Science as any other tool can be used for political purposes.
In that sense several studies about gender, gender identification and diversity in sexuality have been circulating in scientific papers from researches and Universities. Even when the scientific method is per se, objective, the way results or studies are presented can have a strong political agenda.
So we have lots of studies about gender differences, that to some extend have validated the idea that women and men are different in the way the think, feel and behave. This has been reflected in popular culture, to give the masses the "scientific truth" that, to put it on the words of a popular book, women are from venus and men are from mars. Problem is that the studies tend to confuse nature and nurture. Is the way men and women react to stimuli different because the way they have being educated, or is it something that they are born with? At least one study seems to think we are actually not that different, and I definitely recomend the reading of Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference.
Then it came to validate the notion that homosexuality is something people are born with, and not acquired. There was a very powerful reason behind these studies, and it is that the christian right wing insisted (and still does) that homosexuality was a deviation, a perversion that men and women choose to live against their god's teachings. So various studies were made on the subject, and also in other species, to show that homosexuality was something natural. How ever the inability of shown that there's a "gay gene" or something specific that triggers homosexuality when people are born, has being used as a weapon to say that as with gender, they studies can't give a conclusive truth about the nature vs nurture debate.
Finally just a few weeks ago, a new study was published, this time was about bisexual men, that branch of sexuality that is famous for it's partial invisibility and attacks from both heterosexual and homosexual communities that "doubt" that it really exists. So this new study tend to conclude that yes, bisexuals are real. But not much time passed for the study to start being attacked under the same premises.
Studies and counter studies can be made about gender and sexuality, all along, and change with the political tide that they surf with. But the question will be: Do we really need to validate our sexuality or our gender with scientific studies? or is it not a better long term solution to educate people on accepting that even in our differences we are all human and deserve respect, and that stereotypes are just product of ignorance?
I have no doubt that all this scientists have good intentions when they try to prove that men and women are equal, that gay, lesbians and bisexuals are not perverts, etc. And yes, their work can be used to some extent. But science is useless against prejudice, ignorance and hard religious indoctrination. And some times even counter-productive. The only thing that can really make a difference is education, in both our homes and schools.
- This post was originally written for Queer UK and appears here.