SEXUAL ORIENTATION 13
is an overwhelmingly complex topic that needsgreat insights to understand.
LeVay in his book gay straight and reasons why hasdiscussed the most important factors in developmental of sexualorientations as genes, hormones prior to birth and prenatalenvironment. Like Bohan (1996), LeVay describes the timing of sexualorientation as not at birth but during puberty (Savin, 2007) whenhormones are activated and fully at work. Gender and development areother elements that LeVay describes as crucial aspects in sexualorientations. In his book’s subtitles, LeVay explains theprinciples of sexual orientation developments. Each book chapter is acomprehensive piece of work detailing sexual orientations throughother researches and materials that complement the whole book. Thebook uses evolutionary, social, psychosexual and biological theoriesto explain same-sex attraction. It contains new insights and usefulinterpretations of sexual orientations argue CRG (2006). The rich,useful literature on same-sex associations is very imperative at thistime when homosexuality is on the rise (Hubert, 2013). Numerousresearches have been carried out on same-sex associations and therecent discoveries can add great value to this book. It isinteresting to not how LeVay concludes his book through openlyconfessing to being gay. According to Richards (2013), same-sexunions have grown to another level and people in such unions want tobe respected for their choice. The explanations for same sex unionsas choice, birth, genes, and hormones are all explained in this book.
Differences in the developmental of sexual orientation are discussedin the gender and variation chapter that focuses on behavior andpersonality from childhood to adulthood. The prolific writer detailswhat factors seem most important for sexual orientation in roles ofsexual hormones, genes and brain differentiation in humans andanimals argues Byne et al. (2001). This chapter gives a wide view ofsexual orientation as it explores human and animal sexualorientations (Byne et al, 2001). The potential effects of birth orderare discussed in the older brother effect chapter as well as theirimpacts on sexual orientations. Besides his work, LeVay uses otherscholar’s books and materials to complete his book on diversesexual orientations in humans and animals. LeVay did an incrediblejob in updating the neuro-hormonal theory, which was discussed atleast five decades ago (Phoenix et al., 1958). It is an excellentliterature of biology that explains sexual orientations broadly.
Based on his book the reasons why, LeVay argues that thepreference is organized by sex hormones during development. His yesanswer in page 56 is details why he feels that a single generalunified theory of sexual orientation and biological origins affectssexual orientations. Recent research backs up LeVay’s notion of thebrain having significant influence on sexual development driven byhormones and prenatal factors. LeVay argues about the difference insexual orientations in men and women as determined by certainfactors. Factors that emerge from the brain during prenatal sexualdifferentiation lead to sexual orientations. Genes lead to sexualdifferentiation and trait behavior according to LeVay (2010, p.50).These differences are determined by a combination of sex hormonalfactors like the womb environment (stress while pregnant) as well(Whitehead, 2011).
Hormonal and gene influence of sexual orientation continues over alifespan, does not stop at birth and is explained by LeVay asfollows. Hamer (2011) states the role of genes in our lives assignificantly important in the debate of homosexuality. The scienceof desire can explain genetic role through research resulting to samesex unions. LeVay’s basic theory of the genes and brain influencinghormones particularly testosterone is a good update of neuro-hormonaltheory, dating back many years. In his argument, LeVay attempts toexplain that the feminizing genes are at work leading tohomosexuality PHD et al. (2014), while masculinity genes are at workleading to lesbianism. When the inherited genes are limited, malesappear more attractive and less aggressive while inheritance of suchgenes for females makes them less attractive and more aggressive.According to LeVay, homosexual men have INAH3 nucleus size of brainhypothalamus that is more like a woman (Hines, 2011).
