what is sexual orientation?

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Thu Feb 11 06:05:47 PST 1999


What is your answer Joseph Noonan's question below ? That is what this dictionary definition was in response to. What *is* sexual orientation ? Is your answer, there is no such thing as sexual orientation ? What is the point of the hypothetical example you give below with respect to Joseph Noonan's question, what *is* sexual orientation ?

Charles Brown

>>> jf noonan <jfn1 at msc.com> 02/10 3:21 PM >>>
On Wed, 10 Feb 1999, Charles Brown wrote:

> I ask again, what do you think sexual orientation is and how does that
> influence your politics of sexual orientation?
> Charles: I say again, my guess is that it is a combination of
> heredity and environment. Different people have different
> combinations resulting in their final orientation.

You have not answered the question. What *is* sexual orientation, not how do you think it comes about. You're putting the cart before the horse. I want to know what you think it is -- then we can get to how you think it comes to pass.

> Does that answer your question ?


> Charles Brown


Joseph Noonan

>>> "Seth Gordon" <sgordon at kenan.com> 02/10 5:32 PM >>>
Charles Brown wrote:

> Wait a minute. Here's a dictionary. "The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes. " How's that ?...
> I think you need to rephrase your question, because I don't know what you are getting at.

Joe and Mary live in the state of Freedonia, whose culture is distinct from the culture of the contemporary USA.

Mary has a Y chromosome, a penis, facial hair, and all the other things that would make a biologist label Mary as "male". However, Mary has the clothing, speech style, body posture, etc. that Freedonian culture labels as appropriate for women. Freedonians who know Mary refer to Mary as a woman, and Mary has pretty much the same social status that everyone else called "woman" has in Freedonia.

Joe is clearly (by Freedonian standards and by ours) a man.

Joe and Mary are lovers. When they have sex, Joe always penetrates Mary; Joe and Mary say they do not want to have another kind of intercourse. Joe says he is sexually attracted to people with vaginas who are called "women" in Freedonian culture, but in practice he has only had sexual relations with Mary. He says he is not sexually attracted to anyone who, within Freedonian culture, is referred to as a "man".

What is Joe's sexual orientation?

For more details on cultures like Freedonia's, see Walter L. Williams, _Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in Native American Cultures_ (quoting the title from memory).

-- perl -le"for(@w=(q[dm='r 0rJaa,u0cksthe';dc=967150;dz=~s/d/substrdm,\ (di+=dc%2?4:1)%=16,1ordi-2?'no':'Perl h'/e whiledc>>=1;printdz]))\ {s/d/chr(36)/eg;eval;}#In Windows type this all on 1 line w/o '\'s" == seth gordon == sgordon at kenan.com == standard disclaimer == == documentation group, kenan systems corp., cambridge, ma ==

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