SSC DISCORD SERVER AT https://discordapp.com/invite/gpaTCxh ; SCHELLING POINT FOR DISCUSSION IS WED 10 PM EST

[Ozy] A Response to Spandrell

[Content note: Gender, relationships, sexuality. Some sexually explicit content. Discussion without endorsement of various forms of transphobia, homophobia, et cetera. Ozy wishes you to know they wrote this in a very timely manner after Spandrell’s original post and I just took forever to publish it.]

I made fun of this post on my tumblr and then Scott requested I actually argue with it.

First, let’s address the issue of homosexuality. Spandrell argues that “There’s no way on earth that a condition that makes you lose attraction towards the opposite sex is going to survive natural selection.” On the contrary, there is a lot of animal homosexuality. The linked book contains much fascinating information, such as the fact that animal sexuality has been documented in almost 500 species and that, in one study, ninety percent of observed giraffe sex was between two males. I am not sure why animal homosexuality is so common: I am not an evolutionary biologist myself. But it suggests that the simplistic model in which fucking something other than a vagina is not selected for is incorrect.

In addition, homosexuality is probably not inborn. A Swedish twin study with a sample size of 7600 found that genetic factors and shared-environment factors together explained only a third of the variance in sexual orientation, while two-thirds were explained by unshared environment. In short: sexual orientation in humans is less inborn than how hardworking you are. Indeed, Spandrell admits as much, saying that we do not know the cause of gayness. Maybe because it’s not inborn? Just saying.

One must point out that the “born this way” myth was invented by LGBT people to get people to accept us: “we can’t help it! It is mean to hurt people because of something they can’t help! Don’t worry, it’s genetic, accepting us won’t make anyone else gay!” I don’t fully understand what the Cathedral is, but if anything is part of the Cathedral the Human Rights Campaign is, and I feel like that is a fairly depressing amount of belief in the Cathedral’s myths from a self-declared neoreactionary.

Spandrell argues that female paraphiliacs do not exist because they do not usually tell researchers about being paraphiliacs. Unfortunately, he is missing the very large confounding variable, which is that women are fucking liars about sex. As I pointed out in my Anti-Heartiste FAQ, evidence suggests that the entire sexual partner gap between men and women is explicable by women being goddamned liars. There is no reason to believe they wouldn’t also be goddamned liars about their paraphilias.

Spandrell challenged me in his comment section– if female paraphilia is a thing– to find cases of female death by autoerotic asphyxiation. It is true that women are less likely to die by autoerotic asphyxiation. However, women are less likely than men to masturbate, and even when they do they masturbate less often than men do, decreasing the risk of women dying through masturbation. However, this is self-report data and thus falls under the “women are goddamned liars” explanation. Autoerotic asphyxiation deaths are massively undercounted to begin with; it is relatively common for people who die by autoerotic asphyxiation to be mistaken for suicides or “sanitized” by family members who don’t want to admit their child died by masturbation. Given that women lie massively about sex, it is possible that families are more likely to sanitize female autoerotic asphyxiators. Finally, I hate to be the feminist who points this out to the neoreactionary, but men and women are different. This probably extends to sexual fetishes. I admit that none of these are particularly solid arguments. However, I do have reason to believe that women have things that may be considered paraphilias.

Porn.

The rise of the ebook has massively expanded the amount of porn that women read. Like I said, women are fucking liars about sex. They want to read porn, but they don’t want to admit that they want to read porn– and as plausibly deniable as Harlequins are, those Fabio covers make it look a little too much like porn for a lot of readers.

Ellora’s Cave is the largest erotic ebook producer in the United States. If you are curious whether women have paraphilias, you can explore the BDSM Elements section, featuring such titles as Taming the Raven’s Son, Pack and Mate, and Elf Struck (tagline: “When a BDSM slut is matched with a warrior virgin, both tempers and desires flare.”)

Part of the problem here is that I don’t fully understand what qualifies as a ‘paraphilia’ in Spandrell’s analysis. Spandrell provides as examples: “There are all sorts of paraphilias, all of which seem to only occur in men. Some men are attracted to babies, others to feet, others to shoes, others to obese women, others to old women. There’s a lot of weird stuff out there.” If we are going to the “at least as weird as being attracted to fat women” standard, then I feel like a lot of non-BDSM things in Ellora’s Cave count. For instance, paranormal erotic romance is basically just a fetish for fucking vampires and werewolves.

However, I suspect that female paraphilias are also going to be structurally different than male paraphilias. Eliade’s List of Fanfiction Kinks, Tropes, and Cliches is the most extensive list I’m aware of of fanfiction porn tropes. Literally, I have never been able to think of one that is popular and not on her list. The interesting thing about Eliade’s list– which is something I’ve found personally in my fanfiction consumption– is the lack of distinction between purely sexual and purely narrative tropes. The list does include things like “intercrural or interfemoral sex (i.e., thrusting cock between partner’s thighs),” but also things like “makeovers.” I suspect a list of favorite male porn tropes would be unlikely to include makeovers. Similarly, it’s a common observation that a plot what plot story on AO3, which is female-dominated, and an extraordinarily plotty story on Literotica, which is male-dominated, contain approximately the same amount of plot. I suspect when one studies female paraphilias one will find primarily narrative paraphilias: where men tend to fetishize a single act, women tend to fetishize an overall storyline. While one might not consider the latter to be a paraphilia, that seems to be far more related to an androcentric definition of paraphilia than a difference in the prevalence of paraphilias between men and women per se.

Finally, let us discuss trans women. To be honest, I don’t fully understand what the difference between “trans women are homosexual men” and “trans women are heterosexual women” is. The empirical facts remain the same: many trans women transition as soon as possible, are attracted to men, and behave in ways typically considered feminine. All I can figure is that it is the result of a belief that we should call trans women men in order to be pointlessly upsetting to them.

I am aware of two studies applying Blanchard’s autogynephilia questionnaire to a group of cisgender women. The first, unpaywalled here, I shall ignore because of its 29-person sample size, despite its astonishing revelation that 93% of cisgender women are autogynephiles by Blanchard’s definition. The second actually has a reasonable sample size, so let’s examine it more closely. The study divided autogynephiliac arousal into two categories– Autogynephiliac Interpersonal Fantasy (essentially, sexual fantasies about being admired as female) and the Core Autogynephilia Scale (essentially, sexual fantasies about being a very sexy woman). There was no difference between cisgender women and transgender women in the Autogynephiliac Interpersonal Fantasy scale. However, transgender women scored significantly higher on the Core Autogynephilia Scale.

To put it bluntly, this makes no goddamned sense. Cis women are just as likely as trans women to have a particular subtype of autogynephilia, but less likely to have autogynephilia itself?

Let us look at the Core Autogynephilia Scale a little more closely. The study authors modified the scale so that the cis woman population were asked if they have ever sexually fantasized about themselves having attractive or more attractive female body parts. However, imagine that you have a vagina and you have sexual fantasies in which you have a vagina. Nothing interesting here, probably going to mark “no” on the relevant questionnaire. Now imagine that you have a penis and you have sexual fantasies in which you have a vagina. You’re going to notice. This is contrary to expectations. If someone asks you “do you have sexual fantasies about having an attractive or more attractive vagina?”, you’re probably going to mark yes (assuming you don’t specifically fetishize having ugly genitals). The exact same behavior leads cis women to mark “no” and trans women to mark “yes.”

Essentially, autogynephilia is ordinary female sexuality. Women are often erotically aroused by dressing in lingerie and wearing makeup; women are erotically aroused by looking at themselves naked; women have sexual fantasies in which they have vulvas; for that matter, women are erotically aroused by imagining themselves as sexier than they are. If we assume that trans women are, well, women’s minds in men’s bodies, this entirely explains the autogynephilia data: women have female-typical sexuality instead of male-typical sexuality. (It does not explain the autogynephilia anecdotes, as one assumes it is quite uncommon for cis women to be aroused by the idea of knitting, but those seem to be selected for vividness rather than for representationality. One guy who is turned on by the idea of knitting does not mean that every trans woman who is attracted to other women is an autogynephile.)

Now, the pro-autogynephilia group may respond, “but it is normal for cis women to fantasize about having a vagina and deviant for trans women to!” But in that case there is no way for trans women to win. If they had sexual fantasies in which they had a penis, you would be like “ah, yes, that is proof they are men. Why would they even want sexual reassignment surgery if they are fine with having a penis?” Since they instead fantasize about having a vagina, you would be like “that is sexual deviancy!” There is no evidence that can convince you that trans women genuinely have what they say they have– a condition in which they are genuinely upset by their bodies, being seen as male, or both, which is best treated by allowing them to transition.

Spandrell opines that allowing trans women to transition and get sex reassignment surgery “can’t work well, at the very least because men have male sex drives, which are a very dangerous thing when not constrained by women.” I must remind him that the male sex drive is mediated through testosterone. Trans women typically take estrogens and anti-androgens, which lower the libido to the level of an otherwise-comparable cis woman. A woman who has had sexual reassignment surgery does not even have testicles to produce testosterone. She could not possibly have a male sex drive, unless Spandrell is advocating the theory that the male sex drive is actually mediated by ghost balls.

Finally, I must address the notion that I am an autoandrophile. First, I find it highly amusing that Spandrell believes I am the first trans person assigned female at birth to be attracted to men. I assure you I am certainly not. Second, my fetish is (mostly SFW, but TMI warning) very well documented. It is such a shame how no one ever does research before they insult you these days.

Third, I must clarify what I meant in that particular comment. In my experience, social dysphoria is subject to the hedonic treadmill: I was elated the first time someone called me ‘zie,’ but now it is an everyday thing. I imagine that if I went back, I would spend six months or so in a pit of constant dysphoria, but eventually get used to it. However, I have been constantly distressed by my breasts since puberty; when I thought I was cis, I would have constant fantasies of cutting them off with a knife; when I stop binding regularly, I notice a deep loss of psychological stability. The hedonic treadmill simply does not work for me having breasts. I value my relationship highly, but not that highly. (Being monogamous was a similar constant drain on me, and being polyamorous– several years after I started– is still a major contributor to my happiness, which is the reason I say it would be extremely hard to go back to monogamy.)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

519 Responses to [Ozy] A Response to Spandrell

  1. EoT says:

    First, let’s address the issue of homosexuality. Spandrell argues that “There’s no way on earth that a condition that makes you lose attraction towards the opposite sex is going to survive natural selection.” On the contrary, there is a lot of animal homosexuality. The linked book contains much fascinating information, such as the fact that animal sexuality has been documented in almost 500 species and that, in one study, ninety percent of observed giraffe sex was between two males. I am not sure why animal homosexuality is so common: I am not an evolutionary biologist myself. But it suggests that the simplistic model in which fucking something other than a vagina is not selected for is incorrect.

    You’re making a pretty common mistake here. Just because something is biologically rooted and shows partial heritability does not mean it is a Darwinian trait that has been selected for. Suicide also shows partial heritability (and also appears in animals). Loads of mental problems are partially heritable, this does not mean they are “selected for.”

    There are some super-crazy ideas like the “gay uncle theory” that try to invent some way homosexuality could be selected using kin-selection or whatever. Greg Cochran (who knows way, way more about this stuff than anyone who will post in this comment thread) pointed out how crazy these theories are before. Here’s a link to Cochran’s homosexuality posts, which are interesting and informative.

    • CaptainBooshi says:

      I think you’re missing the point of what both Ozy and Spandrell are arguing. As far as I can tell, Spandrell is arguing that homosexuality isn’t heritable at all, otherwise it would have been weeded out by natural selection, and Ozy is saying that is not true, which is very different than saying homosexuality is “selected for.” As you state, there’s plenty of ways homosexuality can still be heritable without being “selected for.”

      At least, that’s my interpretation of what they said.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know what Spandrell meant, but he cites Cochran, who has a more subtle point: nontrivial genetic contribution to a condition with serious fitness cost is impossible in equilibrium. But it happens all the time, because we are out of equilibrium if the condition is an infection. (out of equilibrium because the infectious agent evolves, too)

        • memeticengineer says:

          Williams Syndrome and Down Syndrome are two known examples of nontrivial genetic contribution to a condition with serious fitness cost, and no known contribution from infectious agents. That either provides counter-examples to the argument or shows that humans are out of equilibrium even with regard to traits that are not directly related to infectious agents.

          • Roman Davis says:

            Is down syndrome as common as homosexuality in humans? No. Is down syndrome present in any non human animal at a rate equal to or higher than humans? I suspect not. If neither is true, I don’t see what you are getting at. Nature fucks up sometimes. That’s all.

          • memeticengineer says:

            What I’m getting at is the comment I was replying to seems incorrect as stated. It said nothing about rate of incidence in either humans or non-humans, and “impossible” is a strong word. We can look at a revised claim with a minimum threshold level of frequency in the population, but I would be curious how an impossibility argument could have that sort of threshold. Maybe it is merely an unlikelihood argument?

            FWIW: Most non-human animals do not have sufficiently analogous chromosome structure to have a disorder closely analogous to Down syndrome, but chimps do, and apparently they can get it. I could not find stats on rate of incidence. I would be surprised if it was very different as there is no obvious reason it should be.

          • Down syndrome is caused due to an error in production of sex cells, so that a sperm or egg is produced with an extra chromosome. This is a categorically different kind of case from an inherited condition being passed on via reproduction of specific genes, accurately copied from the parent. So it hardly qualifies as a valid counter-example. I don’t know enough about William’s syndrome to comment.

          • Anonymous says:

            It would be better to say “heritable” rather than “genetic.” Heritable conditions wipe themselves out quickly, unless they are in an arms race. Susceptability to Down’s is not significantly heritable, so it is not surprising that existing variation has not quickly fixed on genes avoiding it.

            However, the net cost of Down’s is pretty high and its existence is a mystery. Humans have higher rates of chromosome abnormalities than other mammals, mainly manifested as a high rate of miscarriage. This needs explanation.

            Williams is much more rare than Down’s. I think it is also a spontaneous mutation, not heritable.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Also, if Williams WAS heritable, I could see how a genetic mutation which makes you dumb but very, very friendly and eager-to-please might get selected for in cultures where people tend to not compete particularly hard over intelligence, and where the cardiovascular symptoms might be compensated for by other people taking care of you.

          • Clockwork Marx says:

            It’s rather unlikely that significant cognitive impairment will lead to reproduction in most cases, so friendliness would have to somehow contribute to the reproductive success of the rest of one’s family.

          • memeticengineer says:

            Down syndrome itself is literally heritable (people with Down syndrome have lowered but nonzero fertility and a high chance to pass it on), but it’s likely true that this is not the way most people get it.

            At the meta level, as has already been mentioned the prevalence of trisomy disorders among humans is itself a trait that has major negative fitness impact. I am curious whether anyone has done a study on whether this tendency is variable among humans or between humans and other species.

          • memeticengineer says:

            @Creutzer I’m trying to dispute the argument that homosexuality must be controlled by exactly one allele at one locus, which we would have found by now if it existed, and since we haven’t, it doesn’t exist. I’m not trying to put forward a positive theory of the genetics of homosexuality. I just think this argument is bunk, and I believe I have demonstrated so. My demonstration is a proof by contradiction: if the argument were valid, it would prove things that we know to be untrue. If you respond to each counter-example with “that’s not an exact analogy for homosexuality because X”, then I think you have some responsibility to show how X is relevant to the argument in a way that would make the argument or its individual steps apply to homosexuality but not other things.

            As for my own beliefs, I think the highest probability theory based on current evidence is that male sexual orientation is partially genetic (there are some known correlated alleles), partially unshared in utero environment (the older brother effect), and partially other unknown factors (similar to the “random” of breast cancer).

    • asciiheart says:

      http://koryos.tumblr.com/post/55022432802/all-right-guys-here-it-is-the-big-gay-animal-sex

      that a behaviour is inherited does not necessarily mean it is selected for, but when it is present in hundreds of animal species, it seems likely that it is.

      Evolution is not solely driven by individual reproduction, as evidenced by eusocial animals such as bees, termites and ants, the majority of which never have reproductive sex.

      • EoT says:

        Evolution is not solely driven by individual reproduction, as evidenced by eusocial animals such as bees, termites and ants, the majority of which never have reproductive sex.

        Some people make these kinds of kin-selection arguments, but they’re implausible. The “gay uncle” would have to be far more successful at improving fitness for his nieces/nephews than he would for his own kids ( Hamilton’s Rule: , r = .5 for biological children, .25 for nieces and nephews.) Where is the evidence that gay uncles confer 2x advantage to their nieces and nephews.

        Humans are not asexual termites. Think in terms of pathogens that affect behavior (toxoplasmosis, etc.)

        • asciiheart says:

          i don’t think thats as implausible as you seem to think, a bachelor uncle caring for a child in addition to its parents could confer a 1.5x benefit relative to a child cared for by two parents, a bachelor uncle caring for the offspring of a single mother could confer the 2x advantage.

          what i meant by the termite analogy is that there seems to be evidence of kin selection working in these cases, as drethelin points out below, a member of a hive is not an individual organism, but it seems highly likely to me that they didn’t start out this way, but selected for a model where a number of asexual (sub?)organisms work to benefit a single breeding (sub?)organism.

          • James James says:

            “could”
            Not only does the gay uncle theory not work, it doesn’t actually happen!

            An ant colony functions as a single organism. This is explained in one of Dawkins’ books, I think “The Selfish Gene”.

      • drethelin says:

        eusocial animals are not individual organisms. For the purposes of natural selection every member of a hive is best viewed as an organ or limb.

        • rrb says:

          No.

          In some kinds of bee, the workers can lay eggs, but usually don’t. Protecting the queen’s eggs is a better reproductive strategy for them, because their own eggs will be destroyed by other workers. (They will still lay them if they can hide them.)

          This behavior can only be explained by viewing them as individual organisms.

          Furthermore, it provides a valid illustration of asciiheart’s original statement, “Evolution is not solely driven by individual reproduction”.

          (Source: The Origins of Virtue, by Ridley)

          • ckp says:

            How is this different to cancerous cells in an ordinary organism? Cells can reproduce on their own to the detriment of the organism but usually don’t.

          • Jaskologist says:

            A hive of laying workers is a dying hive, which makes the analogy especially apt in context.

            All of this puts me in mind of Kipling’s short story, The Mother Hive. Well worth the read.

          • The Mother Hive is a *spectacular* NRx parable. However, I think we know rather less about how human societies ought to go than we know about bee hives.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Isn’t “we don’t know how these things are supposed to go” typically an argument for not messing with the traditional arrangement?

          • Clockwork Marx says:

            I think the point is more that there is a narrower range of viable configurations for eusocial insects then there are for humans.

            A hive is basically an organism, a human society may exhibit some organism-like traits, but the analogy breaks down in a number of ways due to the fact that no human group supports a single genetic line.

            A hive exists for a single purpose, to replicate the bees’ shared genes. Humans on the other hand, are competing to spread their own unique genes even while working together in a society.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Nancy is your claim then that NRxers pine for Hellstrom’s Hive? (I am joking).

      • Nornagest says:

        Evolution is not solely driven by individual reproduction, as evidenced by eusocial animals such as bees, termites and ants, the majority of which never have reproductive sex.

        Eusociality is a lot more common in organisms with haplodiploid sex determination, which implies (e.g. in ants) that nonreproductive female workers share more of their genes with their sisters (assuming queen monogamy) than with any possible children. The implications for kin selection are obvious.

        There seem to be other mechanisms for evolving eusociality, though; termites aren’t haplodiploid, and there are even a couple of eusocial mammals.

        Wikipedia, as usual, has more.

    • LRS says:

      If I were to claim that “there is no way heritable suicidal tendencies should survive natural selection,” it seems like it would be reasonable for Ozy to ask me how my claim can be reconciled with the observable prevalence of suicide across a broad range of species (if, as you say, it is indeed the case that this observation can be made in the real world).

      One explanation might be that natural selection will eventually eliminate heritable suicidal tendencies, and we are just currently in a temporary state of disequilibrium in which heritable suicidal tendencies have, by chance, managed to avoid being selected out of existence.

      It seems to me that the prevalence of homosexuality in a wide range of animal species makes it less likely that we are in that sort of temporary disequilibrium for homosexuality. I would expect not to see identical disequilibria over many species that have been subjected to a wide range of differing selective pressures.

      This leads me to consider other ways to resolve the tension between the claim that homosexuality shouldn’t survive natural selection and the observation of the prevalence of homosexuality. Perhaps the putative “gay gene” is linked in complex to some other genes that bestow fitness advantages. As Ozy suggests, maybe we need a less naive model of the evolution of a behavior as complex as human sexuality. Perhaps homosexuality is not heritable at all.

      • EoT says:

        This leads me to consider other ways to resolve the tension between the claim that homosexuality shouldn’t survive natural selection and the observation of the prevalence of homosexuality. Perhaps the putative “gay gene” is linked in complex to some other genes that bestow fitness advantages.

        You can maintain an allele that is fitness-harming in homozygotes if it conveys a commensurately large benefit for heterozygotes. E.g. sickle cell (Hgbs) hemoglobin conveys pretection against malaria. Remember: it would have to be a very large effect.

        But it’s not like we have zero data here. Genome-wide association studies have been performed, and if there was some allele that caused homosexuality in homozygotes it would have been found in the association studies by now.

        • memeticengineer says:

          Genome-wide association studies have been performed, and if there was some allele that caused homosexuality in homozygotes it would have been found in the association studies by now.

          As far as I know, no allele has been identified so far that causes higher or lower IQ. Does that mean variations in IQ can’t possibly be genetic? Is all variation in IQ caused by pathogens?

          • Creutzer says:

            The analogy doesn’t work. IQ is a graded property for which it makes sense to have different loci make small contributions. With homosexuality, it would have to be the case that in a certain configuration, all these different loci play together to suddenly make you switch from one side of an essentially binary distinction (at least male bisexuality is rarer than homosexuality!) to the other.

          • memeticengineer says:

            @Creutzer My analogy is not meant to be exact, it’s only meant to show that EoT’s argument as I quoted it proves too much.

            Your streamlining of his position raise a more subtle argument, that a binary trait is unlikely to have causal input from multiple loci, that homosexual vs heterosexual is a binary trait in males, and that phenotypes affected by a single locus would have been identified by now.

            I would dispute all three of these premises. First, getting breast cancer is pretty binary (you either get it or you don’t), and we know of multiple genes that can contribute to it. Another example would be completely white coat in cats; there are at least two or three different genes that are known to independently cause it (yes, there are many other variations of coat color, but the C and W genes can independently override all of them with white). Second, even if bisexuality is rarer, at best you can argue the distribution is two-peaked, not binary. Third, genes for heritable diseases are discovered pretty regularly, so it seems likely that some genetic traits remain undiscovered.

            Thus, I think your enhanced version of the argument still does not go through.

          • EoT says:

            As far as I know,

            Far as you know doesn’t go very far. There are multiple known intelligence alleles.

          • memeticengineer says:

            I wasn’t aware of any besides obvious developmental disabilities. A Google search finds some resources that claim specific intelligence-linked alleles, and others that claim none are known. I am not in a position to evaluate the literature, so I concede the point and recant the example of IQ. It seems likely there are known loci that explain at least some of the variability in IQ. Thank you for the opportunity to learn something new!

            I tried to think of other possible counter-examples and found that there are also known loci linked with autism, despite the usual story being that its mechanism of heritability is completely unknown (they also do not explain all of the incidence).

            This made me curious whether it’s actually true that no allele has been linked to homosexuality, and it seems there’s at least some claimed correlations: . (Some of these studies may be sketchy and it seems at least the xq28 correlation is disputed.)

          • Yeah but there are gradations of homosexuality and heterosexuality. SOme people are totally gay and some totally straight but there are many people at various points in between.

          • Creutzer says:

            Doesn’t breast cancer have an obvious random component?

            I’m not sure I see what you want to say with the cat thing. If homosexuality were like that, shouldn’t we know, given that we know about white coat in cats?

            As for bisexuality, yes, the distribution has two peaks, one larger than the other, and not so much in-between, but of course there are cases in the middle. This is very much unlike IQ, but sounds reminiscent of handedness, which also has relatively low heritability. As far as Wikipedia tells me (and that’s all I know), it’s also not really clear how handedness is determined.

          • nydwracu says:

            How many times and in how many places has the concept of homosexuality developed? As far as I know, only once — so are we really sure that “heterosexuality vs. homosexuality” is the underlying biological truth to begin with?

          • peterdjones says:

            @Nyderacu
            What are the identity criteria for concepts?

  2. Matthew says:

    Before getting to the meat of Spandrell’s essay, a moment of levity from the introduction:

    That’s what the term “Cathedral” is supposed to capture; the fact that the Progressive intellectual elite is not only similar to the old Christian churches; it is actually descended from them, in part physically so.

    Can I just say, how edifying it is, after centuries of reactionaries blaming the evils of the progressive elite in journalism, entertainment, education, and finance on the Jews to hear how it’s not actually all our fault after all.

    A pity everything goes downhill from there.

    I assume Spandrell is aware of the butch v. femme distinction among lesbians, but apparently it never occurs to him that gay men might also have distinct types (or so I assume). No, they must all be attracted to “manly men.”

    He also appears to be unaware of the existence of straight cisfemale bodybuilders. I mean, maybe just maybe pre-transition MtFs who are particularly muscular/masculine in appearance don’t have all that much to fear from ending up looking like this or this, for example.

    On female fetishes — To take one example, “women who love beards” is an actual thing to the point of a weird fetish. I know at least one like this. Weirder than “liking fat people” is fairly arbitrary; the degree to which facial hair is a serious consideration for her strikes me as pretty damn weird.

    On “born with it or not” — I can remember being effectively straight (not sexualized yet, but clearly liking girls) by age 3, and I bet it would be earlier if I had still memories before 2yrs 10 months. Perhaps not everyone’s sexuality is established by the moment of birth, but I think some people’s is.

    Relatedly, on the genetics, Spandrell ignores the hypothesis, among others, that there could be genotypes that code for something which increases fertility in women but makes men gay. The extra offspring from the women would make up for most of the gay men not having children.

    I braved the tumblr link and am still sort of confused what exactly the fetish is, but yay for the Shadow Unit reference at the top.

    • Randall Randall says:

      effectively straight (not sexualized yet […]

      What does this mean? Being straight or not isn’t about whether you like sports or trucks, right? It’s about sexual preference. If you aren’t yet having any sexual or romantic feelings, then you can’t be having them about one or the other sex. If I had seriously considered at, say, age ten, whether I was straight or gay, how could I possibly have made a distinction (leaving aside cultural expectations, which almost certainly would have driven me to say “straight”, I suppose)?

      • Matthew says:

        My awareness that I felt differently about girls than I did about boys predated my awareness of the existence of sex, never mind the onset of puberty. For me, romantic orientation –> sexual orientation. I don’t know whether that is a human universal or not, but people who have different romantic and sexual orientations seem to be rare (the only exception I’m aware of is bisexuals who are only romantically interested in one sex but will have short-term physical relationships with either).

        Had someone been able to explain in small words to 3 year-old me what “straight” and “gay” meant, I would accurately have described myself as straight despite not starting puberty for another 6 years.

