Sorry about posting this today rather than on Thursday. I have been busy AND sick, which is never a great combination.
So people tend to think of their sexuality on a personal level. Who they had sex with and who they’re going to gossip to about it. Stuff like that. But I like to consider sexuality at a societal level.
Humans work collectively in order to survive. Even our closest cousins (i.e. primates) work & live together in groups. Our chances of survival increase as society grows larger. However, maintaining the stability of a social structure becomes more difficult as it becomes larger.
I believe cultural institutions serve the purpose of stabilizing our societies. Every member of our society can develop a self-identity in relation to these cultural institutions. Thus, they allow every member the ability to understand and relate to one another through those institutions. This allows humans to gather into larger societies without sacrificing as much stability as we would otherwise.
My theory is that sexuality acts as a cultural institution. The logical name for this theory, of course, is systemic sexuality. I believe the focus of this form of sexuality is on maintaining the stability of our society. Whether systemic sexuality actually enhances any one person’s ability to form constructive & satisfying relationships appears to be immaterial within this structure.
Within American social structure, sexuality is perceived as a binary (Straight versus Gay). This is a form of systemic sexuality that I think helps to stabilize our society.
It encourages people to accept things at face value. The sexual binary informs an individual whether or not a sexual attraction is possible in a relationship before a relationship is established to begin with. In other words, we learn the sexual binary in childhood yet do not form long-term romantic relationships until adulthood. Why should our sexual identities be formed by societal values? How does this enhance our ability to form satisfying & constructive relationships?
By extension, it also discourages critical thinking & questioning. Rather than thinking critically about the potential of an atypical relationship, people reject it entirely based on a preconceived idea. Rather than questioning how sexual and romantic connections are established, people focus on the binary instead. Living in a class system, critical thinking & questioning skills work to destabilize the system. If people are more aware of how unjust the system truly is, they are far more likely to fight for their rights.
It plays into our species natural affinity for stereotyping. Once a person begins to ignore the development of intimate relationships in their life, that person needs something else to focus on instead. The sexual binary allows that person to switch that focus from personal values to societal ones. As the binary has two clear-cut categories, they can be stereotyped in a way that enhances social structure.
What is that social structure? We live in Capitalism, a class-based system. Capitalists (people who subsist without performing labor) versus workers (people who sell their labor in order to subsist). Capitalists have privileges workers do not; heterosexuals have privileges homosexuals do not. The stereotypes within the sexual binary can be loosely associated with this dynamic.
In a way, the sexual binary teaches us that the class system is not something to be questioned. We are never to think critically about alternative systems. We learn to accept reality at face value. Identities that do exist outside this systemic form of sexuality are not considered seriously.
I understand that humans are social creatures. Every person’s sense of self depends on the society they live within. What I do not understand is the lack of questioning and critical thinking. That’s why I identify as sexually fluid in the first place.
I still exist within the system of course (i.e. I’m still perceived as gay). I have found, however, that identifying as sexually fluid has greatly enhanced my ability to question & think critically.
I wouldn’t give that up for the world. Stay thirsty for alternative perspectives my friends.
A Frolicker of Sexual Fluidity