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We Need To Be Brave and Enter An Era of Post-Sexuality

We Need To Be Brave and Enter An Era of Post-Sexuality

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By Terence A. Anthony

The greatest role reversal I’ve ever seen on film was in the Scottish film, Trainspotting. The scene starts with four friends trying to finally get “lucky” in a club after vowing to be clean from heroin. Out of the four, the highlight was a character named Franco Begbie. Unlike his three friends, Begbie portrays himself as the ultimate alpha male. While his friends were recovering drug addicts, Begbie got his high from picking fights with people at random.

In short, he is the embodiment of toxic masculinity. It is a sense of exaggerated machoism that feels like a parody of what people do to act ‘manly’ but instead put themselves and others in harm’s way.

Getting back to the film, when all of them managed to find a partner for the night, Begbie was flabbergasted to find out the woman he was about to have sex with was assigned as male at birth. Frustrated, he lashed out and acted violently. This is a common trope in movies, where men with all their ideas of masculinity feel as if they are “cheated” by people who display the appearance of what society designates as “feminine” traits. In pop culture, many play this out for cheap laughs. Trainspotting, however, took a different path rather than making “being gay” the ultimate sin.

In order to calm him down, one of his friends attempted to reason him out before he got more violent. His reasoning for tough guy Begbie was that all of us are only straight or gay when it comes to appearances. So according to that logic, Begbie wasn’t gay. As much as it is more progressive than other films of its era in portraying this dilemma, it is still a serious cop-out. The dangerous part of that argument is that it feeds back into his masculinity and ramps up his violent tendencies against transpeople.

I’m now going to take this argument to the next step. I’m going to say that we need to destroy our “traditional” assumptions of sexuality. We need to assert that our sexual preferences are first based on aesthetic appearances. Only then can true sexual liberation occur. We need to enter an era of post-sexuality.

The Value of Aesthetics

Advocates of modern identity politics have often argued that sexuality is ingrained. If you are gay or lesbian, then you are born as gay or lesbian. Scientifically, they have proof to back them up. Sexuality can be traced down to genes. This line of argumentation is also convenient, considering that being against somebody whose identity they did not choose automatically places you as the oppressor.

Thus, it is the easier route to take when constructing narratives.

However if we go back to Begbie’s dilemma, if he is straight in the traditional sense (with the arguments about genetics too), then why was he interested in a female who was assigned as male at birth? The answer would be because Begbie was attracted to the qualities that men grow up to associate with the opposite sex. All of this is because of aesthetic preferences.

So, what is this aesthetic preference? All of us grow up in cultures that prescribe ideas or values on what we should like. Even if devoid of arguments about sexuality, we are crafted by our environment. All of this differs from one culture to another. One culture may attach feminine traits to a man, in a way another culture would do the opposite. Even the association of the colours blue and pink to a gender or masculinity and femininity is a recent development. So our worldview is built around that and we shape our preferences in our partners accordingly.

In fact, we do this all the time. When somebody asks casually, “what kind of person do you like?” we are quick to figure out what we like in a partner. We are able to list the qualities down and more often than not, it would be aesthetics, character and aptitude. Yet, if you designate yourself as straight or gay, it would be hard to admit that the list can be applied to people who are outside of your sexual orientation. There’s a mental block that forces you to think it is unnatural or out of character, which is ironic;  if you believe that everyone should be able to be free to love whoever they want, then you should be able to apply the same principles to yourself and not see it as unnatural.

This then begs the question, how did we come to those values attached to those aesthetics in the first place? Those attributes exist in our view because someone else attached them. They are not intrinsic to a person’s character. The world has agreed that a particular set of traits apply to a cisgender male or female aesthetic.

We all have different feelings about what we like aesthetically. This applies to not just sexual attraction, but to any number of other preferences. Whether you trust your instincts enough to follow through with the values you have attached to an aesthetic on your own or whether you want to follow the values attached by other people, it’s up to you.

There is no judgement to be made on which you should follow. But in our world, judgement is applied harshly when it comes to sexuality. We attach restrictions on where this association of value and aesthetics go. So people are trapped in a world where they can’t transcend beyond their designated sexual orientation.