        • primality says:

          I don’t know whether that is a human universal or not

          It wouldn’t seem so.

          If you had explained gay/straight to kindergarten!me, I would probably have self-classified as straight because of normativity, but looking back I would say I was asexual and aromantic until puberty.

          I never had a kindergarten boyfriend and didn’t understand the appeal of kissing. I remember having my first crush at age 12 – this was my first romantic attraction to someone. I fantasized about making out with him, and imagined that he was laying next to me as I fell asleep.

          (Since making out != sex, I should explain that if the subject is someone I know personally, my fantasies are limited to stuff I know for a fact I would like to do IRL. It is still true today that wanting to make out ⇔ sexual attraction.)

          For the record, I am now a straight cis female.

          • Fazathra says:

            I agree with Matthew here. Sexual orientation is (at least for me) divorced from sex-drive if that makes any sense.
            I’m naturally an asexual, but would still consider myself straight as although neither men or women ever seem attractive to me, the idea of having sex with a woman is “meh,” while the idea of having sex with a man is “Ugh, No! That’s disgusting!”

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m naturally an asexual, but would still consider myself straight

            The way I like to explain it is “The people I am NOT having sex with are male” 🙂

          • MugaSofer says:

            That’s really interesting, Fazathra.

        • Elizabeth says:

          The distinction between “from birth” and “from age two” is worth making.

    • Steve Johnson says:

      I braved the tumblr link and am still sort of confused what exactly the fetish is, but yay for the Shadow Unit reference at the top.

      I interpreted it as her getting off on watching men being tortured / injured.

    • gunlord500 says:

      The absolutely hilarious thing is that some of Reaction’s most beloved gay guys are “masc.” Ol’ Jack Donovan loves the D, but he’s a manly man who loves guns and nationalism and all that good stuff and only wants the D from guys as manly as he is. He wrote an entire book (Androphilia) about ow “femmes” aren’t actually natural gay dudes.

      Spandrell needn’t have gone farther than *his own team* to find a refutation of his “effeminate gay men” hypothesis.

    • Rauwyn says:

      Seconding the yay Shadow Unit! I am so happy that (a) other people even read it (aside from the like five people active on the forums) and (b) that there’s overlap between Shadow Unit and SSC readership.

    • RCF says:

      “I mean, maybe just maybe pre-transition MtFs who are particularly muscular/masculine in appearance don’t have all that much to fear from ending up looking like this or this, for example.”

      The first link appears to be malicious, in that it’s trying to get me “update your system player” by clicking on the following link:

      http://lax1.ib.adnxs.com/click?PFl42IfbJ0A8WXjYh9snQAAAAAAAACxAPFl42IfbJ0A8WXjYh9snQHJaIghT-_NiJpm29yrbiFVl2xhUAAAAAP9xJQBMBQAATAUAAAIAAACa_w0BwAEGAAAAAQBVU0QAVVNEACwB-gABWAAAILsDAQMAAQIAAI4AKyIvywAAAAA./cnd=%21RQbOPAj3qpsCEJr_twgYwIMYIAM./referrer=photobucket.com/clickenc=http://www.systweak.com/registrycleaner/cpx/?utm_source=cpx%26utm_campaign=cpx%26sid1=lax1CKay2r2v5bbEVRACGPK0icGw6v75YiIONjkuMTA3LjEwNC4xNTQoATDltuOgBQ..

      • Matthew says:

        Huh. Weird. Sorry about that. I got the links by just doing a Google image search for “beautiful female bodybuilder” and taking a couple large-size images from the top results.

  3. Matthew says:

    Offtopic/Meta

    Scott, your tendency to put new posts up at around 12:30-1:00am my time, just as I’m otherwise finally about to force my insomniac ass into bed, is really not helping. Can you set them to publish on a delay?

    (I’m not actually going to make demands based on my on my own idiosyncratic needs, but I’m not really kidding either. It would be helpful if these went up after I was already asleep, so I didn’t spend another hour reading, thinking about, and responding to them. I assume the majority of readers are in the US, so I can’t be the only one who has this problem, either.)

  4. Pingback: Almost No One is Evil; Almost Everything is Broken | Born This Way; Now That Way

  5. Bugmaster says:

    Regarding homosexuality: the important question is not whether it is genetic; but rather, whether it can be changed at will. So far, it looks like the answer is “no”.

    That said, as far as I understand, a person’s sexuality is affected by hormonal exposure during gestation. While this factor is not, strictly speaking, genetic; it still has the effect of permanently locking in a person’s sexual drives.

    • RCF says:

      Actually, the important question is whether it’s a legitimate basis for discrimination.

    • Anonymous says:

      >the important question is not whether it is genetic; but rather, whether it can be changed at will.

      Why does this matter?

      • Bugmaster says:

        Oh, well, in the long scheme of things it doesn’t, as per my other comment. My point is that if you do, for some reason, decide to focus on homosexuality; then whether it can be changed at will or not is the key question. Whether it’s genetic or not doesn’t really matter (although, admittedly, most though not all unchanging characteristics are genetic).

  6. Bugmaster says:

    From a slightly more general perspective… Why do we care so much about everyone’s sexual/gender preferences ? Why is this a big deal ? I understand that the usual answers are, “because God told us so” and “because knowing that people are having sex in this specific way makes me feel icky”, but these aren’t good reasons. Another reason for caring is to ensure that people with gender dysphoria can obtain access to the (potentially life-saving) gender reassignment surgery (or other treatments); but this is no different, structurally speaking, from obtaining treatments for severe autoimmune disorders, diabetes, etc. (though, yes, we should make it happen somehow).

    I personally would endorse the following statement: “In an ideal world, any consenting adult could have sex with any other consenting adult, with no social repercussions; in addition, people could be whatever sex/gender they wanted, likewise with no social penalties for changing sexes/genders” (note that I said “ideal”, I understand that the technology does not yet exist to fully implement the second part of that sentence).

    As far as I understand, Spandrell would disagree with this statement (not sure about Ozy), but why ? If his reasons for disagreeing aren’t good enough, then IMO all the minutiae about the exact mechanisms that contribute to homosexuality, etc., are irrelevant.

    • Franz Panzer says:

      I agree with you. As long as everyone is an adult and consenting they should be allowed to do what they want. But you are not exploring the consequences that come from this position.

      Incest would be okay. If “this is a sin” and “this is disgusting” are not valid arguments, then what is wrong about incest? You may be able to make an argument against allowing them to have children on grounds of eugenics. But there’s no argument against the relationship.

      Also, if sin and yuck are no arguments what are arguments against necrophilia? It’s illegal in many states and countries, yet it’s a victimless crime (the “victim” is already dead). And arguments that the family of the deceased has some rights over the body are of legal nature. I can demand that my body be cremated or buried, I can allow my organs to be harvested after my death or forbid it. Why can’t I say that I’ll gift it to the local Necrophiliac Club and they can do whatever they want with it?

      So the position “anyone can do what they want, as long as everyone’s consenting and no one get’s hurt” will sound good to a lot of people. If you say, by the way incest and necrophilia (and maybe other stuff? exercise for the reader: find examples) are also okay, people will be less enthusiastic. Not because they don’t like the argument, but because they dislike the conclusion.

      • primality says:

        I am not sure what you’re trying to say by bringing these examples out. If it’s an argument in the form of “X implies Y, and Y is wrong, therefore X is wrong”, I reject the idea that Y (consenting incest&necrophilia) is wrong. If you mean that because of this implication, it’ll be hard to get normals on board, that’s true but we should try anyway. Stuff shouldn’t be illegal just because it makes someone feel yucky.

        • Franz Panzer says:

          If you mean that because of this implication, it’ll be hard to get normals on board, that’s true but we should try anyway.

          That’s what I meant. It’ supposed to be an answer to Bugmaster’s question
          As far as I understand, Spandrell would disagree with this statement (not sure about Ozy), but why ?

          What I wrote is for me a reason why people oppose this position. Because they dislike the implications.
          Of course, “gays can have sex and marry” is already disgusting or sinfull enough for a lot of people. But that pool of people becomes larger the more you follow the argument to its conclusion.

          • Bugmaster says:

            I don’t think this answers my objection, exactly, since I am positing an (imaginary) ideal world that already, somehow, exists. Thus, “getting the normals on board” in that world is not an issue, they are on board already.

            If we can agree that such a world is more preferable than our own, then it makes sense to work toward it (unless there is an even better world that we are overlooking). The rest is just strategy and PR.

          • Franz Panzer says:

            @ Bugmaster
            Well, if you believe that homosexualty leads to a decay of society, then in an ideal society homosexuality would be outlawed. Which leads people to reject your statement.

            And such believes are certainly widespread.

            Although I agree that I also don’t know what the good arguments for holding such believes are (as I agree that yuck and god are not good arguments).

          • Bugmaster says:

            Well yeah, obviously if you believe that “homosexuality leads to a decay of society”, then my ideal world is your nightmare world. But then you need to explain how you measure “decay of society”, and how homosexuality contributes to it. As I said, so far I haven’t seen anything that couldn’t be reduced to “God doesn’t like it” or “it’s icky” — or, possibly, “we need hetero sex to outbreed all the other tribes”. None of these reasons are particularly compelling, but it’s always possible I’m overlooking something.

      • Emily H. says:

        The vast majority of incest involves a terrible abuse of an imbalanced power relationship. A taboo is a really useful thing to have because you don’t get to rationalize your way out of it — “ew” reaches more people, and more viscerally, than “this is a bad thing to do” — so it makes some sense to have the taboo rather than “Well, if you’re both consenting adults, and if you double up on the birth control…” (even for hypothetical well-adjusted similar-age brother-sister couples.)

        I’m not sure about necrophilia.

        • Franz Panzer says:

          “anyone can do what they want, as long as everyone’s consenting and no one get’s hurt”
          in my oppinion excludes abusive relationships with an imbalanced power relationship.

          Your argument then is “Let’s ostracise/criminalise all people who do X, because most people who do X are bad”. I’m not so sure about that. If X is a very good indicator of badness I am in favour of using that indicator when trying to find wrongdoing. But as long as X itself is not harmfull I don’t think I’m comfortable with banning it.

          Also, if you make X bad, then only people who don’t care about being bad will do X, so the proportion of bad people amongst people who do X will rise.

          Maybe there would be more incest couples in healthy relationships if being an incest couple wouldn’t immediately cast you out of most of society.

          But I do concede that you have an argument on practical grounds. I think that an ideal solution would be to improve our abilty to stop the abuse and let those where there’s no abuse in peace. However, if our ability to find and arrest the abusers is abysmally bad and for some reason very hard to improve, then making a blanket ban could make sense.

          • Emily H. says:

            I would worry that destigmatizing incest may make things easier for healthy incestuous relationships while also making things easier for the far greater number of abusive incestuous relationships; it’s a lot easier to measure “are you having sex with your family member?” than “Is there abuse? Is it consensual? Is there a power imbalance?” especially in cases where one person has essentially been groomed by the other to accept the relationship, so it may be substantially more difficult to find the cases where abuse is going on.

            I would be comfortable allowing sexual relationships between close relatives in cases where there was a small age difference, the relationship started after both parties were adults, and neither person was in a position of financial power over the other.

          • Ken Arromdee says:

            Your argument then is “Let’s ostracise/criminalise all people who do X, because most people who do X are bad”. I’m not so sure about that. If X is a very good indicator of badness I am in favour of using that indicator when trying to find wrongdoing. But as long as X itself is not harmfull I don’t think I’m comfortable with banning it.

            Running through the street with a loaded weapon saying “I’m going to kill anyone who gets within ten feet of me” is a good indicator of badness, but it is not a perfect indicator of badness. It is possible that someone could do that and be no danger at all; it just isn’t very likely. Yet we’d stop people from doing that, because the likelihood of badness is so great. It’s not perfect and we may occasionally catch an innocent person who just likes to scream things like that without any intention of killing, but that’s acceptable.

            Or for another example, drunk driving is illegal. You cannot escape a drunk driving charge by saying that even though your blood alcohol level is slightly above the maximum, you’re only as impaired as another person whose level is slightly below the maximum, and so you should be let free.

          • Franz_Panzer says:

            @ Ken
            You are right. Good examples.
            I still wouldn’t change much about my statement, only change the word harmfull. Reckless, dangerous or threatening could be substitutes

          • RCF says:

            Running through the street with a loaded weapon saying “I’m going to kill anyone who gets within ten feet of me” is a good indicator of badness, but it is not a perfect indicator of badness. It is possible that someone could do that and be no danger at all; it just isn’t very likely. Yet we’d stop people from doing that, because the likelihood of badness is so great.

            That is not at all analogous. As just one difference, presumably everyone around have not consented to have someone run around and threaten to kill people.

          • Konkvistador says:

            @Emily H.

            “I would worry that destigmatizing homosexuality may make things easier for healthy homosexual relationships while also making things easier for the far greater number of abusive homosexual relationships; it’s a lot easier to measure “are you having sex with a man?” than “Is there abuse? Is it consensual? Is there a power imbalance?” especially in cases where one person has essentially been groomed by the other to accept the relationship, so it may be substantially more difficult to find the cases where abuse is going on. ”

            Is most of the homosexual sex happening in say Afghanistan in the context of non-abusive relationships?

            To add to the controversial probing: Most of the Catholic Church “child abuse” sex scandals isn’t about children but teenage boys (15 to 17) having sex with priests.

          • Zorgon says:

            If we as a society consider a 14 year old girl having sex with a 40something man to be unacceptable, we should also consider the same thing of a 14 year old boy.

            And at least in mainstream society that first is considered unacceptable.

          • Konkavistor, did you mean “Is most of the *heterosexual* sex in Afghanistan happening in the context of consensual relationships?”

            Conflating children and teenagers (mostly as convenient) is one of the things wrong with contemporary America. I’m not sure whether that mistake is standard in other countries.

            I haven’t gotten the impression that most of the sex between priests and minors has the minor in the 15-17 year old range, but I haven’t seen statistics. In any case, a good bit of bullying is still possible in that situation.

            In first world countries (at least America, I don’t know about the laws and customs elsewhere), sex between 14 year olds and 40 year olds is considered unacceptable, regardless of genders.

            One area where there’s been a social shift is that large age differences (even if both are adults) are no longer accepted. I believe it used to be considered normal for a 50 or 60 year old man to marry a 20 year old woman.

            A power imbalance that no one seemed to want to think about is what happens if a partner becomes seriously disabled?

          • social justice warlock says:

            A power imbalance that no one seemed to want to think about is what happens if a partner becomes seriously disabled?

            This is a good question, though I suspect there’s normally enthusiastic prior consent (unenforceably contingent on good behavior) in that insuring for that kind of thing is one of the major things committed relationships are for.

            The most common case of this is surely dementia. I’ve heard that the elderly often enjoy sex well after their mental faculties have departed. I don’t have any good intuitions about the ethics here.

          • veronica d says:

            I would certainly like to receive orgasms from my lovers, even if my mind was starting to go. I wonder if there is a way to allow this while still protecting people from abusive rapey spouses?

          • Richard Gadsden says:

            There’s a reason why pro-incest groups call it “Genetic Sexual Attraction”. They’re trying to make a distinction between yucky incest and acceptable GSA. Seems like an approach that keeps the (useful) taboo and simultaneously allows the healthy relationships.

            ETA: GSA is generally used in the context of people who met as adults (often as an accidental consequence of adoption). The Westermarck Effect means that people raised together as children rarely experience sexual attraction as adults – Westermarck is pretty effective for preventing incest and is damned near universal in human societies (note that male and female royal children in Pharaonic Egypt were raised separately, which means no Westermarck effect, to pick the obvious example).

            There are some cases of siblings raised together joining GSA groups and then there are arguments over whether to include them or not.

          • Ken Arromdee says:

            Franz: Running around with a loaded gun shouting that you’re going to kill someone is not inherently reckless or dangerous. The only thing that makes it so is the likelihood that someone who acts that way is actually going to shoot someone. And it’s only threatening insofar as you are believed to be likely to shoot someone.

            (I suppose you could say that there’s a risk of the gun accidentally going off, but replace “loaded gun” with “gun”, since bystanders can’t see whether the gun is loaded.)

            Likewise, being over the blood alcohol limit but being as good a driver as someone else under the limit is not reckless, dangerous, or threatening, at least no more so than the other person is.

          • Matthew says:

            (I suppose you could say that there’s a risk of the gun accidentally going off, but replace “loaded gun” with “gun”, since bystanders can’t see whether the gun is loaded.)

            If you see someone running around with a load gun shouting about killing people, what is your prior on the gun being loaded? Mine is fairly high.

          • Ken Arromdee says:

            If you see someone running around with a load gun shouting about killing people, what is your prior on the gun being loaded? Mine is fairly high.

            I was bringing this up as an example where it is legitimate to say

            “Let’s ostracise/criminalise all people who do X, because most people who do X are bad”.

            By pointing out that we should do a Bayseian update on the person being dangerous, you are agreeing with me.

          • RCF says:

            I was bringing this up as an example where it is legitimate to say

            “Let’s ostracise/criminalise all people who do X, because most people who do X are bad”.

            That wasn’t really clear. The initial arrest of someone running around shouting that they’re going to kill someone is purely preventative, not deterrence. Any further criminal prosecution, if there is one (a finding of insanity would be likely) is not because most people who do this is bad, but because society has decided that having people run around shouting that they are going to kill people is, in and of itself, bad.

            By pointing out that we should do a Bayseian update on the person being dangerous, you are agreeing with me.

            Are you saying “X is evidence for something bad” is sufficient basis for criminalizing something? Besides that being EDT and not making sense from a deterrence point of view, that would suggest that it’s okay to put people in prison for being male or black.

        • Bugmaster says:

          I would argue that necrophilia could amount to something like theft (at the very least) — of the body in question from grieving relatives. Thus, in most cases we should discourage it.

          • Franz Panzer says:

            Also if I gave away my body to necrophiliacs in my will?

            I don’t really know the law (also it probably differs from country to country), but if my family wants me buried while I want to be cremated or something else, would not my wishes supercede those of my family? Why not also in the case when I give it to necrophiliacs?

            Also, that changes the problem of necrophiliacs from “having sex with a corpse is illegal” to “stealing a corpse is illegal”.

          • Andy says:

            (Off topic) AJD: Oh wonderful! I wondered if there were any other SSC readers in the Leftover Soup reader base, but I was always too shy to ask.

          • Thanks for the leftoversoup link, I think. I’m already drowning in SSC posts and comments, and now I have a webcomic I’m reading from the beginning.

          • Andy says:

            and now I have a webcomic I’m reading from the beginning.

            Check the forum too – they have an array of interesting (though mostly newbie-level) recipes under the thread “Intro To The Kitchen”

          • Noumenon72 says:

            Wow is Leftover Soup a great comic! Also reading from the beginning, Thank You.

          • Nisan says:

            Oh cool, this is by Tailsteak!

        • RCF says:

          “The vast majority of incest involves a terrible abuse of an imbalanced power relationship.”

          Are you basing this on solid empirical facts, or on your personal impression?

      • mugasofer says:

        Dear gods below, man, have you literally never met anyone who disagrees with you? Or did you just assume anything they said could be safely dismissed as matching these joke answers so you didn’t need to listen to them?

        Also, that’s a very nice definition of Things That Are And Are Not Ok, but I can’t help but notice you produced it by checking against the things you *already think* are okay.

        I myself am a minor, but above the age of consent in my country. So you understand my skepticism.

        • RCF says:

          What are you referring to as “joke answers”? What are you referring to as “a very nice definition”? You seem to have a lot of faith in people’s ability to read between the lines.

          • MugaSofer says:

            *ahem* that would be because I replied to the wrong comment. Oops.

            (On the off-chance you see this, Scott, can you delete it or something?)

            I was attempting to reply to these bits of Bugmaster’s comment:

            I understand that the usual answers are, “because God told us so” and “because knowing that people are having sex in this specific way makes me feel icky”, but these aren’t good reasons.

            I personally would endorse the following statement: “In an ideal world, any consenting adult could have sex with any other consenting adult, with no social repercussions; in addition, people could be whatever sex/gender they wanted, likewise with no social penalties for changing sexes/genders” (note that I said “ideal”, I understand that the technology does not yet exist to fully implement the second part of that sentence).

            As far as I understand, Spandrell would disagree with this statement (not sure about Ozy), but why ?

      • Medivh says:

        #necrophilia:
        a dead body is not a consenting adult

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Neither is a dildo.

          • Ken Arromdee says:

            The same objection applies to necrophilia as applies to bestiality and to most cases of incest: most people have instinctive revulsion at doing such things and if someone does not, it is likely that they are mentally imbalanced or that (in the case of incest) there are other negative factors involved; people aren’t otherwise normal except for a desire for necrophilia.

          • Anonymous says:

            “The same objection applies to necrophilia as applies to bestiality and to most cases of incest: most people have instinctive revulsion at doing such things and if someone does not, it is likely that they are mentally imbalanced or that (in the case of incest) there are other negative factors involved; people aren’t otherwise normal except for a desire for necrophilia.”

            This is also true of homosexuality.

          • Clockwork Marx says:

            Reread Ken’s last sentence, although I’ll admit, “normal” is a slippery fish.

          • Ken Arromdee says:

            Anonymous: No, it’s not true of homosexuality. There *are* people who are homosexual and otherwise the same as other people.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Do you really think that there aren’t plenty of people who are “otherwise normal” except for their interest in necrophilia or incest? I would assume quite the opposite.

            Do you have a way to quantify non-normalcy? I assume, for example, that necros would include more goths, but I don’t think that is a class of non-normalcy that should actually concern us. What would? Higher rate of drug use? Suicide? Correlation with other mental illnesses? Are there even any that can’t be explained away by these people being an oppressed minority?

            (This is all leaving aside the difficulty of properly seeing through a person’s public face. I assume Larry Brinken seemed “otherwise normal” enough for the 22 years he spent on the Human Rights Commission in the SJW heartland of San Francisco. But it turns out he also liked watching videos of black toddlers being raped because White Power!)

          • RCF says:

            “people aren’t otherwise normal except for a desire for necrophilia.”

            I really wonder at what sort of life experiences would lead a person to feel that they have the knowledge base to state something like that with such certainty. If otherwise normal necrophiliacs did in fact exist, what events would be certain to transpire, that have not in fact transpired?

            I find your certainty that there is something wrong with all necrophiliacs, but not with homosexuals, to be more likely an effect, rather than a cause, of your opposition to necrophilia. You do realize that many, if not most, people opposed to homosexuality have a similar position regarding homosexuals?

      • RCF says:

        Interestingly, a statement like that is what got Santorum Google-bombed.

      • Konkvistador says:

        “I agree with you. As long as everyone is an adult and consenting they should be allowed to do what they want. ”

        This is a very strange and historically anomalous sexual ethic. It should be very suspicious as well that out of nowhere so many people in the past 30 years suddenly discovered this moral ethic for sex and only sex, but don’t become Libertarian on anything else.

        There are strong reasons to consider it unstable in the long term. Consider that “adult” throw into that formulation is a great example of an unprincipled exception.

        http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/005864.html

        I expect eventually “consenting” and “adult” part will be modified beyond recognition by progressives themselves, consider certain kinds of consenting adult sex is already basically outlawed. The formulation was and for a short time more wll remain nothing more or less than a way to signal “I think sex among homosexual men is fine”. For evidence consider there are many people who fully believe this line yet think prostitution should be banned. Fully believe this line, but criminalize consensual sex on drugs or drunk. Fully believe this line and think it normal for people to take on college debt yet not recognize the right to consent in advanced to future sex with a spouse. etc.

        The Free Love sexual ethic of the 1960s and 70s counterculture is much more liberal. It was only in the early 1990s that poor NAMBLA was showed off the LGTB bus to acceptance.

        • no one special says:

          It should be very suspicious as well that out of nowhere so many people in the past 30 years suddenly discovered this moral ethic for sex and only sex, but don’t become Libertarian on anything else.

          This argument carves right through the weak points in my world view to score a critical hit on my system 2 morality. +Delta towards being a Libertarian.

          I note that I’m following the slippery slope towards Libertarianism, not towards “Free Love.” (I have children. The specter of NAMBLA is a serious indicator of danger down a given path. Yes, this is primarily a disgust reaction.)

          • Jaskologist says:

            How do you feel about two consenting adults contracting to do some work in exchange for under $5 per hour?

          • no one special says:

            @Jaskologist:

            My primary concern with Libertarianism is that it ignores consequences. It’s the political equivalent of a deontological moral system. My desire for consistency makes me lean towards it, but my concern for the abuse of wage workers limits the amount of that leaning.

            So, two consenting adults contracting to low wage work is reasonable, though probably foolish. In practice, most work arrangements are not between consenting adults, but between an adult and a corporate entity. I find the power differential there to be off-putting. I see Konkvistador’s point about classifying certain kinds of sex as fundamentally non-consensual; Perhaps, by analogy, certain kinds of contracts (with large power differentials) can be considered fundamentally non-consensual. If you are starving, and I agree to feed you in exchange for a service, did you really have a choice? On the other hand, just because a choice is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t a choice… How hard does it have to be before before we can consider the circumstances to be coercion rather than free choice?

            Hi, you’ve stepped into the nasty swamp of my decision making process. Watch out for quicksand, fire traps, and ROUSs.

          • Jaskologist says:

            My primary concern with Libertarianism is that it ignores consequences.

            This is precisely how I feel about Libertinism. In fact, every time I see somebody go on about how nobody should care about who has sex with whom, I think “ah, another person who hasn’t fully considered the fact that sex makes babies.”

            Hell, I’ll go one step further: if sex didn’t make babies, it would be morally equivalent to drug use. It’s probably more dangerous. How many have died from AIDS so far? How much damage has been done by other STDs? How much more once antibiotic resistance really gets going? (Of course, the fact that it does make people brings in a whole new set of problems.)

          • no one special says:

            Maybe we should agree that both “Free Love” and “Free Markets” only appear free because they externalize their costs onto the rest of society.

            This leaves us without a rudder though. “Consenting adults can do whatever they want” has ugly side effects in both cases. On the other hand, I’m not a bee; I don’t find “this is your place in society, and it’s your job to do this” to be a really compelling rudder either. (That’s my best guess at an alternative. It has some echoes in the traditionalist position, I think.)

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            Jaskologist says:
            September 17, 2014 at 10:39 am
            In fact, every time I see somebody go on about how nobody should care about who has sex with whom, I think “ah, another person who hasn’t fully considered the fact that sex makes babies.”

            I don’t recall that being said very much, except in a context where pregnancy was impossible (same sex), or where reliable contraception was taken for granted.

            Some old traditions forbade sex with another man’s wife, but allowed sex outside marriage in other circumstances, such as with a young unmarried woman (sometimes referred to as ‘concubine’). The distinction here might be, “Don’t risk bringing bastards into another man’s family” — which can have obvious serious consequences.

            Even after oral contraceptives made pregnancy much less likely, some college students defined ‘having sex’ as doing something that could cause pregnancy; thus ‘perversions’ didn’t count.

