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If homosexuality is genetic...

by silenzer
Tags: genetic, homosexuality
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silenzer
#1
Apr20-14, 06:50 AM
P: 55
Why was homosexuality so much more common in ancient Greece and Rome than it is now?

I am secularist by the way, so there is no religious motive behind this question. I only ask because I was doing a little reading in

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosex...ancient_Greece

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosex...n_ancient_Rome

and this question popped up in my head.
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Pythagorean
#2
Apr20-14, 07:29 AM
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First of all, many traits are not just genetic or just social, and homosexuality is such an example that seems to have both components to it.

But I'm not sure I understand your point about Greece and Rome. And was it actually more common than it is now? I don't think so. Certainly in the US we had a period of it being considered a mental disorder, and strong religious protest to the behavior without much state-sanctioned defense of homosexuals. Now we have state-sanctioned defense and public acceptance. According to polls, public acceptance of homosexuality was about 51% right when Obama endorsed it recently.

But does any of this have anything to do with genetic tendencies in the human population? I doubt it. I think homosexuality has always been there, it's just the degree to which it's been private vs. public due to social pressures. Also, Greece and Rome aren't really that far away in terms of evolutionary time, so it's hard to make inferences from that short time ago.
silenzer
#3
Apr20-14, 07:57 AM
P: 55
I think it was more common then, yes. It's ~10% now (high estimate) versus much higher in ancient Greece (you can see it in the text, grown males typically "adopted" an adolescent boy).

Pythagorean
#4
Apr20-14, 08:01 AM
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If homosexuality is genetic...

Could you please quote where it says "much higher"?
phinds
#5
Apr20-14, 08:08 AM
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Quote Quote by silenzer View Post
I think it was more common then, yes. It's ~10% now (high estimate) versus much higher in ancient Greece (you can see it in the text, grown males typically "adopted" an adolescent boy).
I'm no expert on this, so my belief could certainly be wrong but I think it was more of a life-style choice back then, especially in ancient Greece because, as you say, "adoption" was common, but the way in which you use "adoption" in quotes could be understood as implying that you think this was a purely homosexual thing. As I understand it, the homosexual relationship was secondary. Men took boys under their wing to mentor/train them and the homosexual relationship was sort of a community standard and most of these boys went on to have heterosexual lives.

One thing that supports my belief is how unlikely it is that the percentage of innate homesexuals would have changed dramatically over only a couple of thousand years, especially given that survival traits had nothing to do with it since the men in question normally had heterosexual relationships in which they had children, so their genes WERE passed on.

Also, there have been times in history when ANY sort of accurate reporting would have shown a very small percentage of homosexuals, but only because it was so fully repressed that reporting would not have caught it.

In short, the heart of your question seems to be based on a significant genetic change and I don't believe there has been any.
silenzer
#6
Apr20-14, 09:16 AM
P: 55
Quote Quote by phinds View Post
In short, the heart of your question seems to be based on a significant genetic change and I don't believe there has been any.
No, my question is based on whether homosexuality is genetic or not. Maybe I was not clear enough, it seems you have not fully understood my question.
silenzer
#7
Apr20-14, 09:30 AM
P: 55
Quote Quote by Pythagorean View Post
Could you please quote where it says "much higher"?
You can see it from the text. Adult men are spoken of as "would adopt an adolescent boy."
Pythagorean
#8
Apr20-14, 09:35 AM
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Quote Quote by silenzer View Post
You can see it from the text. Adult men are spoken of as "would adopt an adolescent boy."
How does that equate to homosexuality being "much more" prevalent than then now?
silenzer
#9
Apr20-14, 09:42 AM
P: 55
Because now we know that homosexuality is probably below 10%. It was so common back then that even an entire military unit consisted entirely of them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_...es#Composition
phinds
#10
Apr20-14, 09:48 AM
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Quote Quote by silenzer View Post
No, my question is based on whether homosexuality is genetic or not. Maybe I was not clear enough, it seems you have not fully understood my question.
You are correct. I was looking only at the text of your question and lost track of the fact that your subject line specifically said it was about a genetic link. Since that was your question, I can only say that you have brought in what I consider to be irrelevant information to use in discussing your question, and you continue to belabor that irrelevant fact. You have established no link and you have made no comment on my, and other, comments that your information is irrelevant or at best using a fact not in evidence in that you have jumped to an unwarranted conclusion, which I tried to explain to you.
silenzer
#11
Apr20-14, 09:53 AM
P: 55
You didn't actually explain anything, you said I assumed a significant genetic change. I did the exact opposite. I asked IF homosexuality is genetic, why was homosexuality more common in Greece and Rome? Understand?
Pythagorean
#12
Apr20-14, 10:10 AM
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Quote Quote by silenzer View Post
Because now we know that homosexuality is probably below 10%. It was so common back then that even an entire military unit consisted entirely of them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_...es#Composition
To me, it appears you're making assumptions about prevalence. You really have no number, just anecdotes that you are inferring from.
Ryan_m_b
#13
Apr20-14, 10:20 AM
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Silenzer please start providing citations, and quoting relevant sections, that back up your claim that homosexual practices were higher in ancient Greek and Roman societies. At the moment you are just making assumptions based on a few anecdotes.

