I never knew it would get so big!

“I would never have believed it would get this big!” I said to Sylvester.

“Look at this huge bulge!” he replied, his eyes wide.

“I had no idea it would be this big when I started working on it,” I said, still surprised.

We were examining in detail the growth figures for Clothes Maketh The Man, the serial which started this very website. The graph showed a massive explosion – almost a volcanic emission – the huge growth spurt we got in 2016 when Clothes Maketh The Man first appeared.

Since then over 75,000 members have enjoyed the series. And of course, a lot more has happened besides.  We’ve done everything from helping Mildred from Colorado Spring understand that when it says ‘Push up bottom’ on the deodorant stick she’s been using for years it means depress the base of the packaging – it’s an easy mistake to make -, to voting Ashley Baron our crossdresser of the year. We’ve not had that competition for the last couple of years, so I guess Ashley is still our reigning Queen. Don’t forget we also have some great music in The Fiona Dobson Playlist that’s always sure to give you a lift.

Today I have posted Clothes Maketh The Man part 50. If you’ve not been reading this great series you can do so here.  And don’t forget, your memberships keep this iconic series running, so if you’re not already a member be sure to join one of my programs here.

Just a reminder, if you are enjoying some of the emails you can click on the hotlinks within the email to drill deeper (phrasing) and penetrate the stories in more detail. And we all like deep penetration. You can of course also find a wealth of my content on Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.ca/fionadobson22

Some of you know that I love to hang out on the site some days and use our chat functionality to chat with members. If you see a chat window come up when visiting http://FionaDobson.com you’ll know it’s me on the other end. Feel free to join me there. I usually go on in the mornings for a little (Pacific time) and the evenings.

Now, I must get back to looking after life in Huckleberry Close. Some of you will know I am very much a caring soul. I will not use the word ‘healer’, but I do feel I have a special power. Anyway, Amanda my wife’s awful friend, has been having trouble with her pussy. I’ve said I will go over and lay my hands on it to transfer positive energy from Hannibal, my dachshund. I am good with animals. Between you and I, it’s probably diet. I don’t know what she’s been feeding that thing!

Have a lovely weekend,

😊

Fiona

PS – my musical selection this week is for all my closeted members.

Meet the women who love to feminize their men.

Meet the wonderful women who love to feminize their men.

When the woman of your dreams decides to make you into the woman of her dreams life gets complicated. Enjoy the great stories of Women Who Love To Femininze Their Men.

https://fionadobson.com/women-who-love-to-femininize-their-husbands-marina/

If you’re a woman wishing to feminize your partner I have a special section of the site just for you. Come and visit HERE.

Join as a Seahorse member today.

Crossdressing, divorce and death.

Crossdressing, divorce and death.

I was remarking to Bernard, my photographer, recently that there seems to be a curious link between crossdressing, divorce and death. We were returning from a photoshoot for a client with a well known fashion business, having photographed the new Spring Collection in anticipation of next years marketing.

“I’ve never been divorced,” said Bernard. “Marriage is one institution I have not had the pleasure of enjoying.”

I glanced at him as we moved slowly through the city traffic. I tried to see if he was being sarcastic.

“Well, the term ‘enjoyed’ is not the first that springs to mind,” I said.

“Is your wife back from her trip yet? Where was it, again?”

“Kalamazoo. Or Katmandu. One of those places.” I replied a little testily. “There really are a remarkable number of my members who seem to return to their love of crossdressing following divorce.  I wonder why that is,” I said.

“Well,” said Bernard, “I suppose following divorce in middle age one is forced to re-evaluate things. You know, be a little introspective.”

Continue reading “Crossdressing, divorce and death.”

The Stories Your Mother Never Told You. – Mistress Meg.

There are stories which we choose not to share, for one reason or another. Perhaps it is related to shame or embarrassment. Or maybe we just hold them so dear, that in sharing them they would become devalued.

One of my visitors recently brought a rather unusual collection of note books with him when he came into my studio. He was an elderly man. I will not give many details as I do not wish to identify him in any way.

Wrapped in brown paper of the sort people used for parcels many years ago, these note books were dusty handwritten relics. I can well imagine them being tossed out with the trash when someone moved house, or recycled along with old copies of magazines when clearing out a loft or basement.

My visitor explained that they were among his mother’s personal papers in her house which he had inherited years earlier. For the purposes of this document we will name her ‘Valerie’. The papers had never really been sorted through as there was nothing of much importance there. Valerie had been well organised and secured all the financial documents with the family lawyer.

You will understand then that the contents of these papers were at first a mystery, then quite surprising — and ultimately quite shocking. The following is an edited version, mostly to protect the innocent, or not so innocent, and partly to keep the identity of my visitor confidential.

I would estimate the contents to have been written variously between about 1955 and 1973. I can only assume Valerie’s notebooks were written for her own satisfaction, or perhaps to one day share with someone completely unconnected with the events portrayed.

