soooooo…. I made a post that seems to have rustled a bunch of jimmies – but most annoyingly is the fact that nobody seems to be rustled by what I’m actually saying. It’s more what they think I’m saying. Here’s the tweet;
and I forgive you for immediately thinking I’m going Riley on this subject and I get why. Riley made a video regarding genital preferences in which she essentially implied that the way people talk about genital preferences is transphobic. Obviously this ended up being distilled down into the finest of horse-shit and this is the reason you can now write Riley’s name as “Riley ‘SUCK MY DIG YOU BIGOTS’ Dennis” and get a few laughs out of it. Even though that’s no where near equivalent to what she actually said.
and I get that, I really do. Sexuality is something supremely personal to us all – its our thing that only we have access to experience as it truly is. So when people on the internet with vlogs and blogs start saying “maybe what you think about your sexuality isn’t actually how it is” its reasonable to get a little emotional. To not see reason and to get defensive instead of rationally debate the point.
For the sake of the rest of this blog post, I’m asking you to kindly get yourself waaaaay out of that frame of mind. If you’re not trying to think about what I’m saying rationally and instead you let those personal feelings interact with your interpretation of this stuff; we’re gonna have a bad time.
Cool. So a quick disclaimer, just in case the above wasn’t convincing enough, here’s the things I’m definitely not saying;
- What you feel is wrong
- You must/do like penis
- You must/do like vagina
- That’s transphobic!
- You should have sex with ________ because ___________
- Not all men/women have penises/vaginas
- Sexuality is a choice
Okay, so here’s my tweet again;
The argument I’m making here is that a lot of what we think we experience innately about sexuality is actually a learned thing. It’s not inherent to us at all. There’s no part of a gay man’s brain that is compelling him to suck dicks. Likewise there’s no part of a gay woman’s brain compelling her to scissor. (how to trigger lesbians 101: say they scissor)
Now we should definitely never try this – but I guarantee if you showed some lil girls a picture of dicks and asked them if they liked it – they probably would say “no, its pretty weird.” Likewise for boys and showing them vaginas – (sidebar: Sigmund Freud has some hilariously weird thoughts about this stuff 10/10 would recommend his castration stuff.) This is pretty important, because it shows it isn’t an innate feature – though it could still be inherent. It could still develop inherently at puberty – which has some merit to it, puberty is when you’re being flooded with hormones, specifically the sex hormones which are known to impact people’s sexuality, especially in the libido sense.
So how do I think sexuality works? At puberty you begin being flooded with sex hormones, you go from being pretty much entirely asexual to being really damn sexual. At which point you start acting upon it – but here’s the kicker. A lot of what is taught to us about sexuality is already in our heads by the time we reach puberty. I don’t know about you… but I grew up on Disney films – you know the one’s where the guy gets the girl?
This narrative is woven into the world we live in so seamlessly that you don’t even notice that it’s there or even how it impacts you at all. It’s just a given that men like women by default, right? No, not right. Its in fact a result of our socialisation. Our societies are geared up to benefit those who have heterosexual relationships and go on to procreate and it’s been this way for millennia – its literally in The Bible; “go forth and multiply”. We shame people who don’t find love and have a family – calling them spinsters, cat ladies, losers and virgins etc. To pretend that this has no impact on how sexuality works is beyond stupid – because… well… who wants to die alone as a loser amirite?
“but Disney is straight, so how do we have gay people?” I hear you screech. Everyone has predispositions which can be mixed with the same environment but end up with a different outcome via a different personal interpretation or personal experiences as someone else. For example, play Reflection from Mulan to a bunch of FtMs and MtFs, watch them fight about who the song is about more. Different predispositions, same input, different outputs because they both have different personal interpretations of the song.
You’ll find a lot of trans women relate to female characters far more strongly than they do male ones, and trans men vice versa – this is an example of a predisposition and explains just one way of the millions of ways in which two males/females can interact with the same source and have different interpretations.
So we take predispositions, which interact with what society teaches us until we hit about 12 and begin puberty. This then ‘activates’ us sexually and we start experiencing feelings of sexuality – which are heavily impacted by all of the above. Which around this same age of puberty is usually when we start seeing genitals in a sexual light for the first time, probably because its around this time that we learn about masturbating or because we’re taught about sex in school sex ed classes or because our friends are making V shapes with their fingers and licking at us through them. Or a million other possible reasons that could influence us into now suddenly believing genitals are really damn sexual when previously we could’ve had a bath with a opposite sex sibling and it would never have even crossed our minds.
We can see societal impact on genital preferences by comparing stuff like… the perception of uncut vs cut. In the US, people are far more likely to say cut is the best – people in the UK far more likely to say uncut is the best. Cut penises being far more prevalent in the US making uncut ones far more weirder than how the UK sees them. Likewise, if a country in the middle of the ocean was discovered where everyone had penises that were shaped like pyramids they’d find our dicks as weird as you’d find theirs.
Point being, you might have the predisposition to find certain traits attractive, traits which are say… more common amongst men. So you find men attractive, and when taught that men have dicks – and what dicks are and look like; you’re like “well… okay then, game on! Men have dicks, I’m pretty sure I’m attracted to men, so I guess I like dicks.” But you don’t – you like the idea men and dicks you have in your head, not necessarily the reality of men and dicks in the wild. I had sex with a dick that was shaped like this once:
it was pretty fucking weird fam
The same holds true for vaginas, you don’t find vaginas attractive – you find the idea of vaginas you have in your head attractive, not necessarily the reality of the vagina. There are countless internet memes which prove this point, my favourite being:
Even though you know… vaginas are more diverse than a DC Universe TV show.
bring back constantine.
Even then we’re taught to not like the kind of vagina that isn’t all ‘neat and tidy’ and shaven. It’s the reason people get their labia minora trimmed and why non-jewish men in the US get circumcisions, because of the societal pressure we put on people to conform to our understanding of things rather than adjusting our understanding of things to conform to people. It’s totally backwards, but I get why it was that way for the longest time. We didn’t have access to this kind of information for the millennia this system has been in action. It’s only in the last hundred years or so we’ve really started to update our understanding from the archaic – but pragmatic – format that it took for about the first 12,000 years of the Human Era and think about it far more critically than we ever have done.
This is a massive paradigm shift for our understanding, absolutely, and I don’t expect it to happen easily – but I do expect it to happen. More and more people are thinking critically about sex and sexuality and its been expanding and expanding and expanding. The boxes we built for ourselves seemed big when we only had a few things to put in each one, but now that we’ve got a far more wider understanding of these things the boxes don’t fit and we can’t continue to maintain them in the face of all this new information. And… I don’t think we should either – if it aint broke don’t fix it sure, but its starting to seem a lot like our old understanding is already broken.
What does it mean for the future of sexuality? Personally I think we’re heading towards a world that doesn’t see sexuality as an issue at all. Where anything goes and anyone can have a happy life regardless of who they choose to have that life with. We’re a fair way off, and I’m not even sure if I’ll live to see it. I kinda imagine it as the Citadel In Mass Effect – all sci-fi shiny white walls n stuff. But that’s where I think we’re heading, to a totally universal sense of sexuality – where none of it matters at all.
I think I rambled a lot towards the end there, usually I plan these a lot better. If you’re confused or have any questions please feel free, also criticism always welcome!