Thursday, May 4, 2017

Is There A Scientific Explanation for Homophobia?

Think religion is the underlying cause of anti-gay sentiment around the globe? Think again, kids - the real answer is swimming around in our genetic code.

By: Jimbo X

Many, many years ago, I interviewed a hardline Christian kook who ran one of those conversion therapy programs - you know, those day camps that are meant to turn gay people straight like in But I'm A Cheerleader. Now, me being a fresh-out-of-college liberal know-it-all wise-ass, I pretty much shit on everything he said, constantly belittling and criticizing every argument he brought up (which, as we all know by now, is the hallmark of a truly great journalist.) Well, at one point in the interview, his disposition totally changed and he said something to me that I'll never, ever forget (and the quote below is a verbatim transcript pulled from an audio recording I've kept under lock and key in my super-duper secret evidence drawer, in case you're wondering.)
"You know, I can tell you don't like me and you don't like that we're doing conversion therapy and you think we're all a bunch of gay-hating monsters. But you know, it's not just Christians that have a problem with homosexuality. Muslims are against it, Jews are against it. Every civilization in human history has thought it was wrong, not just morally, but physically. There are native tribes in Africa and Brazil and Indonesia that all believe the same thing, that being gay is a sin. They've never heard of Christianity. They've never even heard the word 'gay' before. You know why people, across the world and throughout human history have been untrusting toward gays? Because they're anti-evolutionary. The whole point of humanity is to breed and reproduce and keep the species alive, and gays are totally against that. Religion or culture has nothing to do with what you think is 'homophobic' - it's just something built into our DNA." 
At the time, of course, I scoffed at such pseudo-science nonsense. But since I really couldn't refute any of the things he said about homophobia in other cultures, I simply leaned back in my chair with a panicked smirk and said "well, now that's simply preposterous" and hurriedly moved on to the next question to keep him from making me question my own self-endowed superiority anymore.

I left out that quote in the shitty story I ended up writing (which, of course, painted Mr. Conversion Therapy as a sociopathic gay hater, just like my employer wanted), but that quote just chewed its way through what I thought was my impenetrable progressivist armor. What he said about homophobia being a trans-religious and trans-cultural condition is 100 percent true - indeed, the most repressive societies in the world against gays are a menagerie of Muslim, African and Southeast Asian cultures where Christianity is far from a dominant religion. In fact, for all the shit Western-Christian societies get for being "homophobic," one look at a global map of LGBT legal protections makes it clear as day - countries where the majority population are Muslim, black or Asian are unquestionably more hostile towards homosexuals. As in, the government will literally EXECUTE you for sucking dick, munching carpet and taking it up the poop chute.

The tenets of Christianity certainly aren't propping up homophobia in these parts of the world. Rather, hating gays just seems to be an integral part of their social norms. The rampant homophobia in Asia is especially interesting, seeing as how the majority of individuals in the region are either atheistic or subscribe to some off-flavor, hands-off religion like Buddhism. Despite these parts of the world being incredibly disparate when it comes to cultural traditions and societal expectations, all three of them - and remember, this span of real estate literally constitutes 2/3rd of the entire human population - just flat out loathe homosexuals.

That all three parts of the world are innately tribalistic and family-oriented can't be a coincidence. Perhaps it shouldn't surprising at all that parts of the globe with the highest birth rates would have a seemingly natural disdain for homosexuals - but why is that the case

I've chewed on it and chewed on it for years, and after much, much debate, I've decided to turn tail and admit that Mr. Conversion Therapy Psycho Man was - well, right. Simply put - homophobic people are just plain hardwired to be homophobic.

The greatest argument "against" homosexuality isn't the Bible or the Koran or whatever other bullshit you want to normally cite when penning long screeds about the wrongheadedness of not liking gays. Rather, the ultimate "no homo" screed was penned by - of all people - Richard Dawkins. 