All that said, as you will doubtless see, the contents help explain her son’s unusual tastes in his personal entertainment. I should say that once he discerned the nature of the content he immediately stopped reading, having barely read the first few pages. At first he was unsure what to do with the material, even thinking of burning the precious documents. He said they made him profoundly uncomfortable.

My own interest was not so easily deflected. After studying the notebooks I decided on a rather different course. His particular interest was to be dressed and made to perform a number of humiliating tasks. Dressed as a young girl and forced to perform the duties (and personal services) suited to a young girl, he found a secret pleasure that surmounted anything else he had ever experienced. My assistant Stacy and I were always pleased to see him.

Over the coming weeks I would often have him perform certain tasks, culminating with him being made to stand in the corner, on pain of a firmly applied spanking, and then listen to stories read variously by myself or Stacy. The stories of course, were the contents of his mother’s note books.

Valerie had such a lovely expressive style. Really, it was a delight to read to my visitor. Watching him squirm, unable to ‘unhear’ his mothers lascivious words was a delightful form of mental torture, of the kind I find simply delightful.

So, having witnessed the profound affect these writings had on my visitor, I am now pleased to be able to share them with you. I should warn you this writing are what today we would describe as Not Safe For Work.

I hope you will forgive some of the editing. It’s been done to protect others, and wherever possible I’ve
maintained the spirit of this extraordinary lady’s words.

Mistress Meg.

Continue reading “The Stories Your Mother Never Told You. – Mistress Meg.”

Women who love to feminize their men.

She’s just waiting for you to unleash her.

The many women who love to feminize their men can now enjoy FionaDobson.com even more. I’ve recently started a new Premium Program just for my lovely women members.

If you’d just like to try the basic program for women you can do so free here.

In the meantime there’s still all the wonderful content from Mistress Meg about women who feminize their men.

For the best in step by step guidance on feminizing your man be sure to check out my program.

Playtime With Fiona – Get out your razor and slip into something silky!

You’ll love the feeling of sexy excitement that a close shave gives you!

You won’t believe how fast a homeless person can run!

You won’t believe what happened to me on the way home the other night. Now I can’t even go to the local Whole Foods store!   I’ve just got back from a workshop for advertising executives, and I arrived home to find I’d run out of milk.

Julie, has been looking after Hannibal, my dachshund, and I knew he wanted a walk with me, so I took him along with me to the store. It was pretty late, and some of the staff were taking in the flower display from the street, where they always look so lovely.

As I was looking at them, and thinking how fresh they were, and how they’d freshen up my apartment, I thought I might buy some.  I turned my head at that moment to see Hannibal, my dachshund, peeing on the homeless guy who sometimes sits there.

He looked back, mortified, his legs wet, and a pool of pee spreading over his cardboard sign, which said – ‘I’ll accept anything.’

It’s absurd, but I couldn’t help thinking that was a rather open offer. I said I was sorry, reaching in my purse,  and found all I had was plastic, and a few peso coins. He wouldn’t take the plastic, and the pesos were no good to him.

I ended up making my apologies and leaving, hurrying inside the store. I felt awkward, though probably a little better than he did.  I must say it was a silly and embarrassing incident, but there it should have rested.

However, fate was not going to be so kind. The following day I had some friends arrive to stay.  They are Ukrainian and the wife, bless her, decided I should have borscht for my lunch and cooked some up.

This was clearly well intentioned, but not my favorite form of soup.  I’m more of a clam chowder person.

Either way, I dutifully took the borscht she’d made with me to the agency, when I left for work. It turned out we had a business lunch that day, and I didn’t get to eat her soup, which I am sure would have been delightful. Instead it remained in my bag, until I noticed it there on my way home. Thinking I would be a little devious, I decided to toss it out of the car window, and say to my guests how wonderful the soup was, and how grateful I was that she made it.

So, there in the very slow moving traffic I lowered my car window, and was about to pour it into the street, when the traffic came to a complete halt, and I found myself next to a particularly angry looking biker. I gave him a smile, but bikers and crossdressers don’t always mix well.

He looked back with disdain. I though I’d better not de-borscht myself in front of him. I gave him a cheeky smile and a week, and he scowled back at me. I lowered the passenger side window and tossed the borscht from it’s tupperware container.

That was when I heard a shout.  It seemed to come from beside the car. I leaned over to the passenger side of the car and looked out on the ground, and there at the foot of a parking meter was the homeless guy, covered in borscht.

He’d moved a few blocks down the street, but it was definitely him.  He turned his borscht covered head in my direction and then recognized me, and said ‘You!”. As the traffic moved on he scrambled to his feet, and started chasing after me in the slow-moving traffic. He was bundled up, but hurried along very quickly after me.  It was just a little frightening.

