There’s a bit struggle I have with all of this stuff, and that’s wracking my brain to figure out if I’m right. It’s a bit like an “emperor has no clothes” moment I suppose. I think it says a lot about my personality (good things mostly) that I’m boring so hard into this “WTF is sexual attraction?” question. I’ve read a few really good analogies, but to be honest, I think I’m a bit better at analogies and writing than most of those I read. If you can do something better, my thought is that you should.
What is sexual attraction? Well shit, what is blue? No, not the sky or the ocean. What is the color “blue”. Describe it to me. I’ve never seen it before. Pretty tough isn’t it? I mean, sure I can tell you that it’s an electromagnetic wave with a wavelength between 450 and 495 nanometers. Is it any clearer yet? No? Ok, well it’s if you just kept increasing the wavelength of violet light, all the way to green light, you’d have to pass through blue. Still no good? Um…
And that’s the problem. But in a way, I think it’s also kind of an answer. I know what blue is, but really, the actual way in which I see and experience blue is unique to myself. I could point at the sky with a friend and say, “yup, that’s blue!” If my friend had perfect vision (and let’s assume she does), she’d say, “yup, sure is!” We could go grab a spectrometer and even verify that yup, 460 nm, this checks out. But in reality, for all I or anyone else knows, my friend might be seeing the sky as red. At this point I guess we should just go bowling because we’re just entering nihilist territory here, but before we do that, there is something important to take out of this.
Neither of us was in disagreement that the sky we were looking at was indeed blue, so is there really even a problem? I don’t really think so. We’re both experiencing a phenomenon (the color blue), and we’re both in agreement on how to use language to describe that phenomenon (the word “blue”). The fact that the spectrometer backs that up is kind of irrelevant.
But what if you couldn’t see? I can still describe the properties of blue to you, and you can even rationally understand them. Hell, with colors, you could even understand all the mathematical relationships and create great color themes even if you were blind.
What of sexual attraction though? Most people seem to get it, “what do you mean? It’s just blue” they’ll say. And while they can’t describe it objectively as, “the feeling in your brain when nerve x oscillates with nerve b’ at 25KHz,” they’re happy to describe their experience of it. It’s so intrinsic. You must be feeling the same thing, or at least something you’d categorize in the same way, right? Right?
Well, maybe not. In my case, I don’t think so. That’s such a hard thing to accept and come to terms with. All those years, people were feeling and being driven by something that wasn’t there for me? That’s scary. All this time I thought I must’ve been seeing blue, but actually, I was seeing red.