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Sexual identity discussion[edit]

Someone who is confused about sexual identity, such as an adoloscent who feels lonely and misunderstood, could probably be manipulated. If he had queer longings for others of the same sex, an advisor might counsel him that "You are gay" and suggest that he experiment with gay sex. Another advisor might tell him, "You are not gay" and suggest that he spend more time with friendly heterosexual role models. --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 14:26, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

What if the person mentioned had longings for others of the same sex that were not "queer longings"? To put that question another way, isn't the expression "queer longings" expressive of a definitely negative POV? And what does this stuff have to do with our understanding of self image anyway?

Are you suggesting that all people who are confused about their sexual identies could probably be manipulated? Are you suggesting that of all the people who are confused about their sexual identities, only certain subsets, such as adolescents who feel lonely and misunderstood, could probably be manipulated? Are you suggesting that some of the possible outcomes that you discuss are "manipulative" and others of them are "not manipulative"? Where are you going with these speculations?

It is not uncommon for people to be perplexed by their gender identities. It is rate for people to be in any way uncertain regarding the maleness or femaleness of their external genitalia, i.e., their sexual identities. There just are not that many people in the world with ambiguous external genitalia.

If someone is perplexed about his/her gender identity, it seems to me that a qualified advisor behaving in an ethical and professional way would help the individual to explore his/her gender identity. If the individual has not escaped the prevalent shaming and laying of guilt trips on all sexuality but especially on homosexual behavior, then it would be abusive to suggest to that person that s/he experiment with gay sex (or any other kind of sex). It would also be unprofessional, and even abusive, for a person holding the social position of therapist to declare to him or her what his or her gay/straight status is and to seek to "accentuate the positive" by guiding him/her toward modifying his behavior to match more closely that of "friendly heterosexual role models." It is nobody else's business what this individual's gender identity is or what this individual's gender role is, and that includes the idea that it is nobody's business what this individual's sexual behavior is unless it is behavior that hurts the sexual partner(s).

In an era in which sexually transmitted diseases are common and in which grave crimes of violence are sometimes perpetrated against individuals practicing what others define for themselves as "deviant sexual behavior," it would be dangerously bad advice to someone to suggest that, as one in doubt, he/she might resolve his/her uncertainties by experimenting with gay sex. It would be almost equally irresponsible to suggest to anyone that s/he experiment with heterosexual intercourse.

All of the advice that Ed Poor seems to suggest might be given to someone who is unsure regarding his/her gender identity, sexual orientation, etc. seems to me to be highly inappropriate and the kind of thing that might easily lead to a negative self image --- and that is so even if there were no deliberately manipulative component in the giving of this advice.

