Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Do childhood sexual experiences turn a girl into a lesbian? I showed in two earlier posts that homosexuals are much more likely to have intense sexual contact as children, and they also have an increased risk of witnessing their parents attack each other as well as being victims of parental violence.

Next, let's see if the same is true of lesbians. Using the same survey data, here is what I found for 1,457 college females:


Percent experiencing sexual contact under age 14 at least once

Was shown a sexual organ
Straight 34.6
Bisexual 56.5
Homosexual 54.5
Unsure 28.6

Was fondled
Straight 27.6
Bisexual 47.8
Homosexual 33.3
Unsure 23.1

Attempted sexual intercourse
Straight 9.4
Bisexual 21.7
Homosexual 25.0
Unsure 21.4

Sexual intercourse
Straight 4.9
Bisexual 8.7
Homosexual 16.7
Unsure 14.3


Percent whose parents hit each other at least once per month

Straight 9.2
Bisexual 17.4
Homosexual 25.0
Unsure 21.4


Percent whose parents hit them at least once per month

Straight 26.2
Bisexual 30.4
Homosexual 33.3
Unsure 23.1

Like non-straight men, women who are not heterosexual were more likely to have childhood sexual experiences and to have been in violent families. So, compared to straights, gays and lesbians have less normal childhoods, and it is possible that this could influence sexual orientation--along with other factors.

In the earlier post, Razib made a good point that effeminate boys who are likely to grow up to be gay might have been targeted for sexual contact. Presumably, the person who initiated the contact thinks an effeminate boy is unlikely to resist aggressively, or perhaps the boy is more attractive, or is thought to be gay and interested in sex.

But what about a girl? Would she be targeted for being a tom boy? Or because she is thought to be a lesbian? Presumably, she would be less attractive and more resistant, which would lead to less victimization, not more. Ideas? Might childhood sexual contact be a cause of lesbianism but only spuriously related to homosexuality?

Notice how the differences are stronger for partner violence than violence against the child. It's possible that witnessing frequent parental conflict might lead some children to reject heterosexual coupling.

Next, I'll show that lesbians are much more likely to have been victims of sexual violence as teenagers.

28 comments:

Jason Malloy said...

The finding of greater violence in homosexual homes is interesting to me. The etiology of homosexuality appears to overlap with the etiology of some victimizing sexual disorders.

For instance, the minority of rapists who are preferentially aroused by physical violence also have more older brothers (which we know from adopted children is a biological factor in homosexuality).

The differential molestation of prepubescent boys instead of prepubescent girls is also a function of number of older brothers.

And finally, serial killing, which I believe is a paraphilia, appears to frequently involve bisexual arousal. (In fact, all paraphilias probably share some common biological factors with homosexuality, which would explain why it shows up so much more in males than in females, like every other paraphilia)

This is not to say homosexuals are more violent - I assume they are not - but several sexual disorders related to violence appear to share some common biology with homosexuality.

Jason Malloy said...

Oh yeah, forgot to mention that while homosexuals are not any more aroused by prepubescent children than heterosexual males, pedophiles do, on average, show arousal to homosexual as well as heterosexual stimuli in addition to children.

Anonymous said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5011730.stm

My theory: early childhood stress is masculinizing, probably due to cortisol levels affecting testosterone levels.

I live near San Francisco and it seems to me that a very high percentage of lesbians had traumatic early experiences with men, but there is a blanket refusal to acknowledge this. Commonly people will rationalize that abuse is very common but lesbian culture is more open to talking about it, so it only appears that there's more abuse. Personally I don't think this can account for the size of the effect.

It is also surprisingly common for lesbians to become bisexual in their thirties or forties, and end up married to a man. This does not seem to happen with gay men at all.

Anonymous said...

the URL I posted got cut off, let's try in two parts:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/
health/5011730.stm

Jason Malloy said...

"Next, I'll show that lesbians are much more likely to have been victims of sexual violence as teenagers."

One has to wonder how much this is due to the "social construction of sexual harassment".

If transsexuals are a very feminine form of homosexual, lesbians may largely be just a very masculine form of feminist.

