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Author Topic: A new definition of sexuality  (Read 454 times)

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Offline HypersigilsTopic starter

A new definition of sexuality
« on: July 01, 2013, 03:51:33 AM »
Society runs on a very basic understanding of sexuality/gender/sex based on physical parts. If you've been paying attention for the past several years you may have noticed that this very black-and-white dichotomy isn't working out so well, especially when the statistically abnormal run up against traditional gender roles. This, I believe, is a place where many voices can be heard. Perhaps you'll lend me yours.
Permit me some musings so I can give a clearer idea of what I believe.

At birth your genes and perhaps some Nurture determines the testosterone and estrogen levels you start out with. Testosterone has been linked positively to what I'm going to call "masculine" behaviors/traits, and estrogen to "feminine" behaviors/traits.
To see what I mean, take a look at the stereotypical Manly Male and his counterpart, the stereotypical Womanly Woman.
The man rises before dawn each day, chops wood for eight hours straight before wrestling bears and eating raw meat to keep his strength up. He pumps iron during this entire process, has never heard of feelings in his life, has constant physical desires, and lives his life by a strict code of honor and logic. He is a loner.
The woman dotes upon those she cherishes, helps any in need and is delicate in nature. She is ephemeral and kind, pure to a fault, and in love with love. She creates a very meaningful sphere and takes care of it, as well as anyone inside. These people close to her are her whole world, and she will fight tooth and nail to keep them safe from any injury. She is nurturing and encouraging, able to see the best in everyone and loves to help that grow. She lives her life by her emotions: passionately, fully. She makes a family wherever she goes.

Few enough are really like either of these ideals. In fact, few are even near it: that's because these represent 100% Masculine and 100% Feminine, respectively. That's rare. Why?
Bell curves. The highest concentration is at the middle, not the edges... but since genders get more of their gender's drug, the bell curve is actually shifted over in the -X direction. Or, to put it another way:
There are more Masculine Men than there are Feminine Men, and for women the reverse is true.
"Opposites attract:" I believe 70/30 seeks 30/70, but people are very different. Hard to say. This model doesn't account for why some people are homosexual and some hetero, but it does explain more.

Society's getting increasingly aware of other sexualities, such as Trans* peoples. In this model, a woman "born into the body of a man" indeed fell victim of a mistake: for one reason or another, too much estrogen and not enough testosterone was given, creating feminine behaviors/traits in a body more comfortable with the masculine.

I believe this model gives a much more flexible and natural heuristic to work with. By all means, tear it apart. Let me know what you think of it.

My apologies for not citing my sources.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 04:28:50 AM »
Not quite sure I grasp this concept in the current state.  Are you stating that hormone levels determine the amount to which you conform to a gender role?

Offline HypersigilsTopic starter

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 07:46:51 AM »
Not necessarily. I'm just saying that's where we start out.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 02:18:34 PM »
So the model is what?  A more fluid one?  Not really seeing the argument put forth or the model proposed.

Online Blythe

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2013, 06:39:57 PM »
Society's getting increasingly aware of other sexualities, such as Trans* peoples. In this model, a woman "born into the body of a man" indeed fell victim of a mistake: for one reason or another, too much estrogen and not enough testosterone was given, creating feminine behaviors/traits in a body more comfortable with the masculine.

You might do a bit better with some sources. They could help you clarify what you're trying to say. You're getting some of your terminology mixed up, and I'm finding it confusing.

Trans* individuals are not expressing a sexuality/sexual orientation with their trans* status, but a gender orientation. Most trans* individuals that undergo surgery (and there are many different types of trans* that do not need or do not undergo hormone treatment or surgery) retain the same sexual preferences before and after the change. I just thought you ought to know that sexual orientation and gender orientation are two very different things.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2013, 07:38:31 PM by Blythe »

Offline lilhobbit37

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2013, 08:16:00 PM »
Just a note that to redefine sexuality based on your definition of masculine versus feminine traits is saying that a female who is strong is no longer feminine.

So citing what sources you are using for your definitions of masculine traits and feminine traits would be helpful.

Offline HypersigilsTopic starter

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2013, 09:51:03 PM »
At its heart the model is about personality definition not by gender but by femininity and masculinity inclination. It's supposed to be more fluid than personality definition by gender or sex.

Sorry about the terminology. This was all written on not quite enough sleep.

Animal research shows: masculine traits and behaviors increase directly with testosterone
(Reinisch, Gandelman, & Spiegel, 1979), from Sex-related Differences in Cognitive Functioning

Femininity linked to estrogen/progestin levels in human females
(Marilyn J. Freimuth, Gail A. Hornstein, 1982), A critical examination of the concept of gender, from Sex Roles

Estrogen, Testosterone plays clear role in gender traits for animals
(David Crews, 1994) Animal Sexuality, from Scientific American

"Hormone replacement therapy for transgender people introduces hormones associated with the gender that the patient identifies with (notably testosterone for trans men and estrogen for trans women)." -Wikipedia, Hormone replacement therapy
First-hand accounts can be found for Trans* people experiencing a shift in their behavior and feelings towards that gender's predelictions.

