Social Question

lapilofu's avatar

Do you assume heterosexuality?

Asked by lapilofu (4325points) August 17th, 2010
39 responses
“Great Question” (9points)

When you meet people—in real life or on Fluther—do you assume they are heterosexual? Do you assume they are homosexual? How does their behavior affect the assumptions you make about them? How do your assumptions affect the way you treat them? (Or in the case of Fluther, how do your assumptions affect the questions you ask?)

Observing members: 0
Composing members: 0


wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think I assume any sexuality on fluther. It’s impossible to tell based on writing samples. They have to announce their preference before I feel like I know anything. Mostly, though, I don’t find myself wondering about it. It doesn’t really matter until it matters.

In meat space, sexual preference is something I assess on a case by case basis, just as I asses education, income, creativity and all the other things I’m interested in when I meet someone. I do assume that they are as they look and present themselves, so if they seem male, I assume they are male, even though I can’t see their sexual organs.

If someone presents as gay, I tend to assume I’m right, but it rarely matters, so it’s not like I have to ask. If it’s important, I’ll be informed, the same as any other attribute of the person. I assess each person I interact with individually, based on my agenda with them. I try not to assume anything—although if someone appears to be one way or another (a race, a clothes horse, erudite, or whatever), I do assume that’s who they are until informed otherwise.

DominicX's avatar

I do tend to assume most people are heterosexual, simply because it is much more common to be. I do agree that online, it’s much harder to assume sexuality. Text does not give you as many clues nor as informative of clues.

What causes me to think a person might not be straight are small hints, often stereotypical. I’m not saying it’s “right” to go off of stereotypes, but I’ve been correct about people’s orientations before by going off of stereotypes, so it happens to me automatically, to some extent.

I really don’t think my assumptions affect the way I treat them. It would only be relevant in the context of relationship questions. I don’t treat heterosexuals any differently than homosexuals unless we are talking about experience with heterosexuality/homosexuality.

In terms of asking questions, I never assume everyone on the site is heterosexual, not at all. If I’m talking relationships, I will never say “Ladies, what do you think of…” it will probably be “people attracted to men, what do you think of…” I hate being left out of questions that I could easily and helpfully answer. It’s different if you are looking for a female perspective, but many of these questions are just looking for a perspective from someone in a relationship with a man or who is attracted to men.

Palindrome's avatar

Ahhh. I intentionally didn’t label the sex of the subject I was speaking of when I asked my question Are these signs of attraction and people assumed I was speaking of a “guy” friend instead of possibly thinking it could be girl. Only one person who answered my question caught on to what I was doing and questioned if I was talking about a girl.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I see heterosexuality as a default and everyone else on a scale of Grays. I truly believe more people are not 100% straight than those that feel they are.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

At this point in my life, I’ve met so many people with varying backgrounds and sexualities that I try not to assume anything. I’ll learn about it over time, if I communicate with someone long enough. Regardless, it never changes relationships or friendships for me, so it’s not something that I feel I need to know. I would never treat them differently because of their sexuality – just like I don’t treat men and women differently, because I believe that most gender “differences” are nothing more than societal and cultural constructs.

YARNLADY's avatar

Statistically about 15% of the population that is not within that category, so I say yes, I do.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I don’t usually think about who anyone likes to f@ck ;)

ETpro's avatar

No. At my age, I assume that in relation to me, they will be asexual. Of course, I am thrilled when my assumption proves to be wrong.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I do not make assumptions about people’s sexual orientation. I know most people are heterosexual. Anyone who is not will tell me if they want me to know.

gypsywench's avatar

I don’t like to make assumptions. I really don’t care either way. In “real life” I would say I have good gaydar. I’m kind of gay and I’m kind of straight. People are people. Fuck labels.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Most of my friends are either gay or bisexual. This probably leads me to make erroneous assumptions when meeting new people. Online, I don’t make any assumptions about gender or orientation.

Kraigmo's avatar

Some people are obviously homosexual.

But I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is obviously heterosexual.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Sexuality usually doesn’t cross my mind. I tend to think of people in terms of their thoughts and opinions rather than sexual orientation. If the topic of sexuality comes up, people usually reveal their orientation before I have a chance to make an assumption.

Cruiser's avatar

I am only concerned about sex with one person and what everyone else to else does is up to them and especially how they “do it” is of no consequence how I feel about or interact with them.

Pandora's avatar

Heck, on fluther, I don’t even assume your sex. I wait to see what people say. I’ve met women on line with what I considered possibly a male name and vice versa.
Some just have a name that is difficult to tell male or female. (ex. FireMadeFlesh)
As for in real life, unless the guy is extremely flamboyant, or a female is extremely butch, than I don’t assume anything till I get to know them. I’ve met gay guys that seem totally straight or lesbians who also act totally straight. Till I know they are dating someone of the opposite sex, or are married, I don’t assume anything. There are those who also seem straight and live a double life for appearances or because they are confused.

augustlan's avatar

In ‘real life’ I don’t really think about it much unless my ‘gaydar’ (which is almost always accurate) sends me a sign. Even then, I’m like “Ok, noted.” and that’s it. Whatever sexuality a person may be, it doesn’t change the way I interact with them. Unless it’s a really good friend, in which case I might ask some highly personal questions – just because I’m an extremely curious person. I love to hear about experiences that differ from my own.

lapilofu's avatar

What prompted me to ask this question was that I’ve been noticing a lot of questions on Fluther that seem to assume heterosexuality (though mostly not from the crowd of people answering this question). For example questions that start like, “Men, when a girl walks by…” or “Ladies, what do you think when a man…”

Have you noticed this pattern too? What do you think of it?

