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Friday, June 13, 2008

Hmm- Are All Women A little Bit "Bi"?


This is the question asked in a Salon.com article about women's sexuality. http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2008/06/12/bisexuality/index.html?source=refresh The answer they seem to come up with is "yes". I think they were asking the wrong question, personally. I think the better question is, Are all people a little bit bi?"


Yes, they are, and is that really breaking news? I mean, how long has the whole "continuum" model of sexuality been around? Oh, yeah, that's right- since Kinsey in the 1940's. Silly me- that's just too recent for most people to have heard of, especially sex researchers, right?


Apparently, that's the case, because according to the article, researchers are still doing experiments designed to test whether or not "straight identified" people will respond to same-sex stimuli sexually. Why would this be, you ask? Here is my humble opinion.


First, let's back up to what the article says.



"Why are women so turned on by watching other women?" asks a doctor in a story on women and bisexuality in the New York Times. The
story, pegged to the screening of a new documentary called "Bi the Way,"
explores the idea that women's sexuality is more fluid than men's -- something
that most of us understand anecdotally, whether from pop-culture reports of
dalliances between Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson or from simply logging a
little time in college dorms.

Now, maybe I've been living under the same rock as the behind-the-times sex researchers I just took a swipe at, but I've never seen anything that would make me believe that "women's sexuality is more fluid than men's" except maybe for the proliferation of porn that purports to show lesbian sex, but that obviously is created by men for men, so that doesn't really count. Actually, from where I sit, lesbians are about the most invisible segment of our population, sexually. Quick quiz- when I say "homosexual", do you think two men, or two women? If you answered "men", you are probably in the majority. Lesbians make nice fodder for men's sexual fantasies (I think that's what fuels the old "women's dorm" trope above- I've never seen tons of hot lesbian action in dorms, and I've lived in/ been around several of 'em), but when it comes to, you know, actual lesbians having actual sex, society pretty much closes their eyes and turns the other way. And bisexual people in general are given short shrift, so I'm sorry to report that both in my personal experience, and in the larger media, I just don't see much out there about bisexual women.


The article goes on to say:



What's key to cranking hetero females' dials is sensuality -- images of
masturbation, of couples having sex, regardless of their gender. And yet, when
one researcher asked subjects to rate their arousal to watching certain videos,
both gay and straight women rated videos of other women highest. One doctor
suggests that there "may greater potential for bisexuality in women than in
men."
What I think is different is the fact that women are willing to talk more openly about sex/sexuality. Women are allowed to sit around and talk about what turns them on with their friends. Women are encouraged to scrutinize their own bodies and other women's bodies, and to see them as sexual objects. Women are encouraged to have tight bonds with other women- we even call it having "girlfriends"- bonds that may cross the border into the sexual, or may at least appear to do so. We also trivialize lesbian sexuality, making it less of a "deal" if a woman admits to sexual experimentation with other women, because lesbian sex is often seen as not "counting", especially if it is not penetrative.


Society, for the most part, allows men very little wiggle room on sex. They are supposed to want it all the time! They are supposed to be totally, 100% het! And aside from "conquest stories" or dirty jokes or talk on a sex chat line, men aren't supposed to talk about sex, and they especially can't seem to be too interested in it from an emotional standpoint. Wham, bam, thank you ma'm is the order of the day. So, if men are straight-identifying, but experimenting with homosexuality, they aren't likely to talk about it. If men find other men attractive, they aren't likely to bring that up in a conversation with their friends. I doubt they would even respond honestly in situations like the research cited above. And since men are encouraged to have "buddies", not "boyfriends", even things that could be taken as homosuggestive- naked locker room bulshit sessions, sports with lots of physical contact- all get framed in very masculine terms that leave little room to interpret these relationships as sexual. I bet that makes it seem a whole lot like men are less "fluid" in their sexuality.


Frankly, I think people don't really want to rock the male hetronormative sexuality boat, so they spend a whole lot of time looking at female fluidity of sexuality , and not much time looking at male fluidity of sexuality . It's a lot more fun to prop up popular stereotypes that are safe and fun, but seem to be a little transgressive, then to push at the monolith of male sexual privelege. I doubt lots of straight-identifying females are going to freak out after reading this article, or seeing the mentioned documentary, and attack the person(s) responsible just to prove once and for all that they "ain't no fag". A documnetary about all men secretly being a little bi? Oh, yeah. I could see all sorts of bad things befalling the person brave enough to put something like that out.


Besides, I bet the guys who watch the documentary on female bisexuality will get all hot watching scenes of "lesbo" action!


Isn't that the point?


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