No, Half of British Youths Aren’t “Bisexual”
A survey by YouGov in Great Britain recently announced that “1 in 2 young people say they are not 100 percent heterosexual.” This headline betrays an enormous confusion in our culture’s understanding of human nature, and the language we use to refer to ourselves.
The survey makers asked respondents “to plot themselves on a ‘sexuality scale’,” a pseudo-scientific quantification of desire invented by the disturbing and unreliable Alfred Kinsey. The results were that “23 percent of British people choose something other than 100 percent heterosexual — and the figure rises to 49 percent among 18-24 year olds.”
But there is a difference between human sexuality and human desires and behavior. As I hope to demonstrate, confusing one for the other has been, and increasingly will be, a source of much grief in our society.
The nature or essence of a human being is to be sexually reproductive, meaning there are two and only two sexes, male and female. There is not, and there cannot be, a “continuum” of human sexes. Biology does not work this way. The scientific fact of that there are precisely two sexes has many consequences. It follows, for instance, that there can be no such thing as a “sex-change operation.” The sex a person is born with is the sex that person is his or her entire life. This means it is not only a rank abuse of the English language, but also an affront to logic, to speak, as many do, of a person being “assigned” a sex at birth as if the decision were arbitrary.
Now some people are damaged, either at conception or during gestation, resulting in certain chromosomal abnormalities. This is unfortunate. But that, for instance, a “double-Y chromosome” male is born does not mean there is an “additional” sex beyond male. It means only that this ill-fated individual suffers from an abnormality.
The word “abnormality” is apt, though some say it is “hurtful.” (That our culture finds the truth “hurtful,” incidentally, is another symptom of the same illness we are diagnosing here.) If a dog loses its leg in an accident or is born without one, the creature does not cease to be a dog; it is a damaged or abnormal dog. It is still true that the essence or nature of a dog is to have four legs, even though this one does not. Everybody knows this. And the same is true of human sexuality. A chromosomal abnormality, or some other kind of malady that interferes with the reproductive system of an individual, does not obviate human nature. There are still only men and women even though there are instances of people who are abnormal, or ill, or suffering from a physical defect. Everybody used to know this.
Our scientific fact also allows us to deduce that there is no such thing as a “homosexual,” nor a “transsexual” or “bisexual,” nor any of the enormous and increasing names bandied about, as if these are creatures different from human beings, or who are somehow human but possessing different natures (a logically contradictory position). Human biology is strict: there is no such thing as a “heterosexual,” either. There are only males and females or damaged or abnormal versions of the same. There are beginning to be methods that “bypass” these hard truths, through the surgical invention of “three-parent” babies and so on, but these are yet rare and their presence in no way negates the main observation.
The people who call themselves by labels other than male and female are not referring to biological realities. Take “transsexual.” It is impossible for a woman to be “trapped” inside a man’s body. People who make claims like this are mentally ill and are expressing cultural or behavioral terms; they are not describing scientific reality. Some academics dimly recognize this and call the expression of human sexuality “gender” — another abuse of the English language because the extension of the word was not needed. Everybody already knew that human inclinations and behavior are great and varied. And there were already perfectly useful words to describe common behaviors.
Sex in the Proper Sense
In any case, there is only one behavior that is truly sexual in the biological sense, and that is when one man and one woman mate, which is to say, unite their bodies so as to make babies. Everything not related to this intentional reproductive act is not strictly sexual, though some activities like masturbation or sodomy are often called sexual. When this is done as shorthand (among the learned) to keep track of classes of related activities, little harm is done. But there is a danger, which we are now realizing, that non-sexual behaviors called “sexual” will come to be mistaken as sexual. Hence “gender theory.”
Following from, or rather given the blessing of, gender theory, there are some persons who claim to be attracted only to members of their sex. These claims acknowledge, incidentally, that there are only two sexes. The people who make these claims and who act on these desires are engaging in behaviors which are not sexual (the proper sense described above) but which are thought or said to be. Instead, the behaviors are sexually disordered, in the sense that they are acts against human nature.
The word “claim” in the paragraph above was important. We only have people’s self reports about their desires, and these are obviously culturally influenced. For example, the word “homosexual” expressing a kind of person dates only from 1912. New terms for various sexually disordered desires are constantly being invented.
The Feedback Between Personal and Cultural Opinions
There appears to be what scientists call a “feedback” in cultural opinion. As more people express openness to activities which are sexually disordered, this openness encourages others to be open, but it also allows for an increase in the acceptance of the range of acts. The YouGov survey is proof of this, as we’ll see in a moment. Also intriguing are the results discovered by sociologist Mark Regnerus.
Regnerus studied children brought up in households with guardians who expressed desires for disordered relations. As I wrote elsewhere, “only 61 percent of now-grown children of families with a lesbian mother said ‘yes’ to ‘Identifies as entirely heterosexual,’ versus 71 percent of those families with a gay father and with a full 90 percent of those now-grown children from traditional mom-dad families.” Now that gmarriage is with us, and with it adoption into households similar to those Regnerus studied, we can expect to see further increases in its acceptance.
YouGov wrote that people “of all generations now accept the idea that sexual orientation exists along a continuum rather than a binary choice — overall 60 percent of heterosexuals support this idea, and 73 percent of homosexuals. Twenty-eight percent of heterosexuals believe that ‘there is no middle ground — you are either heterosexual or you are not’.”
Even asking a person if he is a “heterosexual” is a mistake and an encouragement of the primary error of conflating human sexuality with human desires and behavior. “Orientation” is a cultural and not a biological word expressing predominant (culturally influenced) desire. But YouGov is right that their survey “indicates an increasingly open minded approach” to behavior. (They say “to sexuality,” which we now see is false.)
YouGov also discovered what was suspected, that a large segment of their sample, 40 percent, said they could “conceivably be attracted to, have sex with or have a relationship with someone of the same sex.” As we’ve seen, it is impossible to “have sex with” a person of the same sex (in the proper sense), but that YouGov and their respondents could not see this is more proof of the degradation of our language and of our culture. Interestingly, some 17 percent of their sample admitted to prior disordered relations with members of the same sex; 20 percent in males, 14 percent in females. (How closely these match the real numbers is anyone’s guess: many people lie about these things.)
That 40 percent of folks who could conceive of a disordered attraction must push north, as it were, if the feedback hypothesis is right. And so also with the 17 percent who admit having had disordered relations. Once these numbers edge toward a majority, acceptance would likely accelerate. Eventually, and probably soon, only a remnant would remain who hold to the truth of human sexuality. And when most members of a society do not understand or even speak clearly about human nature, that society is in serious trouble.