Enter The Selfish Gene. In the landmark 1976 book, Dawkins made a lot of intriguing claims about evolution, especially his stance on inclusive fitness as an evolutionary stable strategy. This might sound like a bunch of gobbledygook upfront, but a few copy and paste jobs from Wikipedia will show you the gist of his argument: 
In describing genes as being "selfish", Dawkins states unequivocally that he does not intend to imply that they are driven by any motives or will, but merely that their effects can be metaphorically and pedagogically described as if they were. The contention is that the genes that are passed on are the ones whose evolutionary consequences serve their own implicit interest (to continue the anthropomorphism) in being replicated, not necessarily those of the organism. In later work, Dawkins brings evolutionary "selfishness" down to creation of a widely proliferated extended phenotype.[8]
Dawkins proposes the idea of the "replicator":[11]"It is finally time to return to the problem with which we started, to the tension between individual organism and gene as rival candidates for the central role in natural selection ... one way of sorting this whole matter out is to use the terms ‘replicator’ and ‘vehicle’. The fundamental units of natural selection, the basic things that survive or fail to survive, that form lineages of identical copies with occasional random mutations, are called replicators. DNA molecules are replicators. They generally, for reasons that we shall come to, gang together into large communal survival machines or ‘vehicles’."— Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, p. 253 (Anniversary Edition) 
The original replicator (Dawkins' Replicator) was the initial molecule which first managed to reproduce itself and thus gained an advantage over other molecules within the primordial soup.[12] As replicating molecules became more complex, Dawkins postulates, the replicators became the genes within organisms, with each organism's body serving the purpose of a 'survival machine' for its genes. 
Dawkins writes that gene combinations which help an organism to survive and reproduce tend to also improve the gene's own chances of being replicated, and, as a result, "successful" genes frequently provide a benefit to the organism. An example of this might be a gene that protects the organism against a disease. This helps the gene spread, and also helps the organism.

Alright, got that? Basically, what Dawkins is saying is that our genes are constantly trying to evolve into something stronger or at least become stable enough, and that people form closer bonds with their family than other people because - you guessed it - everybody has the same genetic material, desperately, direly hoping to be passed down so it can evolve and mutate and create "better" organisms. So on the molecular level, the whole point of existing is to breed, reproduce and keep that one-of-a-kind gene batter flowing through the bloodline.

So if deep down all humans really are are just walking carriers of genetic material on a constant quest for replication via heterosexual intercourse, what's the evolutionary point of being homosexual

Well - there isn't. If a person is gay, that means they probably won't be having children anytime soon, which means those "eternal genes" hit a biological dead end. Could it be that maybe - just maybe - this willful refusal to reproduce and keep the genetic material going through another generation is the main reason why so many people (especially in tribal societies with large families, whose very survival hinges on continuous in-group population growth) have such a disgust and distaste for homosexuals?

OK, that might fly in third world backwaters, you might be thinking to yourself, but why oh why would such genetic collectivism mean a toot to people who live in progressive, first-world, "me first and fuck the rest of ya'll" individualistic societies like the United States? How could this evolutionary homophobia argument ever be considered even remotely feasible? 

Well, believe it or not, we can go right back to The Selfish Gene and yank out at least one possible explanation: memes, motherfuckers, memes.

