the unbearable like likeness of gene

Summer Reading Challenge

Throughout college I’ve tried to read around 10 books every summer that I’ve never read before. I usually am unable to do all of them (lol) mostly because I get books from the library, and if I don’t plan well they all get checked out : P 

If I combine re-reads with new reads, though, I do always end up reading 8-12 or so books every summer. I love reading, and I never get time to read longform writing during the school year (it’s always just news or articles or short stories and whatnot : P) 

Here is what I read in past summers (nf = nonfiction)

Summer 2015

New Reads: 

  1. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddartha Mukherjee (nf)
  2. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
  3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonothan Safran Foer
  5. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Re-Reads: 

      6-12. The Harry Potter Series (yes, the whole thing) by J.K. Rowling
         13.  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Summer 2016

New Reads: 

  1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (nf)
  2. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
  3. The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  4. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
  5. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  6. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

Re-Reads: 

      7. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  

Honorable Mentions

  1. The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Winter ‘16) 
  2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told by Alex Haley (nf) (Spring ‘15)  (everyone should read this book!!! Everyone!!! iT’s RIDICULOUSLY IMPORTAnT!!!!) 
  3. The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu (Spring Break ‘17) (it was the MIT Reads book selection so I got it from the MIT bookstore for free :D) (ridiculously good book by ridiculously good Asian American author) 

Started but never finished, and why:

  1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (nf) (this is ridiculous as it’s very short and honestly more of a long paper, but I got back to school and got busy ;__; will finish (starting from the beginning) as soon as finals is over.)
  2. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace (nf) (ran out of time on the library loan, and had to get back to school)
  3. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (the first few pages describing the womanizer super turned me off, and I just stopped there…I feel like I’ve had enough White European Man books assigned to me in school, and so I’d like to read more diverse authors in my free time. My friend really recommended it though so maybe I should try again…) 

Summer ‘17 List

I’m quite determined to get through all 10 this time. So far, I have…

Nonfiction:

  1. The Gene by Siddartha Mukherjee (the sequel-ish to a book above) (was too popular last summer to check out)
  2. Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang (tried before, also too popular)
  3. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  4. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

Fiction: 

  1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 
  3. Paradise by Toni Morrison
  4. 1984 by George Orwell

Inevitable Re-Read: 

  1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Suggestions welcome! Preferably I want even more than 10 new reads on my list–I’m thinking if I have loads of books on my list than any one of them is less likely to be checked out the library and maybe this year I can finally actually get through 10 new reads :3 Heavy preference to Asian or Asian-American authors, as I’ve been trying to diversify of authors of the books I read, starting with people of my own background (bizarre that practically all the books I read til now were white authors, isn’t it…). I’ve at least successfully read a few African and African-American authors by now; Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie was really great and the first book I’ve read that also really reflected on the Asian/Asian American experience, through sci-fi stories (!!!!), in a very organic way. Going to try and add to that~

Matt Ruins The Shit Of The “Born That Way” Myth

Like all sensitive topics I must reluctantly provide a disclaimer ahead of my arguments. This is to avoid being straw-manned and to try to preemptively sift past the whiny bullshit and get to the real issues. This post is not meant in any way to be a moral commentary on homosexuality at all. It has nothing to do with opposition to gay rights in any fashion.

This article will challenge the idea that people can be born with a sexual preference and will look at some of the evidence that indicates that a biological cause for sexuality (particularly homosexuality) is absurd, unscientific and counter-intuitive. I’ll go through my reasoning point by point.

1.) The Impact Of Socialization

The first bit of evidence that suggests that homosexuality is not biological can be found by simply looking at the current social state of affairs. We live in a time where acceptance for homosexuality has sky-rocketed. In my lifetime it has gone from taboo to discuss homosexuality right to taboo to not be in complete support of homosexuals and their rights. Even the gay rights lobby expresses acknowledgment that our society has come a long way in a short time. What we are seeing alongside of this growing acceptance…is growing rates of homosexuality. If there is no social impact on the creation or fostering of homosexuality why is it that greater societal acceptance has lead to greater incidents of homosexuality?

New research is starting to suggest that homosexuality is not as prevalent in society as was first touted by gay rights activists. They claimed homosexuals made up 10-25% of the population. This perspective came out of studies by Alfred Kinsey from the 1980’s that have since been discredited as being unrepresentative. New research suggests the prevalence has historically been more around 1-2% of the population. In recent years however the rate in North America has increased to about 5% according to studies conducted in both the United States and Canada (National Post, 2012). It then stands to reason that greater societal acceptance of a behaviour that precedes an increase in that behaviour is evidence that the behaviour in question is not caused by biology; but is in fact influenced by socialization.

