email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAlways Forever MaybeAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond SpeechBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting OffGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot My ShameNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePhilosophy of Love, Sex, and Marriage: An IntroductionPin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRelax, It's Just SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Dangerous Art of Blending InThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Evolution of BeautyThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe PervertThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebUntrue VirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex
One of the ways in which societies tend to defend the ideal statuses of their being either democratic or enlightened has been through how sexual diversity is viewed by such societies. Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist, has contributed to movements towards these ideals by the publication of his book- Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The science of sexual orientation. In short Simon LeVay has drawn a wide range of scientific knowledge to explain the question of what makes people gay, lesbian, bi, or straight. He has done this by defending the argument of link between genetics, human physiology and sexual orientation. By drawing on studies focusing on the interaction between genes, sex hormones, and the developing brain he concludes that that sexual orientation derives from biology, not from personal choices. Another conclusion that can be drawn from reading this book is that sexual orientation is not something to be determined after birth but much of it would have been determined at the time of birth
The book summarizes a range past and present scientific researches that explain human sexuality and demonstrate that science has not advanced much from the time LeVay himself publish his first scientific paper on the question of sexual orientation in early 1990s. LeVay does not present this current state of knowledge and the findings as the overall conclusion but leaves everything at a probable level.
In terms of organization the book features an introduction which is followed by chapters 1-11.
· Chapter 1: What is Sexual Orientation? -explores issues related to sexual orientation include definitions and research findings from studies about sexual orientation.
· Chapter 2: Why We Need Biology- explores a variety of theories that have so far been used to explain sexual orientation. These include Freudian theories and a variety of learning theories. LeVay argues why these theories tend to be hard to prove and hence the need for biological explanations.
- Chapter 3: The outline of a theory- is where LeVay explains the issues about how sex hormone levels and brain development are linked to later life sexual preferences.
- Chapter 4: Childhood-outlines how retrospective and prospective as well as other methods have been used to show how young boys’ and girls’ mental and behavioural traits have shown links with later life sexual preferences.
- Chapter 5: Characteristics of Gay and Straight Adults-explores the question of shift in sexual preferences among gay man and women as have been demonstrated, for example, through verbal fluency tests.
Chapter 6: The Role of Sex Hormones-explores how some conditions which result in over exposure and poor exposure to hormone levels prenatally lead to later preferences in sexual orientation.
- Chapter 7: The Role of Genes- explores studies that demonstrate that genes may predispose homosexuality
- Chapter 8: The Brain- explores the roles of sex hormones, genes, and differences in the brain by looking at the evidence that is available in the brain structures that point to the association of such characteristics with gay or lesbian behaviour. These include the findings that the grey matter of lesbians and non-lesbians tend to differ. Other studies explored here include both human and nonhuman experiments on brain regions that are linked to sexuality preferences
- Chapter 9-The body-Explores the roles of sex hormones, genes, and differences in the body by looking at how sex hormones have influenced body features in their development . Evidence is given from both human and non-human studies.
- Chapter 10: The Older-Brother Effect- Explores the biological reasons of the link between birth order and fetal environmental changes and the likelihood of being gay in later life. This is exemplified by looking at studies that have explored the link between the number of older brothers and the likelihood of being gay in later life
- Chapter 11- Conclusion- sums up the debates and scientific evidence and the purpose of the debate in the book.
The book ends with a glossary of terms and this makes it even friendlier to a non-technical reader. Footnotes and a wide range of references are also given at the end of the book.
While this book may have a first appeal to academics I would also recommend it to a diverse range of people in the society. These include those who are sexually diverse as it could be a tool of empowerment in social conversations where they are faced with the need to explain who they are- the reality that these people face in the society.
Positioning the causes of being gay at the level of biological influences has implications for promoting social acceptance of gay people. One also wonders how far works of scientific nature such as this publication may contribute to the acceptance of people diverse sexual orientation in different societies. In his further writing in this book LeVay however spelt it out that even if being gay could be proven to be a question of choice there a myriad of other reasons why gay people should be accepted by society.
Finally, from an ethics perspective, on reading this book, one may have a feeling that given the evidence that sexual orientation could be determined before birth LeVay should have also dealt with the possible implications of this in the face of the available technology nowadays. By this I am referring to the fact that if we know the biological determinants of being gay and can diagnose these what are the ethical challenges regarding choices of who can be born and who cannot be born. Given the current levels of lack of acceptance of gay people in some societies the ethical challenges can be far reaching.
© 2012 Charles Mpofu
Charles Mpofu, MHsc (Hons), PhD Cand., AUT University, faculty of health sciences, Auckland, New Zealand. He is a lecturer with interests in social justice and empowerment as well as ethics and health law. His research methodologies are empowerment oriented. Has taught mainly in the school of public health, School of occupation and rehabilitation and now teaches in interdisciplinary studies health care practice.