Sexuality and Modern LGBTQIA+ Narratives: Evolutionary Factors and Philosophical Foundations
Dr. Mohammad Rizwan and Dr Ayesha Alvi
Part III of a continuing series on sexuality and LGBTQ+ discourse.
The last article discussed LGBTQIA+ and its evolutionary factors and philosophical foundations which were as follows:
- Evolutionary Ethics or Naturalistic Ethics given by Charles Darwin.
- Sigmund Freud’s theory in which personality is analyzed by focusing on sexuality.
- The End or Weakening of Christian Ethics.
- Individual Rights Theory and Unlimited Personal Rights
Now, taking this paradigm further the remaining factors and philosophical foundations are discussed in this part.
At the crux of individual rights or sexual right or sexual boundaries the real issue is the frame or criterion at hand. It is difficult to judge the limits of individual rights purely by the frame or criterion that human reason provides. I mean who and on what basis the lines will be drawn …one line which is reasonable for someone may be outrageous for the other. This is because fundamentally, it is almost impossible to evolve a criterion that is acceptable to most or all people. And even if it happens, it is doubly difficult to evolve a durable and long-lasting framework that is simultaneously beyond the limited intellectual spatio-temporal landscape and appealing to human intellect at the same time. The answer to this riddle came in the form of secular humanism but it failed miserably and this failed experiment of secular humanism speaks volumes about it being a criterion. The widespread chaos across the world in all domains pertaining to human civilization is a clear proof of this. So, fundamental issues which requires strict criterion were left to “mere common sense” of the individual and the society, and thus, has paved the way for all kinds of limitless but dangerous excesses both at world view level and at its manifestations including sexual and moral attitudes towards sexuality.
It’s noteworthy as well that, one of the most important factors in the rise and evolution of widespread LGBTQAI+ discourse has been the emphasis placed on unlimited and unchecked individual sexual rights. Unlimited individualism and its hollow philosophy of unlimited individual sexual pleasure and rights which ultimately has given rise to the phenomenon now known as the Sexual Revolution.
The Sexual Revolution:
The sexual revolution has played an extraordinary role in bringing LGBTQ+ and related concepts to their current form. Wilhelm Reich is the inventor of this word. Who believed that better orgasms can cure society’s ills. He also believed that a true political revolution is possible only when sexual repression is thrown away. He insisted on the abolition of traditional and what he saw as outdated sexual morality, defined the family as an institution of oppression and promoted the notion that family and its associated concepts actually take away the freedom of the individual. They make it impossible for him to achieve true happiness.
(1) His contemporary Herbert Marcuse despite his wonderful and deep contribution to social theory essentially ridiculed self-restraint, chastity and the control of sexual desires as an unnecessary process. He portrayed society as an instrument of oppression. Broadly speaking one can sense that Marcuse, propagated the idea that in a free and independent society, sexuality should also be free and independent.
(2) In the 1960s and 1970s, Hugh Hefner, considered to be the founder of the Playboy business empire, also brought concepts such as open sexuality, unlimited sexual pleasure, and the rejection of traditional sexual norms out of private and academic circles and into the American mainstream public sphere.
Who is not familiar with Playboy magazine? In its philosophical roots and from its launch to the present day, the magazine severely distorted notions of marriage, parenthood and family, as well as existing traditional sexual norms with its moral limits. They ridiculed and promoted a certain obscene, nudist and shameless literature that was based on concepts extremely harmful to society and the family unit, including all LGBTQAI+ concepts. He presented them all in a very positive light.
The sexual revolution played a key role in disrupting the social and family systems of America and Europe. Its effects were not limited only there, but with the advent of mass media, it reached every corner of the Asian subcontinent and the world. These civilizations had fundamentally weak moral foundations. They were swept away in this revolution like flimsy objects in a strong wind. They had no intellectual base to refute these notions. their intellectual elite, consisting of academic circles, political circles, and other social power centers, first allowed these ideas given by the sexual revolution to prevail among their people, and then the people accepted the ideas given by the sexual revolution. What were these concepts? Free sexual behavior, unlimited sexual pleasure, the collapse of traditional gender binaries beyond the male and female into endless possibilities and other baseless claims such as the lack of need for any regulation or control over sexual pleasures etc. and homosexuality and forms of modern sexuality digress fundamentally from the traditional understanding. All of this is presented as natural and innate but the reality was and is far from this claim.
The so-called scientific research that formed the basis for the above concepts is Kinsey’s survey research.
Alfred C Kinsey and Sexual Behavior:
Alfred C. Kinsey is one of the LGBTQAI+ community’s greatest heroes. He was a Zoology professor and researcher at Indiana University. Later, leaving that work, he established the Kinsey Institute. This institute is famous for its research on human sexual behavior. His research topic at Indiana University was ‘Human Sexual Behavior’. For the first time, he collaborated with his two research colleagues, Wardell Pomeroy and Paul. H Gebhard Jr. As co-authors they published the essence of their research in the form of two books, 1) Sexual Behavior in the Human Male 2) Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.