In opposition to gay males' strong political conviction that their sexuality had nothing to do with "choice", many lesbians insist choice had a lot to do with their orientation, and that politics had a lot to do with that choice.

RobertHume said...

Sexual deviation may be genetic (male homosexuals insist that it is). If so, then the violence of their parents may also be genetic and be linked genetically to the children's homosexuality. So the violence itself may not be the cause but just a marker for the genetic tendency passed on to the children.

Peter said...

How big was the n= for lesbians? Given that the survey involved a total of 1,457 women, I wouldn't imagine that the number of lesbians was particularly high.

Anonymous said...

It is also surprisingly common for lesbians to become bisexual in their thirties or forties, and end up married to a man.

Reminds me of "lesbian until graduation."

Ron Guhname said...

peter: I'm glad you asked that question because I meant to warn folks. The N for lesbians is 12; it's 23 for bisexuals; and 14 for not sure. The sample sizes were low for men too, but the uniform pattern for all non-heteros--male and female--gives one more confidence.

Steve Sailer said...

There's a lot of evidence that lesbianism is more "socially constructed" than male homosexuality. I'd hardly be surprised if some proportion of little girls react to bad behavior by the males in their lives by growing up to be lesbians, just as some little girls react to similar abuse by growing up to becoming strippers.

It would be interesting to look at personality traits that predict which path an abused girl will follow: lesbianism or promiscuity and exhibitionism (or both). I've read that porn actresses universally claim to have been abused as children but tend to be pretty proud of it: "My mom had her boyfriend arrested for having sex with me when I was nine. That just shows you hot I am that he went to jail because he couldn't resist me ... even before I had a rack!"

Steve Sailer said...

You'd need a big sample size, but a valuable study to do would be to look at whether pushing your daughter into a masculine sport increases the chance of her growing up to be lesbian.

In general, female athletes grow up in healthy two parent homes -- Dad is a lot more likely to push a girl into becoming a softball player than Mom is, so almost all women in heavily lesbian sports like golf and softball have fathers who were active in their lives in a healthy way.

Many middle class parents today see sports as a good way to keep to keep their daughters off the pole, as Chris Rock would say. Give them something to focus on other than boys until they are old enough to settle down. The potential downside to this strategy is that lots of female coaches are lesbians and attempt to recruit girls into the lesbian life.

SFG said...

Steve, any evidence for this? Thanks for explaining it, I thought you were saying that the experience of playing softball made girls more likely to be lesbian, which made no sense to me at all; I would assume causality working the other way (more masculine girls want to play sports more).

Peter said...

I've read that porn actresses universally claim to have been abused as children but tend to be pretty proud of it: "My mom had her boyfriend arrested for having sex with me when I was nine. That just shows you hot I am that he went to jail because he couldn't resist me ... even before I had a rack!"

I've heard that too. One has to wonder, however, just how often these claims are real, and how often they're merely made-up attempts to establish some street cred.

It's probably best to take statements by porn actresses/strippers/hooker with a huge grain of salt.

Marc said...

the violence of their parents may also be genetic and be linked genetically to the children's homosexuality. So the violence itself may not be the cause but just a marker for the genetic tendency passed on to the children.

I made a point similar to this in the last post on this subject. Given that a large chunk of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by family members, it's possible that gay men may be more likely to report childhood sexual abuse because they were born to families carrying genes that predispose people to deviant sexual attractions--homosexuality in the case of the gay man, but pedophilia in the case of an older brother, cousin or father.

It would be interesting to see whether a higher percentage of gay than straight men who were abused suffered the abuse at the hands of a family member, as opposed to a coach, teacher, priest, whatever.

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rob said...

Ron,

You reported mean scores for violence for the men, but percent for the women. I'm curious how those convert.

Do reports from adult children on parents hitting each other match for men and women on average, at least for heterosexuals?

As for lesbians and sexual violence, it is quite possible that lesbians perceive average heterosexual flirting and such as threatening violence. I don't care if Dworkin actually said all heterosexual sex is rape, but if one if is a lesbian, it must seem that way on a personal level. And being on average more masculine than heterosexual women, they likely perceive all situations as being more sexualized.

