Skip to main content

Nature or nurture?: Embracing choice

James Hormel wrote, "As a young boy growing up in Austin, Minnesota, teachers forced pens into my right hand in the futile hope of correcting my left-handedness. If they had known I was gay, they might have tried to fix that, too. They would have failed."

And why do we try to change each other? Whether we can succeed at changing someone else's personality, character and drive seems a secondary question to why we would want to do so in the first place. Instead of trying to control each other, could we try to protect each other from injury?

Simon LeVay wrote: ”The true moral issue in the area of sexuality is not to establish or refute 'naturalness' – a slippery concept if there ever was one – but to make difficult decisions that balance respect for individual freedom against protection from interpersonal or societal harm.”

Meanwhile, in exercising our individual freedom, we can elevate our behavior from unconscious impulse to conscious choice. Nicholas Fearn wrote: ”If we take a repressed homosexual as our thesis, the antithesis is when he or she realizes that sexual desire can be suppressed by will-power. The clash between desire and self-control leads to a synthesis, since with the power to control oneself comes also the ability to liberate oneself – to express desire deliberately rather than as a response to instinct. All being well, the result is new self-respect in which sexual preferences can be acted on without shame. This is probably not what Hegel had in mind when he conceived of the dialectic, but his method is nothing if not flexible.” Kate Bornstein described a similar process in coming to accept one's gender: "There's a myth in our culture that defines transsexuality as rare, and transsexuals as oddities. But nearly everyone has some sort of bone to pick with their own gender status...We're most of us – whether "transsexual" or not – dissatisfied. Some of us have less tolerance for the dissatisfaction, that's all. I accept the label transsexual as meaning only that I was dissatisfied with my given gender, and I acted to change it. I am transsexual by choice, not by pathology." In both cases, moving past the assumption of fatalism and embracing the idea of choice leads to a new self-respect.

Sources

"Being gay is not a choice." James Hormel. Special to CNN. Nov. 16, 2011.

Simon LeVay, in his book review, "'Evolution's Rainbow' by Joan Roughgarden." Accessed February 24, 2004.

Nicholas Fearn, How to Think Like a Philosopher. New York: Grove Press, 2001. p 120.

Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us. NY: Vintage Books, 1994. p 118.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Castration at the Battle of Adwa (1896)

On March 1, 1896, the Battle of Adwa "cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans." In this battle, Ethiopians beat back the invading Italians and forced them to retreat permanently. It was not until 1922 that Benito Mussolini would again initiate designs against Ethiopia; despite Ethiopia's defeat in 1936, the nation ultimately retained its independence. "Adwa opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the rollback of European rule in Africa. It was," Raymond Jonas wrote, "an event that determined the color of Africa." (p. 1) It was also significant because it upheld the power of Ethiopia's Christian monarchy that controlled an ethnically diverse nation (p. 333), a nation in which, in the late 19th century, the Christian Emperor Yohannes had tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity. (p. 36) The Victorian English spelli

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House . Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity. Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be

The ‘prostitute with a gun’ was a middle-class high school girl

On May 19, 1992, Amy Fisher, a 17-year-old high school student in Long Island, N.Y., rang the bell at the home of 37-year-old Mary Jo Buttafuoco. Buttafuoco stepped onto her front porch and had a brief conversation with the girl, whom she had never met before. Fisher then shot her in the face and fled the scene. Neighbors heard the shot and rushed to Buttafuoco's aid. She regained consciousness the next day in a hospital and was able to recall the conversation with her attacker. This information helped police to promptly identify and arrest Fisher. Fisher's explanation of her action shocked the nation. She claimed that she had been lovers with her victim's husband, Joey Buttafuoco, 36, since the previous summer when she was still only 16. While those who knew Buttafuoco believed him to be a pillar of the community, Fisher said he perpetrated auto theft scams. She claimed he introduced her to a life of prostitution, such that she wore a beeper to her high school classes an