Note 5:12PM I’ve added a few links to this post of other commentaries.
Tracy Baim, writes on The Huffington Post: In Defense of Cynthia Nixon: Why ‘Born This Way’ Doesn’t Matter. The quote here is from her (Baim’s) wonderful post.
While some argue that women are more prone to the “nurture” side because of a more fluid sexuality, I don’t think it is as simple as that. I think women, starting in the 1970s, took a very political approach to identity politics, and it was empowering to believe we control “our bodies, ourselves.” For men, because of the pressure to be masculine and fit a male stereotype, it was easier to place the power elsewhere, with Mother Nature, not mother nurture.
I quoted this part because I think one of the primary questions here is all abut “self-identification” and “disclosure,” not merely Sexual Identity as if that were an easily evaluated characteristic like blood type or something. I especially applaud Baim’s ideas that identity politics (or I might say gender politics) is every bit as much a part of the discourse as biology, genetics, and environment.
One of the real problems of the “born this way” argument, is that it fails to treat sexuality s fluid. It presupposes that you are either born gay or straight. We might pay some lip service to the notion of bisexuality (so that people are born as gay, bi, or straight), but come on- really. When ever anyone is talking about being born this way, they really are talking about gay. Consider John Aravosis, and his rebuke of Nixon for example. For him, being gay is not the same thing as being bisexual at all, and Nixon has no right to call herself gay. I think he is full of shit in this regards.
So what did Nixon choose? The controversy seems to be over if she chose to be gay, but is it that or not? Perhaps, if we are more clear, we each choose to accept our innate sexuality or we do not. In that regard, I don’t choose to be gay, but I choose to accept that I am gay, and choose to acknowledge my innate sexual orientation.
Read all of Baim’s post, it is really great.
I think the emphasis some place on the “born this way” argument stems from internalized homophobia. On some level we buy into that being gay is wrong, and the solution- what makes it not wrong is that it is out of our control. This is a fairly self-disempowering idea, and plays directly into the homophobe’s argument that you can be born that way, but you must fight it and not allow yourself to act upon it.
I really wonder what the various commentaries would be if it had been a man who, like N icon had had both male and female relationships and was now making the claim that they had made a choice. So many of the commentaries seem to suggest that there is a real gender difference here, and not only is what is being said, but how this issue fills our minds, differs between the sexes.
From the “male” side of it (the Aravosis side perhaps) I also wonder how a history of the AIDS pandemic influences our ideas. Are some folks such abolitionists when it comes to the nature vs nurture argument because of how hard we battled for any dignity and love at all as we were blamed for bringing the pandemic on ourself?
I think another reason some battle against nixon’s comments so strongly is because some don’t want to really deal with the notion of sexual orientation as fluid. Some want to pretend that bisexuals make up only a very small and quirky part of the whole. Sexual orientation as fluid, such as expressed by the Kinsey scale would suggest that the majority of people are bisexual. If the gay community (in this regard, including women/lesbians) is but a small subset of the whole sprectrum of sexual orientation, it may seem fighting for gay and lesbian rights will be forever futile.
I deserve equality no matter if I was born this way or I chose to be this way. Isn’t that what equality is really all about?
What do you think?
Even if we are born this way, how might it change the current LGBT civil rights movement if we each chose to speak out and own our own power (which may be a way to understand Nixon’s comments)?
More about Cynthia Nixon’s comments: