Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What's More Rude Than Being Gay?

Surprise, surprise, another anti-gay bigot is misusing research data about gay men and lesbians to support his already-held and unsubstantiated conclusions about gay people.

This latest example of propaganda comes from "On Lawn," a member of the Opine Editorials' cast of anti-gay characters.

In his recent article entitled "Chastity, selfishness, and other thoughts from the week," "On Lawn" provides the following quotation:

"Lesbians report 'physically or mentally coercive sex' more often than do gay men. One study found that thirty-one percent of lesbians reported forced sexual encounters versus twelve percent of gay men."

My curiosity got the best of me and I immediately wondered a few things about this study "On Lawn" quoted.

One, did he know.... anything... about this study prior to eagerly quoting it? Or did he see that it has some anti-gay connotations and immediately post it in hopes that it would bolster his already-held opinions about gay people and the world?

Which leads me to two, what is this study, anyway?

After doing about 2 minutes of research, I found that "On Lawn's" quotation comes from another person's blog article that was quoting another person's blog article that was quoting a book by Pepper Schwartz that was quoting a study from 1989 (Waterman, C. K., Dawson, L. J., & Bologna, M. J. (1989). Sexual coercion in gay male and lesbian
relationships: Predictors and implications for support services. The Journal of Sex Research, 26 (1), 118-124.)

After reading the abstract alone, we see that this almost 20-year old study had a so very representative sample size of a "whopping" 36 female and 34 male college students who were in gay or lesbian relationships at the time. Let's reiterate: 36 females. 34 males. College students. 1989. Can someone scurry on over to the public library and dig this up on microfiche?

That "On Lawn" has no qualms with citing hearsay to the 3rd degree in the form of a 20-year-old non-representative study is not really surprising. Perhaps believing that internet hearsay is part of the scientific method, I doubt he even bothered to look up this study.

The only thing worth wondering here is what "On Lawn's" purpose was in providing this quotation.

It is difficult to ascertain the answer to that as all we have to go on is his meandering article inarticulately discussing "chastity," something about "Algebra," and how this all relates to his fave topics of "abuse" and the homosexualists. Or something. It's hard to say, really. I'm sure, per usual, the fellow will chalk up everyone's lack of comprehension to their lack of ability to read, but I do invite ya'll to try to make sense of his article and report back.

We sort of get our answer as to "On Lawn's" point here, however, when he says:

"That is why lesbianism, homosexualism, pornography, etc... are simply selfish -- and a misunderstood attempt at marriage can be too. They are taking something you want at the expense of the other.... [blah blah blah]... Demanding the government and others call your arrangement marriage is selfish and rude, at the expense of society."

I see. His posting is a long-winded, incomprehensible way of using a 20-year-old non-representative study to say that gay men and lesbians are selfish and rude. Got it.

Yet, that sloppy message isn't even the most disturbing part of this man's article.

Let's just assume here that the claims that this study makes about lesbians are true: Lesbians coerce their female partners into sex at really high rates. Note that nowhere in his article do we see "On Lawn" say something along the lines of "That's too bad, maybe lesbians should have some sort of domestic violence program that they feel safe attending and are free to talk about sexual coercion they have experienced at the hands of their female partners. Maybe they should have programs where people won't tell them that if they don't want to be abused they shouldn't be gay. Or, maybe they should have a program that will not make them change the pronouns of their perpetrator."

Do we hear that? Do we sense any sort of compassion or kindness towards LGBT people from "On Lawn"? Nope. Instead "On Lawn" uses this study to further his own anti-gay agenda. Citing this study he knows nothing about he makes sweeping generalizations about the character of all gay people in the history of the universe.

You know, it is partly because of people like him why our community is sometimes hesitant to create needed culturally-competent programs for LGBT survivors of violence. We know that our community is not perfect, just as no community is. But small-minded men like "On Lawn" demand perfection from us by pouncing on and misusing any study with an iota of the anti-gay in it to justify their bigoted claims about gay people. Any evidence that any LGBT person has been less than perfect is collected by people like "On Lawn" and used as evidence that LGBT people are inherently pathological.

While "On Lawn" of Opine Editorials is just one man ignorantly blogging about something he knows nothing about, others with more influence use the same tactics. In short, they put us in a no-win situation. If we acknowledge the violence that does exist in our community, the bigots exaggerate it, misuse research findings, and use it against us. And yet if we don't acknowledge violence in our community, those who need help do not get it because programs for LGBT persons are not created out of fear that they will be used against us. In the heads of bigots, any mention of violence in our community implicates all gay people. By making that quantum leap of a generalization, "On Lawn" and his ilk help render LGBT victims of domestic violence invisible while simultaneously exaggerating the "Lesbian Abuser" myth.

Well done, "On Lawn." Mis-using research data? Failing to show lack of empathy or compassion for victims of abuse? I believe most would call such behavior "rude" and "selfish."

Unfortunately, I predict that if "On Lawn" reads this critique of his article he will respond that it somehow constitutes some sort of personal attack, lie, or misrepresentation of him. That's sort of what he does better than anything else, after all. Create personal dramas that detract from the substantive issue at hand. In that likely event, I can only say this: In the face of an egregious and offensive misuse of a research study, I will not remain quiet and not defend the community that "On Lawn" so often seeks to denigrate. "On Lawn's" article is available for all to read and draw their own conclusions.

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