I raised the window, but it was quite surprising how quickly this poor fellow could move, sprinting beside the car and banging on the window.  All the while he was shouting and making a terrible fuss. Only when I caught the lights just right could I accelerate away fast enough to leave the fellow, with his flapping arms and wailing.  I felt terrible for him, of course, but what could I do?

I pressed my patent leather clad high heeled right foot down and left the poor chap in the rear view mirror. In a face-off between the V8 in my Buick and a homeless person, the Buick generally wins.

I puzzled over his turn of speed for a while till I got home. He really was very quick for a homeless guy.  Now, those of you who know me know that I am a kindly soul. Of course, I have my peccadillos, but I am generally a simple type. I feel no malice or unkindness to homeless people.

I was thinking this as I walked round my vehicle checking that it hadn’t been damaged by his banging on the window. That was when I noticed the glove caught on the door handle.

No wonder he’d been shouting so loudly as I accelerated away.

Oh, well. What can you do? I hope you’ve enjoyed this little story from the world of FionaDobson. Http://fionadobson.com

Don’t forget, I’ve got many free videos for you on Youtube.
I had a lovely email from Gunnar, from Iceland, yesterday. He had listened to one of my Youtube videos about identity and the importance of having a gurl name.

“I love your youtube videos. In one about female identity you say that its important to have a girl name for my girly side. I have always had problems coming up with a name that sticks. I ask you thus for help to find a girl name for me. “

Asking a girlfriend or emailing me for a suggestion, and telling me a little about yourself, is a good idea if you’re stuggling with this.  Identity is a very importaant part of crossdressing.  For many people the idea of dressing is a means to step into an alternative identity. A huge part of that is thinking what name reflects that identity.  Is she a gurly girl, a tomboy, or perhaps a very professional individual.

One great way to select a name is to type into Google, favorite baby names of (insert your year of birth). The result will list the top few male and female names.  Choose one of the top five. In many instances this will feel just right.

A name like ‘Candy’ may not suit that identity if it’s a person that is most at home in a Channel suit. Equally, ‘Olive’ or ‘Maud’ doesn’t much sound like a slutty vamp. Half the fun of dressing is creating the backstory of this character. If you want a fun exercise sit down one night and write her Resume, as though she were applying for a job.  As you develop the character you’ll find your ideas of who she really is clarify. There’s a reason why we say ‘Accept yourself as you are – create yourself as you wish.”

As you explore the idea of alternative identity, you may want to think about the various aspects of who ‘she’ really is. Is she playful, or studious? Does she take life seriously, or live on the wild side? Eventually you’ll realise that crossdressing permeates every aspect of who you really are.

🙂

Fiona

Thinking of dating a crossdresser?

When I first felt that thrill of pulling on panties and not being afraid, it was amazing.  I felt like I wanted to find a partner and see what wonderful things I could experiment with.

What would they do with me, and how would they make love to me? You have no idea the rush of finding that first lover who was willing to take the uninitiated young thing I was!

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I wanted just ‘anyone’.  No, I wanted a play partner that I could rely on to experiment and help me find out what exciting new things this body could do. I wanted someone that would treat me with respect, but also experiment with new things.

I had never thought for an instant that a man would find me attractive, prior to really dressing properly. It was only as I began to accept myself, that I realised I could enjoy my body – instead of feeling inadequate and embarrassed by it.

Some of you are reading the story of McKlusky, and how he bullied me. As I began to experiment I soon became aware that far from being embarrassed and awkward about my body, I could use it to good effect and men not only wanted me, they prized my physical attributes far above females or males.

I found I literally had the best of both worlds. That was why I started to enjoy my new crossdressing sexuality. I realised I was in demand. And men would do virtually anything for me.

Soon I found I had admirers who wanted to take me away on their yacht, take me to wonderful holiday destinations and would do almost anything to be my lover. In fact, they’d take me anywhere, except to meet their mother!

Now, I know you understand the appeal of a great crossdresser. It’s why you are here. And yes, a crossdresser certainly does love the attention. Any CD that fantasises, does so wondering what you might do with them – what height you might take them to. Can you imagine how exciting that is?

Each new lover is a new chance to discover new sides to their evolving personality. Surely you’d love to be part of that exploration!

In Fiona’s Little Black Book there are over a thousand CDs from all over the world just waiting to chat, email and meet new friends, just as I did. They want to meet friends of their own age, younger and older. All of them are looking for connections. Whether you’d just like to email, Skype or meet, there’s someone there for you, << Test First Name >>.

If you’d like to join Fiona’s Little Black Book as an Admirer you too could find a CD to explore new adventures with. Are you ready for that?

Come on. Join in today. Just follow this link to subscribe to The Admirers Club, and start connecting with members of Fiona’s Little Black Book today.

Julie

Max is teabagging Sebastian in my basement!

