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Chapter summaries

6. How does our sexuality work?

In this chapter, I apply the theory of mind from chapter 3 and the theory of ethics from chapter 5 to the topics of sexuality and marriage. More specifically, I consider four sexuality topics: sexuality proper, promiscuity, marriage, and gender identity.

Sexuality.  In this context, sexuality refers to the means for creating and satisfying sexual arousal. Sexual arousal, in turn, is a well-defined physiological process. Satisfying sexual arousal is similar to satisfying hunger since both are hormonally based.

I refer to this theory of sexuality as the automatic-volitional theory of sexuality because it is based on the automatic-volitional theory of mind presented in chapter 3.

Our sexual preferences are learned just as our food preferences are learned. Sexual preferences, like food preferences, are learned by the automatic unit of our mind through Pavlovian conditioning, and such learning will be influenced by biologically endowed personality propensities interacting with life experiences.

A person is genetically endowed with the physiological functioning of sexual organs and sexual hormones, and the person’s sexual behavior beyond these basic physiological functions is the result of learning and personal choice.

More specifically, human sexuality — the means for creating and satisfying sexual arousal — is not inherently relational. A person must learn to make their sexuality relational, and doing so usually confers a sexual orientation on the person. If human sexuality were inherently relational, due to natural selection it would necessarily be heterosexual in order to propagate the species. But since human sexuality is not inherently relational, it is not necessarily heterosexual, and this makes it possible for humans to learn homosexuality, as well as any other means imaginable for creating and satisfying sexual arousal.

As a result, humans can evidently learn to associate anything that they want to with sexual gratification, including extremes such as inflicting pain, receiving pain, having sex with children, having sex with animals, and having sex with corpses.

The reason that longstanding sexual preferences seem biologically endowed is that they have become highly automated in the automatic unit of our mind. And the same applies to longstanding food preferences.

Promiscuity.  Male promiscuity is not genetically endowed and, in fact, marital fidelity is the best way to pass on parent genes in the long run. In evolutionary terms, this is why humans developed the institution of marriage. The idea that promiscuity is inherent in our sex drive is due to a lack of understanding of how the mind works, per the model of mind presented in chapter 3. These insights reveal that the practice of promiscuity is the result of deficient character in sexual relations.

Marriage.  Monogamous, heterosexual marriage and family are the norm because they are the most skillful means — the most efficient, most effective means — for organizing procreative relations to order to achieve a stable, productive, prosperous society.

Only heterosexual mating is fertile, and the best environment for skillfully raising a child is a family in which the child’s biological dad and mom are committed to each other in marriage and are committed to raising their children in a loving, nurturing environment. Though departures from what is best are inevitable due to the complex nature of human life, such departures are regrettable, and they do not modify our understanding of what is best.

Since sexual orientation is learned, it is important for society to take responsibility for such learning by teaching and promoting the essential norm of heterosexuality through traditional gender roles, as it has traditionally done.

Gender identity.  Recognizing transgender in public policy promotes the idea that life can be lived in make-believe, thereby fostering the ramifications of such a disposition. In particular, promoting the policy in public schools fosters, not the maturing of the students, but the idea that they can live a life of make-believe.

More specifically, both gender and race are determined genetically, so it is just as irrational for a person to claim that they are of a gender not given by their genes as it is for a person to claim that they are of a race not given by their genes.

Rachel Dolezal was considered a fraud for claiming to be black, and Elizabeth Warren apologized for having claimed to be Native American. In fact, the space of genetic configurations for race is multidimensional, and the features of any race shade into the features of any other. As a result, distinguishing the members of one race from the members of another race cannot be done discretely. By contrast, a person's gender is unambiguously determined by their genes and, as a result, their reproductive physiology. Accordingly, it is even more irrational to claim to be of a gender not given by your genes because gender is genetically discrete, and the reproductive physiology of the two genders is entirely different. Bradley Manning claims to be a woman, but he lacks the reproductive organs that are a defining feature of a woman and that enable a woman to conceive and give birth. If Bradley Manning is not a fraud for claiming that he is a woman, then Rachel Dolezal is not a fraud for claiming that she is black.

Normative vs. acceptable.  As a society becomes more prosperous, a society can better accomodate behavior that deviates from normative behavior. This is especially evident in the realm of sexuality. But broadening the range of what is acceptable should not necessarily change the concept of what is normative. As conveyed above, traditional norms of sexuality have been developed to optimize the procreation of children and the raising of children, so as the range of what is sexually acceptable is broadened, the sexuality norms should remain unchanged.

Rational discourse.  In recent years, a strong current in social liberalism has been slandering socially conservative viewpoints by labeling them hate speech, along with other related epithets. The so-called Southern Poverty Law Center has been leading this effort to suppress the discussion of ideas that oppose ideas of social liberalism. The suppression of discussion can have devastating consequences for a society, as I explain in my analysis of the antebellum period of American history. Our culture should reject the suppression effort of social liberalism. Our culture should maintain its longstanding commitment to discuss all topics, including the topic of sexuality, in rational terms.

My goal is to advance our knowledge of human nature and human life based on painstakingly careful reasoning about our observations, as explained in chapter 1 on knowledge. The foregoing insights are the result of such work. Intellectually capable liberals should reject the suppression efforts of the SPLC and should subject liberal ideas to dispassionate analysis on rational terms, as I have done.

Reference citation.  Philip Bitar, adapted from Why Human Life Makes Sense, Edition 3, 2015, p. 321-328, posted at www.WhyHumanLifeMakesSense.com, 2015-03-18, augmented with additional content 2019-06-13.