And heterosexuality for that matter. Hear me out.
I've been reading about sexuality from cross-cultural perspectives, and what I think I am realizing, is that all forms of sexuality are socially constructed. Its apparent that since the beginning of time, people have engaged in same sex sexual encounters and relationships, it is well documented throughout historical and ethnographic sources. However, the idea that a human being has an immutable, essential sexuality that defines them comes directly out of European modernity, and the political objectives of the Enlightenment, which were to figure out ways to manage and control populations. If you take the scope out of Europe, and out of a Western lens, you see people engaging in same sex relationships and encounters all over the world, but sexuality is seen as something more fluid and less fixed. In some cultures, everyone engages in same sex behavior at some point in their lifetimes, it is seen as a rite of passage. In several African cultures, the words for "homosexual" did not even exist prior to colonialism, because no one was seen as a "homosexual." In these pre-colonial cultures, humans naturally shifted throughout relationships with men and women over the course of their lives, and this was seen as nothing exceptional. To me, this proves that the categories of "gay/straight/bi" are merely social constructions, and any kind of scientific inquiry into "proving" that sexual orientation is biological is just like scientific inquiry devoted to proving "race." Foolhardy, and categorically misguided.
What do you think?
I basically agree with this post and also your other post in the thread. Still, let me try to say a bit more (even though what's in my head is very murky to myself too). Sexuality is this all-encompassing word and holds within it many ideas - what I think would be useful is to break up "sexuality" into a few common categories. Sexual identity, in my opinion, is mostly a social construction. Sexual orientation, on the other hand, is mostly "innate". And sexual behaviour is born of the interaction between sexual identity, sexual orientation, and also the social milieu and one's individualised response to that environment. But these categories interact and inform each other, although there is some sense that sexual orientation is somewhat more fundamental than the other two.
Well, this subdivision begs your question, because it is precisely these Western studies you speak of that first identified sexual identity and sexual orientation as separate categories and isolated them from sexual behaviour. Before that, all we had was this vague idea that perhaps sexual behaviour wasn't all there is to sexuality. What we have to ask then is whether this construction of sexuality is natural. Because we may think of constructions as artificial, but sometimes they were precisely what was needed.
I don't want to go into the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis here, but that's kind of what this is, right? Back in the day Ahmadinejad told Columbia University and America that there were no homosexuals in Iran, and I read a Slate article that claimed that this might not be so crazy in theory - but only in theory because Ahmadinejad is obviously wrong, because perhaps in traditional Iranian (or whichever) culture, there simply wasn't such a notion of "gay", even if men had sex with men. Here's the link to the article: http://www.slate.com/articles/health...razy_afte.html
. It also contains a very interesting exposition on the Aka people, who apparently have very different conceptions of sexuality than what we are used to. Not only do they claim not to know what homosexuality is, they also do not know what masturbation is!
Now, back to what I said about a necessary and natural construction. I read some anecdotes and interviews of undetermined veracity where some Baltic (?), Middle Eastern (?), African (?) men were interviewed, and they expressed relief at the moment when they first learnt of the Western construction of gay and homosexuality, as though a light bulb came on and something clicked within them. How can you argue against that?