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nature nurture blah blah blah

May 19, 2007

Mainstream media on queer gender: blah blah nature nurture blah blah? That’s all I hear. Yahoo news has a series of clips from this week’s 60 Minutes on sexual orientation. Let’s see if we can essentialize gender and chalk it all up to science, shall we? OK. Go watch the clips and then come back.

Things you learn from this brilliant show:

    1. Twins of the same biological gender can have remarkably different gender identities and expressions. Say what?

    2. In discussions of queers demonstrating traits of the opposite gender, make sure never to mention the possibility of anyone being trans, as that fucks with our needed conflation of gender and sexuality. Even though the girly 9-year old boy (who is SUPER cute, btw) says out loud that he wants to be a girl.

    3. Gay men are almost always feminine; lesbians are almost always masculine. Phew, glad we got that one cleared up. That explains everything. Case in point: this dyke played with trucks as a child, now she has short hair and doesn’t cross her legs in a chair. Also, her voice is kinda low. THIS IS SO EASY! Let’s essentialize SOME MORE!

    4. If we give male rats female hormones at birth and vice versa, they become gay! Then the boy rats mount the other boy rats and don’t make rat baybeez! I don’t know what this teaches us about human sexuality and human gays but it sure does make scientists look bizarre.

    5. The more older brothers you have, the more likely it is you will become a gay. Something about the mother dealing with having foreign hormones in her womb or something.

Things queers can tell you without scientific research:

    1. Nature/nurture is an inherently flawed dichotomy which excludes historical and contextual factors. Nature/nurture assumes that we are a product of a combination of our biology and our parents’ child-rearing, that we were born into and move through the world as isolated beings, protected from everything around us and from our collective history as humans and as Americans, separate from our race and class experiences. I’d rather see nuanced questions like, how do nature and nurture interact with one another? Why can’t we complicate these two black and white forces of what made us? See my favorite article on the development of gay identity, D’Emilio’s “Capitalism and Gay Identity” for further reference. (And of course, the offer still stands – if you want a copy, just email me. Saltyfemme at gmail.)

    2. Scientific explanations of queer identity can be offensive because they amount to straight people dealing with their homophobia not in the respectful “I’m going to learn about this thing that is foreign to me” way but in the “they can’t help it! It’s inborn! Therefore I must force myself to deal!” way. (remember this guy?)

    3. As many people as there are in the world, that’s how many different expressions of gender there are. Don’t chalk it up to pink and blue or who crosses their fucking legs. Or even to who you fuck. Yep, straights can gender bend too. I know, shocking. Most queer people I know do not fit into these convenient little boxes that scientists have created in order for the world to deal with homophobia. DON’T DELUDE YOURSELF, curious straights. We come in a million colors and stripes, in varying degrees and combinations of masculinities, femininities, and androgynies.

And for the record: saltyfemme crosses her legs and talks girly. She played with Barbies. She likes the boy types. You’d probably think she was straight if you saw her. She is most definitely not. So fuck you, 60 Minutes.

Via Pandagon.

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