Is Pansexuality Obligatory?

by Robert Gressis

Wikipedia defines pansexuality as follows: “Pansexuality, or omnisexuality, is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity.” You might think of pansexuality as of little interest: most people are either hetero-, homo-, or bi-sexual, with very few people identifying as pansexual. Consequently, why talk about it?

One reason to talk about it is provided by the following analogy: imagine that it was socially acceptable to say, “I don’t find black women attractive” or “I don’t find Asian men attractive.” Were this socially acceptable (and it may be, actually, in most of the country), then black women and Asian men would find themselves at a disadvantage in the dating market, so it would be bad for them. But in addition, the thought goes, not being attracted to black women or Asian men is probably a malleable preference, one that may exist due to negative and unfair stereotypes about black women and Asian men. Consequently, trying to convince people that such preferences are unacceptable would improve the fortunes not only of black women and Asian men, but also of people who were depriving themselves of opportunities to find suitable partners.

The same thing is supposed to go for pansexuality. To insist that you’re just not attracted to people with vaginas (as gay men and straight women claim) or people with penises (as straight men and gay women claim) is supposed to be problematic, not only because it deprives trans people of sexual opportunities and relationship-satisfaction, but also because it does the same thing for cis-gendered people. Consequently, just like we should sanction people who claim to have a preference for non-black women or non-Asian men, so too should we sanction people who claim to have a preference for cis-gendered men or cis-gendered women. Moreover, we should also encourage people to work on developing a pansexual orientation. Call this view – that we should sanction non-pansexual orientations and promote pansexual orientations – uncompromising pansexualism.

Now, the obvious response to uncompromising pansexualism is to attack the analogy that motives it: while there isn’t much reason to think that a strong preference for people of a certain race is genetically hardwired, there is very good reason to think that at least a strong heterosexual sexual preference is. After all, there’s a pretty straightforward story for why it would be evolutionarily important for most men to have a strong sexual preference for women, and why it would be evolutionary useful for most women to have a strong sexual preference for men. The survival of the species kind of depends on it.

Though I agree with this response, it’s limited. First of all, the pansexual could note that if most men prefer to have sex with people who have vaginas, then they shouldn’t have a problem having sex with someone who identifies as male but who has a vagina. Similarly, most women shouldn’t have a problem having sex with people who identify as female but who have penises. And yet, they tend to have such problems. So, those problems are probably a result of how sexual desire is socially constructed.

Second, even if it’s true that most men natively have strong desires to have sex with people who have vaginas, it doesn’t follow from this that they can’t ever develop desires, perhaps even strong ones, to have sex with people who have penises (and the same goes for women). Such a preference may have to be one you’d have to work to develop (unlike, say, the desire for sugar, which comes naturally), but that would simply make it the sexual equivalent of scotch: an acquired taste.

Against the first point: it’s quite reductionist to think of straight men (or, for that matter, lesbians) as sexually attracted to just vaginas. While genitals are part of the object of sexual desire, I suspect other bodily features matter a great deal too (compare: when it comes to food, sweetness is important, but it doesn’t follow from that that everyone is completely indifferent to texture). To what extent attraction to other bodily features besides genitals is “hard-wired” is unclear to me, but I’m highly suspicious of the idea that sexual desire is entirely socially constructed, and I’m almost as suspicious of the idea that the only part of sexual desire that is not socially constructed is the attraction-to-genitals part.

Against the second point: though scotch can be an acquired taste for some, it doesn’t follow that it can be for everyone. For all I know, some people may not be able to develop a taste for scotch at all. (I’m fairly confident that it’s too late in my life for me to develop a taste for kaestur hakarl, for example.) Similarly, even if it’s true that many straight men could develop desires for gay men or transpeople, it doesn’t follow that most men are that way.

This forces me to venture into the choppy waters of the social construction of desire. If I had grown up in Iceland, I think it’s probable I would like kaestur hakarl today; if I had grown up in the 19th century, my straight sexual desires may have been more (or less) circumscribed; if I had grown up in the 2010’s, I’d probably be more open to having gay sexual experiences.

Maybe not, though. Take the Kinsey Scale: as I understand it, this is supposed to be a measure of the nature of sexual desires you have; the scale runs from 0 to 6. Someone who scores a 0 will have exclusively heterosexual desires and no homosexual desires. As you increase, though, the exclusivity of the desire changes. A 1 is “predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual”, a 2 is “predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual”, and a 3 is “equally heterosexual and homosexual” (I take these quotes from the Wikipedia article on the subject).

I bring this up because I think it shows that, even if you acknowledge that sexual desires are socially constructed, this social conditioning only goes so far. I bet some people – perhaps 0’s – couldn’t develop any homosexual desires, no matter how they were culturally conditioned (barring very extreme interventions, like highly futuristic brain-surgery). And I expect that 6’s probably couldn’t develop heterosexual desires, no matter how they were conditioned. I mean, look: there are some societies that execute people for having gay sex; in other words, some people know that having gay sex could get them executed, and yet they go ahead and do it anyway. Though this doesn’t show that anyone has an exclusively homosexual orientation, it’s evidence that some people have quite powerful gay desires and are very unhappy if permitted to sexually express themselves only via heterosexual sex. And this in turn suggests that if you tried to make them pansexual instead of homosexual, they would end up very unhappy and try to be exclusively homosexual, even if some future LGBesTapo from a conservative fever dream threatened them with permanent solitary confinement in woke prison.

So, my main objection to uncompromising pansexualism is this: pansexuality can’t be obligatory for everyone because sexuality is just not that malleable. To sanction 0’s and 6’s for not being pansexual, and to pressure them into being pansexual, is just as bad as condemning homosexuals for not being heterosexual and pressuring them into being heterosexual.

But this objection establishes at most that pansexuality is not obligatory for everyone. There’s still the following, weaker view: pansexuality is something that most people should be. If you sincerely try to be pansexual but can’t, then you’re off the hook. But we should at least pressure everyone to try. Call this view compromising pansexualism.

I offer two objections against compromising pansexualism. First, it stinks of the worst kind of social engineering. It’s one thing to tell schoolchildren that they shouldn’t be mean to their gay or trans classmates. It’s quite another to tell them that they shouldn’t be mean to their gay or trans classmates, and, by the way, not being willing to have sex with them is being mean to them.

I’m not against all social engineering, and I’m not even against social engineering in the realm of human romantic relationships – the fact that some countries are trying to encourage their citizens to have more children does not creep me out, though I can see what’s creepy about it. But just because some social engineering may be permissible, it doesn’t follow that every kind is. This, to me, is the really bad kind of social engineering.