          • Andy says:

            This is precisely how I feel about Libertinism. In fact, every time I see somebody go on about how nobody should care about who has sex with whom, I think “ah, another person who hasn’t fully considered the fact that sex makes babies.”

            While I agree in principle, I laugh because not all sex can produce babies.
            I mean, outercourse and anal and blowjobs and cunnilingus and anilingus and toys and oh my oh my whe have so, so many ways to get our rocks off without putting sperm in vagina. And that’s before we even get to contraceptives. Also mandatory reversible sterilization, as I’ve seen (usually by some kind of contraceptive implant) in several sci-fi universes. If we removed the baby-making aspect, Jaskologist, would that clear your objection to libertinism?

          • Jaskologist says:

            If you remove the baby-making aspect entirely, then libertinism is morally equivalent to drug use (regardless of which way you fall on the morality of drug use). Most drugs would probably be better, since the odds of contracting a terminal illness from a single usage are much slimmer.

            I suppose that we could imagine away STDs too, but at that point we might as well just imagine that we’ve invented soma instead.

          • Nita says:

            If you remove the baby-making aspect entirely, then libertinism is morally equivalent to drug use

            How so? I’ve never heard of anyone either acquiring an ever greater tolerance for sex or overdosing on it. And those seem to be the most common paths from drugs to harm.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Sex and drugs are both addictive (sex is probably why we evolved addiction pathways in the first place). Both carry real risk of harm (though this varies by drug). And both, in this hypothetical, have little benefit outside of endorphin release.

          • Nita says:

            I don’t see a problem with “addiction” if there’s no tolerance or overdose. In fact, there aren’t even any withdrawal effects with sex! So, even if we accept your unusually broad definition of addiction, sex seems benign.

            And as for general health risks, we would have to ban motorcycles, mountain climbing and professional sports before we get to sex. And even then, a monogamous couple of gay virgins would get a pass.

        • Andy says:

          It’s 530 in the morning and I have a full day of classes, so this may not be as fully-formed as I’d like, but here goes:
          (Content warning: somewhat graphic mention of rape and abuse.)
          WEEEOOO! WEEEOOO! WEEEOOO! False Equivalency Alert!
          These things are not like each other in important ways.

          For evidence consider there are many people who fully believe this line yet think prostitution should be banned.

          A lot of people think prostitution should be banned because of spillover effects into society – increased drug use and organized crime is the most obvious effect touted I can think of, along with a bunch of other ‘broken windows’-style effects. I don’t believe this, but I can see how someone would believe it.

          Fully believe this line, but criminalize consensual sex on drugs or drunk.

          Please note that many don’t believe sex on alcohol or drugs is consent for the same reason many legal systems don’t consider a contract drafted on alcohol or drugs to be valid – people do things while intoxicated that they otherwise wouldn’t, are more vulnerable to coercion, and less able to say “Nope, stop, this is over.” See how a reasonable person might believe this?

          Fully believe this line and think it normal for people to take on college debt yet not recognize the right to consent in advanced to future sex with a spouse.

          People take on college debt, and sometimes they take on too much. People take on a mortgage or college loan with (I hope) understanding of the amount of money it’s going to cost (one reason I strongly oppose variable-rate mortgages or debt). Here, I think the difference is consequences.
          Legalized marital rape is what I hear when I see the line “right to consent in advanced to future sex with a spouse;” a recognition of all sex activity in marriage as consensual, regardless of whether or not consent was genuine in the moment, thus allowing for example a husband to commit an act that would be rape if they weren’t married to claim “consent.” I see a husband forcing his wife to have penetrative sex, over her objections in the moment, and then claim that she consented to all sexual activity with him when she married him. I see that conduct defended, rather than as grounds for divorce or imprisonment if the evidence is strong enough. It’s probably not what you intended, but I can see how a reasonable person would believe the “consenting adult” line and oppose marital rape, because I’m one of them. Purely selfishly, I would never want my future husband or wife to be able to abuse me and claim that I contracted to it implicitly with marriage vows.

          Still a liberal. Still not a libertarian.

          • Anonymous says:

            A lot of people think prostitution should be banned because of spillover effects into society

            This is also true of homosexuality, so I’m not sure what your point is here.

            Here, I think the difference is consequences.
            Legalized marital rape is what I hear when I see the line “right to consent in advanced to future sex with a spouse;”

            Well, yes.

            Consenting adults can sign contracts allowing them to consent in advance, and you consider it perfectly normal … except in this case. Because in this case, it isn’t just about “consenting adults”.

            (And maybe there’s more to the student loan example as well?)

          • Jaskologist says:

            A lot of people think prostitution should be banned because of spillover effects into society

            This is the argument against literally every form of sexual libertinism.

          • Matt C says:

            I don’t understand the NRx fixation on the right to marital rape. Very offensive and alienating to outsiders, and I can’t see a reasonable way that marital rape is fundamental to the NRx vision.

            Part of it is a desire to be provocative, I suppose.

            I am a libertarian, and I don’t think most libertarians favor marital rape.

            I think marriage includes the idea of general consent to sex with your spouse, but that doesn’t mean you get to forcibly rape your spouse whenever you feel like it. I’d like to think this is the normal common sense point of view that most people subscribe to.

          • Konkvistador says:

            A lot of people think fornication should be banned because of spillover effects into society – increased STD and divorce rates are the most obvious effect touted I can think of, along with a bunch of other ‘broken windows’-style effects. I don’t believe this, but I can see how someone would believe it.

            I’m not libertarian either. Consent is only moderately strong evidence of a person’s preferences, nothing more nothing less, it is not the one holy act that makes sexuality untouchably sacred and acceptable.

            That ritual used to be called marriage.

            “Purely selfishly, I would never want my future husband or wife to be able to abuse me and claim that I contracted to it implicitly with marriage vows.”

            There is your problem, a weakman that is a side effect of modernity, you do realize that obligation to have sex with the other partner was once considered an explicit and sacred duty right? So what is your objection if in 2014 someone makes this an explicit part of thier marriage vows? Don’t like the arrangement? Don’t take the marriage vows. Much like you can avoid “no” not meaning “no” by not agreeing the safeword for the evening being “tomatoes”.

            @Matt C: Read this post by Sister Y:
            http://theviewfromhell.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-right-to-marry.html

            I don’t think the use of violence to ensure, however the wife or husband should be punisheable by law for refusing sex to their spouse for nonhealth related reasons as a breach of the wedding contract is hardly some grand tyranny. Indeed let me remind you this is the current formal position of most human traditional religious traditions from Tibbetan Buddhism to Catholicism.

            I can’t speak for others but I like bringing it up when we talk about sex on this because it throws into stark relief many important cognitive dissonances of modern morality (I can consent to paying debt for the next 50 years but can’t consent to sex) and an excellent example of a concept that literally did not exist a little over 50 years ago.

            There were very liberal very humanist very secular very intelligent thinkers from the 1930s who simply never envisioned such a concept like “marital rape” existing. Pause to consider that what you consider common sense solid morality is little more than a caprice of recent human history that might be washed out as easily as it was introduced.

            In the strange alien land of the early 20th century a husband beating up a wife that didn’t put out was considered disgraceful, but a wife or husband not putting out was considered sinful and in breach of their vows.

            This wasn’t an obscure technicality entraping the unknowning but a cultural expectation clear to everyone entering the arangement untill very recently.

            http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/marital_duties

          • J. Quinton says:

            A lot of people think prostitution should be banned because of spillover effects into society – increased drug use and organized crime is the most obvious effect touted I can think of, along with a bunch of other ‘broken windows’-style effects. I don’t believe this, but I can see how someone would believe it.

            A lot of people believe this because they are for some reason unable to see that illegal activities sometimes lead to other illegal activities. Prostitution only has a “spillover effect” because it’s illegal. I imagine if borrowing and reading books were made illegal, and an illegal, underground library was established, it would also have the spillover effect of more drugs/crime, because only criminals would read books. And since prostitution is a contract, the only way to enforce an illegal contract is by other illegal means.

          • no one special says:

            @Matt C:

            I don’t understand the NRx fixation on the right to marital rape.

            I think this is a strawman. I’m not good enough at NRx-speak to figure out what the underlying point is that they’re trying to make, but I don’t think it’s that.

            I mean, I guess it’s possible that they’re evil, and using obfuscation to try and avoid admitting it, while pushing evil policies, but I think it’s more likely that they’re aiming at something more subtle than that, and it’s getting rounded off to the nearest horror by their opponents.

          • Tentatively, NRx believe that the most important thing is social stability, and the only way to get social stability is to have clear lines of authority.

            If the people who lose out under those clear lines of authority tend to not resemble the typical NRx, this is just a coincidence.

          • Cauê says:

            @Konkvistador:

            “I don’t think the use of violence to ensure, however the wife or husband should be punisheable by law for refusing sex to their spouse for nonhealth related reasons as a breach of the wedding contract is hardly some grand tyranny. ”

            This fixed my confusion. Not “marital rape”, but “legally enforcing voluntary contracts”. You guys should probably specify this whenever you bring up the subject (though bringing it up at all will still “feel suspicious”, I think).

          • no one special says:

            @Nancy Lebovitz

            If the people who lose out under those clear lines of authority tend to not resemble the typical NRx, this is just a coincidence.

            Odd how it’s the same people who lose out under the current system. That must be a coincidence too.

            If only there were a group dedicated to a better understanding of how the human mind works, so we could figure out why these coincidences keep happening, and stop it…

          • Andy says:

            “Purely selfishly, I would never want my future husband or wife to be able to abuse me and claim that I contracted to it implicitly with marriage vows.”

            There is your problem, a weakman that is a side effect of modernity, you do realize that obligation to have sex with the other partner was once considered an explicit and sacred duty right? So what is your objection if in 2014 someone makes this an explicit part of thier marriage vows? Don’t like the arrangement? Don’t take the marriage vows. Much like you can avoid “no” not meaning “no” by not agreeing the safeword for the evening being “tomatoes”.

            You do realize that for most of human history its was possible to own people? Hello, is-ought fallacy, nice to see you, now GTFO.

            I note that you haven’t even touched on the effects of rape and abuse – PTSD for one. There is a reason that sex is used as a torture, and it should not be allowed by a husband under the guise of “duty.”

            I don’t think the use of violence to ensure, however the wife or husband should be punisheable by law for refusing sex to their spouse for nonhealth related reasons as a breach of the wedding contract is hardly some grand tyranny.

            No, it’s just a little tyranny. A little hurt, too small to be noticed by Great Big Thinkers. But not unnoticed by the people who have to suffer from it. What precisely is the NRx solution to a husband who beats and rapes his wife whenever he feels like it? Would divorce be allowed? How much evidence would a wife have to bring? In that case, how much easier does it become to use Lorena Bobbitt’s way out?
            In the modern system, a woman who is raped by her husband can divorce him, or with sufficient evidence, send him to prison or a mental institution where he may be treated of the sickness that lets him regard a woman’s body as property and her feelings mere trifles. I see marital rape as fundamentally contradicting the part of the vows about loving, honoring, and cherishing the partner, because the rapist had decided that their orgasm is more important then their partner’s feelings.
            What precisely is the hurt from not allowing marital rape? From not telling a partner to simply consult their hand for a night?

            I’m in a monogamous sexual relationship right now. I do not own my girlfriend’s body, and she does not own mine. If she says no, I can jerk off. If I say no, she can do the same.If we were to marry, I still would not own her body. And you call me diseased by modernity?

            I can’t speak for others but I like bringing it up when we talk about sex on this because it throws into stark relief many important cognitive dissonances of modern morality (I can consent to paying debt for the next 50 years but can’t consent to sex) and an excellent example of a concept that literally did not exist a little over 50 years ago.

            I think it throws your cognitive dissonance into stark relief – you seem to think money as equivalent to sex. Rape is used as torture for a reason, and I think you’re intellectually and morally bankrupt if you can’t summon the empathy required to understand this.

          • Matt C says:

            @Konk: I read the Sister Y article. More or less sympathetic. Marriage is badly messed up in our society. Don’t think this has much to do with the specific question of marital rape.

            I don’t think the use of violence to ensure, however the wife or husband should be punisheable by law for refusing sex to their spouse for nonhealth related reasons as a breach of the wedding contract is hardly some grand tyranny.

            I agree, at least generally. There should be a social expectation that getting married means regular sex with your spouse. I would say ongoing failure to have sex with your spouse is grounds for divorce, but there might be other sane sanctions possible for this.

            This is starkly different from saying that raping your spouse shouldn’t be a crime.

            There were very liberal very humanist very secular very intelligent thinkers from the 1930s who simply never envisioned such a concept like “marital rape” existing

            Well, it’s a contemporary expression, but I don’t think that means people thought it was OK for husbands to rape their wives before 1940.

            If you are saying this, I think you should provide some evidence. I am not terribly well read w/ early 20th century literature and before, but I have read some, and I think I’d have noticed if this was a common idea then.

            Thinking this over, I do acknowledge that there was a stronger idea that a wife had a duty to submit to her husband’s advances than now. I don’t agree that this is the same thing as marital rape, though.

            @no one special: A fixation on marital rape is definitely a thing, which you can confirm by googling “no such thing as marital rape” in quotes. It might be unfair to say it’s a fixation of NRxs generally. It also may be that it has an equivocal meaning for NRxs that it doesn’t have for me (and I suspect most people). Konk’s reply would fit that.

          • veronica d says:

            Right. The thing about equating issues of intimacy with issues of commerce is we are human brains, which are a bit more complex that paperclip maximizers. Intimacy is different from commerce. If it was not, if the two things were equivalent (or even fungible), then the “forever alone” people would have no proper complaints (to reference a recent thread). After all, these people could simply give up on intimacy and pursue wealth or other forms of social validation.

            Yet there are people with decent jobs and a comfortable middle class life, but who are alone and feel a tremendous lack. To me, it would seem enormously callous to dismiss these claims.

            So it goes for women, and the pain and humiliation they receive from the gender wars. Likewise for LGBT people, disabled people, on and on. These things each have their unique qualities that are not like issues of commerce.

            tl;dr: analogies only get you so far.

          • coffeespoons says:

            So what is your objection if in 2014 someone makes this an explicit part of thier marriage vows? Don’t like the arrangement? Don’t take the marriage vows. Much like you can avoid “no” not meaning “no” by not agreeing the safeword for the evening being “tomatoes”.

            Konkvistador – are you arguing that there should be 2 types of marriage contract? One for NRx types who want to commit to staying together for the rest of their lives and a second for people who want no fault divorce? Or are you suggesting that all marriage should be the first type?

          • Ken Arromdee says:

            There were very liberal very humanist very secular very intelligent thinkers from the 1930s who simply never envisioned such a concept like “marital rape” existing.

            This is getting close to motte-and-bailey.

            The motte is that you don’t want it to be okay for husbands to force sex on their wives, but you want refusal to be treated like a breach of contract or otherwise punished.

            But if the motte was actually what you meant, whether people in the past recognized marital rape is irrelevant. After all, you just got finished saying that you don’t want them to commit marital rape, you just think they should be able to go to court and maybe get a divorce.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            veronica d says:
            September 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm
            The thing about equating issues of intimacy with issues of commerce is we are human brains, which are a bit more complex that paperclip maximizers.
            ….
            tl;dr: analogies only get you so far.

            Looking at some complexities of commerce can be helpful. X can contract to keep Y supplied with firewood through the winter, but that does not mean that Y can break down X’s gate and cut down any tree at any time. If over a reasonable time period X refuses to deliver any wood, and Y’s pipes freeze, then Y can break this contract and contract elsewhere, but cannot legally beat up X.

            I think the traditional purpose of ‘marital rights’ probably applied to having sex frequently enough to produce an acceptable number of babies. The religious authorities who inspired these laws, also said that sex should be for procreation only, and the man should not want it more often than needed for procreation.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The religious authorities who inspired these laws, also said that sex should be for procreation only, and the man should not want it more often than needed for procreation.

            This is more myth than reality. While it has been true of some religious authorities in some times, it’s not generally true, and I’d wager is much less widespread than the idea that consenting to regular sex was part of the marriage contract.

          • Bugmaster says:

            I think Dan Savage has a good strategy for dealing with disparate sex preferences in long term-relationships (such as marriage). He says that both (for the sake of simplicity, let’s keep N=2) partners enter the relationship with some expectation regarding their future sex lives; and most of the time, that expectation is, “we only have sex with each other”.

            But if they find out that their sexual preferences do not match up (or if one person’s preferences change over time, as it often happens), and that this causes partner A long-term distress, then partner B has three viable options:
            1). Learn to enjoy the kind of sex that A likes (which is quite often untenable in practice), or
            2). Give A permission to have the kind of sex that A likes with other people, or
            3). Dissolve the relationship.

            The following options are not viable, because both of them involve coercion that leads to even deeper distress:
            4). B won’t have sex with A (or, not the kind of sex that A likes), but won’t allow A to have sex with other people, either
            5). A forces B to have the kind of sex that B cannot enjoy

            In other words, a relationship could be a dynamic partnership, it doesn’t have to be a static immutable contract.

        • Bugmaster says:

          For evidence consider there are many people who fully believe this line yet think prostitution should be banned. (etc.)

          Right, and I don’t agree with most of those people, either. Nor do I have anything against BDSM people, or polyamorists, or furries, or what have you. I can’t think of a good argument to restrict my acceptance solely to homosexual men and to withdraw it from everyone else.

          Once again, I do not see how BDSM furry sex between two random people in private would, to quote that article you linked to, “make a decent life in this world, or any life at all, impossible.” I acknowledge that I could be wrong, but so far, I don’t see how.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Things I Agree With Liberterians About:

          0. Informed consent is the basis of freedom.

          0a. Society must guarantee each adult the training for how to appraise their choices.

          0b. Society must guarantee each adult access to accurate information about their available choices.

          0c. Society must guarantee each adult the capacity to choose rationally given accurate information.

          1. Informed, consenting adults should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies.

          1a. Informed, consenting adults should be able to enter into whatever sexual relationships they want with each other.

          1b. Informed, consenting adults should be allowed to temporarily alter their mental state in whatever way they see fit.

          2. Freedom of informed choice should be maximized, and coercion (including fraud) should be minimized.

          2a. People should be allowed to make their own economic decisions.

          2b. When any agent has sufficient economic power to directly limit other agents’ choices in the marketplace, that agent’s power must be curtailed until it is no longer capable of limiting other agents’ choices.

          2c. When any agent’s circumstances constrain its choices to the point that it can no longer exit those circumstances, that agent’s power must be boosted until it can choose to escape those circumstances.

          • Bugmaster says:

            I would endorse the spirit of your action items, but I think they rest on some hidden clauses. You say things like, “the agent’s power must be reduced / boosted”, but who is going to decide how much adjustment is needed, and who will perform this adjustment, and where will the resources to do so come from ?

            Libertarians would, I believe, argue that you’re not trying to maximize liberty; you’re just trying to monopolize coercion.

          • “0a. Society must guarantee each adult the training for how to appraise their choices.”

            What would such training look like?

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            It is the nature of coercion to be monopolized.

            I would rather coercion be monopolized by a system that might be at least partially responsible and responsive to the ideal of individual liberty.

            Of course, it’s also in the nature of coercion that, once monopolized, it becomes less and less responsive to any ideal except the maintaining of its own power.

            So really, it doesn’t matter what we do, does it? So we may as well try for the left-utopian long-shot.

          • Matthew says:

            0b. Society must guarantee each adult access to accurate information about their available choices.

            Does not seem consistent with the well-known libertarian opposition to government mandating of nutritional labels.

          • Clockwork Marx says:

            The labels themselves or the daily recommended percentages on them (which seem to have minimal empirical backing)?

          • Matthew says:

            My understanding of the libertarian position is that this is pretty categorical: opposed to mandating caloric content; opposed to mandating allergen lists; etc.

            Uncharitable but not strawman phrasing: The free market will take care of it. People will choose products that provide more information over products that provide less, and it’s an acceptable cost to pay if a few people die in the process of the market processing that information.

    • peterdjones says:

      Why do we care so much about everyone’s sexual/gender preferences ?

      My working hypothesis is that it’s a way of getting status for free. If you label someone else as morally inferior , then you become morally superior in relation to them , without really doing or changing anything.

    • Andy says:

      If I may argue as a non-reactionary, I’d say (from many arguments with NRx types here) that the “whys” I’ve seen before have more to do with the general existence of norms. Gay sex is not a Traditional Catholic thing to do (unless you’re a priest or monk), the Traditional Catholic values have a good record of maintaining order and stability, and therefore Traditional Catholic values are the best.
      To go further, gay sex and public gayness very clearly violate those values – allow a Pride Parade or a gay wedding, and you give people the idea that all those norms can be violated, which allows for divorce and bastardy and animal sacrifice and cats and dogs living together and oh no!

      • peterdjones says:

        That’s paleo reaction. Neos need to update traditional norms to high tech, high population situations (but usually don’t)

        • Andy says:

          Sorry, I don’t see much of a difference – I can see a line between Jim/Spandrell and Moldbug on this – the former repulsed by gayness, the latter more like “eh, whatever keeps order,” but not the idea of updating traditions. On the other hand I haven’t dug through all of Moldbug, just read the quotes on the Anti-Reactionary FAQ, so I might be wrong.

          • peterdjones says:

            If neo reaction doesn’t update norms, there is nothing to its claims to be scientific. There may in fact be no nothing to its claims to be scientific. After all scientific Marxism wasn’t scientific, and national socialism wasn’t socialism.

            Moldbug is actually OK with gay marriage (and imitating E.F Benson’s writing style), which shows how far he is from the Paleos.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            Moldbug is actually OK with gay marriage (and imitating E.F Benson’s writing style), which shows how far he is from the Paleos.

            Moldbug is also in favor of voting for Obama.

            You’re really missing Moldbug’s point.

          • peterdjones says:

            @Steve

            I may well be missing Moldbugs point since he is as clear as he is terse. What was it?

          • Steve Johnson says:

            I may well be missing Moldbugs point since he is as clear as he is terse. What was it?

            I don’t recall his writing specifically about gay marriage but my guess is that this is the reasoning process (quite analogous to being pro-voting for Obama).

            All “respectable” opinion has declared gay marriage a human right and that it is an enormity that it isn’t currently the law of the land. The only reason such an abomination still exists is that those evil Kulaks are keeping us from having an enlightened utopia.

            Therefore, don’t oppose them because that simply gives progressives energy. Gay marriage isn’t going to do what progressives think it will because progressives are fundamentally wrong about gay people. Allowing gay marriage will be destructive but some progressives will come to their senses when they see this. “Hey, it’s not the evil Kulak wreckers that are preventing utopia, it’s our insane premises”.

            Moldbug’s position requires people like Spandrell to explain why the progressive policy in question is destructive (without resisting it) so that progressives don’t reach the wrong conclusions – “those damn Kulaks sabotaged gay marriage with their social disapproval!”. Right, the Kulaks control every movie, television show, university and grade school.

          • peterdjones says:

            “Right, the Kulaks control every movie, television show, university and grade school.”

            Meaning they don’t…control anything? Well, they do. They control opinion-formation centers called churches. Actual bricks and mortar churches, not nebulous conspiracy theory ones. That’s where the opposition is coming from.

          • Anonymous says:

            “They control opinion-formation centers called churches. Actual bricks and mortar churches, not nebulous conspiracy theory ones.”

            For the moment, but this is irrelevant because those churches are not high status any more compared to the universities, mainstream media etc. Compare and contrast:
            “Some televangelist on tv told me gay marriage is sinful,” which is low status, to “some professor at Harvard told me gay marriage is holy,” which is high(er) status.
            Opinion formation of the elite (the only ones whose opinions matter in the long run) is done almost entirely by high status media, because if members of the elite took their opinions from low status outlets, they would rapidly cease to be elite.

            “That’s where the opposition is coming from”

            Yes, the opposition that has been less of a challenge than the Mahdis being mown-down by machine-guns at Omdurman. Look, we know which side has the power; it is the side that won and I’m pretty sure that side isn’t the Kulaks.

        • Matthew says:

          “Some televangelist on tv told me gay marriage is sinful,” which is low status, to “some professor at Harvard told me gay marriage is holy,” which is high(er) status.

          Almost certainly true for other academics, but I think you’re overestimating how compelling, say political and financial elites find arguments by university professors.

          (Put another way, while it’s starting to a change a bit now, how long did it take for politicians/wealthy donors/journalists to pay any attention to what political scientists had to say about the conduct of political campaigns? Similarly, both Wall Street and Washington have proven fairly unresponsive to academic macroeconomic arguments they weren’t already sympathetic to. Are you positing a different evaluation mechanism for issues the other elites are less directly affected by?)

    • Leonard says:

      “In an ideal world, any consenting adult could have sex with any other consenting adult, with no social repercussions”… Spandrell would disagree with this statement… but why?

      I expect there are several reasons. (Note that I am not Spandrell.)

      First, because as you write it is practically totalitarian. “No social repercussions”? Are people uniformly uninterested in who fucks whom? These are not people I recognize. Real people are sometimes or often jealous, sexually possessive, etc. Do you anticipate a world in which a wife cheats on her husband and he just sits there and accepts it? If he divorces her, is that not a “social repercussion”? What if she conceives a child by a stranger?

      I’ll assume you meant that individuals are still allowed to judge each other, and even act upon their judgments. But that no group — and certainly not “society” — is allowed to officially judge anyone. (Never mind the hazy boundary between individuals and groups.)

      A second reason that many conservative types would reject sexual liberation is that they see it as leading to the demise of things they care about. The exact object of concern varies; it might be their personal posterity, their ethnic group, America, the West, Christianity. But they are making a few simple observations: sexually liberating women causes below-replacement fertility. (Put in Roissy’s terms, women ride the cock carousel while they are young and fertile, then settle with a beta at 30 or 35 and maybe manage to have one child.) Also, what reproduction there is in the West is quite dysgenic, at least in terms of the phenotypes that make good and productive citizens: low time preference, conscientious, high IQ, etc.

      If you had to choose between your ideal society with judgment-free sex, and modern high-IQ technological civilization, which would you choose? That is, either you get to fuck whoever you want and nobody says boo about it, or you get to have airplanes, iPhones, contact lenses, the Internet, robot cars, rationalism, modern medicine, the Western intellectual tradition, etc. (I’d pick the latter.)

      A third reason, by the way, is the suspicion that a society with judgment-free sex cannot exist except fleetingly within the decline of a technological civilization. There is almost nothing like what you want anywhere in the world or anywhere in history, outside of the white countries in the most recent decades.

      • Nornagest says:

        Put in Roissy’s terms, women ride the cock carousel while they are young and fertile, then settle with a beta at 30 or 35 and maybe manage to have one child.

        Also, what reproduction there is in the West is quite dysgenic, at least in terms of the phenotypes that make good and productive citizens: low time preference, conscientious, high IQ, etc.

        If I’m unpacking “beta” correctly, these are contradictory.

        • social justice warlock says:

          I think the charitable reading is that Herrenvolk, being infected by feminism, engage in the first pattern, whereas Untermenschen breed early and often with Untermensch Alphas, such that Herrenvolk behavior is locally eugenic (except not insofar as Leonard would want Herrenvolk to be more assertive, ruthless, and unaccomodating towards Untermenschen) but globally dysgenic.