If anyone has the right to tell other people what sexual behaviors they ought or ought not to perform, it is that person who not only claims to speak for God but actually does speak for God. The reason that so many people have bad self images is, I am afraid, become there are so many people in this world who only claim to speak for God, and have a view of the world according to which they and those like them are going straight to heaven after death, and everybody else is going straight to hell. P0M 07:05, 18 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Hold on, Patrick, you're overwhelming me. I was talking about sexual identity, not gender identity, but I guess you see a link between these concepts. Let's start over.
As is pointed out in the articles pertaining to gender identity and gender role, these terms were created to deal with the conceptual difficulties encountered when people with external male sexual organs (penis and testicles) reported and even insisted that they were "women trapped in a male body." (And the same goes for "men trapped in women's bodies".) Since "gender" had theretofore been used only as a grammatical category, it was chosen to refer to the "I am a lady despite appearances," (or as John Money liked to 'quote' it, "I am a lady with a penis"), and to the "I am a gentleman despite appearances" distinctions. A good way to understand this distinction may be to study the book As Nature Made Him. Identical twin boys were born, and the regular physician who regularly did circumcisions was absent that day. Another physician performed the circumcision on the first boy, but he used too much current in the device that was intended to seal off the bleeding arteries after the baby's foreskin was removed. The result was that the boy's penis was totally burned off. Fortunately the M.D. did not try his luck on his second patient. Other doctors consulted with people who had been researching what it takes to make a boy or a girl, and they decided that the baby would never become a normal man, but that he could be made into a normal female by castrating him and supplying him with a constructed vagina, labia, etc. There would be no masculinizing hormones available once the baby was castrated, so it should develop into a normal female. When the time for breasts came, hormone replacement therapy could be begun. The doctors and the family was dismayed, then, when the "girl" insisted that he was a boy. No matter what they did to condition him to take on a female gender identity and role, he regarded himself as a boy. When he eventually learned what had happened to him he decided on more surgery to construct a penis, prosthetic testicles, and masculinizing hormones to change his voice, body "format", etc. The only thing that can account for the persistant assurance that he was a boy had to have been something in the structure of his brain. P0M
For ethical reasons we cannot do experiments on humans, but in other animals it is known that the brain is masculinized at a crucial time in embryonic development and that the presence of abnormal hormonal levels at these times can masculinize the brains of XX individuals or prevent the masculinization of XY individuals. P0M
Gender includes the nature of one's genitalia, but is broader. Sex includes only the nature of one's genitalia. Most of the time one's sexual identity is consonant with one's gender identity, so that people assume that in all cases one's gender identity ought to be consonant with one's sexual identity. When the two are consonant, people in the community are not perturbed, but when they are not consonant people don't understand why they are different and may judge the individuals harshly. P0M
I regard heterosexuality as the norm, and homosexuality as an unhealthy departure from the norm. If we disagree on this (as I suspect we do), we're not going to have much common ground.
What does the word "norm" mean? The root word is the Latin word for a carpenter's square. Usually it is used to refer to "median or average achievement." In one sense, to be "sexually normal" means to perform sexually in a way that closely approximates the mythical "average man" or "average woman." Kinsey's study indicates that exclusive heterosexuals are one extreme on a continuum, on the other end of which one finds the exclusive homosexuals. So both exclusive heterosexuals and exclusive homosexuals are abnormal in the sense of the word I am investigating here. The statically average, or normal, human being engages in some share of erotic behavior directed toward members of the opposite sex, and some share of erotic behavior directed toward members of the same sex, as well as some share of erotic behavior directed toward non-humans, banannas, and god knows what else. P0M
What is "an unhealthy departure from the norm"? Are there then "healthy departures from the norm"? Who gets to decide, and on what basis do they get to decide, what is "healthy" and what is "unhealthy"? What if somebody maintains that intelligence that is above the average is "unhealthy"? P0M
If I understand what you are saying, it indicates a point of view (or a set of values) with regard to homosexuality. There are people in this world who have sets of values that condemn me for my [race]. for my sexual identity (all she knew about me was that I presumably have male genitalia to go along with the beard, bass-baritone voice, etc., etc., but she knew I was bad), for my national identity, for the national identities of my forebears, for the fact that I played Shalom Chavarim on my recorder (and therefore got identified as being Jewish), for my weight/height ratio... Sad to say, I am not normal, statistically speaking, in any respect except the frequency with which I fart -- which happens to fall right on the magic balance point. Strangely, people do not value my one point of normality either. P0M
Where do these values come from? What people have the right to impose their values on other people, to stand in judgment of them, to condemn one group and to laud and favor another? P0M
To be deaf is abnormal. Most people probably believe that it is bad for others to be deaf, and they would do whatever they could to make the deaf people capable of hearing. But some deaf people have objected that they value being deaf, do not want to be capable of hearing, and they reject the intrusive attempts of the hearing to change them from deaf to hearing. Does anybody really have the right to intrude into another person's personal sphere like this? P0M
I've thought often about what a Wikipedia sexual identity article should include: statements like "I am homosexual" would seem to express one's sexual identity, while "I am male" would refer more to gender. Or maybe the term sexuality is correct, rather than sexual identity.
That is not the way professionals in the field use these terms. You are actually mixing three separate levels of analysis, too. Sexual identity is the identity that you would give to yourself, or a doctor would give to you, on the basis of inspecting your genitalia. Gender identity is the identity that you would give to yourself on the basis of your interior experience of self and your considered judgment as to whether your inner essence is most similar to those individuals in your community who call themselves women or those that call themselves men. When the issue becomes "What turns you on?" then things become thoroughly messed up because there are so many way to determine what qualifies as "heterosexual" and what qualifies as "homosexual." In the laws of many places, what seems to matter is whether the genitalia are complementary. If person A, who has male genitalia, has sexual intercourse with person B, who has male genitalia, then they are regarded as behaving in a homosexual way. If A then has a sex-change operation, the law generally regards "her" sexual relations with B as heterosexual -- despite the fact that the brain sex and the chromosomal sex of A have not changed. If person C, who has a feminine gender identity, has sex with D, who has a masculine gender identity, the law will look only at the genitalia and will ignore the gender identities. But in some cultures it seems to be socially acceptable for an individual who has a masculine gender identity and a male sexual identity to have sexual relations with an individual who has a feminine gender identity and a male sexual identity. P0M
