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Bisexual Species: Unorthodox Sex in the Animal Kingdom - Comments

petermun's Avatar Comment 1 by petermun

"Animals don't do sexual identity. They just do sex."


Thu, 10 Jul 2008 22:53:00 UTC | #197767

Fredrik Svanberg's Avatar Comment 2 by Fredrik Svanberg

Erk, posted in the wrong place. Please disregard this comment!

Thu, 10 Jul 2008 23:09:00 UTC | #197776

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 3 by rod-the-farmer

How did Noah handle this, if all the current animals are descended from those he selected for the Ark ? If he only took two of each, where did the homosexual activity come from ? Naturally evolved ? A recessive gene ? I sense a gap here.

Thu, 10 Jul 2008 23:39:00 UTC | #197794

denizb's Avatar Comment 4 by denizb

Could epigenetics explain same sex behavior in some animals?

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 00:43:00 UTC | #197831

rasman1978's Avatar Comment 5 by rasman1978

And it happened in Manhattan? Big surprise there.

Given the stereotype of homosexuals being well-dressed, it's also not surprising that penguins, who always look ready for an elegant cocktail party, would swing that way.

Thank you, thank you. I'm here all week. MHNATY.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 01:28:00 UTC | #197861

Vinelectric's Avatar Comment 6 by Vinelectric

Not sure I'll be quoting this article in my occasional debates with religious folk.

I could be missing something very important here: if animals mostly engage in homosexual activity under certain stressful situations (captivity, social tensions...etc) then that makes the behaviour "abnormal", doesn't it?

Human beings seem unique as some do have a true "homosexual identity". Not in response to stress or what have you.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 02:34:00 UTC | #197905

j.mills's Avatar Comment 7 by j.mills

Bruce Baghemil's book of a few years ago, Biological Exuberance, catalogued in eye-popping detail the huge range of homo- and bi-sexual behaviours observed in over 300 species. (Sage grouse engage in lesbian orgies, zoo dolphins masturbate on the wall of the tank - and don't even ask what they do with their blowholes...)

Everything that you could think to say on the subject, he said, addressed and demolished. The take-home message for me is that these are complex behaviours that arise for many reasons. Any simple explanation you come up with will almost certainly be inadequate. The fundie idea that homosexuality is 'unnatural' is just laughable in the light of all this.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 03:00:00 UTC | #197918

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 8 by Cartomancer

Well, bisexual humans certainly exist - and I am more than willing to ascribe the condition to evolutionary factors - but I think it's probably going a bit far to write off exclusive homosexuality as entirely socially constructed. Those very words "socially constructed" reek of trendy 1990s postmodernism, and numerous studies of brain physiology suggest pretty strongly that there are biological factors at work. It would perhaps be uncharitable, and a slur on the professionalism of Dr. Roughgarden, to suggest that her own unique perspective on the phenomenon inclines her toward such a view, but in my experience most transsexuals of a certain age are unusually keen to make orientation as much of a social construct as they can. I think it probably stems from the gay rights campaigning of the 1970s and 1980s, when the strategy was generally to promote the social construct angle - "there's no difference between you and I" the line would go, "were you subject to the same social conditioning as me then you too would be gay". And "everyone's really bisexual" smells a bit too much of Kinsey for my liking.

Nevertheless, the research is still pretty interesting.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 03:12:00 UTC | #197926

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 9 by Cartomancer

Stress and the greater availability of same-sex partners may similarly contribute to the practice of homosexual acts among self-described heterosexual humans in environments such as the military, jails and sports teams.
Maybe I should start hanging round with the football team of a military prison then...

(rifles through extensive porn library for copies of "Privates on Parade", "Soccer Jocks III" and "Banged up Boys Banging").

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 03:15:00 UTC | #197929

David J's Avatar Comment 10 by David J

Animals don't do sexual identity. They just do sex.

Looks like many of us could learn a lot from the animal kingdom. Great article.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 06:17:00 UTC | #198044

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 11 by Border Collie

Damn, how dead does a horse have to be before the beatings stop?