A definition of masculinity vs. femininity:
http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/sexual-orientation-gender/gender-gender-identity-26530.htm

Notable problems:
The first two studies especially are quite old. Though the functioning of hormones isn't likely to change, our understanding has come a great way since this time. Additionally, except for the second source these only take animals into account. In the last study, it was found that though estrogen and testosterone do play roles, they're both linked with their cross-gender traits as well (to a lesser extent). I've cited wikipedia to give an overview, but it still makes me feel dirty. Testosterone and estrogen are by no means the only hormones used in HRT. The planned parenthood article is discussing societal gender identity; I'm assuming there's at least a grain of biological truth in those assumptions.

That would be correct: physical strength I would say is a masculine trait.
Does that mean no "real women" are strong? Does that mean a woman can't be strong? Does that mean a man can't be weak? Does that mean only those who work out show masculine tendencies? Does that mean being physically strong is good for either gender? Does that mean being physically weak is bad for either gender? Does that mean that you aren't free to pump iron or not, as you see fit?
Nope.


Online Blythe

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2013, 10:14:04 PM »
Firstly, thank you for the sources. Much appreciated. Your first two sources are somewhat dated; I might see if I can find some more current/accurate sources that might help me understand what you're talking about a bit more clearly.

"Opposites attract:" I believe 70/30 seeks 30/70, but people are very different. Hard to say. This model doesn't account for why some people are homosexual and some hetero, but it does explain more.

My problem with this model, Hypersigils, is that I believe it's still confusing expression of physical sex with social gender expression. I also have a particular comment about the theory you mention speaking about not explaining homo/heterosexuality but "explains more." I'm not sure what you mean. As I stated, sexual orientation is different than gender orientation, so your theory doesn't actually "explain more," mostly because homo/heterosexuality  are sexualities, not gender identities. You mention that your model is more about personality definition rather than gender/sex, but then your primary examples talk about physical/social gender stereotypes. I think this is what's thrown me off about what you're saying--your model is very reliant on stereotypes in the gender binary, but you say that it's about personality. I feel like you might be contradicting yourself a little bit here.

I do, however, agree that estrogen and testosterone do have intense effects on a physical masculinity-femininity scale, especially on secondary sex characteristics and gender expression. If they didn't, they would not be used in HRT.

Also, it's a pleasure to see you posting the topic, Hypersigils. I find it invigorating to discuss such matters.  :-)

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2013, 11:14:35 PM »
Perhaps I have been away from the issues of debate and politics too long because I am still having difficulty understanding the direction of the original poster.  My only route available is to believe the intent of the original post is to deal with gender from a biological standpoint.  This is an unfortunate point of reference because gender is a social construct and varies depending on many factors.  Each culture has their views on what constitutes feminine and masculine.  Even within an area such as the United States of America there is a varying difference between the roles.  For instance much of the country views the kitchen as a feminine pursuit and domain, while my home city of New Orleans views the kitchen as a place for the man to exercise creativity and cook food caught.  Also, aspects such as divorce were considered very unmasculine in a not so distant past as the man did not have the strength to keep his family together.  So there are certainly a great many problems with this initial statement.

Keep in mind that testosterone levels (further known as T levels) also fluctuate based on activity.  A correlation study between aggression and T levels is very difficult to undertake and perform.  Men undergoing a great deal of stress and feeling threatened do have heightened T levels.  The same can also be said for women in high stress fields or under great duress when aggression is needed.  Now men in competition do show a greater level of T level elevation as women show very little when engaged in a competitive sport or game.  Of course men have much higher T levels to start and their body is pretty much geared toward T level production and stimulation. 

That being said a problem area for this model would be men holding position inside of “feminine jobs” such as the male nurse or a single father.  A nurse exhibits traditionally feminine traits such as compassion and empathy, both according to this model associated with estrogen/progesterone levels.  The increase of estrogen and the decrease of progesterone would also exhibit low T levels.  Such men would have a low libido, hair loss, weight gain, depression and fatigue when compared to men.  Low T levels would also correlate with a decrease in masculinity among older males and a decrease in feminine traits among women.  So this would mean aggressive grandmas and crying grandpas. 

Now the bell curve is a measure of distribution.  Now when bringing up this scientific tool of measurement, there is great importance in knowing what is being measured.  More masculine traits are expressed by men and more feminine traits are expressed by women would be an expected finding on a bell curve.  Note these are expressed traits, not necessarily personality traits and personal feelings.  Men and women are taught from an early age to act a certain way and adhere to cultural norms.  Gender makes up a very important dynamic inside a culture, assigning characteristics to people on a very fundamental level.  So the distribution seen is not necessarily due to hormone levels, but societal pressure.  Men are masculine because they are told to be and women are feminine because they are told to be.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: A new definition of sexuality
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2013, 11:55:47 PM »
Honestly, a lot of this looks like it was put together by someone just discovering gender theory. The biggest problem with it, though, is that it's founded on sand.

Taboo out the words "masculine", "manly", "feminine", "girly", and any other synonyms you can think of for them. Now tell me what sort of behaviours you really mean. This might be tricky, as the things we define as "masculine" and "feminine" shift radically across cultures and time - which indicates some serious flaws with a purely biological viewpoint, by the way.

The closest definition I can come up with offhand, by the way, would be "things that (wo)men are expected to do". Which... gets tautological pretty fast. Are we really surprised that people who see themselves as male or female tend to do things we expect of males or females?