by Maralyn Lois Polak
I wake up one morning and learn — according to another so-called “scientific study” emerging from California, the land of fruit and nuts — that I have “Lesbian Fingers.”
So what did I do? Crawled back into bed, natch! Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with making major lifestyle changes first thing in the morning, you know? Before breakfast? All this time I thought, you should pardon the expression, I liked men. Silly me.
Well, I wasn’t really ready to get into snuggling, Ellen, warm fuzzies, cat dynasties, hugging, softball or whatever sport collects dykes, Birkenstocks, hairy legs unless one’s a “lipstick lesbian,” the Michigan Women’s Festival, the color purple in all its shades and permutations, PC politics, cocooning, recruiting for sisterhood, acoustic folk music, earth mothers, butch-and-femme role-playing, Gaia worship, potholder coats, no-smoking-no-drinking-no-meat, bunny slippers, Vanessa Redgrave and those actresses — you know their names — and the rest of it. Not quite yet. And I like my present haircut just fine.
Clearly, change does not come easy to me.
Then I quickly called up my friend “Starinda,” a blonde and glamorous, strong and outspoken — OK, bossy — presumably heterosexual medical professional. She, it turned out, also, had lesbian fingers. Despite the fact she’s married to “Rick.” He’s her third or fourth husband; I lose track. “I have those fingers,” she says, “but I can’t imagine becoming a lesbian. Men drive me wild.”
No, she wasn't too thrilled, either. Except, she wondered hopefully, “Wasn't Eleanor Roosevelt a lesbian?”
Part-time, I think it was, while her beloved Franklin canoodled with her social secretary or his driver, or was that Eisenhower? I get other people’s lovers confused, let alone my own.
“Lesbian fingers,” my fond friend Monty-the-food-fancier cracks, “is that anything like chicken fingers?”
“Or lady fingers?” quips my Manhattan adman buddy Lorenzo, who reminds me,” Palmistry has been doing that for eons, measuring various parts of the hand — to discern character.”
And what of the dozens of AOL men I’ve encountered who insist they are "a lesbian trapped in a man’s body?” Will we soon see a study for that? Where will this end? As a little girl, I always secretly suspected my own mother was a lesbian, because she put her hand affectionately on my shoulder. Back then I didn’t know affection between women, or men, wasn’t necessarily the sign of something dire.
And didn’t we go through this already with Freud? When I was a teenager, I recall reading what Siggie said about women’s locus of pleasure: If their clitoral orgasms don’t convert into vaginal orgasms, he warned, they were in danger of becoming fixated in lesbian mode.
That was a scary “is it soup yet” kind of prediction I, for one, ignored.
At 23 I married the most handsome man on the planet. He was a boy. I was a girl. For a time, it actually worked. Or so we thought. Until it didn’t any more, and we split. Then a different girl came along … for him.
Now researchers from the University of California at Berkeley — that fount of wisdom and discovery — would like us to believe that finger length can forecast variations in human sexuality.
Yup, finger length and sexual orientation.
This seems on an equally ridiculous par with all those drunken barroom whispers — “Hey, look at his feet. Hey, look at his nose” — predicting how physically well-endowed a man could be.
Me, I’d covertly check out men’s cigars, which were an inevitably inversely proportionate clue to his man-part endowment. And, as we all know, a preponderance of women with naturally large breasts are Mensa members. I challenge any scientist out there to defy me on these points. The Berkeley bunch bases their truly ground-breaking study — erroneously enough — upon what has been referred to as a known human anatomical quirk: Usually, men’s index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers, while in women, those two fingers tend to be about the same length.
Which could simply be evidence of nothing more than that classic logical fallacy — post hoc, ergo propter hoc — after this, therefore because of this.
If this study isn't junk science, I don’t know what is.
For those hiding under a rock, “lesbian fingers” have even been discussed in the British journal “Nature,” where we learn that Berkeley scientists surveyed 720 adults at three San Francisco street festivals, asking them their sexual orientation, and measuring their fingers.
Blame Mark Breedlove — yes, that’s his real name — the Berkeley psychology prof in charge of this misadventure. “Lesbian fingers,” in case you are checking, show a shorter index finger, closer to the typical male configuration. Researchers attributed this to lesbians’ higher levels of male sex hormones in early life. Obviously they are pushing the theory that exposure to higher levels of male sex hormones in the womb can help makeperson lesbian or gay. Breedlove concluded, however, factors other than fetal hormones contribute to sexual orientation.
To my mind, all this provides evidence of is that yet another asinine study has been done.
And wait — isn’t nearly everyone in San Francisco gay? I mean, how ’bout a broader national or regional sampling, with additional correlations for ethnic diversity?
Meanwhile, Breedlove contends, some homosexual men are “hyper-masculine” — more sex partners, more male hormones, larger genitals. But that’s disputed — hooray! — by another scientist who labels men “the non-discriminating sex”!
This other scientist swears straight men would have more sex partners
if women would let them.
Well, that fits in with Edmund White positing, I think, in “States of Desire” that homosexual men’s hedonistic pursuit of uncomplicated, no-strings sex is the envy of their hetero brothers, doesn’t it?
Apparently, this is the latest in finger research, a recent and burgeoning field. Using the ratio of the lengths of the index and ring fingers, scientists have been exploring associations relating to depression, musical talent, left-handedness, fertility, and other essential issues like soccer skills.
Stop it, I say. Stop this right now. Wherever they get their money, I hope their source of funding dries up this very instant — and, yes, I am stamping my feet. This isn’t a tantrum, this is … emphasis.
“Lesbian hands! This study made straight women very nervous,” gleefully reports Meg, a Philadelphia psychotherapist. “They all laughed and joked while I took a random sampling of the women passing through my office. Yes it is hilarious and from my minor study, TRUE!!! Mysample of 6 validated it!!!!!!!”
Oh, it’s always your hands that give you away. I’ll sit on mine as much as possible. Or, just in case people get any ideas, I plan to wear gloves as far into the summer as I can stand it.
Science is NOT infallible, you know. If you can call THAT science.
(C) Copyright 2017 MLPolak
A Note About the Author: Perpetual Jersey Girl Maralyn Lois Polak misses her dearly departed cat Hobey and hopes Science will study Interspecies Longing before too much more time elapses.