The term meme first appeared in Dawkins' landmark book on evolutionary genetics. Basically, he refers to them as any non-biological human artifact - "an idea, behavior or style" - that can be transmitted from person to person inside a culture. Much like real genes, these vessels of social notions self-replicate, mutate and are even prone to natural selection. This passage taken from the Richard Dawkins Foundation website does a pretty good job summing up what memes are and their import to human culture:
Expanding on these observations and discoveries, Dawkins wondered, when observing behaviours among humans, whether any similar process could be at work to explain why some ideas, which on the face of it seem injurious to those who hold them, continue to persist and proliferate. Devoting oneself to one’s art, impoverishing oneself in the pursuit of Truth, or welcoming martyrdom for one’s cause do not, it seems, represent behaviours which are obviously beneficial to the individual of for the spread of that individual’s genes. So, given that this kind of behaviour clearly exists, and is widespread, what is reaping the benefit? Dawkins’ somewhat surprising answer was the ideas themselves. Ideas are clearly in competition with each other so perhaps there’s a selection process going on, analogous to natural selection, through which some ideas prove successful and spread whilst others die out. He concluded that there was such a selection process and, to emphasise the parallel to natural selection, he coined the term “meme” which come from an ancient Greek root, “mimeme”, meaning imitated thing. 
Dawkins has also, perhaps a touch mischievously, referred to memes as “mind viruses”, which has been met, predictably, with howls of indignation from some circles. The point he is trying to make is that memes, just like viruses, are indifferent to the welfare or otherwise of their hosts and the only thing that counts, from their perspective, is that they persist. For a meme to survive and spread in a competitive environment it must have attributes which give it advantages over other memes. Whilst advantageous to the meme they do not have to be to the benefit of the host. A new method to make blades sharper is valuable knowledge and will either spread throughout a population, if allowed to do so, or will be guarded jealously by those who already possess that knowledge. Either way its efficacy is an attribute which will guarantee its retention. On the other hand, an idea such as “life after death” has the attribute that, since people are scared of death, a belief in a hereafter is likely to be a popular notion and, indeed, is. Such a belief may or may not benefit the host. If it removes the fear of death to the extent that, say, martyrdom is positively welcomed, the host clearly does not benefit; at least in this life!"

So we can agree that that homosexuality - in basic principle - is evolutionarily pointless in regards to genetics. But that doesn't mean homosexuality doesn't have an evolutionary point in regards to memetics. Gay sex - sans some sort of sci-fi advent - will never result in the replication and retransmission of genes. But despite the fact whatever hypothetical "gay gene" can't be passed on through reproductive sex, homosexuals still exist - and may indeed be becoming more commonplace in general society. 

So how is that possible? If homosexuality really is an in-born, genetic condition - and homosexuals still can't reproduce with one another - then how is the hypothetical gay gene still being passed on

Well, this may sound a little controversial, but I'd like to throw out at least one hypothesis: because homosexuality - and yes, even heterosexuality - are both learned behaviors, not intrinsic genetic attributes. 

When it comes to the topic of sexuality, for whatever reason, we're still stuck in the idea of this false binary; you're either straight or you're gay. Well, as evident by the trans-movement as of late, that's kind of an erroneous assumption. The fact of the matter is that sexual orientation extends far beyond the element of gender, and I'd venture to guess that most - if not all - forms of sexual orientation are socially developed.

Remember earlier when that conversion therapy guy broke my brain and accidentally gave me an epiphany that changed my entire perspective on the world? Well, here's another such instance - and of all things, it happened on a fucking Xbox forum. 

For whatever reason, I was scanning the general discussion section and stumbled across an argument about homosexuality. Pretty much everybody on the board believed it was genetic, except for this one Jesus freak forum member who everybody hated who said among the stupidest shit you've ever heard anybody say. Alas, like one of those mentally retarded basketball players that somehow manages to hit 18 three-pointers in their only high school game, on this very special day, he managed to say something that was exceedingly brilliant. Its been a long time and I couldn't find the original post, so I'm going to try and do my best job paraphrasing the comment: 
"If being gay is genetic, what does that make all those fetishists who are into feet and leather and furries? Are they genetically hardwired to sexually enjoy being peed on or dressing up like cartoon characters?"
Again, it was one of those small, simple-minded observations I never would've made in a million billion years, but goddamnit, that kid had a point. There's an entire cosmos of fringe fetishists into some of the most abstruse shit you can possibly think of. If sexual orientation is ingrained, does that mean people actually have genetic predispositions to being turned on by balloons, sneezing and dressing up in horrifying rubber dog suits? Is there actually a gene out there in the global pool responsible for making people sexually enjoy catheters and mannequins and eyeball licking? Or did our good old buddy Freud make a bit more sense when he proposed that early childhood experiences regarding gender identity and the circumstantial factors of early puberty play a greater role in the development of people's individual psychosexual kinks?

