual abuse (pp. 87-88).
What blows this argument right out of the box is that:
1. The largest survey of childhood sexual abuse, with 17,000 HMO patients (both homosexual and heterosexual), found that 16% reported CSA–and 40% of the abusers were women. But among MSMs, 90% of the abusers are men. As the authors even admit, on p. 87, either there’s some connection between CSA and development of adult homosexuality, or there’s something about MSMs that causes them to have increased “vunerability.”
2. The average age of the abused men was ten (p. 87)–which means that at half were ten year old or less than ten years old. Yeah, like we should really believe that six, seven, and eight year olds were out flirting with adult men because they were already interested in sex, or otherwise were doing something that made them so disproportionately victims of CSA.
Which do you think is more likely? That a psychologically scarring, sometimes violent sexual act committed on a child might screw up their sexual orientation? Or that children under ten years old are obviously homosexual, and that this attracts pedophile adults? What is especially bizarre is that the chapter admits that CSA causes sexual confusion among men:
Gee, and yet they aren’t quite prepared to admit that CSA might cause adult homosexuality. I wonder why?
I scratch my head a lot when I read stuff like this, because the very first item that should be researched is, “Does CSA cause adult homosexuality?” The forward direction of causality for CSA and adult homosexuality is vastly more likely than that pedophiles can identify little boys that are going to grow up to be homosexual. And it doesn’t take a genius to see how one can lead to the other–nor does it take a genius to figure out why homosexual activists have always had an ambivalent relationship with pedophile groups like NAMBLA. But it is so much easier for everyone to pretend that the connection just isn’t there–because homosexual activists will screech up a storm if you suggest that they weren’t born that way, but are the victims of abuse.
UPDATE: Let me emphasize that I am not arguing that there is a single cause for all homosexuality. At least part of why psychiatry eventually decided that homosexuality wasn’t a problem was that they seem to have been too focused on seeking a single explanation. The Freudian weak father/domineering mother fit a number of homosexuals (including some families that I have seen), but certainly not all. Hormonal problems explained a few homosexuals (or at least, with the crudeness of the biochemistry then available, seemed to explain it). But a single explanation just didn’t fit all homosexuals.
Because a majority of MSMs in these surveys do not report CSA, it would be tempting to conclude that the majority has repressed their memories (as some CSA survivors do). But it seems unlikely that that the discrepancy is large enough to explain this large of a gap. There may be multiple causes of homosexuality, and I will even admit the possibility that there may be some that are born that way. But even the American Psychological Association admits that there is simply no evidence that clearly demonstrates that people are born homosexual.
This debate is pretty interesting. I’d just like to say a few things. I come from a culture where there is no word for “homosexual” as westerners would define it. However there were two major forms of homosexuality in pre-historical times (200-400 years ago). The first is\was prevalent among the Melanesian islands (Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, etc), which was pederastic relationships, it was\is believed that a boy cannot grow to be a man unless he is infused with semen from a man on a regular basis from puberty onwards till adulthood (specific details elude me, google is your friend). The other form of homosexual relationships is still prevalent in Polynesian islands (Samoa, Tonga, Fiji…) where an exclusively homosexual male will identify as a female, and have sex with men, acting as the passive partner (bottom). This was also a sanctioned culturally in perhistoric, pre-christian times, and these individuals (faafafine – in the way of a woman) were considered normal, and had their own function in society, childless caretakers (“aunts”) and replacements for other more masculine men in times of war or labour shortage. Another lesser known function they served was to initiate young boys in sexual knowledge, acting as the bottoms, clearly counter to your claims of pederastic dominance being natural to the homosexual condition.
A fallacy I notice in this discussion is the assumption that prehistoric people were so much happier than us (this myth of the Noble Savage). Amusing, but wrong. I come from a culture that was pre-literate, pre-historic until 200 years ago, and I can tell you, my ancestors were happier than me out of ignorance, and not out of some intrinsic superiority of living “close to nature”. One thing i suspect must have contributed to their happiness is their cyclic view of time. Without worrying about the past, or the future, because they believed nothing was new under the sun, they were happier, but woefully unprepared for the coming of the White Man…
It’s actually used for a reason; here’s an explanation. In short, if you describe men as being gay or bisexual, you’ll get significantly incorrect statistics. Since the people in question are curious about activities, not self-identification, it makes sense to ask a question to which, for example, Larry Craig or Ted Haggard would answer in the affirmative, as they may be able to fool themselves into thinking they’re not gay, but it’s much more doubtful that they can fool themselves into not thinking that they’re men who have sex with men.
People aren’t born tall, either, but good luck changing either height or sexual orientation in an adult without using Procrustean measures.
“Something that just doesnâ€™t much attention is that a number of studies find that homosexuals were disproportionately victims of child sexual abuse. But we dare not examine the possibility of a connection between the two.”
We dare not? Excuse me, doesn’t this study correlate exactly with the vulgar-Freudist notion of psychological thinking? I don’t mean in the sense that it would mean it’s surely wrong, of course that I cannot know from thsi amount of information. I simply mean a theoretical thinking that correlates strongly with it was very much in fashion for most of the last century so the “we dare not” I think is not an appropriate term.
Stephen got a pretty bad chewing out here but I don’t think he is entirely wrong and I don’t think you gotta be a fundie to think this way. It’s perfectly clear that nature invented sex for making kids. This is an “is”, not an “ought”, but I’m not sure at all whether the is-ought fallacy is indeed a fallacy in all cases. I think it only means you cannot positively justify something just because it exists. It doesn’t mean is and ought should be strictly separated when we are talking about doing something in practice. Man can wander away from his biological nature but it is always a question just how far away is practical for our reason to override our biological nature. Clearly no society ever existed that did not practice sex for recreation, without the intent to make kids. The oldest profession and all that. However it’s an open question how far is it OK to take the view sex is for recreation or marriage is for love until it begins to conflict with some very profound “ares”. It’s a tad bit like eating. We can choose to be vegetarians or vegans, we can turn cooking into an art and eating into a ceremony. But there are certain limits if we breach we have serious problems. It’s hard to nail down these limits when it comes to sexuality but asking and thinking about it is not supposed to be thought-crime or something to be ridiculed. There are these absolutely practical questions to ask what happens when more and more educated high-IQ middle-class people have no children and masses of uneducated and low-IQ poor in the third world and in third world immigrants in the first world have many. What effect will it have the genes of humanity at large, what effects will it have on the inequality of wealth in the long run (think inheritance), what cultural effects will it have (it would be an interesting joke of history if liberals would lose in the long run by simply being outbreeded, my only only problem with is that it would be stupid kinds of conservatives who outbreed them, not the intelligent ones), and so on.