Nothing is as simple as humans would like it to be, or as ordinary language who make it to be. People do not come only in "male body" and "female body" types. People do not come in only "XY" and "XX" chromosomal sexual identities. People of X, XX, XY, XYX, XYY etc. chromosomal sexual identities can have genetic differences on other chromosomes that affect both their production of sexual hormones and also their utilization of sexual hormones. The hormonal environment of each fetus is also affected by the hormonal conditions of the mother, and, for instance, a mother with a certain kind of cancer can produce such a high level of masculine hormones that a fetus that was "destined" to be of a female body type will end up having a masculinized body type. After birth it appears that, as with language learning, the early learning environment can have powerful effects on the gender identities of children. And, particularly at the time of onset of sexual behavior during adolescence, powerful emotional impacts can put "kinks" into the sexual appetites of the individual. Some of these "kinks" (more properly called paraphylias) can be explained in terms of known biological factors. For instance, in many species there is apparently a hard-wired connection between maternal love and the consumption of the feces of one's babies. It is possible that this biological hard wiring remains latent in humans but may occasionally get awakened under unusual circumstances leading to a kind of sexual desire in which sexual arousal can only, or can best, be experienced in the context of the consumption of the feces of the beloved. Sorry to be graphic and perhaps gross, but my point is that what starts out as relatively simple at the small end of the funnel in the newly conceived human ends up with probably as many kinds of sexual behavior as there are human beings. P0M
I'm trying to account for the tendency of some people to engage in gay sex while denying that they are "homosexual" (see down low), as well as the anecdotal evidence that some adults choose to engage in gay sex (try it, you'll like it). This of course touches on the question of how people develop homosexual tendencies, which is hotly debated. --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 15:03, 18 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Go back to what Kinsey says about the fact that the average human being falls somewhere between the extremes of exclusive homosexual and exclusive heterosexual. If 90% or more of males were totally impotent when with other males, we would not be having this discussion and we wouldn't have "heterosexual" guys killing other males because "He made me get a hard on." Actively participating in sexual behavior can only occur when a threshold has been exceeded. Different people have different thresholds. If there are any true "exclusively heterosexuals", then they would be sexually impotent in any situation that involved another human that was recognizably a member of the same sex. If there are any true "exclusively homosexuals", then they would be sexually impotent in any situation that involved someone recognizably a member of the opposite sex. But those individuals are rare, as are individuals who truly have no preference for sexual partners of the same sex or the opposite sex. P0M
If, for instance, a man is a 9 heterosexual on a scale of 10, and he is sexually satiated by his heterosexual partners, then he might never act on his 10% homosexual motivation. Or, he might be adventuresome to try homosexual intercourse just because he had nothing against it. Or he might be offered money to participate in sex with another man and succeed in fulfilling his part in the bargain on the strength of his 10% capability. But life events can change the balances by removing the stimuli that most easily exceed the individual's threshold. Ordinarily some man might never act in a homosexual way because his sexual drives are regularly satiated by very satisfactory female partners and because he has values that mitigate against commiting homosexual acts. Then the man lands in prison for several months, years, or decades. His drive state rises higher and higher, and his growing needs make it more and more likely that some attractive prisoner will exceed his threshold. He wouldn't have been interested in the guy on the outside, but on the inside he is slowly seems more and more attractive, desirable. P0M
So someone who is not a 0, or a 1, or a 2 on the homosexual-heterosexual continuum, but is perhaps an 8, 9, or 10, can claim on that basis not to be a "homosexual", but can nevertheless engage in homosexual behavior on those occasions when his threshold has been exceeded. On top of that, there are some homosexual acts that one does not have to be sexually turned on to performed. If one is being paid for performing fellatio, one may do it for the needed money but get no sexual arousal or other pleasure out of the act. It is fairly common for drug addicts to sell their bodies. If they are sufficiently well self-medicated at the time they may feel little or nothing during the entire transaction, and only relief when they leave with enough money for another fix. P0M
The "try it you'll like it" idea is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it is hard to imagine someone getting involved sexually in any way without some anticipatory exploration of the idea in imagination and in prior social interactions. It's hard to imagine a situation where a person says to himself/herself, "I do not like sitting at the dinner table with these people and chatting with them. Their physical appearances all gross me out. Their body odors make my nose twitch with discomfort. Their presentation of self in terms of aggression/reticence, etc. always makes me cringe... Nevertheless, I will randomly chose the name of a sample group of them and try to have sexual relations with them." Quite to the contrary, what probably happens is that some find that they enjoy many of the characteristics of members of their own sex, and they may find that they feel extreme affection (but not sexual arousal) for some of them, or they may find that they experience sexual arousal in the presence of certain outstanding specimens -- and they wonder whether they would like having sex with them a little, or perhaps as much as they have liked having sex with members of the opposite sex, or perhaps they might find that they like it better.P0M
Turn it around. Think of the Star Trek episode when Frackus (or whatever his name was) visits a planet on which homosexuality was socio-normal and ridigly enforced. One woman becomes attracted to him. She thinks, "Maybe I could love this guy. Maybe I could even have, gasp, heterosexual relations with him." If she wants to explore and understand herself better, and if she wants to live out her life as the woman she really is (instead of the woman that her society insists she should be), then what choice does she have other than to try it? If she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to do it again. If she does like it, I guess she'll have to hope the crew will let her leave home. Should her cohorts have the right to condemn her for not conforming to the values of her society? I don't think so. But that is only my point of view. I won't claim that I know that God has the same values I do. P0M 05:21, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Sources for more info on the sexual aspects of self image[edit]