I arrived home on Saturday morning to a house full of guests. Max, my next door neighbours 20 year old son, had let himself in as he often does these days, Sebastian had arrived early for my yoga session, and as I walked into the kitchen, there was Sylvester clutching a twelve incher in his hand.

“That looks very meaty,” I said as Sylvester stood there looking proud.

“You know how much I love a good sub,” replied Sylvester. “Salami, tomato, olives… this is twelve inches of perfection.

If I had a quarter for every time I’d heard that, I thought quietly to myself. Actually, I’d only have a dollar twenty five, but all the same…

I slipped into a light skirt and a tee shirt, to be ready for yoga, and then asked Sylvester if he’d like to join Sebastian and I on the yoga mats. I should say that it’s rather like watching a fridge try to do a downward dog, when Sylvester does yoga. The will is there, though.

“Where on earth are Max and Sebastian,” I asked Sylvester wondering if perhaps Max would be joining us on the yoha mats.

“Max is teabagging in the basement,” said Sylvester.

“Really,” I said a little surprised.

“Yes. I had no idea Max knew so much about tea. He’s showing Sebastian how to mix a few different tea types and make a few tea bags. He has some black tea, oil of bergamot, vanilla and all sorts of things.”

“Oh,” I said, somewhat relieved. “How creative. We should see if they want to do yoga with us.”

However, that’s not the main reason I am writing to you. I’m sure that you have experienced, the same as many of us, feelings of embarrassment following dressing. Well, you’ll be pleased to know you don’t need to. In the video below I have prepared a short hypnosis for you that will help relieve those feelings. Have a listen and see how you get along.

Have a great week, and remember – “Accept yourself as you are, and create yourself as you wish.”

🙂

Fiona

 
 

If you’re having trouble with Facebook, Whatsapp And Instagram, it’s probably Auntie Kittie’s fault.

This morning Auntie Kittie decided she’d change her Facebook settings. Predictably, Facebook then crashed causing an outage affecting many millions of customers. Don’t worry. We’re working with Auntie Kittie to resolve the issue.

Auntie is on a three way call with my friend Mark at Facebook, Max my neighbour’s son who looks after our tech department ( such as it is).

As you are doubtless aware Auntie Kittie is not very technically minded. These things are to be expected.

Don’t worry. Max is working to restore the system as quickly as he can.

In the meantime enjoy more Auntie Kittie HERE.

Can you help fill my holes?

Watching the sun slowly rise over my rose bushes as I sipped my jasmine tea this morning I could almost have been in some tropical paradise. Ali, my gardener, his head bowed toward the east was in my garden on his knees, the dawn reflected by his white robe.

I glanced at the morning news, and swiftly found it depressing. Someone had been arrested for spying on a tech company and there were reports of any number of conspiracies. I really do get tired of these intrigues. I turned off the news and listened to some morning music instead. This really is the nicest part of the day, and I wasn’t going to have it ruined by scandals which I could do nothing about.

I do love my garden, but as I watched the light spread across the verdant greens and browns of fall foliage I noticed a disruption in the tranquility of the universe. My lawn, so lovingly maintained, was pock marked with the evidence of some burrowing creatures. The velvet green of my well manicured grass had evidently attracted an infestation. It was then that I realised that Ali was not praying but peering inquisitively into one of the invaders burrows.

He rose to his feet and then walked purposefully to my kitchen, where I sat enjoying my breakfast of croissants and English marmalade, dressed in a long pale green dressing gown, and creamy silk night dress, with a pink tie about the waist. I do so love the way the silk feels on my skin. It makes me shudder that once I constrained myself with horribly male cotton pyjamas with an image of spider man on blazened on the back. Still, I was eleven at the time.

“Good morning, Ali,” I said as he knocked on the kitchen door and then opened it. “Would you like some jasmine tea, it’s freshly brewed.”

Ali came in and I poured him some of the tea, and he looked at me earnestly.

“We have to act swiftly, madam,” said Ali.

“Well, I’m sure we do,” I said, wondering what on earth he was talking about.

“They’re taking over. Before long we’ll be over run,” he continued.

“Ali,” I said, still confused. “Have you been getting your news from Facebook again?”

“No madam,” he replied. “It’s the moles.”

“I heard something about it on the news,” I said.

“Really?” said Ali. “It must be worse than I thought,” he said, his gaze drawn to the garden. He then added, as an afterthought, “We need to stuff their holes.”

There was an awkward silence and then I said, “That seems a little extreme.”

Ali is a Syrian refugee and came to his new life in Canada a few years ago. Having walked halfway across Europe he and his lovely wife and two girls finally found a safe haven that welcomed them, here in Canada. I know he must have been through any number of traumas during his flight as the country fell into civil war. Still, the inhumane treatment of spies seemed a little harsh. It was then I noticed Ali looking at me rather quizzically.

“Oh, you mean the ‘moles’. In the garden…” I said, realising my mistake.

“Yes, madam. They’re getting in from Marjorie’s, next door.”

