Saturday, August 13, 2011

Brody's Scribbles... Sexual Orientation is Not a F**king Preference!

By Tim Trent | DARTMOUTH, ENGLAND -- For quite some time now I have found that the vociferous moral minority likes to use the words 'Sexual Preference' as a kind of verbal subliminal trick to try to pretend that we are in some way able to control our sexual attraction to others. I've found it happens often, and I've objected to the words.
Today I decided to look at the words a little more closely. This is not an exhaustive analysis. I performed two searches, using Google. Now search results lists change over time, so I took snapshots of them as well. The first is for Sexual Preference. I have my search results set so that Safe Search is set to 'Off'. [ Click on images to enlarge. ]

Notice that many of the top results are from user populated web media. Notice as well that Sexual Preference in the quasi-authoritative Wikipedia is redirected to Sexual Orientation. User populated web media is unreliable. User created dictionary sites are capable of bias. Terms may be misdefined. Look at the redefinition of Santorum, the surname of a minor US anti gay politician!
The second search is for Sexual Orientation.

The results table is immediately different. Out go user created sites and dictionary definitions, in come authoritative sites. Notice that I am looking at the quality of the site returned, not the content of the articles returned. Quality of medium says a lot.
Starting with this data datum point let's look at the words 'preference' and 'orientation'. At first sight they seem similar enough not to be noteworthy. But try using them in a sentence.
  • "My preference is for green trousers."
  • "I prefer tea to coffee."
  • "My preference is for oak furniture."
Obviously 'preferring' something shows a liking for something. One may like anything. One may learn to like Guinness though one hated one's first mouthful.
  • "Ohio State's University Orientation will be your first real taste of life as a Buckeye."
  • "Your study at USQ commences with Orientation."
  • "Orientation is your chance to learn about the University, ask questions, sign up for classes, get to know your fellow classmates, and begin your adventure ..."
Clearly there is something different here. So I looked, next, at the Oxford English Dictionary:
That looks more interesting. 'Preference' is to do with likes, 'orientation' is to do with feelings. But none of these are particularly helpful, nor conclusive in any meaningful way. All that work is wasted. Ah well, never mind, it was an interesting diversion. I'd hoped we could get all scientific about it as well. It seems we have to come down to the words and their effect on people, back to oratory.
When you know you are left handed it irks you to be told that '[name] prefers his (her) left hand for writing' because it damned well isn't a preference. You're left handed, right handed or ambidextrous. It's a thing you're stuck with, immutable, though you are capable of learning to use the other hand given the right stimulus.
Sex is pretty similar. Now think about this for a moment. Before the dawn of sexual feelings we all 'prefer' the opposite sex. We do this because we expect to marry, have children and live a contented life of the normality presented to us by our parents.
As sexual feelings dawn we discover what our orientation is. Ninety percent of the population give this no thought. The opposite sex is attractive, the orientation matches the preference, and all is comfortable with the world. I this I include those who identify as bisexual. Some of us have a nasty shock. We discover that the same sex is alluring and attractive, and the opposite sex has little or no appeal. Our orientation is suddenly at odds with our preference, with what we expected to continue to like.
For some of us that is bad enough news to make us unwell. Some, those with unfriendly peers, have chosen death in the past, some will choose death in the future.
We know, we just know, that preference is not the same as orientation. To give you an idea, I have been married for 32 years to a gorgeous girl whom I love dearly. She is my sexual preference. She is not my sexual orientation, for I am homosexual. Love can be strong enough to set an orientation aside, but it has not, even after almost 33 years of being in love with her, changed my orientation even a smidgen. This is a matter of some regret for us both.
So, when I hear some patronising fool use the term 'sexual preference' as a way of describing homosexuality, I wish to strangle that fool, to beat that fool, to bludgeon that fool to death. Now that is a preference! I simply choose not to, except with words.
Sexual Orientation is Not a Fucking Preference!


Trab said...

I've always hated the way 'they' say "preference" too, when it is patently incorrect.

I should add here that transgendered folks not only have the confusion about preferring one gender to another in in others, but also within their own bodies. I know I have not phrased this correctly, and I apologize to any transgender people for being unable to state the point perfectly.