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 06:45:00 UTC | #198063

Ishruul's Avatar Comment 12 by Ishruul

Yuck!!! Gay animal sex!!!!

We're so glad there's no homos in Islmamic controlled land, cause it's satanic and such and above all UNNATURAL!!!

Take that 1950'

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 06:49:00 UTC | #198066

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 13 by mordacious1

Well, these penguins may not be gay. They are in the zoo, like a prison. A lot of heteros, when put in prison for a long period, develop similar relationships. How many females were available to them? Penguin females are picky and they mate for life. These two may be gay, or they may not have the opportunities they'd have in nature to mate with females. This article points this out quite well.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 07:24:00 UTC | #198091

Pink Unicorn's Avatar Comment 14 by Pink Unicorn

One thing I remembered - correct me if I'm wrong - was that most matriarchal cultures we've had, from what I've heard, have been more peaceful compared to patriarchal ones, and also more open towards sexuality, whereas patriarchal ones are more repressive of sexuality.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 07:48:00 UTC | #198108

HourglassMemory's Avatar Comment 15 by HourglassMemory

There is no "unnatural" in Nature. There is only uncommon and common. Widespread and rare.
Not "unnatural".

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 08:05:00 UTC | #198120

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 16 by Tyler Durden


There is an alternate viewpoint as to whether Noah took seven pairs of "unclean" or only one pair of each "clean" animal into the Ark.

Yes, I know it's a load of bollox, and they're just making it up as they go along but there ya go :)

(Thank you Stephen Fry, and "QI")

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 08:07:00 UTC | #198121

cerad's Avatar Comment 17 by cerad

Meanwhile Roy and Silo's "daughter," Tango, carried on in the tradition of her fathers. Her chosen mate: a female named Tazuni.

Of course a kid who was raised by a couple of homosexuals would become a lesbian.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 08:34:00 UTC | #198150

82abhilash's Avatar Comment 18 by 82abhilash

Unlike most humans, however, individual animals generally cannot be classified as gay or straight

Humans too apparently cannot be classified easily by sexual orientation:

Could it be the state of current society that forces us to belong perfectly to one box and not another?

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 08:44:00 UTC | #198163

Tom Coward's Avatar Comment 19 by Tom Coward

Homosexuality, bi-sexuality, plural "marriage" and every other combination of sexuality are surprisingly common among animals. This has been exhaustively documented in this book:

This is wonderful and inspiring book, even to middle-aged, whitebread straight guys like me.

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 09:06:00 UTC | #198178

thewhitepearl's Avatar Comment 20 by thewhitepearl

"I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it...."

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 12:52:00 UTC | #198323

Telic's Avatar Comment 21 by Telic

P-p-p-pick up a penguin !

You may need to be British and of a certain age to get this "joke"

Fri, 11 Jul 2008 14:08:00 UTC | #198385

hawt4dawk's Avatar Comment 22 by hawt4dawk

For those readers interested in more info on our jolly little cousins, the endangered bonobos, here is a fun and interesting blog written by a researcher with the Hominoid Psychology Research Group.

Sat, 12 Jul 2008 05:28:00 UTC | #198677

Eshto's Avatar Comment 23 by Eshto

I don't think any of this is all that different from humans. Self-identified "heterosexual" humans (males especially) will resort to homosexual encounters for all kinds of reasons, whether depravation of the opposite sex (as in prison), or they use it to show dominance; or because of their beliefs, some cultures only regard the receptive partner as the "faggot" while the insertive partner's manhood/heterosexuality (these are often conflated) is not questioned. A foolish double standard, but it exists.

I might add that I had a friend who, unlike myself, was out of the closet in high school. Unbeknownst to most people at the time, he was getting it on with several members of the football team who were supposedly "straight". To my knowledge none of them ever came out as gay or bisexual.

Are they in the closet? I'm not so sure. Maybe a few were gay and never came out, maybe they'll force themselves to get married and have kids but keep having secret gay encounters, and perhaps join the Republican party. But I also think a lot of them were just horny and would have screwed a stump if it had a hole in it.

By the way, the Kinsey scale for humans has long been replaced by better ones, for this exact reason - it only deals with behavior. Very problematic.

