May 9, 2010

Lies and lack of concern, or "why does no one care about lesbians?"

All of the following "research" was done on 12/23/09, when the following was originally written. It is unlikely that there have been significant changes in the posted data since then.

Over a few years of taking psychology classes and many more years of watching TV (particularly shows such as Law and Order: SVU), I have come to realize a simple fact: there are a disproportionately low number of psychological, medical, and other studies done with an eye to lesbians. No one seems interested unless the phrase "hot action" is employed

Nobody seems to care what makes them tick. Perhaps they assume that it's the opposite of whatever 'makes' men gay that 'creates' lesbians. [Yes, I'm running with the Freudian experiences-in-youth create personality line here.] I find that extrapolation completely unsatisfying.

It is definitely a marginalized group.
On Logo, the channel oriented towards the LGBT community, there is practically no lesbian-oriented advertising. The mere fact that I find the phrase "lesbian-oriented advertising" incredibly awkward is telling.

There are plenty of studies that report, for example, that having a distant father makes men more likely to be gay, but no one bothers to look at distant parents of lesbians.
A google scholar search for "Lesbian psychology" returned 52,300 results, while the same search for "Gay psychology" gave 163,000. Over three times as many!

A search for "Lesbian psychology -gay" gave me 12700 google scholar results and "Gay psychology -lesbian" returned 79,200.
A much wider margin, but the fact that all lesbians are gay but not all gays are lesbians skews the data because it is extremely likely that "lesbian" results also contain the word gay.

It is still important to note that the gay without lesbian search gives over 50% more results than the original lesbian search (results that may include the word "gay."
Does being a daddy's girl make you more likely to be into men, or women? I personally have no idea and can argue either way.
1) You might love your dad so much that you want to grow up and marry somebody just like him.
2) You might take after your dad and like the ladies
3) It may have no measurable effect at all, or these effects may cancel out.
I'm actually leaning towards #3 on this one.

Even when studies try to include lesbians, comparing them to gay men and straight men and women, the lesbian data is skewed. There are a few reasons for this.
1) Lesbians are hard to find and often bisexual women are put in the same category, which skew the data. [believable]
2) Lesbians don't exist and are just straight women going through a phase. [mostly bullshit]
3) Lesbians are hard to find, so the sample sizes are very low and samples often contain straight women going through a phase. [somewhat believable/bullshit]

I was once in a class in which I had to conduct a study involving sex and orientation differences. Admittedly, we did not do a very good job. In my group's study, we had people of different sexes and orientations write paragraphs, which were then judged by others on masculinity/femininity and straightness/gayness. I was the only lesbian I could get to provide a writing sample, and there were only two samples by gay men. The other LGBT people were all self-proclaimed bisexual women. I don't remember if we got any straight women, but there were ten straight men. Needless to say, we got some pretty strange data.
This ridiculous anecdote's purpose here is to point out the importance of getting good samples.

Maybe if someone runs a study with a good lesbian sample we can see if people are actually reporting their sexual orientation correctly.

The type of study that I would recommend for this is one in which the participant looks at a screen and is told to fixate on a cross ( + ) in the center. They are told to report on which side of the screen a shape appears by pressing one key for left and another for right. On one side of the screen, a nude image of either a man or a women will be flashed for an amount of time below the perceptual threshold, so that the participant has no idea that it was there. The shape then appears on one side of the screen.
-If the nude is of the participant's preferred sex and the shape appears on the same side of the screen as the nude, then the reaction time will be quicker.
-When the participant's nonpreferred sex is on the same side as the shape, they take longer to report.
-In cases where the nude of one's preferred sex is on the opposite side of the screen from the shape, the report time is longer.
-And if the nude of one's nonpreferred sex is on the opposite side from the shape, the reaction time is fast.
Long story short: one subconsciously looks towards the nude that they like and away from the nude that they don't like.
This kind of study has a lot of drama around it because it is a very accurate way to predict (or confirm) sexuality. Of course, in results that I've seen of this type of study, the data on lesbians is shaky. They responded well to both male and female nudes. (Hence #1 from why lesbian data might be bad.)

At any rate, this peeves me and I would really like for people to fix it. Get on it, psychologists! Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit Google Bookmark

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