KitzingerGayGene - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16...

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1 CONSTRUCTING AND DECONSTRUCTING THE ‘GAY GENE’: 1 MEDIA REPORTING OF GENETICS, SEXUAL DIVERSITY AND ‘DEVIANCE’ 2 3 Jenny Kitzinger 4 Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University 5 6 [In: Ellison, G & Goodman, A (eds) (2005): Diversity without Deviance: Human Biology, 7 Science and Society. Taylor and Francis. Chapter 6 pp 100-117] 8 9 10 1. INTRODUCTION 11 12 “My mother made me a Lesbian” 13 “If I give her the wool will she make me one too?” (Graffiti) 14 15 The graffiti cited above plays with, and subverts, psychological theories about the causes 16 of lesbianism. It refuses to blame mothers for causing their daughters’ homosexuality. 17 Indeed, it inverts the assumption that being a lesbian is a problem to be ‘explained’ and 18 refuses the very premise which justifies enquires about the aetiology of homosexuality. 19 The joke is on the experts who seek to pathologies sexual diversity. This graffiti reflects a 20 long history of lesbian and gay men’s engagement with, and resistance to, attempts to 21 account for our ‘deviance’. 22 23 Sexual deviance is often presented as not only a psychological malfunction. It is also (or 24 instead) seen as being written on the body itself. Just as criminal tendencies used to be 25 read off from primitive physical features (see Dingwall et al. this volume) so homosexual 26 inclinations have been detected by careful attention to the physique and physical 27 development of the suspect. Such ideas are not just imposed on ‘deviants’ by a 28 heterosexual majority; gay scientists, social theorists and writers have actively promoted 29 ideas about the biological origin of (or elements in) homosexuality. Karl Ulrich, for 30 example, the mid 19 th century lawyer, amateur scientist and gay activist, campaigned to 31 reform the laws on sodomy. He argued that gay men had male bodies, but female minds 32 due to faulty foetal development (cited in Rose, 1996) 1 . Similarly, in the 1920s, Radclyff 33 Hall’s pioneering and, at the time, highly controversial book, ‘ The Well of Loneliness ’, 34 appealed for tolerance on the grounds that lesbians were an intermediate sex ‘flawed in 35 the making’. Hall’s book was endorsed as “scientifically accurate” by the leading sexologist 36 of the day, Havelock Ellis (Kitzinger, C. 1987: 120). 37 38 In the past it was the enlarged clitoris or strong, masculine hands of the invert which 39 betrayed her as a lover of her own sex, the high-pitched voice, wide hips and limp wrist of 40 the gay man which revealed his true nature. Today, ideas about the role of biology in 41 homosexuality are likely to be explored through more subtle associations between 42 behavioural tendencies and prenatal hormone exposure, brain chemistry or genetics. 43 Recent research into the gay body includes, for example, various work with animals such 44 as genetically engineered ‘gay’ fruit flies (Ryner et al., 1996). It also extends to
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This note was uploaded on 10/13/2009 for the course GOV 310K taught by Professor V during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas.

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KitzingerGayGene - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16...

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