Ron Guhname said...

Rob,

Percent with parents who hit each other--males
Het 5.9
Bi 26.3
Homo 30.0
Unsure 29.0
All men 7.7
(All women 9.1)


Percent whose parents hit them--males
Het 26.4
Bi 36.8
Homo 50.0
Unsure 38.1

Rob said...

Thanks Ron,

I could buy that abusive parents might hit their sons, but not daughters, or the other way. But overall it seems pretty equal.

Is that 1.4% difference between adult men and women remembering their parents hitting each other indicative of anything, perhaps women have a lower threshold for what is hitting, or is it just noise?

Ron Guhname said...

rob: It's probably noise.

Rafinha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rafinha said...

"The finding of greater violence in homosexual homes is interesting to me."

Women in lesbian relationships are no more likely to be violent than straight women in straight relationships, and gay men are no more likely to be violent in homosexual relationships than straight men in their relationships.

The connection between older brothers and sexual variability is controversial and not confirmed at all. In a very big sample of sexual offenders, Ron Langevin didn't find that those displaying homosexual preference in laboratory are more likely to have older maternal brothers than those who do not.

"And finally, serial killing, which I believe is a paraphilia, appears to frequently involve bisexual arousal."

The link you posted to support your contention is wacko. Right-wing propaganda linked to Paul Cameron and FRC. It is totally biased.

"This is not to say homosexuals are more violent - I assume they are not"
They really are not. Studies have repeatedly found gay men to be less aggressive and even more altruistic than heterosexual men, while the opposite was found about lesbians as compared to straight women.

"forgot to mention that while homosexuals are not any more aroused by prepubescent children than heterosexual males, pedophiles do, on average, show arousal to homosexual as well as heterosexual stimuli in addition to children."
Pedophiles don't distinguish between male and female children as much as teleiophiles distinguish between adult males and females -- probably because pedophiles are more often attracted to extreme youthness, not gender. At least that was the finding K. Freund came when analyzing many samples of such groups: while teleiophiles are either homosexual and heterosexual, in pedophilia there's a great overlap between categories: pedophiles who molest boys are often also attracted to girls, and pedophiles who molest both children likewise don't manifest a clear preference; however, pedophiles who molest girls only are more likely to be interested in girls only.

And it is worth mentioning that many pedophiles who molest boys either maintain a pattern of predominantly heterosexual arousal, or are exclusively attracted to children. Very few are also aroused by adult males, and thus cannot be conflated with run-of-the-mill homosexuals.

I recommend the reading of studies by Ron Langevin, Kurt Freund, Michael Kuban, Michael Seto, Bill Marshall, and Gene Abel.

"Oh yeah, forgot to mention that while homosexuals are not any more aroused by prepubescent children than heterosexual males, pedophiles do, on average, show arousal to homosexual as well as heterosexual stimuli in addition to children."
The Older Brother hypothesis doesn't contend that violence shares common roots with homosexuality, instead sexual variability does! And as I said the hypothesis is controversial, and not all data support it. Many other etiological factors might be correlated with violent sexual offending. For example, the finding that pedophiles more often report being hit in the head in childhood and adolescence as compared to non-pedophilic sexual offenders suggest that neurological damage is correlated to pedophilic attraction. And the neurological damage hypothesis is supported by the fact that pedophilic offenders on average have lower IQs than non-pedophilic ones. No such etiology can be attributed to homosexuality, given that there's evidence that homosexuals don't have lower intelligence and, based on data published at this very same blog, both homosexual males and females are actually visibly smarter than their heterosexual counterparts.

Rafinha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rafinha said...

On domestic violence...

http://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles1/nij/181867.txt

23% of gay men hit, stalked or raped their male partner, in contrast to 21.7% of het. men in their straight relationships. A negligible difference.

11% of lesbians stalked, raped or hit their female partner, in contrast to 7.4% of het. women in their relationships. The difference is more obvious, but still not huge.

The following page quotes one such study on agressiveness and homosexuality:

Ellis, Hoffman, & Burke (1990) examined self reports of male homosexual behavior, and found that there was a negative relationship between most forms of violent or criminal behavior and homosexuality. This is consistent with the homosexual brains being less masculinized than heterosexual brains.

http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/stalkers/em_homosexuality.html

While most rapists and paraphiliacs are classically considered hyper-masciline and aggressive, homosexual men are feminine/androgynous.

That latest observation also suggests that, while many paraphilias might, perhaps, share one common etiological factor with homosexuality, other factors might indicate a greater relatedness to heterosexuality.

For example, Ray Blanchard, who compared the age of onset of puberty in sexual offenders against males and females of a wide range of age, discovered that men who molested adult men reach puberty before men who attacked women, which is consistent to the findings of many studies which report gay men, just like women, reach puberty before the average heterosexual man does. On the other hand, pedophiles, independently of the gender of his target, tended to reach pubert about the same age as non-pedophilic heterosexual men.

"In fact, all paraphilias probably share some common biological factors with homosexuality, which would explain why it shows up so much more in males than in females, like every other paraphilia)"
Firstly, homosexuality is not considered paraphilia, and secondly the proportion of homosexuality amongst men and women is still elusive. Past studies used to indicate that men experienced with homosexuality more often than women, but that is not true anymore. 11% of young women have in the 2000s experienced with homosexuality, as compared to 6% of men (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9358339/). Also, heterosexual women are more likely to admit entertaining homosexual fantasies than heterosexual men. Now ask how many men and women entertain pedophilic fantasies. John Briere, in two separate studies, found that men are 5.5 times more likely to admit attraction to children than women. I suspect the same pattern would be discovered when analyzing the gender gap in other, true paraphilias. While, at most, homosexulity is only twice as common among men than women (based on old stimates, and I've already much closer percentage of gay and lesbian individuals, for example 1.6 vs. 1.3%), the male/female ratio of true paraphilia is much higher than that. According to profiles of typical sexual offenders, child molesters are 4 to 19 times more likely to be male. And remember that bisexuality is much more common amongst women than men, again defying the perception that homo/bisexuality are just less threatening paraphilias. As a matter of fact, some sexuality researchers, such as the late Kurt Freund and Michael Bailey, deny such a thing as bisexuality in the normal male population. According to Freund, only pedophiles can be true bisexuals, since, as I previously noted, many pedophiles, especially those who molest male children (exclusively or not) are able to be attracted by both male and female child bodies, which probably means that for the pedophile youthness of the target matters more than his/her gender. And in contrast to bodies of female and male children, which do not yet manifest the different secondary sexual charasteristics, there's a clear difference in the bodies of adult males and females, and that probably precludes teleiophilic males from being attracted to both men and women at the same time.

Oh, and I forgot mentioning in my previous post that not only Ron Lagevin did not find a correlation between homosexual orientation and the number of older brothers, but also Karine Côté couldn't find anything similar in "Birth Order, Birth Interval, and Deviant Sexual Preferences Among Sex Offenders".

Jason Malloy said...

Rafina,

"The finding of greater violence in homosexual homes" was referring to Inductivist's finding in this very post. That is, the homes homosexuals grow up in, not form themselves as adults. I realize homosexuals themselves are not more violent, as I clearly indicated in my comment.


"The connection between older brothers and sexual variability is controversial and not confirmed at all."


This is incorrect. A meta-analysis of studies (N = 10,143) showed that birth order is related to fraternal birth order.

Ron Langevin didn't find that those displaying homosexual preference in laboratory are more likely to have older maternal brothers than those who do not.


And a re-analysis of Langevin's dataset found a significant relationship between fraternal birth order and male homosexuality.

Oh, and I forgot mentioning in my previous post that not only Ron Lagevin did not find a correlation between homosexual orientation and the number of older brothers, but also Karine Côté couldn't find anything similar in "Birth Order, Birth Interval, and Deviant Sexual Preferences Among Sex Offenders".


Karine Côté looked at pedophilia and birth interval in this study, not homosexuality as you imply. And even if a small study like this had found no association between homosexuality and birth order it would not seriously challenge the status of the larger finding.

The finding between fraternal birth order and male homosexuality is strong. (and even found in extremely different cultures) You have failed to show it is not a reliable finding.