Human sexuality is explained by LeVay in two levels those thatdiffer in gender and developmental mechanisms. According to him, achild is born with a brain that is highly gendered though thepreferred gender is invisible (Reinius, 2011). develops fully at puberty when the brain is activated by high levelsof hormones. This hormonal activation can be compared to throwing aswitch. Homosexuality is a process of prenatal disturbance or sexualorientation development. Newborns thus cannot show the status ofgender differentiation as it is latent until puberty when it becomesactivated (Magnus et al. 1985). Reports on gender differences havebeen reported elsewhere in cases where evidence of strongly genderedbrain structure existed from the earliest days. The biology of sexualorientation chapter explains the roles of genes, sex hormones anddifferences of the brain and body in relation to sexual orientation.
Evolutionary psychologists, biologists and socio biologists accountfor the development of varying sexual orientations in different ways. According to Geher (2014), evolutionary psychologists explain sexualorientations from the origin of man. Mental processes have the powerto determine what one becomes. They can influence the decision tobecome gay or stay straight. According to LeVay, evolutionary detailsreveal that gender differences are historic. The idea of newbornfemales as more sensitive to touch than newborn males is ancient(Jacklin et al. 1981). Authors cited that the past five decades havehad studies revealing complete sexual dimorphism leading to twogenders overlapping. Other studies revealed that there was nodifference and touch is rarely used for explaining genderdifferences. The urge to explain sexual orientations thus has a richhistory leading to degrees of deception.
Biologists have attempted to explain sexual orientations in terms ofsexual hormones and brain differences of males and females coming upwith the following discoveries (Caroll, 2010). According to Parker(2014), sexual development is greatly influenced by prenatal factorsand is driven by hormones. The genes also account for a largepercentage of sexual development and orientations. Recent researchreveals that genome studies of similar animal tissues have been usedto investigate sexual orientations. Sociological theories to explainsexual orientations are termed as inadequate with preference tobiological theories by LeVay. In his chapter on possible social andpsychological theories, LeVay mentions the influences of Freudthrough psychoanalytical theories where he explains the first act ofsex as very crucial to gender learning (Meyer, 2005).
Freud’s psychosexual theory can be used to explain homosexualityand sexual orientation as a fixation occurring during the phallicstage (Moxon, 2001). According to LeVay, Freud’s theory explainsthe oedipal conflict in which children become fearful of competingwith their father or mother for affection. To deal with inner psychicthe male child for example, associates more with the mother. Theattraction of a male child to his mother has significance on therelationships they form later argues Kline (2013). Studies revealedthat most homosexual men had close mother to son relationships anddistant or hostile father- son relationships. However, this theorybased on sexual preferences has not yet been proven and many peopleare skeptical of the argument. LeVay himself cites Richard’s worksuggesting that gay men are different from straight men because ofparental behavior influences. Freudian theories reverse the cause ofsuch behavior. Freud’s behaviorist theory can be used to explainsexual orientation as learned or acquired. The idea that behavioristpsychosexual theory argues sexual orientation based on a person’sfirst sexual encounter having influence on them and their sexualorientation is useful in explaining psychosocial theories (LeVay,2010). According to LeVay, it contradicts cross-cultural evidence anddoes not always influence sexual orientation.
LeVay quotes Socarides and Nicolosi who have superficial views onsexual orientation. In his recent work Nicoloso the effects of socialfactors on gender development are limited. Though he admits aboutsocial factors having an impact on sexual orientation, LeVaydisagrees with the idea of a father being important in thedevelopment of homosexual men. He feels that prenatal factors aremore valid than other factors. According to Wilson and Widon (2010),factors like sexual abuse influence sexual orientation.
