December 6, 2010
Causes of Homosexuality
As homosexuality becomes increasingly visible--but not necessarily more prevalent—
within society, straight and gay people alike want to know what causes homosexuality. Exclusive
homosexuality, a category accounting for 2-4% of the population (Berg-Kelly 142), is large
enough to generate attention yet sparse enough for various opinions of origin to be accepted by
many as fact. Meanwhile, traditional or “hard” science is often regarded as a sort of Supreme
Court that ought to provide the final ruling in contested cases such as the root cause of
homosexuality. However, science itself has spread its jurisdiction to other realms like
anthropology, sociology, and psychology. It is these “soft” sciences that first studied
homosexuality. Both hard and soft science have made new findings about the causes of
homosexuality since Freud. But the real point that essentialist and constructionists argue over is
one of authority: what is the ultimate authority that determines who is a homosexual? Can a
person accurately assess their own sexual orientation? Should lab results from a blood test or
DNA sample really be expected to settle the question for a sexually confused patient?
When people talk about homosexuality, many specifically refer to exclusive homosexuality. Yet, Alfred Kinsey's commonly accepted seven-point scale quantifies sexual desire on a spectrum (Berg-Kelly 142). Sexual orientation, according to Kinsey, is rarely directed
solely at just men or only women, a revelation that is problematic for essentialism. Will
essentialists have to broaden their search for the “gay gene” to include a bisexual gene? A
“somewhat heterosexual” gene?
One classic (yet outdated) example of a soft science theory is the idea that overbearing
mothers who undermine their husbands' authority cause homosexuality in their sons (Drescher
61). On the other hand, emotionally... [continues]
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