Tag Archives: bisexuality

Science blinded by vocabulary

The New York Times Magazine recently had a fascinating article about the quest to establish a scientific basis for bisexuality. It discussed the early work of researcher Michael Bailey, who first used studies of penile inflation while watching both gay and straight porn to conclude that there was no measurable bisexual response.
Among the points raised in the strong objection to this study (objections to which he is listening) was that porn in and of itself is not always arousing to people; one lay-person noted that the ill-used and unhealthy women who often appear in porn are a turn-off to people who care about women as more than just targets.
It’s another reminder (I’ve written¬†about this before) that scientists need to ask better questions, to step back from assumptions and unquestioned terminology. The -sexual in science’s terms for people’s affections sounds precise, but is so reductive as to mislead. Yes we desire certain people, and it is with those people that we are likely to form lasting pairings. But we know that in those pairings are a world of romance, of partnership, of spiritual complementarity.
Yet a professor of psychology who seeks the truth of a sexuality so rare and furtive as to be a Yeti, fifty years after Alfred Kinsey put male attraction on a six-point range, can’t think to do more than check for chubbies. His science was blinded by vocabulary. Continue reading