Those who want more information on the differences between sexual identity and gender identity, as well as the various general categories of sexual motivation and behavior might want to start by going to the books, articles, and the web page of Milton_Diamond. John_Money is another good source (no web page, however), but he has been the center of many controversies over the course of his long and productive career. A third researcher to check out would be Anne_Fausto-Sterling, and her book entitled Sexing the Human Body. P0M 05:32, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for the exhaustive reply. :-) Now I must take much time to reflect. --Uncle Ed (El Dunce) 16:28, 19 Oct 2004 (UTC)

i added this line, Poor "self image may be the result of accumulated criticism that the person collected as a child which lead to damaging his own view of himself", its my own understanding of what was written in that website i am not sure of it so please remove it if its incorrect

Please sign your postings by adding ~~~~ at the end.
The information is valid. Lately some people have been beating a straw man to death, the result of people not understanding the difference between making valid corrections of a child (or anybody else for that matter) and people speaking in abusive ways that make the child feel s/he is a bad person. Telling people that their behavior or their characteristics are laudable when they are not is perhaps not as damaging as telling them they are "rotten kids," but it is not helpful either. The best teachers in life that I have had could express an observation in non-punitive language that would let me know that I wasn't taking the best course of action without making me feel like they hated me for it. The Confucian way is to say, in effect: I know you are a good person. I just observed such-and-such behavior that seems to me inconsistent with your fundamental good intentions. Would you reconsider what you just did? Saying things that way says that the parent loves the child and is concerned that s/he not pursue a dangerous or problematical course in life. It credits the child with the intelligence to check the reasoning out and act accordingly. (Sometimes parents or other authority figures misunderstand why somebody has taken a certain course of action. So they need to take account of the fact that they may have calculated an incorrect course of action.) Children that are not assaulted for making mistakes learn that they can come to their parents and teachers beforehand if need be.
I think I will add the word "invalid" before "criticism" in what you have written. P0M 01:27, 2 April 2007 (UTC)


Physicality, -ies is in several dictionaries I have checked and the edit page for this article considers it misspelled. I am unsure about what I can do to correct this error. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:12, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

This discussion is intriguing, but fails to address self image in a broad context. Are all aspects of self image directly related to one's view of sexuality and preference? Are not a person's image of himself developed long before sexual urges occur? Are not the understandings of masculine and feminine social constructs? How does one's self image become reconciled when it does not match social expectations? Could someone provide additional insight on these aspects of self image? Jay.Erlandson (talk) 16:04, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Merger proposal for "Residual self image"[edit]

There's really not much there, and it's doubtful there ever will be. On the other hand, there's not much here either, so lets put here whatever is referenced and usable there. bd2412 T 03:28, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

اهلا انا احمد من المنصوره احب اتعرف على الجميع File:ᶫᵒᵛᵉᵧₒᵤ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:36, 4 May 2010 (UTC)