On the 2007 Awards for Scientific Research Used to Perpetuate Gay Stereotypes

29Dec07

We could not look back at 2007 without offering our appreciation to all of the scientists out there whose groundbreaking research has done so much to perpetuate our society’s most cherished and deeply held gay stereotypes. It is most remarkable how in every instance, such research continues to ignore a — if not “the” — fundamental truth about gay sex, which is that 99.9 percent of it occurs outside of the sphere of public or scientific knowledge, which is to say it occurs between men or women of the same gender (leaving aside gender gradations for the moment) who do not in any way identify as “gay” (or if they do, are not about to admit it — even anonymously — to a scientist). But thanks to your admirable thirst for attention, you have marched forward and shown no qualms whatsoever about extrapolating results from your stunningly narrow pools of “subjects” and applying them to the gay “community” at large. In this way you provide the most useful service to society, because not only do you help reassure the public with regard to the essential “otherness” of your subjects, but you also reaffirm and justify their — or, we should say “our” — existence in society. Nor is anybody, we can add to our group of scientists, better positioned to provide such an important service: for while we regularly encounter gay stereotypes in venues as diverse as television and film, almost any family gathering with children present (the exception of gay parents here is obvious), all election campaigns and of course debates about the military (or really, anywhere gays are supposedly not welcome but are oddly and insidiously pervasive), what is most remarkable about this group of scientists is that you — in this regard, very much like your equally skilled cousins in the arts, journalists — are able to present your findings with a varnish of “objectivity” that truly sets the stereotype in place for all the world to admire and behold. So without further ado, we present our 2007 awards for scientific research used to perpetuate gay stereotypes:

Fifth Best Finding of the Year: Researchers at NYU and Texas A&M used a 3-D motion-capture system like those used in Hollywood to create animated figures from live models, then analyzed the amount of shoulder swagger and hip sway in the subjects’ gaits. They found that both gay men and lesbians tended to move in gender-incongruent ways. They also analyzed body types and found more “hourglass” shapes among gay men and “tubular” shapes among lesbians than in the general population. (Source: Science Daily 9/12/07, by way of The Gay & Lesbian Review.)

Stereotype in action: “Look at the hips on that queen — are you kidding me — he’s not out yet?” or “That chick is flat as a board — what a total lez!”

Fourth Best Finding of the Year: The odds of being gay go up by a factor of 1.5 with each male birth, attributable to the production of testosterone “antibodies” that build up in the mother’s womb with each subsequent male birth, suppressing the amount of male hormones available to the developing fetus. (Source: various studies, by way of The Gay and Lesbian Review.)

Stereotype in action: “All of his older brothers played on the football team but he signed up for theater. He can’t help being such a queen, though — that’s what happens when you’re the youngest.”

Third Best Finding of the Year: “One study, involving tape-recordings of gay and straight men, found that 75 percent of gay men sounded gay to a general audience. It’s unclear what the listeners responded to, whether there is a recognized gay “accent” or vocal quality.” (Source: undisclosed, by way of New York Magazine.)

Stereotype in action: “Child: ‘Mom, there’s some lady on the phone.’ Mother: ‘That’s not a lady, it’s your Uncle Felix!’ She mouths the explanation as she picks up the phone: ‘he’s gay.'” or “Check out that chain-smoking dyke — she’s only 22 and already has a voice like Patty Bouvier!”

Second Best Finding of the Year: “The index fingers of most straight men are shorter than their ring fingers, while for most women they are closer in length, or even reversed in ratio…[while] gay men are likely to have finger-length ratios more in line with those of straight women, and a study of self-described “butch” lesbians showed significantly masculinized ratios.” (Source: undisclosed studies, by way of New York Magazine.)

Stereotype in action: “Dude, better hit the chopping block with that lengthy indexer!” or (wife to husband) “Honey, I don’t want to alarm you, but I have some potentially disturbing news: Mrs. Lane sent a note home with Julie’s report card saying that she noticed how short her index finger is and … (her voice quavers) … I checked and it’s true.” (Source: undisclosed studies, by way of New York Magazine.)

The So Fucking Best* Research Finding of the Year: Homosexuality can be turned on and off. In the words of Dr. David Featherstone, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago: “As for our ability to switch homosexual behavior on and off in flies, a Harvard study this past summer showed that it could also be done in mice (interestingly, it, like our study, also involved changing the ability to sense pheromones). So the question is not if we will understand the biological basis of homosexuality enough to alter it, but when. And what people will choose to do with the knowledge. If there is a demand, I guarantee some pharmaceutical company will make the stuff.” (Source: Dr. Featherstone, by way of Science of the Times’ Tierney Lab blog)

*”Best” meaning “worst”: Although the fruit-fly study and others like it can obviously be distinguished because of the use of animal (as opposed to human) subjects, we could not help but admire how far it goes to perpetuating the “best” — meaning worst — stereotype of all: that homosexuality is less desirable than the heterosexual alternative.

Stereotype in action: Doctor to pregnant couple: “Well the amnio results are in and while there’s no indication of Down Syndrome, we’ve picked up a positive for homosexuality. Before you react, I just want you to know that while many couples will terminate — and I respect your decision if that’s what you ultimately decide — quite a few have actually gone ahead and have reported back with happy, fulfilling lives with such children — as you probably have heard, there’s a ton of support out there if you choose to go that route. Or a third option, which works about 75 percent of the time, is a drug therapy which will effectively “turn off” the homosexual inclination, the only downside being that such children typically have an IQ of between 30 and 40 points less than what they otherwise might have had.”

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