Jason Malloy said...

And it is worth mentioning that many pedophiles who molest boys either maintain a pattern of predominantly heterosexual arousal, or are exclusively attracted to children. Very few are also aroused by adult males, and thus cannot be conflated with run-of-the-mill homosexuals.


Please cite a study to support that "Very few [pedophiles] are also aroused by adult males".

Lalumiere et al. show that pedophiles, unlike heterosexuals and homosexuals, are on average physically aroused to some degree by stimuli of adults and children of both sexes. So your assertion is not true.


And remember that bisexuality is much more common amongst women than men, again defying the perception that homo/bisexuality are just less threatening paraphilias.


I didn't say homosexuality was a paraphilia, I said they appear to share some etiology (both biological and social), which is not the same thing. This is evidenced by the linear increase in paraphilic as well as homosexual desire/behavior associated with fraternal birth order (FBO) and non-righthandedness (NRH). Both groups also experience more sexual abuse as children.

Jason Malloy said...

My comment above also should have read:

"This is incorrect. A meta-analysis of studies (N = 10,143) showed that male homosexuality certainly is related to fraternal birth order."

Rafinha said...

"'The finding of greater violence in homosexual homes' was referring to Inductivist's finding in this very post. That is, the homes homosexuals grow up in, not form themselves as adults."
Fine, but you shouldn't have referred to such families as "homosexual homes", since people most frequently understand it to mean homes led by homosexual couples.
-------------

"And a re-analysis of Langevin's dataset found a significant relationship between fraternal birth order and male homosexuality."
Blanchard's re-analysis has also been re-analyzed: http://lib.bioinfo.pl/pmid:17345162
-------------

"Karine Côté looked at pedophilia and birth interval in this study, not homosexuality as you imply."
Read the study a little more carefully. The abstract reads:

"Birth order and birth interval were not associated with pedophilic interests or gender preferences."

In text of the article, that is further repeated:

"We finally computed
several indices of gender sexual preferences using the visual stimulus set and the
audio stimulus set assessing interest in sexual and violent activities with children.
None of the gender preference indices was significantly related to the number of
older brothers."


I presume Karine Côté looked at gender preferences amongst pedophiles.
-------------

"And even if a small study like this had found no association between homosexuality and birth order it would not seriously challenge the status of the larger finding."
The study included 168 sex-offenders. Some studies which do support some correlation between unusual sex interests and number of older brothers have included equal or smaller numbers os sex offenders. Lalumière (1998) studied 78 offenders, Bogaert (1997) studied 170, and the first part of Blanchard (2000) analyzed 190.

And it should not be missed that sometimes even studies which generally support the conclusion of other studies might contradict them in some very significant details.

For example, Bogaert (1997) found that pedophiles who molested boys exclusively (the so-called homosexual pedophiles) or not ("bisexual pedophiles") had an equal ratio of full or maternal older brother vs. younger brother, and both groups had significantly more older brothers than "heterosexual pedophiles." Bogaert considered the similar numbers of older brothers amongst homosexual and bisexual pedophiles to be evidence of Freund's discovery that those groups tend to differentiate male and female children less significantly than heterosexual pedophiles.

However, in Blanchard (2000), only the "homosexual pedophiles" reported higher number of older brothers. The "bisexual pedophiles" had smaller average number of older brothers than heterosexual pedophiles -- and as a matter of fact, their average number of older brothers was just equal to the number of older brothers amongst the sample of non-offending control men, which Blanchard premused were all heterosexuals.
-------------

"Lalumiere et al. show that pedophiles, unlike heterosexuals and homosexuals, are on average physically aroused to some degree by stimuli of adults and children of both sexes. So your assertion is not true."
I don't dispute his findings, but I insist what I said is not incorrect, since there are studies which support my contention.

Which leads me to your next question:

"Please cite a study to support that 'Very few [pedophiles] are also aroused by adult males'."

