Posts Tagged ‘sex

22
Jun
12

Identifying with the other

So, recent comments on my intersex post have led me to feel the need to write another post. Hooray for you! (sarcasm)

The discussion (for those who don’t want to read all the comments) is about identifying with the other. Wanting to be the other to justify why a person feels the way they do, the other not understanding why anyone would desire to be that other, feeling they don’t understand what being other entails. Thus, I’m going to lay it all out there…

It seems many trans individuals want to have a label so that they understand WHY they feel like their parts don’t match what they feel in their hearts and minds. Having a diagnosis that explains why stuff doesn’t match up. OK. I get that. I get that it is difficult to deal with the internal cognitive dissonance that comes with the external incongruence. It makes complete sense.

The reality, though, is that for all the similarities between trans and intersex (having to deal with stupid doctors, a medical community who rarely understands the needs of the individual when it comes to both the internal and external organs, etc) the differences are ignored. Intersex people do not WANT their genitals to match the dichotomy. They do not wish to be shoved in a pigeon holed description of what sex and gender are to the majority of non-intersex people. They want to live as they are (or were before being hacked upon by some self important asshole).

Like trans people, intersex people want to be able to use the public restroom without fear of retribution. But that fear is based solely on the structure which dictates what is too small or too big. They want to go through their day and not have to hear a joke about how much size matters, that someone needs to ‘grow a pair,’ or that a man isn’t a man if his penis is ‘too small.’ They want to have their clitoris be loved as it is. Not have a mate turned off because she is too big to be a woman. They want to live life, not having to wonder how things might have been, had they not been reassigned without their permission and without their parents being pushed to have it done (if they were consulted at all). They want to hear someone speak of female genital mutilation, knowing it wasn’t done to themselves, ripped apart because some stupid doctor with a tape measure could see her parts when the doctor felt it shouldn’t be seen. They want to know that their size really doesn’t matter, despite what the jokes and snide comments say.

I want it understood…I am NOT saying that the intersex road is harder than the trans. They are both two very difficult rows to hoe. But I think trans people sometimes underestimate the daily struggles of living in a world where, the only way a person can be judged of their full worth, is by what is or is not in their pants.

20
Jun
12

intersex is NOT a disease

Claim: That is an opinion and I can accept that is where you stand and you have the choice to hold that view if you wish.

The words sex and gender have often been skewed to indicate that these are entirely determined by culture. They are not. They are however a combination of cultural and individual experience and the genetics with which a person was born. Such fallacies are implemented due to the poor research and misleading publications, not of a social psychologist, as this photo suggests, but rather by those of a psychoendocrinologist who developed these theories (Dr. John Money).

We, as animals, do not have a gender, but as social creatures we do. This statement in the picture, however is contradictory to the statement above it which states that gender is biological in nature.
Nouns do have gender, as do pronouns (for the most part), however it is very ethnocentric to make said statement about all languages, as many have gender in items such as desks, pencils, chairs, etc. Secondly, this statement is also stated quite poorly as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are not in fact nouns, but adjectives.

To say that XX, XXY, XYY, and the myriad of other variations are ‘deformations’ is both condescending and purposefully inflammatory. Green eyes are a ‘deformation’, as are many other characteristics that are easily seen about any individual’s appearance. The assumption that any of these variations are believed to be newly discovered is, at best, misguided. XX and XY, while being the most commonly occurring genetic variations, however the explanation that follows is incorrect. The XXX, XXY, and XYY variations do not occur due to random mutation of a normal gene. They are, in fact, genes of their own consistency, that is to say they are heritable. Also, to equate said variations of intersex with Down’s Syndrome is incorrect. Those individual with Down’s are most often infertile, and when not, Down’s is not heritable. Additionally, there are many other types of intersex variation that do not include the genetic variations listed above. Some of those are random mutations, yes, but mutation does not equal deformity, only difference.

‘Hermaphrodite’ is a medical term that describes none of the three intersex variations listed above in the picture. The terminology here is very off, which would indicate that the individual who created it is not informed on the correct terminology. Hermaphrodism refers only to individuals who have BOTH male and female primary or secondary sex characteristics and does NOT include those of the ambiguous variations.

99% of XY women do not reach puberty? That statistic is blatently false. I’m not exactly sure how many of them do, as that would actually be a suicide or accident statistic, but the vast majority do in fact reach puberty, but because pubertal onset means an increase in both estrogen and testosterone production, the secondary sex characteristics can be either male, female, or both, depending on the individual. Secondly, the bad grammar here again diminishes the accuracy of this picture (more taller).

