A writer at The Cipher offers a fresh look at the debate between social constructionists and (biological) essentialists in determining homosexuality.
Under the impact of post-modern theorists, such as Michel Foucault, professional historians have been active participants in the essentialist-social constructionist debate, and with very few exceptions, their research has given further ammunition to social constructionists. Rather than continue this argument here, however, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on whether this discussion continues to be productive for historians. It may be time to move on and ask different kinds of historical questions.
The writer adds:
The drumbeat to prove that sexuality is environmentally-determined pervades every study published on the history of same-sex sexuality. But it appears that at this particular moment, we have reached an impasse. No matter how many historical studies come out arguing that sexuality is culturally-constructed, most people in our society ignore such scholarship, and even many people in the gay community refuse to be convinced. And no matter how many scientific studies come out arguing that homosexuality is linked to the size of the hypothalamus, the relative sizes of the ring and forefinger, and the like, newspapers across the country proclaim that more proof has been amassed linking homosexuality to our DNA, even though virtually none of these studies has ever been scientifically replicated, and they discount the well-documented variability of sexual expression across periods and cultures.
Filed under: Homosexuality