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DECONSTRUCTING SEXUAL ORIENTATION; IS THERE MORE?

Have you ever stopped to think whether sexual orientation is determined by sex or by gender? I'm still not sure myself. If I am a heterosexual woman, does it mean that I am attracted to all men, that I am attracted to men who are not transgender, or maybe only to transgender men? Perhaps I am only attracted to individuals who conform to what society defines as masculine, and not someone who identifies as a man? Might I be attracted to individuals who have a penis, regardless of whether they are women, men, non-binary people... And what if I am attracted to an intersex person? What is it that I am attracted to then? What sexual orientation should I choose to identify with?


By focusing on the "gender” or “sex" of the individuals we are attracted to, sexual orientations have provided a framework for categorizing and understanding our sexual preferences. On the other hand, it oversimplifies the complex nature of human desire and attraction. So, if we were to move away from the gender-based categorization of sexual preferences, fostering a more inclusive understanding of human sexuality, several alternative factors could be considered.


Consider the vast spectrum of sexual preferences: from specific activities, positions, or fetishes that people find pleasurable, to the allure of certain physical attributes like body type, facial features, hair colour and other aesthetic attributes, or even the nuances of dominance and submission, cultural backgrounds, and religious beliefs, to socioeconomic status, health, trauma, fantasies, geographical location, etc. All these preferences encompass a diverse array of factors contributing to our sexual tapestry, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. And of course, let’s not forget about emotional connection, a powerful cornerstone of our attraction to others that transcends the intangible, encompassing how the other make us feel, whether they make us laugh, or if they genuinely listen and understand us, fostering trust, intimacy, and a sense of belonging.


By embracing this multifaceted view, we invite a richer understanding of human sexuality. It acknowledges the fluidity of preferences over time and transcends narrow Western-centric views.


You know, when it comes to human attraction, it is like trying to catch a rainbow in a jar: there is so much more to it than meets the eye! Sure, we talk about factors like personal experiences, cultural influences, and individual desires, but can any single one of these really capture the full magic of why we are drawn to someone?


For instance, take gender: it has been playing referee in the game of love for centuries, from birth certificates to legal papers. But let's be real: it is just one piece of the puzzle. Our society loves putting things neatly into boxes, but when it comes to who we are into, it is a wild mess.


Sure, we have got these sexual orientations hanging around, trying to simplify things, but come on! That is like trying to describe a symphony with just one note, there is so much more depth to it.


So, here is the scoop: while gender might have its place in society, it is time to recognize that our attractions are so much more diverse and intricate than that. We know we all have preferences, but how to put them into words? Can we even do that? In real life, language is not confined to words alone, there are countless forms of communication. So, instead of getting caught up in labels and categories, why not focus on how we feel? After all, isn't that what truly matters? Ditch the rulebook and let your feelings do the talking!
 

Written by Ana de la Peña
Ana de la Peña Barroso is a psychologist and educator originally from Spain, whose journey has taken her across various countries in pursuit of knowledge and expertise. Currently based in Melbourne, she is specializing as a clinical sexologist and couple's therapist. Her mission is to guide individuals in defining their own sexuality from a place of knowledge, pleasure, and respect. Through her work, she aims to support people in exploring and embracing their unique sexual identities. You can learn more and contact with Ana on @sex2chu