“Wine bottles,” he said as if that were all the explanation needed.

Sometimes I think Ali is just saying random words. I really should talk to his English teacher sometime.

“We push them in their holes,” he added.

“Oh, yes.” I said quite suddenly. “I think I saw a video of that once.”

“Yes, we block their holes with wine bottles, and they’ll soon leave,” said Ali.

“Then I suppose we’d better talk to Auntie Kittie.”

photographer for dating profile always has empty wine bottles about the place.  I get the distinct impression they don’t stay full for very long with her. But that’s not the main reason I’m writing to you this morning. I thought I’d make a point of dropping you a line and telling you that Auntie’s Kittie’s diary is as popular as ever and this weekend anyone who signs up for it (just $1 a month) will get free entry into our Whatsapp Group (usually $10 a month). I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

Have a lovely week, and let me know how you are doing.

😊

Fiona

The ‘Invention’ of heterosexuality.

The 1901 Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defined heterosexuality as an “abnormal or perverted appetite toward the opposite sex.” More than two decades later, in 1923, Merriam Webster’s dictionary similarly defined it as “morbid sexual passion for one of the opposite sex.” It wasn’t until 1934 that heterosexuality was graced with the meaning we’re familiar with today: “manifestation of sexual passion for one of the opposite sex; normal sexuality.”

Whenever I tell this to people, they respond with dramatic incredulity. That can’t be right! Well, it certainly doesn’t feel right. It feels as if heterosexuality has always “just been there.”

A few years ago, there began circulating a “man on the street” video, in which the creator asked people if they thought homosexuals were born with their sexual orientations. Responses were varied, with most saying something like, “It’s a combination of nature and nurture.” The interviewer then asked a follow-up question, which was crucial to the experiment: “When did you choose to be straight?” Most were taken back, confessing, rather sheepishly, never to have thought about it. Feeling that their prejudices had been exposed, they ended up swiftly conceding the videographer’s obvious point: gay people were born gay just like straight people were born straight.

The video’s takeaway seemed to suggest that all of our sexualities are “just there”; that we don’t need an explanation for homosexuality just as we don’t need one for heterosexuality. It seems not to have occurred to those who made the video, or the millions who shared it, that we actually need an explanation for both.

(Credit: Getty Images)

While heterosexual sex is clearly as old as humanity, the concept of heterosexuality as an identity is a very recent invention (Credit: Getty Images)

There’s been a lot of good work, both scholarly and popular, on the social construction of homosexual desire and identity. As a result, few would bat an eye when there’s talk of “the rise of the homosexual” – indeed, most of us have learned that homosexual identity did come into existence at a specific point in human history. What we’re not taught, though, is that a similar phenomenon brought heterosexuality into its existence.

There are many reasons for this educational omission, including religious bias and other types of homophobia. But the biggest reason we don’t interrogate heterosexuality’s origins is probably because it seems so, well, natural. Normal. No need to question something that’s “just there.”

But heterosexuality has not always “just been there.” And there’s no reason to imagine it will always be.

When heterosexuality was abnormal

The first rebuttal to the claim that heterosexuality was invented usually involves an appeal to reproduction: it seems obvious that different-genital intercourse has existed for as long as humans have been around – indeed, we wouldn’t have survived this long without it. But this rebuttal assumes that heterosexuality is the same thing as reproductive intercourse. It isn’t.

“Sex has no history,” writes queer theorist David Halperin at the University of Michigan, because it’s “grounded in the functioning of the body.” Sexuality, on the other hand, precisely because it’s a “cultural production,” does have a history. In other words, while sex is something that appears hardwired into most species, the naming and categorising of those acts, and those who practise those acts, is a historical phenomenon, and can and should be studied as such.

Or put another way: there have always been sexual instincts throughout the animal world (sex). But at a specific point on in time, humans attached meaning to these instincts (sexuality). When humans talk about heterosexuality, we’re talking about the second thing.

Hanne Blank offers a helpful way into this discussion in her book Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality with an analogy from natural history. In 2007, the International Institute for Species Exploration listed the fish Electrolux addisoni as one of the year’s “top 10 new species.” But of course, the species didn’t suddenly spring into existence 10 years ago – that’s just when it was discovered and scientifically named. As Blank concludes: “Written documentation of a particular kind, by an authority figure of a particular kind, was what turned Electrolux from a thing that just was … into a thing that was known.”

(Credit: Alamy)

Oscar Wilde’s trial for ‘gross indecency’ is often considered a pivotal moment in the formation of the gay identity (Credit: Alamy)

Something remarkably similar happened with heterosexuals, who, at the end of the 19th Century, went from merely being there to being known. “Prior to 1868, there were no heterosexuals,” writes Blank. Neither were there homosexuals. It hadn’t yet occurred to humans that they might be “differentiated from one another by the kinds of love or sexual desire they experienced.” Sexual behaviours, of course, were identified and catalogued, and often times, forbidden. But the emphasis was always on the act, not the agent.

