From my friend Jared:
“Odo, while being technically asexual, took on an male persona. When he encountered his first member of his own species, it took on the form of a female, utilizing an appearance similar to the one that Odo presented, so as to make Odo feel more comfortable as well as a sense of belonging.
Thinking about it, do you think that they’re implying that sexuality is a learned trait?”
This question actually relates to the topic tonight in Lesbian and Gay Studies, and to the topic last week in Theo. Appr. to Sexuality. There are two major schools of thought on sexuality. The essentialists that believe that sexuality is inborn and is fixed. The social constructionists believe that sexuality occurs as a result of sociological factors and that through culture and socialization sexuality is formed. There is also a third school of thought that most people don’t talk about, the sociobiologists, guess what they believe? The sexuality is developed sociologically, on top of a very solid biological foundation.
Regarding the specific case of Odo, not being human, Terran or even solid, it seems reasonable that sexuality would develop differently. First of all, I do believe that all changelings (or do they prefer to be called shapeshifters these days?) and other metamorphic life-forms take on an either asexual or hermaphroditic existence. As for Odo himself, I believe that being that he took on Dr. Mora’s physical appearance he did designate himself to be a male when among the solids, however, I do not believe that his sexual feelings were directly powered by any type of male/female attraction. Odo is very obviously attracted to a certain type of person, mostly the strong feminine types. I do not believe this to be a result of his need for female companionship at all, but instead a certain personality type he is attracted to as a result of growing up in isolation. Perhaps he is heterosexual after the abuses he suffered in the laboratory or by the patriarchal Cardasians.
As for the intentions of the Star Trek franchise, it has always been that there is an openness to various ideas in their productions. I personally think that yes, they are portraying sexuality as being a “learned”, or more correctly, a socialized trait that is conveyed through experience with a culture.