Sunday, January 07, 2007

Are you part of nature’s population control mechanism?

From time to time posts appear on gay blogs countering the idea that homosexuality is “unnatural.” These posts sometimes justify homosexuality on anthropological grounds as nature’s population control mechanism.

I certainly sympathize with the desire to explain homosexuality as a natural condition (Any gay man who has been in love with another man, and has been loved in return, has no doubt as to the naturalness and “rightness” of his condition. But this is, of course, an emotional, and not a rational explanation.) I do, however, have doubts as to the function of human homosexuality as simply a population control mechanism.

The problem lies in the mistaken linking of human sexuality too closely, or too narrowly to reproduction. Let’s look, for a moment at the possible functions of sexuality in general.

Why, for example, are people still sexually active not only past the age of female fertility but also past the age in which their offspring would need the protection of parents? Obviously, this sexual attraction that exists frequently overtly, but always subliminally, in geriatrics serves simply to keep people together. Once the children are no longer dependent on their parents, the bonding of post- menopausal parents that is helped, or even caused by sexuality, can only be an end in itself.

Moreover, this social function of sexuality seems to be a uniquely human phenomenon. Although homosexuality exists in other animals, sexual attraction with other animals seems to be more clearly linked to reproduction. In other mammals, the female is attractive to the male and accepts him only during the fertile days of her cycle. Humans have long broken free of the fertility link to sexuality.

Because of the narrow linkage between sexuality and reproduction in other animals, one could possibly accept the population control explanation of homosexuality for them. But in the case of humans, where sexual attraction is so clearly free of having a simply reproductive function, this explanation simply won’t wash. An anthropological function of homosexuality in humans, therefore, doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Moreover, when Mother Nature wants to remove a certain percentage of a species from the gene pool, she is generally quite brutal about it, not caring about the sexual fulfillment of those removed. She simply renders them sterile, impotent, frigid, or sexually repulsive to the opposite sex. Why bother making them homosexual?

In addition, homosexuals don’t seem to be carrying genes that would act to the detriment of the species. When they have children, their children are of the same genetic quality as those produced by their straight counterparts. In general, according to Darwinian evolutionary theory, when Mother Nature wants to remove a group from the reproductive pool, there is a genetic logic behind her decision. The link between homosexuality and (non) reproduction, however, is really quite unclear.

It is a generally accepted thesis that we all are, to one degree or another, attracted to both sexes. The question as to whether one defines himself as, and acts as, a homo- or a heterosexual depends upon the degree to which that type of attraction is active within him. He has, however, no choice in the matter; he naturally is bound to his dominant sexual orientation.

The thesis continues to posit that since sexuality is an essential part of all human relationships, it is still a factor even in our relationships to the sex to which we are not primarily attracted. It posits that without a certain amount of sexual attraction, affection or even friendly relationships to people to which we are not overtly sexually attracted would be impossible.

This thesis seems to be borne out by vague feelings of sexual attraction that most gay men can admit to having had at least once in their lives towards a woman. Most lesbians have had some attraction to a man, and many have actually had heterosexual contact. It is necessary also for male bonding among straight men, and its suppressed version is generally credited with causing homosexual panic and even homophobia in essentially straight men. Also, when straight men are deprived of a heterosexual outlet, many have no problem in opting for a homosexual alternative (prisons, puritanical societies that allow no contact between sexes before marriage).

It is clear, then, that our sexuality serves a function quite above and beyond simple physical reproduction. Dr. Freud perhaps overestimated the role of sexuality in informing a large part of our lives not directly related to the sex act itself, but in humans it obviously plays a role much greater than that of the physical continuation of the human race. It perhaps would not be an exaggeration to claim that it is the mortar that holds the building blocks of society together.

I would, moreover, suggest that the need for a procreative (or even population control) explanation of sexuality is a manifestation of general discomfort with sexuality in general. Why must we justify it any further than accepting it as a natural mechanism allowing us, even commanding us, driving us, if you will, to love each other?

But what about the question of why some people are gay and some straight? Ah, sweet mystery of life!

21 Comments:

Blogger Le Spook said...

Good day mate,

Thanks for the very interesting article. What is your conclusion about homosexuals?