So what changed? Language.

In the late 1860s, Hungarian journalist Karl Maria Kertbeny coined four terms to describe sexual experiences: heterosexual, homosexual, and two now forgotten terms to describe masturbation and bestiality; namely, monosexual and heterogenit. Kertbeny used the term “heterosexual” a decade later when he was asked to write a book chapter arguing for the decriminalisation of homosexuality. The editor, Gustav Jager, decided not to publish it, but he ended up using Kertbeny’s novel term in a book he later published in 1880.

The next time the word was published was in 1889, when Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing included the word in Psychopathia Sexualis, a catalogue of sexual disorders. But in almost 500 pages, the word “heterosexual” is used only 24 times, and isn’t even indexed. That’s because Krafft-Ebing is more interested in “contrary sexual instinct” (“perversions”) than “sexual instinct,” the latter being for him the “normal” sexual desire of humans.

“Normal” is a loaded word, of course, and it has been misused throughout history. Hierarchical ordering leading to slavery was at one time accepted as normal, as was a geocentric cosmology. It was only by questioning the foundations of the consensus view that “normal” phenomena were dethroned from their privileged positions.

The emphasis on procreation comes not primarily from Jewish or Christian Scriptures, but from Stoicism

For Krafft-Ebing, normal sexual desire was situated within a larger context of procreative utility, an idea that was in keeping with the dominant sexual theories of the West. In the Western world, long before sex acts were separated into the categories hetero/homo, there was a different ruling binary: procreative or non-procreative. The Bible, for instance, condemns homosexual intercourse for the same reason it condemns masturbation: because life-bearing seed is spilled in the act. While this ethic was largely taught, maintained, and enforced by the Catholic Church and later Christian offshoots, it’s important to note that the ethic comes not primarily from Jewish or Christian Scriptures, but from Stoicism.

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Karl Maria Kertbeny created the label ‘heterosexual” (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

As Catholic ethicist Margaret Farley points out, Stoics “held strong views on the power of the human will to regulate emotion and on the desirability of such regulation for the sake of inner peace”. Musonius Rufus, for example, argued in On Sexual Indulgence that individuals must protect themselves against self-indulgence, including sexual excess. To curb this sexual indulgence, notes theologian Todd Salzman, Rufus and other Stoics tried to situate it “in a larger context of human meaning” – arguing that sex could only be moral in the pursuit of procreation. Early Christian theologians took up this conjugal-reproductive ethic, and by the time of Augustine, reproductive sex was the only normal sex.

While Krafft-Ebing takes this procreative sexual ethic for granted, he does open it up in a major way. “In sexual love the real purpose of the instinct, the propagation of the species, does not enter into consciousness,” he writes.

In other words, sexual instinct contains something like a hard-wired reproductive aim – an aim that is present even if those engaged in ‘normal’ sex aren’t aware of it. Jonathan Ned Katz, in The Invention of Heterosexuality, notes the impact of Krafft-Ebing’s move. “Placing the reproductive aside in the unconscious, Krafft-Ebing created a small, obscure space in which a new pleasure norm began to grow.”

The importance of this shift – from reproductive instinct to erotic desire – can’t be overstated, as it’s crucial to modern notions of sexuality. When most people today think of heterosexuality, they might think of something like this: Billy understands from a very young age he is erotically attracted to girls. One day he focuses that erotic energy on Suzy, and he woos her. The pair fall in love, and give physical sexual expression to their erotic desire. And they live happily ever after.

(Credit: Alamy)

It was only at the turn of the 20th Century that thinkers began to divorce sexual desire (depicted here in Rodin’s The Kiss) from reproduction (Credit: Alamy)

Without Krafft-Ebing’s work, this narrative might not have ever become thought of as “normal.” There is no mention, however implicit, of procreation. Defining normal sexual instinct according to erotic desire was a fundamental revolution in thinking about sex. Krafft-Ebing’s work laid the groundwork for the cultural shift that happened between the 1923 definition of heterosexuality as “morbid” and its 1934 definition as “normal.”

Sex and the city

Ideas and words are often products of their time. That is certainly true of heterosexuality, which was borne out of a time when American life was becoming more regularised. As Blank argues, the invention of heterosexuality corresponds with the rise of the middle class.

The invention of heterosexuality corresponds with the rise of the middle class

In the late 19th Century, populations in European and North American cities began to explode. By 1900, for example, New York City had 3.4 million residents – 56 times its population just a century earlier. As people moved to urban centres, they brought their sexual perversions – prostitution, same-sex eroticism – with them. Or so it seemed. “By comparison to rural towns and villages,” Blank writes, “the cities seemed like hotbeds of sexual misconduct and excess.” When city populations were smaller, says Blank, it was easier to control such behaviour, just as it was easier to control when it took place in smaller, rural areas where neighbourly familiarity was a norm. Small-town gossip can be a profound motivator.

