Role Models and Sexuality
September 7, 2019

The X-Files and the Scully Effect

In my teenage years, I was a big fan of the X-Files. I enjoyed the intrigue and the mystery, the bizarre stories, and especially the characters: Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Mulder was the believer. He believed in aliens. He believed in monsters. He believed in pretty much anything that people were expected to not believe in. Scully on the other hand was the nonbeliever. With her background in science and medicine, she was skeptical of everything that could not be empirically proven. Her character evolved as the show went on, with her eventually becoming the believer when Mulder left the series, but the best seasons of the show in my opinion were those where the dynamic was Mulder's belief vs Scully's skepticism.

I bring this up because of a phenomenon known as the "Scully Effect". Scully was a strong, independent woman. She was a medical doctor with a background in science. As young girls watched her character on the TV show, they saw a role model they could pattern their life after, and there are many women today who credit her for inspiring them to pursue careers in science, medicine, or law enforcement.

All of us can probably point to role models who inspired us in our own lives. Sometimes real people, sometimes fictional, these role models provided an example of a life we could pattern our own after. They showed us how we should act. They showed us what kind of careers we should go into. They showed us what we should consider to be right and what we should consider to be wrong.

The creators of books, TV shows, and movies are well aware of this, and they will often include characters who are intended to serve as positive role models (in their opinion) for their audience:

  • They depict strong, independent women because they want girls to follow their example and to grow into strong, independent women.
  • They depict women who are scientists, doctors, or engineers because they want girls to follow their example and to choose to become scientists, doctors, or engineers.
  • They depict women in same-sex relationships because ...

I'll let you think about that last statement for now and will return to it later.

A Rambling Background

I am writing this from a position of cultural powerlessness. I am in the same position as tens of millions of others who share similar beliefs to me, likely including you, the reader. Millions of us believe that same-sex sexuality is morally wrong. We talk about this, we write about this, we complain about this, all to no effect—because we are culturally powerless. Those who hold cultural power either believe that same-sex sexuality is morally right; or else they have been effectively neutered by the fear of losing their cultural power, preventing them from using that cultural power for positive ends, because they know that the presence of their cultural power is conditioned on their implicit agreement to not stand against same-sex sexuality.

Sometimes one of the powerless is suddenly raised into a position of cultural power, but if they are one of us who believe that same-sex sexuality is wrong, then we know what will happen next: They will be destroyed. The knives will come out and they will be cut down and put back in their place—among us, the powerless, because our current society will not permit someone to have cultural power if they are going to use that cultural power to stand against same-sex sexuality.

And that is how I know I am culturally powerless: because I haven't been destroyed. I work within the US high-tech industry, which has become more and more infused with progressivism. If I ever achieve any semblance of success as a writer, you can bet that the progressive purity mob will come pounding on my employer's door demanding my head, and there is a good chance it would be given to them. I write under a pseudonym, but the path from my pseudonym to my real name is a simple one. This is by design. There is a price I might be asked to pay for the beliefs I defend through my writing, and I am willing to pay that price, but I would prefer to only do so if I have been able to make a positive impact. And so, the path from my pseudonym to my real name has been left wide open, but the path from my real name to my pseudonym has not. Because of this, you can know that I am culturally powerless because no one has had a reason to make the jump from my pseudonym to my real name in order to destroy me. As long as I am safely powerless, why would they bother?

I say this because those who share my same beliefs will often talk or write about morality within our society, and although I agree with what they're saying, it seems like lately there has been an underlying thought in the back of my mind: So what? I agree with everything you're saying, but so what? What are you going to do about it? What do you have the cultural power to do about it? Nothing.

And so, to end this rambling background, let me answer the question of "So what?". Why should you read this? Why should you think about what I'm saying? Do I have the cultural power to actually make a difference in the broader culture? No, I don't. But that isn't the target I have in mind right now. Right now I'm writing to you, the individual reading my words at this very moment. I assume you agree with me that same-sex sexuality is wrong. Wonderful. But here is the problem: The way you think about sexuality, and the way you talk about sexuality, is self-defeating. You agree that same-sex sexuality is wrong and yet you willingly choose to go along with a way of thinking about sexuality that leaves you utterly naked and defenseless against the opposing anti-moral onslaught.

