How Gay Are Your Genes?


The Cochlear Clique

by Deeg, April 1998

You can ask the university of texas -- the evidence is in our ears. Two male researchers, in a throw-back to "third sex" thinking, claim to have discovered proof that lesbians have "masculinized" ears. Specifically, they claim to have found that our cochlea have weaker emissions, on average, than straight women's.

You say cock-le-a, I say coke-le-a...

Well, actually, there were 37 lesbians, 24 bisexuals, and 57 straight women in the study. The researchers calculated a mean response for each person, averaged it for each group, and found that the average response for all women was much greater than for men. This presumably explains why men don't ask for directions. However, bisexual women's response was almost as weak as bisexual men, while gay and straight men were virtually identical in having the weakest response. Lesbians' response was stronger than anyone but straight women. And this means?

According to Austin's Dennis McFadden and Edward G. Pasanen, it means that as fetuses lesbians were exposed to higher levels of androgens (male hormones), which affected the development of our ears. Of course, there's no other evidence of the higher fetal androgen exposure. And another researcher has found that women who were fraternal twins with men, and thus definitely exposed to higher levels of androgens as fetuses, were not more likely to be lesbians. This would appear to discredit their theory, but McFadden and Pasanen answer ... TIMING IS EVERYTHING. Somehow those fetuses destined for the sisterhood are exposed to higher androgen levels at just the moment that determines cochlea and cuntlapping, but not at any other moment.

Gag me with the Well Of Loneliness -- haven't these people heard of femmes? And if it was an issue of lesbian "masculinity," why wouldn't bisexual women be somewhere between lesbians and straight women on the cochlear scale, rather than right close to bisexual men? Actually, in some measures the 11 bisexual men had a stronger response than the 24 bisexual women. And how come there were so many more bisexual women than bisexual men in the study anyway?

By the way, some individual lesbians in the study had stronger responses than some individual straight women, etc. So don't count on this cochlear click to tell you who to proposition.

You might wonder why the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders chose to fund a study on the "biological basis of homosexuality," rather than on say, the causes of deafness. You might wonder why the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences printed this pathetically self-contradictory study, but according to a little disclaimer on page 2709, it was paid to print it, and it is actually an "advertisement."

It seems that the government and scientific establishment is willing to provide funding to practically anyone who will attempt to prove that, Lavendar Jane to the contrary, any woman can't be a lesbian. Now straight men can sleep more soundly at night, knowing that their wives and daughters are safely clicking away.

What continues to mystify us is why lesbians and gay men continue to participate in the creation of this bad science, to the point that these authors can assert that "Evidence continues to accumulate about the biological concomitants of human homosexuality." We have nothing to gain from this research -- it pathologizes gayness, and perpetuates the most discredited and outdated stereotypes about us, such as the assertion that lesbians are really trying to be men, suffering from penis envy, male-identified, or masculinized.

Let me save Big Science some money. The biological basis of lesbianism is that sex between women is really, really hot. It is time that we, as a community, refuse to participate in this research, which strengthens the revival of the racist, sexist, and heterosexist "behavioral genetics" movement. Just say no to bullshit research.

  More classic science articles
Queers Lose Their Genes,
June 1999