Have you ever wondered what creates a persons sexual preference? Is it possible that their social influences and environment can lead them to certain sexual practices and same sex relationships or could it be that some people have a genetic makeup that makes it completely natural to be attracted to members of the same sex? These questions lead us to the long-lived debate of nature or nurture. Some scientists believe that people behave as they do according to their genetic predispositions or even “animal instincts.
” This is known as the “nature” theory of human behavior.
Other scientists believe that people think and behave in certain ways because they are taught to do so. This is known as the “nurture” theory of human behavior. Is a person nurtured into becoming homosexual or are they just born that way. Nurture advocates have argued this debate with theories such as adopted lifestyle, child abuse and distant father theories. Still these theories lack the evidence supported by studies to prove them to be anything but just ideas.
Although, nurture can be a slight influence, it is not a determinant.
Through numerous studies to support their theories, Nature has proven with solid biological evidence to be the true cause of homosexuality. A Fast-growing understanding of the human genome has recently made it clear that both sides may partly be right. Nature endows us with inborn abilities and traits, while nurture takes these genetic tendencies and molds them as we learn and mature (Longino, pg154). End of story, right? Hardly, the “nature vs. nurture” debate still surges on, as scientist fight over how much of whom we are is shaped by genes and how much by the environment.
Scientists supporting nature theories have known for years that traits such as eye color and hair color are determined by specific genes encoded in each human cell. The Nature Theory takes things a step further to say that a more abstract trait such as personality, intelligence, aggression, and sexual orientation are also encoded in an individual’s DNA (Lewontin and Rose and Kamin, 137). In today’s biological research and discovery of human genes, there has been scientific proof documenting the broad majority of biological functions our genes are responsible for.
These discoveries have opened the doors to possibilities that homosexuality could have a genetic and biological foundation (Shmidt, pg. 56). Animal studies have discovered clues to the nature of homosexuality, and proposed theories that include the existence of a “gay gene” that actually causes homosexuality and the possibility of hormone influencing brain development and sexual orientation during the gestation of a fetus (Moalem, 166). Historically people have turned to animal observations and their behaviors to gain a feel for what is natural and what is not.
It is believed that if animals ate for energy and mated to ensure the proliferation of their species, that it would also be natural for Man to engage in these same activities. Consequently, supporters whom share the same belief that homosexuality is natural, cite numerous examples of homosexuality occurring both in wild and captive animals. A prime example is held in the Manhattan’s Central Park Zoo. It was here in 2004 where the two housed male penguins successfully coupled for over six years.
This male penguin couple was even able to incubate a fertilized egg that was given to them by the zoo’s chief keeper, their incubation resulted to a live birth of a chick (Smith, Online). There are numerous accounts of homosexual behavior in other animals, such as giraffes, birds, rams, bottle-nosed dolphins and many more (Bagemihl, 47). While this does present a great argument of homosexuality being natural, there is a danger in using animals as a gage for determining if something is natural or not (Bagemihl, 339).
For example, there are some animals, such as the hamster that are known to kill and eat their offspring in times of stress (Camuti). Killing our young, in this case, can hardly be considered natural for humans, for it is not in our biological makeup (Schmidt, pg 134). Further research provides additional evidence to link homosexuality to nature is. It is Dr. Dean Hamer who successfully identifies a gene marker on the X chromosomes, a region which he termed Xq28. In his study, he examined 114 families with homosexual members and found that the incidence of homosexuality was higher in the maternal side of the families.
As males get their Y chromosomes from their fathers and, X chromosomes from their mothers, Hamer came to the conclusion that there is definite proof that male homosexuality does have a biological basis in the Xq28 region of the X chromosome. (Shultz, 139; Hammer, Online) To further substantiate biology as the true cause of Homosexuality, Michael Bailey of Northwestern University joined Richard Pillard of the Boston University School of Medicine to publish a study of homosexuality in twins. The findings of their study showed that sexual orientation is something that one is born with.
Pillard and Bailey and surveyed homosexual men about their brothers, and they found some statistics that were rather unexpected. Of the homosexuals who had identical twin brothers, 52 percent of those twins were also homosexual. 22 percent of those who had fraternal twins said that their twin was gay, and only eleven percent of those who had adopted siblings said that their adopted brothers were also homosexual. Bailey and Pillard attributed the differences in these percentages to the difference in the amount of genetic material shared.
Since identical twins have the same genetic code, they are far more likely to share sexual orientation than fraternal twins. In the same way, it is obvious that fraternal twins have more in common genetically than do their adopted siblings (J. Michael Bailey, and Richard C. Pillard, pg 1089-1096; D’Augelli, and Patterson, pg 102 ). To add to Pillard’s and Bailey’s findings, scientists have found that there are quit possibly other factors involved in the cause of homosexuality. It is during the fetus period when these factors will become important.
During the fetus period when most brothers should have approximately the same concordance rates, the twins derived from separately fertilized eggs seem to exhibit much higher. It is possible that the hormone levels of the fetus, during the gestation period, could effect brain development changes. Research has shown that a male rat will have more feminine behaviors and traits if the male sexual organ is removed before the critical point of maturity. This point in time has been determined by the masculinisation of the brain by testosterone produced in the male sexual organs.
