Behavior versus inner

I’m reading an article in the NY Times about the malleability or not of gender identification, and my attention snagged on something tangential.

Is it really so surprising that gender identity might, like sexual orientation, be on a spectrum? After all, one can be exclusively straight or exclusively gay — or anything in between. But variability in a behavior shouldn’t be confused with its malleability. There is little evidence, for example, that you really can change your sexual orientation. Sure, you can change your sexual behavior, but your inner sexual fantasies endure.

What snagged my attention was the contrast between behavior and inner fantasies.

I think maybe calling it “inner sexual fantasies” is what did the snagging – that’s not the usual counterpart to behavior. More usual would be inner self, or internal identity, or self-image, or sense of self. Boiling that down to sexual fantasies seems pretty reductive, because there’s usually more to being gay or straight than which genitalia appear in your sexual fantasies –

– but that “more” is really what snagged my attention, not the reductiveness of the comparison. It’s the moreness of the inner life, and how important that is or isn’t compared to behavior, and whether or not I’m some kind of accidental dualist, because I do think the inner life is important, and also more “real” than behavior, at least when that behavior is constrained and shaped by social pressure.

Is that dualism? Or is it just being a nerd?

Do very gregarious people feel that their behavior is more “real” – a more authentic part of them – than nerds do? That’s what I’m wondering.

8 Responses to “Behavior versus inner”