Monday, September 21, 2009

Studying lesbians: an introduction

A new monthly column that discusses current and not so current research about lesbians and bisexual women

When I am not being an editor for eurOut I actually spend my time in academia, which includes conducting scientific research. This is not just a day job, but it is also a passion. I have always been interested in research, and for a while now I was looking for an excuse to explore some more the vast amount of research that has been conducted about lesbians and bisexual women.

Then I thought some of you might also be interested in learning more about what science (read: mostly social science) has to say about queer women. Hence, a new column was born. Every month I will be focusing on a different study or area of research that has tried to figure out just how we lesbian and bisexual women work. This time I’m just giving you an overview of what kind of things you can expect.

On eurOut we have already paid some attention to some of the scientific research that has been conducted on LGBT issues, including a Dutch study into acceptance of homosexuality in sports, happiness of kids in Rainbow families in Germany and in Denmark, and the psychological and physical health of Dutch lesbians.

Yes, some people do write their theses on the L word

Some of the topics I want to cover in upcoming columns, include research on sexual identity and especially how it relates to everyday social activities and interaction. There’s also some interesting studies on the influence of the media on lesbians and bisexual women. For example, our lovely vlogger Saskia wrote her Master thesis on the influence of the L word on the identity of Dutch lesbians (Look out for a discussion of that study next time).

A totally different area of interest is research into physical and psychological health of queer women. For example, prevalence of somatic and psychological disorders, as well as how we are treated and approached by health practitioners. One of the women whose research revolves around these topics is Dr. Julie Fish, who is also involved in the lesBian breast cancer studies we told you about recently. I’ll be telling you all about her other research soon.

Related to this topic are two very different fields, one is that of biology and neuroscience, where they have done research into possible homosexual genes, dominant sides of the brain, testosterone levels, left handedness, finger length and lots more studies like that that you’ve probably already heard of. I will look into them and tell you what they actually do know for sure and how much has just been exaggerated in the media.

Is there such a thing as lesBian mice?

Another field that’s filled with studies (and theories) about homosexuality is that of psychology. For many years now researchers and therapists have tried to figure out not just what and if something makes you gay, but also what it means to be a lesbian, your quality of life and how we (gays and straights) all could get along a little better. There’s much more to it than that, but I will elaborate more when I get to my psychology issue of my column.
And finally, yes, there will be graphs ;-)

Are these the kind of research topics you would be interested or are there any other areas of research involving lesBian women that you would like to learn more about? Leave your suggestions in the comments and check back next month for the second edition of studying lesbians.

This post was first published on eurout.

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