Friday, January 4, 2008

Are We Born that Way?

Heterosexual reproduction is the method by which most visible organisms reproduce. The word “sexuality” and the words “sexual orientation” are modern day constructs that serve to create separate compartments of mind and behavior that are said to exist outside biology. We do not talk about the sexuality or sexual orientation of dogs, cats, elephants, or chimps instead we refer to their biological sex, which is indicated by their genitalia.

Genitalia, along with the physiological components necessary for reproduction are genetically determined. Reproductive sex among animals is instinctive and is not dependent on learning. The conformation and functioning of the genitalia invite and facilitate sexual intercourse between male and female of their respective species.

Quadruped species are tightly bound to obtain sexual relief through intercourse with the opposite sex, while the bipedal animals find that they can obtain sexual relief through various simulations of sexual intercourse. But the basic, instinctual systems related to gender still form the basis of sexual activity – for the male, arousal, intromission, and ejaculation and for the female arousal, submission, and sometimes orgasm. Nature provides man with complementary sexual organs along with complex physiological actions that facilitate reproductive sex, but do not preclude non-reproductive sex. Complex physiological actions mediate sexual interest, attraction, receptivity, and aggressiveness and are closely related to fertility but are not reliant on a fertile partner to function.

This reproductive system has worked to ensure the survival and proliferation of the human species partly because the system contains many redundancies. One such redundancy is the relatively loose connection between sexual behaviors and fertility. In the human female ovulation is not evident to the male while in many species estrus is made obvious to the male through sight, smell, and behavior of the female, all of which trigger the male to seek intercourse with her. Reproductive success in man, however, does not depend on the male reading such signals of fertility, instead the male seeks intercourse without such clear signals allowing the male’s independent sexual drive to determine his sexual behavior without regard to the fertility of his partner. The human male’s drive to seek sexual relief is unremitting, and relatively indiscriminant compared to animals with obvious estrus.

Humanity’s reproductive success shows clearly that the vast majority of human males respond sexually to female fertility signs such as health and youth and possibly more subtle signs of scent, body conformation, and behavior. But the redundancy in our reproductive system allows sexual behaviors like masturbation that are not triggered by the presence of a fertile female. Such non-reproductive sexual behavior would be intolerable in a system that relies on a single ejaculation to fertilize an infrequent ovum.

Masturbation, homosexuality, bisexuality, voyeurism, exhibitionism, sado-masochism, fetishism, pedophilia, bestiality, prostitution, etc. are the by-products of our particular type of reproductive system, a system relatively loosely connected to fertility and amplified by human imagination. There is no need to postulate a genetic glitch, the environment of the womb, the number and sex of siblings, the psychological dynamics of the family, or estrogen-mimicking pollution to explain these behaviors. Deviant behaviors are driven by the same hormones, effected by the same organs, and responsive to the same rudimentary tactile stimuli as reproductive sex. With the exception of the defective, deformed and the diseased we are all “born” to participate in reproductive sex. Deviations are not inborn but experiential, circumstantial, and are not manifest until a person reaches sexual maturity. Reproduction is an essential part of our life cycle and though some of us will be unable to participate in it, no one should act to preclude that possibility in another by suggesting that he or she has a different “orientation”.