(Logic) English 2 – Critical Thinking and Writing (Spring 2007)
Is sexual preference decided by biological factors?
[Students and professors, please read.]
Issue: “Is sexual preference decided by biological factors?”
People decide their sexual preference depending on how aware they are of their options and of their ability to choose, with social norms and biological predispositions playing an influential, but not a determinate, role in the decision.
Arousal, subject to biological predispositions, is involuntary, but a conceptual framework shapes the way input is interpreted, and accepted or rejected due to volition. All humans have the capability of being aroused by either sex**. This does not mean we are all bisexual by default (by nature, at birth). Bisexuality is a developed preference. By default we have not yet developed preference. A conceptual framework or attitude or schemas which includes sexual preference is not present at birth, but is acquired over time after many experiences. How a human’s experience is different from the experience of other organisms, including other humans, is determined by how a human is biologically different from other organisms, including other humans, and by their environmental differences and the resulting differences in their conceptual frameworks (if the organism is capable of developing a conceptual framework). Social norms influence a person’s conceptual framework. The more we see homosexuality and bisexuality become socially accepted, and the more that information is integrated into the conceptual frameworks of individuals, the more likely a person will make a homosexual or bisexual interpretation if arousal results from input, and the less likely they will reject input interpreted as homosexual or bisexual, especially if they have been taught that their preference is determined biologically, though it is not. Different cultures can develop preferences for extremely different tasting foods, and individuals within such cultures are not bound to those preferences, but instead can acquire the preferences of other cultures, and the same is true of sexual preference.
If certain input (grasshopper) is interpreted as nonsexual (not for food), even though it causes arousal (hunger pangs in someone who has very little access to food), because there is no sexual conceptual framework within which to interpret it as sexual (the person and the person’s culture has never considered grasshoppers to be food), the arousal will most likely not factor as sexual attraction (the grasshopper will most likely conceptually remain non-food to the person, unless they are some sort of culinary genius). On the other hand, if certain input (grasshopper) results in arousal (hunger) and is interpreted as sexual (for food), because it is recognized as such in accordance with one’s background information (the person and the person’s culture consider it food), but within a sexual conceptual framework that rejects that certain type of sexual input (the person and the person’s culture consider it repulsive food reserved for those being tortured), the arousal will not be considered preferred sexual “attraction” (if the person eats it as a last resort or because they are forced, they won’t like it, though they may acquire a preference for it over time, considering it appeases their hunger pangs – then again, they may come to hate it even worse, as in the case of p.o.w.s who hate rice).
Regardless what input a person receives from their body, they have the ultimate decision on whether to accept or reject that input. It is not wise to ignore hunger pangs (the need to affiliate very closely) indefinitely, but it is possible to make your body wait until it is more convenient for you to eat (practice sexual discretion). It is also possible to choose healthy food (sex within a lifelong relationship) over junk food (casual sex), though one’s body may crave junk food over health food. One can sarcastically say to one’s body “You may want that, but I don’t want that because it is bad for me.” Another example is alcoholism. Genetically, some are more prone to alcoholism than others, but that does not determine that they will choose to become alcoholics and surrender willingly to their predisposition.
Social norms and biological factors, though they may influence sexual preference, do not necessarily determine it. As is the case in all other preferences, each individual is capable of exercising volition in their sexual preferences, despite genetic factors and social norms, as far as they are aware of their options and their ability to choose.
** “… Bem maintains, …every child, whether conforming or nonconforming, experiences ‘heightened physiological arousal in the presence of peers from whom he or she feels different.’” [Bem, D.J., Exotic becomes erotic: A developmental theory of sexual orientation. Psychological Review, 103(2), 320-335)]. Note: Though the theory agrees preference is developed, it does not factor choice into the development. I therefore do not adopt it as-is. Source of quote (which I do not endorse): http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/96/8.29.96/sex_orientation.html