I have a confession to make. I was raised in an evangelical Christian home, and when I was much much younger... I was a fan of contemporary Christian music (CCM). Oh, yes. I reailzed just how much of an affront to music it is almost half of my life ago, but lately, I've been thinking about just how entrenched it is in the ideology of the Christian Right. Consider this awful 1995 track by Twila Paris called "Rescue the Prisoner." (The "prisoner," it turns out, is a member of the LGBTQ community who is said to be "demanding rights" and "defending wrong.")
This isn't a post about feminism specifically, but it is about an item some feminists hold near and dear: penises. The U.S. government's Center for Disease Control (CDC) is considering promoting routine circumcision of all American males. They hope cutting off men's foreskins will also cut their risk of transmitting HIV/AIDS. But the CDC's study shows that circumcision does not reduce HIV transmission among the group most at risk in the U.S.: gay males.
Almost 80 percent of American males are circumcised already and many consider circumcision a routine surgery for cultural reasons as well as to reduce the risk of infection. But some people, especially some men who had no say in the matter, push back against the norm.
Obviously, anything that science can do to stem the AIDS epidemic is a welcome discovery. But it's not clear at all that recommending all American males get circumcised would have a significant impact on HIV in America. Groundbreaking studies showed that in Africa, circumcision could reduce transmission of HIV up to 50 percent. But those studies focused on heterosexual sex. The CDC found that the HIV transmission rate among American gay men was the same regardless of whether or not they possessed a foreskin. It looks like circumcision doesn't provide the same protection against AIDS during anal sex as it does during vaginal.
Personally, I find it troubling to promote a surgical procedure on millions of people without their consent (even if they're too young to do anything more than pee and gurgle) without some solid stats proving it could save their lives later on. It's bunk to recommend circumcising all men based on research showing it may only benefit the straights.
Not only is it natural to be gay, but biologists this week reported that same-sex mating is a nearly universal phenomena. It turns out 30 percent of one type of female Hawaiian albatross rears chicks with, well, other chicks. Let’s hear some cheers for the queers!
In an article published this week in journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution researchers Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk basically say that scientists (and, what the heck, everyone else too) need to look at homosexuality in animals from a more nuanced perspective. We’ve known for a while that members of an estimated 1,500 species play it gay sometimes but, Bailey and Zuk point out, animals ditch the straight life for all different reasons. Some creatures adapt to being gay, some are genetically programmed so they can’t even distinguish between gender.
Apparently for the animal world, our words "gay" and "straight" just aren’t going to work. Does that mean they don’t quite fit for humans, too?