In my view, other factors like sexual abuse can have an impact onsexual orientations due to certain reasons. A child who was abusedfor example, may be afraid to have sex relationships with a personfrom the opposite sex following their traumatic experience (Areola etal. 2009). They may opt for same sex relationships, which seem safer.Some researchers have shown that other factors apart from prenatalfactors also influence sexual orientations. According to Satinover(1996), the X and Ychromosome have a role in determining sexualorientations. LeVay quotes Reimer who was born with XY chromosomesbut brought up as a girl after a medical error led him to lose hispenis at a young age. The child settled for a male identity despitethe upbringing he received showing that sexual orientations are notlearned. Page 40 of LeVay’s book explains nature triumph overnurture. To strengthen his learning notion, LeVay argues thatchildren brought up by homosexual parents are not different fromthose reared by straight parents in sexual orientations. According toSussman (2012), critics of this argument feel that they differ andtheir being brought up have an effect on their sexual orientations.Eventually, parental influence and prenatal influences are notoverwhelming.
on higher primates is triggered and controlled byhypothalamus argues Balthazart (2012). Biological and evolutionarytheories have been used to explain sexual orientation behavior inanimals especially high primates as non reproductive and inclined todominance (Sommer & Vassey, 2006). LeVay argues that the male andfemale domesticated animals like bonobos engage in homosexuality andheterosexual acts. In his chapter on innately gendered, LeVay pointsout parallel findings in sheep. The rams and domesticated animalsthat declined mating with ewes mated with rams readily. Brain changesare evident in domestic sheep observed and correlate to same sexassociations asserts Tasman et al. (2011). Geese also indulge inhomosexuality but the pair bonds can break if females are available(page 67) (Leeet al. 2009). According to Aldo (2010), homosexualityis the second best option for animals in the absence of a female.Homosexuality behavior in animals varies and thus it can be difficultto explain the causes of such behavior amongst animal populations.
Scientific evidence exists to help us understand the development ofdiverse sexual orientations as discussed in LeVay’s book in thevarious ways. Homosexuality is discussed by mental healthprofessionals as a conversion therapy with little chance ofsuccess yet can cause harm to a gay person’s negative self imageaccording to LeVay (2010,p.12). Quoting Spitzer’s study LeVayagrees that some gay people can derive pleasure from heterosexualrelationships through paying less attention to their homosexualfeelings. However, he explains a difference in the hypothalamusstructure of homosexual and heterosexual men (LeVay, 1991). In page13, he explains how it is not surprising since most gay men weremarried and had families before walking from heterosexuality tohomosexuality (Rosenthal et al. 2011). This argument by Spitzer getsminimal bias according to Levay this is quite refreshing. However,being gay LeVay feels that stopping self-hatred therapy would be moreuseful.
Rare medical conditions are cited as part of literature for causingchanges in sexual orientations. This approach is better than theideological one which explains, change. According to LeVay (page286), the preference of a sexual partner can change in someconditions. Choice was discovered to be a factor leading tohomosexuality (Lopez, 2012). Surveys from advocates in mid 90’sshowed that only 4% homosexuals and 15% lesbians admitted having beengay by choice (LeVay. 2010, p.41). Since then the choice forhomosexuality has gone up (Whisman, 2012). These findings are termedas biased following reports from Gallop polls where 90% believe thatthey were born gay (Rosentall et al, 2011).
s persistence in evolutionary history isoverwhelming and difficult to comprehend. With so many explanationsand justifications for homosexuality while others disapprove same sexunions, the complexity of this topic increases (Savin et al. 2012).There exists many theories some consistent while others lackconsistency in surveys and experimentally (Fuss, 2013). However, itis interesting to know that genes and prenatal actors affect sexualorientation. Most theories that discuss sexual orientations have sometruth in them. LeVay’s conclusion is particularly interesting as hementions we referring to homosexual people need to be valued,welcomed and celebrated rather than be tolerated. In page 298, LeVayopenly confesses that he is gay.
The tone, the comment and remarks used in this phrase display aconfident person who is not ashamed of their sexual orientation.While his book remains intriguing to many, it is shocking to see howfar homosexuality has grown today. Activist groups and campaigners ofequal rights to gays are everywhere (Johnston, 2014). Being gay is nolonger the once held taboo that people were afraid of revealing. Itis out in the open with many states formalizing same sex unions.
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