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#71295 - 09/03/01 01:35 AM A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
Thad Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/28/01
Posts: 1752
Loc: Oakland, CA
– SIC - A NEW WORD FOR SA SURVIVORS REGARDING OUR SEXUAL IDENTITY

Dear friends in survival,
This is a serious proposal to discuss, revise and adopt a new word and its definition to describe the state of mind in which many of us find ourselves regarding our sexual identity. I base this effort in the belief that words can be powerful symbols which are useful when they become tools to us in understanding ourselves and the world in which we live.
Use of the proposed word, (and I am open to finding another word to replace it), is meant to remind us of our tendency to blame the victim, ourselves, for the occurrence and symptoms of our sexual abuse (SA) experience(s). The use of it is proposed to highlight and alter our tendency to consider the symptom of sexual identity confusion, as abnormal, to be avoided or changed as it presently exists and our failing to remember that a fluid sexual identity, while at times uncomfortable, is none-the-less WHO WE ARE at present.
In this post, Sexual Identity (SI) is about who we think we are or how others might define us. It is different from Sexual Orientation (SO) to whom and in what manner we are oriented when we act sexually or have sexual thoughts. Also, please read my use of “we” as either “I” or “some of us SA survivors”
We tend to think that what is “normal” is to arrive at a static/fixed SI, (homo, hetero or bi), because in “normal” sexual development of children we are supposed to grow up to become/have an SI that is stable and hopefully which results in an SO with which we are comfortable and on which we can base a supportive, nurturing and pleasurable relations with another. (Although gays have had to struggle toward self acceptance of their SI in the face of societal condemnation and prejudice, not to mention plight of bi and transsexual persons).
For us, our SEXUAL IDENTITY feels confusing because our SEXUAL ORIENTATION is confusing. The confusion is often the result of the fact that we have not found the words or concepts which designate ourselves as who we are. We become confused when we fail to differentiate between our SI and our SO or sexual behavior (between who we think we are and what we do). Our sexual acts or thoughts are often disturbing, compulsive and hurtful to ourselves and/or others. They are the result of our present sexual identity plus a host of other symptoms of our abuse. Our sexual identity, whether fluid/in process or fixed/settled hurts NO ONE. The only hurt comes from our frustration with it. (We want to know what we are!) Well, honey, that's who we are! (For now).
Why do we experience sexual identity confusion? Because our sexual development got stuck somewhere in our childhood through no fault of our own. Whether we can pick up where we left off, through work on ourselves or with the help of others, depends on the energy we put into it and the severity of our abuse. Our work may not ever result in a clear or fixed understanding of our SI, but then again it may. But in the meantime, by accepting ourselves, we can focus on what we do not who we are.
I chose “sic” because it refers to a “fact” which is “not a mistake”. We are (I am) not a mistake. Our changing SI may seem “surprising or paradoxical” to others (and ourselves) but it should be accepted “as it stands”. Sic is dangerously close to “sick” (an association we need to overcome). But I feel that, because of the pressures of society, we need a word that has an “in your face” quality that challenges both society and our own tendency to buy into the idea that we are sick.
So, here is the original definition of “sic” followed by the definition I propose to be added. Let me know what you think, good, bad or indifferent. At the least, writing this has been good therapy for myself; at best, it can be a useful tool for us SA survivors. Thad

Webster's Dictionary says:

“sic (sik) adv. [Lat.] Thus: so – Used in written texts to indicate that a surprising or paradoxical word, phrase, or fact is not a mistake and is to be read as it stands.”

Proposed New Definition to be added:

sic (sik) n. [Lat.] Thus: so – 1. Psychological: state of one's sense of sexual identity at a given moment. Use: denoting a sense of self as one who is attracted to males and/or females, but knows that the identity is changing or developing over time. Derivation. From acronym for Sexual Identity Confusion, SIC and sic, latin for “thus – so” denoting that one's sexual identity which changes or is still developing as result of sexual identity confusion, and at a given moment, is what it is (as in “I yam what I yam” Popeye), is thus/so and not a mistake but also knows it is a “normal” state of identity even though it appears to change over time. 2. SA recovery: sexual identity which is neither fixed as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual but which changes or continues to develop due to the interruption of childhood sexual development caused by childhood sexual experiences or abuse. As opposed to one's sexual orientation which denotes one's tendency to act or think sexually toward others and is influenced by one's sexual identity as well as other symptoms of sexual abuse. 3. Slang: a. one whose sexual identification is different from traditional definitions of identification, (i.e. hetero, homo, or bi sexual), b. a sexual identification which had been considered as abnormal, confused or an illness, (sick), but by use of the word denotes acceptance of one's present state of mind, (i.e. as in use of “queer” meaning a defiant self definition by homosexuals), c. a sexual identity which is co-equal to other definitions, normal and an acceptable designation of one's present state of sexual identity, d. recognition that one's sexual identity is in process and therefore neither good or bad and that only sexual acts which are hurtful to self or others are to be so judged.

