A Time to Choose
Is Sexuality Really a Choice?
How many of you remember that time – around when you hit puberty – when your parents sat you down for ‘that’ discussion? You know – the one about sex….. And surely you remember them telling you – “before we start this discussion you have to choose – which do you want sex with – boys or girls”? You don’t remember that? Then how did it happen? Could it be that somehow you just knew which sex you were attracted to? Do you remember as you look back, seeing even those preschool children where as you watched them you could tell they were acting more masculine or feminine than you would expect, and you suspected they might be ‘gay’? And maybe you had the chance to see that manifest? Could that possibly be choice in a child too young to really know anything about sexuality? Maybe we could take a look at a group of our female Olympic competitors to shed some light on things. Did you know that some of these perfectly normal looking and acting females are found to have testosterone levels that are too high? And that many of them had their TESTES removed surgically – from their abdomens – to correct that? A disorder called testicular feminization syndrome exists , where the person has that genetic ‘on/off switch’ set to male, and yet the body and the psyche are female and only some of the genitals are male and they are hidden. Is there any way on this earth you could consider that a choice?
While this disorder is a bit more extreme and dramatic, it is only one in a spectrum of variations in what can happen to people that determines their sexual identity and preference. We can be born with abnormal chromosome counts, we can have ovaries or testes that make more or less potent hormones, we have other hormone regulating systems that effect not only what is released, but how the ‘end organ’ responds to it. So in those women with Testicular Feminization, for example, they make testosterone, and yet their body does not respond to it and they develop as the sexual default mode of female. Did you know that for any genetic male of any species, if they are castrated early enough in fetal development, they will develop as FEMALES? The important take away here is that sexuality has a full range of variation – just as do height, hair color, skin color, IQ, likes and dislikes, physical strength and so on. With all the variables, and all the things that have a chance of going wrong, it is nothing short of miraculous that any of us are even born fairly ‘normal’ – whatever that means. I used to know what normal was – but then I became a doctor, followed by specializing first in pathology and then in Psychiatry – and boy did I ever come to appreciate the infinite range of ‘normal’. Or else that nothing is ‘normal’. At any rate, sex is not an on off switch determined by whether we are XX or XY, but a full spectrum of options, even without considering abnormal chromosome counts.
Ironically, our sexual preference “choices” are also not an either/or issue. There are those who prefer same sex, those who prefer opposite sex, those who enjoy both sexes, those who enjoy almost anything that might come in contact with their genitals – even including animals and dead things – and those who don’t like sex at all! YES, that happens too.
What is a choice when it comes to sex?
Probably the first choice is around sex education. Do we educate our children about sexuality – including the emotional, biological and reproductive aspects of it – or do we delegate that to teachers – or do like my mom and say ‘just use common sense? Do we fear that talking to kids will make them want to do it? In case you haven’t noticed, no one talks to our pets about sex and disease and birth control, but they figure it out anyway. THEY can be neutered, but we don’t usually want to do that to our children!! Without reasonable sex education we can also ‘litter’ our lives with unwanted and unplanned children.
Choices about partners, and how we treat them.
First there is the choice to have sex or not to, but the major issues are what kind of partners we choose and how we treat them. Do we choose appropriate age range people who are not close relatives, who consent to have sex and then treat them with dignity, regard and consideration – whether they are same sex or opposite sex? Do we treat the other person as a worthwhile human being, or as an object – as simply a way to satisfy our urges? Do we coerce and even physically abuse or rape them? Do we treat them as if they are less than human objects who have no rights, no desires of their own, no say so in their own involvement, and so on? Do we exercise caution to be sure we don’t spread diseases, whether sexual or otherwise. Do we work in collaboration with our sexual partner in the issue of whether to create children or not?
Do we think if a woman is a spouse – or even a prostitute, that they forfeit their right to be treated as a human being? Does a parent ignore sexual behaviors and justify misbehaviors in their children – or even blame the other person? Do law enforcement officers and judges treat a sexual victim with respect, investigate fully, and try to see that justice is done for all parties? Or are they like a judge in Michigan who gave a light sentence to an adult male for having sex with a 4 year old, justifying it by saying ‘she was asking for it? As a society do we condone those kinds of behaviors – or hopefully do as the people who had elected that judge and quickly remove him from office?
We need to focus on the things that are choices, that can lead to good rather than bad consequences, promote those things that lead to informed, mutual, non-abusive sex, and quit punishing people for things we probably don’t understand and they have no choice about such as their gender identity.
A Time to Choose
Sexuality – remember choosing your preference?
Remember classmates who were ‘different’
I used to know what normal was – but then I became a doctor, followed by specializing first in pathology and then in Psychiatry
Complex factors determine sexuality – a spectrum like everything else – and thus preferences, and they all exist
So what is a choice when it comes to sex? educate our children about sexuality –In case you haven’t noticed, pets a figure it out
(Participating is a choice., but the main choice is how we treat and regard our ‘partner)
(Social responsibility is a choice)