Sunday, December 02, 2007

I have been thinking lately about sexual profiles. I think that it was Kinsey who created a profile of the gay straight continuum. While this was a big step forward for the time, it is time to step further. For one thing I doubt that the gay straight line is a single continuum. It is more likel a complex made up of many variables. Certainly the overall complex of human sexuality is much more complex than this. Yet I have not seen much in the way of matrix profiles that seek to deal with this aspect of our nature as has been done with other personality (Myers-Brigs) Profiles and behavioral (DiSC) profiles.

The popularized personality and behavior profiles seem to be part chaos theory and part astrology. These profiles each take four basic attributes placed in a continuum and they create a matrix that supplies ratios and relationships between these continuums that provide highly detailed and fairly complex information about the individual. A small sample of the personality pattern is projected onto the larger field with the assumption that the overall pattern is going to be similar to the smaller pattern. This seems to work fairly well. Of course within the range of the single measures of the matrix the descriptors are rather vague. People are always amazed at how well these tests describe them, but I’m fairly certain people would be able to project themselves into almost any reading. Most of us could easily see ourselves as being described as an introvert or an extrovert. When someone tells you that you are an introvert, even if you are an extrovert you are going to think of those aspects of your personality that do not fit the extrovert concept, even if those aspects are few and far between.

But I am not a complete naysayer about these profiles. While I’m inclined to view them with a certain level of skepticism, I also think that they do provide some general information that can be helpful. But most significantly they provide a lexicon for speaking about personality and behavior in more complex and sophisticate ways. With these profiles we begin to think about personality as a complex of interacting ratios. With deeper understanding people tend to feel more in control.

More than anything we need a better lexicon for speaking about sexuality. We need a lexicon that encourages us to think of sexuality in less linear terms. Anyone who thinks that there is a single continuum going from gay to straight with bi being a single rare point in-between has not thought about sex very deeply.

But if we were going to create a four variable matrix from which to read our sexual make up, what would these measures would be? As we think about an answer to this question it might be helpful to think about some various aspects of sexuality. One such aspect might be a distinction between what in sexuality is given to free will and environmental circumstances and what is given to genetics. There has, for some time, been a debate raging that sex has to be one or the other. But I’m pretty sure that it is both. Don’t get me wrong, I find the suggestion that people choose to be and can be “cured” from being gay as intellectually and socially reprehensible. But by the same token, I see the rebuttal as being overly reactive. There is a component of free will in the sexual equation.

As someone who is narrowly and restrictedly straight, I have, nonetheless, been able to expand my sexuality and find aspects of physical intimacy that I can enjoy sharing with men. No doubt some of this has to do with finding different ways of thinking about and defining intimacy. An example here, not from my own experience, is homophobic men going to a tit bar. These men do not seem to recognize that even though they are looking at the women, they are sharing the experience with their buddies. These are typically guys whose limited perspective hampers their ability to relate to and connect with women on anything but a purely physical level so they are left to find a rather twisted intimate connection in sexuality by sharing a sexual experience with their hunting buddies who they can better relate to. A gay friend once told me that the surest, if not most dangerous, place to find a cock to suck was at a tit bar after midnight when these guys are drunk and horny and looking at going home to a lonely and angry wife.

Buddies slapping each other on the back while laughing and stuffing dollar bills into a girl's G-string is a bisexual experience. While I have never found it desirable to share intimacy with men in quite this same setting, I have, nonetheless, found similar connections. For example I love sharing my wife with another man. While I don’t want her to be enjoyed only as an object like the impersonal dancer, I do crave the camaraderie of sharing her with another man.

I once had a relationship with a married couple. On Friday nights I would go to their house around 8:00. He and I would sit and have a drink while listening to music or watching a ballgame, while she puttered getting ready for the nights festivities. She would set candles out in the bedroom and put music on. She would put their child to bed and put something nice on and eventually join us in the living room for a drink and some conversation on the way to erotic play. He and I enjoying each other’s company without her was a part of the seduction of the evening. When she would join us in the living room there was a sense that she was joining an already established bond. While I felt connected to him within the context of this sexual dance, it was nothing like the connection I had with her that was more passion driven and directly erotic. I had no desire, for example, to kiss him. And while I enjoyed his touch within the tangle of bodies it was not like her touch. Nor did I desire to hold him in my arms. But only within a narrow and unsophisticated analysis could one say that I did not have a sexual and even intimate relationship with him.

My connection to her was significantly a factor of biology. Even thought the nature of my attraction to her was colored by the circumstances the basic attraction would have been there regardless of those circumstances. It was biological. I had no such attraction to him. What I desired and enjoyed from my relationship with him was wholly a construct of the circumstances.
As we think about a sexuality profile this distinction between these aspects may be a factor. A ratio between these influences may be meaningful.

1 comment:

Serge said...

One thing about these DiSC profiles is that, whatever the result might be, you should never stereotype the person to be limited to the qualities and behavior as stated in the result since there's bound to be a margin of error with these tests no matter how accurate they might be.