Well, let me say this: Yes, we have all seen some same sex people someplace who, for whatever reason, arouse us. Yet because most of us have strong self control skills, we don't approach them and try to have sex with them.

Using your logic, I think most adults have had sexual feelings at one time, or another for kids from ten to thirteen. Yet because of legal issues, and maybe even personal ethics, we don't approach them for sex. Now that would be a lot more natural than placing your GOD given organ of reproduction into another man's organ of filth and waste disposal wouldn't it?

Many of us have had strong desires to have sex with married people. Most of us went ahead and did it. Yet we then didn't come out and brag about it, or ask that it be legalized because it felt good to us. We know instinctively that adultery is wrong. However, it is a lot more natural than two same sex people having what they call sex.

I believe most people who classify themselves as exclusively homosexual are people with weak impulse control. They see something, they want it, they take it! They don't consider consequences until after the fact. Similar to people who get caught up in illegal drugs and such.

So in conclusion, homosexual behavior is strongly condemned by the Bible. It is not acceptable in electricity. By that I mean that two positive charges repel, and so do two negative charges. Yet a positive and a negative charge attract like crazy. It is a perverted behavior that is tolerated at best in MOST societies on Earth. I have not seen anyone yet use something powerful and bigger than they are to show that homosexuality is a good thing for society as a whole. They basically state that it doesn't hurt anyone, and as adults they have the right to have any type of sexual life they want. OK, next we ill see people wanting to marry their pet Pit Bulls, or Jack rabbits!

Homosexuality should go back in the closet. It is a sick, perverted, freakish lifestyle, and it should never be given the SPECIAL rights that they are seeking.

I'm not afraid of them so don't call me a homophobic. Rather when I see them acting out their stuff, I feel the same revulsion that normal people feel when a big green fly lands right in the middle of their plate of food, and spins around. That is my inner conscience warning me that this is behavior is unnatural an unhealthy; stay away from it.

I also think it is very evil of them to constantly try and link their LIFESTYLE to the African American civil rights movement for equality. Being white, or black is not a lifestyle that we choose. We are born that way, and there is nothing much we can do about it. Ask Michael Jackson. There is no credible evidence yet to show that people are born being gay. I believe they choose to be that way.

Peace

If you don't stand up for what is righteous, ethical, and moral, then you will fall for anything.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. The gentleman making the previous comment is speaking from a context so different from mine and what I assume to be that of most of my readers, that I think it best not to try to refute his statement. I will, however, as long as none of my other readers are offended by it, let the comment stand, out of a conviction concerning freedom of speech and just to remind us what's out there and what we're up against.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

a less scientific explanation for the 'explosion' of the numbers of gay/lesbian people that in the later part of the 20th century the 'take-out' became decent.

Well, I thought is humorous when this theory was proposed. :-)

5:24 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Thanks, Ur-Spo. Keeping one's sense of humor is essential.

6:06 PM  
Blogger gayuganda said...

Since I accepted the fact that I am gay and ok, I have been fascinated by the question why it is so. I like the elegant logic of Darwinism, and follow it now and again. It is interesting that homosexuals have been present for eons. And it is interesting that this estimated 3% of the general population has managed to produce a considerable number of very effective people- from the military genius of Alexander of Macedonia, thru Shaka Zulu and Da Vinci. The evolutionary advantage which this capacity gives to us seems to be necessary and to last down the ages, and also somehow endow individuals with some specific advantages.
Oh yes, discussing this can be a problem, given the current political climate, and the fact that few people seem to be able to think of it without resorting to 'Scripture' etc. But it does pose some interesting questions for the evolutionary psychologist. And for casual thinking me of course.

12:13 AM  
Blogger thephoenixnyc said...

I am wondering if the 1st commenttor even read your post?

Wow, now there is an angle on the nature/nurture, choice or born with argumenst on homosexuality I have not seen before.

I'm having a hard time digesting the theory and finding a way to agree or disagree with it. My instrint is to disagree.

The fact that a man can love a man and a woman a woman in the life-partner sense takes the idea of homosexuality beyond the realm of just sexual preference in my mind.

My personal belief is that people are born that way and that perhaps there is some evolutionary reason for it, although I can't imagibe what.

As a hard working campaigner for gay rights and equality I sometimes get uncomfortabel with these types of theories. My only goal is that the rest of the world love and accept gay people as a natural and beautiful part of the human mosaic.