But this criticism isn’t the main one I want to pursue here. Instead, I want to offer a second criticism, against what I think is the underlying position of a lot of discourse around sexuality. This is the idea that you should love people for who they are, not for what they look like. Taken to its logical conclusion, this position should condemn, not only heterosexuality or homosexuality, but also preferences for thinness, youthfulness, able-bodiedness, and so on.

Let me unpack this view a bit. On this view, a person’s physical features should be considered romantically or erotically irrelevant. Instead, you should base your romantic relationship decisions on a person’s character-traits: her honesty, his kindness, etc. Those are really the things you should love. Call this position “Mind Over Body” (MOB).

Why should I accept MOB? Don’t get me wrong, I’m attracted or repelled by a person’s character traits. But I’m also attracted or repelled by a person’s physical features too. And they’re part of people, too.

I mean, let’s imagine a different position: “Body Over Mind” (BOM). According to this position, a person’s character-traits should be considered romantically or erotically irrelevant. After all, what a person is like is not in their control; I mean, shouldn’t rude, self-centered, racist assholes get love too? By contrast, a person has a fair degree of control over his body: he can lose weight, he can exercise, he can put on make-up, he can have surgery, etc. And what really gets our motors running, when it comes to having sex, anyway, is physical stuff: you can’t willingly, enjoyably have sex with someone unless he or she arouses you.

BOM is obviously an absurd position; it’s perfectly acceptable to not want to have a relationship with someone who’s rude or self-centered. But why isn’t it acceptable to not want to have a relationship with someone whom you don’t find to be physically attractive? Body and mind, they’re all part of the package, and it’s OK to find some bodies or minds more attractive than others. So, my second objection to compromising pansexualism is simply that it rests on the idea that it’s permissible to love people only for who they are, not what they look like. And I think that’s false, about as false as the view that it’s permissible to love people only for what they look like, and not for who they are.

Does this mean that any and every basis on which you find a person attractive is permissible? Not necessarily; there are some limits on this (obviously, finding children sexually attractive is something to which we may legitimately object, even if it’s a deeply felt desire). Determining those limits is difficult, and I’m sure is something some people are working on and have worked on. But my general instinct is that I’m loathe to tell people whom they should and shouldn’t find attractive. Though it’s prima facie plausible that casting your net wider than your current sexual preferences will make it easier to find someone to love, I think what’s likelier to happen is that you’ll waste a lot of time trying to be with people whom you end up not that happy with. It’s difficult enough to find a good life-partner. We shouldn’t make it harder.

Robert Gressis is a professor of philosophy at California State University, Northridge, where he has been teaching since 2008. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2007. His areas of research cover Kant’s ethics and philosophy of religion, Hume’s philosophy of religion, the philosophy of education, metaphilosophy, and the epistemology of disagreement. 


77 responses to “Is Pansexuality Obligatory?”

  1. I’ve wondered if pansexuality is just more social engineering/conditioning. Years ago – and before “pansexual” really became a buzzword – a friend of mine said she was pansexual and went on to define it for me and when she was finished, I asked, “How is that any different from being bisexual?” She threw gender at me and I pointed out to her that when I looked up the definition of gender, it was “the act of being male or female” so, okay, explain it to me since, in my experiences as a bisexual, anyone who presented themselves in the act of being male or female could be considered “fair game…” provided they had other qualities one might find attractive; that and it was my understanding that what might be attractive isn’t always what you see.

    I still have “issues” with this word – it’s a difference that makes no difference and more so when what is attractive doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone… and pansexuality suggests that we should find everyone attractive “just because” they can be seen as attractive… which still doesn’t deviate from bisexuality so much except those who rant and rave against the gender binary and insist that there’s really more than one gender.

    What that has to do with sex also keeps escaping me and, at least to me, gender is irrelevant since people will want to have sex with anyone who they happen to be attracted enough to, you know, if you could convince them to engage with you like that. I understand that it’s being said that pansexuality is an “all-inclusive” kind of thing that includes transgender as a gender identity – okay, I’ll rent this for a few moments… but transgenders can be bisexual despite their physical changes and I’ve been of a mind that if you were to submit a transgender woman to a DNA test, the results would say they were male – XX and XY – chromosomes don’t lie, do they? But the mind does and can but, okay, we still don’t know how our brains really work and what triggers both sexuality and sexual identity in humans.

    So… what is pansexuality all about? Even after reading your well-written piece, pansexuality just doesn’t stand out as being all that different from bisexuality – and I’m not saying this because I happen to be bisexual; it’s picking a lot of nits and for reasons I really don’t pretend to understand other than more socially driven divisiveness. Is it parts? I like parts… and I also like the people attached to their parts. Men with vaginas? Introduce me! Women with penises? That one I know about and quite well. Great!

    Is the decision I might make based solely on parts? No – it’s always about the person even though I know that I don’t have to be attracted to someone to want to have sex with them and, sometimes, I don’t have to like them except “just enough” to want to have sex with them. A lot of people are like this… but social engineering/conditioning has always been about being attracted as a primary reason to have sex and if someone is deemed to be unattractive in any way, no sex is possible even though, in theory, one can have sex with anyone and just because it’s sex and not much more than that… but that behavior is greatly frowned upon just like being gay or bi continues to struggle with greater social acceptance because there’s the way sex is supposed to be (and how and when it’s supposed to happen) and then there’s the way it can be.

    We just seem to get very… tribal about that and to the point where it makes little sense. Anyone at any time and for any reason that makes sense to them can decide to not be 100% heterosexual or homosexual; they could be “variably bisexual” with preferences in place for what floats their boat and some of those preferences also include transgendered folks or other queer-identified folks. It’s considered to be very rude to discriminate against – as you wrote – Black women or Asian men… and yet, we do it anyway and that pansexuality seems to suggest that we not discriminate against anyone, well, that’s a stretch and a half because we have a long history of discrimination due to race, sex, ethnicity, religious and political beliefs, so on and so forth.

    I might be wrong – I’m enough of a scientist to understand that I could be – but this pansexual thing feels too much like another social construct and designed for something that doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense if you understand anything about people, sex, and what drives them to have sex in the way they do.

  2. s. wallerstein

    This sounds like conversation theory for straight people. Just when we got rid of conversation theory for gay people, somebody invents conversation theory for straight people.

    First of all, it’s not going to work. The sex drive is too strong to channel into “politically correct” paths. People will cheat, say that they are pansexual and actually, seek partners who fit their tastes.

    Second, even if sexuality is socially constructed (I got no idea), why tinker with it? Socially constructed is the product of your upbringing, your education, the books that you’ve read, the films that you’ve seen, your first sexual experiences, and that’s what makes you you. Why shouldn’t you be you in this case?

