On “Choosing to be Gay”

In politics, the notion of being gay by one’s own volition is like Voldemort—dangerous even to be uttered.

Writing in The Atlantic, Suzanna Danuta Walters states that  “Biological determinism is the new normal, yoked to tolerance claims much as magic hews to Harry Potter. It was not always this way, but a determinist ethos began to insinuate itself into gay politics in the late 1980s or so. As sociologist Vera Whisman noted as early as 1996, “the claim of ‘no choice’ is to a pro-gay stance as the claim of ‘choice’ is to an anti-gay one: a foundational argument. Anti-gay rhetoric uses the term ‘sexual preference’ to imply choice, while pro-gay rhetoric uses ‘sexual orientation’ to deny it.”

“Television shows are full of characters invoking their biology when confronting their queerness, and Hollywood films depict immutability as unassailable truth in movies that present a “tolerance” thesis. In conversations with friends and family, we certainly hear a lot of “but I always knew something was different,” or “I always felt gay,” or something to that effect. These are, unquestionably, very real feelings for many (although assuredly not all) gay people, and I don’t want to deny the experience of that “inevitability.”

“Believing that one is born gay can also become a handy weapon against the harsh treatment by family and society, and an explanatory tool to combat internal self-loathing and doubt. There is clearly some real comfort for gays—particularly those who have navigated the waters of hatred—to come to land on the supposedly solid shores of biology. Continue reading “On “Choosing to be Gay””

War is not innate

Primitive society was not driven by war, scientists believe.images

Researchers from Abo Academy University in Finland say that violence in early human communities was driven by personal conflicts rather than large-scale battles, reports an article today posted by the BBC from a recent study.  “Findings suggest that war is not an innate part of human nature, but rather a behaviour that we have adopted more recently.

“Patrik Soderberg, an author of the study, said: “This research questions the idea that war was ever-present in our ancestral past. It paints another picture where the quarrels and aggression were primarily about interpersonal motives instead of groups fighting against each other.” The research team based their findings on isolated tribes from around the world that had been studied over the last century Cut off from modern life and surviving off wild plants and animals, these groups live like the hunter gatherers of thousands of years ago.

“They are the kind of societies that don’t really rely on agriculture or domestic animals – they are primitive societies,” explained Mr Soderberg.”About 12,000 years ago, we assume all humans were living in this kind of society, and that these kind of societies made up about for about 90% of our evolutionary path.”Using the modern tribes as an analogy for earlier society, the researchers looked at cases where violent deaths had been documented. They found 148 such deaths but very few were caused by war. “Most of these incidents of lethal aggression were what we call homicides, a few were feuds and only the minority could be labelled as war,” Mr Soderberg said. Continue reading “War is not innate”