I am not gay myself but it is an issue that is important to me. So many of my most treasured friends are gay and case of discrimination against them makes me ill and angry.

If only gay haters knew how much more beautiful and interesting so many gay people have made the world and their lives their attitudes might be different, biology be damned.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Phoenix,

Thanks for your comment, which you ended by saying:

"If only gay haters knew how much more beautiful and interesting so many gay people have made the world and their lives their attitudes might be different, biology be damned."

I appreciate your support, but do you really think that the homophobes care about the likes of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, E.M.Foster or Marcel Proust?

The narrowness and meaness of homophobes blocks them from appreciating the truly beautiful in life. Hate and an appreciation of beauty are pretty much mutually exclusive.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:30 PM  
Blogger FDeF said...

There is more and more evidence that homosexuality is genetically determined and that there are traits linked to it as well. I am of the OPINION that there may someday be discovered clusters of traits linked to sexuality that are responsible for variations or "types" from very stereotypical to atypical homosexuals.

As far as "reasons" for sexual attraction, there is of course, the purely "recreational" motivation. It's fun. Also, among many gay men, sex is communal...it allows bonds to develop in a kind of network that is the basis of community. The gay liberation "experiment" was interrupted if not aborted by the AIDS crisis but was also responsible for the great outpouring of care-giving, solidarity and community that was evident among gay men in the late 1980's.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Wow. It takes all kinds to have a debate, we all know that.

Bruce, you are the perfect person to start another debate: about righteousness. Where does it come from? What are its roots? How are people hatched who can look on their brothers and sisters as nothing more than so many big green flies?

I don't condemn le spook, I just would like to understand I suppose, if possible.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Oops, please disregard the last sentence of my previous comment. I checked the blog, and there is no understanding possible in this case.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

FdeF,

Thanks for your comment. I am more convinced, however, by the thesis that we are all, to one degree or another, bisexual than the genetic explanations. It's the degree of homo- or heterosexuality within this bisexual context that determines our sexual orientation. I admit that the degree to which we are homo- or heterosexual may very well be genetically determined; it certainly is not a matter of choice.

If you accept the essential bisexual nature of the human animal, then extra reproductive functions of sexuality are a logical conclusion.

You suggest that non reproductive sex be explained simply as "recreation." Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't seem to care very much about "recreation," so, we may want to consider Dr. Freud's suggestion that these non reproductive aspects of our sexuality inform a great deal of our social interaction.

This dopes not really contradict what you maintained in your comment; it's just another way of looking at it.

Incidentally, I looked at your blog, which you don't seem to have worked on for quite some time. Too bad, since it contained very interesting material excellently presented.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Sam,

Your suggestion concerning righteousness has started me thinking.
Thanks.

As for our friend Le Spook, I can only say that such extreme cases of irrationality make me very uneasy.

6:26 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Great and thought provoking Original Post.

I'm one of those people who believe in the nature's population control mechanism theory, for several reasons. One, I think the imprint of genetic code doesn't mark people straight or gay, but just having certain "tendencies" or "opportunities." So, in essence, people can grow up and be determined gay or straight or in-between by environmental conditions most favorable for certain outcomes.

For example, in the fish kingdom, it has been established that when there are too many male fish in a school, some males switch genders by the presence of the other fish around them.

My own opinion is that male homosexuality is caused by crowding and urbanization. The necessity to procreate in urban environments becomes lessened because the population is already large enough. A friend in the Navy described to me men he called "Boat fairies." Men who had sex on a regular basis when out at sea, yet became "miraculously straight" once on land.

There have also been studies of males with older male siblings wherein the younger males have higher tendency towards being gay if they have more than three older male siblings.

Lastly, I think "nature" is all about adaptation and mutation, and random, so there are variations occuring all the time.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Mike,

Thanks for your interesting comment. The main problem with your thesis is that you have the situiation reversed. It may be difficult for us guys to admit, but population growth is determined not by the number of men in a group, but rather by the number of women. Since one male can fertilize an almost infinite number of females, increasing or decreasing the number of heterosexual males in a society has very little influence on the rate of population growth. The limitation is set by the number of women there are to be impregnated.

