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11.11.2013 Feature Article

THE JOURNEY OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION

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Physiology sets only very broad limits on human sexuality of which most of the enormous variation found among humans must be attributed to the psychological factors of learning and conditioning. Science is yet to substantiate what determines sexual orientation as to whether it happens through transmission on an X-chromosome or through the influence by the hypothalamus. Even though, nothing can change the basic fact that there are two sexes in the human family. Children are going to be born either male or female. If you examine the living creation, you will find that there is usually a way of life that best suits each living thing. For instance, do palm trees or cactus plants flourish in cold northern areas? No, they do best in hot climates. But the Douglas fir thrives best in cooler northern climates. Polar bears do better where it is cold, but giraffes do better where it is warm. True, to an extent living things can adapt to changing conditions. But the farther away they get from the situation that suits them best, the more problems they will have. There are also 'best' conditions in the relationship between a man and a woman. The farther they deviate from these, the more problems they will experience. What should be recognized is that there are fundamental differences between a man and a woman that no amount of talk will change. There is an obvious difference in physical appearance and in the different sexual organs. In addition to the difference in body structure and strength, women go through different physical cycles, such as menstruation and menopause. Hence, we cannot escape the truth of the matter, that there are very basic differences between men and women physically. In fact, scientists can tell, without knowing in advance the sex of a person, whether a body cell belongs to a male or to a female. As one source points out: “All the cells of the body of the man differ from those of the body of the woman.” Also, the genetic code of the human family has firmly locked into it the fact that the male has the more rugged build and is stronger. Since there are such unalterable physical differences between men and women locked into their genetic codes, it should not seem strange that there would also be emotional or psychological differences.

One's anatomy and sexuality change with age. The changes are rapid in intra-uterine life and around puberty but are much slower and gradual in other phases of the life cycle. The human infant is born simply with the ability to respond sexually to tactile stimulation. It is only later and gradually that the individual learns or is conditioned to respond to other stimuli, to develop a sexual attraction to males or females or both, to interpret some stimuli as sexual and others as nonsexual, and to control in some measure his or her sexual response. In other words, the general and diffuse sexuality of the infant becomes increasingly elaborated, differentiated, and specific. The early years of life are, therefore, of paramount importance in the development of what ultimately becomes adult sexual orientation. There appears to be a reasonably fixed sequence of development. Before age five, the child develops a sense of gender identity, thinks of himself or herself as a boy or girl, and begins to relate to others differently according to their gender. Through experience the child learns what behaviour is rewarded and what is punished and what sorts of behaviour are expected of him or her. Parents, peers, and society in general teach and condition the child about sex not so much by direct informational statements and admonitions as by indirect and often unconscious communication.

The child soon learns, for example, that he can touch any part of his body or someone else's body except the anal or genital region. The child rubbing its genitals finds that this quickly attracts adult attention and admonishment or that adult will divert him or her from this activity. It becomes clear that there is something peculiar and taboo about this area of the body. This “genital taboo” is reinforced by the great concern over the child's excretory behaviour: bladder and bowel control is praised; loss of control is met by disappointment, chiding, and expressions of disgust. Obviously, the anal–genital area is not only a taboo area but a very important one as well. It is almost inevitable that the genitalia become associated with anxiety and shame. It is noteworthy that this attitude finds expression in the language of Western civilizations, as in “privates” (something to be kept hidden) and the German word for the genitals, Scham (“shame”).

While all children in this modern day civilizations experience this antisexual teaching and conditioning, a few have, in addition, atypical sexual experiences, such as witnessing or hearing sexual intercourse or having sexual contact with an older person. The effects of such atypical experiences depend upon how the child interprets them and upon the reaction of adults if the experience comes to their attention. Seeing parental coitus is harmless if the child interprets it as playful wrestling but harmful if he considers it as hostile, assaultive behaviour. Similarly, an experience with an adult may seem merely a curious and pointless game, or it may be a hideous trauma leaving lifelong psychic scars. In many cases the reaction of parents and society determines the child's interpretation of the event. What would have been a trivial and soon-forgotten act becomes traumatic if the mother cries, the father rages, and the police interrogate the child.

Whereas all other laws are basically concerned with the protection of person or property, the majority of sex laws are concerned solely with maintaining morality. The issue of morality is minimal in other laws. One can legitimately evict an impoverished old couple from their mortgaged home or sentence a hungry man for stealing food. Only in the realm of sex is there a consistent body of law upholding morality. Sex laws may be grouped in three categories: (1) Those concerned with protection of person. These are based on the element of consent. These otherwise logical laws become problematic when society deems that minors, mental retardates, and the insane are incapable of giving consent, hence, coitus with them is rape. (2) Those concerned with preventing offense to public sensibilities. Statutes preclude public sexual activity, exhibitionism, and offensive solicitation. (3) Those concerned with maintaining sexual morality. These constitute the majority of sex laws, covering such items as premarital coitus, extramarital coitus, incest, homosexuality, prostitution, peeping, nudity, animal contact, transvestism, censorship, and even specific sexual techniques chiefly oral or anal.

Nonetheless, most adolescents faced with challenges of dominance and capability of establishing stable healthy sociosexual relationships have been found wanting by law not by choice but due to sexual maladjustment. If a survey was to be taken it would undoubtedly find that there are a lot of adolescent children having sex with animals like pigs, goats and chickens especially amongst livestock herders for fun of it rather than as a preferred sexual orientation. What such minors needs is a proper general counseling rather than sending them to the gallows. Teenage is full of experimentation but without our parents or guardians taking a central role in ensuring that proper socially acceptable behaviour is cultivated, then we are unfortunately going to lose potentially morally upright children to strange sexual orientation behaviours.

