Two respected biologists, have written in the journal Nature this week stating that the media’s tendency to sensationalize animal sex can lead to misunderstandings about the nature of human sexuality.
Mark Brown, a University of London researcher and his colleague Andrew Barron of Macquarie University in Australia analyzed nearly 50 newspaper articles about the sexual behaviors of animals and discovered what he called “fairy egregious headlines.”
Though this might seem like a harmless, rather commonplace media tactic to draw in the readers, Brown believes that some of these articles link discoveries about animal sexual behavior to human sexual orientation, using these connections to somehow suggest that homosexuality is somehow an abnormality or an illness.
Brown believes these kind of abstract links drawn between animals and humans can lead to further discrimination against those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
“It’s very important that this science is actually portrayed properly, because whilst in some areas in the world, members of the LGBT community can live open lives where they’re not discriminated against, in many countries around the world they’re still killed for being themselves.”
Brown and Barron undertook this research in response to a recent increase in the number of stories about same-sex sexual behavior in animals that have been covered by the media.
One of the articles that Brown said was particularly misleading were the reports about a 2007 study that found genetic manipulation could alter the sexual behavior of nematode worms. He said that many of the headlines about this study were misleading because they used the term ‘sexual orientation’ which is a social label that should only be used in reference to humans. He said the headlines were particularly disturbing because the nematode worms are not even male and female like people are, but rather their population consists of males and hermaphrodites.
Brown believes that this type of report gives the impression that homosexuality in people might be “cured” by genetic manipulation, which he said was “nonsense.”
When you look at it like that, making an analogy between them and humans is incredibly tenuous and extremely far-fetched
(Via Live Science)