Funny how sexual preference is the only kind of individual taste we chalk up to the work of genetics. Has anyone ever argued that people are born with a predilection for certain foods, or certain colors or certain types of music? Virtually every kind of orientation imaginable we attribute to a confluence of external developmental factors in the maturation process, but somehow, where we like to stick our dicks and what we enjoy having in our pussies was determined before we were ever born. 

Sexual orientation entails far more than just a simple gender or genitalia preference. For example, there are some guys out there who fetishize women with certain traits and characteristics - i.e., dudes who are only into obese women, or really tall women or redheads or women with only one leg. By definition, these people have a sexual orientation towards these oddly specific things. If a dude is into women who wear librarian glasses or has really long nails, it's not an attraction born in his DNA. Clearly, he had some experience with these fetishized objects as a kid and when he started to develop during puberty these things took on an elevated sexual status (Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality is a great place to start you own research, but I'd also recommend checking out what Ernest Becker has to say on the matter in his superb tome The Denial of Death.) Individual sexuality isn't predetermined in the womb, it clearly comes about via a long process of social experiences. There's a deluge of federally funded studies demonstrating that homosexuals are far likelier to have experienced sexual maltreatment as children, with one JAMA study suggesting that homosexual males are seven times likelier to have experienced sexual abuse as youngsters. Another meta-study found that children adopted by homosexual parents were as much as 50 percent likelier to report "non-heterosexual" identities. Sorry, folks, but statistics like these can't be attributed to mere biological happenstance

I recently read a story about a woman in France who married a robot. Does she say that her bizarre sexual affinity for machines was manifest in her DNA? No, she just comes out and SAYS that her sexual desire for robots was the endpoint of various experiences she had in her youth that ran parallel to puberty. So why is it off limits to view homosexuality AND heterosexuality as the end dividend of similar developmental experiences instead of attributing them to some fatalistic pseudo-biology?

If heterosexuality serves a "point" by facilitating gene replication and transmission, what sort of "point" does homosexuality serve? Well, it does indeed seek to replicate and transmit something, and that thing is the meme of gay culture.

For the longest time we've pondered the question: is being "gay" something you are, or something you do? It seems rather peculiar that something as basic as liking sex in a different hole would be significant enough to change one's entire perspective on the world, but as condemnation of Silicon Valley homosexuals like Peter Thiel demonstrate, apparently, being gay culturally means much more than simply slobbin' on some knob or taking it in the dookie door from time to time.

Being gay, socially, isn't just about being a woman who likes her fish taco being eaten out by another woman or being a dude who likes his butthole licked by another man. Let that great hoi polli of shared human knowledge known as Wikipedia tell it to you like it is: being homosexual entails much more than the act of homosexual sex, it's membership in a veritable society unto itself, complete with its own language, cultural norms, entertainment and politics. One could even argue that it even has its own religion in the form of victimization ideology, complete with its own sacred text and blueprint for normalizing homosexuality (in turn, making it easier to propagate and transmit gay culture throughout a larger host body.)
From a Dawkinisian perspective, perhaps all homosexuality is is but a memetic method of reproducing and re-transmitting the peculiar ideals and mores of gay culture into the larger, overarching social structure?

Gay culture and heterosexual culture (i.e., traditional culture) seek different ends. The whole point of traditional culture is anchored around families (hence, why so many sociologists call the family the "nucleus" of culture itself) and the physical replication and reproduction of the species. Meanwhile, homosexual culture is anchored around the elimination of families as a social construct, and - rather directly - the elimination of the replication and reproduction of the species altogether. These ideals are totally incompatible, with "gay culture" literally representing cultural death for tribalistic societies whose existential continuation hinges on families. In that scenario, you can call their homophobia a lot of things; ignorant, exaggerated, close-minded. But the one thing you can't call it is "unfounded." The so-called "gay culture" - complete with its anti-family mores and attitudes - would indeed lead to the end of their genetic legacy. You may not like on a moral level, but on the grounds of sheer evolutionary science, they have every reason in the world to be distrustful and disdainful of homosexuals.