    Third, everybody has their own sexual tastes and that doesn’t necessarily work against marginalized people and races.
    As a result of my unique socially constructed sexuality, I’m not particularly attracted towards Aryan or Anglo-Saxon women. I prefer women from ethnic groups who might often be discriminated against in some spheres of life. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who has such tastes.

    Fourth, while discrimination in the public sphere is morally unacceptable and should be prohibited, I don’t see why as a private individual, I shouldn’t have every right in the world to discriminate in my friendships, in my sexual partners, my sexual fantasies, etc.

    Fifth, let’s not kid ourselves. Sexual attraction is about bodies, not minds. I’m 73, I look my age, and I don’t expect 25 year old women to fall for me. Why? Because older people are uglier: we have wrinkles, we have spots on our skin, our muscles become flabby even if we exercise. That’s life.

    Sixth, I’m very happy that I live far from the California university campus where you are exposed to such nonsense.
    All my solidarity.

  3. The obscure twists and turns of this article and it’s focus on sexual attraction reminds me a lot of a Douthat New York Times Op-Ed piece. Do we really need to use the big guns of philosophical discourse to discuss this subject? What the hell happened to philosophy? I guess philosophers are all afraid now because they succeeded in sucking the life out of most of the traditional topics like: truth, morality, mind, and the good life. At times such as these, better to go back to the basics, basics such as how do we stop fascism from taking over, conspiracy theories from polluting the discourse, and capitalism from destroying civilization. Let’s train our philosophical tools on worthy subjects please!

  4. Yes, we do. Especially when those espousing such views have acquired a stranglehold on many of the profession’s institutions. Surely, you were aware that a very prominent, trans-activist philosophy professor has been beating this drum for some time.

  5. Also, there is nothing “obscure” in the article. It is very straightforward.

    Also, you are more than free to create your own magazine and publish the kinds of pieces that you think are interesting. This is *our* magazine and we publish what *we* think is interesting.

  6. 1970scholar

    I read this article with intense interest. After all, the subject o human sexuality is innately interesting since it is an emotive, hot button issue. However i feel we have the potential to make the buttons lukewarm, in a phrase. All it takes is some consideration of what values matter and to what degree.

    I disagree with this essay on more than one ground. I start from the premise that human sexuality is inherently discriminatory and inegalitarian. Thus, to impost some kind of equality on it s a kind of category error and worse is forcing sexuality to be something other than sexuality. If i am right, any scheme, however ethically sincere to tell people how to become aroused and what to do with their arousal is a very bad idea. Now what do I mean by inegalitarian? I mean that human sexuality has within it preferences, not only for certain individuals but also groups.

    The question then becomes how much inequality should we tolerate, not whether we are to have inequality. Now the notion that individuals or groups of people have inferior or superior worth all around is a most bad idea. But sexuality concerns not the whole of a person. It is true that sexuality is combined with holistic matters like society and family and monogamy entails the love of the whole of a person. That is one way we have of solving the dilemma of the inegalitarian nature of sexual desire. I think it is a step and thought too far (in Bernard Williams’ sense) to ask for more. i not only think it is authoritarian but I also, think, thankfully that it would not work were we to try. Societies need a mixture of hierarchy and equality actually, just not for the same things and at all times.

  7. I won’t lie but I find this comment somewhat incoherent. In what way are you actually disagreeing with Robert?

  8. Here are some ways in which bisexuals may differ from pansexuals (though it’s possible that pansexuality is a species of bisexuality, depending on how you define that word):

    1. Bisexuals may be attracted to men and women, but the men and women have to be cis-gendered. Thus, a bisexual wouldn’t be attracted to trans people, but a pansexual would.
    2. Even if a bisexual were attracted to trans people, it could be that he’s attracted to only a subset of them. E.g., you’re attracted to people who transmen or transwomen, but not to people who are gender-fluid.

  9. One of the online dating companies used to post data showing that Asian men and black women do the worst on its dating app. E.g., if you controlled, as much as possible, between a white man and an Asian man, the Asian man would have to make $360,000 more per year to get as many replies to his requests as the white man.

    Some people think that what’s considered beautiful is, to a fairly large degree, a matter of culture. Thus, you had Twiggy being a model of beauty in the 60s, whereas J-Lo was a model of beauty in the early 2000s. To the extent that tastes are culturally conditioned, then sexual inequality (by which I mean the relative difficulty some groups have to attract mates) could be an issue that we could try, as a society, to do something about.

    I confess, though, that my instincts are similar to yours: my default position is that telling people whom they should be friends or sexual partners with will have unintended consequences that are worse than the problem that’s trying to be addressed.

    (Note: I tried posting this earlier. It didn’t seem to work. If it appears twice, that’s why.)

  10. It seems like you think I’m defending the “pansexuality is obligatory” position. I’m attacking it.

  11. s. wallerstein

    What’s more, those mass changes in sexual tastes which you note are not the result of a deliberate campaign, but arise spontaneously for very complex reasons, including probably chance. If society tries to manipulate or socially engineer them deliberately, it will most probably go wrong or even produce socially undesirable results which no one can anticipate.

    Life is unfair. It may be that Asian men and Black women do not do well in dating sites, but I bet that very short men don’t do well either. That is, that groups are not perceived as sexually attractive is not entirely due to discrimination against certain ethnic groups: it also is directed against certain physical types. At least during my high school days bookish boys such as myself were not perceived as attractive by the girls, while athletic boys (I was always the last kid chosen for all sports teams) were seen as attractive. Should we bookish people demand that society engineer minds so that we’ll be seen as as attractive as basketball players are? No, that’s ridiculous and in any case, being sexually attractive isn’t the only reward in life.

  12. I’d readily agree with those two things since people do behave like that… but is it “a given” that either of these things are – or should – always be true? I’m just not buying or renting that as a “one size fits all” kind of thing that pansexuality seems to suggest. Then again, I admit to having a “different” view about attraction than a lot of people I know do. Is it hearts not parts? Sometimes. Is it parts not hearts? Sometimes. Does this really make me pansexual… or just a very equal opportunity kind of bisexual? I remain unconvinced that pansexuality is that real of a thing and as it’s being purported to be. What I see in this is people being the way people can be about attraction and sex – eye of the beholder stuff and some of us “see” better than others.

  13. Oh, that’s interesting. I hadn’t thought that pansexuality might not be real, but you might be right. Certainly, if, in order to be consistent, a pansexual has to adopt the Mind Over Body view I mentioned in the article, then I doubt there are any true pansexuals. But, I suspect that there probably are *some* people who are attracted to both straight and gay trans- and cis-gendered people, and that would count as pansexual for my purposes.