“Take the brain that occurs the most” doesn’t even make sense, see comment above. The male brain has no different ‘parts’ than the female brain. This entire section makes no sense whatsoever if anyone is even remotely educated in brain structures. There are relatively few sex differences between male and female brains. The ones that do exist occur after pubertal onset, when there is a major change in growth and a pruning of unused neural pathways. Some suggest that the cultural norms of what females are expected to do vs males may be responsible for these differences, other evidence suggests that it may be hormonal. The reality is that they just aren’t sure. The only significant difference between the two is size. Women’s brains tend to be somewhat smaller, but have an increased number of gyri, thus increasing the overall surface area.

There is not a legitimate scientist (endocrine, geneticist, neural, or otherwise) who would use brain structure as a determining factor of sex. That is another blatantly false claim. Again, male and female brains do NOT have different parts.

Well, for all the arguing against any rights for intersex individuals, at least it makes a good argument for transsexuals. False, but convincing, nonetheless. In reality, what the photo to the left fails to indicate (as does the text to the right) is that the hypothalamic activity (and yes, that is what the photo to the left is actually showing) is changed with high levels of chronic stress. MTF transsexuals have an incredibly high level of chronic stress and, thus, would have the levels concurrent with those of females. A good example of this contractual error is the SIDS research of the early 20th century. Hundreds of thousands of children’s brains were irradiated to reduce the size of the hypothalamus because they thought that large ones caused SIDS to occur. In reality, they were only comparing upper class SIDS deaths to those of poor (and highly stressed) infants lost to other causes (such as starvation). Bad sample, much? Point being, this is being misattributed to sex differences when it is in fact a stress difference.

Cisgendered is an act of choosing not to PERFORM gender, not to identify that one is not present. Again, false. And why, exactly does this photo repeatedly compare intersex to physical illness or life threatening differences? Intersex is not life threatening (unless someone who is ignorant or misinformed beats someone to death).

And now, we get personal. Call it logical fallacy if you wish, but as I have offered fact alone up to this point, I really don’t give a shit. The last comment on the right would indicate that A. intersex individuals are sterile (which is true in the minority, but most are fertile) and that B. fertility should be somehow controlled, or intersex individuals should be somehow contained so as not to spread their ‘disease’. There is a reason that there is no source information on this photo. It promotes genocide, is inflammatory, and uses (at best) half truths to make a point for hurting people who deserve nothing but the same humane treatment every other person receives. How dare you, or anyone else imply that intersex people are any less people than you are. It is exactly this type of ignorance and half education that cause people to die at the hands of doctors who think they know how to hack a person’s genitals to pieces, or at the hands of ignorant bastards who believe that a person’s worth lies in his/her pants.

But I ask you now, what is it exactly that gives you the knowledge to back any of the statements made in this graphic? Is it a degree? Is it hours of research on intersex variations, articles about those variations, history of those? Weeks, months, and even years of talking to experts in the field or the individuals who are affected daily by the ignorance this graphic displays? Perhaps it is the daily experience of facing the challenges often associated with the intersex? Or maybe it is grant writing to the NIH to advance study of the consequences of this type of ignorance on the individuals who suffer it’s wrath? You see, it isn’t culture, biology, or society that cause intersex individuals problems. It isn’t their health, or their fertility, or their brain activity. It is the ignorance of people who refuse to do the work necessary to actually learn something other than the regurgitated (and false) shit that gets thrown at them by a grossly falsified graphic. THAT, is what needs to be fixed.

24
May
12

Did you really just say that?

I have had a great deal running around in my little head as of late but I am just now taking the time to put it down here.

Anywho…Here goes…

Why on Earth must people be more concerned with specific details of an individual’s genitals than they are about the consequences of actions? I am sure you probably, at the very least, just raised your eyebrows and uttered a mental “I’m sorry…What!?”

Seriously. This gets VERY old. When people hear of intersex variations, they want details. What makes a person intersex? Exactly what do you mean by atypical? Why don’t they just fix it? Aren’t there counselors for that? I’m going to address this as though I am actually talking to YOU, so please do not take offense if you are a person knowledgeable enough not to say stupid shit. OK, first I’m going to actually answer the questions, then I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with it, and lastly offer some better alternative responses.

1. “What makes a person intersex?”

Definition-Intersex is when a person’s genital development is atypical. In other words, their genetic makeup, their primary sex characteristics, or their secondary sex characteristics don’t line up, or are outside of two standard deviations from the average (note that I did not say “norm”).

What’s wrong-If someone is sitting there telling you that their child’s foot (which you can’t see) is different, but it is not a medical problem, do people say…”What makes is a foot different?”

Better option-Mind your own damned business and focus on the issue at hand.

2. “What exactly do you mean by atypical?”

Definition-Not typical.

What’s wrong-You are asking for specific details that are irrelevant and none of your business.

