Bisexual Species: Unorthodox Sex in the Animal Kingdom: Scientific American

12 Jul

penguins Bisexual Species: Unorthodox Sex in the Animal Kingdom: Scientific American puts the concept of “unnatural” where it belongs — as a theological or philosophical position, not a matter of fact.

Two penguins native to Antarctica met one spring day in 1998 in a tank at the Central Park Zoo in midtown Manhattan. They perched atop stones and took turns diving in and out of the clear water below. They entwined necks, called to each other and mated. They then built a nest together to prepare for an egg. But no egg was forthcoming: Roy and Silo were both male…

…“Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,” says sociologist Eric Anderson of the University of Bath in England…

…whereas captivity may engender what appears to be an unnaturally high level of homosexual activity in some animal species, human same-sex environments might bring out normal tendencies that other settings tend to suppress. That is, some experts argue that humans, like some other animals, are naturally bisexual. “We should be calling humans bisexual because this idea of exclusive homosexuality is not accurate of people,” Roughgarden says. “Homosexuality is mixed in with heterosexuality across cultures and history.”

Even Silo the penguin, who had been coupled with Roy for six years, displayed this malleability of sexual orientation. One spring day in 2004 a female chinstrap penguin named Scrappy—a transplant from SeaWorld in San Diego—caught his eye, and he abruptly left Roy for her. Meanwhile Roy and Silo’s “daughter,” Tango, carried on in the tradition of her fathers. Her chosen mate: a female named Tazuni.

Just thought I’d mention it.

The article leads Arts & Letters Daily at the moment.

There’s also an interesting article by Kenan Malik from Butterflies and Wheels. Yes, I do know who he is; but the ideas are of considerable interest to me, as they are not at all inconsistent with the way I conceive multiculturalism — but I’ll bookmark this for another post.

…The logic of the preservationist argument is that every culture has a pristine form, its original state. It decays when it is not longer in that form. Like racial scientists with their idea of racial type, some modern multiculturalists appear to hold a belief in cultural type. For racial scientists, a ‘type’ was a group of human beings linked by a set of fundamental characteristics which were unique to it. Each type was separated from others by a sharp discontinuity; there was rarely any doubt as to which type an individual belonged. Each type remained constant through time. There were severe limits to how much any member of a type could drift away from the fundamental ground plan by which the type was constituted. These, of course, are the very characteristics that constitute a culture in much of today’s multiculturalism talk. Many multiculturalists, like racial scientists, have come to think of human types as fixed, unchanging entities, each defined by its special essence.

Not as I see multiculturalism; not at all…

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Posted by on July 12, 2008 in challenge, Gay and Lesbian, gay issues, Multicultural, multiculturalism, pluralism, racism


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