      • Bugmaster says:

        Yes, perhaps my wording was too strong; I agree with your phrasing:

        I’ll assume you meant that individuals are still allowed to judge each other, and even act upon their judgments. But that no group — and certainly not “society” — is allowed to officially judge anyone.

        So, the idea of Alex (male) sleeping with Bob (male) would be considered completely trivial and boring by everyone, with the possible exception of Alex, Bob, and especially Cindy, who was under the impression that Bob promised her monogamy.

        I don’t think the reproductive objection is sufficient, given even the level of reproductive technology we have today, to say nothing of future-tech. Even today, if you are really concerned with producing quality offspring in some eugenic way, your best bet is probably to find two genetically optimal donors (sperm and egg), and then fertilize the child in vitro. If you are concerned with quantity over quality, then, given the state of the world today, you are worrying about the wrong thing. There’s a reason that (for example) China has been desperately trying to keep their population down all these years.

        On that note, I’m not sure why I should choose between the Internet and judgement-free sex. In fact, many of the famous scientists (Einstein, Feynman) were, by some accounts, avid womanizers; and while someone may have judged them for it at the time, few people do so now. Anyway, what is the mechanism by which judgement-free sex eliminates the Western intellectual tradition ?

        Finally, while I agree that “there is almost nothing like what you want anywhere in the world”, that’s not really my point. Yes, real humans are complicated and judgemental etc., but what I’m arguing is that opposition to certain specific ways of having sex is irrational (or, at least, I am not convinced of its rationality so far). It may be that humans are in principle incapable of implementing the free-sex world due to their built-in and insurmountable irrationality; but a). I’m not sure that’s true, and b). that only makes my argument impractical, not incorrect.

        • Slow Learner says:

          I judge Feynman, because he was a creepy harassing arsehole, unsafe for women to be around, not someone pursuing consensual sex.

          • no one special says:

            I note that you are conflating “upsetting” with “dangerous”. Women do not have secret “rapist radar” that creeps them out when a man is dangerous. I shall now summon
            Ialdabaoth to explain that “creepy” vibes are activated in response to low status, not actual dangerousness.

            I don’t know Feynman; Do we have evidence that he was both creepy and unsafe? Creepy is not really evidence for unsafe. Do we have evidence that he was not looking for consensual sex, as opposed to evidence that he was looking for consensual sex without a long term commitment, which we disapprove of?

          • Slow Learner says:

            It is credibly reported from multiple sources that he would harass and sexually assault women until he found one who would sleep with him.
            I wasn’t intending creepy in the sense of low-status, though I should have remembered it comes across like that. Please read my comment as having the word creepy struck from it.

          • veronica d says:

            I respect Ialdabaoth’s circumstances, but he is also coming at this issue from a place of pain and (to be honest) resentment.

            Which does not mean we should be uncharitable to him. Nor should we deny his lived experience. But your model of “creep-dar” is too simplistic. It treats his lived experience is authoritative while ignoring the lived experience of women.

            Status certainly exists. People are quite sensitive to it, even if they don’t like to admit how much. No doubt it affects our sexual behavior. But it is not the only thing that does. For example, people can detect Puzzlebox attitudes in others. They are very off-putting.

            And yes, you cannot literally read someone’s mind and detect the “puzzlebox neurons.” But neither can you detect the “status play neurons.” This is all social inference.

            There is no easy solution to this, but women have a say in what a creep is.

          • Anonymous says:

            What are the sources, particularly for sexual assault?

          • Slow Learner says:

            Have seen in the past, can’t find now, big internet. Still looking, but please feel free to add sources/discount this claim accordingly.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            I will do so by pasting here a conversation that I am having on Facebook AT THIS VERY MOMENT:

            Brent> After the standard-and-obvious (be polite, be respectful of boundaries, be honest, be considerate of their feelings), what are things that a ‘creeper’ can do to not be a ‘creeper’

            Veronica> Has someone told you that you are creepy? The goal here needs to not be creepy, not to better fly your creepy under the radar.

            Brent> Veronica: Yes. And that’s precisely what I’m asking.

            William> If you are awkward or having trouble or whatever around women, ask a closed question ‘Do you want to go out with me? How about Thursday?’ If the answer is anything other than a smile and enthusiastic ‘sure!’ or suggestion on a different day, drop it and don’t bring it up again.

            If someone really wants to date you and circumstances are making it hard, they will probably make an effort to find you later.

            Yes, there is the outside possibility that they were waiting for you to pursue the matter, but the vastly more likely case is that they aren’t interested and afraid of your reaction.

            tl;dr: Ask a specific question once (rather than vaguely open stuff). Then drop it completely. Don’t make jokes, don’t keep staring at them trying to wish them into saying something. If they are actually interested, they’ll either say yes or bring it up later.

            Brent Dill> Hrm. I’m going to have to reconcile that against other advice and behavior; this may take awhile.

            Also, as a follow-up: how do you avoid being branded publicly as a ‘creeper’ by girls you aren’t interested in at all, who are convinced you’re secretly into them?

            Veronica> Well for one, ask a female friend. They can answer what you particularly may be doing better than a random stranger. If you don’t have any female friends, figure out why that is and you probably have your answer.

            It’s important to recognize you are not entitled to women. Trying to chat someone up when she is preoccupied or showing disinterest comes off bad immediately. It can work for especially charming people, but it’s a gamble, and since we’re having this conversation, that’s probably not you.

            Being creepy often comes down to treating women like we are interchangeable, like you’re trying to fit me into a preconception rather than paying attention to me as an individual. This includes, not paying attention to social cues, having strong feelings or opinions about me without really getting to know me, or assuming what you think I like / want / do.

            Basically treat women like people, not some strange alien species. *edited for clarity.

            William> If it keeps happening, you don’t. Just avoid them as much as possible and keep conversation as light and inconsequential as possible. With mental health issues, intensity can be mistaken for a lot of things.

            Brent> Hrm. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that I was “entitled” to a woman, or that women were “interchangeable” (quite the opposite, in fact). However, I do hear this narrative quite a bit. Is there some way we can reconcile our experiences so that I’m not constantly told to “stop feeling entitled to women, and stop treating women as interchangeable, and treat women like people”, when I’m expending a good more deal effort trying to do so than I do with just about anything else, whenever a woman is involved in the conversation?

            Because I feel like I’m often in a paradox where I’m trying so hard not to treat women ‘different’, that the fact that I’m spending that much effort is itself treating them ‘different’; but if I stop spending that effort, I’m still seen as treating them ‘different’.

            So it’s somewhat hard to understand how to proceed.

            Also, it’s somewhat frustrating when the advice I get from my female friends is often “stop being so forward and direct, and then just backing off when you’re shot down; you need to learn to pursue and cut through her hard-to-get game”, until I try that and am told “stop doing that; ask a single closed question and then drop it.”

            Which is why I’ll often spend several years simply not bothering to interact at all, until I’m told “this isn’t healthy, you need to have friends. Why don’t you try to go out and talk with people?”, and then the whole ‘creeper’ / ‘ clueless’ / ‘hermit’ cycle turns another notch.

            William> The advice from women is good for socially adept men with a lot of perspective and no mental health issues.

            Brent> *nod* but if someone with mental health issues attempts it, they’re going to be creepy.

            Veronica> Why would you want a woman who engages in a “hard to get” game? Either A) she is either communicating to you she likes playing head games or B) she is genuinely not interested. If you think all women are like that, that’s part of the problem.

            Brent> Veronica: I absolutely don’t think that all women are like that. But the rate of false positives and false negatives is too damn high.

            It’s not a matter of whether everyone is like that, but whether one can tell the difference, and whether there are legitimate options or just a disguised double-bind.

            (And yes, from my perspective having to choose between constantly being berated for being ‘spineless’ vs constantly being berated for being ‘creepy’ vs. not showing my face in public, ever, is a substantial double-bind.)

            Veronica> But you cut through that by looking for a woman who seems receptive. Both A) and B) are bad options.

            Brent Dill> Veronica: The problem with being forward once, and then dropping it, is that you start getting a “careful around Brent, he’ll hit on you” reputation, even if that’s not something you ever do with 90% of the people you interact with.

            William> Tough.

            Brent> *nod* okay, as long as we’re clear on that.

            Veronica> Also, lots of people have relationships and mental health issues, If your mental health issues are getting in the way of dating you may just not be in a good mental place to be dating right now, and that’s ok. It’ s one less complication while you work on your mental health.

            Brent> Sure, absolutely. But the thing is…

            Okay, I think I can explain this well enough now: I never, ever, ever think that I am ‘entitled’ to women.

            I would like to think that I am entitled to mutual respect as a human being.

            And calling me a “creeper”, or “clueless”, or a “perv”, when I am trying to follow the same behavioral scripts as everyone else while being extra-sensitive to other people’s emotions and comfort, does not feel respectful to me. At all.

            Brent> And yes, I know that I am not entitled to love, or friendship, or a job, or money, or food, or shelter, or respect, or sympathy, or caring, or attention, or acknowledgement. I’m just often very scared where that leaves me.

            William> Another option is never ask. And let friends act as intermediaries and give you the social information you can’t pick up on.

            Brent> I’ve tried that before, people don’t want to ask for me or give me accurate information; they consider it creepy.

            Veronica> If people are calling you, personally, a creeper, clueless and a perv, then you’re probably not respecting them as much as you think you are. I have never heard of a group of people saying “Hey, watch out for Bill, he’ll hit on you.” unless Bill hits on people without much discrimination or respecting their boundaries. While there is a chance that some how you don’t do any of that, just wandered into a social group that has unfairly labeled you, rationally it’s not very likely. It’s more likely there is a disconnect between how you are acting and how you think you are acting.

            If that’s the case, all is not lost! If you don’t want to read as creepy there is a wealth of information out there to help you make that connection. (Note: avoid any kind of Pick Up Artist Page. That’s heading the wrong way.)

            John Scalzi has a good essay on this. Specially about cons, but it’s works for general interaction too: http://whatever.scalzi.com/…/an-incomplete-guide-to…/

            Captain Awkward does as well: http://captainawkward.com/2012/08/11/the-c-word/#more-3779

            These are both a good place to start.

            Brent> *nod* I take all that Scalzi advice to heart reasonably frequently, especially the “if people don’t want you around, go away” advice.

            The problem is, that’s EVERYONE’S body language to me, ALL THE TIME. Even service people. Even mental health professionals. Even social service workers.

            There you have it; a word-for-word transcription as of 5 minutes ago (except I removed everyone’s last names).

          • veronica d says:

            Excellent comment, Ialdaboath.

            (BTW, I’m not the “Veronica” in that, but like I almost could be.)

            I have some thoughts on the “entitlement” thing. First, obviously there probably are men who do feel entitled. So there is that. But we can look at this a different way. The entitlement dialog comes (I think) from women forming a theory to explain the behavior of men. The thoughts goes like this:

            Wow, so many of these dudes are so resentful of women. The seem angry. In fact, at the last Magic tournament that one dude was downright nasty to me. Like, the “queen bee” comment was totally out of line! And now this other dude is saying on his blog, “Fuck those girls. They won’t sleep with me anyhow.” As if not sleeping with him is reason to hate me!

            These dudes must think they’re entitled to sex.

          • Not My Normal Name says:

            You missed Brent’s last name once I think, might want to edit that.

            Edit: Yup actually twice.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Well, Brent is me, so I’m not quite as concerned about my own privacy.

            Also, the conversation just turned pure gold:

            Brent Dill *nod* I take all that Scalzi advice to heart reasonably frequently, especially the “if people don’t want you around, go away” advice.

            The problem is, that’s EVERYONE’S body language to me, ALL THE TIME. Even service people. Even mental health professionals. Even social service workers.
            26 mins · Like

            Veronica> That sounds like something to work on with a mental health professional. There’s no secret key on how to tell when someone is interested when you think they aren’t. The good news is if they genuinely interested, and bold, they will explicitly tell you,…See More
            19 mins · Like

            Brent Dill Veronica: I would ALSO like to know how to get mental health professionals to not treat me as a “get this thing out of my office, it is creeping me out” problem.

            (And I read Ferret frequently.)
            16 mins · Edited · Like

            Brent Dill Also, I found this post insightful and concise at explaining what I’m trying to say:

            http://celandine13.livejournal.com/72711.html…See More

            The Hierarchy of Requests
            This is something that’s been stewing in me for a while, and I hope I can present it fairly. Different people have…
            CELANDINE13.LIVEJOURNAL.COM
            14 mins · Like · Remove Preview

            William> Brent, notice how a thread about issues facing women became a thread about how women don’t give you a chance and how can you manage to get dates?

            You ARE a creeper, and you’re putting ‘desire to have relationships and dates’ ahead of ‘not traumatizing women.’
            14 mins · Like · 1

            Brent Dill No, I’m putting “desire to not be triggered by creeper label yet again” ahead of “not making people uncomfortable on the internet”. Empathy goes both ways.
            13 mins · Like

            Veronica> They generally don’t do that, so you either have had extraordinarily bad luck with them, it happens, or your behavior is pretty out there. Maybe look for a mental health clinic in your area? They tend to work with more extreme cases, and if that’s not you, they can probably refer you to a better fit.
            13 mins · Like

            William> And again. Empathy goes both ways? You aren’t thinking of other people. You haven’t said ONE THING about other people except where it relates to your needs and desires.
            12 mins · Like · 1

            Brent Dill Okay. I’m going to try to explain this, but I may not be very good at it.

            At no point in this conversation did I lament my inability to get a woman. That’s not what I’m talking about.

            I’m talking about not wanting to deal with shitty labels because I am given a stupid no-win game, and I am talking about people using those labels to reinforce the marginalization of people who are playing that no-win game.

            I happen to be part of that group, in exactly the same way that Veronica happens to be part of the group that feels threatened by ‘creepers’.

            So it is possible to have self-interested *AND* non-self-interested reasons for having this discussion, because *empathy*.

            And it is possible to interpret what someone is saying as “please don’t label and marginalize me just because I’m not as good at you at socialization” rather than “wah wah stop being mean to me I deserve love”, because *empathy*.

            Does this make any sense whatsoever?
            3 mins · Like

            Veronica> Yeah, that live journal entry is a mess. If reads like complaining about being a “nice guy” and if you read Ferrett then you know what that means. The key phrase is “emotionally damaged for want of a sex life.” That’s has the causal arrow wrong.

            There are plenty of people who are emotionally healthy and don’t have an active sex life. They’re not inherently tied. Framing it that way implies the speaker is emotionally damaged and that is why he is lacking an active sex life. He has decided sex will fix him, rather than fix himself then worry about his personal relationships. He is likely to emotionally damage others in the pursuit of fixing himself through relationships. That’s no good at all.

            William> Brent, your problem isn’t scripts, people’s perception of you, or social skills.

            Your problem is a profound lack of empathy for anyone around you.

            And the problem probably is that people pick up on that and it scares them.

          • Anonymous says:

            no one special, there is something self-defeating about citing ialdabaoth, as your point should make clear

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            are you fucking kidding me?

          • Anonymous says:

            isn’t the point of the dialogue to demonstrate that you are not convincing?

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            look at the *structure* of the dialog.

            The point of the dialog is to show WHY I’m not convincing.

          • Zorgon says:

            “It treats his lived experience is authoritative while ignoring the lived experience of women.”

            Can be rephrased as “It fails to grant the lived experiences of (some) women automatic preference over the lived experiences of (some) men” without changing the content at all.

            I don’t think “it’s not sexist enough” is a particularly good criticism.

          • veronica d says:

            @Zorgon — I’m pretty sure that is not what I meant.

          • Cauê says:

            @Veronica

            “I have some thoughts on the “entitlement” thing. First, obviously there probably are men who do feel entitled. So there is that. ”

            Are there, though? I’m really not convinced of this one.

            The traditional “Nice Guy” narrative always seemed unrealistic to me. I’d be seriously surprised if this turned out to be a reasonable description of a non-insignificant portion of the cases it’s applied to.

          • Zorgon says:

            @Veronica

            I do understand that in context it probably was intended to express that there were more potential aspects to the experiences involved.

          • no one special says:

            Object: People are using various other properties as a proxy for if someone is dangerous.

            Meta: Several comments on this post have given me the fight-or-flight response; I may have to bow out, as we’re stepping close to waters that are dangerous for me. Sorry if I do.

            Slow Learner:

            Googling found a few discussion of Feynman as a guy frustrated with the dating scene, who became a proto-PUA. (Proto- only because the name PUA hadn’t been invented yet. It looks like the same shit.) While this certainly fits the “asshole” criteria, and possibly the “harassing” criteria, it does not fit the “unsafe” criteria.

            My short search did not reveal any allegations of sexual assault. What I found showed that he was looking for consensual sex, and was willing to drop someone like a hot rock if it was clear that it wasn’t in the cards.

            I have not seen any evidence of dangerousness here.

            veronica d:

            My claim is simply that creepyness (or being an asshole PUA) is not a reliable indicator of danger. Anyone who can validate that their “creeped out” feeling is actually activated by dangerous people has my sympathy.

            Anonymous:

            I pointed out Ialdabaoth because he regularly gets labeled creepy, but is not dangerous.

          • no one special says:

            Ialdabaoth:

            I note that your posters have mistaken “how do I not be creepy” for “how do I not be creepy while still hitting on people”.

            (My understanding is that your request is “how do I not be creepy in general,” that is, outside of a dating request.)

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Yes, I noted that too. In fact, at one point I explicitly pointed it out, and then started getting harassed by multiple people, so I bowed out of the thread and un-friended the original poster.

          • Nick T says:

            My claim is simply that creepyness (or being an asshole PUA) is not a reliable indicator of danger.

            Important anecdote, from a past comment on this blog. (Second-to-last paragraph.)

          • Elissa says:

            Hypothesis: the quale of “creepiness” is triggered not simply by being subject to unwanted sexual interest (the “Step 1: be attractive” answer), nor simply by feeling out of control of a sexual situation (what I take to be the feminist position), but by the combination of the two. Actual sexual assault and the behaviors leading up to it definitely hit both of those buttons! However, there exist women who have been traumatized, or who simply have weak boundaries, who feel out of control of many or even most commonplace sexual interactions. They will experience creepiness very often when there is no real danger, simply because a man to whom they are not attracted shows interest.

            These women should definitely pay attention to this feeling and protect themselves. But we also need to realize that “creepy” is a 2-place word, and not an essential property of a man which places him in a category of which the most central member is “rapist”.

          • Anonymous says:

            no one special, it sounds like you have found feynman’s memoir. people read that chapter many different ways. people also have been many beliefs about his sex life that are too specific to come from it, but i have never tracked down a source.

          • veronica d says:

            Hypothesis: the quale of “creepiness” is triggered not simply by being subject to unwanted sexual interest (the “Step 1: be attractive” answer)…

            The problem I’ve always had with the “be attractive; don’t be unattractive” thing is it treats “attractive” as a stable, one-place predicate, a property that sticks to the person in question. But what you really want is a three-place relation: “be attractive to this person at this particular moment in time.”

            Which is true, obvious, and vacuous.

      • RCF says:

        “That is, either you get to fuck whoever you want and nobody says boo about it, or you get to have airplanes, iPhones, contact lenses, the Internet, robot cars, rationalism, modern medicine, the Western intellectual tradition, etc.”

        If we’re establishing social norms against consensual sex, then we don’t have “rationalism”, as I define it.

          • RCF says:

            So, your point is that if there are sexual practices that are harmful to society, then it could be rational to enforce social norms against those practices? Such norms, in practice are generally quite mind-killing. I suppose one could imagine a non-mind-killing version, but that would be at high variance with how things have been. Furthermore, such a norm would have no be mostly post-veil, so to speak. Most people know they are gay before they are capable of the intellect necessary to understand arguments for superrationality. At the very least, they know they have been born, so arguments based on making sure people are born lose much of their force. Arguments about what’s best for future generations are persuasive only to those with a strong concern for such. And we already have iPhones et al, so “We need social norms against certain sexual practices so we can have iPhones” doesn’t make sense.

    • MugaSofer says:

      (Posted this in the wrong place earlier.)

      I understand that the usual answers are, “because God told us so” and “because knowing that people are having sex in this specific way makes me feel icky”, but these aren’t good reasons.

      … dear gods below, man. Have you literally never met anyone who disagrees with you? Or did you just assume anything they said could be safely dismissed as matching these joke answers so you didn’t need to listen to them?

      I personally would endorse the following statement: “In an ideal world, any consenting adult could have sex with any other consenting adult, with no social repercussions; in addition, people could be whatever sex/gender they wanted, likewise with no social penalties for changing sexes/genders” (note that I said “ideal”, I understand that the technology does not yet exist to fully implement the second part of that sentence).

      As far as I understand, Spandrell would disagree with this statement (not sure about Ozy), but why ?

      Hmm. That’s a very nice definition of Things That Are And Are Not Ok, but I can’t help but notice you produced it by checking against the things you *already think* are okay.

      I myself am a minor, but above the age of consent in my country. So you understand my scepticism.

      • Nita says:

        I understand that the usual answers are, “because God told us so” [..]

        [..] did you just assume anything they said could be safely dismissed as matching these joke answers [..] ?

        Sure, the phrasing is flippant, but the content is hardly a joke. Religious people really do exist, and many of them really do believe that God is the absolute moral authority.

        • Anonymous says:

          Well … if God really had told us it was a bad idea, would you consider this a reasonable objection? I sure as heck would.

          Surely your true rejection is that you think they are *mistaken*, not that those are obviously “bad reasons”.

          • RCF says:

            Surely your true rejection is that you think they are *mistaken*, not that those are obviously “bad reasons”.

            Is “this argument relies on false premises” really distinct from “this argument is flawed”? “God” isn’t even a well-formed concept, to begin with. “God told us” is just another way of saying “I believe”.

        • Konkvistador says:

          Some people are even more hilarious. They take an arbitrary morality and replace “God” with “The light of human reasons shows us…” and think they have made it less arbitrary.

      • RCF says:

        “Have you literally never met anyone who disagrees with you?”

        The question isn’t “Have you met anyone who disagrees with you?”, it’s “Have you met people who disagree with you and articulates a reason that clearly doesn’t come down to one of these two reasons, and are those people the majority?” And the answer in my case, and I suspect in bugmaster’s case, is “No”.

        “That’s a very nice definition of Things That Are And Are Not Ok, but I can’t help but notice you produced it by checking against the things you *already think* are okay.”

        I’m not clear on what you’re asserting you, what you’re basing the claim on, and what you think is wrong with it.

        “So you understand my scepticism.”

        Skepticism about what?

  7. Toggle says:

    One must point out that the “born this way” myth was invented by LGBT people to get people to accept us: “we can’t help it! It is mean to hurt people because of something they can’t help! Don’t worry, it’s genetic, accepting us won’t make anyone else gay!” I don’t fully understand what the Cathedral is, but if anything is part of the Cathedral the Human Rights Campaign is, and I feel like that is a fairly depressing amount of belief in the Cathedral’s myths from a self-declared neoreactionary.

    This seems so… self-evidently wrong to me? I was very surprised to see a non-politically-right person write it down at all!

    I don’t doubt your sincerity or anything. But my (I suppose anecdotal) experience of sexual orientation was very much of the ‘discovered inherent trait’ variety. And this is one of the most consistent narratives there is in the LGBT community, even behind closed doors in non-political contexts. Among other things, this would seem to deny the existence of a ‘closet’, full stop! (At least for people not engaged in gay sex on the sly- if there’s no such thing as innate sexual orientation, there’s no such thing as a celibate homosexual or a celibate heterosexual per se.)

    Less anecdotally, arousal response tests show an unambiguous population of people that are turned on by specifically gay stuff, or specifically straight stuff. You can even see sexual orientation in double-blind olfactory studies.

    (It occurs to me that this might be a parody that I didn’t ‘get’. If that’s true, oops, silly me.)

    • Creutzer says:

      None of what you say is inconsistent with homosexuality not being genetic. Ozy’s claim was that people came up with the idea of it being genetic because that’s the easiest way to make sense of and sell it as an inherent, inalterable trait.

    • Adam Casey says:

      That lots of people are unambiguously gay doesn’t mean it’s an immutable part of their nature. Almost no human trait is an immutable part of your nature. Move yourself to the right environment, have the right accidents, cogitate in the right social context, ingest the right chemicals, and almost all parts of your personality can change at least somewhat.

      The fact that shy people nearly universally feel that shyness is an inherent part of who they are doesn’t mean you cant change how shy someone is, you totally can.

      CF: http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/06/25/nature-is-not-a-slate-its-a-series-of-levers/

      (Political subtext which is why this is even discussed: it’s very unlikely we can “cure” the monosexuals and give them a nice sensible sexuality like pan and bi people. Again, not really how any other traits work. But the borderline cases can likely be tweaked.)

      • Toggle says:

        That’s kind of a tricky widget, isn’t it? If most human traits are assemblages of switches, then in principle the ‘sensibly pansexual’ switch should be available for clever hacking. But various groups have put in quite a lot of effort to changes in sexual orientation, with extremely limited success. It looks a bit like orientation could be more similar to handedness than it is to shyness, in that it can be repressed much more easily than it can be changed. I suppose the counter-argument could be that we simply haven’t perfected ex-gay technologies just yet. But is there some compelling reason to think that sexual orientation is mutable in all cases?

        There definitely are people that change their sexual identity over time. But we shouldn’t conflate ‘some’ with ‘all’, or even ‘lots’ . On reflection, I was mostly surprised by Ozy’s description of ‘born that way’ claims as mythological, as if they were logically inconsistent or unsupported- even deliberately constructed for realpolitik. Lifelong consistency in monosexual attraction is extremely common, with the quasi-exception of gay women. (Compare changes in self-reported race. ) ‘Born that way’ isn’t the only possible explanation of this pattern, but it does seem unusual to suggest that that explanation is a fabricated calculation for political purposes.

        • Desertopa says:

          That sexual orientation is not genetically determined or set at birth does not mean that it’s necessarily mutable after a certain age.

          • Andy says:

            This is possible – I’m thinking about the LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation) stereotype, where some college women fuck other women all through school and then turn ‘straight’ and marry men when they’re older, also Erika Moen.
            Though it’s also possible bi/pan/queer people just sort of shift along the spectrum over time. I’ve certainly noticed shifts in my own sexual attractions over time, depending on my mood – I seem to be more attracted to masculine traits when I’m lonely/depressed/frustrated, and feminine traits when I’m feeling better. This was especially true when I was about 14-20, but the effect has tapered off a bit in the last 6 years.

    • Anonymous says:

      Generally, men claim to be born that way and women claim to have made a choice. There are complicated political differences that contribute to the different claims, but they are probably both true.

    • houseboatonstyx says:

      @ Toggle
      Ozy said: “we can’t help it! It is mean to hurt people because of something they can’t help! Don’t worry, it’s genetic, accepting us won’t make anyone else gay!”

      As a bi ciswoman, I’ve considered this “can’t help it” and/or “genetic” narrative a political thing, and thought it short-sighted politically. But hearing that it is actually accepted by L/Gs, gives me a touch of fear which I hope is totally irrational.

