Ware Farms

Speaking truth to prejudice

Sunday, August 29, 2004


An Objective Criteria for Sexual Orientation

Marty, you said: "... there is no objective standard for "orientation" other than self-declaration."

There is an objective test for "orientation" that has been used in clinical studies for over 50 years.

The subject is wired to a machine designed to measure physiological changes associated with arousal. The person is made comfortable, then shown several series of slides of attractive men and women in alluring poses. Suggestive messages are provided through earphones.

If the person is aroused by persons of the opposite gender, then the person is heterosexual.
If the person is aroused by persons of the same gender, then the person is homosexual.
If the person is aroused by persons of both genders, then the person is bisexual.

This is the standard protocol for clinical studies in this area. People are placed in the appropriate group based on the results of this test.

This technique was the basis of an attempted "cure" for homosexuality in the 1950's and 1960's. The person was hooked up and shown the pictures. He was given a painful electrical shock whenever he was aroused by pictures of men. The idea was that he would eventually learn not to be aroused by these pictures and therefore men in general.

A cow who is shocked when coming into contact with an electric fence, learns to avoid the fence. Thus the term "avoidance therapy." Have you seen the film "A Clockwork Orange?"

Alas, while a cow can choose where to walk and avoid the fence, a man cannot choose not to be aroused when presented with pictures consistent with his orientation.

The fact that this and every other treatment which attempted to "cure" homosexuality failed, was an important component of the mass of data that lead to the understanding that orientation was an inborn trait which is not chosen and cannot be changed.

There is no debate over the definition of homosexuality. Both the scientific and the dictionary definitions are identical. A homosexual is a person who is attracted to (aroused by, has sexual desires for) persons of the same sex. Behavior has nothing to do with the definition.

Didn't you know you were a heterosexual (I assume) for many long years (I hope) before you actually had sex?


At 5/18/2005 6:50 PM, Blogger Marty said...

Nice try, but let me complicate matters for you.

The convential wisdom among activists like yourself is based on a couple of different things, which combined, try to attest that someones orientation is as least as important (if not more so) than their biological sex.

The assumptions we are expected to accept are:

1. People are born gay or straight.
2. People cannot change thier orientation.
3. Orientation is geneticly determined.

Which is actually the right way to apprach the issue, considering the opposition:

1. People are born male or female.
2. People cannot change their sex.
3. Sex is genetically determined.

So to advocate something like SSM, it only follows that orientation should be at least as powerful and objectively measureable as sex.

Funny though, that's just not the case:

1. Is there a test for orientation in infants? No, your "objective" test is only useful on those who have passed puberty and demonstrate a behavioral sexuality.
2. Can orientation be changed? You say no, but i know a few who claim they have -- and i tend to beleive them, considering my own circumstances...
3. Orientation is genetically determined? You can show us certain clues, certain hints, certain aromas of things, but no -- nothing nearly so objective as "sex".

So you really haven't even come close to proving your point. You still have a long, long way to go.


Didn't you know you were a heterosexual (I assume) for many long years (I hope) before you actually had sex?

Not at all. Even after i had had sex, i was not quite sure. (Jon has classified me as a "waverer", whatever that's worth). I could have gone either way in the end -- no one would have been suprised had i turned out gay, i had all the classic symptoms.

In the end, i chose my orientation. In the end, so did you. I'll be the first to admit -- it's not an east choice to make.

But trust me, your grandchildren will thank you if you make the right choice.

At 5/19/2005 5:13 AM, Blogger Bill Ware said...


Sounds like you had a more difficult time of it than most.
Glad you came to a decision that works well for you.
Hope you will allow others to make this type of decision for themselves.

At 8/18/2005 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marty, bless his heart, has obviously never taken a course in logic.

His thinking is that if you disagree with him, unless you can prove (to his satisfaction) that he's incorrect, then you must be wrong. He shoulders no burden of proof for his position, just that you can't convince him otherwise, yet.

That may be adequate for choosing what to have for dinner, but it doesn't serve public policy debate well.



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