Better option-Mind your own damned business and focus on the issue at hand.

3. “Why don’t they just fix it?”

Answer-There are actually no firm answers for this one, but I’ll give it a try. Well, surgery implies that there is in fact something wrong, when there really is no medical issue present (in most cases).

What’s wrong- How dare ANYBODY have the nerve to suggest to a parent that they allow surgery on a child when said person had not heard of the variations until 5 minutes earlier? Secondly, most ‘corrective’ surgeries end up causing more harm and need for future surgeries. Third, would you give an infant rhinoplasty because you think their nose is too big or too small? I think not.

Better option-Mind your own damned business and focus on the issue at hand.

4. “Aren’t there counselors for that?”

Answer-No. Not really. While there may be some services provided for those who have received (or been victims of) surgical intervention, there is little to nothing for those who have not been butchered.

What’s wrong-Um…You just implied that intersex equates to mentally ill or in some other way disturbed. HELLO!? Do they have counselors for really small feet?

Better option-If you honestly feel that there may be a problem, offer your help to assist in finding a counselor who may be sensitive to the issue. Do not question the sanity of the endocrinologist (as a psychoendocrinologist is not a crazy endocrinologist), do not suggest that someone ask their PCP (because SURELY that hadn’t occurred to them yet), and please, please, PLEASE do not explain that your complete and utter lack of knowledge will somehow be a good use of your unlicensed, unqualified, and uninformed skills.

So, in short, consider yourself (although sarcastically) informed either on an issue of which you were previously unaware, or on the crap that comes out of people’s mouths.

05
Mar
12

Vaginaphobia

Due to circumstances beyond my control, it’s been quite awhile since the last post. Still dealing with said circumstances, but I just have too much wandering about inside my little head.
V-Day having just passed, I feel the need to comment. For those non-feminists in my reading public, V-Day as mentioned here refers no to WWII, but rather to the day(s) devoted to bringing awareness of issues relating to violence (sexual and physical) against women worldwide. As part of the V-Day movement, The Vagina Monologues (VMs) is a collection of theatrical monologues performed to both educate and to raise funds for local violence shelters. So, having provided a short background, I will get on with my random thoughts…

This year there was a great deal of backlash about the VMs. As promotion, our group of young (and not quite so young) women went out and “chalked” our university campus, writing various bits of vagina information, including the dates of the show, some statistics and “Until the violence stops,” among others. One of those with which we were the most impressed was the section on the library steps, ”Vagina words: What do YOU call it?” Here there was a wonderful list written in various colors, many of which offered by passersby who were entertained by the fervor with which our chalk was flying. Some even asked to draw chalk vaginas on the sidewalk and we gratefully granted the chalk for the artistry.

The next day, as the young (and not so young) women involved in the chalking wandered campus, they listened with pride as people commented on the drawings, dates, and yes…the vagina euphemisms. It wasn’t until later in the day that things went awry. Our vaginas were disappearing. Not the drawings, not the FABULOUS euphemisms (which admittedly were the most likely to offend, so we thought), but the actual word: VAGINA.

I received a slightly intriguing email from a professor informing me of the disappearing vaginas. Said that appeared to be the only thing missing. Sure enough, on further inspection, the vaginas were the only thing missing. Someone or someones were removing “vagina” from every chalk tag within a 50 foot radius of one particular building of campus (the other side of campus was left untouched). Reluctant facilities services workers were dragging wet mops across the letters, removing them as though they were some form of profanity. A professor (who shall remain nameless here) was seen removing the word from a large tag stating “The Vagina Monologues 2012, Until the violence stops!” Yes, it was not the euphemisms that were found offensive (beef curtain was a personal favorite, as was the snack that smiles back), but the actual word “vagina”.

That same night, the young women (and not so young and a couple of male assistants) showed up in force with a great deal more chalk than before, and covered the section of campus that had been carefully censored. Also, there was hairspray involved for the purposes of sealing against future mopping. The next day, the same facilities service workers, as reluctant as before, began the work of removing the freshly restored vaginas. At this point, the head librarian stepped out and informed them that they were not to touch any of the work within her area, as that was her domain and it was done with her permission (which is only about half true, but that’s not the point).

It was wonderful to know that we had support. It was amazing to see people standing together for a cause so important. It was disappointing to see that people were so disturbed by such a simple word.

Had the word been “arm” or “leg” or “heart”, I am fairly confident that it would have remained untouched. I am saddened that the words “sideways clam” and “fish sandwich” remained, while “vagina” was removed. Why?

