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Essentialist Theory

The existence of the sex drive seems to be evident in ancient worlds as well as the modern world. Here is where the essentialist steps into his theory on homosexual orientations. Niclas Berggren identified the essentialist views into two mutually exclusive categories:[1]

  1. Humans have a fixed sexual orientation, determined at birth, and it is that of perfect bisexuality. Social factors are irrelevant both for determining a person's sexual orientations as well as for people's understanding of this concept.
  2. Humans have a fixed sexual orientation, determined at birth, and for the entire population, it is distributed along a continuum, ranging from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. Social factors are irrelevant both for determining a person's sexual orientation as well as for people's understanding of this concept.

While radical essentialism to encompass exclusively any of the two theories above is considered naive, the moderate essentialist sees them as possible avenues of contribution towards a more complex essentialist theory.

Anthropologically speaking, even the Sambia have a certain portion of their population (approximately 5%)[3] who continue to have same-sex relations, or too much heterosexual relations, even after completing their rites of passage into adulthood.

Essentialists also give credence to the biological and psychological factors surrounding homosexuality. Specifically:

``that sexuality is strongly influenced by natural, non-social factors, such as genes, and that people's personal characteristics - in addition to their bodies - are shaped by evolutionary forces...''[1]

The view that the genes are in control of the person is not appealing to anyone but pure essentialists. In any politically correct circle, this evidence is stigmatised as ``fascist'' and shunned as a ``hyper-essentialist'' point of view.[2] Despite the research that has gone into this field of enquiry there is, as of yet, any veridical evidence, much less controversial evidence, to support it.

Researchers presenting biological ``evidence'' such as Simon LeVay, Dean Hamer, and Jim McKnight2 often seem to conflate the attack on social constructionism with providing solid evidence for the essentialist argument. As a result:[11]

``by never coming to grips with the complexity of...social constructionism...and by reducing this mode of analysis to a homogeneous and simplistic doctrine that is antagonistic to biology...we are left with a book that has no further ambition than expanding and inflaming the political and intellectual divisions that already exist between the sciences and the humanities.''

Psychologically, the view has been that local environmental factors (not to be confused with sociological factors) contribute to the sexual orientation of a person. For example, experiences as a small child that reinforce particular patterns of behaviour may lead towards an adaptation of that behaviour as adults.

In sum, the essentialist notion of homosexuality, in the era of science, is that we are slaves to our genes - every preference, and sexual desire that we have is in large part ``hard-wired.'' Or like an animal, we are subject to stimulus and response behavioural patterns, over which we have no control!


next up previous
Next: The Unified Theory Up: A Unified Theory on Previous: Social Constructionist Theory
Elmo Recio 2000-12-06