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Sexual preferences and the brain

(25 Posts)
Gothgirl78 Sat 04-Jun-16 19:48:28

I've found the discussion on whether there is a male or female brain informative. If we agree that gender is a social construct. I wondered how sexual preference and or sexuality can be explained. I'm a female who is sexually attracted to men. Especially tall dark men with muscles. wink

I've never been attracted to women though can appreciate that some women are attractive.

Some gay friends find members of the opposite sex unattractive.

I know when men or women are together eg in prison some have same sex encounters when they are nominally straight. However I'd guess for the majority of people their sexual preferences remain constant throughout their life.

Is there a feminist theory ( or non feminist theory) on whether sexual preferences are present from birth , possibly to do with a gay gene or gay brain or is sexuality affected by societal norms and or experiences ?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Sat 04-Jun-16 20:03:08

Seriously complex area. I'm going to lurk as it could be interesting.

The above link is fascinating.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 04-Jun-16 20:11:36

It's interesting. We get told that no one is 100% heterosexual or homosexual. I am pretty certain I am. I find certain women very beautiful- Vivien Leigh , Laura Fraser, Keeley Hawes but I have no interest in having sex with a women. I couldn't do it.

I have gay male friends who have never had sex with a women and equally would never contemplate it.

OnYerBikePan Sat 04-Jun-16 20:14:10

I suspect this thread is dubious from the start.

Ref like "Some gay friends find members of the opposite sex unattractive." Really?

and of course a Torygraph ref.

Sorry OP. Try harder for some journo material?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Sat 04-Jun-16 20:18:41

We get told that no one is 100% heterosexual or homosexual

I kind of get the no one is 100% hetero/homosexual thing. I'm a straight woman but if there were no decent blokes around I could imagine having a relationship with a woman.

Gothgirl78 Sat 04-Jun-16 20:23:00

I didn't link a Tory graph reference. I'm not a journalist. Although I don't post I tend to read quite a lot. Ive learned a lot from mumsnet.I've been in mumsnet for years. I'm genuinely interested.

Thanks for the responses so far. If you think I'm a troll,On yer bike report me or ignore me.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Sat 04-Jun-16 20:48:58

I kind of get the no one is 100% hetero/homosexual thing. I'm a straight woman but if there were no decent blokes around I could imagine having a relationship with a woman

I couldnt. I don't even like seeing other women naked.

almondpudding Sat 04-Jun-16 20:54:59

I think what you mean is sexual orientation, not sexuality more generally.

What has gender being a social construct got to do with sexual orientation at all?

Gothgirl78 Sat 04-Jun-16 21:00:28

Almond. I don't know.

There has always been homosexuality. Are more me and women out of the closet as it is socially acceptable now. Does that encourage more people to realise that having a relationship with the opposite sex isn't the only option.

I'm sorry if I'm confusing terminology. I'm on the pims after a day hacking at the garden.

Gothgirl78 Sat 04-Jun-16 21:04:36

I'm the same lass.

I guess what I'm getting at is that for some people sexual preferences are immovable and for others more fluid. Why is this? Is it to do with the chemistry of the brain ?

almondpudding Sat 04-Jun-16 21:07:37


I would start by saying that sexual orientation is about which sex you are sexually and/or romantically attracted to.

We don't know why people are more attracted to one sex than another. It might be genes, womb environment, early childhood influences, socialisation or hormones. There might be different reasons for different people.

It is certainly the case that awareness and acceptance of different orientations makes more people come out. For example, there has been a huge growth in the number of people (especially women) coming out as asexual. That used to be considered freakish/abnormal/a medical issue.

Gothgirl78 Sat 04-Jun-16 21:08:47

Sorry almond, what I asking very badly is, if there is no difference between a male and female brain( I agree) then how do we explain who we find attractive. Is it based on experiences or brain chemistry?

Gothgirl78 Sat 04-Jun-16 21:09:26

Sorry almond cross post blush than you for your response.

almondpudding Sat 04-Jun-16 21:19:26

I also think people are not researching this, because there's no political motivation anymore to demonstrate, for example, that straight women and gay men have some kind of shared brain structure that controls sexual attraction.

Whereas large swathes of people are desperate to demonstrate that men and women have different brains, so people keep looking for differences (and failing to find them).

VestalVirgin Sat 04-Jun-16 21:48:53

I believe it is a bit of everything - what I found interesting is that women who take testosterone in doses that simulate male testosterone production, can change sexual orientation.

However, they do NOT become attracted to women (as you would expect if you believe that heterosexuality is the default) - in fact, the only confirmed examples I know was lesbians turning into straight women - or as the not de-transitioned would call themselves, gay transmen.

Societal norms certainly play a role. Obviously not as powerful as hormones, otherwise this "curing the gay via prayer" would work. But probably in what part of their sexual attraction bisexual people give in to.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHorrid Sat 04-Jun-16 21:59:26

women who take testosterone in doses that simulate male testosterone production, can change sexual orientation

Is this actually true, I remember you meantioning something similar about a friend of yours. Is there actually any data on this?

SomeDyke Mon 06-Jun-16 15:13:44

"Some gay friends find members of the opposite sex unattractive."

This phrase alone suggests the initial post is utter bollocks!

And lets notmention the male bias here............

"However I'd guess for the majority of people their sexual preferences remain constant throughout their life." Well, historically that certainly wasn't the case for many lesbians, in that many women only came out or realised that lesbianism was an option after many years of marriage. Seems to be more the case for gay men, but then that's probably because as they are men, they always got more choices anyway.

