Wow, it feels like I had to leave the party just as I was getting involved, and now I've missed out on all the interesting stuff ;) I'll see if I can catch up...
I think the real problem with the whole 'question/examine your desires' trope is that it's suggested for the wrong reasons, done by the wrong people and done in the wrong ways. I completely agree that our society shapes the sorts of questions we ask and the ways in which we ask them. The whole thing is very reminiscent of all those appalling pop-psychology 'scientific studies' on male/female behaviour which SOMEHOW always seem to produce results that support the gender-biases of the scientists and their culture-at-large.
In an ideal world, we would be able to wonder where aspects of our sexualities might have 'come from' without being expected to reach certain conclusions, or having our personal conclusions disregarded (like when some kinky types say that we regard kinkiness as a natural/inborn aspect of our personality), or feeling uncomfortably aligned with bigots. Take for example the question of whether sexual orientation (speaking purely in terms of which gender/s a person is attracted to) can be discovered to be caused by nature or the family or society as a whole or whatever combination of factors. That could theoretically be a fascinating line of enquiry into the workings of human sexuality which could teach us a huge amount about how our minds and personalities are formed. What it usually is in actuality is various groups of people picking the position that fits best with their own personal prejudices, finding or creating supposedly unbiased research to back up that position, and then trying to yell their position louder than everyone else. And sadly the loudest yellers are often the homophobes.
In a mature and unbigoted society, it wouldn't work that way - we would be able to think and talk about sexualities and potential effects of society/nurture/nature on sexualities without our own stupidity and bigotry getting in the way. If everyone worked a bit harder at disregarding their own stupidities and biases, maybe these discussions would be productive and interesting. Maybe we'd come up with some new and fascinating hypotheses about society and sexuality. Sadly, the whole idea of 'questioning your desires' has been hijacked by bigots and fuckwits like the internet radical feminist gang. Leaving other (hopefully) more open-minded people thinking but hang on... why can't we think about why people are kinky without all this ignorance and these preconceived notions of what kinkiness equals? why can't we think about why people are kinky because we personally find it interesting? why is a random internet person demanding to know why we're kinky and then informing us that whatever we may personally think, it's actually because the patriarchy is being evil in our heads? *flail*
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
On Asking (And Not) Asking Why
This comment from McStar deserved its own post (bolding and some paragraph breaks mine):