2.) Twin Studies

Twin studies are the single most illuminating type of research when it comes to investigating a biological link to a specific behaviour or personality trait. They are the go to for scientists, and the evidence from their research into homosexuality does not support the idea that a person can be born gay. I decided to look into this research myself after meeting a gay man with an identical twin sibling who was completely heterosexual.

Research showed that in cases where a genetic twin was gay only 7.7% of men and 5.3% of women had a twin sibling who was also gay. This is astoundingly low, even considering the role of socialization you would expect that number to be significantly higher. If homosexuality were caused by biology that number should much closer to 100%. It’s not even close to being half of the time. If gayness is genetic why are there so few twin siblings of homosexuals that are also homosexual themselves. Concordance rates that low make it absurd to claim a genetic cause for homosexuality independent of social influence. If homosexuality is biological then someone who shares your biological makeup should also share your sexual orientation (Bearman and Brückner, 2002).

3.) Inconsistency 

Ask yourself this question. Why is homosexuality the one behaviour that the scientific and psychological community claims is completely genetic? Why is it the only subset of sexual preferences that we consider to have a biological cause?

The current general psychological agreement on the causes of behaviour is that people and all our behaviour are the result of genetic predisposition and the influence of socialization and the environment. We are a combination of nature and nurture so intertwined that it’s generally considered passé to suggest a completely genetic or completely social cause for human behaviour…except when it comes to homosexuality. Why the exception? Why are people born with a same sex preference but not a hair colour preference, or a body size preference? Why don’t psychologists claim some people are born liking skinny blondes and some people are born liking tall brunettes? It is because those are illogical assertions. It makes no sense given our current understanding of human behaviour. It makes no sense that one specific type of sexual preference would be biological and all the rest of the multitudes of preferences are not.

4.) There Is No Gay Gene

With the amount of pressure and the absolute clamoring to prove that homosexuality is biological why have we not yet discovered the gay gene? Why are we so sure it exists when there has been no evidence of it in a time where we can isolate and identify genes very easily. We’re on the cusp of designing our children like we are about to play an RPG and yet we can’t find the gay gene, it’s almost like it doesn’t exist. Grand claims require grand evidence. Scientists claimed baldness was genetic and they backed it up by finding the bald gene. So far the claim that gayness is genetic has not been backed up. The burden of proof has not been lifted.

5.) The Current Theories On Genetic Homosexuality Are Unbearably Ridiculous

The current theory on the genetic cause of homosexuality is so unbelievably absurd all I have to do is explain it to you in order to discredit it. In fact many homosexuals will probably find it offensive.

This is the theory explained to me in a university lecture hall of over 500 psychology students. It was explained to us as the promiscuous twin sister theory. Basically all homosexuals were originally twins in the womb who absorbed an opposite sex sibling who would have turned out to be an overly promiscuous sibling. The overactive sexuality of the twin sibling makes it a dominant trait in the sibling who absorbed their twin in the womb. Which is meant to explain why a man can be attracted to a man…because he was born with the sexuality of the twin sister he absorbed in the womb. This is also meant to account for the higher rates of promiscuity in the homosexual population, after all why wouldn’t gays be more promiscuous if they contain within them the combined sexuality of two people.

Convinced? Me neither, if that’s the best explanation for a genetic cause that scientists can come up with no wonder they’ve been keeping it under their hats. If they actually came out and told us what they were thinking…a lot less people would accept the notion that homosexuality is genetic. 

6.) The Role Of Abuse

A common theme among studies on abuse and homosexuality is a significantly higher rate of incidents of childhood sexual abuse among homosexuals. I’ve seen numbers upwards of 80% but for the purposes of avoiding bias I’ll only use data from studies not investigating a link between homosexuality and abuse. So no study cited here was attempting to display a causal link between the two, meaning these statistics will be fairly conservative estimates.

According to one study

-       35% of gay men were sexually abused as young children

-       37.1 % were abused between 13 and 16

-       62.9% were abused before age 13 

-       Gay men have significantly higher rates of childhood molestation than do heterosexual men approximately 40% higher.

