Quir writer puts personal stamp on science textbook like scientist can’t / LGBTQ Nation

Like many of the behaviors Elliott Schreffer describes Queer ducks (and other animals): The natural world of animal sexuality, his book is difficult to classify. Is it a science textbook? Strange child memoirs? Thesis illustrated with Far Side comics?

Definitely not a traditional science textbook. “Traditions,” Schreffer writes, “are simply peer pressure from dead people.” We can create new ones of our own. “

Related: 5 things you should definitely bring to Pride

So what is it?

Illustrations by Jules Zuckerberg / @juleszuckerberg

First, don’t judge the book by its cover, which irritates you in the colors of the Skittles rainbow, that the subject is LGBTQ. That’s right, but inside it’s a monochrome newspaper from around 1979.

Jules Zuckerberg’s comics are reminiscent of Gary Larson’s animals, which chatter and break heads for different species. Interviews with young working scientists describe how and why science is collected and by whom. And everywhere Schreffer adds personal context to his various topics.

“I was about eleven years old when I started hanging out with my brother’s Fruit of the Loom commercials at Rolling Stone and realized I was attracted to other boys.”

This does not sound like the thoughts of a traditional scholar, and Schrefer is not. With a bachelor’s degree in Harvard literature, he is a writer in the first place, mostly fiction for young adults, which helps explain his fluency in a book teenagers. But it’s also weird, and it’s part of a master’s program in animal research at New York University, where he learned this academic truth: “Science is created by scientists, and the way they think about the natural world is reflected in their explanations.” “

In other words, who is involved in science, and on the topic of animal sexuality, science has not been enough until recently. Strange ducksIt turns out that as much as the history of human sexuality, homophobia and affirmations is confirmed, so is the study of these strange ducks.

Illustrations by Jules Zuckerberg / @juleszuckerberg

Schreffer writes: “The scientific truth about the sexuality of animals depends on whether the writer continues to hold animals as sacredly heterosexual, in what we might call the version of life in Noah’s Ark, or whether they allow themselves to be informed by the indisputable. evidence of same-sex sexual behavior. “

And there is a lot of evidence.

“In 1999, researcher Bruce Beigmil released his comprehensive, thorough study Biological abundance: animal homosexuality and natural diversityand in the following years, in species after species, in the worlds of vertebrates and even invertebrates, research has shown same-sex pairing in hundreds of animal species. And not just casual relationships – sometimes lifelong partnerships between animals of the same sex. “

Schreffer looks at several species to illustrate specific behaviors in chapters such as “Ducks and Geese: What Are Animals’ Positions Regarding Polyamory?” Albatross: Does Sexuality Require Sex? “Deer: Are There Trans Animals?” And “Bulls: What could be more masculine than sex between several men?” to be watched by another bull.)

There is a theory behind most of these behaviors. “Polyamory – connecting three or more animals instead of the conventional two – can expand the effective set of parents, increasing the survival of the offspring. There is also a theory known as “bisexual advantage” that comes from data showing that mobile sexuality increases the chances of reproduction among the population, making bisexuality an “evolutionary optimum.”

Illustrations by Jules Zuckerberg / @juleszuckerberg

There is no scientific explanation for some sexual behaviors in some animals, such as humans. At the end of the 19th century, the French entomologist Henri Gadot de Kerville “distinguished between doodles, which were incited to the same sex due to the lack of women, and those that simply. . . I like it (“pédérastie par gout”). “

Like some people just like it. Or not.

There was a particular boom in women’s and women’s households in New England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, enough that the term “Boston marriage” began to describe women who live together and spend their lives together, whether the union is sexual or not. “Schreffer said.” LGBTQ nation.

Like your old maid aunts, almost a third of albatross couples are female and female. Are they just “doing their best from bad work”?

“There is a strong desire to explain women’s pairing, especially in the scientific literature,” Schreffer said, “reducing it to ‘women doing it’ instead of considering it a chosen union.”

Schaefer points out that many societies consider same-sex relationships a fact of life.

“A significant historical survey of all known human societies throughout history found that 64 percent sanctioned or accepted sexual behavior of the same sex. A particularly significant number of homosexual relationships are found in seventeenth-century feudal Japan, Mayan civilization, fifteenth-century Florence, and the indigenous peoples of North and South America.

And in Greece: “When they grew up, men generally came out of passivity eromenos to active erastes. As Diogenes Laertius writes of the coveted Alcibiades, Athenian general, “in his adolescence he withdrew husbands from their wives, and as a young man – wives from their husbands.”

Like dolphins, Greek society relied on social ties that were cemented through male-male sex.

“Sex,” Schreffer writes, “is a social glue.”

So who is writing science now? Schreffer interviewed several young and mostly LGBTQ wildlife scientists, including Sidney Woodruff, Ph.D.

“I think sometimes as weird researchers,” says Woodruff, “in our lives we hope to disprove heteronormative assumptions, but we can also perpetuate those same assumptions in our research.” As I have to keep in mind that if I study the sex and species of wild animals, I will want it to be a certain way because of my own gender and sexual identity. We have great power, but in our quest to find inaccuracies in previous research, we must be sure that we are modest enough to know that we will not always get the answer we want.

Science seems to be in good hands.

Sydney Woodruff, PhD student

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