Frenzel (1989). IDENTIFYING SEXUAL PREFERENCES IN INTRAFAMILIAL AND EXTRAFAMILIAL CHILD SEXUAL ABUSERS, found that the phallometric responses of extrafamilial homosexual pedophiles to adult male stimuli were not significantly higher than to neutral (non-sexual) stimuli:

They also wrote:
"The homosexual extrafamilial group showed largest responses to boys 13-15 years old. This group, not to be confused with androphfles, prefer pubertal boys and may find the prospect of contact with an adult male aversive."

The responses by heterosexual extra- or intra-familial offenders to adult males were even smaller.

Seto (2000) The Discriminative Validity of a Phallometric Test for Pedophilic Interests
Among Adolescent Sex Offenders Against Children, and Seto (2001) A Brief Screening Scale to Identify Pedophilic Interests Among Child Molesters also found that homosexual and bisexual pedophiles' average reactions to adult males aren't significantly different from neutral stimuli. And anyway, the adult male category was the second less arousing for such groups, being more arousing only than non-sexual stimuli. The latter study analyzed more than a thousand child molesters.

Kurt Freund (1975) Heterosexual Interest in Homosexual Males compared three different groups of homosexual men: run-of-the-mill homosexuals ("gay men"), homosexual ephebophiles and homosexual pedophiles. He concluded that homosexual pedophiles could hardly be oriented by therapy to succesfully limit their sexual practices to willing adult male (or female) partners because they didn't significantly react to adults of either sex (however, it should be mentioned that Freund's samples were very small).
-------------

"didn't say homosexuality was a paraphilia"
Okay, but your words did give some indication to the contrary. You wrote:
all paraphilias probably share some common biological factors with homosexuality, which would explain why it shows up so much more in males than in females, like every other paraphilia

You wrote about "homosexuality...[and] every other paraphilia", thus giving the impression you considered homosexuality a paraphilia.

Anyway, I thank you for the sources offered in the posts. I was not familiar with some of the sources referred, such as the meta-analysis performed by Blanchard involving more than 10,000 individuals, which forces me to review some concepts. But at least for criminal samples, the evidence concerning etiological correlates of homosexuality and other unusual sexual interests is less obvious, perhaps because such samples tend to be smaller than non-criminal ones and thus being more likely to produce conflicting and ambiguous results.

For example, handedness. Cantor (2005) found that pedophilic subjects did have higher rates of left-handedness than non-pedophilic, while such was not true about androphilic offenders, who actually had lower rates of left-handedness and gynephilic ones.

While at least the older brother effect and the handedness rates might indicate a common etiologies shared between homosexualy and paraphilias. Neurodevelopmental abnormalities, on the other hand, apparently also separate homosexuality from paraphilias, as evidenced by intelligence measurement evidence. Still other findings might indicate on the other hand that heterosexuality, but not homosexuality, shares common etiology with paraphilias, for example, the fact that heterosexuals and pedophiles (amongst other paraphiliacs) are not feminized and don't tend to display cross-gender interests in childhood, while homosexuals are undeniably more feminized and often report feminine interests when children. The age of onset of puberty (thought to be linked to a more feminine hormonal activity pattern) also separates male homosexuality from male heterosexuality and pedophilia, etc...

One last word on this:
"Both groups also experience more sexual abuse as children."
I've seen no compelling evidence that can't be discounted on small sample effects. Freund compared androphiles and gynephiles to heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles on sex abuse frequency, and noticed that the two former were less likely to be abused than the latter, and androphiles were not more likely to be abused than gynephiles (however, Freund's samples were also probably small).

Rafinha said...

I've seen one study (which I can look for later) which showed most (about 69%) of homosexuals molested as children already perceived themselves as homosexual prior to the molestation. That means that sexual abuse might not be a cause for (male) homosexuality, but instead the male "homosexual" child possesses traits that might make him more vulnerable to sexual molestation or unwanted advances than most of other male children.

I would list passivity and smaller degree of aggressivity, as well as more visible effeminacy, to be factors that predispose homosexual children to all sorts of abused. It seems that sexual abuse is also more frequent amongst heterosexual rapists and wife-beaters, but since those groups do not manifest those same charecteristics of homosexual men (namely, lack of assertiveness), other dynamics of sexual abuse and its effects must be looked for.