  14. You’re right that there are certain groups whose anger at sexual rejection appears to be taken more seriously by the talking heads than others. Wesley Yang made the claim that when black women complain that they’re not seen as sexually desirably, a lot of people say that this is very unfortunate and shows that society is discriminatory against black women; but when Asian men complain that they’re not seen as sexually desirable, a lot of those same people condemn the men for making the sexist demand that women exist to have sex with those men.

    I don’t know how one would confirm Yang’s claim, but it seemed plausible to me.

  15. Interesting, isn’t it? It’s POV stuff – from my perspective, it’s a meaningless difference based on my actual life experiences as a bisexual and that which I’ve observed over a lot of my life. People are people regardless of gender… and you can have sex with anyone and for any reason that makes sense to you… and the person you want to have sex with. BOM, MOB, doesn’t matter… or they do depending on one’s developed – or socially imposed point of view.

    I know that we make sex-related things a lot more complicated than they have to be – and because it’s just what we do (and have always done) and pansexuality, in my singular opinion, is just another unnecessary complication. Boils down to hw picky one is about who they want to have sex with and who’d want to have sex with them. And then… define “attracted” for me. To me, this is like defining what normal is and this is a social construct, right?

  16. 1970scholar

    I both agree and disagree. You do come out against the idea but along the way, if I understand you correctly I feel you take far too seriously certain trains of thought that lead to support. In other words. I think I am more against social engineering than you are. The way you follow along the arguments of your interlocutors with whom you disagree for me is too sympathetic to them, even though you are doing this to ultimately reject them You do say that there are kinds of desire that we should reform and do something about and I disagree with that since I start from a different premise of what sexuality in fact it. I, on the other hand am quite sympathetic with the unfairness in peoples’ desires and see it as part of a larger discriminatory nature of sexuality that leads anybody to pick a single other person at all.

  17. Ah, I get it now.

  18. 1970scholar

    Both Twiggy and J Lo, even in spite of their many differences, share features in common that would be attractive to many people in more than one eras and geography. I find it highly improbable that J Lo would only appeal in the one era of the 00s. Again one of the problems in discussions of sexuality like these is people’s unwillingness to deal with the truth of sexuality; sexuality is always already seen first as a problem to be manages and is defined in ways that service this attempt to deny sexuality i.e. by saying it is only socially constructed on the one hadn’t or biologically universal on the other.

  19. Matthew

    “imagine that it was socially acceptable to say, ‘I don’t find black women attractive’ or ‘I don’t find Asian men attractive.’ Were this socially acceptable (and it may be, actually, in most of the country)…”

    There are places where this ISN’T acceptable? I thought our sexual attractions weren’t under our control.

  20. I know for a fact that some people find such preferences to be objectionable, as I have been told as much. Don’t know how widespread such views are, though.

  21. whatever makes your cock hard or your pussy wet….

    It’s just shameful that academic theorists and meta-theorists have developed obscure language and uselessly rigid pseudo-political angst for young people to express the ancient responses. ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ maybe,’ and ‘uh, would you like to…?’ Because that’s what we’re discussing here, teen-agers and post-adolescents having sex. No serious adult would care for anything like this, except possibly to position him/herself favorably for some lawsuit.

    Goddammit, can’t the kids just fuck and get on with their lives?

    Good article; but no wonder those outside of the Academy are losing their interest in it.

    (Sorry for the language, but that’s what we’re talking about, young people fucking. They have for centuries, I suspect they’ll do so for centuries more. No politics is ever going to stop that.)

  22. The academic discussions of comedy are the same. Just as there is something less sexy about doing your best to make sure your sex is inoffensive, there is something less funny about doing your best to make sure your comedy is inoffensive.

  23. Charles Justice

    Perhaps this whole thing about kinds of sexuality is a result of indigestion from all the ink that was spilled over Foucault and post-modernism. There seems to me to be nothing of philosophical interest here, nor anything that requires the use of philosophical tools. If you read the article and then the comments, they are all basically an exchange of opinions requiring no knowledge or background in philosophy, although they are dressed up as if they were. But then, I never have heard of a trans activist philosopher with a stranglehold on philosophical institutions.

  24. Great article. The more I explore what is important today I find a greater understanding of ”failure to communicate”. Education vs Intellect The intellectuals who found themselves educating were successful at “Failing to Communicate”. However, they have succeeded in “Creating a Failure. We have been given the fact of This or That, in many of the aspects of the importance of Life. The “Failure”, is creating a new concept that feeling is an empirical premise to be studied. The fact that Faith is going to be the savior of those who has found what is important and empirical.

  25. We have little or no control over the biology of attraction… but social engineering attempts to control, qualify, and quantify who we can and should be attracted to.

    I need to write my own blog about this…

  26. Dan, I was going to make a separate thread, but this is a good place. Who is advocating this? RK? Is there an article you can point me to? (Im a language guy, I steer away from ethics weenies).

  27. The more I read about these things, the more I agree with Dan that “the harm principle” should be interpreted narrowly. Preferences based on sexual orientation or on biological sex are harmful now? Poor harmlessness, you are stretched beyond the limits of endurance.

    On the other hand, I find these discussions fascinating. It’s an ancient human dream, a world in which Mind controls Matter, a world in which mankind isn’t shackled to Matter anymore. We would be godlike in such a world, we could make manna rain out of the heavens and raise the dead. We could even win the lottery each time, although we would find out immediately that nobody wins if everybody wins.

    Unfortunately, some things are resistant to this dream, things like physics, chemistry, geology. Dead is also a problem, of course. Even certain socially constructed things that are not strictly speaking Matter, like debt, can’t be wished away easily.

    But mankind doesn’t give up, and Mind is nibbling at biology right before our eyes, not by direct control but by declaring that it’s irrelevant. Lesbians (and straight men), Thou Shall Like Sex with transwomen. Transwomen have self-identified as women and because Mind controls biology, their girl dicks are a negligible detail. And if you’d rather have sex with biological women – well, for people with such feeble Minds, there’s no place in our Brave New World.

  28. Fine place. Yes, it’s Rachel McKinnon — or whatever she is calling herself now — to whom i was referring. Specifically to the following Tweets (She blocks me so I have to go through Google):

    She has since partially recanted. But this sort of thing is very common in trans-activist circles. For example:

    There is even a word for it re: lesbianism, in trans-activist circles. Google “cotton ceiling.”

  29. Dennis got a lot of pushback, but rather than admitting that what she’d posted was outrageous, she doubled and tripled down.

    One thing she never explains — because she can’t — is why a genital preference is bigoted, but a gender preference isn’t. She’s fine with being a “lesbian,” which to her means she won’t date “male-identifying” people, but she’s not fine with a lesbian whose lesbian involves not dating male-bodied people.

    Basically, she’s an imbecile — not to mention an ass — but she is quite representative of contemporary trans-activism.

