“That’s disgusting!”

We were in the teacher’s lounge discussing marriage equality.

“People talk about marriage equality, but what they really mean is same sex marriage,” I had said.

“Exactly; and I think polyamory should be included as well,” he enthused.

I thought I’d stir the pot. “But even then, that’s not full marriage equality,” I said, emphasizing the “full”. “There’s equality in gender and number, but what about….”  The word “species” came to mind but wasn’t what I meant. “What about people who are objectophiles?” I was ready to explain but my friend knew what I meant. “That’s disgusting!”

“Really? Why?”

The bell rang then, but his instant reaction was another striking insight into people’s standards. One hundred years ago, most people would have said same sex marriage was disgusting. Now, the boundary of acceptability has moved; however, the boundary is still there: the idea that a behaviour is normal or abnormal, right or wrong. [1]

How do you think people who are objectophiles would feel? Wouldn’t they feel slighted, discriminated against? Surely their feelings and desires feel absolutely natural to them? Wouldn’t their desires be genetically based as well? It’s not likely anyone would choose that orientation. I suppose it’s the same with people who are furries or who have other paraphilias? So why should their natural inclinations be called disgusting? [2] Or is there another reason that justifies the adjective?

How would my friend’s attitude have changed if we’d had time to talk and diffuse the natural emotional reactions? Maybe it wouldn’t have, but he’d realize that he wasn’t as tolerant as he thought. I am intolerant about many issues: for example, I think human trafficking, murder, and rape are absolutely wrong. On government intervention, on freedom of speech, on discipline and on education, my tolerance level varies. I believe all of us are intolerant at some stage; and that isn’t bad.

At what point do you draw the boundary on topics like these; and why? What would convince you to change your mind?

________

Endnotes

[1] I wonder whether people consider boundaries for social (acceptable and unacceptable) or moral (right and wrong) standards as one and the same? That is, is any given behavior both acceptable and good, or can it be acceptable but not good? Could an act ever be good but not acceptable? Again, is an act acceptable because it’s good, or good because it’s acceptable?

[2] How genetics and environment interact is a complex topic, and either way I don’t think people deliberately choose their sexual orientation; as by the time people become sexually aware, the path of their orientation has been formed by many influences.

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