Jun 27, 2006

Sexual orientation determined in the womb?

Interesting study out of Canada suggests that sexual orientation develops while in the womb, and that, surprisingly:
[T]he more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. But it has not been clear if this is a prenatal effect or a psychosocial effect, related to growing up with older male siblings.
The reason for this, theoretically, is that the more male offspring a woman produces, over time, she'll develop (don't even laugh) antibodies that will try to protect her body against this "foreign" object. So:
"If this immune theory were correct, then the link between the mother's immune reaction and the child's future sexual orientation would probably be some effect of maternal anti-male antibodies on the sexual differentiation of the brain," [Dr. Anthony F. Bogaert] suggests.
Interesting theory, but then, does the same thing happen with women? And is bisexuality a different chemical reaction? Is heterosexuality?

While I do support the idea that people are born with their sexual orientation, I don't know if I'm ready to accept Dr. Bogaert's claim. I mean, I'm an only child, and I'm straight - so does this mean that only children are more likely to be heterosexual? Were the circumstances surrounding my conception "just right" in creating a non-gay daughter? And just how many sons do you have to pop out before you start producing the "anti-boy" antibodies?

Anyway. The whole "a-mother-will-start-to-create-"anti-boy"-antibodies-if-she-bears-enough-sons" idea cracks me up.


Polt said...

I don't know about the theory, but I'm an only child AND gay.

Course, maybe I'm the exception that proves the rule?

dan said...

Aren't ALL only children gay? Wasn't there a study? Here's my rant about studies like this one. There's little hard science in it, and there's a huge margin of error. Second of all, I think we should all stay away from studies that suggest that non-hetero-sexuality is caused by some kind of nightmare moment in Mommy's body where the otherwise perfect hetero fetus mutates in to an abhorrent, mangled assfucking cretin. A few years ago there was the hormonal rush theory -- and I am paraphrasing with bad memory now, but it went something like "women some times pass too many hormones on to their male babies in the end of pregnancy and that's what makes them turn out all nancy."

Until the researchers go genetic and decode all sexuality, they're just wanking. In their defense, getting the funding for such a study is difficult, what with all the fundies, but that's another rant.

Kvatch said...

Just goes to show...the male of the species is an abberation. Probably be bred out entirely in 40 or so generations.

Chief said...

I think the Canadian study is kind of looney. I believe that sexual orientation is determined when the sperm enters the egg.

qubit said...

Hoo boy, don't get me started. When someone looks for a single cause for something as complex and involved as sexual orientation, it's as bad as when you hear "the gene for [insert some attribute here]." There are certainly a lot of factors -- genetic, phenotic (is that a word? what's the term for 'pertaining to phenotype'? Generik, a little help here...?), hormonal, psychological, social... -- that can't be entirely disentangled and that interact in very complex ways (so you can't say X is n% reponsible). And the all-or-nothing thinking in terms of "Gay Or Not Gay" is just as bad; at best (least complicated), it's a gradient, just based on my casual observations. My last observation on this is that there is a conceptual tendency inherent in the way we talk about things toward thinking of deviation from the norm as some sort of pathology, that is, something going 'wrong'. (I will refrain from ranting about why the whole born vs. subconsciously developed vs. conciously chosen fight is irrelevent -- and I will say the last one is patently absurd, but still irrelevent -- to the basic moral imperitive of equal rights and freedom of conscience.)

That said, the idea of a mother creating anti-male antibodies when she has a lot of sons is pretty damn funny. Can't say I'd blame my mom's body after me and my brother, either.