Why is vagina thought to be such a dirty word? Why was something as simple as a body part offensive, while negative euphemisms were left behind? Why, in an arena of free thought and advanced learning, is VAGINA thought so disgusting that it must be censored?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do understand now, more than ever, why it is of the utmost importance that Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues be presented time and time again. We must, MUST begin to realize that vagina is not a dirty word, that it is a body part like any other while being a part like no other. To quote Ensler:

“THE HEART IS CAPABLE OF SACRIFICE.
SO IS THE VAGINA.
THE HEART IS ABLE TO FORGIVE AND REPAIR.
IT CAN CHANGE ITS SHAPE TO LET US IN.
IT CAN EXPAND TO LET US OUT.
SO CAN THE VAGINA.
IT CAN ACHE FOR US AND STRETCH FOR US,
AND DIE FOR US.
AND BLEED AND BLEED US INTO THIS DIFFICULT…
WONDROUS WORLD.”

05
Apr
11

Expectations and Joint Ventures

The last week has been interesting. What I have learned from it, however is that there is a level of expectation as to how people behave (both positively and negatively). There was an expectation on the part of one Fletcher Armstrong

12
Feb
10

Aversion

Vernon L. Quinsey, Sidney G. Bergerson, and Cary M. Steinman created a study examining the effects of aversion therapy on the sexual preference of convicted child molesters.  This study was conducted to look at, not only the aversion therapy effects, but also the tests used to measure those effects.

The authors theorized that electric shock conditioning would lower the subjects’ sexual attraction to children, while increasing their sexual attraction to adults.  Unfortunately, the only rational offered was that previous research on sexual predators had yielded few results, but that the specific population in question (pedophiles) had never been examined as a single group.

Participants in the study consisted of a group of ten volunteers convicted of child molestation.  Each participant was given a pretest to measure penile circumference, shock conductance, and verbal report.  Through these measures, slides in two groups were created for each participant.  Groups of slides included ten slides from the population concerned, and ten for an adult stimuli. 

Negative reinforcement of electric shock was used to deter participants’ sexual response to the concerned population, with no reinforcement or punishment offered for either the adult or neutral stimuli.  Tests were repeated after five presentations of all 20 slides, after ten presentations, and after 20 presentations.  Participants requiring greater than 20 presentations continued additional cycles, but were not recorded in the results.

As expected, results indicated significant differentiation between pretest slides.  Each measure indicated that the participants showed a strong preference for the slides from the concerned stimuli over the target stimuli.  Post test results indicted a shift in sexual preference fro the concerned stimuli to the target stimuli.  Intermittent tests showed no significant change between the concerned stimuli and the target stimuli.

The indication of the results is that electric shock deterred the participants from sexual arousal when viewing slides of children, while increasing arousal during the viewing of adult slides.  This suggests that  electric shock, when used in the manner described above, is an adequate deterrent from one sexual preference while the lack of electric shock serves as a reward to increase sexual attraction toward a target group.

While it is appreciated that this study isolated a group of sexual deviants that had not been previously studied, both the method and the analysis of results leave much concern.

The creators of this study used a variety of measures to identify changes in covert changes in behavior, but the measures are not without fault.  Though the authors acknowledged the problems with penile circumference measures, they neglected to relate that a combination of measures that can be easily manipulated by the participants fail to offer a reliable measure in itself.  This is particularly relevant to the population at hand, as the population (should the study be used to justify the use of electric shock on pedophiles) stands to benefit.  Offenders could easily lie and control erection should a change in sexual preference from children to adults allow for early release.

In addition to the problem of inadequate measures, the researchers also failed to consider the possibility that, while there was a correlation between the decrease of arousal toward children and the increase of arousal toward adults, there was no measure during the study of increased or decreased arousal toward neutral slides.  During the initial measure of a baseline, neutral slides were used, however after that initial exposure to the neutral stimuli, no further measure of it was attained.  The question as to whether the response to a neutral stimuli would change or remain the same, in essence disregarding any measure of reliability of the study.

The final (and perhaps most disturbing) of the problems discussed here is the problem of possible misconstrual of results when externalized from the study.  There is a great potential that use of electric shock could be used as a deterrent from other types of non-normative sexual behaviors.  The authors made a point of acknowledging that the neutral stimuli in the baseline measures contained no animals or fetishistic objects.  This implies that they perceive the potential for fetishism to be treated as well, as they obviously considered it a confound deemed necessary of control.

Perhaps future study could examine the possible correlation of increased sexual arousal toward adults with the lowering of sexual attraction toward children by examining additional physiological factors which might not be so easily controlled by the participant.  In addition, measures used at baseline should be included in all rounds of testing.

Quinsey, Vernon L.; Bergersen, Sidney G.; Steinman, Cary M.; Canadian Journal of  Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, Vol 8(2),  Apr, 1976. pp. 202-212.




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