Essentially the rat now has a female brain, a natural development due to the absence of testosterone. On the other had, if a male rat with sexual organs removed had not passed this point was then injected with testosterone would hold the male characteristics. In humans, embryos start producing sex hormones around the 6th week of gestation. (Lewontin and Rose and Kamin, 153; Longino, pg 122) Diamond conducted a study to help explain exactly how hormones could be the cause of homosexuality. Dr. Diamond’s study proposed there to be four stages of sexual orientation development in the fetus brain. These stages, nvolve laying down basic sexual patterns in the brain which produce attributes we generally assign to different sexes, determine gender of desired sexual partner, determine sexual identity and to determine sexual anatomy. A surplus or deficit of testosterone in any stage of the brains development could ultimately cause undermasculinisation or over-masculinisation in its corresponding stage (Moir, 412). The brain of a male fetus would most likely develop into one that would seek out male sexual partners if it did not get enough testosterone during the stage which determines the gender of a sexual desire.
If this same male fetus then receives sufficient testosterone during the stage determining sexual identity, his brain would likely cause him to identify as a male and because of the lack of testosterone during the sexual desire stage would still seek out men as a sexual partners. Testosterone levels received at each stage will change the individuals own sexual desire and identity. This theory can explain various human characteristics observed in real life. There are some men, though feminine in behavior, identify as men and seek out women as sexual partners, and thus cannot be considered homosexual despite feminine behavior.
Then there are those that are thoroughly masculine in behavior but identify as a man and seek out men as sexual partners, and considered homosexual despite otherwise masculine behavior (Longino, pg 153; (Bushong,3 ;Moir, and Jassel, 58). While attempts to discredit that genetic tendencies do indeed exist, advocates of the nurture theory still believe they essentially, don’t matter. Although their theories have yet to produce a single study to validate their claim, the aspects of our behavior ultimately only originate from environmental factors of our surroundings.
There have been a number of theories presented in attempts to prove the involvement of ones environmental and social influence and their homosexuality. These theories include sexual abuse at a young age, Distant Father or even that the homosexual individual has made a personal choice to adopt a learned lifestyle solely through observation. Our first cause theory of homosexuality stems from the possible sexual abuse during the individual’s childhood. This theory is based on the possibility that an abused young child will develop confusion and doubt about one own self sexuality.
Amongst this confusion the individual will then identify themselves as a homosexual. This described confusion had been repeatedly exhibited by male survivors of childhood sexual abuse (Cameron, and Cameron, Physiological Reports). This theory lacks proof to substantiate their claim and their theory also does not explain why all abused individual are homosexual and all homosexuals have not been abused. Nor does their theory account for the opposite reaction expressed by other male survivors (Lasik).
Instead of a confusion that ended in homosexuality, they became openly angry and hostile towards other homosexuals. The sexual abuse survivor not only didn’t become homosexual they become a homophobic (Gold and Dickstein and Marx and Lexington, Academic journal). The “Distant Father” theory has been presented as yet another nurture cause of homosexuality. The “distant father” theory states that male homosexuality is caused by the unavailability of fatherly affection and attention during a young boy’s childhood (Dickson).
When the father is physically absent, incapable or even just emotionally unavailable the son will not form that needed father son bond. The lack of presence of the Father or Father figure has a profound psychological impact on the young, developing male to compensate for the lack of fatherly love, the son will by develop a strong desire for the closeness with a man; this desire by the son will then grow to homosexual feelings. As a whole, the evidence does support that most homosexual men believe that they had less attention or love from their fathers than their heterosexual counterparts (Nicolosi, 43).
While there is some evidence that does create a link between “distant fathers” and homosexuality, it does not account for homosexuals who have had close relationships with their fathers and their families or for heterosexuals with weak relationships with their fathers. (Dickson; Nicolosi, 37). Another Theory comes from some conservative Christian groups whom share the belief that homosexuals are the way they are because at a young age they became interested in the homosexual behaviors of others that they were witness too.
When the young child shows homosexual interest in liberal society; where the interest is not repressed but accepted, this interest will grow to develop their homosexuality. The homosexual behavior is observed at such a young age that the child actually believes that they were homosexual all along, the homosexual life style has been so entrenched into the individual, that any exploration to determine the individuals true sexual orientation would never prove successful. (Moore, 275; Schmidt, pg 144). A large hole in the theory that discredits t all together is the lack of proof or studies recording the observation of homosexual activities as a young child by a now adult homosexual individual. To further discredit theory, how would they explain those adult homosexuals who have never experience any such behavior prior to their own self homosexual discovery? Since the Dawn of humanity, Human Sexuality, especially the cause of Homosexuality, has been one of societies most controversial, interesting and debated topics. While Nurture theories have attempted to show through angles of child abuse, abandonment and environment to be the true and final answer to this long time debate.
Every theory Nurture presented still lack the studies to prove them to be anything but just speculations. Nature has been the only side of this debate that has provided solid biological findings, through genetic, hormonal and conclusive animal studies, to be the only true cause behind the development of homosexuality. Psychologists have found that, although various situational differences can be traumatic in a child’s life, the influence of the upbringing environment doesn’t overshadow the hereditary source of behavior.
Cite this Homosexuality – Nature or Nurture Essay
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