Outing Biology: Finding a Place for the Natural Sciences in Queer Discourses


  • Sarah Marlow University of Alberta




This paper critically responds to Stacy Alaimo’s “Eluding Capture: The Science, Culture and Pleasure of Queer Animals” (2010), from Queer Ecologies by Bruce Erickson and Catrina Mortimer-Sandilands. Here, I focus on how the author addresses the relationship between social sciences and natural sciences, how social structures impact the ways in which we understand and interpret scientific data, and how she suggests we embrace the concept of “Naturecultures” in order to move forward in recognizing that heteronormative accounts of life, while dominant, are not the only possible lenses through which nature and sex can/should be seen. I explore Alaimo’s arguments against various different accounts of “same-sex” sexual activity in nature, whilst also reiterating that she does not wish to use animal sex as a form of validation for the LGBTQ+ community, reducing its mere existance to that of biological essentialism and erasing any possible discussions of gender/sexual fluidity by doing so. Instead, she cleverly uses rhetoric regarding animal sex and their perceived sexuality to expose the intrinsic heteronormativity that permeates even the supposedly “empirical” biological sciences, whilst bringing forward what I perceive as a very valuable discussion regarding how social life influences biological life, as opposed to the other way around. 

Keywords: naturecultures, biopolitics, sexuality, queer