      If, after good relationships with men, I choose to marry a woman — I hope this marriage will have as much respect and protection as other Lesbian marriages do. And that I, when practicing Lesbianism longterm, will be accepted by the Lesbian community.

      I know it’s like a Margaret Atwood novel, to imagine bi’s having to pass medical/genetic tests to have our marriages validated. I hope. Tho in some red states, anything might be used as an excuse to block at least some ‘sinful “marriages” ‘.

      In other words, imo bi is as bi does. Lesbian is as lesbian does. These lifestyles should have the same respect even if chosen.

      If some people’s L/G trait seems to them hard-wired, genetically or otherwise, well, people are different. Maybe different people do the same behaviors for different reasons. Imo it’s what a person is actually currently doing* that matters and should be protected — regardless of theories about the cause.

      * That is, doing healthily and reasonably consistently, in a stable relationship if applicable, non-allergenic, gluten-free, etc.

  8. memeticengineer says:

    From spandrell’s post:

    Bisexuals don’t appear to actually exist

    Do people really believe this? Like, it’s possible in theory that everyone who has ever claimed to be bisexual is lying or deluded. But there’s a lot of first-person testimony and observed behavior in favor of the proposition that some people are attracted to more than one gender. Where is the mountain of evidence that would push the posterior back the other way?

    • Toggle says:

      There’s not much actual evidence to this effect, but there are a couple things that look like evidence if you are bad at math.

      Imagine that you are a monogamous bisexual, who chooses a partner at random from the available orientation/gender combos around you. Every time you choose a partner, there is some probability p that you will marry them, and choose no more partners. But remember, people of your own gender are most often heterosexual. So the sample size from which you randomly select partners is something like 90% skewed towards opposite-sex partners. So we expect a large majority of bisexuals to have chosen a small number of same-sex partners and then married into a heterosexual relationship. QED, bisexuality is a phase that people grow out of and not a true sexual orientation.

      • memeticengineer says:

        I could see that convincing the average joe, but I would expect rationality-influenced neoreactionaries to be better at math than that.

        • Toggle says:

          Hmmm…. you’re probably right about that, actually. So, noticing my confusion…

          Maybe there is such a pile of evidence. Maybe Spandrell is not as rationality-influenced as we thought. Maybe Spandrell is motivated to lie deliberately about the existence of bisexuals. Maybe neoreaction takes the nonexistence of bisexuals for granted to such a degree that Spandrell has never thought to apply rational arts to that assumption.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        Bad at math, or bad at logic?

        This — QED, bisexuality is a phase that people grow out of and not a true sexual orientation.

        does not follow from this — So we expect a large majority of bisexuals to have chosen a small number of same-sex partners and then married into a heterosexual relationship.

        … unless he equates ‘orientation’ with what someone choses to spend most of their time doing. But on the number of possible spouses to select from, he might have a point. Given, say, an acquaintance pool of 100 people, all equally attractive sexually, there will be many non-sexual differences among them. So you are likely to find a closer match to your own interests, life goals, temperament , etc, among the 90 than among the 10.

        • Doug S. says:

          I think you’re actually agreeing with each other – he’s saying that if a bisexual person marries an opposite-sex partner, people erroneously conclude that the bisexual person must not be bisexual.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            Yes, I was agreeing with Toggle that the conclusion would be erroneous.

            I lazily gave no antecedent for my ‘he’; ‘he’ was memeticengineer’s “average Joe” who would be convinced by this erroneous argument, and likely Spandrell also.

            I was also agreeing with the math, but on re-reading I see that it was Toggle who did the math, rather than the average Joe.

          • Andy says:

            This has happened to me – I’m in a long-term relationship with a woman and several people have assumed I’ve been lying about being bi. It’s very frustrating.

      • Anonymous says:

        And yet that isn’t what happens. Most bisexuals become exclusively homosexual.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Most male putative bisexuals claim to be aroused by pornography whether it features men or women, but almost all get erections from only one or the other. This has been replicated by many people over many decades, including Bailey, who is Spandrell’s source. But then Bailey et al tried harder to find bisexuals and found some that passed this criterion.

      • memeticengineer says:

        That is more understandable than believing based on no evidence (though the new study makes it sound like Bailey’s previous studies had some major and obvious flaws). I wonder if he is aware of the new study.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Could you spell out the major and obvious flaws of the original studies?

          • gattsuru says:

            Most obviously, >30% of members didn’t react to /any/ stimulus, gay, straight, or lesbian. I’m not sure of any group who believes 30% of the populace is asexual, and even 3% seems high.

            The penile plethysmograph is a very large metal device that clasps to the penis, which many people find uncomfortable and to prevent arousal. It also prevents many types of response to mental arousal.

            Subject bias, small sample size (33 men), material bias (‘straight’ was distinguished by reaction to girl-on-girl porn, which is usually terrible), so on and so forth.

          • Zorgon says:

            So, wait, the study was performed with girl-on-girl as “straight” and guy-on-guy as “gay”?

            I have very little sexual response to girl-on-girl porn. Why? Because it is the one kind of sexual interaction I cannot project myself into. I’m a guy. A hairy one at that. While I’m aware that porn tropes would hold that my involvement would very quickly turn the situation into a three-way, some part of my sexuality looks at two women having sex and says “you are not involved”.

            So according to Bailey’s study, I’d qualify as homosexually-triggered. Even though I watch straight porn all the time and barely notice the guy is there (because again, as far as my sexual reaction is concerned, it’s not him there, it’s me) with massive sexual response and even though most gay porn feels kinda icky and unpleasant, but includes dudes sucking each other off and some of them are hot so I’ll probably get aroused anyway.

            Yeah, that study’s a complete and total wash.

          • Zorgon says:

            (Just to clarify – this doesn’t contradict what I said below. Most gay porn doesn’t arouse me and I’ll universally go for straight or bi porn where possible. Especially bi porn. But given a set of girl-on-girl and a set of guy-on-guy, I’m much more likely to respond to the latter.)

          • So it’s yet another example of an experiment that has a simplified simulation of behavior that would be too expensive and/or squicky to study in the real world.

            Do not trust those experiments!

          • Jaskologist says:

            Like I said, you have to assume that these studies which claim to talk about humans at large are in fact referring to “a small number of affluent psych students.” In this case, it’s “a small number of affluent psych students who are ok with weird devices being hooked up to their penises.”

            How did ~30 become the standard and acceptable sample size for these studies anyway? I see that again and again, to the point where I assume it unless otherwise mentioned.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Zorgon, no, it would not classify you as a homosexual. It would classify you as honest. But I explained this before, so I doubt I should classify you has honest.

            Jaskologist, yes, you said false things about the study before and you say them again. Maybe if you say them a third time they’ll become true.

          • memeticengineer says:

            Besides the many mentioned by others so far, the fact that its sample was recruited via gay magazines – gay and bi communities aren’t necessarily that close, and this would likely oversample men who are functionally gay but publicly identify as bi, as conceded by the new study. Combined with the small sample size and the dubiousness of the porn+ plethysmograph method as a metric of arousal patterns, it’s not surprising that they failed to detect a group that is likely a small fraction of the population.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Remember, you need to mentally change 95% of all social science study conclusions from “Our study shows that people do X” to “Our study shows that a small number of affluent psych students do X.”

      • Zorgon says:

        You get round the problem easily by using actual members of the same sex instead of porn.

        Seriously. Unless I’m in a Very Gay Mood Indeed, gay porn does little or nothing for me. But hot guys in person? Spikes on all the instruments.

        I couldn’t tell you why this is. There doesn’t seem much practical difference between the two kinds of porn aimed at me. My completely-made-up-on-the-hoof hypothesis is that I (like I’m guessing most bi-guys) fixated on M/F porn during my adolescence and thus I now have a fetish for it that I don’t have for gay porn.

        • Andy says:

          I suspect sense data that’s not carried by pornographic media, like scent, may be a factor too. Does proximity seem to be a factor in your arousal toward men? I’ve noticed this in my own arousal patterns.

          • Zorgon says:

            Well, oddly enough I’m congenitally anosmic. But I don’t think that necessarily precludes pheromonal cues, as I’m not exactly sure which part of the anatomy receives them.

            In practice proximity is a very big deal, yes, but I think that may be as much a question of tactile triggers as anything else.

          • Matthew says:

            @Zorgon

            In other species, it’s the Vomeronasal organ that detects pheremones. If humans have one, though, we haven’t been able to pinpoint its location yet.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          You are an outlier. Most bisexual men claim to be aroused by both types of pornography, including the specific images in the study.

          The question was: why reject self-report in favor of the hypothesis of deceit and/or confusion. The fact that almost all men, including you, cleanly divide into two buckets is interesting, but not quite a reason to reject self-report. However, most bisexual men’s self-report about pornography is problematic.

          • Zorgon says:

            It’s certainly very possible I’m an outlier. It’s also quite possible that there is a broad cultural difference in manifestations of bisexuality between Toronto and the UK.

        • Emile says:

          Unless I’m in a Very Gay Mood Indeed, gay porn does little or nothing for me. But hot guys in person? Spikes on all the instruments.

          Interesting, I have the opposite reaction, i.e. I don’t see much in “hot” men (I wouldn’t even be sure what counts as “hot”) but gay porn can be arousing, though not as much as █████, or ███ getting █████ in █████.

      • Maybe there’s more to male arousal than just the presence or absence of erection? Guys, do you have opinions about this?

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Very much so. For me, at least, there are strong emotional and intellectual components.

          For me, an erection (and an orgasm) make up very little of the thrust (sorry) of arousal; it’s primarily an aesthetic and creative artistic act.

          I don’t want to just ‘fuck’; I want to choreograph goddamn rock ballad level music video pornography with machinery and lights and ballet boots and armbinders and EL-wire and articulated angel wings covered in albino peacock feathers and kabuki makeup and suspension wire and choreographed dancing and yes, plenty of fleshy bits going into orifices.

        • Andy says:

          Yes. I mean, even in my mid-late 20s (I’m 26) I can get an erection from a stiff breeze – I still have erections for no reason in the middle of class when I’m working on a map and not thinking about sexy things at all.
          My physical feeling of arousal is much more like… hunger, but lower down. Below my stomach but above my genitals. There’s a want feeling that’s kinda… growly? Is the best way to put it?

          • Clockwork Marx says:

            The idea that sex = genitals is rather lacking. Given that our bodies (including our brains) are basically elaborate sex machines, it’s not too hard to recognize that our sexuality isn’t concentrated in a single cluster of organs.

            Boners are just a useful rule-of-thumb for measuring arousal levels, albeit one vulnerable to false positives.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Of course the world is complicated, but are you trying to understand the world, or are you looking for excuses to impose your politics on the world? Such epicycles are unnecessary to explain the results of the gay and straight men in the study.

        • social justice warlock says:

          Yes. Erection can exist without arousal or visa-versa.

          My experience is a bit different from Ialdabaoth’s or Andy’s, or maybe we’re just filtering it through different narrative assumptions, because my experience of lust is neither that exalted nor that unpleasant – I wouldn’t compare it to hunger, because hunger is a negative experience whereas lust is positive. Maybe a bit like intellectual excitement, in that a thought is very fascinating to pursue (though it’s not particularly intellectual, obviously,) with a bit of tipsiness.

          • Multiheaded says:

            I’d personally describe it this way as well.

            My preferences are towards beautiful androgynous/feminine people and written BDSM erotica aimed at straight or bi women, followed by “professional” looking static images. I’m entirely unable to enjoy videos aimed at straight men, as even with plot and/or kink they’re all horrible and ugly and mechanistic when it comes down to it. Can’t stand animated hentai either. And I like the purely gay stuff that fits my preferences, but purely “lesbian” (or actually lesbian) anything doesn’t turn me on.

        • Matthew says:

          Most men sometimes have erections upon waking in the morning without feeling any sense of arousal.

          For me, the sexual and aggression impulses are intertwined. I experience physical arousal as a) a feeling of powerfulness and b)the specific “hunger” of a predator on the prowl for prey, except I’m stalking sex instead of food.

          (Before anyone freaks out over my system 1, let me stress that my system 2 ethics constrain how that arousal is expressed.)

        • Luke Somers says:

          Yes. They are no doubt related (and correlated), but either can happen without the other.

    • Andy says:

      This is an argument by some gay people – I was once told by a guy who was attracted to me that I’d have to choose between men and women. I know queer women who are attacked and judged by other queer women for dating/fantasizing about/admiring attractive men. They don’t really have evidence, just a bunch of “I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is,” repeated over and over.

      • Clockwork Marx says:

        Seems like it would function as a defense mechanism for a group often threatened by outsiders.

        When a group provides an explicit buffer against outside hostility, it’s members will tend to be cautious about any potential “cheaters” who may attempt to gain the insider benefits without conforming to the criteria of who the community considers eligible for these benefits.

        Someone who is bi may be seen as trying to obtain both the benefits provided by the gay community and those of the mainstream heteronormal world. They are not sufficiently bound to the community since they can potentially leave and play a straight role in society. The best comparison may be light-skinned blacks who can pass for white, even Obama was sometimes accused of not really being black when he was first running.

        • Andy says:

          I like this hypothesis, and it seems to match some of the various smoldering resentments I’ve seen – gays of bi/queer people, geeks of Fake Geek Girls, etc.

          • Doug S. says:

            Seconded.

            It would make a lot of sense that the thing that gets people annoyed about the so-called “Fake Geek Girl” is that she can “pass” for not-geek in social contexts where being geeky is seen as undesirable: “You’re not one of us because you haven’t suffered like we have, regardless of how many comic books you’ve read! You have Not-Geek Privilege!”

          • Clockwork Marx says:

            Strange how it doesn’t seem to work that way with guys who can jump between geek and not-geek, at least among friends I knew in college. It may just be that college campuses are extremely unusual social environments that temporarily weaken in-group/out-group distinctions.

    • gattsuru says:

      Where is the mountain of evidence that would push the posterior back the other way?

      Credible “expert”: Dan Savage, until recently, denied the existence of male homosexuality bisexuality, and still continues to insist his recognition is dependent on other folk making their presence known. Prevalence of 1960s-1970s individuals identifying as bisexual who later changed their presentation. So on and so forth.

      It’s not good if you consider the mountain of evidence the other direction, but it’s not trivial.

  9. Hannah says:

    Minor quibble on your interpretation of the Swedish twin study: not being well-explained by shared genetic and environmental factors in no way precludes a trait being inborn.

    For instance, handedness is only 24% heritable in this sense, but prenatal thumb-sucking is a very good predictor of handedness later in life.

    “Non-shared environmental influences”, in these twin studies, just means “all other effects”; it’s not limited to what one would normally think of as the environment (e.g. childhood experiences) or even to external influences (if thermal noise determines which of two equilibria some gene network ends up in, the thermal noise will count as a non-shared environmental influence).

  10. Douglas Knight says:

    Spandrell: “lose attraction towards the opposite sex”

    Ozy: “ninety percent of observed giraffe sex was between two males”

    Ozy’s response is not relevant to Spandrell’s precise claim. The precision is useful and correct. There are only two mammalian species where 1 in 100 males lack interest in sex with females. (In fact, I’m not aware of observation of facultative homosexuality even at the 1 in 10,000 level in other mammalian species.)

    • ckp says:

      I’m curious – what is the other mammalian species? Chimps?

    • Douglas Knight says:

      I meant obligate, not facultative. Or even preferential.

    • Konkvistador says:

      This is an important thing to point out! +1

    • RCF says:

      “Ozy’s response is not relevant to Spandrell’s precise claim.”

      Not entirely irrelevant. If there are variations in the frequency with which giraffes engage in homosexual intercourse, then there will be selection pressure against the ones who engage in it more than the average.

      And if Spandrell is focusing on the maladaption issue, why did he pick homosexuality? If we define “aheterosexuality” as “not being attracted to the opposite sex” (as in, either asexual, or exclusively homosexual), then isn’t his actual concern with aheterosexuality? I suppose that Spandrell does have the excuse that “aheterosxuality” is not a commonly used word, and homosexuals and asexuals are not generally grouped together, but “this is not a generally accepted grouping” doesn’t stop him from using the term “Cathedral”, so why is he now allowing semantics to take precedence over precision?

  11. Army1987 says:

    But it suggests that the simplistic model in which fucking something other than a vagina is not selected for is incorrect.

    Note that “is not selected for” is a weaker claim than “is selected against”. I may agree with the former even though I disagree with the latter.

  12. James James says:

    “Spandrell argues that “There’s no way on earth that a condition that makes you lose attraction towards the opposite sex is going to survive natural selection.” On the contrary, there is a lot of animal homosexuality.” Human, too!

    “In addition, homosexuality is probably not inborn.” So you agree with him?

    “I hate to be the feminist who points this out to the neoreactionary, but men and women are different.” Again, so you agree with him?

    It’s a bit weird to attack a book review. How about you read the book he reviewed first?

  13. Anatoly says:

    I researched the “90% of observed giraffe sex is homosexual” thing about a year ago. My conclusion was that this is a very tendentious interpretation that obscures what little we know about giraffe sex. I updated towards considering the book Biological Exhuberance to be one-sided and utterly unreliable. It still seems to be true that there’s lots of homosexual behavior in the animal world, but I don’t know of any source that gives a useful summary of what is known about this and is not incredibly biased.

    My writeup was in Russian, but I’ll try to summarize it here. If you make it to the end of this comment, you will know more about giraffe sex than… you will know too much about giraffe sex.

    Sexual behavior of large animals is known to be non-representative when caged/confined, so understanding giraffe sex involves studying them in the wild; but that is very difficult since they move alone or in small groups over huge territories, which typically include both the open savannah and forested areas. Turns out that essentially all we know about giraffe sex in the wild comes from 3 years of studies conducted by zoologists Pratt and Anderson in the 70ies, in three different national parks in northern Tanzania. The total population they observed counted about 700 giraffes (they recorded patterns of neck markings to identify giraffes), but at any given moment they never saw more than a few of them. They put in 3200 hours of observation.

    Pratt and Anderson studied among other things two different behaviors. First, there is “necking”, when two male giraffes, usually both young, have a ritual battle with each other using their necks. The battle is almost always nonviolent, the “blows” are slow and gentle. This might be a way of determining social status within the group, but they’re not entirely sure (there’s a different method of asserting dominance that’s much more unambiguous). In about 10% of the necking incidents they observed, the battle ended by one of the giraffes trying to mount the other. It was always a larger giraffe that tried to mount the smaller. They observed 16 cases of such behavior over three years. Attempts to mount do not seem to be actual sex; there are no thrusts described as there are when mating (see below). Despite their initial assumptions, they found no evidence of dominance/submission (in body posture, subsequent behavior, etc.) associated with these mounting attempts. They also saw 4 attempts of female giraffes trying to mount younger and smaller male giraffes, again with no evidence of dominance/submission.

    Mating, on the other hand, is a very different sort of activity, and a very rare one due to several factors. The giraffe cow goes into estrus (“heat”) about one day every two weeks, but the status of being in estrus is not detectable visually. The giraffe bull will not attempt to mount the cow unless he knows she’s in estrus, but the only way to know is to taste the cow’s urine using flehmen response. Typically there’s a small herd of 10-15 cows and calves, and a bull will approach and try to test every cow to find one that is in estrus. Testing is done by nuzzling the cow’s rump with his head, and then the cow must choose to urinate at that moment, so that the bull can taste some urine with the flehmen response. Cows have the freedom to choose whom to urinate for, and exercise this freedom freely to select a desirable mate. Assuming the cow chooses to urinate and the bull tastes that she’s in estrus, the bull may choose to go into courtship mode. In courtship mode, he will accompany her for 1-2 days, they will walk together and eat together, and occasionally he will try to stand behind her and attempt to mount. Nearly always the cow frustrates his attempt by simply walking forward. Very rarely, “she may stand for him; he mounts, makes three or four vigorous thrusts the last of which brings his head and neck into a position so nearly upright that he seems to be about to fall over backwards, and in a moment they have both returned to browsing”.

    In three years of studies, Pratt and Anderson saw about 300 urine-testing attempts, about 40 courtship scenarios, and only one successful mating. At the same time, the giraffe population grew by 22 calves in one year out of these three, so it’s absolutely guaranteed that they saw only a tiny fraction of mountings.

    To sum up: mating happens very rarely and always during a courtship period. Mating attempts are much more numerous but are nearly always thwarted. Male-to-male mounting attempts happen as part of a ritual sparring battle, do not involve courtship, do not (seemingly?) involve a sex act, and their social significance is obscure. But if you combine 1 observed successful mating with 16 observed male-to-male mounting attempts, and you throw away everything else, you get “94% of observed sex acts between giraffes are homosexual”. This calculation is of course not part of the original articles.

    The unpaywalled articles:
    Pratt DM and VH Anderson. 1982. Population, distribution and behavior of giraffe in the Arusha National Park, Tanzania. Journal of Natural History 16 pp481-489
    Pratt DM and VH Anderson. 1985. Giraffe social behavior. Journal of Natural History 19 pp771-781.)

  14. Doug S. says:

    I have a different objection to the “natural selection” argument against human male homosexuality being genetic. Many gay men have, in fact, married women and successfully reproduced with them, despite their declared lack of interest in heterosexual intercourse. (Example.) The fitness cost of male homosexuality in humans may not have been nearly as large as one might think.

    • ckp says:

      Be quantitative. Exactly how many children do gay men have, on average? Of course it’s greater than zero, but I would be extremely surprised if it was higher than say, 0.5. This is well below replacement and is sufficient on its own to weed it out in short order. A sensible person cannot propose kin selection to make up for that large a shortfall, either.

      • Does society lose out if there are more adoptive parents?

        • MC says:

          You’re missing the point. He’s not saying, “gay men have fewer children, therefore they are evil.” It’s, “if there were a ‘gay gene,’ natural selection would quickly wipe it out because it would cause lower differential fertility.”

    • Hainish says:

      I agree. To the extent that culture pushes gay men and lesbians into “traditional” marriages, there is very little selection against it.

      • MC says:

        Very little? How little? 5% difference?

        If you went to Las Vegas with $10,000, and you played a game where, every round, you lost 5% of your stakes, how many rounds would it take to wipe out your stake to nothing?

        • Mary says:

          Considerably lower than 5% for women certainly. Men might even prefer lesbian brides because they would not have other men’s children.

      • RCF says:

        How much selection is there against black people in Europe? Posts such as yours and Doug’s suggest a lack of understanding of how natural selection works. It’s not “If it results in you having no children, it will be weeded out”, it’s “If it gives you even the slightest disadvantage, it will be wiped out eventually.”

        @ckp
        “This is well below replacement and is sufficient on its own to weed it out in short order.”

        If there average number of children is n, then anything less than n is below replacement, in the long run. In species that average 1000 eggs, 999 eggs is below replacement.

        If a gene gives a disadvantage of x, then every 1/x generations, it will be decreased by a factor of about 2.7 (that is, e). So suppose there’s a gene that has an disadvantage of only 1/1000, and let’s say that every generation is 20 years. Then after 200,000 years, the gene will be about 45 millionths of its previous frequency.

        • ckp says:

          >If there average number of children is n, then anything less than n is below replacement, in the long run. In species that average 1000 eggs, 999 eggs is below replacement.

          It isn’t the number of eggs, it’s the number that reach adulthood and have children. For sexually reproducing species, this can never be greater than 2 in the long run. 999 eggs isn’t below replacement if it pays more to be on the quality end of the spectrum instead of quantity.

          • RCF says:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-replacement_fertility

            Sub-replacement fertility is a total fertility rate (TFR) that (if sustained) leads to each new generation being less populous than the previous one in a given area. In developed countries sub-replacement fertility is any rate below approximately 2.1 children born per woman, but the threshold can be as high as 3.4 in some developing countries because of higher mortality rates.[1] Taken globally, the total fertility rate at replacement was 2.33 children per woman in 2003.[1]

  15. Doug S. says:

    I suspect a list of favorite male porn tropes would be unlikely to include makeovers.

    Does breast expansion count as a makeover?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Autogynephile males are sexually attracted to women, so their sexuality isn’t quite the same as that of normal females.

    • gattsuru says:

      Autogynephile males are sexually attracted to women, so their sexuality isn’t quite the same as that of normal females.

      Uh… even if we’re sticking /just/ to guys who are attracted to the idea of having a vagina and who identify as male, that’s not the case. In the ‘furry’ fandom, it’s multiple times more common for such characters to have sex with men than with women — partly an artifact of the prevalence of homosexuality in the fandom, but also not a trend that falls apart in other media. Many transwomen are attracted to men, as well, and a sizable number are at least incidentally bisexual.

  17. Desertopa says:

    Regarding the matter of paraphilias in women, I recently read a book which addressed this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Perv-The-Sexual-Deviant-All/dp/0374230897

    As the book describes it, there are many men whose sexual arousal revolves almost entirely around experiences which do not involve ordinary sexual intercourse, but hardly any such women. But there are many women as well as men who are additionally aroused by experiences which do not involve ordinary sex.

    If a person finds a dominance/submission dynamic arousing, for instance, that person could very easily be male or female. But a person who cannot be aroused by ordinary intercourse outside of a dominance/submission context is almost certainly male. A woman might be aroused by the idea of sex with nonhuman animals, but only a paraphiliac man (according to the research described in the book,) is likely to be unable to have sex without imagining their partner as a nonhuman animal.

    The book addresses some research indicating that a kind of sexual plasticity is common to females of at least some other mammalian species, which the males do not have. If sheep are raised exclusively among goats, without contact with other sheep, or goats are raised among sheep, without contact with other goats, on maturity, all the male transplants showed sexual attraction only to the species they were raised among, while all the female transplants showed sexual attraction to both their own species and the species they were raised among.

    I haven’t read Spandrell’s writings on the subject, and don’t know if this is the sort of thing they were talking about, but perhaps it might shed some light on the subject.

  18. J. Quinton says:

    IIRC left-handedness occurs at the same rate in humans as homosexuality. As far as I know, left-handedness is “genetic”, as in has a biological cause, but is not inherited. Only one person in my immediate family is left-handed.

    • Matthew says:

      There are two types of left-handedness, hereditary and pathological. The latter is thought to be due to deprivation in utero, twins are disproportionately likely to be left-handed. But hereditary LH may well be genetic; left-handedness is very common in my family over several generations.

  19. spandrell says:

    Surely this is parody. Surely Scott Alexander’s girlfriend is capable of better arguments than these?

    Oh boy. You know what, our host probably has enough stress in his life dealing with this shit. I’m not much into charity but I’m gonna charitable once and declare I’ll stop commenting here, linking here, and generally taking this blog seriously ever again.

    Lest ozy starts having fantasies about me full of blood and nasty scars. You can have her man.

    • Cyan says:

      her

      Don’t know if you’re just clueless or being deliberately cruel. If the latter is the case, then fuck you.

      • Andy says:

        If the latter is the case, then fuck you.

        Don’t sink to his level.

        • Multiheaded says:

          Cyan doesn’t. Look, I’m against unjustified social violence and gratitious viciousness, but how is it not appropriate to say fuck you to Spandrell being Spandrell?