_________________________
"..this place isn't a discussion forum..it's a portal..." Lupin
"The truth will set you free, but first it will probably piss you off." dwf's AA sponsor.

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#71296 - 09/04/01 05:51 AM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
pondboy Offline
Member

Registered: 05/03/01
Posts: 59
Loc: benicia, california, usa
thanks for the posting, Thad. I think it will cause lots of discussion. I kept being distracted by the sound of it. sic sounds like "sick" which obviously has a negative connotation. you have done lots of thinking on this topic and I appreciate your sharing of it. we are neighbors, by the way. benicia is over the hill from oakland.


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#71297 - 09/04/01 07:28 AM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
bosishere Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/14/01
Posts: 161
Loc: nashville,tn,usa
Thad, your post of yesterday says a great deal. I have re-read the post this am(4Sept) when my brain is hopefully more at "work and can understand." One very big question I have is DO YOU THINK SEXUAL ABUSE OF ONE AS A CHILD, MAKES THAT PERSON GAY OR BI? From what I have read (and to some of my teachers, that is not enough) and been exposed to is that a person DOES NOT get ones sexual identification from sexual abuse. One would (and I believe all) will agree with me that being gay or bi is a VERY DIFFICULT ROAD TO TRAVEL. When one adds sexual abuse that makes the dertermination on oneself more confusing. I agree with you that there is "confusion" when determining ones identy, so are you saying that "sic" is only a "temporary" status and in time, on goes back to whatever identy they feel they belong to? Thad, sexual abuse is a VERY TROUBLING AREA TO WRITE ABOUT and I feel that there will be much more said before we as a group will decide on anything, or any change. But I feel you already knew this, as testified to in your opening statements. bosishere


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#71298 - 09/04/01 07:07 PM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
Thad Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/28/01
Posts: 1752
Loc: Oakland, CA
Thanks pondboy and bosishere for your posts. In reflection, my post above feels a bit involved and densely packed with thoughts. I appreciate that you made your way through it. It was an effort to put together a number of ideas and experiences I've had or come across.
As to your question, bosishere, about whether abuse makes one gay or bi, I think my position as stated above is NO! I think we are born with a sexual orientation and that as we develop, absent the influence of bunch of negative crap like SA or homophobia, we acquire a secure Sexual Identity (SI) at some point, hopefully, with which we are comfortable. Since our SI is about what we THINK we are, it is influenced by our birth orientation and our developmental experiences as we grow up.
For us SA survivors, our developmental process was interrupted and its course altered. Our symptoms caused us to have a wide variety of sexual interests or experiences which effected the normal development of our birth orientation as it grew into a secure identity.

By my post above, I am trying to separate this process from the effects upon it by our SA experiences and they way they screwed up our "normal" development. I base this understanding on my search for my own sexual identity which began several years ago. I had spent 50 years from the time of my abuse wondering what I was. My process went like this:
The first question I asked myself was WHAT WOULD I HAVE BEEN (STRAIGHT-GAY-BI) IF THIS SA HADN'T HAPPENED? I abandoned that question when I realized that unless I could "cure" myself of 50 years of symptoms and confused behavior (and picked up my sexual development where it had stopped, at age 4) I would probably never know what I would have been. I would have had to overcome a lot including that I thought I was a "freak of nature", had developed all kinds of weird sexual interests and was thoroughly confused. -
The second question for me was (given that I did not have a "normal course of sexual development") WHERE DID MY WEIRD INTERESTS COME FROM? Well, I begin to understand my symptoms and stopped blaming myself for them. I began to recognize what they were and how they ruled my life and why I was still doing them.
The third question was: WHAT KIND OF SEX CAN I OR COULD I ENJOY MOST IF I COULD PUT ASIDE MY COMPULSIVE INTERESTS?
Finally, I could catch a glimpse of that which would have and may yet bring me healthy sexual pleasure. Through recognizing what my compulsive behavior was I could begin to separate that which gave me pleasure and that which filled an anxious void.
I think I know the answer now; I have an idea of what my identity is. I still have compulsions and they push me one way or another in my sexual orientation. But my identity, what I THINK I am, is clearer now. It is my sexual orientation, how I ACT from time to time changes, mostly because of my compulsions. But I know that is not me - that is what happened to me and its result.
My concerns is that the more I demanded to know what I was, before I gave myself time to figure it out, the more confused and frustrated I became.
In short, I had to LET GO OF IT! I had to allow myself to be who I was right then - confused - unsettled - unclear what my identity was. By accepting myself as being in process, I could give myself the space and self respect as a survivor to find MYself. I was "SIC" sexual identity confused - until through work on myself, I developed a clearer picture of my identity.
The really hard part comes later - that of diminishing the compulsive interests that fill the anxious void while I try to maximize behavior that is consistent with a more secure self image - Only then do I have a chance at pleasurable, guiltless, more lasting relationships that would make me happy. (ah...btw, I'm still working on this part and will have to get back to you on it)

_________________________
"..this place isn't a discussion forum..it's a portal..." Lupin
"The truth will set you free, but first it will probably piss you off." dwf's AA sponsor.

