The Psychology of Sexual Orientation, Behavior, and Identity: A Handbook

By Louis Diamant; Richard D. McAnulty | Go to book overview

4
Sexual Orientation and Development: An Interactive Approach

Michael R. Kauth and Seth C. Kalichman


DEFINING SEXUAL ORIENTATION

It is difficult to imagine any other culture that has been as consumed by sexuality as modern Western society during the past century. Rather than a general interest in sexuality, the West has demonstrated an obsession with homosexuality and once-taboo practices such as masturbation and oral sex. Despite claims of scientific objectivism, most theories of sexual attraction are stereotypes about homosexual development cloaked in scientific jargon. Kuhn ( 1970) charged that scientific theories reflect the socially accepted assumptions of their day and therefore are bound by their sociological and historical context. When theoretic anomalies become numerous, a scientific revolution occurs. Current thought about sexual orientation is on the threshold of such a revolution as it struggles to incorporate data from DNA studies, family prevalence studies, and crosscultural and transhistorical observations. This chapter shifts away from singlefactor theories toward a more comprehensive interactive model of sexual orientation.

Many ancient writers mused on the nature of attraction to one gender or the other, or to both, without interference of social stigma or assignment of sexual identity ( Boswell 1980, 1994). Although sexual orientation is a loaded Western concept, the term is still a useful one, if we avoid imposing Western thoughts and meanings associated with our language on non-Western, noncontemporary cultures.

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