As regards those worrying about brain sex/hormones/chemistry, my main question would be why do you find this so interesting? Given that historically, heterosexuality was considered the default, hence any change from this was something that needed explaining. I would prefer,. humans are complicated creatures, with all sorts of likes and dislikes and propensities -- some of us prefer our own sex in various ways, some don't, some of us can do complicated maths, and some claim they can't, some are good at arts subjects, some prefer technical stuff. If you start dividing it up, -- I have a homosexual brain, I have a maths brain, I have a crap at foreign languages brain -- I just end up at I have my brain with the mix of propensities, skills, experiences and personality that makes up me.

If it was simple a gay gene, we'd have found it by now. Unlike simple things (like eye/hair colour), sexual orientation isn't that simple, and frankly a mixture of genetic propensity, and everything else that ever happens to you from that point onwards!

Then (of course) we have the example of bonbos (pygmy chimps), who have homosexual and heterosexual couplings of many and various sorts.

I can understand why many people go for the 'I was born this way' line (especially when it comes to gay rights), but frankly I'd prefer 'even if I wasn't, what's wrong with being homosexual?'. Myself, I don't know how, I was just lucky! grin

Gothgirl78 Mon 06-Jun-16 17:15:25


Gothgirl78 Mon 06-Jun-16 17:26:43

Posted too soon.

Firstly thanks for saying my post is bollocks. You've confirmed my theory that I'm not clever enough to post on feminist chat. I also realise why i lurk generally in mumsnet rather than post.

Why am I interested? Well I just am. I'm good at sport. I'm also very empathetic. I like crime fiction. I'm interested in history. I'm interested in why some people are gay.Why shouldn't I be? Why are you not?

I've no idea why I've pissed people off. I've learned a lot from this forum.

Sorry blush

SomeDyke Mon 06-Jun-16 17:32:49

Okay, perhaps I was a little dismissive! But it is frankly rather discriminatory if you are surprised or expect that a gay man would find a woman attractive, or that a lesbian would/should find a man attractive..........

Although I just re-read what you actually said, and perhaps you meant what you said -- that some gay men find women positively unattractive! Well, I guess I find male bodies just weird -- not in terms of cultural things like dress or choice of cologne, just strangely hard and bristly, for one. Which is not at all surprising! I think that some of that unattractiveness (and perhaps the converse attractiveness) some from bodies unlike (as opposed to like) our own. It's not a level playing field in that sense, in terms of what you like or dislike, it's bodies similar to ones own (and also physical reactions and all that), as opposed to bodies which are strangely different. Add to that what society does to the people inside those bodies, and finding males attractive (unless you're another male) seems like being attracted to an alien species.

SomeDyke Mon 06-Jun-16 17:44:40

"Why are you not?"

Because specifically asking why some people are gay assumes that heterosexuality is the norm. That sex is for reproductive purposes only (whoops, here come the bonobos again! Pun intended grin), that there is nothing social going on. Hence homosexuality needs an explanation (whereas heterosexuality does not).

Look at the greeks, for example. They had a view of the relevance of homosexual relations (for men), and also for heterosexual relations (for men). Seems to be the inportant thing there was not sex of your partner per se, but whether they were older or younger, taking the active role in sex or not. Older/active/masculine, and younger/passive/feminine.

Hence what needs explaining, if anything is all and any sexual orientations, not just homosexuality. Which means (given the numerical superiority, surely), that you first need to ask why is anyone heterosexual? Or is that itself a social construct? The bonobos, I think, would disagree with most human choices on that one! grin

Felascloak Mon 06-Jun-16 20:37:51

I think you may have got some peoples backs up by conflating sexuality and gender 😀
There is quite a lot of research out there, my impression is more research into male sexuality than female sexuality. I think there's some showing that mens sexuality is more fixed - when they showed participants sex videos, men were aroused by images in line with their stated sexuality (ie straight or gay sex), women by any sex including animals 😁😁
There's also some research suggesting that male embryos in subsequent male pregnancies get less testosterone than a first male pregnancy as it reduces miscarriage. This increases likelihood of gayness. It also causes some difference in mens hands - in straight men the ring finger is more likely to be longer than the index finger, in gay men and in women the index finger is more likely to be longer than the ring finger.
There is also an evolutionary theory about why gayness persists when gay men are less likely to pass on their genes. Apparently gay men are more altruistic and more likely to help care for children in their family, thus boosting the reproductive success of the family as a whole (similar arguments can be made for why women have menopause).
I'd like to put in a disclaimer that I am not an expert and this is all pop science. I've had my arse handed to me for this kind of post before.....
I will try to find you some links anyhow

LassWiTheDelicateAir Mon 06-Jun-16 20:38:24

"Some gay friends find members of the opposite sex unattractive."

I had been going to say "some gay friends who find the idea of having sex with a woman revolting" but thought that would provoke cries of how dare they say the female body is revolting.

Felascloak Mon 06-Jun-16 20:42:59

This programme was on BBC a few years ago and was a fascinating summary of studies of male gayness at the time (ie nature vs nurture)
Evolution of homosexuality
Finger ratio

SomeDyke Tue 07-Jun-16 18:52:13

"how dare they say the female body is revolting."
Actually, I wouldn't have a problem with gay men who find the idea of sex with a female revolting (cos frankly I feel precisely the same about sex with male bodies!). But I'm also aware that for some gay men, this can tip over into misogyny (i.e. those who call us fish), disgust at women/female bodies in general, rather than just not wanting to have sex with a female. Usually the messy body related bits about birth, menstruation, breast-feeding. The weird squishy things that female bodies do that male ones don't. I guess it is kind of understandable, but can easily degenerate into males being cleaner and more cerebral, and females being the messy sex who has to deal with the realities of biological reproduction. Kind of women closer to nature and all that jazz.

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