But I have a sword and shield I am offering you. It is the same sword and shield I have been offering you for years if you would only choose to take them. I want you to change how you think about sexuality. I want you to start thinking about it the way I think about it. Why? Because the way I propose is a better way. Call it arrogance, call it confidence, I don't care. But the target of my writing is you. Here is a sword and shield I am offering you. I am writing these words to convince you to accept them.

The Sword and Shield

I published my novel The River Is Always Waiting almost six years ago. On the cover is the tagline "Attraction is something that you feel, not something that you are." That is the core message of my novel, and that has been the core message of all my words about same-sex sexuality in the years since then. That is the better way for you to think about sexuality. That is the sword and shield that will not leave you defenseless against the anti-moral onslaught. To understand this, consider the opposing belief: sexual identity. Sexual identity is the belief that our sexual attractions form the core of who we are. It is the belief that humanity is separated into what are effectively treated as three separate sub-species: gay, straight, and bisexual.

Every time you call yourself straight, or even think of yourself in that way, you are adopting the viewpoint of sexual identity, a viewpoint that is aggressively being used to destroy your moral beliefs. The strategy is simple: First, take a sin (same-sex sexuality), and then take a person who desires to commit that sin, and then combine them together and declare that that person and that sin are inseparable, that that sin is who that person is. Can't you see why this is done? We have so much guilt lingering over our society's sin of racism. We want so much to separate ourselves from those in the past who, due to the time they lived in, held racist beliefs. We are extremely sensitive to this. We don't want to ever be caught mistreating someone for immutable characteristics like skin color. So sexual identity takes this good desire to not mistreat people for their immutable characteristics, and it twists it to force you to accept sin—because if sin is an immutable characteristic of a person, then the only way to accept that person is to accept that sin. Sexual identity is an anti-moral weapon, and yet so many people who believe same-sex sexuality is wrong still choose to view the world through this false social construct. Why? Why do you choose to shoot yourself in the foot? Why do you choose to stand defenseless when you don't have to?

There is no reason why you have to believe in sexual identity. This isn't something that was discovered under a microscope. We made it up. It's nothing more than a social construct. You might recognize the phrase "social construct" from the arguments about gender identity. Gender identity proponents claim that gender is just a social construct, but they then expose their lie by using the same words for gender as are used for biological sex. In other words, the true goal of gender identity is not to redefine a social construct, the true goal of gender identity is to allow people's personal beliefs to override the empirical reality of biological sex. Gender is not a social construct, it is a euphemism for biological sex. Sexual identity, on the other hand, absolutely is a social construct. We made it up, and we can therefore change it, or better yet we can throw it out the window into the trash heap where it belongs.

And that is what I'm trying to convince you to do: to recognize sexual identity for the anti-moral weapon it is and to stop using it against yourself. I want you to pick up the sword and shield instead. I want you to adopt a way of thinking about sexuality that is compatible with the belief that same-sex sexuality is wrong. I want you to realize that you are not straight, or gay, or bisexual, and no one else is either. I want you to realize that same-sex sexuality is not a sin that only applies to "others". Because that is the key: when you view the battle over same-sex sexuality as "us vs them" you are setting your moral beliefs up to fail. This is not an "us vs them" problem. This is a "we" problem. When you accept that, when you adopt that way of thinking and adopt that way of speaking, you are picking up the sword and shield and are prepared to finally start defending the moral beliefs you hold.

Stephen Measure and the Kinsey Scale

Allow me to present myself as a living example to prove my point. I am a man who has been happily married to a woman for seventeen years. I have wonderful children who my wife and I are raising in a way we hope will inspire them to choose to believe as we believe and to live as we live. I am also a man for whom ... shall I say ... same-sex attraction is not an entirely foreign desire.

I have to be careful here because I don't want to convey a false impression. Too often we hear people, speaking within the context of religion, talk about their same-sex attraction as if it is some horrible burden they have to bear and which they therefore expect everyone else to change to accommodate. "I feel the desire to do something my religion believes is a sin. Woe is me." (This is particularly ridiculous when someone declares they identity as a bisexual as if that represents some huge emotional weight on their soul. Seriously, why is that in any way, shape, or form a problem? You feel same-sex attraction but you also feel opposite-sex attraction? Great, so ignore the wrong desire and get on with your life. How is this a problem?) So, because of the high potential for creating a false impression, I am trying to choose my words carefully. Let me put it this way: I am the product of the circumstances and choices of my life, and I think the best way to describe the degree of same-sex attraction I feel is to call it an occasional annoyance. It's there. I understand the appeal. I definitely feel the attraction to some extend. Yet I wholeheartedly reject it in the same way I reject the other wrong desires I feel (which there are plenty of). To be frank I think we far overemphasize the importance of same-sex attraction. If our society weren't in the middle of a struggle over same-sex sexuality, I doubt I'd see a reason to mention it at all.

