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Study shows that bisexual men exist and that people are machines August 27, 2011

Posted by Summerspeaker in Evo psych, Queer politics.

The reductionism and assumptions involved in this study make me a sad panda. The problems of course start with the categories of men and women as well the straight/gay/bisexual conception of sexuality. How do the researchers define any of these things? Then we get to including only folks who conform to cultural norms and have romantic relationships.  Finally, sexuality becomes mechanized with a sensor on the penis and simplistic stimulus/response setup.

What about bepenised people who  aren’t aroused by either men or women as categories but by specific individuals? What about those who aren’t interested in the particular erotic videos involved or in erotic videos in general? What about folks whose penises don’t consistently jump up on command? What about those whose arousal doesn’t center on an erection or the penis at all? What about people who don’t feel comfortable in the laboratory setting? And on and on. This kind of research might have its place with the manifest uncertainties and complexities acknowledged, but as things stand it reinforces a host of oppressive narratives while undermining one.



1. CMStewart - August 27, 2011

“But for many years the question of bisexuality has bedeviled scientists.” That sentence would be sad were it not for the word “bedeviled.”

And what about those who react to “genital sensors” the same way porn actors react to fluffers? I imagine sensors could be downright erotic for some people. Any other simulation would be incidental.

Summerspeaker - August 28, 2011

Yes, and they might prove a total buzzkill for other folks.

CMStewart - August 29, 2011

I wonder if the researchers consider any of these points, and if they do, whether they care.

A clever researcher could find it easy to construct an experiment with results predictable to the researcher. Of course this does happen.

2. Zack M. Davis - August 28, 2011

There are good reasons for wanting to keep experimental designs as simple as possible; it’s easier to make sense of the data when you study one thing at a time, rather than trying to take all possible contingencies into account at once. The complexities you mention are real and important, but one can hardly expect them all to be dealt with in one paper describing a single experiment.

Summerspeaker - August 28, 2011

I ask that they be acknowledged by both researchers and science journalists. The latter, in particular, tend to universalize and sensationalize everything.

Zack M. Davis - August 28, 2011

We are in agreement that science journalism is terrible.

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