      • pwyll says:

        Why is it terrible behavior to not use someone’s preferred set of pronouns, but *not* terrible behavior to laugh at someone if, for example, they demand to be addressed as “your majesty”?

        (If this is a common question that is answered in SJW FAQs, I’d be curious to see how it’s addressed.)

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Surely you understand the connotational differences between {previously unassigned semantic tag} and “your majesty”?

        • Matthew says:

          (I’m not SJW, so not relevant to your parenthetical)

          In the first case, it’s the person refusing to use the preferred pronoun who is making a status grab, declaring by implication that they consider the trans person an inferior whose sense of self is irrelevant.

          In the second case, it’s the person requesting to be called “your majesty” who is making a status grab, since that is a term of obeisance to royalty.

          • Anonymous says:

            It has always seemed to me quite the opposite. By demanding that everyone use a nonstandard pronoun, or a made-up one, it is the person making the demand who is making the status grab: Hey, look what I can make you do, I can force you to change your language patterns and thought patterns because I want you to, and I can enforce it with social consequences if you don’t accede.

          • Anonymous says:

            It has always seemed to me quite the opposite. By demanding that everyone use a nonstandard pronoun, or a made-up one, it is the person making the demand who is making the status grab: Hey, look what I can make you do, I can force you to change your language patterns and thought patterns because I want you to, and I can enforce it with social consequences if you don’t accede.

            To my experience, it is entirely the other way around. Nobody is forcing me to use other pronouns, and, in fact, to my shame I often forget to do it when referring to a male-identifying assigned-female-at-birth friend of mine. The reason I (want to) call him “him” instead of “her” is because I am a good person and do not want to cause emotional harm to people.

            “Your majesty,” meanwhile, is something I am forced to do.

            Moreover: “By demanding” -> That has never happened to me. People tell me that they’d be happier if I referred to them by $pronoun and then I try to remember that, because I don’t want to be that asshole that deliberately violates other people’s preferences.

        • Anonymous says:

          This example is well-described by VB’s theory of rules lawyering, although I think most examples are not.

        • social justice warlock says:

          Actually, if peerage were still important enough to need to dismantle, honoring everyone’s self-styled titles would be a good norm to settle on. And in a world where it doesn’t, what harm can it do? Sounds fun!

        • Clockwork Marx says:

          I see it more like the dynamic in play when a person has a preferred name that differs from the name they were given at birth (ex. Frank vs Francis). Using their legal name is typically either a sign of social ignorance or intentional disrespect.

          • veronica d says:

            Yes, this.

            Which is why “they” seems a reasonable request. You might get it wrong from time to time, but if you make a decent effort most folks will appreciate it. Likewise, in most queer-ish urban spaces the whole ze/zir thing is common enough that one can learn that. (Although to be honest, I don’t actually know anyone in meatspace who uses ze/zir. That seems more a Twitter/Tumblr ritual.) Rarer combinations, including unique pronouns, would perhaps be too much cognitive load for everyday interactions. (Although among your intimate friends, why not show the respect?)

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          My personal answer is that when someone says being addressed with a gendered pronoun upsets them, I believe them, and if they say the same about non-royal address, I probably don’t.

        • Emile says:

          Why is it terrible behavior to not use someone’s preferred set of pronouns, but *not* terrible behavior to laugh at someone if, for example, they demand to be addressed as “your majesty”?

          I can understand not following the “preferred set of pronouns” if it’s something outlandish like “zir”, or if it’s a real-life interaction and the person looks a lot like a gender different from the one they insist on.

          But even then, it’s probably best to just avoid using pronouns at all rather than use a “non-preferred” pronoun.

          • Nornagest says:

            I feel similarly, and I’d unpack it as follows: I can easily accept the idea that many people find it upsetting to be addressed as “he” when they identify as female, or vice versa. And it doesn’t seem like much more of a stretch to suggest that some people find either standard set of pronouns upsetting. Additionally, I can accept an aesthetic preference for e.g. Spivak pronouns or singular “they”.

            What I have trouble accepting is the idea that people feel a deep identity-level affinity with any particular set of gender-neutral pronouns, especially invented ones. Now, if you’ve declared yourself to be a “they” and someone persists in calling you an “ey”, I can see that being annoying, but in this case it seems to me that the frustration’s coming from willful noncompliance with your aesthetics, not from any conventional kind of dysphoria; and given that triggering dysphoria is what we’re mainly trying to avoid here, it doesn’t seem anywhere close to the level of rudeness of calling a transwoman “he”.

          • Anonymous says:

            Not that it matters to anyone, but I find the singular they far more aesthetically displeasing than any of the invented pronouns, including horrible hideous discordant ones that haven’t even been invented yet. 🙂

        • Anonymous says:

          Why is it terrible behavior to not use someone’s preferred set of pronouns, but *not* terrible behavior to laugh at someone if, for example, they demand to be addressed as “your majesty”?

          Having given this some thought:

          If one of my friends demands to be addressed as “your majesty,” it is acceptable to laugh because he is clearly joking.

          But if one of my friends persist in this because he e.g. has the same complex as Emperor Norton II had, I probably WOULD refer to him as “your majesty,” unless his therapist tells me this is counterproductive.

          If somebody who is not my friend pulls the same, I hope I’d react the same way. However, since they’re not my friend there is also the possibility they’re doing this as a status grab, in which case laughter is a sufficient non-violent way to assert that they do not have that kind of authority over me.

          Meanwhile, if somebody who isn’t my friend insists on strange-to-me pronouns like “zir” or pronouns “belonging” to the opposite of what I perceive their gender as, it is almost certain that it isn’t a status-grab. Very few would try to grab status by deliberately signalling that they belong to a very sub-altern group.

    • Anatoly says:

      You might not realize this, but there’s probably no person in the whole wide world (including those who agree with you) whose esteem of you would grow upon reading this comment.

    • coffeespoons says:

      *reports comments* how about banning spandrell to make sure he sticks to that?

  20. Sarah says:

    Spandrell’s actual points are kind of hard to tease out, in between all the rudeness. He’s certain that sexuality isn’t “malleable” but doesn’t think it’s entirely “genetic” either. Now, there’s a consistent position (I think it’s the Catholic position) that says “homosexuality is a choice and it’s wrong; let’s build a society that discourages it.” But that doesn’t seem to be his position. He’s saying something like “LGBT people are born that way, or made that way by childhood environment, and there’s nothing they can do about it, and they often have unfortunate lives — so let’s treat ’em shitty!” I mean…maybe this qualifies as a really lowbrow form of Herrenmoral, but another word for “lowbrow Herrenmoral” is “evil.”

    • Andy says:

      “LGBT people are born that way, or made that way by childhood environment, and there’s nothing they can do about it, and they often have unfortunate lives — so let’s treat ‘em shitty!”

      I’d argue that the argument is a little more nuanced – that we have to treat the queers shitty because otherwise they’ll mess up nice stable normative gender relations. Just like some babies are born with terminal illnesses, so some people are born queer and shouldn’t be accommodated, lest they destroy the entire edifice of Tradition.
      Of course, this is bullshit, as we are slowly but surely building a new set of traditions by the same method as the old one – tedious trial and error. Hopefully these will work better for the world we actually live in.
      But I agree, yep, it’s evil.

      • nydwracu says:

        Of course, this is bullshit, as we are slowly but surely building a new set of traditions by the same method as the old one – tedious trial and error.

        A very risky process.

        Do note what it risks.

        • James says:

          Lots to potentially gain, too, though.

        • Multiheaded says:

          I find both the “liberals” and the “conservatives” genuinely puzzling at this level of abstraction; I’m half libertarian and half gloomy Marxist – just how the hell can this not happen anywhere at all times, and how can people not see that their own biggest impact is nearly always the unintended things?

          This might sound like an argument for (meta-)conservatism, but conservatism would imply proactively restraining the acceleration and manipulation of the “progressive” trends, which to me – curiously enough – just doesn’t appear to be a single bit more responsible and “balanced”.

          In other words: if the liberals were indeed destroying society, then IMO any possible reaction to this would also be unpredictably harmful and destructive and at least locally disruptive by any fair metric.

          Doing things is unquestionably evil. But evil is absolutely and totally inevitable.

          So fuck it, I see no reason to worry my pretty head.

          (I am drawing on some of my own impressions of post-Soviet Russian history in this.)

          • nydwracu says:

            There’s an obvious solution to this, if you assume Scott is right about the ability of members of groups with certain interests to figure out their interests and work toward them without a conspiracy and with some members of the group not realizing that’s what they’re doing.

            But there’s an actual taboo around talking about that, so figure it out for yourself.

    • peterdjones says:

      Anti LGBT thinking often has the thread that you have to suppress it to stop it to spreading, ie it’s enticing … which co exists with mire explicit statements that it is revolting.

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        The argument I’ve heard is that there’s two kinds of people – people for whom it’s disgusting, and people for whom it’s enticing.

        The second kind of people are inherently evil, and homosexuality represents an excellent shibboleth to identify and destroy them before they wind up taking over.

        • Matthew says:

          Which is presumably why Typical Mind and Disbelief in Straight People provoked such a vehement reaction from the more virulently homophobic Next.

  21. WT says:

    If homosexuality is indeed genetic in origin, and is transmitted from parents to offspring, and if it is present in that fashion in most animals, then this suggests deep problems for Darwinian theory.

    After all, if sexual selection is so finely honed that it can craft minutiae about the peacock’s tail, then of all the trillions of genetic characteristics that have ever existed in any species on earth, the one that would stand out above everything as being massively selected-against would be the desire to avoid sexual reproduction.

    • MC says:

      Darwinism, “gay gene”, logical consistency.

      Choose one.

    • dhill says:

      I got a very good hypothesis from my computational complexity professor: It could be like Sickle-cell disease. One recessive gene gives you evolutionary advantage in the environment with malaria. It could be just like that with a complex of genes responsible for propensity to homosexuality. Part of those genes might give you some kind of advantage (artistic creativity and whatnot).

  22. Sarah says:

    There is one interesting point here: there does seem to be a distinctive cluster of trans women that are

    a.) interested in “traditionally male” pursuits like engineering or the military
    b.) hypercompetent mavericks (think Martine Rothblatt, Justine Tunney, Deirdre McCloskey, Chelsea Manning)
    c.) frequently lesbian or bi

    I’ve never seen anybody, from a non-transphobic perspective, seriously try to answer the question “What’s up with this?”

    • Multiheaded says:

      …But surely there’s a distinctive cluster of cis women with these traits too?

      (Ok, I think there might be something more to it, because trans women living as the gender they identify as, passing and succeeding in life are under enormous pressure, and this could indeed filter for certain traits, in a very direct and brutal way. It might indeed be that trans women are above the general population on the bell curve of, how to put it, conventional badassitude because the least conventionally-badass ones are likely to be in the closet or in the ground.)

      • Sarah says:

        Yeah, there are also cis women with those traits, but I think the numbers don’t work out. (i.e. nearly half the population is cis women, so of course you will find some cis women with any traits you choose. Compared to how few trans women there are, this “badass” sub-type seems to be pretty big.)

        • Multiheaded says:

          So yeah, I have to admit that, at least to some extent, I likely made up this theory about selection partly for my own self-esteem, as it’s so emotionally valent to me given my circumstances. It still sounds plausible enough, though, doesn’t it?

    • Anatoly says:

      In partial support of your observation, here’s a quote from an article critical of Bailey’s book; the author claims that researchers by and large agree that there are two broad groups of MtF transsexuals, but many think Bailey’s sharp categories are too simplistic, and that autogynephilia is not necessarily the right explanation for one of them. There are quotes from individual researchers further on in the article.

      “So what do researchers and clinicians think about Blanchard’s typology? Almost all see two broad groups (or poles in the distribution) of transwomen: (1) transition early, attracted to men exclusively, high childhood femininity, few have been aroused by cross dressing, ‘‘pass’’ well; (2) transition late, variable sexual attraction, low childhood femininity, many aroused by cross dressing, don’t pass well. Only Bailey sees a neat dichotomy, maintained by fitting transwomen into categories that do not agree with their self description by saying that they lie.”

      Article. This is from a special issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior devoted to the controversy around Bailey’s book and attacks on him.

      • veronica d says:

        @Anatoly — Nice article. I’m gonna take a shot in the dark. A couple years back I read a paper by a psych/therapist/whatever who divided trans folks in to three “types”, one type being trans men, one type being early-transitioning (pre-puberty) trans women, and the third being late-transitioning trans women. The author numbered them.

        This had nothing to do with Harry Benjamin’s typology. It was obviously related to Blanchard/Bailey, but quite critical of their larger thesis — definitely not their stuff.

        Anyway, it was a cool paper and I wish I could find it again, but any Googling for “transsexual typologies” only brings up Benjamin or Blanchard.

        Anyway, since you knew about this one paper, perhaps you are familiar with the other. I would love to find it again. Any clues?

        • Anatoly says:

          Hmm, sounds interesting, but no, I definitely didn’t read that article, and with the few searches I tried failed to find it just as you did. Sorry!

        • Sarah says:

          “late-transitioning” would explain a lot of the pattern; most people develop their interests, personality, and sometimes sexual orientation before puberty. Doesn’t explain “why engineers?” though. (Most men aren’t engineers.)

          • veronica d says:

            A partial explanation is this: Many late transitioning trans women don’t really do male gender very well, even if they cannot fully articulate why, so the “lonely dreamer with her nose in a book” archetype is pretty common. I hear this story a lot. Which leads to geek interests, which leads to math, which leads onward to software.

            I admit this is a pretty tenuous series of steps.

            Obviously there is selection bias. I’m in a tech-heavy city with the ensuing social circles.

          • veronica d says:

            Thanks!

            That is not the paper I recall, but that is the typology I recall, so it is on the right track! (I haven’t tracked citations yet, so hopefully that gets me what I want.)

          • veronica d says:

            Wait! I was wrong. This is the paper.

            Which, OMG! thank you thank you thank you thank you. I’ve been searching years for this.

          • veronica d says:

            And on the topic of this subthread, high performing trans women, a section from that article:

            For cloistered gender dysphoric boys it was in the area of peers and activities, especially sports, that the problem was most noticeable. Unable or uninterested in competing in organized boys’ activities and having been shuffled decidedly away from playing with the girls, many became reclusive. To add to their confusion, and counter to behavior typically reported in openly gender dysphoric boys, many cloistered boys actually preferred solo play with boys’ toys and had little or no interest in girls’ toys. For example I have heard more than one long-time post-op male-to-female transsexual speak fondly of having spent countless hours playing with an Erector Set or a Lionel model train set-up that their father had helped them build. Others described of designing and making detailed model airplanes, race cars and sailing ships. The more academic of this group report little or no interest in sports and rough and tumble play. To avoid castigation from their peers, they report spending a lot of time reading and studying. However, although these children appeared to be normal boys doing what most people would consider some normal boy activities, they may very well have been doing so while secretly wearing their mother’s or sister’s underwear, fantasizing about being a girl or both if they could manage it.

            Stir a bit of neuro-diversity into the pot, and is it any wonder you produce a batch of top-shelf software engineers?

    • Pluviann says:

      Or maybe an interest in traditionally male pursuits is not innate in males but is a result of social pressure/expectation, so we’d expect people raised male to have been encouraged that way? The same could be true of hypercompetence and maverice?
      Women raised as men would be more likely to have these characteristics than women raised as women.

    • veronica d says:

      By the way, trans women notice this — it’s almost funny when at a queer meetup, 7 out of 7 trans women who arrive are software engineers. The general response is, “Well, yeah, of course.”

      Life is funny like that.

    • Cauê says:

      Anecdotally: I’ve recently attempted to get a clear idea of how many women are seriously bothered by catcalls, how many don’t mind it much, and how many actually like it. I failed completely, but one thing that jumped at me was that the only time I found a piece by a woman saying she /loved/ it, she also said that she “used to be a boy”.

      I know very little about this. Are trans women more likely to have “traditionally male” sexual behavior (say, in preferences of porn, for instance), even after surgery?

      • veronica d says:

        That was probably Paris Lees’ article on Vice (which for some reason won’t come up in my browser right now, but here).

        On trans femme sexuality: It’s complicated. But estrogen lowers the sex drive a lot. Plus many trans women have ongoing bodily dysphoria, and surgery is often not affordable or insufficient.

        Asexuality is common, as is kink. Cuddle parties are a thing.

      • Adele_L says:

        I would guess that she enjoyed it because it felt validating to her to be acknowledged as an attractive woman – in particular because it’s not something she takes for granted.

        I enjoyed being catcalled the first couple of times, and then it quickly became annoying and degrading. *shrug*

    • Adele_L says:

      This is especially speculative, but assuming trans people have a male-female mosaic brain – perhaps these people luckily get the best parts of each (which happen to correlate with having traits a and c). I think this would also apply to some hypercompetent gay men like Alan Turing or Ludwig Wittgenstein to some extent (though obviously the sexuality part is different).

      Also, I would guess that there is some connection to autism with this particular cluster.

      • veronica d says:

        Obviously there is nowhere near enough evidence or understanding to support this theory. However, I suspect that it is true. It matches entirely what I experience among trans women, including the propensity toward neuro-diversity.

    • veronica d says:

      As a purely emotional response, I rather despise Justine Tunney and hate to think of her as “hypercompetent,” but that’s neither here nor there I guess.

    • gattsuru says:

      There are large selection biases due to the requirements to be classically identified as “transgender” for the purposes of medical or pharmaceutical treatment : the medical community strongly encourages individual doctors to use details such as sexuality, presentation, and tradition as diagnostic signs of gender dysphoria. As a result, the folk who can remain under treatment are much more likely to either /strongly/ match traditional norms of feminity, or to strongly select for something that can actively fight with a gatekeeping institute.

      I’d expect there are also underlying biochemical reasons : female sex hormones have feminizing attributes, up to including affecting orientation, but some can be aromatized into testosterone.

      • Hannah says:

        I’d expect there are also underlying biochemical reasons : female sex hormones have feminizing attributes, up to including affecting orientation, but some can be aromatized into testosterone.

        It’s the other way around: aromatase converts androgens (incl. testosterone) into estrogens (incl. estradiol). This is for instance why breast growth is a side effect of anabolic steroids. I’m not aware of any process going the other direction.

      • veronica d says:

        This was true, and is still true in some places, but it is becoming significantly less true. Which is to say, it is possible these days to find clinics that will prescribe hormones under “informed consent” protocols, which require no psych. evaluation. Likewise, many therapists have set aside the classic gatekeeper model and are following something more like a cooperative exploration model. Which is to say they spend less time getting patients to prove they are “really trans” and more time helping them deal with the ensuing difficulties of transition.

        Add to this the degree that online communities help inexperienced trans folks negotiate the complex medical environment. It really is a different game.

        It is now possible to be a butch-as-fuck trans woman and find competent treatment.

        • Matthew says:

          Forgive me if this a stupid question…

          Why would anyone fake being trans? It seems absurd that people would falsely out themselves as an extremely stigmatized sexual minority. Gatekeeping seems particularly stupid/sadistic here.

          • veronica d says:

            Totally agree.

            Regarding the mentality of the gatekeepers, much of it was simply standard heteronormativity. Which is to say, they would not “construct a homosexual” (so no trans lesbians or trans gays).

            (On the latter subject, the story of Lou Sullivan, a gay trans man, is particularly poignant.)

            Likewise the doctors were strongly invested in trans women fulfilling their stereotyped ideas of womanhood: dresses, makeup, slender legs in heels, normal romantic attractions toward men, etc. They were very uncomfortable with any expression of queer sexuality from transgender people. If they labeled a trans woman as a “cross dresser” or any kind of fetishist, they would decline treatment.

            Their ideas of what a fetish was were quite narrow.

            This is not hard to understand if you put yourself in the shoes of the 1950’s mainstream. (Or in the mind of the article this blog post responds to, if you can stomach it.) Transsexuality was scary and weird, and it was a tough sell to a skeptical public.

            Let me add to the horror. Julia Serano references a few case studies where heterosexual male psychiatrists noted how their attraction to the subject played a role in their evaluation of their trans status. Which is to say, being sexy (in the mind of some creepy straight dude) was part of the criteria. (The feminist objections to this write themselves.)

            If this overall topic interests you, you will want to read this book: http://www.amazon.com/How-Sex-Changed-History-Transsexuality/dp/0674013794/

          • veronica d says:

            To be grim, we will never know how many of these patients killed themselves, either because they were denied care or because they didn’t even bother to try.

            A wife come home to find her husband dead in his office. While going through his belongings she finds some dresses and panties. She tells no one.

            Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

            I can barely stand thinking about it.

          • Pluviann says:

            I think the charitable explanation is that doctors are aware that transitioning is a huge and life-changing process and so they don’t want to put a patient through it unless that patient is absolutely certain.
            There are cases of people transitioning and then deciding they’ve made a terrible mistake and transitioning back. Nobody would want to inflict that unnecessarily.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Don’t know why, but people fake all kinds of illnesses.

            I am not a psychiatrist, but I assume that one thing they quickly dispense with is assuming their patient is behaving/thinking reasonably. They probably aren’t, or they wouldn’t be there.

          • veronica d says:

            @Pluviann — Doctors now do encourage trans people to go into therapy, and in some places require that therapy be ongoing during the first few years of transition. This is reasonable. (Setting aside social justice issues relating to the cost of therapy. Let’s pretend we have universal healthcare.) However, doctors in the past were quite clear. They were judging the authenticity of their trans patients. They even invented categories for them, and would dismiss a patient as a fetishist instead of a “true transsexual,” if the patient failed to meet their narrow criteria. For example, if the patient reported that they had ever cross dressed for erotic pleasure, they would be dismissed as a “transvestite” and be denied care.

          • MugaSofer says:

            >Why would anyone fake being trans?

            Mathew, the article Ozy wrote this in response to largely consists of a (wrong?) answer to this question.

            They suggest that feminine-looking gay men (or gay women?) might transition, thinking they could pass and thus vastly increase their sexual prospects.

            They also suggest that some people with fetishes related to gender-changing might be sufficiently motivated to transition despite the social risks.

            @Veronica: do at least take heart that trans-ness is fairly rare.

            Then remember how many other things people are/were treated awfully for and thus committed suicide. D: Pretty much any mental illness or condition, for a start …

  23. Deiseach says:

    (1) Women don’t have paraphilias

    Obviously, the person writing that has never heard of kink memes. Good grief, the Star Trek fandom invented slash, and that wasn’t men writing the fic. I would suggest that Spandrell (but NOT any of the rest of you) try Googling such terms as “omegaverse” or “mpreg” to have their eyes opened. (Fanfiction was very educational to me when I was but a wide-eyed innocent demure late-20s year old looking for something to read set in my various fandom universes, and who thought “lemon” meant something to do with fruit, or maybe confectionery?).

    (2) Cis women and auotgynephilia

    This is only pure subjective personal opinion with precisely nothing in the line of research to back it up, but I wonder if that is because the object of sexual gaze and sexual desire and sexualisation for everyone is the female body? The default assumption being that everyone (or the majority) is straight, what we re then presented with are images of sexy people that are overwhelmingly female.

    The idea that high heels, for instance, are sexy – where did that come out of? Can you imagine men in high heels, and if you do, isn’t it in the context of men being feminised (whether you want to go for drag queens or further afield)? High heels are coded as female, coded as sexy.

    I think we’re trained and conditioned – whether we’re male or female, gay or straight, cis or trans – to respond to the female body as “sexy” and that naturally will spill over into the kinds of responses you get when you do surveys asking women “Do you find women/femininity/these sexual images of women in the stereotypical ‘garter belt, fishnet stockings and high heels look’ sexy?”

    • Matthew says:

      The idea that high heels, for instance, are sexy – where did that come out of?

      So, this could be referring to two different things. The fetish for certain kinds of footwear themselves being sexy is one, and I have no explanation for that.

      The other is the well-established fact high heels make women’s legs appear both longer and tauter,* and the modal man is attracted to long, athletic legs.

      I know that some women are attracted to men with nice derriers, but I have not really encountered women who were particularly attracted to men with nice legs, in the way that some men are particularly attracted to women with nice legs.

      *While totally destroying their spinal alignment. Please don’t wear them on a regular basis.

      • Deiseach says:

        It used to be that a man with a nice pair of calves – whoo!

        But my larger point is that there is nothing comparable – no “Victor’s Secret” – for men’s fashions and clothing as there is for women (unless we count specialised shops and sites for cross-dressing/transvestitism/fetishes).

        A man with a stand full of stiletto heels and’ ‘fuck me’ shoes? “Oh yeah, obviously something kinky going on there” is the general reaction. A woman with a stand full of stiletto heels and ‘fuck me’ shoes? Everyone knows girls like shoes! She’s only being a girly girl!

        Now, until we get men’s shoes being presented in the wider cultural context as being sexy and saucy and “whoa, look at that filthy little tease with his brogues showing off his narrow arches, the trollop!” currency of regarding items of clothing and footwear as coded sexually, are you really going to expect any highly visible signs of what a female-specific paraphilia looks like?

        If your criteria for ‘paraphilia’ is ‘one that reproduces the corresponding male situation exactly’, then how can you tell if the woman with the closet full of kitten heels and backless sandals is aroused in the same way by a shoe fetish, or is just being fashionable? And unless we find women with closets full of men’s shoes (which I submit would be a very specialised and individual taste, since we are not socially conditioned to think of men’s shoes in the same way), then of course it’s going to be easy to say “Well, since nobody has produced evidence that women collect men’s shoes the way men collect women’s shoes, women don’t have paraphilias!”

        I do think that a lot of what is commonly considered “sexy” is a result of cultural conditioning and so gets expressed that way when it comes to paraphilias and kinks.

  24. Horrible Anon says:

    if female paraphilia is a thing — to find cases of female death by autoerotic asphyxiation.

    Anecdata: I used to know a hetero cis couple who did breath control play. It was her idea. (I met them in a way that has nothing to do with sex or fetishes.)

    • Deiseach says:

      It may be just that men are more inherently ‘risk-taking’ than women; I’ve recently read a post about autoerotic asphyxiation which argues that there is NO ‘safe’ way to do it, and the best you can do is educate yourself on the risks, with the comment (I don’t know how accurate) that the more people know about the risk and danger, the less likely they are to do it.

      It may just be that men are readier to risk strangling themselves to death than women would be for the same end result, even if both a man and a woman equally find the idea of being choked/strangled/hanged sexually exciting?

      • drethelin says:

        It’s probably a lot easier for women to find someone willing and able to choke them during sex than for men.

        • gattsuru says:

          It may also be more common for men to look for cooperating partners, which presents at least some level of safety check (and a likely-higher level of protection from stigmatizing reveal).

    • Earnest_Peer says:

      More anecdata: Speaking as someone involved with the BDSM scene, that is not uncommon.

  25. G Joubert says:

    Obviously there’s much more to human behavior –and derivatively, human sexual behavior– than genetics and heritability, otherwise there’d be no nurture side to the nature-nurture debate. And it goes much further than biology and psychology. Those are just a start. We’ve merely scratched the surface in understanding this dynamic, on both on the hard science and soft science sides.