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Pandora FYI, I’m male.

Pandora's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Good to know. LOL

augustlan's avatar

@lapilofu I have noticed that. I forgot to even address the ‘online’ side of things in my answer, but I assume nothing about anyone online. I don’t think people do it on purpose, but most folks tend to think everyone is “like them” as a default.

Pandora's avatar

@lapilofu I think the reason most of us do that is to understand the opposite sex. If one is hetersexual why would they ask about a topic that isn’t fruitful to them? If one is gay than I assume they would ask about topics that pertain to them.
Lets say I was single and trying to figure out what men find attractive in a female. Why would I ask, what do women find attractive in a female, if I have no intention of attracting another female?
If I ask a religious question on here, I am not assuming everyone is of my faith or even has any religious beliefs. But I would hope that the majority who answer would be someone who is of my faith and so they can answer it.
If I ask a cooking question, I also don’t assume everyone is a cook or even knows how to cook.
You get the point, right?

NaturallyMe's avatar

I don’t really assume anything from anyone, not consciously anyway, until i’ve either seen them or communicated with them in some way. And whether i assume they’re homosexual because of something they did or said, i don’t treat them differently than i do anybody else. And when my assumption is proven incorrect, then so be it, it doesn’t really change anything about what i think of the person themself. Everybody makes assumptions about all kinds of things, but those assumptions are not set in stone.

pathfinder's avatar

It depende on my mode

Blackberry's avatar

Of course I just assume people are straight initially, although if the man seems extremely feminine, or has that soft, feminine, whiny voice, then I will assume he is gay. I do not know how to distunguish lesbians except for the ‘butch’ look.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Not any more. I’ve been wrong too many times in the past. Years ago, I assumed two men at work were gay by their mannerisms, and it turned out that both were happily married with children. It was two years before I found out that my house mate is gay. Some people have assumed that I am gay.

Someone’s sexual orientation just doesn’t matter, be it friendship or working relationship. If there is a physical attraction going on, we typically find out at the appropriate time.

As for on Fluther, sometimes it is helpful to know, but often it isn’t necessary.

wundayatta's avatar

@lapilofu I don’t think those questions are assuming heterosexuality. I think they are addressing them to heterosexuals because that is their concern. I’m sure homosexuals do answer, just as men answer questions addressed specifically to women, etc.

BoBo1946's avatar

@lapilofu i try to treat all people with respect regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. anywhere.

mammal's avatar

No, but i assume most staunch heterosexuals are philistines….vulgar and unrefined with regards to sexuality and other experiences not that i’ve got anything against vulgarity.

JONESGH's avatar

In real life, I do it solely based on personality and looks, which is wrong I know, but on Fluther I really don’t assume either, it seems unimportant in most questions.

CMaz's avatar

Penis vagina. Then I go from there.

josie's avatar

Absent any other evidence, I play the percentages.
Probably heterosexual.

Aster's avatar

Most of my life I assumed everyone was straight. But now I find myself wondering sometimes. Never did that before fluther.

jerv's avatar

I assume people are straight merely because only around 10% of the population is gay; simple statistics.

Of course, 10% is enough that it’s not a rarity if someone announces their homosexuality. There are more homosexuals than left-handed people, and as far as I am concerned, one’s sexual orientation is about as relevant as which hand they write with.

lapilofu's avatar

People have thrown around a few different statistics in this thread for what percentage of the population is gay or straight. I’m curious to see the sources for these statistics. Does anyone have some good ones available?

YARNLADY's avatar

Any figure used is merely an estimate based on surveys of people. After viewing several different sources, I stuck with the estimate of 15%.

downtide's avatar

Being part of the LGBT spectrum myself, I never make assumptions, online or offline. As an example when I’m speaking with a customer at work, and that customer refers to their partner (we sell both single and joint policies for motor breakdown cover) I will not use gender-based pronouns until the customer tells me their partner’s gender, or it’s made clear by their name.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@downtide Good idea. In our part of the world, the term “partner” is sometimes a clue, but you can still get bitten making assumptions.

jerv's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I’ve heard enough gay men refer to their significant other as their wife, and while it’s uncommon for a heterosexual to use “partner” in the context of romantic relationships, I’ve heard it often enough that I don’t really consider it much of a clue.
However, I do find myself occasionally keeping things gender-neutral like @downtide does just in case. (Assuming I remember how to be polite…)

@lapilofu It’s hard to get an accurate poll on anything, so some variation in exact numbers is inevitable. That is also why some mention their margin of error. Numbers vary a bit depending on where the poll is taken as different places have different demographics. This Gallup article may shed a little light on that aspect of things, as could good old Wikipedia . Note the ranges given by different polls at different times.

downtide's avatar

@jerv I agree – I hear a lot of heterosexual couples use the term partner, especially older unmarried ones. It seems a bit silly using boyfriend/girlfriend when you’re fifty.

Answer this question




to answer.

Mobile | Desktop

Send Feedback