It's useful to illustrate what I'm saying about myself with the Kinsey scale. Alfred Kinsey was a sexual researcher in the mid-twentieth century. I am not endorsing all of his views on sexuality, but he created a scale to illustrate the fluidity of sexuality, and I think it is helpful because it highlights how inaccurate sexual identity actually is. Here is the Kinsey Scale in my own words:

0: Only opposite-sex attraction
1: Mainly opposite-sex attraction but some same-sex attraction
2: Opposite-sex attraction is greater but same-sex attraction is significant
3: Equal opposite-sex attraction and same-sex attraction
4: Same-sex attraction is greater but opposite-sex attraction is significant
5: Mainly same-sex attraction but some opposite-sex attraction
6: Only same-sex attraction

If I were to self-evaluate myself today, I would say I bounce around somewhere between a 1 and 2. Let's call it 1.25. Opposite-sex attraction for me is definitely more prominent, yet same-sex attraction is also there. Now let me ask you this: According to the rules of sexual identity, what am I? Am I straight? Am I bisexual? Am I gay? Theoretically, couldn't I claim any of those labels? But would any of those labels accurately describe the truth about me? No.

Facts and Interpretations

The amount of sexual attraction you currently feel toward the same sex or the opposite sex is a fact, but how do you interpret that fact? Let me return to my earlier statement that sexual identity is a social construct. The attractions we feel are a fact, and sexual identity is one interpretation of those facts. But it is not the only interpretation. And indeed, as shown in the Kinsey scale above, it is an interpretation that hides possibilities that would otherwise remain open.

Consider me and my self-described 1.25 on the Kinsey scale. That is a fact, but what does it mean? How would someone like me interpret that fact? Well, I am in my early forties and a member of Generation X. I was raised in a church that taught me that same-sex sexuality is wrong, and I was raised in a society that discouraged same-sex sexuality. (It discouraged it in ways that I today disagree with, but it discouraged it nonetheless.) Given this, someone such as myself, raised in my church and in my generation, would probably call himself straight.

But what if I were being raised today? What if I were being raised in a society that celebrated same-sex sexuality? What if I spent my entire childhood drowning in rainbow flags and fictional role models who identity as gay? What if everywhere around me was society's clear message that anyone who disagrees with same-sex sexuality is a bigot? Knowing myself, I think that if I were being raised in today's generation and I were being raised outside of a religion that preached against same-sex sexuality, then I almost certainly would have described myself as bisexual and it's theoretically possible that, depending on my initial sexual experiences, I might have even thought of myself as gay.

Consider that. Consider the dramatic difference in the life I might have led. And more importantly, consider that the underlying facts didn't have to change (my 1.25 on the Kinsey scale). The only thing that changed was my interpretation of those facts. Now ask yourself this question: How many Stephen Measures are out there? How many boys and girls will, based on today's interpretation of their sexuality, take their lives in an entirely different direction than they would have in prior generations? And it's all because of sexual identity. It's all because those of us who believe that same-sex sexuality is wrong continue to treat this conflict as "us vs them" instead of as "we". Again, I am not talking to the broader culture. I am talking to you. I am talking about the impact your beliefs about sexuality have on yourself and on your friends and your family.

The Possibility of Wrong

Here is the truth: Recognizing the potential for same-sex sexuality within yourself makes you far better equipped to handle the challenge of same-sex attraction within your family or friends than someone who treats same-sex sexuality as a sin that only "others" are susceptible to. Think about it. If a family member or a friend came to me and told me they identity as gay, how do you think I would react? Do you think I would think of them as evil? Do you think I would think of them as a freak? Do you think I would think of them as "other"? No. I would think of them as me, and I would expect them to handle this wrong desire the exact way I handle it. I would accept their same-sex attraction as a fact, but I would utterly reject their use of sexual identity to interpret that fact, and I would forever encourage them to do the same, loving them no matter what path they choose, but also always hoping they will choose to take the right one.