Furthermore, some atypical developments occur through association during the formative years. A child may associate clothing, especially underclothing, stockings, and shoes with gender and sex and thereby establish the basis for later fetishism or transvestism. Others, having been spanked or otherwise punished for self-masturbation or childhood sex play, form an association between punishments, pain, and sex that could escalate later into sadism or masochism. It is not known why some children form such associations whereas others with apparently similar experience do not.

Around the age of puberty, parents and society, who more often than not refuse to recognize that children have sexual responses and capabilities, finally face the inescapable reality and consequently begin inculcating children with their attitudes and standards regarding sex. This campaign by adults is almost wholly negative as the child is told what not to do. While dating may be encouraged, no form of sexual activity is advocated or held up as model behaviour. The message usually is “be popular” to imply sexually attractive but abstain from sexual activity. This antisexualism is particularly intense regarding young females and is reinforced by reference to pregnancy, venereal disease, and, most importantly, social disgrace. To this list religious families add the concept of the sinfulness of premarital sexual expression. With young males the double standard of morality still prevails. The youth receives a double message, “don't do it, but we expect that you will.” No such loophole in the prohibitions is offered to young girls. Meanwhile, the young male's peer group is exerting a prosexual influence, and his social status is enhanced by his sexual exploits or by exaggerated reports thereof.

As a result of this double standard of sexual morality, the relationship between young males and females often becomes a ritualized contest, the male attempting to escalate the sexual activity and the female resisting his efforts. Instead of mutuality and respect, one often has a struggle in which the female is viewed as a reluctant sexual object to be exploited, and the male is viewed as a seducer and aggressor who must succeed in order to maintain his self-image and his status with his peers. This sort of pathological relationship causes a lasting attitude on the part of females: men are not to be trusted; they are interested only in sex; a girl dare not smile or be friendly lest males interpret it as a sign of sexual availability, and so forth. Such an aura of suspicion, hostility, and anxiety is scarcely conducive to the development of warm, trusting relationships between males and females. Fortunately, love or infatuation usually overcomes this negativism with regard to particular males, but the average female still maintains a defensive and skeptical attitude toward men.

Western society is replete with attitudes that impede the development of a healthy attitude toward sex. The free abandon so necessary to a full sexual relationship is, in the eyes of many, an unseemly loss of self-control, and self-control is something one is urged to maintain from infancy onward. Panting, sweating, and involuntary vocalization are incompatible with the image of dignity. Worse yet is any substance once it has left the body it immediately becomes unclean. The male and female genital fluids are generally regarded with disgust as they are not only excretions but sexual excretions. Here again, societal concern over excretion is involved, for sexual organs are also urinary passages and are in close proximity to the “dirtiest” of all places and that is the anus. Lastly, many individuals in society regard menstrual fluid with disgust and abstain from sexual intercourse during the four to six days of flow. This attitude is formalized in Judaism, in which menstruating females are specifically labelled as ritually unclean.

In view of all these factors working against a healthy, rational attitude toward sex and in view of the inevitable disappointments, exploitations, and rejections that are involved in human relationships, one might wonder how anyone could reach adulthood without being seriously maladjusted. The sexual impulse, however, is sufficiently strong and persistent and repeated sexual activity gradually erodes the inhibitions and any sense of guilt or shame. Further, all humans have a deep need to be esteemed, wanted, and loved. Sexual activity with another is seen as proof that one is attractive, desired, valued, and possibly loved which is a proof very necessary to self-esteem and happiness. Hence, even among the very inhibited or those with weak sex drive, there is this powerful motivation to engage in sociosexual activity.

Most persons ultimately achieve at least a tolerable sexual adjustment. Some unfortunates, nevertheless, remain permanently handicapped, and very few completely escape the effects of society's antisexual conditioning. Unfortunately for others end up been homosexuals; Homosexuality appears in virtually all social contexts within different community settings, socioeconomic levels, and ethnic and religious groups. The number of homosexuals in the population is difficult to determine, and reliable data do not exist. However, current estimates suggest that the term homosexual may apply to 2 to 4 percent of men. Estimates for lesbians are lower and that not all people who engage in homosexual activity necessarily identify themselves as homosexual. While certain inhibitions and restraints are socially and psychologically useful such as deferring gratification until circumstances are appropriate and modifying behaviour out of regard for the feelings of others. Most people labour under an additional burden of useless and deleterious attitudes and restrictions. If a conclusion was to be drawn based on this article, it would be that our sexual orientation is defiled by different weathers but with one ultimate righteous climate of heterosexuality. Heterosexuality is the only popular normal sexual orientation that a couple is less likely to face stigmatization and provides the most unique sexual gratification that cannot be automated or imitated. Consequently, lesbian and gay young people are not 'failed' heterosexuals. Furthermore, sexuality like any other vital aspect of human life must be dealt with on an individual or societal level with a combination of rationality, sensitivity, and tolerance if society is to avoid personal and social problems arising from ignorance and misconception.

JONES H. MUNANG'ANDU (author)

Motivational speaker, health commentator &
Health practitioner
Email; [email protected]
Skype id; jones muna

Editor's Note:
heterosexuality will always remain popular by design not by influence of any celebrity. It is the only way one can reach the ultimate sexual gratification.

JONES H. MUNANG’ANDU
JONES H. MUNANG’ANDU, © 2013

The author has 185 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JONESHMUNANGANDU

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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