Also, since at least in higher animals the male is generally the more agressive of the sexes, if there are too many males and not enough females to satisfy them, they generally solve the sitauation by killing off or driving the competition away. Nature, therefore, has other solutions to the problem of too dense a male population than homosexuality.

2:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, can you please contact me at linkexchange@edenfantasys.com? I have something to discuss with you
Regards, Chris
(Please can you delete this comment after your decision?)

6:25 AM  
Blogger Bruce said...

To anonymous (Chris): I have no intention of sending an e mail to someone with a domain called "edenfantasys." Sorry if your request is legitimate, but it sounds very much like an invitation to get my e maid adress so I can be put on a list for pornographic spam. If that's the case, no thanks.

If your request is legitimate, please send me another message with an identifiable name and website link through which i can contact you.

6:52 AM  
Blogger zooplah said...

I don't give into any theory one way or the other about the theme. Being gay just is, as they say. But population control and the evolution of species seem mutually exclusive to me.

And to le spook, man, you've got issues. I know the Bible is full of contradictions, but the very fact that your beliefs are based on the contradictions says not so much for yourself. I'd say you're a closet case, myself. Just realize that the Bible is bunk and go out with some guys, already.

1:34 PM  
Blogger zooplah said...

Oh yeah, another thing that's curious is no one's replying to le spook's "I'm not homophobic since I don't fear homosexuals." The obvious thing here is that if we're going by etymology, "homophobia" would be the fear of the same, not the fear of homosexuals. The etymology of "homosexual" itself is: homo (same), sex (the collective properties that constitute male or female), and ual (adjectival morpheme). So if it were the fact of homosexuals, it would be "homosexualitiphobia," right?

2:00 PM  
Blogger zooplah said...

s/fact/fear

2:01 PM  
Anonymous lol? said...

Thanks for the very interesting article. What is your conclusion about homosexuals?

Well, let me say this: Yes, we have all seen some same sex people someplace who, for whatever reason, arouse us. Yet because most of us have strong self control skills, we don't approach them and try to have sex with them.

Using your logic, I think most adults have had sexual feelings at one time, or another for kids from ten to thirteen. Yet because of legal issues, and maybe even personal ethics, we don't approach them for sex. Now that would be a lot more natural than placing your GOD given organ of reproduction into another man's organ of filth and waste disposal wouldn't it?

Many of us have had strong desires to have sex with married people. Most of us went ahead and did it. Yet we then didn't come out and brag about it, or ask that it be legalized because it felt good to us. We know instinctively that adultery is wrong. However, it is a lot more natural than two same sex people having what they call sex.

I believe most people who classify themselves as exclusively homosexual are people with weak impulse control. They see something, they want it, they take it! They don't consider consequences until after the fact. Similar to people who get caught up in illegal drugs and such.

So in conclusion, homosexual behavior is strongly condemned by the Bible. It is not acceptable in electricity. By that I mean that two positive charges repel, and so do two negative charges. Yet a positive and a negative charge attract like crazy. It is a perverted behavior that is tolerated at best in MOST societies on Earth. I have not seen anyone yet use something powerful and bigger than they are to show that homosexuality is a good thing for society as a whole. They basically state that it doesn't hurt anyone, and as adults they have the right to have any type of sexual life they want. OK, next we ill see people wanting to marry their pet Pit Bulls, or Jack rabbits!

Homosexuality should go back in the closet. It is a sick, perverted, freakish lifestyle, and it should never be given the SPECIAL rights that they are seeking.

I'm not afraid of them so don't call me a homophobic. Rather when I see them acting out their stuff, I feel the same revulsion that normal people feel when a big green fly lands right in the middle of their plate of food, and spins around. That is my inner conscience warning me that this is behavior is unnatural an unhealthy; stay away from it.

I also think it is very evil of them to constantly try and link their LIFESTYLE to the African American civil rights movement for equality. Being white, or black is not a lifestyle that we choose. We are born that way, and there is nothing much we can do about it. Ask Michael Jackson. There is no credible evidence yet to show that people are born being gay. I believe they choose to be that way.

Peace

If you don't stand up for what is righteous, ethical, and moral, then you will fall for anything.

Utter bullshit, idiot. Your fantasy society is laughably fascist.

6:06 PM  

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