Skepticism

Evolutionary Psychologist: Lesbians Exist Because Straight Men Want Them To

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Transcript:

Lesbians! Where do they come from? How did they get here? What do they want from us? VAGINAS?? Well, thanks to some “scientists” at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, we can answer at least one of those questions: lesbians exist because straight men want them to. Ah, the warm glow of curiosity satisfied. Thank you, science.

Okay, so I saw this flying around Twitter this week and figured I should talk a little bit about it. “Lesbian relationships only exist because men find it a turn-on, claims study,” as reported by The Independent. It is a real article and it based on a real study, but just as a heads up it was published back in 2017 so this is not the first time Twitter has been upset at this particular news item. And let’s face it, it won’t be the last — next year, someone else will find it, Tweet it, and we’ll all be up in arms again.

Menelaos Apostolou is, of course, an evolutionary psychologist. For those of you just joining me, evolutionary psychology is a field that is rife with pseudoscience, racism, sexism, and just utter bullshit, and this particular “study” happens to check at least three of those boxes. To be clear, as bad as the “study” was, the article about it in the Independent is maybe just as bad, so we’ll get to that in a second.

The paper itself simply involved a survey of about 1,500 heteros — yes, this scholarly look into the origins of lesbianism didn’t require the input of any — who answered questions about how much the gays turned them on. They found that hetero women weren’t that into dudes who had sexual contact with other dudes, but that hetero men were into women who had sexual contact with other women. That’s…basically it. Those were their findings. From these findings, the researchers developed “a new theory for the evolution of female same-sex attraction.” Love a scientist who has no fucking clue what “theory” means, don’t you? I definitely have a lot of trust in them to produce good, interesting research.

Their weak-ass “theory” (actually a hypothesis that remains untested) is this: “A considerable proportion of men desire same-sex attractions in women, and this is one possible reason why many women have such attractions.” It’s the “drunk chicks in college trying to impress the frat brothers” hypothesis, in other words. This really brings up a LOT of questions, like are women really going down on each other in the privacy of their homes every night because maybe a man might be watching through the window? Are women out there settling down and raising children together on the off-chance that some man’s kink includes her changing dirty diapers?

Also, if that’s their conclusion from their survey, what about gay men? Gay men…exist, but the hetero women interviewed weren’t that into them. So why do gay men exist? Are straight men also into them? Are straight men the reason why everything exists??

The researchers also throw out some hypotheses for why men are more interested in women who are attracted to women. They say that it’s not threatening to the man, because if his partner cheats on him with another woman, she can’t get pregnant. That, again, makes perfect sense with their data. Clearly the opposite wouldn’t be true for women — if their male partners were also attracted to other men and they had an affair, they could definitely get pregnant. Wait. Can they? Hold on, that doesn’t seem right.

Essentially, nothing about this paper makes any sense at all, and it’s frankly humiliating for the journal Personality and Individual Differences to have published it at all. But I guess when you have a giant pool of evo psych nonsense to sort through, picking one that’s more publishable than another is a hopeless task. It’s like going to the pet store and picking a fish to run a marathon for you. You’re not going to find any winners, I assure you.

A lot of this bullshit boils down to the wrong idea that everything we see must be adaptive — everything we humans do, and how we look, must have evolved with us because it was helpful in some way. If you have that kind of low-level, idiotic view of the world and of evolution, it’s easy to see how things like “GAY PEOPLE” might scare you. After all, if every major aspect of humanity is here because it inspired more people to fuck, and to have more babies, and to raise those babies to adulthood so they can fuck, then how can gay people exist? They can’t even have kids!

The answer, as always, is “I think that you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.” Some genetic traits are adaptive, and others are coincidental. And not everything about humans can be found in our genetics, especially when it comes to larger societal behaviors. So remember, the next time you see a “scientist” or journalist claiming to have found evidence of how a certain human characteristic adapted, ask to see the genes and the evidence. Otherwise, more often than not it’s a story that person made up because it happened to fit into his pre-conceived biases, like “lesbians only exist because they know I want to fuck them.”

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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2 Comments

  1. The existence of non-het folks is an immediate refutation of the whole basis of evo-psych. Not to mention the prevalence of non-reproductive sex among heterosexuals.

    Take your six-shooter out and put six holes in the side of the barn. Then paint a target around each hole. Every hole becomes a perfect, retroactive, hit. Take any social phenomenon, invent a sciency-sounding evolutionary back-story…hey presto! you can be a YouTube expert too!

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