-       62% of abused lesbians report being molested before identifying as lesbian

-       68% of abused gay men report being molested before identifying as gay 

(Tomeo, M. E., Templer, D. L., Anderson, S., & Kotler, D. (2001)


Timothy J. Dailey, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Marriage and Family Studies of the Family Research Council, had this to say in his article “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse.”

“Men who sexually molest boys all too often lead their victims into homosexuality and pedophilia. The evidence indicates that a high percentage of homosexuals and pedophiles were themselves sexually abused as children…”

Now to be clear this does not mean that homosexuals and pedophiles are the same thing or that their behaviours are even comparable sexual acts. It just means that abuse has been discovered to play a role in the development of both behaviours. It is not the only factor and we should all be aware that correlation does not equal causation. However we would be unwise to ignore the evidence because some might try to use it to attack the gay community and compare homosexuals to pedophiles. Social agendas must not dictate what research is deemed valid, and evidence that is potentially upsetting and challenging to our world-view must not be ignored.

7.) Fabricating The Myth Made sense

One of the main reasons to be skeptical of the “born that way” myth is that the creation of the myth made perfect sense and served an important function for the gay rights movement. One of the main reasons acceptance for homosexuality has been able to increase so much, so quickly in recent years is that people have come to accept that homosexuality is biological.

In our minds it is unreasonable to be against something that someone has no control over, and nothing says no control over it more than it being caused by biology. So at the time it would have made sense for the gay rights community to decide that it was in their best interest to promote the idea that they have no control over their sexual preference.

It is also in line with one of the mental health communities’ best-kept secrets…the fact that they actively use stigmatization and propaganda to achieve macro level mental health goals. Evidence and truth is not always the most important thing in the minds of mental health organizations dedicated to improving societies as a whole.  As long as it achieves positive results for them they do not care how it is done or what lies they have to tell. The ends justify the means in their eyes. To show this is not just some conspiracy theory I’ll explain another time in our societies history this has been done…anti-smoking campaigns. 

I took a class on community mental health where they explained to us the practice of what they call “macro level solutions.” They identify a problem (in this case smoking). They decided that they needed to decrease the amount of people who smoke because this would be a benefit to society at large. So they launched campaigns decades long with the express purpose of stigmatizing smoking and smokers. They decided they wanted people to believe not only that it is unhealthy, but also that it is a disgusting and deplorable habit. Look around, it worked, smoking has plummeted and public opinion on smoking has completely changed. 

These are the same tactics they took with the gay community. They identified a problem, which is that society did not readily accept homosexuality and it was leading to mental health problems for the gay community. Their goal of reducing things like suicide and bullying in the gay community is a noble cause… but in their good intentions they spread lies, misinformation and propaganda to achieve their goals, and we are starting to see the consequences of that decision.

8.) The Consequences And The Slippery Slope That Is Coming To Pass

Since the inception of the gay rights movement pedophiles have been trying to horn in on their action and gain the same rights and acceptance that homosexuals are fighting for. In the early days this hurt the gay rights movement and they had to make a distinct effort to distance homosexuality from pedophilia.

Gay rights opponents have been claiming for decades that if we accept homosexuality as a normal non-paraphiliac behaviour then one day we will be asked to accept other more harmful forms of sexual expression as normal…such as pedophilia. At the time this argument was a slippery slope fallacy and went largely ignored. Yet if you have been paying attention you will find that within the psychological and social justice communities there is a growing push towards the normalization of pedophilia. And the arguments that they are using are the exact same ones used to normalize homosexuality. They are already claiming they were simply born that way and it is not right to discriminate against their legitimate sexual orientation.

The arguments used to foster acceptance for homosexuality are now being used to attempt to justify the sexual abuse of children, if this trend is not stopped soon the anti-gay rights crowd is going to have the right to a big collective (we told you so). Again to be clear for those prepping to make a slippery slope accusation, my argument is not that homosexuality will lead to pedophilia.

The evidence just does not support the idea that sexuality is biological and if we do not put an end to the myth soon…there is no telling where else it will take us. To be clear my conclusion is not that biology plays absolutely no role or that homosexuality is a choice. However we cannot claim that the cause is biological based on the evidence. The actual cause will be nearly impossible to pinpoint like all behaviour, and it will be a mixture of predisposition and the influence of the social environment, especially during childhood. It is neither a choice or something you are born with. Suggesting it is either a choice or something you are born with is a false dichotomy. People are more complicated than that.