And at the end of the day, I think that's what truly drives homophobia as an attitude and a worldview. It has nothing to do with faith or religion and everything to do with the rudimentary existential question of mankind - why are we here

Dawkins' "Selfish Gene" hypothesis explains the existential necessity for heterosexuality. The evolutionary point of existence is to make more people so the best-suited phenotypes continue to evolve, grow, and become more widespread throughout the gene pool. And in tribalistic societies - where large families are more or less required for survival - such genetic retransmissions are absolutely pivotal.

"Gay culture," then, cannot be seen as anything less than a bona fide existential threat for tribalistic, hetero-normative societies. The proliferation of homosexuality means the end of genetic progress and that spells the literal death of the tribe and the bloodline.

Whenever you hear third world America-haters criticize the "degeneracy of the West," that's precisely the kind of thing they're talking about. They see feminism and consumerism and hyper-capitalism as grave threats to their cultural well-being, and perhaps no Westernized import is as lethal to their long-held customs and beliefs as America's "gay culture."

We've all read many a screed detailing the largely metaphorical international war between mass commercialization and  tribal ethnonationality. Alas, the thing that books like Jihad vs. McWorld and The Lexus and The Olive Tree overlook is that the aspect of modernity contemporary Third World peoples resent the most isn't globalization and free trade, but progressive liberal values. It's hard to imagine how guys like Thomas Friedman and Benjamin Barber - who can see clear as day how globalized politics and international economics represent threats to the family-oriented, tribalistic ways of billions of people in Africa, the Middle East and Asia - can't detect the exact same root to the regions' immense homophobia. 

If you are a tribalistic culture where the family is paramount for survival, why wouldn't you be terrified of a culture where thousands of people fetishize contracting (and infecting others with) a terminal illness? Why wouldn't one read-through of And The Band Played On and its rather frank description of rampant homosexual promiscuity shock the living shit out of people who dedicate their lives to raising families and ensuring their genetic legacy lives on? Why wouldn't people with a profound reverence for the natural order of things be aghast at the ways of people so gloriously vain, materialistic and superficial? Why is it so surprising to learn that people who embrace simple, meager existences wouldn't see eye-to-eye with hyper-modernists whose unfulfilling lives are coupled with exorbitantly high rates of depression, mental disorder diagnoses and suicide? It's startling to learn that people who embrace humility as an ethical cornerstone - and who literally consider self-exaltation the most serious of deadly sins might just have a few philosophical problems with people who endlessly champion their own in-group prideIt's supposed to be shocking that people with a deep-seated sense of patriarchal protectionism aren't OK with a subset of the population who tends to not only sexualize young children, but actually abuse them at disproportionately high ratesWhy are we supposed to be surprised that paternalistic cultures - where child-raising is regarded as the basic causa sui of existence - don't exactly think too kindly of people who don't pass on their genetic material? Just take a look at the National Family Structure Studies, which takes a look at the outcomes for children raised by intact biological families, divorced heterosexuals and homosexual parents. Literally ACROSS THE BOARD children who grew up in homes with their biological parents are less likely to engage in drug use, get arrested, rely on public assistance, be depressed, have sexually transmitted diseases, be sexually abused, be unemployed, have an affair or attempt suicide while children who grew up with homosexual parents (be they adopted or the result of some iffy one-off hetero encounter) are ALL at elevated risk for everything mentioned above.

Isn't it weird how all the most virulently homophobic cultures on Earth - ranging from Shia Muslims in Iraq to Southern Baptists in Kentucky to hardline anti-commies in Indonesia to animist tribesmen in Sub-Sahara Africa - are all ones with a profound appreciation and reverence for the traditional family structure and their own genetic legacy?

You may not like it. You may not want to accept it. You can scream and yell and cry and moan and point fingers and holler "homophobia" until your vocal cords fall out, but the hard scientific data is undebatable: they may not be your reasons, but there are a whole hell of a lot of people out there who have very good biological reasons to dislike homosexuals. 

And if that offends you, tough titties: after all,  who are you to criticized people for their anti-homosexual views when they were pretty much born that way?


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