  30. […] First, a point of reference for you to consider in the form of a blog I came across: […]

  31. Apparently for the past couple months Rachel McKinnon has started going under the name Veronica Ivy (isn’t that some character from a DC comics show?). I find no explanation for this; but does this means that “Rachel McKinnon” has ceased to exist? and is it alright to be happy that “Rachel McKinnon” has ceased to exist? (Didn’t some “philosopher of language” at the College of Charleston recently say that in a tweet? Ah, Twitter! what it has done for language!)

    Are you sure the author of those tweets has a doctorate? Or simply imbibes too much? “The ladder is my position.”

  32. A doctorate and recently tenure. After all who would be willing to endure the avalanche that would come down on anyone who tried to deny it to her?

  33. Over at her blog, Echidne of the Snakes had some ruminations on “inclusion” that expressed my own unarticulated thoughts nicely.

    One reason she’s leery of the idea is that implies that you’re not entitled to set boundaries (because then someone’s not being “included”). Once I read that it occurred to me that, in personal relationships, a clear sign that you’re dealing with a toxic person is that they consistently violate your boundaries or imply that you’re not entitled to have any. “Inclusion” seems like that creepy behavior translated into an official ideology. It sheds some light on why the subcultures that tout themselves as being the most perfectly inclusive seem to consistently be some of the most toxic as well.

    “You’re a bigot if you don’t want sleep with me” is just a particularly extreme example of this unfortunate trend.

  34. This is very well put. Thank you.

  35. Duane Long

    Reading through the comments, I think I’m somewhat more sympathetic to the idea of varying, or at least trying to vary, one’s sexual preferences than the consensus seems to be. I still definitely reject pansexualism in both its compromising and uncompromising forms, but I also believe that (a) part of what generates our sexual preferences is our conceptualizations of various groups or features, (b) our conceptualizations are at least moderately malleable (or at least so for the first 3 or 4 decades of our lives), and (c) you can be morally vicious (or at least be failing to be morally virtuous) by holding certain conceptions of various groups or features. What all that adds up to, for me, is the view that we should suspect there is a moderately malleable basis for our sexualities which can be/become more or less morally objectionable, and so other things being equal, one should attempt to make this basis of one’s sexuality morally virtuous (or at least less morally vicious). Now different conceptions may well not be equally malleable – perhaps its easier to overcome a lack of sexual attraction to body fat than to race or to sex, in which case it’s probably a greater failure to find fat people unattractive than members of a certain race or sex or combination thereof. But just put quite generally, I’d say we can and should interrogate where our sexual desires come from, what cognitive frameworks underlie them, and if we find something morally objectionable we should change it if we can and accept that it’s unfortunate if we cannot. It’s certainly false that everyone ought to be pansexual, or even has some moral blemish if they are not pansexual, but I guess you could say I’m a moderate cognitivist about sexual desire – like emotions, sexual desires aren’t just tickles or itches, but are conceptually loaded, and by engaging and interrogating their conceptual bases, we can sometimes effect some modifications of them, just as we can sometimes change what we are afraid of or what enrages us. Insofar as there are any moral reasons to do so with respect to sexual desire, and I think there are some, we should at least not wholly write off the project of doing some self- or social-engineering with the aim of making ourselves better people.

  36. s. wallerstein

    Before proposing any new moral principle, shouldn’t we consider the possible side-effects and the possibilities of misuse or abuse?

    Let’s imagine a beautiful young woman who doesn’t want to sleep with some guy because she considers him boring, a dud, etc. However, that guy is a member of one or another marginalized or oppressed group and he claims that she refuses to sleep with him because she is discriminating against said group. She has no way to prove that she just plain considers him to be boring and as we’ve observed in the past, in similar cases people who claim to have been discriminated against can mobilize a great deal of support in social media against those who supposedly discriminate.
    That young woman life will become hell, only because she didn’t want to sleep with a bore. We can see how sexual harassers will use these principles to pressure people who would not otherwise have sex with them into consenting to their desires.

  37. Nicole

    How about this: any attempt to create “positive obligations” about sex (i.e., you should be willing to have sex with….fill in the blank) is morally bankrupt. You can only ever have “negative obligations” about sex, i.e., rules about people who are off-limits.

    Choosing not to sleep with a person does no harm, since no one has a right to be slept with. But putting pressure on any person to sleep with someone else does harm them, because everyone has the right to autonomously decide if and when to sleep with anyone else.

    Or, as is the same answer to all the Incels out there in the world, your desire to be slept with does not translate into my obligation to comply. And no amount of whining is going to change that.

  38. What do you think of Nicole’s comment? It seems to me that assigning moral judgments to people’s sexual preferences is tantamount to asking people to reject their boundaries and that seems unacceptable to me. What do you think?

  39. I absolutely see where you’re coming from. However, I’m not sure I’m comfortable saying that your choice of sexual partners is a *moral* issue.

    However, I can see how it could be an issue of virtues and vices. I can’t help but analogize sex to food, so I’ll do it again: there are some people I know who do not have adventurous palates. I recall in high school someone who tried to order a hamburger in a Chinese restaurant; I knew of another guy who would eat Subway for lunch literally every day. I didn’t judge such people to be morally bad, but I did think less of them. It just seemed to me to be … well, cowardly, to be unwilling to try any kind of food that you’ve never tried before. I also thought that they were missing out on some good things.

    I suppose the same could be true of sex — if you’re absolutely unwilling to date anyone who challenges you, I can see someone thinking less of you. But it’s also true that the analogy breaks down here: having a sexual relationship with someone requires you to be a LOT more vulnerable than trying a new food. So, if someone is rather nervous to try dating a kind of person they’ve never dated before, I don’t know that I would think less of them. After all, what if things go horribly wrong? What if they end up with someone who’s controlling, and they find it difficult to escape the relationship?

    There’s also a degree of salesmanship here that raises suspicions: if the owner of a Chinese restaurant upbraids you for being unwilling to try Chinese food, then I can’t help but to wonder, “how much of his condemnation is due to the fact that he just wants me to give him money?” I’ll let readers draw the analogy when it comes to the sexual version of the case.

  40. Duane, you seem to imply that desire is rational, that by examining conceptual bases and cognitive frameworks etc., we can modify our attitudes etc.

    For me, one of the essential aspects of sexual desire is that it’s *not* rational.

    Imagine that you’re obese and a potential, very rational and well-meaning bedpartner tells you: “I’ve never liked obese women, but I feel terribly guilty because that makes me a bad person, so I decided I should have sex with you. It will make me feel quite a bit better, I hope, and hey – I hope the action is very satisfying too!”

    Jesus, would you like that? Would you like to have sex with someone because s/he, after examining conceptual bases etc., rationally decided that you’re an excellent choice, or at least an excellent lab rat for some moral experiment, a test for his or her virtue?