Many of you reading this today, if you are honest with yourself, will be able to admit to yourself that you too feel some degree of same-sex attraction. Maybe you're a 2. Maybe you're a 1. Maybe you're a 0.25. But it's there and you can therefore start to imagine how different your life might have been in different circumstances, so you can start to understand the disservice you are doing to others like yourself when you follow the dogma of sexual identity in your way of thinking and speaking.

But what of those who are reading this who consider themselves a 0 on the Kinsey scale and can never even imagine feeling an inkling of same-sex attraction no matter the circumstances of their lives? Let me be honest with you: I think you're wrong, and I think your inability to see any possibility for same-sex attraction in yourself is nothing more than a failure of your own imagination. Let me ask you this: Are you a racist? And when I say racist, I don't mean the progressive definition of racist: "Everyone who isn't a progressive is a racist!", which is really just a synonym for "monster". No, when I say racist, I mean an actual racist: someone who thinks they are justified in mistreating someone else because of the color of their skin. I'll bet you will answer that no, you are not a racist. But what if you had been born with caucasian skin in the pre-Civil-War US south? Is there any doubt that, due to the different circumstances of your life, you would have had an extremely different opinion about skin color? And it's not just racism. Think of any negative ideology from the past that you wholeheartedly reject today and then imagine that you were raised in a society that lived and breathed that ideology. What would the result have been? A lot about who we are stems from the circumstances of the life we were given. This is why it is so morally disgusting when people today demonize great women and men from the past for the sin of being a product of their time. These moral midgets are standing on the shoulders of giants and criticizing those giants for being unable to see as far as they, standing on the shoulders of giants, are able to see. Do not make that same mistake. The circumstances of your life have had a profound effect on who you are today. If you have never even felt the slightest inkling of same-sex attraction your entire life, then recognize that that is likely the result of the circumstances you have lived, and be grateful for that; but understand that things could have been very different.

Here is a quick mental exercise I want you to do: Imagine you were raised on an isolated island with no concept of the outside world. Imagine that everyone on this island engaged only in same-sex sexuality: there are zero male-female couples, only same-sex couples, and no one around you even imagined the possibility of male-female sexuality. Obviously in reality Mother Nature would bestow a Darwin Award on such a society after a single generation, but imagine this is a magical island where babies fall from trees so we don't need to worry about trivial concerns like human reproduction. Imagine yourself being raised in that society. Every example of sexuality you see is a same-sex example. Every example of how life should be led involves pairing with a member of the same-sex. Now answer this question honestly: In that situation, is there any doubt that you very likely would develop same-sex attraction and seek out same-sex relationships just like everyone else? If you answer that question "yes", as you should if you're being honest, then congratulations, you just proved to yourself the fluidity of sexuality and recognized that the core tenet of sexual identity, "I was born this way", is obviously not always true.

"But that is an extreme situation!" comes the protest, "That's not even remotely similar to the world we are in today!" Yes, that's correct. The failure of some people's imagination forces me to resort to a completely unrealistic scenario, but here's the point: You have now realized there are situations where you could have developed same-sex attraction, so now I want you to start considering all the degrees of gray between where we are today and that extreme example and I want you to consider how people's interpretation of their sexuality would change as the scale moves from lighter to darker. At some point it would effect you as well. I want you to see that possibility of wrong within you. I want you to admit it to yourself. When you talk about the wrongness of same-sex sexuality, I want you to stop saying "them" and to start saying "we".

We Follow Role Models

I am writing these words to you, the reader. My words are not going to sway the course of society. I lack the cultural power to accomplish that. The truth is, I'm not sure if any of us has the power to alter the direction we are in today. There is a time and a season to everything, and that includes societies. Right now I think our society is in the season of autumn. We enjoyed summer. We enjoyed its comforts. We enjoyed its peace and prosperity. But those comforts made us complacent, weak, and eventually foolish; and the fruits of the hubris of summer sprout in the autumn, where we look back with longing to the comforts of summer, and we look forward with dread to the prospect of winter. Unfortunately, I don't know if there is a way for a society to avoid its self-imposed winter. Perhaps going through winter is the only way a society can once again experience spring.

But I'm not writing to society, I'm writing to you, a person like me who feels dismay at the direction our society is going, but a person like me who lacks the cultural power to do anything about it. I'm writing this to you with the admonition that you narrow your scope. No, you cannot change the course of society, but you do have the ability to influence those within your own scope of responsibility, especially your children.

