Thursday, September 2, 2010

Because with chicks.. it's cool, ya know?

Read an interesting article in the Toronto Star today regarding a study on Late-Blooming Lesbians - that is to say, women who for most of their lives identified as either straight or mostly-straight, who later in life, enter into relationships with other women, sometimes leaving family behind. The study suggests that women's sexuality may be fluid rather than a static state of being. It suggest that women who 'come out' late in life may not have been repressing their sexual tendencies as many might assume, but that a woman's sexual preference can actually change over time.

This is not to say that it's a choice, but to put it simplistically - like, utterly, ridiculously simply - have you ever had a food that for years you had an aversion to, then one day you decide to try it and you like it? Tastes change.

This idea doesn't surprise me in the least. My own sporadic research into the subject, along with human anectdote has left me open to the idea of fluid sexuality for some time.

What surprised me about the article and the study is the seeming assumption that it is women that have this fluid sexuality and that men remain static.

Richard Lippa, a professor of psychology at California State University who has done a series of studies on sexual orientation, says most men are strongly attracted to one sex or the other —they have a preferred sex and an unpreferred sex.

But “there are more shades of grey to women’s attraction,” he says. Women, he says, tend to have a preferred sex and less preferred sex. Women are much more likely than men to report some degree of same-sex attraction.

I'd have to wonder how much of this binary is related to societal perception and acceptance of homoerotic behaviour in men as opposed to that in women. It seems a common occurence that over the last decade or two a women can engage in homosexual behaviour, call it 'experimentation' and still identify as straight.

However, on the flipside of that coin, the opinion expressed that any homosexual behaviour in men and societially speaking, they're gay, gay, ever so gay. Even in some cases of unconsensual (ie. jailhouse) sex, this is considered to be true. Men who 'come out' late in life are generally assumed to have been repressing their 'true' sexuality.

Taking a social constructionist view on things, I'd be interested to know if these researchers have considered prevailing social roles and conditioning as a factor in the perceived difference between the 'fluid' female spectrum of sexuality and the 'static' binary of male sexuality. Could it be that males report a distinct 'preferred' and 'unpreferred' gender because from the youngest of age, society discourages any sort of admission of homoerotic leanings, unless of course one is ready to 'go big or go home' and fully live up to the typical all-out gay stereo type? That, where women for the last couple decades at least have been allowed to express to certain extent at least a passing fascination with our sisters? Women have been allowed a middle-ground, where in males, this possibility of a middle-ground has all but been stomped to shit.

Something to ponder, anyway. Thoughts?

2 comments:

  1. As a male, I've only been attracted to females, and I foresee ONLY being attracted to females. I've never had any desire to the male of the species, and don't believe I ever will. Meanwhile, almost every woman I know has either experimented or just gone all-out with another female at least once, either in their youth or in their full-blown adulthood. This, of course, leads me to believe that women are a lot more free with their sexuality, and not all think it terms of black & white when it comes to it. "Bisexuality" doesn't seem to do it justice, so I rarely use that term to describe it. "Omnisexuality", perhaps, is more fitting.

    Oh, and societal moors have a huge impact on these things, especially as (the patriarchal) society has become and even actively encourages "girl on girl action." Thirty years ago, my female peers weren't nearly as open as females were in the 90s and the 00s. The internets, of course, have helped this along.

    Eventually, everyone will be screwing everyone, and breeders will have kids with Mariah Carey's complexion, and we'll all be better for it.

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  2. 1) I like the wording "I believe I never will"

    2) "Almost every woman" being a key phrase. :-P

    3) I'm not denying that women are a lot more 'free' with different expressions involving the same sex.. I take issue with the idea that this is inherently biological in nature. I think a lot more of it has to do with societal double-standards between male and female sexuality. You'd be amazed how deeply one can internalize pressure to conform to gender expectations, especially when they've been conditioned over generations.



    I remember reading an article (gawd, I wish I remember what it was called) that discussed the 'gay scene' in the earlier part of the 20th century, and how it wasn't so closeted as people would believe. The social construction of the 'closet' became more widespread as a man's sexual behaviour was more closely tied to his masculinity. Earlier in the century, masculity was tied more closely to mannerisms, dress, strength.. sexual behaviour was kind of an afterthought. It was more common (although not widely talked about.. but then again it wasn't proper to talk about one's sex life back in those days, no matter who you were doing) for men who identified as straight to engage in some activity with other men and still identify as a straight male. This is where the term 'Rough Trade' derives from.

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Engaging in discussion and/or general sucking up.. that's where it's at!