  41. Agreed, entirely!

  42. Certainly it would be better if someone wanted to have sex with me because she found me attractive. This reminds me, though, of the famous question, “if you were sick in the hospital, would you want your friend to visit you because he was concerned, or because he felt it was his duty?” Just about everyone would prefer a visit from compassion over duty. But it’s not clear to me that if I had to choose between a visit from duty and no visit at all, that I would prefer no visit at all.

    Similarly, in the sex case, imagine you were 40 years old and had never been fortunate enough to meet anyone who wanted to have sex with you. It’s plausible to me that someone in that state would prefer to have someone sleep with him out of duty rather than not at all.

  43. sfp476

    It’s important to distinguish between what one desires and what one says about them. In the circles I move in (middle aged urban liberals mostly), Having a type is mostly unproblematic, talking about it in public, especially in mixed company, mostly is.

  44. Some friends. *eyeroll*

  45. Mohan Matthen

    When I read the OP, I had exactly this reaction. One person’s unwillingness to have sex with another does deprive the latter of a sexual opportunity, but doesn’t something more need to be said to show that this is (even prima facie) wrong? Is it wrong to be in a monogamous relationship? (Or is this wrong mitigated by being equally unwilling to all body types?) There’s something I’m missing in the discussion. Maybe it’s that I am a boomer.

  46. Hi Mohan,
    Not sure you’re missing anything. But, if you are, it’s probably something like this:

    Someone who says that he won’t be friends with black people would probably be condemned on almost all sides. Why? Presumably because having that as an active preference is best explained by racist beliefs.

    Now imagine someone who happens not to have any black friends. Some people would condemn him, but most wouldn’t. Why not? Well, it’s plausible to think that you don’t have an obligation to actively seek out black friends, but you do have an obligation to not reject people just because they’re black.

    I think that might be a motivation underlying advocacy of pansexualism: such advocates may say, “we’re not saying that you have an obligation to actively seek out people who are gender-nonconforming and try to start a sexual relationship with them. Instead, we’re saying that you have an obligation not to actively rule out gender-nonconformists.”

    There’s another possible analogy, too: white flight.

    With the case of white flight, it’s not clear that any particular white wrongs any particular black by leaving the neighborhood when it reaches a certain proportion of black people. But it may be that allowing individuals to exercise their living preferences en masse creates an unjust situation — black people end up in a significantly worse living situation because well-heeled white people with more political power leave neighborhood.

    So, if you don’t like white flight, how would you respond? One way is social pressure: you could try to establish a social norm that makes it costlier for white people to leave their neighborhood unless they have a particular kind of motivation.

    That’s my guess as to what’s motivating some of this discussion.

  47. Very few people think pansexuality is mandatory, just as very few people think abortion is murder.
    Ronald Dworkin wrote about that years ago in the NYT. If abortion is murder then women who have abortions should be tried for murder, and that law will never pass. This is the same situation (in logic) in a different context.

    Most people are phobic. Everyone’s bisexual, but it makes no sense to demand people live up to moral and logical ideals. And again, what’s amusing, or annoying, is the liberal need to define everything in terms of optimism, even narcissism and self-hatred.

    It’s not hard to find these sorts of confusions. How many white Europeans would be Zionists if the Jewish state were on the Rhine? I’m the descendent of European Jews. I’d be happy to claim a “right to return.” Why was that never an option? It’s not asked.

    Logic is simple. Real life is hard. This applies also to logicians who dismiss “implicit bias”. Liberalism begins in the optimism of science. Political realism is pessimism, not positivism.

  48. Most people are not phobic. If they were, it would not be a disorder, but normal.

  49. Everyone’s one drunken night away from playing for the other team. Analytic philosophers and liberals are anti-Freudian.
    Chomsky’s a rational actor theorist of the left, and an anti-Freudian. That’s the weakness in his linguistics, and his politics. He’s a rationalist, ideologically opposed to empiricism.

    My mother divorced her first husband; she said he had no sense of the tragedy of life. He became a vice-presidential press secretary, one of the founding figures of modern flackery. He’s thoroughly corrupt, and a clueless optimist.

    This made me laugh. A professional pedant’s discovery of a basic fact of America

  50. Mohan Matthen

    Thanks Robert. That’s super-helpful.

    My first reaction, though, is that the friend case is similar in one way, but not in another. Similar in that the alleged duty seems to be openness. Different in that sexuality is clearly special in some way. Suppose I am uncommitted and open to a sexual relationship. Should I think of everybody I meet as a potential partner? A bit more creepy, should my students, or others their age, be checking me out as a potential partner? (Don’t forget I am a boomer.) Wouldn’t it be a bit Weinsteinish of me to expect, or worse, hope for this?

    On white flight, may be this is a trolley problem like asymmetry, but I am not being asked to be friends with my neighbours in this conundrum, just stay put so as not to harm the social fabric. (I am not white, btw.) so I don’t see it as quite the same thing.)

  51. Ken Silenus

    This would be a lot simpler if we’d just go back to adopting the heterosexist standard. But since we insist upon an equality between homosexuality and heterosexuality, we must perforce say that there really is no difference between same- and opposite-sex relationships. If that’s the case, then sexual difference is as nugatory as racial difference, and that means that a sexual preference is just as irrational as a racial preference and as bigoted. So, if color blindness is the ideal moral stance with regard to race, then pansexuality is the ideal moral preference with regard to sexuality.

  52. Nonsense. Sexual difference is significant for all sorts of reasons that are only indirectly related to the ethics of romantic relationships.

    You sound suspiciously like another commenter who had a weird, manic obsession with gay people. He found it impossible to comment on any essay without talking about them over and over again.

  53. Ken Silenus

    Well, if sexual difference is significant, then you cannot say that opposite- and same-sex relationships are equal, and all arguments for “marriage equality” go down the drain.

  54. Rubbish. They can be equally valuable to the individuals involved without being identical in a logical sense. And in a liberal society— which is what we are — that’s what counts, when we are talking about the right of adults to make civil contracts, which is what marriages are.

  55. Kripkensteinsmonster303

    This is only true if you think that personal preference and attraction equates to moral judgment. But it doesn’t, there is a logical gap between saying that it is legitimate for people to have to their own preferences regarding the sex of their partner, and for this to be significant to their ability to derive satisfaction from their relationship, and saying that we all ought to treat the sex of people’s partners as morally significant, and as significant apart from people’s preferences for themselves. This is the mistake that is common to your argument, Paul, and the view of people like McKinnon. Just because all moral judgments express attitudes and preferences does not entail that the reverse is also true. I take this to be a conclusive refutation of your leap of logic.

