I seem to have given some offence recently, on one of my lefty mailing lists, by characterizing another post as an exercise in sociobiology -- or perhaps by disparaging the latter, implicitly, as pseudo- science.
Not to aggravate the offence, but it seems to me that there might be a general question here. The contribution that evoked my ire read, in part:
Don’t the Occam’s Razor’ish explanations suffice for explaining [men's] fear of female sexuality(*): we see time and again that males of species attempt to control the reproductive activity and choices of females.It seems to me that this argument, if we accept it, probably has the opposite effect to the one we want.
Consider, for comparison purposes, the usual bourgeois-liberal argument for non-discrimination against gay people. This usually turns on the postulate that gayness is innate and biologically determined, and *therefore* mustn't be discriminated against.
It's always seemed to me like a poor choice of tactic, because it assumes facts not in evidence, and because it would collapse embarrassingly if the aetiology of same-sex object choice were actually investigated, successfully, and proved to be completely epigenetic. There'd need to be some scrambling done.
Why not choose higher ground in the first place? Even ordinary uncontroversial notions like personal freedom, autonomy and privacy seem to offer a better basis for the case than some venturesome empirical hypothesis about the ontogeny of sexual preference.
Who knows, there might even be more than one reason why some people go down the same-sex path and others don't! Suppose some same-sexers really carry the gene and others are just wannabes. Will the town clerk in Vermont require a DNA test to make sure that Adam and Steve are both real, bona-fide, biological gay people?
But in any case, the way the assumption of innateness is usually deployed in our current political culture is to *justify* the behavior for which innateness is being claimed. Now surely that wasn't the intent of the individual who posted this particular just-so story about men's supposed fear of female sexuality, right?
In general, hypotheses of innateness are a lot more likely to have reactionary implications than the reverse. One very good reason to steer clear of them.
(*) Don't ask. The supposedly deep and pandemic male fear of female sexuality had been mentioned by a thoroughly feminist male comrade, to widespread applause.