The title was taken from the CNS News story of the same name, which made ripples in the news yesterday (Drudge linked to it).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $1.5 million to study biological and social factors for why “three-quarters” of lesbians are obese and why gay males are not, calling it an issue of “high public-health significance.”
If this is true, you know what it means, of course. It means that TV and the movies have lied to us. Systematically, and over a long period of time.
When was the last time you saw a show or movie in which a woman oriented towards other women wasn’t hot, svelte, able to wiggle into hipster jeans without grunting? I’ll tell you when. Never. There’s even a popular sub-genre, which I’ve heard is distributed on the internet, which delights in displaying actively oriented non-obese non-heterosexual females. Our first clue should have been that the audience for such fare was (obese or not) men oriented towards women.
Science however can’t be wrong, or questioned. According to the well-funded grant (to the tune of $741,378 of your money—where was the sequester when it was needed?) Sexual Orientation and Obesity: Test of a Gendered Biopsychosocial Model Obesity “nearly three-quarters of adult lesbians [are] overweight or obese.”
S. Bryn Austin, Director of Fellowship Research Training in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, used that scientific statistic to convince the government to part with money to study the statistics of overweight lesbians. In other words, Austin claims already to know lesbians are fatter than normal women, but he wants (and got) three-quarters of a million to verify it.
Some of that money will be spent studying why, “[i]n stark contrast, among men, heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males.” Austin even has a theory. He and his group “will rigorously test our innovative gendered biopsychosocial model to explain sexual orientation disparities in obesity with prospective, repeated measures survey data and biological data from three national youth cohorts.”
Sounds like the solution to the obesity “epidemic” is to have heterosexual men and non-heterosexual women switch their orientations. Maybe science can develop a pill? Or is the education provided in our public schools sufficient?
Anyway, if you’re upset about the money Austin gets, consider these facts. Austin himself only keeps half a million. He has to hand over the other quarter-mill as “protection” to his Dean (funds which are euphemistically called “overhead”). Plus, Austin was only being smart. Turns out the government issued an announcement begging people to take its money to study these things. If it wasn’t Austin, it would have been somebody else.
Yes. “PA-07-409”, or Health Research with Diverse Populations, was government instigated. It’s focus “is on research that bears upon on the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and other diverse populations.”
I know, or think I know, the meaning of the first four terms, but I haven’t any idea what “intersex” means, and I’m leery of typing it into a browser. I notice, however, that it’s at the end of a list which is ordered by increasing unusualness. This is why “other diverse populations”, which could mean anything, comes last.
Oh, the $1.5 million in the title arises because the government, in its ever-increasing benevolence, handed out more than one grant on the subject. If anything, the figure is a gross understatement. On just the first page of grants “similar to” Austin’s, at least $10 million more was spent.
We glean from these grants that the preferred term for non-heterosexuality is “sexual minority”, which has a pleasing, civil rights, social justice ring to it.
A couple of other awards: Stress Reactivity and Substance Use Among Sexual Minority Girls ($339,887; boys, you’ll have to wait), Risk and Protective Factors for Suicide Among Sexual Minority Youth ($598,609), Cumulative Stress and Hazardous Drinking in a Community Sample of Adult Lesbians ($602,989), etc. forever.
What the novice reader might not understand is that all these grants are in the pipeline, thus that each will result in many to dozens of papers, and that each of these will call for more research, which itself will seem justified because the mass of “work” in the field makes the field appear important. The thing is self-perpetuating.