Short on time atm but just a quick note: sexual orientation is different to sexual behaviour. Even if there was a higher prevalence of what we would judge to be homosexual behaviour that doesn't indicate a significant difference in the prevalence of homosexual orientation. Small example but same-sex kissing is regarded to be a sign of homosexuality in some societies but not in others. Someone from the latter observing the former could erroneously conclude a higher prevalence of homosexuality. Or to put it another way: men can have sex without either being homosexual in the same way a homosexual man can have sex with a woman without being heterosexual.
phinds
#14
Apr20-14, 10:32 AM
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Quote Quote by silenzer View Post
You didn't actually explain anything, you said I assumed a significant genetic change. I did the exact opposite. I asked IF homosexuality is genetic, why was homosexuality more common in Greece and Rome? Understand?
At this point it seems you are just being argumentative to be argumentative. I was going to support that statement with pretty much exactly what Ryan just said, but he beat me to it. I felt that I had made exactly that point (that Ryan just made) in my previous posts and you were ignoring me, but it is true that I did not state it as explicitly as Ryan just did.
phinds
#15
Apr20-14, 10:35 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
.. Small example but same-sex kissing is regarded to be a sign of homosexuality in some societies but not in others.
Likewise, unrelated adult males walking down the street holding hands would be a likely sign of homosexual orientation in America but has nothing to do with that in the Arab world.
silenzer
#16
Apr20-14, 11:07 AM
P: 55
At this point it seems you are just being argumentative to be argumentative.
Again, you didn't say anything of significance. You were wrong that the relationships were not of homosexual nature.

Source:

Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged erotic relationship between an adult male (the erastes) and a younger male (the eromenos) usually in his teens.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pederas...ancient_Greece

(...) while Polyaenus describes the Sacred Band as being composed of men "devoted to each other by mutual obligations of love"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_...es#Composition

So, you are both wrong. This was an erotic relationship. Both parties involved in this kind of relationship were referred to as "lovers." If that doesn't imply homosexuality, I don't know what does.

The Sacred Band was not an adequate example, but I believe this one is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosex...Social_aspects

Homer's Nestor was not well skilled in ordering an army when he advised the Greeks to rank tribe and tribe ... he should have joined lovers and their beloved. For men of the same tribe little value one another when dangers press; but a band cemented by friendship grounded upon love is never to be broken.
So, there you have it. He should have joined lovers and their beloved. That could only have had any considerable effect if a significant portion of the army had lover pairs.
Drakkith
#17
Apr20-14, 02:29 PM
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First, what exactly do you mean by "homosexuality"? Is it only physical acts? Is it only emotional feelings? A mixture of both?

As has been said, different cultures today and throughout history have had different social standards when it comes to sex, gender, and sexual orientation. What we consider to be "homosexual practices" are not necessarily the same as another culture.

My personal opinion based on my own reading:

The accepted physical acts and relationships between people are defined by the society the live in. But the internal feelings and preferences of the person are probably determined by an interaction between genes and the environment they are raised in. By this I mean that two people with identical genes would not necessarily turn out to be the same sexual orientation or gender when raised in different environments. (Here gender means a societal role that people of either sex can fit into, with sex being determined biologically)

Also, you really, really need to make sure you take anything in ancient history within the context of that time period. For example, sexual orientation wasn't even the same concept in ancient greece as it is today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosex...ancient_Greece

The ancient Greeks did not conceive of sexual orientation as a social identifier as modern Western societies have done. Greek society did not distinguish sexual desire or behavior by the gender of the participants, but rather by the role that each participant played in the sex act, that of active penetrator or passive penetrated.[5] This active/passive polarization corresponded with dominant and submissive social roles: the active (penetrative) role was associated with masculinity, higher social status, and adulthood, while the passive role was associated with femininity, lower social status, and youth.[5]
Pederasty in ancient greece and rome is NOT the same thing as homosexuality is today. In fact, one of the concerns of ancient greeks was that the eromenos, the youth, would become a kinaidos, the passive, penetrated partner in adulthood, which is what women were. So even though sexual relationships between members of the same sex were allowed (homosexuality in today's world, or at least here in the USA), and even encouraged in certain circumstances, there was still worry that the boys would turn into men who preferred to be "submissive" and "passive", instead of dominant like adult men should be. Homosexual relationships between adult males of similar social status were generally not approved of.

Homosexuality has less to do with the physical acts, and more to do with gender roles in society. It's more about masculinity and femininity (gender), and less about male and female (sex). Hence the stereotype of the gay man who acts with a lot of femininity, or the butch lesbian. I'd propose that most people who are uncomfortable with gay people have more of a problem with this reversed gender role than with the actual physical acts.

(The different uses of gender and sex are merely one use of them. The way I use them is not meant to be argumentative, but to clearly differentiate between the physical and emotional/behavioral differences between people. People are born male or female, but masculine and feminine features and behaviors vary widely between different people of the same sex)
micromass
#18
Apr20-14, 02:35 PM
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Quote Quote by silenzer View Post
Again, you didn't say anything of significance. You were wrong that the relationships were not of homosexual nature.

Source:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pederas...ancient_Greece



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_...es#Composition

So, you are both wrong. This was an erotic relationship. Both parties involved in this kind of relationship were referred to as "lovers." If that doesn't imply homosexuality, I don't know what does.

The Sacred Band was not an adequate example, but I believe this one is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosex...Social_aspects



So, there you have it. He should have joined lovers and their beloved. That could only have had any considerable effect if a significant portion of the army had lover pairs.
None of that says that homosexuality was more prevalent in Ancient Greek and Roman societies. You just listed some examples of homosexual relationships.

It is probably true that homosexual behavior was more prevalent in ancient times. But homosexual behavior is also very prevalent in modern prisons, does that mean that there are more homosexuals in prisons as opposed to the total population?


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