To Wonder About Thy Gender

To understand a world of post-sexuality and aesthetic preference, we need to dissect what it means to have a gender and the values we attach to it. At this point, some readers may wonder – wait, aren’t we talking about sexuality, not gender?

The reason gender needs to be brought up is because gender is assigned at birth and, thereafter, attaches impositions on how you behave and present yourself to the world. The roles attached to gender are artificial because they differ from one culture to the next. Sure, there are similarities between cultures, but there is no definite uniform idea to it. The fact that there have been different conceptions of gender even within the same culture, but at different periods in history, means that we as a species have never had a concrete idea of what gender really is, outside of our biological functions.

Are there people who are born in the wrong “body?” Yes, but only in the biological sense, not when it comes to their roles and aesthetic preferences. The stigma exists only because we have decided that certain traits are to be attached to certain aesthetics or outward appearances. So that’s where insults like “trans traps” become commonplace.

The only reason why trans-women who have taken the active choice of picking aesthetics that have been associated with the female sex are derided as “traps” is because we as a society have assigned those aesthetics as “feminine”. Thus, what the traditional heterosexual man perceives isn’t the biological female in this circumstance, but the aesthetic he has been conditioned to see as female. In our world, the real trap he is in is the one which prevents him from embracing his genuine preferences.

In a world of post-sexuality, he would be liberated.

This is where I posit that we are trapped in our fixed perception of gender – and that affects how we view our sexuality.

We have to be brave enough to admit that there are qualities we seek in our sexual partners that come from what we can see immediately. There shouldn’t be guilt when you admit that a trans-woman is sexually attractive to you, despite it going against your assumed heterosexuality.

We need to destroy our traditional idea of what sexuality is, but embrace aesthetic preference and understand that even the values underpinning it are artificial; either guided by our environments or challenged by those who wish to do so.

Post-Sexuality: The Next Step to Liberation

So why is post-sexuality significant? Wouldn’t more people then feel pressured to be heterosexual if sexuality can be both intrinsic and based on our environment?

It is significant because it teaches us not to hate ourselves for who we actually like. We often hear tragic stories about how a transgender person is trapped in a mental prison.  Through the lens of what has been described above, cisgender heterosexual men are equally trapped. This is not to divert the discussion back to the straight man, but it’s important to admit that the attitudes of straight men can affect the lives of the transgender community, whenever they feel their sexuality is threatened.

This informs the toxic masculinity that Begbie embraces. No matter how open Begbie might be to the rights of a cisgender homosexual man, his inability to accept his own sexuality and sexual attraction towards a trans-woman still teaches heterosexual men that they are “cheated” in this respect. That is fine to act violently because they have been “wronged” by a pretender to the female sex. This is the sort of bias that leads to very real incidents of trans-bashing off the screen.

Those who question homosexuality, then, would have to ponder upon the question of their own sexuality, and whether it is far more repressed than they think. It is no longer concrete. Because in a world shaped by opinion, it is difficult to be certain that a person’s perception of their own sexuality is authentic to their own genuine thoughts and feelings; it is also influenced by the environment in which they are socialised. A dangerous line for those advocating for modern identity politics, but it goes both ways.

If we manage to enter a world of post-sexuality, this would force the homophobes to at least confront the possibility that their sexual orientation could be more of a product of their environment than anything else. The reason why they are heterosexual cisgender male and grew up conforming to that was perhaps because the traits which they are expected to be attracted to have been assigned to them. They have had a clear guideline on what they should and shouldn’t like. They simply never went off the palette. In short; their idea of sexual orientation is basic. They’re spoon fed artificial values, confirmed by an environment which supports their egos.

Again, there’s nothing wrong if a person were to conform to their cisgender heterosexuality, if they were to choose so. The point is, if more people understand that the way they reach their choice is possibly artificial, then they are perhaps more likely to be less judgemental of people who swing the other way. Self-hatred would be less of an occurrence and the LGBT community wouldn’t have to bear the brunt of it.

So if someone were to ask if you were straight or if you were gay, try to put some thought into it. Maybe there’s no straight answer.


1 Comment

Kita Perlu Berani dan Masuki Era Pasca-Seksualiti – The G-Blog

December 25, 2016 at 11:11 am

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