Thursday, August 18, 2005

Where's the love?

As a follow-up to this post, the Boston Globe has a very interesting article today on the research being done to investigate the source(s) of homosexuality. The entire piece is worth reading, but I was particularly struck by this paragraph:

Researchers at Northwestern University, outside Chicago ... found that while straight men were aroused by film clips of two women having sex, and gay men were aroused by clips of two men having sex, most of the men who identified themselves as bisexual showed gay arousal patterns. More surprising was just how different the story with women turned out to be. Most women, whether they identified as straight, lesbian, or bisexual, were significantly aroused by straight, gay, and lesbian sex. "I'm not suggesting that most women are bisexual," says Michael Bailey, the psychology professor whose lab conducted the studies. "I'm suggesting that whatever a woman's sexual arousal pattern is, it has little to do with her sexual orientation." That's fundamentally different from men. "In men, arousal is orientation. It's as simple as that. That's how gay men learn they are gay."

The article goes on to explain that while it's fairly clear at this point that male sexual orientation has some genetic basis, female orientation "is particularly foggy" because a) it doesn't follow clear patterns, as evidenced in the above study, and b) "there's been so little research done." Now, it's not surprising in the least that there's been more research done on male sexuality - there's more research done on male everything. But culturally speaking, it occurs to me that there may be more urgency around male homosexuality than female homosexuality, and I wonder if that contributes to the inequality of research time and money. What I mean to say is, male sexuality is much more narrowly constrained in this culture, so "deviations" from the so-called "norm" are perceived as much more threatening. Whereas female sexuality is seen as simultaneously more ambiguous and less important. Hence the priority granted to studies of male sexuality. Or am I just talking out my ass? What do you think, my lovely Snackers?