Thursday, March 17, 2005

Some thoughts

Life has return to normal. I don’t think much of J now. At least, I try not to. Several things happened that have kept me busy. I have to study for my exams. I got to know someone and we had been talking on the phone for the past few days.

As a result of my mood last week, I bought a self-help book (yeah, yeah, roll your eyes). It’s titled “Why Does This Keep Happening To Me?” by Alan Downs, PhD. The author has identified seven crises that most people face in their lifetime. The seven are:
· Why can’t I feel passionate about life?
· Who will I share my life with?
· Why can’t I believe in myself? (Self confidence)
· How can I become my own person? (How to separate from our parents’ hopes, dreams, and values?)
· How to be in control of our own lives?
· What does it all mean? (Spiritual)
· This is what I dreamt it would be (Broken dreams)

I have read chapter one, three and four. Seems really useful. Well, the author does have a PhD after all. It offered a few different perspectives on things in life and made me realise several things about my behaviour. Especially chapter four. Awareness is important, but the next and most important step is to take action and apply them in my life.

On another note, an interesting issue was stirred when I had dinner with a friend the other day. It’s about the changing of sexual orientation. Can someone really change his sexuality, when he decides he has had enough? The more common one would be from homosexual to heterosexual. I often wonder about this hypothetical scenario, whereby would a straight person want to turn gay, given that in that world, heterosexuality and homosexuality are both considered normal and widely accepted.

I have come across a research, which said that women are more commonly bisexuals than males. A group of women was shown straight and then lesbian porn, while a group of men was shown straight and gay porn. For straight porn, both groups displayed a high percentage of audience who experienced arousal. Can’t remember the figures, but I think it was around 90% for men and 70% for women. For the lesbian porn, the percentage of women who reported arousal was close to the earlier percentage when straight porn was shown. However, for men, the figure was significantly lower, less then one fifth.

The research went on to conclude that women can easily swing both ways, which I believe would explain why a higher percentage of women than men have experienced homosexual tendencies at some point in their lives. Basically, women are more flexible and more accepting of most things. Men’s brains, for lack of a better term, are more rigid and hard-wired, thus more difficult to change their sexual orientation.

Which I think is true. If a gay guy has never felt aroused when touched or kissed by a woman, I doubt that he would feel any differently in the future. Just as straight guys can never, or at least almost never, get turn on by another guy’s touch. Their reaction would be "Eeew!". If a guy has to make a conscious decision to be attracted and love a girl, doesn’t it say there’s something else at work here? Shouldn’t that happen naturally?

The above inadvertently brings up another point. What is the price one pays when he gives up a part of who he is? I know it is their conscious decision, but somehow I don’t believe that parental and societal expectations have nothing to do with it. Furthermore, the decision to change could also have been prompted by the dismal outcome of most relationships. Though I doubt straight people have it any better anyway. They too would have ups and downs in their relationships. The only difference is that they can share their problems and have better social support from family and friends. Family and friends would then say things like “Oh, we understand”, “Better luck next time” and “You deserve someone better anyway”. If we have good friends and family who would understand, then what difference does it make?

I am not saying that there aren’t successful cases of change. On the surface, that might seem to be the case. But scratch deeper, they are not. To digress, The Star even published on January 12th about conversion and reparative therapy. The paper even quoted a research paper by Dr Robert L. Spitzer, which used a biased sample of the population and showed that there have been successful cases of change. But those people were never comfortable with their own identity in the first place, due to religion, society’s standards or parental expectations. So, if they really wanted to change, they could, in a way. But what’s the measurement of success anyway? Get married and have kids? That’s only physical. But deep down, have they really changed? If they had, why are there so many ex ex-gay (people who supposedly turn straight, but turn back to being gay) movements around?

I suppose it’s somewhat like keeping up with the Joneses. Keeping up appearances which can fool everyone around us. We can fool everyone all the time, but not ourselves. To project a masculine gender facade, perpetrated by society's patriarchal bias.

It is a scary and difficult path to walk down, where the possibility of being ostracized and discriminated upon is always there, to know that your decision to be true to yourself would disappoint people around you. It is always easier to go the path of least resistance, whereby the happiness and expectations of the people around us takes precedence.

Not that I am saying we should be selfish, but our own happiness, our own mental and emotional well being should also be the priority and taken into account. True, if we are happy but our loved ones are not, is not an ideal situation either. But is the expectation of getting married and have kids your parents' or your own? What if one's parents wanted their son to stay home and never move out, so that they can see him and the grandkids everyday, although the son would prefer otherwise? What if one's parents disagree to the decision of sending the grandchild to an international school but Chinese school instead? If one were to do something for any other person’s expectation, to please another person, rather than our own, that I don’t think it’s wise. Sure, there is such a thing as a compromise, but how long can we go on compromising and not have the satisfaction of making a decision of our own? When will we actually “grow up”?

These are just some of my thoughts. As William Shakespeare said, All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players. I wonder when will we take off our masks and play our own roles?

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