While we’re on the subject

of old tests, I had to write an essay once about why science and culture acknowledging the fact of sexual diversity does not translate into acceptance of sexual diversity. Here it is (after the jump):

Diversity means breaking away the dichotomized construction of homosexuality versus heterosexuality, and the value society places on each side. Once this is broken down, what do we do with it?

If science acknowledges that this binary is not a natural phenomenon inherent in humans, then society/culture (being as scientifically and technologically oriented as it currently is), will probably follow shortly (or longly) thereafter. So culture would acknowledge that sexual diversity is a fact.

Unfortunately, the binary system of good sexual citizen versus bad sexual citizen exists because culture/society made an ethical decision about what sexual behaviors/practices, and what views about sex, were appropriate. Because the acknowledgment of sexual diversity as a fact would also occur withina culture whose values are tied up in all aspects of the society, it would still feel a need to make decisions about what practices and philosophies of sexuality are ethical. This would require that age-of-consent laws be problematized (as they already should be, in my opinion), revisited, and reconstructed to reflect the new sexual ethics that would be created. Even if sexual diversity is accepted for consenting adults, the terms and conditions that need to be met in order for someone to be competent to give consent still need to be solidified in a way that recognizes and operates within the new code of sexual ethics.

As it now stands, our sexual morals as a culture are pretty black-and-white (to use a horribly racist phrase). A new sexual ethic that respects sexual autonomy of individuals and sexual diversity within our culture would need to be less clearly defined in order to recognize and truly accept diversity. This frightens a lot of folks who can’t envision a society without clear boundaries, and it frightens the society as a whole, because (legally speaking) we really don’t know how to define and write legislation that recognizes diversity without backpedalling into the world of good versus evil, and dichotomizing sexuality – simply because it hasn’t been done before, but more truthfully, because it is complex and problematic to attempt arranging and regulating any gray area. This fear also leads to the use of the slippery-slope argument: If we (as a culture) accept homosexuality as normal and “okay”, what do we do with bestiality, S/M, and pedophilia? Here’s where the tricky part comes in: redefining consent. We dont’ know whether or not other animals have the capacity to to consent to sex with a human. Our culture can’t seem to wrap its head around the combination of pain and pleasure, or pain for pleasure’s sake, because society has constructed pain as the opposite of pleasure, and therefore undesirable. pedophilia is quite possibly the hardest for our culture because we place so much value on the “innocence” of our children. Recognizing sexual diversity and acknowledging it doesn’t require nearly as much cultural stretching as does the full acceptance of sexual diversity as a fact, because acknowledgment doesn’t require recognizing that children are sexual beings, while accepting sexual diversity does.

Fear governs our culture, especially fear of the new and unknown. And the fear of a new, unknown, and “flexible” sexual ethic will separate the acknowledgment of sexual diversity from our acceptance of it and its incorporation into our society/culture.

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