Sunday, August 14, 2005

More Fodder for the SPLC and James Dobson   posted by Jason Malloy @ 8/14/2005 10:06:00 AM

Hot on the heels of the New York Times’ Straight, Gay or Lying? article comes this excellent Boston Globe summary of the current state of the science of homosexuality (What Makes People Gay?); guaranteed to throw book-burning religious fundamentalists of the right and the left into childish spasms of rage.

As I mentioned several days ago, the latest research is converging on prenatal hormone exposure as the most promising candidate for explaining some major group differences - in this case homosexuality. Though the source of those prenatal differences in exposure (e.g. genes) is still mostly a mystery (snubbing Greg Cochran, the article attributes the ‘gay germ’ hypothesis to Paul Ewald and “a colleague”).

As with the New York Times article, the Globe discusses the difference between male and female orientation (or categorical arousal) as it relates to genital arousal. Men are only physically aroused by either male or female stimuli, and men do not exhibit a bisexual arousal pattern (i.e. men who are aroused by male stimuli are only aroused by male stimuli). Men who report being gay or ‘bisexual’ are also aroused only by male stimuli. Women, on the other hand, exhibit physical arousal to both male and female stimuli, which does not track their subjective/psychological arousal or their stated orientation (lesbians and straight women are physically aroused by both male and female stimuli). A new study in-press for the journal Biological Psychology reinforces the lack of relationship between category and physical response in women, by showing that not only do females typically exhibit a genital response to male and female stimuli, but to imagery of animals copulating! Men exhibit no response to this category of stimuli. This does not mean that women are zoophiles, but that their physical arousal isn’t telling the same story as it is with men, and is probably mostly an automatic response induced by nothing more than generalized “sexual imagery”.