Children follow the example of role models. Everyone knows this. So what kind of role models are you exposing your children to, and what effect will that have on how they interpret the facts of their lives? Let me return to the "Scully Effect" and the earlier statement about authors and TV producers I never finished: "They depict women in same-sex relationships because ..." Think about it. We recognize that children mold their lives around the examples they are shown, why do so many of us refuse to accept that that influence extends to sexuality as well?

"You're afraid that X, Y, or Z will turn your kid gay!" is the Pavlovian sneer, but that sneer makes zero sense outside the confines of sexual identity, a social construct I completely reject and hope you will reject as well. Would someone likewise sneer, "You're afraid that X, Y, or Z will turn your kid into a scientist!"? No, of course not, because we all accept that people are open to influence from others.

I'm asking you to do two things. First, I want you to reject the concept of sexual identity. I want you to stop thinking about same-sex sexuality as an "us vs them" problem. I want you to stop thinking of it as something that is only a challenge for "others". I want you to recognize the fluidity of sexuality. I want you to recognize the potential within yourself as well as in others. The circumstances and choices of my life have made me into a 1.25 on the Kinsey scale, but I could have been a 2, or a 3, perhaps a 4 or a 5 or even a 6. And even if you don't believe that, even if you think I would have always been a 1.25 no matter the circumstances I might have lived, you cannot deny that my interpretation of my sexuality is subject to change and therefore is subject to influence by others.

Which leads me to the second thing I am asking you to do: Think about the role models you are allowing society to show your children. If I were being raised today outside a religion that preached against same-sex sexuality, it is almost certain I would end up living a very different life than the one I am living today. We are a product of the culture we are raised in. We model our lives after the examples that are placed before us. Everything about us is open to influence, and that includes our sexuality.

Do you have any idea how much same-sex content is present in the young adult novels, TV shows, and movies produced today? It is to the point now where if there isn't any same-sex content, then that is viewed as a problem the writers are expected to fix. My family has chosen to abandon several TV series when same-sex role models were introduced later into the series, there are entire YA novel series we have chosen to avoid, and some authors are so determined to encourage the acceptance of same-sex sexuality through their writing that we don't feel comfortable picking up a single book by them, regardless of the content. Each time a new superhero movie comes out, my wife and I wonder how far the studios will dare to push it this time. Each time a new cartoon princess movie is released, we wonder if it will be the last one our children will be able to see. It is relentless, and it's only going to get worse.

You have to understand that these authors and TV producers are not evil people. They are not sitting in their studios cackling over a devious plot to corrupt our youth. In their hearts, they honestly believe they are doing the right thing. They wholeheartedly believe in sexual identity, and they therefore inevitably believe that same-sex sexuality is morally right and that everyone should accept it. They view this entirely as a matter of representation and think they are continuing the civil rights movement. They believe they are fighting for the side of good. Unfortunately, they are damningly wrong.

And everything I said here about role models applies equally to the subject of gender identity as well. Believers in gender identity believe that children are born as transgenders, and that they are therefore completely immune to influence from the role models placed in front of them, but once again this is a matter of facts vs the interpretation of those facts. The underlying fact is this: someone believes they are a different gender than their biological sex. Believers in gender identity interpret that fact to mean that this person actually is a different gender than their biological sex, but that is not the only way you can interpret that underlying fact. Here is a simpler interpretation: They're wrong. Yes, they believe they are a different gender than their biological sex, but they're wrong. And given that the only thing underlying gender identity is a belief, of course people can be swayed one way or the other, and this makes the role models who promote transgenderism just as much of a risk (if not a greater one) than the role models who promote same-sex sexuality.

So I ask you to think about what examples you are allowing society to show your children. Realize that many of the books, shows, and movies today are being written with a specific goal of promoting beliefs you object to. Do not believe for even a second that sexuality is immune to influence from others. It is not immune. The sexuality of the rising generation is changing right before your eyes if you just allow yourself to see. Reject sexual identity. Why would you view humanity through a social construct that is aggressively being used to destroy your moral beliefs? Why would you choose to stand defenseless before an anti-moral onslaught? Here is a sword and shield. When will you finally choose to take them?

Related essays:
The War Between Identity and Behavior
Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You

topic: sexual identity

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