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The "Savage Sexual Left", Part Deux - Elf M. Sternberg
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The "Savage Sexual Left", Part Deux
I tracked down that "Sexual Left" speaker, Todd Herman, and discovered that he had gone into some detail about his argument, but let's just say that he's materially wrong on some particulars, and morally wrong overall.

Herman points to a "John Hopkins Study" meta-review of "over 200 peer-reviewed studies looking at sexual orientation and gender identity," one that concludes that sexual orientation is fluid in adolescence and becomes less so as one gets older; the hope here is that with early intervention one can be, I guess, oriented "correctly," as the right would wish it.

His study claims that queer folk are more likely to have been abused as children, and are more likely to commit suicide, and that for "the left" to perpetuate a sexual identity that is so obviously damaging is "savage," and the left deserves to be labeled as such. He says "This is not about people being gay. The sexual left simply wants to use you as pawns," but if orientation is so fluid, and a queer orientation so damaging that it requires correction, then this is exactly about people being gay— and trying to stop them from being gay.

Let's start with the basics. The report is called Sexuality and Gender, was sponsored by The New Atlantis, an ivory tower of theologically-inspired right-wing thought. (I last tussled with a New Atlantis piece when they published a high-minded article worrying about how eliminating all disease would deprive people of the "edifying" experience of watching their children sicken and die.) The paper was not peer-reviewed, which means that any conclusions that it reaches were not vetted by an audience.

Todd Herman is wrong about what the paper says. The paper never describes how the fluidity of sexual orientation may be manipulated to ensure a heterosexual identity in post-adolescence. In fact, it says the possibility of such manipulation may be impossible, but that doesn't mean researchers should stop trying, and this being the New Atlantis, it strongly discourages people from encouraging or validating non-heterosexual identification until that research is done.

The report that sexual minorities experience abuse at higher rates than straight peers has three problems with it: (1) it's a matter of self-reporting, and queer communities have a stronger tradition of speaking out than straight ones; (2) it's acausal, so we have no idea if abuse might cause some people to be queer, or if a queer presentation in youth might encourage abuse; (3) it says absolutely nothing about the vast majority of queer people who never experienced abuse as a minor.

If you want a well-vetted, well-respected, well-cited version of this paper, Bailey, Vasey, et. al. Sexual Orientation, Controversy and Science is a much better paper that states "there is considerably more evidence supporting nonsocial causes of sexual orientation than social causes" and that
This evidence includes the cross-culturally robust finding that adult homosexuality is strongly related to childhood gender nonconformity; moderate genetic influences demonstrated in well-sampled twin studies; the cross-culturally robust fraternal-birth-order effect on male sexual orientation. In contrast, evidence for the most commonly hypothesized social causes of homosexuality—sexual recruitment by homosexual adults, patterns of disordered parenting, or the influence of homosexual parents—is generally weak in magnitude and distorted by numerous confounding factors.


Herman is trying to make politics out of biology, but we have to remember his audience. He's not really trying to pry queer people away from their generally leftist bent; he's giving his alt-right audience the red meat they crave (and sexual orientation and its moral worth is an alt-right issue, just as much as melanin production is somehow also indicative of moral worth). Gay people need to be "loved" until they change, and if they won't change, they need to be demonized as unreasonable and unAmerican.

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kengr From: kengr Date: September 13th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
And, of course, the high suicide rate can't *possibly* be connected with the way gays are demonized by the right....

I think it's been fairly well established (sorry, no references handy) that the suicide rate is not inherent in being gay, but rather it has to do with the "teachings" about how gays are bad/evil/whatever and/or the societal abuse relating to be gay.

But, as I said, he can't *possibly* admit that because that'd mean that he and his audience are in the wrong.
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