    And, the fact that women are liars when it comes to sex must be squared with the blanket pronouncement that “women are less likely than men to masturbate, and even when they do they maturbate less often than men do” The first problem is any data underlying that study relies of self-reporting by the subjects. Second, we are talking about an act (i.e., masturbation) that women can typically engage in far more discreetly than men can. A woman can privately masturbate while fully clothed in a crowded room just by the way she crossed her legs. And I’ve got it from reliable authority that does it that way that many women do in fact do it that way. So it’s all smoke and mirrors.

  26. Phil Goetz says:

    As I pointed out in my Anti-Heartiste FAQ, evidence suggests that the entire sexual partner gap between men and women is explicable by women being goddamned liars.

    I haven’t got the references on hand, but I have looked into this, and the sexual partner gap is nicely explained by surveys not being large enough to include prostitutes. Roughly half of all “sexual pairings” (counting unique partner-partner combinations, but not number of couplings) involve a prostitute.

    • Pluviann says:

      Roughly half of all “sexual pairings” (counting unique partner-partner combinations, but not number of couplings) involve a prostitute.

      In the UK only about 7% of men have ever seen a prostitute. My maths is not so great, but isn’t it odd that so few people should account for so many unique sexual pairings?
      I wonder what the numbers would look like if we set aside both prostitutes and their clients? Is it possible that there’s two groups here made up of ‘most people: men and women’ who have roughly similar sex drives (maybe with the men a little ahead) and then ‘prostitutes and their clients’ which includes guys with ridiculously high sex drives and women who cater to them?

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Yes, I’ve seen that paper. But I’ve also seen the paper Ozy cites. And I’ve probably seen several others that propose other theories. As is always the case with social science research, many people claim incompatible theories as the complete solution to the same mystery. Most of them are wrong.

  27. Phil Goetz says:

    The rise of the ebook has massively expanded the amount of porn that women read.

    In other news, the rise of fan-fiction has massively expanded the amount of romance that men read. Romance may be men’s favorite genre, as long as no one knows they’re reading it.

    To put it bluntly, this makes no goddamned sense. Cis women are just as likely as trans women to have a particular subtype of autogynephilia, but less likely to have autogynephilia itself?

    How does that not make sense? Draw yourself a Venn diagram and try again.

    • Matthew says:

      I think you’re seriously overestimating the proportion of the population that reads fan-fiction at all, never mind “shipping” fiction specifically.

  28. Froolow says:

    I’m reading ‘Genome’ by Matt Ridley at the moment, and it has a highly plausible mechanism by which homosexuality might be selected for. The book is out of date, but I haven’t heard anyone else mention the theory so I’ll risk explaining it as I understood it and stand to be corrected.

    The X and Y Chromasome is the only place in the body where genetic symmetry is deliberately broken; some people have an XX Chromasome and those people are genetically women, and some people have an XY Chromasome and those people are genetically men. You’ll notice that this means there are three times as many X chromosomes floating around as Y; this means genes in the X Chromasome might be able to obtain a reproductive advantage by shafting any organism which expresses XY as long as it gains an equivalent advantage for expressing the genes in the XX configuration. This is sort of like how some cultures invest more resources in their sons at the expense of their daughters because sons are more able to carry in the family name.

    So imagine there is a gene which makes an organism *super* good at having sex with men. Maybe it makes a women irresistibly attractive, maybe it makes you more likely to survive childbirth, maybe it makes you better discriminating at picking mates who will invest resources in raising your offspring. Whatever the effect, it is carried on the X Chromasome as a mutation from whatever the background rate of success is. Let’s call this gene XQ28 for historical reasons (Ridley says this is a promising site for such a gene, but the specifics aren’t as important as the general mechanism). If a woman with the XQ28 mutation has a daughter then she will likely be hugely reproductively successful. If she has a son he will not, because (for example) the desire to have sex with lots of men is reproductively unhelpful for other men.

    On the other hand, if the son *does* reproduce with a women with the XQ28 mutation, there’s a 25% chance of having a daughter with a double XQ28 mutation who – by fiat – is going to clean up reproductively and restart the cycle because 50% of her offspring are going to outcompete everybody except the double XQ28 mutants. Remember this isn’t a ‘gay gene’, it is just a gene which makes you more successful at having sex with men which – in combination with a whole bunch of other genes – is likely to make you express homosexual tendencies. So it is not impossible to reproduce as a man with XQ28, just a bit more difficult (on a species-wide level).

    If XQ28 gets too prevelant in a population the rate of reproduction drops until women with no XQ28 mutation begin having sons who luck out in discovering a community of sexy XQ28 ladies to bear their children and carry on their non-XQ28 germline and no XQ28 men can stop them. If the XQ28 gene begins to drop out then women with the mutation have a particular reproductive advantage and begin to reproduce with the fittest males and pass in the gene.

    As an aside, this predicts absolutely to a T the observation from spandrell that levels of homosexuality have been about 4% in all cultures and places and times; this is pretty much exactly what you would expect if there was a genetic equilibrium being hit, just like Sickle Cell Anemia remaining in populations despite the fact that the double-SCA mutation is basically a death sentence in terms of reproductive advantage.

    As another aside, I find it amazing that genes on the X and Y Chromasome are so antagonistic towards each other. There are communities of butterflies where this sort of X-Y antagonism has resulted in populations that are 95% female because the X Chromasome has so thoroughly defeated the Y Chromasome that male butterflies are just obliterated by selection pressures from birth.

    • Steve Johnson says:

      The sexy daughter theory. Brilliant (it’s not brilliant).

    • ckp says:

      The research on this has been done, the hypothesis is false. Female relatives of gay men do not have significantly more children than the surrounding population.

      Plus, it isn’t 4% in all places and times. There are hunter gatherer tribes that don’t have homosexuals. When the anthropologist tried to explain it to them, they were amazed and thought s/he was joking.

      • Fazathra says:

        “There are hunter gatherer tribes that don’t have homosexuals. When the anthropologist tried to explain it to them, they were amazed and thought s/he was joking”

        Cite please. This looks really interesting, but my google fu isn’t returning anything obvious within the first few pages.

        • Nornagest says:

          I’m starting to think that for every hunter-gatherer tribe there is an equal and opposite hunter-gatherer tribe.

          (Apologies to Arthur C. Clarke.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Can you name a single hunter-gatherer tribe that has a nontrivial prevalence of preferential homosexuality?

          • Nornagest says:

            Not off the top of my head, but there’s that one where drinking large amounts of adult semen is considered necessary for adolescent boys to properly mature.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            But they still have sex with women!

          • gattsuru says:

            Can you name a single hunter-gatherer tribe that has a nontrivial prevalence of preferential homosexuality?

            Preferential, or exclusive?

            Because the former is fairly common : “two-spirit” probably don’t fit from a conceptual space standard, but from a genetic perspective, they were so unpredisposed to reproductive sex that we’ve got a whole variety of gay slang derived from their interaction with early conquistadors.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Two spirits are good enough for me.

            Do you have a reference for gay slang coming from two-spirits?

            Most Native Americans were not hunter-gatherers. Maybe the Mojave were hunter-gatherers with two-spirits, but I’m not sure.

          • gattsuru says:

            Berdache‘s the most common example. I’m afraid it’s not an area of focus for me.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            “Berdarche” is the opposite: it was already gay slang in the Old World.

        • nydwracu says:

          I heard the same from a very interesting paper surveying such things, but I haven’t been able to find it.

      • Froolow says:

        How was the research done? On modern women? I thought the claim only has to hold for the EEA, in the same way that it would be weird to say ‘The research has been done and people with large appendixes have the same number of children as people with small appendixes, therefore there is no genetic explanation for the appendix’. Just because the sexy daughter hypothesis isn’t true now doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been true in the environment and over timescales when genetic selection was noticeably operating. Or is there something I don’t know about genetics that mean we really can test whether it was true in the EEA? (Just to be absolutely clear, that’s not snark – I genuinely don’t know and would like to find out)

        I don’t like the sexy daughter hypothesis much as a hypothesis about the real world (because it ‘explains’ mutually contradictory outcomes), but I think it is a strong argument against the claim that ‘genetics means that homosexuality is impossible’, because even if empirically false it is theoretically ‘allowed’ by genetics. Am I at least right about that weaker claim?

        • Douglas Knight says:

          If something was advantageous a million years ago, then it may be that everyone has the genes today, even though it is no longer advantageous. But if there is variation in the genes today, there is evolution today. If the effect is small, it will take many generations to reach equilibrium. But for homosexuality, the effect is not small. Maybe the 20th century is different, and we should be looking at the last thousand years of agriculture, but the paleolithic is too distant to be relevant. If gay men under agriculture had 25% fewer children, but their sisters had 50% more children, modern sisters are probably statistically distinguishable from the population on some psychological test (though I don’t know how thoroughly this question has been pursued). And even the 20th century is several generations, enough to see evolution in action if it were strongly genetic.

  29. caryatis says:

    Trans people sometimes talk about the pain of being “misgendered”, i.e. addressed with the “wrong” pronoun or having it assumed they are male/female, when they believe they are not. I’ve heard people describe this as very emotionally painful, and I don’t get it. When this happens to me, I shrug it off. Is it a matter of death by a thousand cuts, or are trans people more emotionally invested in how people perceive their gender than I am?

    • veronica d says:

      Is it okay for you not “to get it”? In other words, do you feel that trans people need to justify this to you, or can you simply accept it as a psychological fact?

      It is possible that trans folks will never be able to fully explain the nature of their dysphoria, insofar as it might stem from deep-down psychological processes that are not visible to the them. But they clearly can sense and communicate the pain — assuming one is willing to believe them.

      Is that enough?

      • caryatis says:

        I’m open to the possibility that the pain of being “misgendered” is special to trans people, but I’m wondering whether it’s something non-trans people would experience too if people consistently assumed they were the wrong gender.

        And no, I don’t expect the average trans person would be able to explain their experience. That’s a question for the psychologists.

        • Quixote says:

          What percentage of mean four year old boys do you estimate have insulted their enemies by saying they look like a girl? Or by saying they verb like a girl?

          • Matthew says:

            That’s a slightly different issue, in that society has traditionally coded female as lower-status. You don’t see the opposite taunt of little girls.

            (I nevertheless agree that dislike of misgendering is widespread.)

          • Anonymous says:

            >That’s a slightly different issue, in that society has traditionally coded female as lower-status. You don’t see the opposite taunt of little girls.

            You do, actually. But it’s rarer.

      • no one special says:

        This response seems rather more prickly than is deserved. Rather than attempt to answer the question, you have responded with a series of rhetorical questions.

        I read it as implying that caryatis is acting in bad faith by asking the question, and is, in fact making some kind of veiled attack, which you are pointing out. It seems like you want caryatis to prove their right to ask the question in the first place. That seems uncharitable to a degree not seen here on a regular basis.

        Contrariwise, I may be conflating you with the bad sort of feminists who Scott complains about from time to time. Perhaps I am reading too much in here.

      • gattsuru says:

        I’m genuinely interested : I’ve seen trans activists bring the topic up in the context of homelessness in a way where being unable to have access to reliable bathing or income was less stressful than being misgendered.

        I’d /expect/ it to be a common human trait that I just don’t get, since it’s a social thing and I’m not a social animal nor do I have good understanding of gendered norms. But you seem to be describe it as specific to individuals with gender dysphoria, which suggests that a different political direction would be important.

    • Nornagest says:

      This might relate to Scott’s concept of cis by default. I tend to find being misgendered somewhere between inconsequential and mildly entertaining depending on my mood, and don’t feel strongly gendered at an identity level; if I woke up female tomorrow I’d of course expect personality changes thanks to hormones etc., but if we magic those away I don’t feel like it’d be some kind of fundamental affront to meness. From conversations I’ve had, this doesn’t seem super uncommon.

      On the other hand, there does seem to be a large population of cis people who do identify strongly with their gender and get upset when people get it wrong. Interestingly, though, this doesn’t seem closely related to how strongly gender is performed; I’m a pretty masculine guy by those standards.

      For trans people, of course, there are self-selection considerations.

      • veronica d says:

        OMG that Cis by Default article is good. Thanks for the link.

      • caryatis says:

        Huh, yeah, thanks. I guess I’m cis by default too.

        “There does seem to be a large population of cis people who do identify strongly with their gender and get upset when people get it wrong”

        Are you sure about this?

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I know I am. When I was younger, being misidentified as a girl made me very, very upset. (Nowadays, with more facial hair and less scalp hair, it’d just make me confused.)

        • caryatis says:

          Now you’ve got me thinking about how great it would be to be a man. The muscles…the practical clothing…

          • Nornagest says:

            Funny, I’ve thought that one of the perks of being a woman would be access to more varied and interesting clothing — including, for example, the ability to wear clothes that’re comfortable in California summers without looking like a bro or a manchild. I’d miss functional pockets, though.

            Guess the grass is always greener.

          • veronica d says:

            Clothes are great. Handbags are a lot of fun.

          • Deiseach says:

            POCKETS. Why the manufacturers of women’s clothing seem to think pockets are not necessary, I ahve no idea. No, a handbag or other bag won’t do – I only want to keep my phone and keys in my pocket, not haul around a bag everywhere with me.

          • Andy says:

            Funny, I’ve thought that one of the perks of being a woman would be access to more varied and interesting clothing — including, for example, the ability to wear clothes that’re comfortable in California summers without looking like a bro or a manchild. I’d miss functional pockets, though.

            As a victim of a Los Angeles heatwave these past few days, I totally sympathize. But mens’ clothing is generally less expensive despite using more material. I can’t get precise figures because I have to get up and face the ungodly awful heat, but you have Google – check the prices of ladies’ clothing that you’d like to wear against your current clothing.

          • veronica d says:

            A handbag is it’s own reward!

            That said, women’s clothes with pockets do exist. I even have a miniskirt w/ pockets sufficient to hold a phone and keys.

            I still carry a handbag, cuz gorgeous, and one does not break her silhouette.

        • Matthew says:

          I identify strongly with my gender. I’d be annoyed rather than distressed by misgendering, but I’m an extremely masculine Cis male, and defensiveness is less necessary at the top of the totem pole.

          • nydwracu says:

            I identify strongly with my gender, but before I got too old for it to be effective, I intentionally cultivated an androgynous appearance to confuse people.

      • Liskantope says:

        I think a lot of it is the “cis by default” phenomenon, but another factor might simply be frequency of being misgendered. I think that if, once in a blue moon, I was misidentified as a woman, I might be bemused or at worst mildly annoyed. If it happened on a daily basis for years and years, I suspect that would be a whole different story (as caryatis puts it, “death by a thousand cuts”).

        • coffeespoons says:

          Yes, I am a cis woman and I look very feminine (short, feminine figure, longish hair, I mostly wear dresses). I can’t remember ever being misgendered (except online because of my non-gendered user name).

      • Doug S. says:

        I apparently sound like a woman when I talk on the phone. Every single telemarketer invariably assumes I’m female. I happen to find it amusing, but I imagine it could get frustrating if it happened in a situation where it actually mattered.

    • Hannah says:

      (Epistemic status: plausible-sounding speculation derived from not enough data points.)

      I think there are a couple of threads here, only some of which have been picked up on.

      Accidental misgendering is something trans and cis people both experience. Different people find it distressing to different degrees, though in general I think it’s safe to say it becomes less amusing and more annoying the more often it happens. From the comments here (and in previous discussions) it seems that people’s attachment to their gender varies in strength, and Matthew’s suggestion — that having high status shifts the response from “distressing” towards “annoying” — sounds pretty plausible to me.

      For trans people, there’s also the worry that an accidental misgendering is a revealing slip of the tongue — that is, that the speaker thinks of them not as a [gender] who happens to be trans but as an [other gender] who happens to be crazy, and they only manage to say the socially-acceptable version some of the time.

      Intentional misgendering is, to cis people, primarily associated with schoolyard bullying. To a trans person, intentional misgendering is often associated with someone about to deny them service/verbally abuse them/beat them up/ship them to conversion therapy/etc.

      The anxiety system doesn’t care which case you consciously think you’re in, or even very much what the base rates are. So being misgendered can easily acquire the emotional undertone of “everyone thinks I’m crazy and wants to hurt me,” on top of the (universal, but status-mediated and interpersonally-varying) baseline helping of discomfort.

    • Wes_W says:

      >are trans people more emotionally invested in how people perceive their gender than I am?

      Probably? People are emotionally invested in different things. That’s how insults work. Some people are brought to tears by being called fat, some don’t care. This doesn’t strictly correspond to actually being fat.

      I do notice, though, that the people who are insulted by “fat” tend to feel it as a personal failure or flaw or regret or fear; it’s a thing they want to change about themselves. When it stops being perceived as just a factual claim and starts being a personal weakness thrown back in your face, it becomes an insult.

      I personally would laugh in the face of anyone who called me fat, because I have a body fat percentage in the low teens and am in objectively good physical condition. But I’m not automatically immune to insults targeting, say, my social anxieties. This doesn’t mean I think people who are insecure about their weight are silly; I just don’t happen to have that particular insecurity.

      So, in addition to all the reasons specific to gender and trans people and harassment and etc, imagine that you regret your birth gender the way someone else might regret being overweight, or short, or uneducated, or socially awkward, or etc. In this light, experiencing distress might be less surprising.

  30. veronica d says:

    Is anyone here questioning this basic assumption: Why do I care about the fitness of my genes?

    I care about my life and happiness, which for me does not include reproduction. Which, yeesh. Kids are nuisance. I like my friends and my community. I want the species to survive, at least in the sense I want the story of intelligent life to continue. We might call those future beings “human.”

    I like joy and happiness. I like people. I want to see us thrive.

    But my genes? My reproductive fitness, of me as an individual? Don’t care one bit.

    Why do I care if gay or trans people reproduce? I want them to live joyous lives, to thrive.

    There seems to be no shortage of humans.

    • Clockwork Marx says:

      The response that comes to mind is that concern for well-being over reproductive success will end up being outbreed (assuming it has a genetic component).

      • veronica d says:

        Possible, but that seems a thin thread on which to hang the oppression of LGBT people.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I’ve found that people don’t generally need that much to justify horrific levels of oppression of other people. It seems almost intrinsically rewarding; what we seem to need is just an excuse to unleash it on some target.

          • Steve Johnson says:

            The Cagots were not an ethnic group, nor a religious group. They spoke the same language as the people in an area and generally kept the same religion as well. Their only distinguishing feature was their descent from families identified as Cagots.

            The author of that article doesn’t know what “ethnic group” means.

      • Illuminati Initiate says:

        That’s Moloch. Moloch should be fought, not embraced.

        Edit: this comment is replying to Clockwork Marx

        • Matthew says:

          He was making a descriptive point, not a normative one.

        • Clockwork Marx says:

          Yes, it’s a problem to overcome, not a prescription.

          Also, I hope that the genetic contribution to these attitudes are minimal, or at least mailable in the way opposition to homosexuality seems to be, but idk either way.

    • Andy says:

      [Sarcasm]Well then, you’re a freak and the reason dysgenics is ruining the human race and everything forever! Go forth and do your duty with a high-functioning alpha male, have six babies, and raise them to have large families of their own so the human race can go on![/sarcasm]
      But seriously, this is my biggest problem with anyone who uses evolutionary psychology just-so-stories to create The Way Things Should Be. The is-ought fallacy in action, and their “solutions” – and blithe acceptance of the suffering involved – I think offer some of the strongest arguments in favor of transhumanism.

      • veronica d says:

        @Andy — Happily I am unable to conceive children (I say while acknowledging for many infertile women this is a fact of great emotional distress; for me it is not).

      • veronica d says:

        But yeah, your second part is basically my point.

      • Anon says:

        > I think offer some of the strongest arguments in favor of transhumanism.

        Yeah. Gattaca-like technologies will probably hit and become cheap enough in the next 30-50 years, and should undo most of the “dsygenics”, insomuch as that’s even an actual thing and not an illusion.

    • MugaSofer says:

      >There seems to be no shortage of humans.

      This is a popular meme, but is it actually true? It seems to have been started by Malthus, who was objectively mistaken about everything.

      Presumably the ideal would be a stable population, so we don’t waste resources on new people or run out of new people to support pensioners and other non-work-capable people.

      Western countries tend to be below replacement level, so that would imply we do in fact have a (local) shortage of humans.

      Or maybe not. I’m just curious about your reasoning.

  31. In re women as liars: There are reasons for this. There’s a lot of punishment in various cultures for women who like sex too much, and (homo hypocritis) it’s easier to maintain a lie if you believe it yourself.

    Paraphilias: Are there any men who are into dinosaur porn?

    *** Comments in re Spandrell:

    Any estimates on how many transsexuals there are? My impressions are that the numbers aren’t tracked, and I know enough transsexuals that it seems unlikely there are only 20K of them in the US.

    Group selection question: what is the genetic effect of abandoning gay offspring? I’m pretty sure this isn’t a human universal, and it seems like a loss for the family.

    General point: Sprandrell (and a lot of people with strong ideologies on both sides) seem to believe that it’s extremely expensive to be kind to the wrong people. I’m inclined to think that the proportion of people who it’s better to ostracize or worse is very low. Anyone have an analysis of what it costs to count social relationships as not very valuable?

    • Nornagest says:

      Any estimates on how many transsexuals there are? My impressions are that the numbers aren’t tracked, and I know enough transsexuals that it seems unlikely there are only 20K of them in the US.

      It doesn’t seem very well established. Wikipedia gives prevalence numbers of between 1:30000 and 1:500 depending mostly on what you’re extrapolating from; the lower bound is harder, but there’s reason to think it’s undercounting. MtF seems more common than FtM by a factor of two or three.

      I haven’t seen any actual numbers, but I get that impression that if you’re urban, technically inclined, spending a lot of time on the Internet, or involved in fan, kink, or feminist communities, you’re probably getting a highly filtered sample.

  32. Illuminati Initiate says:

    I find it hilarious that Spandrell thinks having a thing for “obese” women is a “weird” fetish. He hasn’t seen anything yet!

    Also from my experience in the weirder parts of the internet I can say that women with paraphilias similar to those in men almost certainly exist. They might not be common but they are there.

    • Matthew says:

      Pretty much everything about Spandrell is ridiculous, but I think you may be misdiagnosing his error in this particular case. “Weirdest” does not necessarily equal “most improbable”. Spandrell might be assuming, a la Heartiste, that a preference for women the thinner the better is natural. If you start from that assumption, a preference for obesity isn’t just different from the norm, it’s diametrically opposed to the norm. That is, in some sense, weirder than a fetish for feet, or a fetish for midgets, or a fetish for latex costumes, because those aren’t the diametrical opposite of some natural preference — most sex occurs between people who are naked, but normal people don’t consider sex in the nude somehow “better” than sex in a sexy dress and nylon stockings, for example; people don’t idealize sex with giants; feet aren’t inherently disgusting.

      Which is not to say that there aren’t weirder fetishes. Coprophilia and necrophilia are pretty damn weird — but again, that’s because disgust at feces is almost universal and dead bodies are usually considered creepy, so those actually do run diametrically opposed to the normal preference.

      (Unlike Heartiste and possibly Spandrell, I don’t assume my preferences are human universals. But I do strongly prefer thinness in women, and a fetish for obese women is way weirder to me than a foot fetish, midget fetish, or latex fetish, in that those don’t run directly counter to my own preferences.)

  33. Anonymous says:

    There’s another factor – trans-identified people are necessarily the sorts of people who care enough about how they are socially perceived to actually bother altering their pronouns and identities rather than just shrugging and going with the flow. Caring what other people think about you and your gender is a self-directed, self-conscious impulse, which might be associated with auto-philia. The two impulses share a self-based focus.

    People who physically transition are *additionally* the sorts of people who body-modify. I wouldn’t be surprised if all forms of body-awareness (all body modification, hormones, piercings, etc, including carefully chosen clothing, make-up, and really any major effort for the purpose of physical appearance) were associated with higher rates of auto-phillia.

    Cis-by-default women include both brains who are strongly gendered and would be unhappy in male bodies, and brains who sort of just shrug and say “okay, got a vulva, I guess I’m a girl then” and move on. People who put effort to project gender are going to be psychologically different from people who don’t.

    (The picture is additionally complicated by the fact that as far as I can tell, auto-philia is cross culturally a feminine trait. I suspect this is actually why MtF is more common than FtM… masculine-brained women don’t care if they look girly, because masculine brains don’t care about their own body’s appearance as much.)

  34. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2014/09/17 | Free Northerner

  35. Konkvistador says:

    Gregory Cochran’s Gay Germ theory of male homosexuality by far makes the most sense of available explanations. Female homosexuality is obviously a different kind of phenomena than male homosexuality.

    • wait, what? says:

      “Female homosexuality is obviously a different kind of phenomena than male homosexuality”? I thought it obviously wasn’t.

      • Matthew says:

        I think he means that they are believed to have distinct causes, rather than a particular gene or particular chemical exposure in utero being responsible for both gayness and lesbianism.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        What details lead you to think that they were obviously the same? Or did you not think about it at all, and just assume it by default? (No shame in that!) There is a lot of activism where gays and lesbians claim to speak for each other, but they say contradictory things without acknowledging the contradictions.

        The simplest difference, the one that woke me from my dogmatic slumber, is that self-reported bisexual men are rarer than gay man, while self-reported bisexual women are more common than lesbians. That suggests that the first is binary, while the second is a continuum.

        Many more gay men report that their sexual identity was established early in life (or at least non-sexual interests that are associated homosexuality).

        • wait, what? says:

          Well, first of all I’m not the one making a claim, Konkvistador is.

          I only brought up that I think gay and lesbians are the same kind of phenomenon, in order to show Konkvistador that no, it is not obvious that they are not the same, so he needs to give arguments that they are not the same.
          So we should rather ask Konkvistador, “What exactly makes you think that gays and lesbians are so obviously different types of phenomena?”

          Anyhow, if you want to know what makes me think that male and female homosexuality are related, google Steve Sailer’s “Why lesbians aren’t gay”. There is an uncanny simmetry between lesbians and gay in their most typical features. They’re pretty much mirror images.

          The simmetry can be described as follows: for every behavior in which there is a gender difference, if homosexual men (women) differ from straight men (women) in that behavior, then homosexual women (men) differ from straight women (men) in the opposite direction.

          The simmetry makes me think that gayhood and lesbianism are analogous phenomena.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I think that’s a great article, but I think Sailer tried too hard to form symmetries, and I think you are going even further. Some of the axes do distinguish gays and lesbians, but don’t seem to me to exaggerate. Yes, lesbians are more political than gays, but that neither exaggerates nor opposes straight stereotypes. And some of the rows don’t seem like axes at all. Does it make sense to contrast visual with verbal, music with lyrics?

        • wait, what? says:

          Regarding bisexuality.

          Female sexuality, in general, is different than male sexuality. One of the differences is that men are exclusive in their sexual tastes – they go for either only males or only females – whereas women, while having preferences, are sexually flexible. However, keep in mind that ALL women are sexually flexible – that is, almost all women are capable of being attracted to both sexes – I remember there was an experiment that proved this. So the bisexuality thing is not a difference bewteen gays and lesbians, it’s a difference between men in general and women in general, and tells us nothing about the nature or causes of lesbianism and gayhood (both defined as a preference for same sex partners).