For example, I'm as queer as a three dollar bill. But when I was younger I felt so much self-hatred and pressure to conform that I forced myself to have sex with a female, thinking it would somehow "fix" me, make me right with God, etc. I had to close my eyes and think of guys the whole time, of course, just to perform (sorry for the gross out, but it's all in the interest of science). Many gay people do this, unfortunately, and the so-called "ex-gay" movement has made a multimillion dollar business out of exploiting this shame and self-hatred.

Well anyway, according to Kinsey, that would make me bisexual, which I can assure you is entirely inaccurate. It also, for a time, made me more "heterosexual" than my totally straight friends who had simply never been with a woman yet. Which of course I informed them of with great glee, ha ha. One of my straight friends had experimented with another boy when he was a little kid, just playing doctor or something, but had not yet been with a female. Kinsey's scale made him gayer than me at that time.

Behavior cannot be the only scale on which we measure human sexuality. And who knows, we might someday (somehow) learn that some animals do have a sense of sexual identity as well.

Sat, 12 Jul 2008 16:32:00 UTC | #198848

DalaiDrivel's Avatar Comment 24 by DalaiDrivel

I'm not sure which survey it was, but the last one I did which RD promoted took me by surprise in asking me to place on a spectrum my sexual orientation.

I ended up choosing one slot shy of complete heterosexuality out of deference to the limits of certainty, much like I am a Dawkins-described "6" Atheist on the seven point scale.

At risk of this thread may turning into a confession parade (but what shame is there in that?), I've been attracted to men before, mainly with a conspicuous paucity of female attention or outright absence however it must be added.

Anyways, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say orientation is socially constructed, at least at human levels of sophistication.

I agree with the article's statement,

"Animals don't do sexual identity. They just do sex."

Human pressures of simply identifying yourself, and even adhering to an identity, are strong. And that's without even considering the social implications of accepting your identity. What then?

I can't imagine how it would NOT affect the world's view of you, and you of it, and the resultant dynamics and actions between the two parties.

Bonobos are especially intriguing with their parity between heterosexual and homosexual relationships. I accept individual biology to be a powerful factor (it is with me), indicating a preference, but the so-called "malleability" of species like the discussed penguins and the fact that humans, as animals, should theoretically be able to "do sex" rather than "sexual identity" leads me to ponder what human society would be like without "gay" and "straight," and simply, scientifically, "bisexual."

Imagine being asked on a survey, if not to place yourself on a spectrum, not which sexual orientation you have, but the orientation you're more inclined to?

In other words: "Hetero-bisexual" or "Homo-bisexual"?

It is at least mildly stimulating to consider, is it not? It seems certainly alien right now.

Note: I don't actually know if my terms are valid.

Given the heterogeneity in populations, it would be odd if we were equally hetero and homo on an individual basis, so I can fully reconcile with my belief that I am overwhelmingly swayed to the female persuasion... as a penguin, I'd have sprung for Scrappy too...

I've seen this article on Digg as well. It's evidently popular.

I wonder how civilisation at large is responding to the "bisexual" label being blanketed over it.

Being a sucker for polemic, I can't help but feel amused.

Sat, 12 Jul 2008 21:01:00 UTC | #198888

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 25 by gr8hands

The even more accurate term for humans would be: sexual. No further qualifier required.

And Eshto, those "straight" high school football guys engaging in homosexual activity are not usually "just horny and would have screwed a stump if it had a hole in it." Mostly they are being bottoms, rather than being tops.

Sun, 13 Jul 2008 09:48:00 UTC | #199044

Ed-words's Avatar Comment 26 by Ed-words

Let them marry!

Tue, 15 Jul 2008 16:57:00 UTC | #200404

EricAndersonPhD's Avatar Comment 27 by EricAndersonPhD

Cartomancer. Eric Anderson from the article, here.

I didn't mean homosexuality is socially constructed as in the desire, but the identity. I desire sex with guys, but my identity as 'gay' is constructed. Animals have the desire, but (as far as we know) they don't do identity.


Fri, 23 Oct 2009 16:26:00 UTC | #407866