What is Normal: Sexuality to Psychology



I have been thinking a lot about the word 'normal' lately and have been catching up on my feed reading where I have found a mountain of people struggling with situations caused by this word 'normal'. Whether it be in relation to sexuality and where you fit on the Kinsey scale or whether it be about being gay or whether it be about what is normal for a person of your age it is all very confusing. The dictionary describes normal as:-

1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
2. serving to establish a standard.
3. Psychology.

a. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.

b. free from any mental disorder; sane.


Now, even the dictionary definition is ambiguous. I mean "conforming to the standard or common type". Now in my way of thinking that relies on statistics to come up with a common type and in my experience even though statistics can give an indication, they are flawed at best. To gain many statistics you need to produce data which is often from a form of survey. That survey is completed by people and people often don't tell the truth in a survey. For example many won't answer questions if they fee uncomfortable with revealing certain things about themselves. Now in other surveys like our countries periodical Census which allows the government to plot the future however doesn't actually have options to clearly spell out same sex couples. So determining normal seems to get more difficult.

Clinical psychologists may say that normal, is often perceived by social norms but even that is flawed because it is influenced by how we were raised, the groups we associated with and our personal belief structures. For example I don't see people who enjoy going out and getting drunk as "normal" however someone who has grown up around that or socialises with people who do that may see that as "normal". Culturally issues such as being gay may not be seen as normal because it is not common amongst peoples circles and the thousands of years of conditioning that people have received.

I have found that as individuals we each decide what we consider normal. In saying that I have found there is no such thing. Normal simply does not exist. I don't want to play semantics but to me what we are really saying when we use the word normal or say that some action is not normal is that it doesn't fit into our reality or it doesn't fit with what I want in my reality. At this point we can either accept the differences, compromise on behaviours or discard people and situations that don't meet our idea of normal (reality).

Consider this next time you use the word normal and although I know there are a million scenarios and justifications both legitimate and not, I think and feel the word is just too ambiguous and most of the time doesn't make a lot of sense.

Androgyny

 For those of you who are long term readers you will know that I am all for the emergence or increase in profile for those who are more androgynous. In fact I wrote a post not that long ago about Andrej Pejic the awesome Australian model who is making androgyny mainstream in the world of modelling. He is not the only one though and others such as Justin Vivian Bond is making headway showing people that it’s not necessary to conform. You should read Justin’s description of who Mx Justin Vivian Bond is HERE


I see this as a move for people to be themselves. We each identify as male or female biologically but does that really describe who you are, I don’t think so. Is a biological description of who you are physically really serve any purpose. Think about it. You receive a survey or fill in an online membership and it asks you whether you are male or female. What purpose in this day and age does that really achieve. What difference does it make other than statistically whether you are physically male or female? I mean even in terms of marketing it doesn’t really mean anything because people these days have varied interests.

Are we getting closer to a day when that question really isn’t necessary? I hope so! If it is necessary then maybe it should be worded, what is your biological sex? Is it male, female or other? Whether people want to admit it or not there are people in the “other” group. If you are looking for useful information you really need to ask a lot more questions not only about biological identification but how you identify, whether you are gay, straight, bi etc and other more detailed questions.
  

 

As far as androgyny goes I am celebrating the increase in awareness. I think it’s great people are being allowed to be themselves. I do think when the world wants people to conform to something that they really need to ask themselves why it is necessary. I suspect most of the time it’s only for the purpose of making things simple because if anything new comes along they would have to look at all the changes (work) that would be necessary to change. Taking the easy way out is not the answer and only demonstrates laziness. 

Celebrate diversity.
On another angle, I happened to just see this TED clip. It is about gender and well worth watching. 

 

 

Suicide Hopelessness

With the recent revelations that missing 13 year old Declan Crouch committed suicide. I'm not sure whether this will turn out to be the coroners final determination but it's still a horrible thought. Throughout the roughly two months he was missing the media thought he was just a missing person. But in this latest revelation it really is a strange end. Why someone so young would kill themselves is a difficult thing to come to terms with. 

 

It was strange because yesterday I happen to have peen listening to my random podcasts which are varied and two of them turned out to be about this topic. The day before I was presented with a study on gay & lesbian youth and suicide was a big player in that topic. Then suicide was back in the news with reports that show that Queensland has the highest rate of suicide among males in Australia. 

Suicide is a topic that really concerns me. I work in an area where suicide is a daily reality, and it's never something that is easy to understand. Personally I have an interest in the gay and lesbian area and want to get involved in issues that surround in particular youth. The one thing that I am certain of is that self esteem and a feeling of being alone are two of the primary things that lead to suicide. 

I have spoken to a lot of people about this topic and there is so many who actually want to help but are frustrated when they can't find out how. It seems that in general people want to do something but just can't find ways to do it. There are some organisations out there that do a great job in their area such as Beyond Blue, Open Doors and similar but there seems to not be a lot. I think one of the frustrating parts of this is not the services that are already there but more how to get to those people at risk. I don't have the answers but I do endeavour to work on this. I am talking with organisations at the moment to work out the highest areas of need and what I can do so we will continue on this path. 