          If there is a virus that inverts the sexuality of certain areas of the brain, including the area that determines whether you prefer men or women for partners, but not the area that determines whether you are flexible, then the outcome would be exactly what we see in gays as well as lesbians. I’m not saying that this is the cause of gayhood and lesbianism, only that they are still similar phenomena that are likely to have similar causes.

          As for the fact that many more gay men report that their sexual identity was established early in life: in general society is much more tolerant of females behaving like males than males behaving like females. If a little girl is a tomboy and plays with male toys she doesn’t stand out. She is not told she is different. If a little boy plays with dolls, he stands out in a big way, and will be mocked and called a sissy. I think this is the reason many more gays than lesbians report standing out as little kids.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Tomboys are not treated that badly, but they are noted. You can survey lesbians or their parents and ask if they were tomboys. I think some studies say not more than straight women. Maybe there’s a more effective question that no one has thought of, like did they like golf, rather than did they like softball.

            Yes, it is possible that the same fairly sharp binary switch is flipped in both sexes, and it shines through in men, but is blurred by other processes in women. Whether you call that “same” or “different” depends on whether you care about the cause or the phenomenon. And until we identify the cause, we have no choice but to talk about the phenomenon.

          • wait, what says:

            It is the cause Konkvistador was talking about to begin with.

  36. MugaSofer says:

    Meta/offtopic: is anyone else having trouble with the new-comment app thingy? Whenever I try to modify the date, even by one minute, it says “given date not valid.”

  37. A. says:

    Finally, let us discuss trans women. To be honest, I don’t fully understand what the difference between “trans women are homosexual men” and “trans women are heterosexual women” is. The empirical facts remain the same: many trans women transition as soon as possible, are attracted to men, and behave in ways typically considered feminine. All I can figure is that it is the result of a belief that we should call trans women men in order to be pointlessly upsetting to them.

    For crying out loud, lesbian trans women (and every other combination of orientation and gender you can think of) exist.

    • veronica d says:

      Right. We have the difference between a person who takes estrogen, develops breasts, perhaps has her genitals surgically altered, and wishes to be regarded as a woman, versus a person who romantically and sexually desires men. How one can confuse those two things seems perplexing.

  38. Anonymous says:

    >Cis women are just as likely as trans women to have a particular subtype of autogynephilia, but less likely to have autogynephilia itself?

    Non-smokers are just as likely as smokers to have skin cancer*, but less likely to have cancer itself?

    (*if not, pretend)

  39. Ialdabaoth says:

    Forking:

    Which does not mean we should be uncharitable to him. Nor should we deny his lived experience. But your model of “creep-dar” is too simplistic. It treats his lived experience is authoritative while ignoring the lived experience of women.

    I’m going to propose an alternate model.

    The default system treats the lived experiences of women as authoritative, and trivializes / dismisses / even demonizes my lived experience altogether.

    I posted an entire facebook discussion that, from my end, was doing exactly that.

    I can’t even talk about how to not be a creeper without being called a creeper, and then dismissed.

    And note that I come into the discussion actively wanting to stop a behavior that makes others uncomfortable. It is ASSUMED that I want to do so because I want women. It is ASSUMED that all I give a shit about is myself. When, in fact, my primary motivation is to stop making other people uncomfortable. This is dismissed. The very idea that I might care about others is repeatedly denied and trampled on. I am told, repeatedly, that I have no empathy, and I deserve how I am being treated.

    I am told repeatedly that I have no empathy.

    Are you SURE your dials are set in the right place, here?

    • Zorgon says:

      It could be as simple as being pattern-matched to someone who is only interested in their own benefit. But I personally don’t think it’s quite as simple as that. I think this is happening:

      Motte: “Women should be listened to with regards to this issue.”
      Bailey: “Only those opinions that are socially useful to a specific social group of women should be listened to with regards to this issue.”

      The motte is a request for consideration and decency, while the bailey is a status claim. And the thing about people making status claims is that they universally perceive anyone challenging that claim as also making a status claim, even if they explicitly state that they are not doing so.

      • no one special says:

        The motte is a request for consideration and decency, while the bailey is a status claim.

        I think this is very common in motte-bailey problems. Maybe we can get this on a T-shirt.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Well, to be fair, the nobles get to retreat to the bailey, while the peasants get to burn with their fields. When both sides have a motte and a bailey, it means that nobles on both sides get to feel perfectly safe and secure while watching their knights slaughter each other’s peasants.

    • veronica d says:

      Have you read the Captain Awkward post? In that post, those women experience precisely the opposite of what you describe, which is that their complaints go ignored in their social circles.

      At least, their complaints are dismissed by the men.

      I believe the perceptions of these women are valid. I believe yours should be treated as valid also.

      I don’t know what to do about this, but ‘creepy’ is a tool that I’m not giving up.

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        And I don’t want you to give it up, I just want your friends to please stop stabbing me with it, because I’m not doing any of the things they’re accusing me of doing.

        • veronica d says:

          Fair point.

          Thing is, there is a lot of anger, suspicion, and resentment in my social circles. In fact, women are furious, and the Anita/Zoe stuff is driving everyone batshit. The gender wars have reached scorched earth. I don’t know how to fix it.

          • Zorgon says:

            You have my sympathies. I spent the first week or so of the Gamergate furore stripping anyone who even referenced it from being visible in my social media. It’s working, just about.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Attack the powerful, high status people that you are actually at war with. Encourage your friends to attack the powerful, high status people that you are actually at war with.

            Encourage them to recognize people like me as allies – or at the very least, as people who would MUCH RATHER you win, than see the powerful, high-status people that you are actually at war with continue to win.

            But tell your artillery to check their aim, because this friendly fire is fucking bullshit.

          • veronica d says:

            @Ialdabaoth — Thing is, the guys going after Anita Sarkeesian, and the dudes saying crappy things to women at conventions, and so on, are very often (what you call) low status men. At least I suspect this is the case, that resentment and rage are motivating them. It seems like a common enough human trait to lash out this way.

            As an aside, I also notice your circle is heavily invested in status models to explain your experience. This is fine, up to a point. I believe status is real and has a real effect. But I also think this model has become somewhat totalizing in these conversations. And totalizing models have a way masking important details.

            (For an example on my side of the fence, see “patriarchy.”)

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            Thing is, the guys going after Anita Sarkeesian, and the dudes saying crappy things to women at conventions, and so on, are very often (what you call) low status men. At least I suspect this is the case, that resentment and rage are motivating them. It seems like a common enough human trait to lash out this way.

            I wouldn’t necessarily call all of them low-status. In fact, I’d argue that many of the people who instigated that whole mess are pretty well-connected and supported.

            Part of the problem is that a lot of very low-status men are glomping onto it, because they see it as their only viable shot at gaining status – and the higher-status members are letting them, because they are VERY USEFUL as ablative armor.

            They are both right, and that is absolutely tragic.

            Look at it this way: the people that you are actually given an opportunity to fight back at are far more often going to be people groomed to be your oppressors’ human shields, than your oppressors themselves. And this is not a consciously deliberate thing; this is simply part of how the Homo sapiens sapiens brand of primate coalition politics works. You have to be extra careful AND extra lucky not to fall into it.

      • Zorgon says:

        I would have a great deal of time for this argument if I had ever, even once, actually seen the word “creep” used in person regarding a person like those in the Captain Awkward article, rather than a low-status person with poor social skills who creates few or none of the problems described or, even worse, an insufficiently attractive prospective sexual partner.

        I’m serious about this. I’ve heard the word used in anecdotal form to describe people like that they’ve previously met, when the person was no longer around to tell their side of the story. (Was the community in question highly sexualised? I’ve had friendship groups that were routinely highly intimate with each other, with regular breaches of personal space all the time in all directions. Taken out of context, every single person in those groups could be constructed into a “creep” anecdote.) I’ve heard it used for people like those in the article in articles about generic concepts of “creeps”. And I’ve seen it used to describe low-status people with poor social skills who sometimes have done literally nothing to earn it but sit silently in a room. But never once in an actual situation of social “creepiness” of the kind described in the article.

        It’s not quite a superweapon, because if you’ve got enough status, you can laugh it off. But it’s close.

        • veronica d says:

          It’s strange. I see this stuff all the time. I wonder how that could be.

          • Ialdabaoth says:

            First, you both have different sets of assumption going in, which causes you to construct very different narratives.

            Second, you’re likely coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

            Third, you’re both likely conflating multiple individual stories into archetypical narratives, where “more than 50% are X” becomes “most are X” becomes “all are X”.

            All of these can combine together to give you both VERY different readings on situations that have a 90% Venn overlap.

          • veronica d says:

            Ialdabaoth,

            I think you are exactly right.

          • Matthew says:

            In addition to what Ialdabaoth said, I imagine this could be a case like catcalling.

            I suspect most men who would not catcall a woman have also never seen catcalling. (I have never seen catcalling.)

            This is presumably because men who think catcalling is acceptable behavior won’t do in the presence of a man that might not think catcalling is acceptable behavior. (It’s a essentially a bullying behavior, and bullies don’t pick fights with people who might fight back effectively.)

            Similarly, although I have no trouble believing those Captain Awkward letters, I’ve also never seen anything like it personally, and I almost certainly won’t, because unlike the asshole boyfriend in the second letter (who is the amazing part of that story, not the creep), people will correctly model me as not putting up with that crap.

          • social justice warlock says:

            Anecdotal evidence for Matthew’s point: I have barely ever actually observed catcalling either (though I am an unusually oblivious person) but my girlfriend’s said she likes when I walk with her because it means she doesn’t get catcalled.

          • Zorgon says:

            It’s true we’re likely coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds and that we have different sets of assumptions.

            The third one, though? Nope. I’m not providing a “more than 50% are X, therefore construction X” case. I’m providing a “zero percent of my experiences match construction Y” case. That’s a very different claim, because it falsifies the general case construction Y.

            I have not actually presented a clear construction X, mainly because it’d be off-topic for this particular discussion thread. I’m presenting “Y is either not universal or very easily falsified.”

            WRT catcalling – have seen it repeatedly, and called it out. I understand the construct and the claim being made. Likewise, the behavioural structure described in that CaptainAwkward post has happened around me numerous times. My claim is not that these things don’t happen, and I’m not unable to see them happening.

            My claim is that the word “creepy” has never once been used in my presence for that purpose, which I will term “creepy-as-shield”. Ever. Creepy has never been a specific, always a general, and always a non-distinct general at that; a weaponised usage which I call “creepy-as-sword”.

            But here’s the thing. I don’t think my sole experience of creepy-as-sword invalidates the existence of creepy-as-shield as described by others. I’m sure there are probably other social contexts where creepy-as-shield is the common usage. I’m not trying to claim it doesn’t exist, I’m trying to demonstrate that creepy-as-shield does not invalidate the existence of creepy-as-sword.

            And I’d also quite like it if people would put their swords down around vulnerable men. But that’s outside the scope of one SSC comment thread.

          • Matthew says:

            I will add a specific case:

            On OkCupid, I often see in the “message me if” section, some variant of “You’re not a creeper.”

            I have high confidence that in this context, the word is being used in the way Zorgon and Ialdabaoth think it’s being used. Men with a don’t-respect-boundaries problem aren’t going to give a crap about this request. To, me it comes across loud and clear as “Socially awkward men need not apply.”

            (I’d ask for clarification from these women and suggest that they instead actually say “You respect boundaries” if that’s what they mean, but OKCupid is a dating site, not a blog, so challenging them would arguably be not-boundary-respecting and creepy itself, and thus counterproductive.)

          • veronica d says:

            @Mathew — Your logic is correct, but on the other hand, I don’t expect dating profiles to be well thought out.

            By which I mean, I certainly wouldn’t put “no creeps” in a dating profile, for exactly the reason you mention. The men I would want to keep away would ignore it and some men who I would like to hear from would be dissuaded. On the other hand, I cannot promise that my profile would not contain material that seems illogical to others and serves me poorly. Dating profiles are hard.

            (Myself, I would love to filter out “men with hints of Redpill thinking” and “men who are unchecked puzzlebox thinkers”. I’m not sure quite how to do that. “No creeps” would be a pretty blunt tool.)

            (On the other hand, I have no problem with men who are puzzlebox thinkers, know this about themselves, realize it’s a bit off-putting, and are open to talking about it. Guys like that sound awesome.)

          • veronica d says:

            @Mathew — Oh, and let me add, you are probably right about the profiles in question. My gut says that these women mean to say, “No strange geeky dudes that my horrible Mean Girl friends would mock me for dating.”

            Which, gross.

          • Nornagest says:

            What’s a puzzlebox thinker?

          • Horrible Anon says:

            @Nornagest, a puzzlebox thinker is a man who thinks of women as puzzle boxes in the sense of the “I am not a Puzzle Box” link that veronica d gave.

          • Matthew says:

            Huh. That actually explains a lot of the inferential gap fails in the “nice guys” post. It’s quite irritating when women wrongly assume that you’re a puzzlebox thinker just because you openly express loneliness.

          • veronica d says:

            @Matthew — Which is totally a fair point. There needs to be a way for men to express these things without being demonized.

            Perhaps this observation will help, which comes from a feminist’s perspective. In most of these conversations that I’ve observed online — for example, most “how not to be creepy” posts — there is at least one man who comes into the comments and posts something like this:

            But waaaaah! Social skills! My boner! Forever alone!

            I know! I know! Look, this is how this sounds to women. To us it reads like, “But I’m sad so I get to be creepy.”

            Before you hit reply! I’m not accusing anyone here of doing this. So far this conversation has been mostly non-poisonous. I hope that continues.

            But, really, THAT GUY exists. He really does seem to think that way. And it is tempting perhaps to write him off as merely lonely. But I think that misses half the equation: he is lonely, plus THE REDPILL.

            These men exist. And it only takes one to derail a conversation.

            Thus the same argument ensues each time. Round and round.

            Thus anti-creeper types become primed for this argument, and even a hint of “oh noes my boner forever alone!” will bring out the same response.

            Even if the guy did not actually say that. This is pattern recognition from people trained to have the same argument again and again. (Look at Ialdabaoth’s conversation with other-Veronica.)

            I’ll say this: I am squarely on the side of the women. I think there really are creeps. They are hostile, bitter, and very manipulative. Thus changes need to happen to make geek-spaces (and elsewhere) safe and comfortable for women. But the conversation has become toxic.

            I don’t know what to do about this.

          • Matthew says:

            I’m not sure it’s exactly responsive to this specific subthread, but I have a metaphor I’d like to try out to illustrate something:

            Bob smokes three packs a day for years. Eventually, he develops sufficient lung damage that a lung transplant is the only way he will live beyond the year.

            Alice and Bob are talking. Alice asks how Bob is doing, and Bob says, “I need a new lung.” Alice says, “I’m not sure you deserve a new lung. You’ve been heavily smoking for years. Probably there are other people deserve that lung transplant more.”

            The thing is, they can both be right. Bob is correct when he says, “I need a new lung.” Alice is correct (for some moral systems, anyway) when she says, “You don’t deserve a new lung.” The problem arises when Alice (and Cathy, and Dianna, and Evelyn, and Frank the Ally) assume that “I need a new lung” is connotationally equivalent to “I deserve a new lung.” Bob might mean it that way. But he might not!

            (Where this metaphor breaks down, though, is that Henry from the other post IS like Bob, except that a bunch of women are lining up to give him lungs. Whereas Ben, who was born with a congenital pulmonary flaw, gets chased with pitchforks and torches whenever he mentions he needs a lung.)

            [I suggest that responses to this be forked elsewhere, to restore column length.]

          • Lizardbreath says:

            Matthew wrote:

            I suspect most men who would not catcall a woman have also never seen catcalling. (I have never seen catcalling.)

            This is presumably because men who think catcalling is acceptable behavior won’t do in the presence of a man that might not think catcalling is acceptable behavior.

            :nod: Gloria Steinem said the same thing in one of the articles later collected into Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983). She was talking to both men (“You’ve never seen it, but it happens”) and women (“He’s never seen it because he’s decent; don’t assume he’s a liar”). (Though the latter was far, far less necessary back then.)

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      That conversation is appalling.

      Dehumanization can be a subtle thing, and it’s a normal human failure mode, not an evil mutation.

      But still, to see a person treated like an intro textbook problem… appalling.

  40. Cis guy with autogynephilia says:

    Essentially, autogynephilia is ordinary female sexuality. Women are often erotically aroused by dressing in lingerie and wearing makeup; women are erotically aroused by looking at themselves naked; women have sexual fantasies in which they have vulvas; for that matter, women are erotically aroused by imagining themselves as sexier than they are.

    I’m going to offer a description of autogynephilia that might resolve the questions you are asking. I think going by Blanchard’s scale will cause confusion, because it only measures correlates of autogynephilia. As a cis guy with autogynephilia, I’m pretty sure that autogynephilia isn’t typical female psychology at all.

    I think of autogynephilia as a combination of autoeroticism (attraction/love for oneself) and gynephilia (attraction/love for women). To be an autogynephile, you must be into women and you must be either attracted to yourself, or have the desire to be attractive to yourself.

    Straight women can feel arousal from being naked or getting dressed up. But there are lots of reasons for getting turned on. Perhaps they are getting turned on because their clothes are sexualized. Perhaps they are imagining how a lover or partner might desire them (internalized “male gaze”?). Perhaps seeing their naked bodies make them think of sex. But getting aroused by looking at yourself is different from being attracted to yourself. Straight women simply cannot get the same rise out of their bodies as gynephiles can.

    Bisexual or pansexual women can be autogynephiles, of course, because they are gynephiles. But keep in mind that autoeroticism is probably pretty rare, so most queer women are probably not autogynephiles either.

    Most people are just not attracted to themselves. Blanchard and Lawrence are quite clear that attraction or love for oneself as a woman is part of autogynephilia (see their theory of “erotic target location errors”). I have mixed feelings about that term, but it makes the correct distinction between people like me who are attracted to to themselves, and the vast majority of people who are not into themselves).

    Autogynephilia is a thing, and it’s an unusual thing that’s different from heterosexual female psychology. What does this mean about trans women? I don’t know.

    • veronica d says:

      Do you mind if I ask a couple questions? They’re a bit personal, but I am very curious.

      1. Do you actually have a professional diagnosis of this?

      2. How old are you?

    • a mildly gender disphoric male-born guy says:

      You see, I’m speaking as a guy with mild gender disphoria who will most likely never get around to transitioning (mostly because I don’t expect it to fool anyone). I have the kind of disphoria that is described by some people as autogynephilia. I check most of the boxes – no sign of femininity until puberty, an urge to adopt a more feminine identity only after puberty, nerdy person in the STEM fields, sexually attracted by women, when I masturbate I imagine being a woman, and I wish I were one 24/7.

      Your description of autogynephilia, however, is unrecognizable to me. Your perspective is interesting, but your personal experience might not be entirely typical of gynephiliac transexuals.

      I’m not even completely sure what you mean by “attracted by” being different from “turned on by”. The two phrases seem functionally identical. However, reading your post, it seem that what you mean by “attracted to” is a desire to actively screw? Even though to screw oneself doesn’t make any practical sense. No, I don’t get it.

      My experience as what they call an autogynephiliac is that to imagine myself in the body of a beautiful woman turns me on, which I think is exactly the same thing that happens to many a straight woman when she imagines herself as beautiful and sexy (whether she realizes or not, because women aren’t as conscious as men of their own sexual excitement and tend to pretend it isn’t there), and it turns me on even more to imagine another person especially another woman desire me in such a body, and this is exactly what you described as “internalized male gaze”, or in this case internalized lesbian gaze. And to exchange mutual desire with another woman and to get sexually intimate with her, while being a woman myself.

      I certainly do not wish to screw myself.

      I don’t think that people like me can be properly described as women in men’s body, but the sexuality of many of us does follow some of the rules of female sexuality, almost as if there is a selective feminization of only certain brain functions.

      • veronica d says:

        Do you mind if I ask your age? Have you talked to a therapist? Have you tried hormones?

        The thing is, if you guys are in your 20’s — well, this is not going to get easier.

        Well, it might or might not. It’s complicated. But I know this: gender therapists get tons of dudes in their 40’s and 50’s who buried this stuff their whole life until it was literally killing them. And then they transition late, but wish they’d done it in their 20’s, cuz all kinds of reasons.

        (On the other hand, if there were a population of “kinda trans” people who did not get worse, the gender therapists would not hear from them and thus not know about them. So maybe. Place your bet. It’s only on your life.)

        But anyway, look, trans stuff is brain stuff and autogynephilia is nonsense. Outside of Blanchard’s crank brigade, professionals in the field don’t use it. It doesn’t give any real insight into being trans.

        • Anonymous says:

          Veronica d, I’m interested in answering your questions and hopefully having a conversation with you about these matters, but I’m a bit shy talking about such personal topics in this site. Is there a different venue where you and I can possibly talk?

        • Cis guy with autogynephilia says:

          It’s possible to believe that autogynephilia is a thing, and that it might motivate some trans women (because they say it does) to transition. This doesn’t mean we have to agree with Blanchard/Bailey/Lawrence about everything. We don’t have to agree with the more controversial parts of their theory like “all trans people are either ‘homosexual’ or autogynephiles”, or put labels on people who don’t identify with them, or misgender trans people.

          Blanchard et al. aren’t cranks; they’ve come up with some pretty novel observations, and they get plenty of scientific respect among researchers. Most of the opposition to them seems to be political, and it’s partly their own fault due to the language they use and their attempts to explain everything with their theory.

          • veronica d says:

            It is true that some AMAB people have strong, recurrent sexual fantasies about being a women. That is the fact in need of explanation.

            Autogynephilia is an etiological theory. It posits why this happens, and like many psychoanalytical theories, it insists on viewing libidinous desire as singularly causal, which is to say, they see this a primarily as a failure to sexualize normally. But why assume sexual development happens just this way? Why assume the causality works in this direction? Why assume “erotic target location errors” are actually a thing in the brain?

            What we have here is, in my view, a theory which tells us more about the sexual preoccupations of a few cisgendered, heteronormative doctors than about transgender people.

            There is an alternate theory of all of this, which explains the data and has proven more useful in gender therapy. It goes something like this:

            1. Some people are born with a mismatch between their gender identity and their physical sex. This mismatch exists to various degrees and with different qualities. (Brains are weird.)

            2. For some men with this condition, their cross-gender identity is suppressed, largely due to social factors such as enforced masculinity.

            3. The tools of enforced masculinity are violence, fear, and shame.

            4. Thus these men live in denial and heavily rationalize away their gender issues.

            5. However, because of testosterone, these men experience strong libidos.

            6. This creates a crisis. To paraphrase Maria Griffiths, you can lie to yourself a lot, except for when you are getting off. Sex is difficult and awkward for these men, and they show a strong preference for masturbation, where they can dissociate from their bodies and imagine they are women.

            7. For these men, the cross gender identity does not go way. In fact, it gets worse, and keeps getting worse.

            You might call this latter thing “autogynephilia,” but that would be like calling oxygen “phlogiston.”

      • Cis guy with autogynephilia says:

        Thanks for describing your experience.

        I don’t believe that autogynephilic people are necessarily attracted to themselves, though I think. I tried to give my description of autoeroticism some room by saying that either you must be attracted to yourself, or “have the desire to be attracted to yourself.”

        I can’t explain attraction in blog comment, but I will say that it doesn’t depend on an actual motivation to have sex with the object of attraction, and it isn’t the same thing as “being turned on by.”

        I realize that you don’t want to screw yourself, but it does sound like you would want to have the type of female body that you consider beautiful. If you actually had the sort of female body you want, would you be attracted to your features? If the answer is “yes,” then that sounds like autoeroticism to me (or at least, the desire to have a type of body that might make you feel autoeroticism if you had that body).

        The theory is that autogynephiles want their bodies to be become more like the type of person they are attracted to. Most people are not like that! Heterosexual women are not like that. Even if a heterosexual women fantasizes about having a beautiful female body, she is incapable of being attracted to the type of body she fantasizes about, which is different from when gynephiles (auto- or otherwise) fantasize about female bodies.

        If there were a lot of people with autogynephilic feelings who fantasize about looking like women they do not desire, then my description of “autogynephilia as autoeroticism” would be lacking.

        • a mildly gender disphoric male-born guy says:

          If you have the kind of body you consider attractive doesn’t mean you feel attracted towards yourself. My sister has the body I would consider attractive but I do not lust after her.

  41. Unsolicited Advice says:

    Just because the genetic evidence for homosexuality is shaky, it doesn’t mean that homosexuality isn’t biological or inborn! “Biological” isn’t just about genetics. It also includes prenatal hormonal development. There is a mountain of evidence that there are large prenatal hormonal factors in homosexuality, but for some strange reason this evidence is not widely known. Note that prenatal environment is part of the unshared environment.

    It’s time for people debating homosexuality to recognize that it is largely biological and prenatal, perhaps with a genetic predisposition. That’s how it can be biological, immutable (in the vast majority of cases), and still survive selection pressures. This hypothesis explains nearly everything and it has a lot of empirical support.

    • Anonymous says:

      prenatal hormones don’t explain the small twin concordance, particularly the minuscule fraternal concordance. the only evidence at your link is birth order in males and digit ratio in females, and the effects are weak.

      • Unsolicited Advice says:

        The Wikipedia article was only intended to show that a prenatal hypothesis for homosexuality is popular. It was not intended to summarize all the research on the subject. For those who are interested, see this popular article and this journal review for a start.

        So here are the physical or prenatal factors that relate to homosexuality:
        – Birth order
        – Digit ratio
        – Handedness
        – Oto-acoustic emissions (inner ear physiology)
        – CAH women
        Left-handedness
        – Maternal stress (weaker evidence)
        – DES exposure (weaker evidence)

        While some of these studies are stronger than others, this is an impressive collection of evidence.

    • ckp says:

      That isn’t a solution, it just passes the buck one step further. Why does such a massive and common problem with prenatal development persist? Why hasn’t natural selection solved it?

      • Unsolicited Advice says:

        That isn’t a solution, it just passes the buck one step further. Why does such a massive and common problem with prenatal development persist? Why hasn’t natural selection solved it?

        Why hasn’t natural selection solved all developmentally-related conditions, like autism? I don’t know, but maybe prenatal development is hard to optimize. Maybe homosexuality is only an issue in the presence of certain genes. Prenatal development adds another layer of developmental noise.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Biological” doesn’t mean anything. Everything that is about people is biological.

      That homosexuality is immutable is not news – most people here (including the debating couple Ozy and Spandrell) already agree that it is.

      Like you said, for twins prenatal environment is part of the unshared environment, and to state that homosexuality stems from prenatal environment only reinforces the point already made that homosexuality is due to environment and not genetic.

  42. I apologize says:

    However, I have been constantly distressed by my breasts since puberty; when I thought I was cis, I would have constant fantasies of cutting them off with a knife; when I stop binding regularly, I notice a deep loss of psychological stability.

    Just had to get that off your chest, eh?