Fitting In

This is not quite on the subject of gender roles or motherhood. Or anything that we talked about in class today, for that matter.

While reading A Male Mencius’s Mother…, I found myself very compelled by the author’s arguments against homosexuality. It is rather fortuitous that in a heterosexual relationship that the male should supplement the deficient female so perfectly. And it certainly isn’t the first time that I’ve heard this sort of argument being made to argue for the unnaturalness of homosexuality.

But why is this argument so compelling? I do confess to feeling persuaded, but I’m baffled that I can’t explain why this argument is so strong to me. It’s not logically strong, and nor can I articulate precisely why this serendipitous phenomenon of a “perfect fit” is “good” or connotes “naturalness”. What is it exactly about the existence of an extra appendage in homosexual sex that makes the act seem so wrong?

In other words, why are we as humans psychologically so interested in things fitting perfectly together? Why are we convinced that two things fitting together is “proper”?

This fascination is not limited to sex either. There is a tumblr called Things Fitting Perfectly Into Things, a site comprised of pictures of objects that were not designed to fit into each other, but somehow happen to, perfectly. I, and apparently many other netizens, derive great pleasure from seeing a lightbulb fit into a tennis ball container. It is soothing to see two random objects, unconnected by any obvious link, somehow perfectly join.

Perhaps this fascination derives from our desire for organization? From the chaos of the universe, we seek order at all levels of our lives, and this is just one micro level of a macro desire. The universe, after all, was created from chaos, and a serendipitous collision of molecules and gases that all seemed to coincide at once.

I guess some Freudians would argue that our fascination exactly stems from the sexual act of penetration and things fitting perfectly together. (Implying that homosexuals have greater tolerance for variance of degree of “fitting in”? lol )

I’m not really going anywhere with this, but Emily encouraged me to post this, and it’s something that’s been on my mind for a while. =) I would love to hear your thoughts!

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3 thoughts on “Fitting In

  1. One of the first questions that came to mind when reading this is why any sex act between consenting adults might be considered “unnatural.” I’m not sure that any behavior, especially one that doesn’t harm other people, is reasonably considered “wrong.” Whether a nonviolent act is considered “improper” or not seems to ultimately depend upon group norms, that is, the way that a dominant group defines those who are unlike them as an Other.

    Much of the stigma against homosexuality is linked to its non-procreative nature. For most of human existence, having children was an economic benefit– that various cultural and religious teachings emerged opposing “spilling semen” or, more broadly, orgasm for non-procreative purposes then makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Taboos against oral and anal sex between opposite and same sex partners likely emerged because of pressures to concentrate sexual energies on reproduction. Thus, I think that penile-vaginal intercourse seems most “natural” to most people, in part, because it’s the basic procreative sex act that enables humans’s continued existence.

    You wrote that “it is rather fortuitous that in a heterosexual relationship that the male should supplement the deficient female so perfectly.” I’m very wary of any argument that casts women as “deficient” and in need of men to complete them. However, even if it is remarkable that cisgender male and female genitalia seem to have been made or best suited for each other, why should we define what is proper according to a perceived biological compatibility? I’m very skeptical of arguments that reduce to biology and then constrain people, especially when I consider ways in which women have historically been cast as the “weaker sex” based on arguments that all too often reduce to biological differences between the sexes. Moreover, why should proper sexuality necessarily be linked to an act that enables reproduction when children are no longer necessarily an economic asset?

  2. I don’t know if I have much to add to what Veronica’s already said, but we also have to be careful of fetishizing or allotting too much meaning to biological forms largely produced by evolution. At some point in evolutionary history, creatures using sexual reproductions found it more efficacious to differentiate their sex organs, and this differentiation eventually resulted in the characteristics generally expressed by humans now. But this approach completely ignores the ways in which humans are able to produce meaning and sexuality independent of biological “function”. To reduce things that far would be losing a lot of what makes humans human.

  3. Adding to the thoughts above, I also want to expand the idea of penetrative sex acts (“things fitting into other things”) to include anal and oral sex which are also not inherently heterosexual.

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