Because the increasing public awareness of these sexual practices paralleled the influx of lower classes into cities, “urban sexual misconduct was typically, if inaccurately, blamed” on the working class and poor, says Blank. It was important for an emerging middle class to differentiate itself from such excess. The bourgeois family needed a way to protect its members “from aristocratic decadence on the one side and the horrors of the teeming city on the other”. This required “systematic, reproducible, universally applicable systems for social management that could be implemented on a large scale”.

In the past, these systems could be based on religion, but “the new secular state required secular justification for its laws,” says Blank. Enter sex experts like Krafft-Ebing, who wrote in the introduction to his first edition of Psychopathia that his work was designed “to reduce [humans] to their lawful conditions.” Indeed, continues the preface, the present study “exercises a beneficent influence upon legislation and jurisprudence”.

(Credit: Alamy)

The anonymity of city life in the 19th Century was often blamed for freer – and more ‘immoral’ – sexual behaviour (Credit: Alamy)

Krafft-Ebing’s work chronicling sexual irregularity made it clear that the growing middle class could no longer treat deviation from normal (hetero) sexuality merely as sin, but as moral degeneracy – one of the worst labels a person could acquire. “Call a man a ‘cad’ and you’ve settled his social status,” wrote Williams James in 1895. “Call him a ‘degenerate’ and you’ve grouped him with the most loathsome specimens of the human race.” As Blank points out, sexual degeneracy became a yardstick to determine a person’s measure.

Degeneracy, after all, was the reverse process of social Darwinism. If procreative sex was critical to the continuous evolution of the species, deviating from that norm was a threat to the entire social fabric. Luckily, such deviation could be reversed, if it was caught early enough, thought the experts.

The formation of “sexual inversion” occurred, for Krafft-Ebing, through several stages, and was curable in the first. Through his work, writes Ralph M Leck, author of Vita Sexualis, “Krafft-Ebing sent out a clarion call against degeneracy and perversion. All civic-minded people must take their turn on the social watch tower.” And this was certainly a question of civics: most colonial personnel came from the middle class, which was large and growing.

Though some non-professionals were familiar with Krafft-Ebing’s work, it was Freud who gave the public scientific ways to think about sexuality. While it’s difficult to reduce the doctor’s theories to a few sentences, his most enduring legacy is his psychosexual theory of development, which held that children develop their own sexualities via an elaborate psychological parental dance.

For Freud, heterosexuals weren’t born this way, but made this way. As Katz points out, heterosexuality for Freud was an achievement; those who attained it successfully navigated their childhood development without being thrown off the straight and narrow.

And yet, as Katz notes, it takes an enormous imagination to frame this navigation in terms of normality:

According to Freud, the normal road to heterosexual normality is paved with the incestuous lust of boy and girl for parent of the other sex, with boy’s and girl’s desire to murder their same-sex parent-rival, and their wish to exterminate any little sibling-rivals. The road to heterosexuality is paved with blood-lusts… The invention of the heterosexual, in Freud’s vision, is a deeply disturbed production.

That such an Oedipal vision endured for so long as the explanation for normal sexuality is “one more grand irony of heterosexual history,” he says.

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Alfred Kinsey (centre) may have relaxed the taboo around sex, but his reports reaffirmed the existing categories of homosexual and heterosexual behaviour (Credit: Getty Images)

Still, Freud’s explanation seemed to satisfy the majority of the public, who, continuing their obsession with standardising every aspect of life, happily accepted the new science of normal. Such attitudes found further scientific justification in the work of Alfred Kinsey, whose landmark 1948 study Sexual Behavior in the Human Male sought to rate the sexuality of men on a scale of zero (exclusively heterosexual) to six (exclusively homosexual). His findings led him to conclude that a large, if not majority, “portion of the male population has at least some homosexual experience between adolescence and old age”. While Kinsey’s study did open up the categories homo/hetero to allow for a certain sexual continuum, it also “emphatically reaffirmed the idea of a sexuality divided between” the two poles, as Katz notes.

The future of heterosexuality

And those categories have lingered to this day. “No one knows exactly why heterosexuals and homosexuals ought to be different,” wrote Wendell Ricketts, author of the 1984 study Biological Research on Homosexuality. The best answer we’ve got is something of a tautology: “heterosexuals and homosexuals are considered different because they can be divided into two groups on the basis of the belief that they can be divided into two groups.”

Though the hetero/homo divide seems like an eternal, indestructible fact of nature, it simply isn’t. It’s merely one recent grammar humans have invented to talk about what sex means to us.

Heterosexuality, argues Katz, “is invented within discourse as that which is outside discourse. It’s manufactured in a particular discourse as that which is universal… as that which is outside time.” That is, it’s a construction, but it pretends it isn’t. As any French philosopher or child with a Lego set will tell you, anything that’s been constructed can be deconstructed, as well. If heterosexuality didn’t exist in the past, then it doesn’t need to exist in the future.

