Inflammatory Probe

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I'm sure you've all heard about the ever so scandalous homosexual pheromone studies. Actually, maybe you haven't. I didn't see anything about it on Instapundit, so who knows what the bloggy-world is saying about it.

For those who are impatient or hate ABC News (I won't ask), the story is this: the brains of homosexual men have been found to respond similarly to heterosexual women, when exposed to male pheromones. (Analogous studies with lesbians and female pheromones are in the works, but not complete.)

The gay-rights boys and girls are claiming this as a huge victory, clearly evidencing that homosexuality is a product of biology. I've also heard people on the other side saying that this proves nothing, with regards to whether homosexuality is a choice or a product of biochemistry. It could be a learned/trained response! they say.

As far as the whole question of whether sexual preferences are determined at birth, the right is actually... well, right. The fact that gay guys get hot-'n'-bothered sniffing boy-pheromones only really says that yes, there is a biochemical facet to our attraction - which I don't think was really in dispute, anyhow. The question of whether sexual preferences are determined at birth is, in my very humble (in this case) opinion, fairly irrelevant, and silly, besides. For further information, ask a five-year-old boy if he likes girls. (In other words, we aren't sexually active at birth, so who gives a rip?)

Anyway, here's an odd hypothetical question, and I'd really love to have y'all answer. Set aside questions of whether homosexuality is determined at birth or later, whether it's a choice or biochemistry or a combination.

Say you've got a homosexual man who, for religious, psychological, or personal reasons - or say, any reason, wished to end his attraction to males and stimulate an attraction to females. Say this study, in this hypothetical universe, allowed advances in pheromone blocking and reception, much like anti-histimines, and such a thing were possible through drugs or some sort of medical treatments. (I am neither a biologist nor a doctor. Blame any and all bad science on reading too many Michael Crichton novels. Then hit yourself over the head. This is hypothetical, damn you!)

Would you support that man's right to effectively change his sexual preference?

Alright, round two. Same situation, but the guy starts off heterosexual. Would you support his right to, pardon the phrase, "go gay"?

Are there any conditionals you'd place on either answer? Also, just for my own demographic-related amusement: how do you feel about transgenderism (or gender-queer-ism, or whatever you want to call it), on the clothing (cross-dressing), lifestyle (living life as the opposite gender), and operation (surgical alteration) levels? Are you religiously or politically inclined, and do those play into your answers?

(Flame free zone; I'm purely curious, and I won't get a good range of answers if people scare people off. Comment away! Oh, and if you're reading this via some other sort of service, come visit the original post to comment. Thanks!)

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I take the hands off approach to this. I say none of it is any of my business as long as it doesn't directly effect me. If a person wants to change there sexual preference that is entirely up to them. How can I pass judgement upon anybody? I am only human myself.

Hell, yes, to both.

On a personal level: given that men hit on me tons more than women, it'd be nice to have the option to not just shrug sadly and say, 'Sorry, you don't do much for me'. Sometimes it's quite annoying to be straight (or however I'd be described.)

I've got to agree with Brad. It's not really my business what they do, and I am certainly not qualified to judge people.

All I can say is... keep yer inflammatory probes away from my hinder!

Seriously though... you probably know my answer. What you do to your body is your business. I can definitely see liberals raising holy hell if they DO invent a "straight drug", though, because you know the religious conservatives would immediately augment their de-gayification programs with it.

It's just another datapoint illustrating that we are far more malleable than most people like to think, and that the definition of "human", let alone "natural behaviour" is hopelessly illusive.

What you do to your body is your own choice. If you want to change your sexual preference by using a pheremone-blocker then go ahead - do it. Your body, your choice. Would I think it is the right thing to do? Not really, but it isn't my question to answer - the answer should come from the individual who is making the decision.

I think the answer to this is a little more complicated than a simple "yes," "no" or "none of my business." Whether or not I could support someone's decision to alter their reaction to male/female pheromones would rely solely on the reason that they're doing it.

Remove the fact that it's their decision from the mix, and you get the reason behind their choice. If someone were to do it because they believed that God wanted them to be straight, or some other ridiculous belief, then I wouldn't be able to support their decision. However, if it were because they honestly cared about someone and wanted to spend their life with that person, but just weren't sexually attracted to them, then yes.

I guess my point is that this is, while clearly a Victory in the whole biology vs. learned response debate, a very grey issue. You can't just make an arbitrary yes or no choice and stick with it.

Of course, now I'm waiting for the Christian-funded study to make an anti-gay pill. I'm sure our current president might even try and pass a bill to fund such research.

So far, all very interesting. I appreciate all the responses. Keep 'em coming!

Of course I'd accept either scenario, but I think your hypothetical situation falls flat in that a lot of homosexual men resent religious ideals (at least one does, and he's typing this comment) and wouldn't want to change if given the opportunity.

Personally, I like going all natural. I don't see any advantage of being straight or any disadvantage of being gay (in the whole, grand scheme).

It's not a matter of can it be done, because, it probably can, but will we actually participate?

Jared -

As an incidental (I'll take a stance here, because it's not really the material of the question): I disagree with the assumption that no-one would participate. I don't think the percentage on either side would be terribly high, but I think there would be more people who wanted to switch or modify their preferences. I mean, check out Moof's comment, above. Or, in my case - I find that I'm very intellectually and physically attracted to women, but (barring certain circumstances I won't get into too much here), the chemistry doesn't exist at a level that could sustain a relationship.

I know, as I've shared with Erica, that I tend to hold ill will towards those in the Christian faith.

The short version: men ain't bi in terms of physical arousal, a study finds.
(It also includes this fun quote: Although only a small number of women identify themselves as bisexual, Dr. Bailey said, bisexual arousal may for them in fact be the norm.)

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This page contains a single entry by Erica published on June 1, 2005 8:20 PM.

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