  56. Ken Silenus

    Fine, so, by that same reasoning it is not bigoted for someone to say that he will not date black women or she won’t date Asian men, and so on and so forth.

  57. You seem obsessed with tit-for-tats. Grinding axes rather than conversing. I am not going to publish further comments down this road. It’s been fully explored.

  58. s. wallerstein

    Actually, we weren’t talking about “dating”; we were talking about having sex with. I know that “dating” is at times used as an equivalent of “having sex with”, but let’s be clear. I might say that I wouldn’t have sex with a trans woman, but I have no problem with dating one in the sense of going out and doing things with her. When you say “I won’t date a trans woman”, you sound very bigoted, but when you say, “I won’t have sex with a trans woman”, you don’t sound so bigoted, at least where I come from. I’ve gone out with lots of women without having sex with them, and from my experience lots of women had no problems going out with me without the intention of having sex afterwards. In fact, if everyone who dated someone intended to have sex with them, there would be no concept of “date rape”.

  59. Raja Halwani

    The pansexuality positions often rest on assumptions on what it means to prefer some bodies over others, as reflecting some sort of racism or phobia towards certain bodies, as opposed to mere preferences, and that assumption itself relies on another assumption having to do with the causal mechanisms (transphobia, e.g.) behind such tastes. But, of course, a bad cause for X does not mean that X itself is bad, and the causal story behind such preferences is likely to be quite complicated. In any case, a bit has been written on this issue, and most of the sources are documented in my essay on racial sexual desires.

  60. There’s no great logical difference between refusing to sleep with people of different race or the same or opposite sex. Under our form of society/government neither are obligatory. About some things we’re left to make our own choices. The only issue is when private meets public, and that’s something Protestant philosophical liberalism doesn’t deal with well.

    Democracy is opposed to authoritarianism, and most authoritarianism sees itself as in the service of the good.
    Philosophers don’t have a very good history as defenders of democracy. They prefer singular Truths. But it’s a singular truth that we’re stuck with plurality.

    And s. wallerstein (below) dating is a term for romantic/sexual socializing, even of it’s only making out at the movies.

  61. Most of the replies here are from men. As a woman, a middle-aged lesbian, it seems to me a wholesale attack by men on women defining and setting boundaries to their identity and their sexuality. And men absolutely hate it when we say ‘no.’ I have zero interest in men,whether in frocks or pants (and let me say I’ve met the passing trans, men who wish to live their lives as if they were women, and they act like men or a man’s idea of what a woman should be.) I am happy to exclude the entire male race from my dating pool and also the many women who don’t appeal to me. I am in charge of my choices as a free woman. And yes, I’ve had society pressuring me since I was a child to reconsider my sexual choice – to include men.

  62. I am a straight man and agree with you entirely. The whole idea of policing sexuality in this way is repugnant. I couldn’t believe it when McKinnon Tweeted what they did. Robert has written a dispassionate dismantlement of the whole idea, in a way that no one can complain is unfair.

    Women and lesbians are never wrong in asserting and enforcing their sexual boundaries. With a wife and daughter whom I love, how could I think otherwise?

  63. s. wallerstein

    In dating, in my experience, one party, generally the party which initiates the date, is interested in romantic/sexual socializing, but the other may not be. I may invite a woman to go to dinner, and she may accept the invitation without the least interest in romantic/sexual socializing with me: she may basically want a free dinner or may feel lonely and want someone to converse with (without sex or romance) or want an excuse to get away from her parents or her room-mates, etc. When I think about it, I have at times invited women out on dates without any interest in romantic/sexual socializing, but because I too felt lonely and wanted to talk to someone.

  64. The Wikipedia ‘definition’ offered at the outset frames the matter in a needlessly confusing way. Sexual/Romantic/Emotional, You can views these three types of inward response to another person in a spectrum. The first has an obvious clear correlation to determining the meaning of ‘pansexual’ as can be seen in the etymology. The second is already less clear and opens up into a region of extra-sexual feelings. Finally the idea that emotional response or attraction should figure in the defintion simply invites muddiness. One could without much difficulty, considering the current bizarre cultural mindset, imagine that this kind of imprecision in thinking leads naturally to an army of web-facing moralizers to proclaim the absolute ethical imperative of being open to sexual engagement with anyone causing an emotional response within us,

  65. It’s funny how this stuff keeps coming back in different guises. I remember when “Well sexuality doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Have you examined your choices?” talk seemed to be all over the place in the early blogasphere.

  66. “Most people are not neurotic. If they were, it would not be a disorder, but normal.”
    I changed one word. Everyone’s neurotic. Disorders are normal.
    It’s a standard logic of Queer theory that people who insist on claiming to be exclusively heterosexual are hiding something. I agree. But that means that people who insist on claiming to be exclusively homosexual are hiding something.

    I’m not bothered. I’m not a moralist. And also and I’m not a fan of Simon Blackburn’s definition of humanism, which ends with this:

    “Finally, in the late 20th century, humanism is sometimes used as a pejorative term by *postmodernist and especially *feminist writers, applied to philosophies such as that of *Sartre, that rely upon the possibility of the autonomous, self-conscious, rational, single self, and that are supposedly insensitive to the inevitable fragmentary, splintered, historically conditioned nature of personality and motivation.”

    Erasmus and Montaigne would laugh at the notion of a “rational, single self”. Blackburn is arguing from Anglo American Protestant philosophical liberalism. It’s wishful thinking. That’s why I always refer to the Enlightenment as anti-humanist. Blackburn defines humanism as optimistic. It isn’t. Science is optimistic, and the union of science and the humanities is the central logic of the pre-humanist philosophy of the scholastics, that the humanists mocked.

    My response applies to your arguments and Meredith’s. She’s right about the moralizing arrogance of those who make demands. But the answer, again, is in the link I posted above (twice I think): people live their unresolved conflicts. We have no right to demand they live otherwise. But they have no right to demand we live the lives they demand of themselves.

  67. Rollo Burgess

    I agree with the argument in this piece, although it’s a strange world where it’s necessary to make such an argument. The extreme positions on the other side and references to cotton ceilings etc. are clearly either just deeply confused or actively repugnant, insofar as they seem to assume that others have duties to have sex with certain people (very similar to sad and nasty ‘incel’ ideas)

    I don’t think, however, that sexuality and its expression is somehow not subject to moral considerations, in the way that some might consider, for example, preferences between eating strawberries vs raspberries to be.

    I’m basically a virtue ethicist, and think about morality from an aretaic and agent-centered perspective. On this approach I think, for example, that excessive preoccupation with the physical appearance of one’s sexual partners reflects poorly on a person, implying a superficial and probably vain character. So I guess that in like manner someone could argue that a strong sexual preference for or against people from a given ethnicity likewise reflects poorly. But I think that *if* this is true at all it is a very weak marker of undesirable character traits. To extend the argument to sexual preferences for one sex rather than another is just absurd, and I would almost be inclined to regard it as a reductio of the idea of morality as applied to sexual preference.

