Sexual identity is obsolete

We are all on a spectrum, we are told. Sexual identity is not a binary thing – i.e. you are attracted to either males or females, and can be defined as “homosexual” or “heterosexual” accordingly – but much more copious. At the extremes you have the completely hetero and completely homo, but many, or even most, people are somewhere in between. And so, we must learn to distinguish between a multitude of sexual identities – bisexual, pan-sexual, and the list is growing – to cover the entire range of human sexuality. The spirit of the time is to embrace any new sexual identity, to welcome this new era of tolerance, to celebrate this progress towards freedom. But is it really freedom, or are we progressing in the wrong direction? If you take a moment to think about it, you will realize that there’s something fundamentally wrong at the basis of this whole parade of identities. Because in all of this, a simple fact is forgotten…

We are not attracted to genitalia.

No one is attracted to another human being because the latter has a penis or a vagina. What attracts us to another person is a combination of many traits, and this combination usually points us in the general direction of one of the genders. If one is attracted to softness and delicateness, then the female kind will provide most subjects of attraction. If one is attracted to broad, muscular shoulders, then males will be the preferred group. The combination of all the traits put together will determine if we are attracted to only one gender or to more.

I am a straight man. What does that mean? Does it mean I was born with the ability to be attracted only to a person with a vagina? No, not at all. It means that so far in my life, all the persons that ever attracted me have been women, because only they had the combination of traits that I find desirable. It is possible that one day I will meet a man who will have enough desirable traits that will make him attractive to me, but right now I am what you would call heterosexual. Well, you would call me that, anyway. I would like to get off this train.

It is time to move on from sexual identity. We do not have to pre-define ourselves in this way. Let yourself be attracted to persons, not genders. Sexual attraction should not be considered a matter of identity. It’s time we’ve learned to regard it as a matter of taste.

The reason why sexual identity used to be important was that Western culture traditionally regarded only heterosexual love as “normal” and any other attractions as a perversion of nature. In the second half of the 19th century, Western science defined and categorized all the different types of “perverts” and those who fell into those categories were persecuted. It was therefore important for those alleged “perverts” (such as homosexuals) to take control over the identity assigned to them, and then fight to have it recognized as a legitimate form of sexuality. Well, this fight is now over in the West. All forms of consensual sex between adults are now legitimate both socially and legally. We are free to pursue our proclivities. We do not need to force categories on ourselves any more.

Why is this important? Because these identities are actually limiting. A gay person who feels attraction to a member of the opposite sex often feels compelled to justify it to others in the gay community or even to himself, instead of just letting it happen. And many straights are still bewildered and troubled when they feel attraction to their own sex. If we continue to invent more and more identities (how many can we possibly invent, you ask? Well, there’s no lengths Tumblr won’t go to), we will just keep confining ourselves. Right now, preferring blondes is a matter of taste, nothing that will prevent you from dating a brunette. It will be different if ‘a thing for blondes’ becomes a matter of identity. Do you want to live in such a world?

Let it go. We do not need these categories anymore. Sexual identity is obsolete.

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