A little over a month ago, AOL News posted an article by Walter Schumm entitled “Study: Gay parents more likely to have gay kids.” Schumm, a Family Studies professor from Kansas has conducted a “meta-analysis” (just make peace with the amount of sarcastic quotations I need to use to even talk about this inane shit) that seems to point to queer families producing more queer children. For those who aren’t familiar with the technique, meta-analysis is the compilation of several different studies or experiments in order to draw conclusions about the aggregate of their research. The studies you choose or don’t choose absolutely determine your results. Years and years of research showing gay parents aren’t more likely to raise gay children were apparently glossed over, and the result is going to be a windfall to groups that wish to outlaw gay adoption.
[Not to mention the fucking unscientific conclusions that will be drawn from this study. I imagine gay parents probably don’t raise as many life long closet cases, or have as many of their kids kill themselves because of parental rejection over their sexuality. Voilà! You now have more reported queer children.]
Part of the article was devoted to Schumm lamenting how hostile “The Academic Community” is to research that suggests that gay parents are bad parents.
“Schumm says it shouldn’t have taken until 2010 to do the meta-analysis. Too often his colleagues impose ‘liberal or progressive political interpretations’ on their studies, which inhibit further inquiry. ‘It’s kind of sad,’ he tells AOL News.”
SEE! THIS IS THE SHIT I’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT. I’ve been rambling on about the “Interlocutor/Inquisitor” on my Tumblr recently, trying to figure out what drives people to wedge themselves into conversations and start declaring everyone in it is wrong for not listening to them. And one of the ways they waste our time and try our patience is by treating everything, absolutely everything as up for debate. The idea of privilege. The idea of misogyny being a real thing. No matter how many times we prove that something exists, it will never be proven. Years of research into the consequences of gay parenting, which seem to be, well, more “empathetic” kids – and to them it is still an open question. It can still be an open question to them, no matter how much evidence is piled at their feet. And one of the ways they do this is by creating a Culture of Faux Inquiry, by making it seem like the question is never settled by attacking the evidence settling it as biased and inconclusive. They do this by making it seem as if both sides have equally credible arguments, implementing shitty science and complicity with that shitty science.
I was pissed off that AOL News was posting such trash, and I knew, I just knew that I would see this again. Sure enough, a few weeks later I saw it on the web sites of several anti-gay advocacy groups, cited in an “article” on “World” “Net” “Daily,” and brought up on right wing boards and comment threads. So here we have flawed science based on a technique that can be easily rendered useless by selection bias. And it is being given a signal boost by a somewhat reputable (????) news organization and achieving metastasis through the conservative mindset. This nonsense is the sort of thing people include as evidence in trial proceedings, and makes the question of gay adoption seem like a fairly contested issue – especially if you don’t understand the methodology.
When a large organization lends its voice and its authority to ideas that are toxic, they aren’t just sparking a debate or raising questions. They are providing fodder for the other people who take that toxic shit to heart. Especially if those toxic ideas are on the blog most likely to be trawled by its detractors.
And that’s why I came here to talk to you about Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, aka Stockholm Syndrome: The Musical!
If you’ve never seen it, the movie centers around Adam, a backwoods mountain man who tricks a woman into marrying him and then convinces his six brothers to kidnap a group of women from town. They cause an avalanche getting away, meaning the girls are stuck there all winter. But alls well that ends well, the girls fall in love with the men who have kidnapped them and they’re all forced into shotgun weddings! It’s like the end of “As You Like It” when the God Hymen descends from on high to stamp out any silly gender bending or queer attraction and marries everyone off. But with barn raising! And dance fights! Happy ending, right?
Maybe not to me or you, but to some people. Some people earnestly believe that woman are happiest when they allow themselves to be conquered by men. They collect every scrap of evidence they can of this, from Evolutionary Psychology to Bible Scripture to articles on Feminist websites that call for a rethinking of consent. They will not read the 50 articles before and after on how pervasive rape culture is and how society treats women’s bodies as public property. No. They will sail past all of that, read this bullshit, and e-mail it to each other with Subject Lines like “Oh, it seems like they’re finally getting it!” and rejoice that finally women might learn their place as disinterested wombs. And then literally every ill that has ever befell mankind can be crammed back into Pandora’s box, along with anything else we want because hey! If it belongs to a woman it belongs to everyone.
That may seem hyperbolic, but this isn’t: I have never once heard any of my female friends lament they have too much autonomy over their own bodies. That their day would be much better if strangers were constantly touching and groping them, which they were expected to fend off with European “decisiveness.” But there are a lot of men for whom this shit sounds like paradise. They are constantly looking for evidence that they are actually the keepers of a sacred truth about gender roles and the happiness of women, feel entitled to control women and imagine they are doing all of this because they love women and want to protect them. And when they read this smug horseshit, and see the source, see that it is The! Lady! Site! For! Ladies!, they will feel validated by it.
And there is no getting around that.