It would be great to know what others are doing in this area and what has worked. Again I don't have the answers but am determined to make a difference. Look for the signs in those around you. I am not the expert so check out the web and learn as much as you can. 

The PM should have thought twice

As some of you may have heard, the PM Julia Gillard is about to have dinner with three gay & lesbian couples who support marriage equality. How did it happen, well the dinner was being auctioned off for charity and the AME & Get Up! won the auction who are sending three gay couples to the dinner. Sweet justice really. 

Julia has been struggling to distance herself from the fight for marriage equality for a long time. There are a lot of stories out there that state secretly she supports marriage equality however follows the party policy and is desperately trying to maintain support which appears to be in the balance of the Christian Lobby. Considering the PM has avoided and refused to meet with supporters of marriage equality and the issue is becoming very heated, this will be the last straw. 

A better version of the story is linked to at the bottom, but my 2c worth is this. The polls are showing that the majority of Australian's support marriage equality. The PM's approval rates are in the gutter. So seriously, she would have nothing to lose by showing support for this. The PM is so concerned that she will lose the votes of the Christian Lobby (which she will), that she doesn't realise she has stopped leading this nation. Yes, it will politically be a risk for her to show support for this fight, however as a leader she needs to make these decisions. By making these decisions she may just find renewed support. This is a woman who really underestimates the power of the gay vote. What we are looking for is a leader who is willing to do what is right. This isn't just a gay issue, but a whole nation one. Each time an election comes around it's a choice of picking which party is the least disturbing. What this country needs is for a leader who doesn't bullshit and who is willing to stand up and be counted. 

Politics has many flaws, but one of the biggest is that the current system does not encourage honesty. One of the problems is that the process of replacing a party leader is as simple as a vote by the party. However in this situation the Labor Party need to realise that it's not just Julia that is unpopular at the moment but the whole party. It's time to wake up and realise that what you are doing isn't working. It's time to take some risks. There is always going to be some opposition to decisions in the public but you need to weather these and make change that is better for the country. 

You can read more about it HERE

Lies & Cheating

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Reader Question 

I received a question from a reader in Strasbourg recently, in J’s question he said “I have been in a relationship for 6 months and am confused about cheating. My boyfriend and I disagree on what it is. Iy just seems to me that it's all too much...............Relationships shouldn't be like this, shouldn't we respect each other enough to be loyal.................... what do you think”. Obviously that is only an excerpt but I’ll do my best to answer it.

I see life as hard enough without complicating things with dishonesty in relationships which are meant to be the most honest part of your life. If you can’t agree with your partner on this very basic of relationship rules then you really shouldn’t be in it. You said it right when you used the word respect. I would think that respecting each others feelings and beliefs wouldn't be that big of a sacrifice when you are in a relationship. In fact it shouldn't even be a thought.

Every relationship is different and it may be necessary to discuss the rules and boundaries of the relationship with your partner. It is important that your partner knows what you consider unacceptable in your relationship. Then it’s up to your partner to decided whether what you require in this relationship suits what he is looking for. If not he can leave. Generally for me I would consider any dishonesty a deal breaker. But in particular in the area of cheating or similar I think it comes back to a discussion with your partner and that way there can be no question as to what you think and what the boundaries are for the relationship to continue.

I personally consider cheating a number of things. I consider it any of the obvious physical contact including kissing. I consider it any online contact/chat that involves even flirtation that has any sexual aspect or innuendo. There is more, but these are a couple of the things we in our relationship think is important. But I think the more important part is it’s about dishonesty because dishonesty is the cause of mistrust.

People make a lot of excuses around dishonesty, but the reality is that irrelevant of what someone thinks, if you truly love someone you will not be dishonest in any way. I can’t fathom why someone would even consider dishonesty. If you are not sure, than talk to your partner. Why even place doubt in your partners mind and the reality is that when you are in a relationship, you pick up on a lot more than your partner realises and visa versa. It’s a side effect of being with someone. The subtle things are potentially big things. J, maybe you should explain this to your boyfriend because if you both can’t agree on the standards for your relationship and care enough to respect those things that make each of you uncomfortable then maybe you need to consider the future of the relationship.

Here is the bottom line......If your partner is being dishonest and you feel he will continue with behaviour you consider is dishonest then get out. You really don’t want to get 5 years down the track and then discover he’s back to his old ways. This will just make it harder. These are hard decisions but we all have to make them at some point. I have encountered dishonesty in the past and for me now it’s the most important factor and I will end a relationship over it. Luckily right now I have a partner who I feel is totally honest and has integrity.

If you look at the relationship breakdown’s on FB, you start to see trends as to the causes. Dishonesty seems to be the number one reason. Why risk it. I had a partner once who said if I don’t tell you it’s not lying. That’s a very childish attitude and as you can see that relationship didn’t last. Turns out he was doing things that I had made clear I couldn’t accept in our relationship. What it really showed is not only was he a liar, but he really didn’t have respect or love for the relationship or me.  It was a dealbreaker!

J, I hope you can communicate what you need to your partner. You may find that he really is ok with what you need, but if you don’t communicate it, he won’t know. Hope all goes well.