    Ps I don’t think that prohibitions againt paedophilia, alluded to above, are entirely relevant. This, like rape, is so wrong principally because it is held to violate norms of appropriate consent to sex. Although I’d agree, aretaically, that sexual desire for physically immature people is pretty horrible even disregarding issues of consent and even if not acted upon. (We could have an interesting discussion about ancient Greece though).

  68. Bunsen Burner

    One thing I find that is rarely brought up is how strangely one way these concerns are. For example, natal lesbians who don’t want to date male-bodied transwomen are portrayed as bigots. But if it’s all about gender then male-bodied transwomen should be fine with dating other male-bodied transwomen. And yet this controversy exists only becasue they want access to female-bodied individuals.

  69. A couple comments here have led me to raise a point – or rather a question – that all concerned have missed. Many societies have long held to s principle (and many still do) of obligatory sex. Indeed, it has only been in the past 50 years or so that this principle has received criticism in America so severe that laws are now in place to obviate it. I am talking about the principle that the wife is obliged to have sex with her husband. (in some cultures the husband is equally obliged to have sex with his wife.) This was indeed implied heavily at one time in the marital laws of the State of New York, which held that the primary interest of the wife was bearing children, that of the husband sex. The denial or (in the case of the husband inability, say during imprisonment) to perform accordingly was prima facie grounds for divorce.

    The theory holds that the marital contract. whether derived from divine or secular law, constructs the sexual obligation. Until recently, this was an absolute defense against charges of marital rape in many US states.

    The theory is clearly one-sided and has been often applied cruelly. Its presence in the secular contract of marriage has been relatively easy to recognize, debate, overturn or repeal. Many conservatives in various religions have refused to admit that a divine marital contract can be properly adjudicated by secular laws, or even if they must live according to such laws, that the principle is therefore void of application in some form.

    This raises some interesting questions. I have long tried to point out that some extremist trans-activists have put forth an argument that there is something essential to their being that determines their gender or sexuality, and that this a Neo-Platonist argument – which makes it a religious argument; now the demand for pan-sexualism – that somehow there is a over-riding essence to human sexuality that is superior to any prudential respect of individual desire – seems to arise from a similar source.

    Are we witnessing the birth of a new religion with yet another rigid dogma demanded of us? Is there something about rationality that people simply do not want?

  70. s. wallerstein

    ” Is there something about rationality that people simply do not want?”

    For sure, rationality shows us that we have limits, that the world does not conform to our wishes, and above all, rationality is very very lonely compared to a collective fantasy.

  71. NotYourBuddyGuy

    This is a small thing, but it always grinds my gears when people take the MOB idea so literally, like it’s a piece of dating instruction to follow rigidly. It’s supposed to be a reflection of what love is or becomes. There is an initial physical attraction, but as you come to know the person, it’s the person you come to love, and not their body per se, and so certain wonderful things follow such as that you stand by them through all the ravages of time, sickness, and age. Further, it’s that initial attraction that makes it transform into romantic love in the first place and not mere friendship. You get a different bundle of potential feelings and desires.

    This transformation from the physical to the personal/mental can lead to interesting situations – what if your lover later comes out as a trans person? I have seen a couple stay together and be very happy in one case I know from first hand experience which strikes me as great and all the more proof of concept – would it be wrong if someone else felt like the undergirding of their relationship had been pulled out from under them and what was once a romantic relationship is now transformed into something different, perhaps a loving friendship? I have read of these cases too – it is difficult to say that one reaction is automatically more moral than another without disrespecting someone’s feelings in a context in which feelings are crucial to understand for the nature of thing at issue.

    But nothing good (and here I think I’m agreeing with you) can come from forcing oneself to push through one’s initial sexual attraction in an effort to get to know the person (the very idea of “I am forcing myself to get to know you even though you are not attractive to me” is deeply disrespectful, and it strikes me that the only way to understand someone who was on the receiving end who was not put off by this would be as someone who is deeply narcissistic and manipulative, interested only in their own gains and not the interests of the other person.) Philosophically, I would wonder whether this would create a problem for the ambitions of increased pansexuality even among the 2-5 group. I suppose not – they should have somewhere to start from, even if they are unsure of it at the beginning (perhaps for social reasons, perhaps not – this would still need to be further examined.)

  72. I’ve been thinking about this too, but being almost illiterate philosophically, it’s not clear to me. Is it Neo-Platonism or Idealism?

    Another thing is: what type of religion is it?

    One suspects – but how does one prove it? – that the moral obligation to be pansexual mainly is a strategy to erase the boundaries lesbians set themselves vs. transwomen. So perhaps it’s really a question about trans ideology.

    I’m not religious but I grew up in a place where an enlightened form of catholicism was the norm, and trans ideology looks very fundamentalist protestant to me, mainly because of the mechanism of “self-identification”.
    In catholicism, the structures are suspicious of people who declare they self-this or self-that. Hmm, first let’s have a look at 2000 years of ecclesiastical history, please, if you don’t mind?
    I don’t know about religious jews, but I assume you would need a pretty good argument to convince the congregation that you’re a woman simply because you said you’re one. Hey, OK , but what about those things dangling between your legs?

    In fundamentalist protestantism, however, everybody can speak in tongues.

  73. I agree. I think it is precisely about violating lesbians’ boundaries. This why I find it so distasteful. I also agree that self-id represents a deformation of individualism, which is why I argued that trans ideology is inconsistent with traditional civil rights.

  74. Bunsen Burner

    The only thing I would add is that trans ideology seems like a misnomer to me. Trans people did not come up with any ideology, and many are divided on the issue, especially if we consider older trans people with gender dysphoria, not the new style trans of genderqueer, gender fluid, etc. The ideology is called Gender Identity, and it was created by academics to push through a particular conception of gender. To me, it looks like many trans people are being cynically manipulated by these academics, who rarely get involved in public discussion themselves. In fact, a lot of the hysteria you get on social media appears to come from very young people, often students, who appear to have been deliberately weaponised by their professors.

  75. I agree with this entirely.

  76. Meredith

    And where is this leading us? Why to Prof Alex Sharpe (trans, natal male), Professor at Law at Keele in the UK trying to overturn the ‘rape by deception’ law.
    Though no philosopher I do have a J.D and a Post-Bacc. Classics and would be happy to discuss sexuality in the ancient word, an interesting topic. Thank you Dan for your support. I’m a tough 2nd Waver, my fears are for young women such as your daughter losing their legal protections and adolescents becoming medical experiments.