Feminist Reader: Pseudoscience and Heteronormativity

It’s not usual that a quote from a (conservative/religious-biased) clinical psychologist [San Diego-based licensed clinical psychologist Trayce Hansen] makes me belly-laugh. Pam originally posted Hansen’s press release on The Blend which included the gut-busting line:

[S]ame-sex marriage will increase sexual confusion and sexual experimentation by implying all choices are equally acceptable and desirable.

After reading the three previous more depressing points, I needed the laugh, and I got one. What this person considers to be a danger, I perceive to be one of the larger goals of, if not feminism as a whole, at least this feminist.

Let’s work backwards, shall we?

implying all choices are equally acceptable and desirable.

Because telling people “you’re okay only if you’re heterosexual” is a good thing?

Oh, wait, I forgot: we have to support the natural order of things; women are nurturers, and men are leaders. The first point Hansen raises, on the ‘inherent’ ‘differences’ between “mother-love and father-love”, supports this separate-but-equal attitude. There has to be balance, Hansen notes, between the ‘unconditional-leaning’ love of a woman, and the ‘conditional-leaning’ love of a man.*

According to Hansen, it appears that there must be heterosexuality heterosexuality must be the enforced standard because there must be a woman and a man in each set of parents. Since there is something of a biological precendent for this, I can understand the confusion. Obviously, Hansen equates biological sex with the social construct, gender. Women are always ‘mothers’, men always ‘fathers’. “There must be balance between mother-love and father-love” hints at a typical sexist stereotype: women aren’t complete without men.

same-sex marriage will increase… sexual experimentation

This is possibly true; however, I don’t consider it to be the End Of The World ™ for people to experiment with their sexuality. That is in essence what happens anyway: people find out whether they enjoy PIV intercourse or other forms; what positions work for them and which ones don’t; whether they enjoy dominant or submissive or both or neither; whether they enjoy sex better with themselves, with a partner, with multiple partners, or not at all.

Of course, if someone were coming from an attitude of PIV-missionary-for-procreation-only*, all of these options could be terrifying. Choices tend to worry strict rule-followers.

same-sex marriage will increase sexual confusion

This is the kicker for me. As if being allowed to be who they are without shaming/denial from their parents will somehow add to a person’s confusion regarding their sexuality and sexual preferences. Being told “you have to like boys because you are a girl/have girl parts” or “you have to like girls because you are a boy/have boy parts” is a lot more likely to bewilder the unfortunate soul whose tastes lean contrary to those diametrical opposites, or, worse yet, if they’re concept of themself doesn’t match the artificial gender construct forced on them for no other reason than what their dangly bits look like.

Parents displaying an attitude of acceptance of any and all options regarding an individual’s sexuality, and, (OMGWTFBBQ!) considering them equal to each other would more likely foster a healthy attitude about sex and sexuality, and relatively little shame** in the child.

If I’d had such a supportive environment (including the one at large) I think I’d still be interested in boys***. That being said, I’m all for removing stigma from the lives and sexuality of all persons, no matter who they prefer or disprefer.

[Pam on Pandagon presents this gem of pseudoscience not alone, but with a rebuttal from another clinical psychologist — this time, not ‘science-free’.]


* Hansen uses the terms “mother” and “father” here, but it is clear this is a biological distinction, one that determines social role.

* I make no assumptions about the author at all. His/her position is, however, remarkably similar to more conservative religious types with whom I have been personally acquainted, whose idea of sex was generally “man-on-top-of-woman, man-having-all-the-fun, woman-gets-pregnant-and-is-happy-homemaker”.

** Getting to know a changing body is inherently embarrassing, at least in my experience, without someone else telling you you’re doing it wrong.

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