A movie called Kinsey has also been made recently and the Kinsey Institute still continues to research sexual attitudes.
These two books have become the cornerstones for LGBTQAI+ narratives. In other words, the conclusions and findings drawn in these books provided essential intellectual fodder to the unusual sexual discourse of modernity. These two books, published in 1948 and 1953 respectively, created an extraordinary stir in the already volatile social discourse of the time. For the first time in academic circles, these books presented statistics on sexual attitudes outside the gender binary. These statistics were related to male homosexuality and female homosexuality.
These figures shocked the American society.
The results of these books created an extraordinary academic upheaval in American society, and the old ideas about sexuality were dealt a major blow.
The old notions of sexuality, gender and even gender roles began to be seen as obsolete. However, it is important to note that in the field of research on sexual behavior, Kinsey himself and other researchers had admitted that this research has its own shortcomings and its scope is limited. And this research cannot be applied to human sexual behavior all over the world. But there were many vested interest individuals and organizations who used this entire research to their advantage.
Nonetheless, there are many technical flaws in this research. There exists a considerable body of literature as criticism on Kinsey’s research. Due to its lengthy nature a few important points are mentioned below.
- Kinsey himself admitted that his findings could be at best extrapolated to the mostly white population of Indiana, USA. (5)
- The sampling method used in the research conducted by Kinsey violated the accepted standards of statistical science. (6)
- Kinsey also took a sample of male prostitutes who were either habitual offenders or who had committed crimes in the past, which was large enough that some researchers put it at 25% of the sample.
- If one examines the questions prepared by Kinsey and his team, it will be found that most of the questions were structured to elicit positive responses (leading questions).
- The sample used in this study was not representative. That is, there was a kind of selective bias in this research. (7)
- The data given by Kinsey has not yet been replicated. (8) That is, other independent studies have not found the ratio of male homosexuality that Kinsey stated. Kinsey put the ratio of male homosexuality at about the 10% of the male population, which can be taken to mean that 10% of the male population practiced homosexuality. However, many studies have found the actual proportion to be very, very low. (9) Therefore, Kinsey’s basic premise is mistaken in assuming that a high proportion of male homosexuals suggests that it is natural and normal.
There is no exception. Interestingly, this proportion was used to popularize male homosexuality in the mainstream. Furthermore, there are no studies of this proportion in most of the different populations of the world. So, it is an unscientific extrapolation. That is, extrapolating data from one population to another population.
- Similarly, some of the research findings presented in his second book could be validated, for example, sexual pleasure in women and other such aspects, but the results of these digressive sexual practices faced the same challenges which were faced earlier in his studies on male homosexuality.
Despite all of the above flaws, LGBTQAI+ narratives have used this research to legitimize non-normative human sexuality. It cannot be denied that Kinsey’s research made many discoveries about human sexual behavior, which have their own significance, but it was still a survey-based study. It had its limitations. The biggest flaw in it was that it could not be replicated yet. Therefore, using this research as a basis to promote a particular worldview was scientific dishonesty and unconscionable in nature. But, in reality, that is what occurred.
Research in modern sexuality, especially Molecular Biology and Psychological Genetics has called into question many of Kinsey’s fundamental assumptions. (In the next article, In Sha Allah, it will be discussed in detail). The surprising revelations in the research suggest that the matter is not as straightforward as Kinsey assumed.
An extension of Einstein’s theory of relativity to ethics:
The 20th century will be remembered in human history as a remarkable and unique one, because for the first time in known human history, religion and its related aspects were laid open to doubt or even denied altogether, regardless of the form in which those religions existed. Similarly, this century will be known for the use of science for political and economic gain and pushing special narratives. In trying to understand the universe, Einstein’s rare gem ‘Theory of Relativity’ was extended to the study of social structure and social behavior. It began to be said even ethics is relative in nature, that is, absolute moral values do not fundamentally exist, but instead, they come into existence due to social conditioning and other structural factors. Sexual pleasure and sexual behavior and their norms also began to be seen as relative in nature – that is to say, a person may prefer a method, an approach or a result, but for another person, the same method may be useless or of no importance to him.
But is this the case? Here a fundamental flaw exists and that is, viewing diversity through the lens of relativism. This point has a huge role to play in the evolution of LGBTQAI+ and the success of this discourse. When moral values are not absolute and they are relative, then sexual values are also relative and can be open to redundancy. When they are redundant, the individual may adopt the sexual deviance that exists within him/herself outside of the gender binary. By extension and as a consequence, sexual values such as the fact of a man and woman gaining sexual enjoyment from each other and moral values such as marriage or nikah as necessary prerequisites for sexual pleasure, all become redundant, all unnecessary.
However, this is a fallacy. The theory of relativity is actually an interpretation of the correlation between the known and the felt and the unknown and the unfelt processes in the universe. A comprehensive and beautiful interpretation in itself. But its application was meant to be limited to its own frame, not outside of it.