I was recently caught off guard by Jane Ward, author of Not Gay, who, during an interview for a piece I wrote on sexual orientation, asked me to think about the future of sexuality. “What would it mean to think about people’s capacity to cultivate their own sexual desires, in the same way we might cultivate a taste for food?” Though some might be wary of allowing for the possibility of sexual fluidity, it’s important to realise that various Born This Way arguments aren’t accepted by the most recent science. Researchers aren’t sure what “causes” homosexuality, and they certainly reject any theories that posit a simple origin, such as a “gay gene.” It’s my opinion that sexual desires, like all our desires, shift and re-orient throughout our lives, and that as they do, they often suggest to us new identities. If this is true, then Ward’s suggestion that we can cultivate sexual preferences seems fitting. (For more of the scientific evidence behind this argument, read BBC Future’s ‘I am gay – but I wasn’t born this way’.)

Beyond Ward’s question is a subtle challenge: If we’re uncomfortable with considering whether and how much power we have over our sexualities, why might that be? Similarly, why might we be uncomfortable with challenging the belief that homosexuality, and by extension heterosexuality, are eternal truths of nature?

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The writer James Baldwin balked at defining people as straight or gay, arguing that “it answers a false argument, a false accusation” (Credit: Alamy)

In an interview with the journalist Richard Goldstein, the novelist and playwright James Baldwin admitted to having good and bad fantasies of the future. One of the good ones was that “No one will have to call themselves gay,” a term Baldwin admits to having no patience for. “It answers a false argument, a false accusation.”

Which is what?

“Which is that you have no right to be here, that you have to prove your right to be here. I’m saying I have nothing to prove. The world also belongs to me.”

Fewer than half British 18-24 year-olds identify as being 100% heterosexual

Once upon a time, heterosexuality was necessary because modern humans needed to prove who they were and why they were, and they needed to defend their right to be where they were. As time wears on, though, that label seems to actually limit the myriad ways we humans understand our desires and loves and fears. Perhaps that is one reason a recent UK poll found that fewer than half of those aged 18-24 identify as “100% heterosexual.” That isn’t to suggest a majority of those young respondents regularly practise bisexuality or homosexuality; rather it shows that they don’t seem to have the same need for the word “heterosexual” as their 20th-Century forebears.

Debates about sexual orientation have tended to focus on a badly defined concept of “nature.” Because different sex intercourse generally results in the propagation of the species, we award it a special moral status. But “nature” doesn’t reveal to us our moral obligations – we are responsible for determining those, even when we aren’t aware we’re doing so. To leap from an observation of how nature is to a prescription of nature ought to be is, as philosopher David Hume noted, to commit a logical fallacy.

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As gay rights are increasingly recognised, many people also describe their sexual desires as lying on a spectrum (Credit: Alamy)

Why judge what is natural and ethical to a human being by his or her animal nature? Many of the things human beings value, such as medicine and art, are egregiously unnatural. At the same time, humans detest many things that actually are eminently natural, like disease and death. If we consider some naturally occurring phenomena ethical and others unethical, that means our minds (the things looking) are determining what to make of nature (the things being looked at). Nature doesn’t exist somewhere “out there,” independently of us – we’re always already interpreting it from the inside.

Until this point in our Earth’s history, the human species has been furthered by different-sex reproductive intercourse. About a century ago, we attached specific meanings to this kind of intercourse, partly because we wanted to encourage it. But our world is very different now than what it was. Technologies like preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are only improving. In 2013, more than 63,000 babies were conceived via IVF. In fact, more than five million children have been born through assisted reproductive technologies. Granted, this number still keeps such reproduction in the slim minority, but all technological advances start out with the numbers against them.

Socially, too, heterosexuality is losing its “high ground,” as it were. If there was a time when homosexual indiscretions were the scandals du jour, we’ve since moved on to another world, one riddled with the heterosexual affairs of politicians and celebrities, complete with pictures, text messages, and more than a few video tapes. Popular culture is replete with images of dysfunctional straight relationships and marriages. Further, between 1960 and 1980, Katz notes, the divorce rate rose 90%. And while it’s dropped considerably over the past three decades, it hasn’t recovered so much that anyone can claim “relationship instability” is something exclusive to homosexuality, as Katz shrewdly notes.

The line between heterosexuality and homosexuality isn’t just blurry, as some take Kinsey’s research to imply – it’s an invention, a myth, and an outdated one. Men and women will continue to have different-genital sex with each other until the human species is no more. But heterosexuality – as a social marker, as a way of life, as an identity – may well die out long before then.

Brandon Ambrosino has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Politico, Economist, and other publications. He lives in Delaware, and is a graduate student in theology at Villanova University.

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