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#71299 - 09/04/01 11:36 PM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thad,

It is so clear to me that you have done some hard work on your SA issues....otherwise, you would not have been able to write to thoughtfully around some germaine elements of what we're all struggling with. Thanks for taking the initiative to puzzle this out in a way that will eventually help many of us begin to make sense of what has been haunting us.

DD


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#71300 - 09/10/01 10:21 PM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
Stephen_5 Offline
BoD Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 09/12/00
Posts: 667
Loc: Northern California Foothills
Thad,

I am intrigued by your insights on this matter. I've been through all sorts of "what if" scenarios. I was abused when I was 12-13 years old by my older sisters boyfriend. I never told anyone about it for 38 years. I thought it was a very tiny part of my being and had nothing at all to do with some of my behaviours in my adult life. I never made any connection with it until after I started talking to a therapist and read Mike Lew's book, "Victims No Longer". I realize now that a lot of the things that I did were re-enactments of some of the abuse only in a situation where I felt that I was in control. I was in auto-pilot most of the time, I wasn't in control of anything, I was still acting like a 12 year old in my thinking. I was and still am confused and unsure. I think of myself as being in a fluid state and I don't think of sexuality as a black or white situation but more shades of grey. I think it's how I feel about myself and my actions that determine who I am. If I am not comfortable with what I am doing then maybe I shouldn't be doing it. I know this sounds a little disjointed, but it's how I feel right now. My wife just asked me a few days ago if I was gay or bisexual. I told her I wasn't gay but wasn't sure about the bisexual part. That's the most honest answer I could have given her. What happens next is in the future.

Steve

_________________________
I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

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#71301 - 03/27/02 02:58 AM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
simon_dup1 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/22/02
Posts: 3
Loc: Miami, Florida
I ask that you do not use that word (SIC). The reason I asked that is because those are the initials to my name, and most things that I have via internet, goes to my account under sic_universal. That would cause people to view me in a negative light. As previously stated, sic is similiar to sick, and the connotation of it is already negative, and I don't want to go through alot of harassment from people.


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#71302 - 03/27/02 11:46 AM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
Jim C. Offline
Member

Registered: 03/23/02
Posts: 63
Loc: New Mexico
Thad,

I think that SI crises need to be renamed as well. Your idea and treatise were great, I whole heartedly agree that there needs to be a word that denoted the flux of our (qualified as necessary) sexual identity as victims through survivors of sexual victimization. The name sic has too many derogatory sonnotations when spoken as others have pointed out, let alone Simon's problem with his user id's. If we don't like 'sic' then suggest others guys, let's get this ball rolling. I don't know if this suggestion will be taken any better, but I was looking up other words relating to paradoxical that may work. What about recondite, which currently is defined as(one could add a definition as something like thad's suggestion without the acronym):

SYLLABICATION: rec·on·dite
ADJECTIVE: 1. Not easily understood; abstruse. See synonyms at ambiguous.
2. Concerned with or treating something abstruse or obscure: recondite scholarship.
3. Concealed; hidden.
ETYMOLOGY: Latin reconditus, past participle of recondere, to put away : re-, re- + condere, to put together, preserve; see dh- in Appendix I.
OTHER FORMS: recon·ditely —ADVERB
recon·diteness —NOUN

Just opening the door to discussing alternatives, since "sic" has problems, but thad's word idea makes real sense!

Or we could always use the acronym CSI instead--which seems popular as Crime Scene Investigations, no neg connotations there ...just kidding, about CSI...

_________________________
In all of time and space, there is but one you and one me...

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#71303 - 03/27/02 12:56 PM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
bosishere Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/14/01
Posts: 161
Loc: nashville,tn,usa
hello, and what about this:

SIAS

S -- Sexual

I -- Identity

A -- Abuse

S -- Survivor

That cover both fronts.
Just a thought, and any comments?

Bosishere


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#71304 - 03/27/02 04:09 PM Re: A New Word for Sexual Identity Confusion - sic
fmighell Offline
Member

Registered: 02/19/01
Posts: 276
Loc: Anchorage,Alaska
fmighell
Member
Member # 208
posted March 21, 2002 12:40 PM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This topic has been an issue with many of us,
and the following post are my attemps to help me with understanding.
Is our genetic make-up, genetical development in our genes from birth have an effect on our sexuality?

To a point, like getting sexual body parts,
but how I use my sexual body part, I feel is something I learned from experiences and attitudes which can reinforce one's sense of self, male sexual being.

Clear implications are that a man's childhood experience could have a powerful effect in dettermining his means of sexual experession as an adult, sexual stimuli, a compelling stimulus for an adult now, are similar effects of an first time sexual experience, my first erection, my first sexual contact, or my first sexual orgasm, actual physiological events, various sights and sounds present at the first crucial monent become an imprint for later turn-ons as an adult.

With this awareness I wouldn't let complacancy or a learned disfunction from a childhood sexual abuse, cause me to be afraid, or complicate my life, because as a child I may have been a victim but now I'm a survivor.

fmighell Anc Ak


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