This situation sparked new debates regarding the origins of both moral values and sexual values. The modernity, followed by post modernism, unrestricted individualism and post truth world narratives brought religion as the source of morality and values crashing down, but they could not decide on its successor. Secular humanism was in race but it already lost by a huge margin. Science as a source of morality is a recent idea proposed by Sam Harris but it is too hollow and vague to be given serious academic thought.
The rejection of religion as a source of moral boundaries and sexual values:
The point is no less important in the context of the phenomenal success of the LGBTQAI+ discourse. When religion was rejected as a source of moral and sexual values, the individual was left wondering and distressed regarding where to draw his understanding of sexual values from. He had already given up on public interest and collective morality. Then, what to do now? This confusion remains even today.
For us, one of the last and most important contributing factors is the fundamental change in the sex/gender system that took place in America and Europe during/after World War II.
After the Industrial Revolution and the public defeat of the Christian worldview, the traditional family system began to undergo rapid changes towards a nuclear type of family structure. In the traditional system, women looked after the home and men were responsible for the livelihood. But after World War II, the sex/gender system began to change. The sex/gender system is governed by three main social structures (10):
- By Dominance and Submission:
In the traditional American family, men ruled over women and children. But women and children did not have the rights that he had. In the perspective of sexual values, he had freedom as well. He could take unjust advantage of this freedom. Women, however, did not have similar authoritative rights. So, there was a violation of rights in this structure, because there were no checks and balances. So, this was an important structural process that played a very important role in paving the road to the growth of feminism.
- Normative Regulations:
Under this, there are separate moral standards of sexual values for women and men. If a man has sex before marriage, he is not looked down upon by the society as much as a woman is. Thus, if a woman has relations with another man after marriage, she is humiliated more than a man. It can still be seen in modern society and family units. American and European society was yet to come out of this traditional sex-gender system. After the exit from this system, the flourishing of sexual freedom was only natural.
- Symbolic Codes –
These comprise of the ideological formulations such as the sanctity of marriage, the moral responsibility to carry forward the family, the need for marriage to preserve one’s lineage or the concepts of marriage given by religion and the concepts of sexual pleasure and the moral boundaries of it.
These three social structures are not intrinsically bad or good. But their abuse created a situation that justified deviant sexual behavior. For example, the Sex/Gender system was presented as a tool of oppression. And once it’s done, the whole concepts of family and family systems fall into disarray. This system is shaped by the political, social and religious landscape of its surroundings and accepts their influence.
If we look at the scenarios given so far, one cannot help but feel that the kind of social, religious and political context that was created in America and Europe lead to the inevitable downfall and collapse of this system. At first it happened at theoretical level, and later, its practical manifestations started to emerge.
Now, if this decline is linked to the feminism movement, which is essentially a reactionary movement, the picture becomes clear. A way where no restriction applied, no more structured and institutionalized oppression, no more moral restriction on sexual pleasure and no more societal pressures. It has reached to a level that today few Ultra-feminists even say that men should also have the privilege of being mothers and science and technology should do something to make this possible.
The decline and eventual collapse of the Sex/Gender system paved the way for alternative and mutually exclusive gender and sex, and in the modern era, we see gender identities as a fluid pathway with innumerable possibilities.
Thus, the narrative presented above arguably prove that the philosophical and evolutionary factors responsible for deviant sexual behavior have brought this movement to a place where its effects can be clearly seen all over the world. Therefore, in the future, this movement has the power to threaten the moral landscape of human civilization which in turn will affect the way humans choose to keep adding to their own kind as species and survive as a coherent intelligent and enlightened being.
1.. Wilhelm Reich., (1947). The function of the orgasm. Sex economic problem of Biological Energy (Second Edition) p.5 Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, New York, USA (Translated from the German by Vincent. R. Carafagno)
For light reading please see
- Alfred C. Kinsey ., Wardell B. Pomeroy ., Clyde E. Martin . (1948). Sexual Behaviour in the Human male. W. B. Saunders company Philadelphia and London (USA)
4.Alfred C. Kinsey ., Wardell B. Pomeroy ., Clyde E. Martin . (1953). Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female. W. B. Saunders company Philadelphia and London (USA)
Alfred C. Kinsey ., Wardell B. Pomeroy ., Clyde E. Martin . (1948) . Sexual Behaviour in the Human male. Pp- 3-5. W. B. Saunders company Philadelphia and London (USA)
6.Cochran, W. G., Mosteller, F., Tukey, J. W., (1970) American Statistical Association., & National Research Council (U.S.). Statistical problems of the Kinsey report on sexual behaviour in the human male: A report of the American Statistical Association committee to advise the National Research Council, Committee for Research in Problems of Sex. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
- Cochran, W. Gemmell, Tukey, J. Wilder, Mosteller, F., & Jenkins, W. O. (1954). Statistical problems of the Kinsey report on sexual behaviour in the human male. Washington (D.C.): American statistical association.
- Giddens A. (1979). Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure, and Contradiction in Social Analysis (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), pp. 96-115 and 225-33,