Sexuality Research and Social Policy

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 95–98 | Cite as

Dangerous Politics and Sex Research: The Example of “Penis-gate 2011”



In summer 2011, a conservative lobby group released an inaccurate statement decrying the National Institutes for Health for allegedly funding four research studies the group deemed “bizarre.” Two of these studies explicitly involved sexuality research. This paper responds to the allegations around one of the studies and describes the subsequent media firestorm generated as a result of the lobby group’s report. This paper concludes by illustrating some of the dangers these types of allegations pose for science and researchers, and offers advice for how to navigate negative media attention.


National Institutes for Health Traditional Values Coalition Penis size Media Politics Funding 


  1. Berger, J. (2011). NIH-backed study examined effects of penis size in gay community. Accessed 6 Dec 2011
  2. Greenfieldboyce, N. (2011). ‘Shrimp on a treadmill’: the politics of ‘silly’ studies. Accessed 6 Dec 2011
  3. Moisse, K., & Conley, M. (2011). Study of gay men’s sexual health called waste of taxpayer money; study not government-funded. Accessed 6 Dec 2011.
  4. Russell, S. AIDS, sex scientists on federal list fear their research is in jeopardy, San Francisco Chronicle, p. A3. October 28, 2003.
  5. Traditional Values Coalition. (2011). NIH wastes millions on bizarre “research”. Accessed 6 Dec 2011

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brooklyn College and the Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkBrooklynUSA
  2. 2.The Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and TrainingNew YorkUSA

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