There were three types of erotic films: those featuring only men, those featuring only women and those featuring male and female couples. As with previous research, the researchers found that men responded consistent with their sexual orientations. In contrast, both homosexual and heterosexual women showed a bisexual pattern of psychological as well as genital arousal. That is, heterosexual women were just as sexually aroused by watching female stimuli as by watching male stimuli, even though they prefer having sex with men rather than women...
"Since most women seem capable of sexual arousal to both sexes, why do they choose one or the other?" Bailey asked. "Probably for reasons other than sexual arousal."
I would rephrase that: for reasons other than visual sexual arousal. One thing that bothers me about a lot of these sexological studies is that they generalize sexuality from one's response to video porn. Women may have a physical response to it, but the fact that in normal life a lot more men than women actually choose to watch it makes me wonder how significant that response is.
Two possible caveats come to mind here. For one thing, I think people of both sexes, even gay men, would agree that beautiful women are good to look at. (As some wags have observed, men's magazines are full of pictures of gorgeous women, and women's magazines are also full of pictures of gorgeous women.) But sex is a tactile thing, and in my own experience women, no matter how good looking, feel sisterly and unexciting when I actually touch them. That difference between sight and feel may well be greater for women, since other studies have indicated that men generally get more excited by visuals than women do.
The other thing I'm wondering here is how much of the excitement is from actually wanting the person in the video and how much is a kind of sympathetic reaction. When I'm watching a movie, I often have an autonomic sympathy with the characters: when they're frightened, my own heart starts to race, when someone gets hit I wince etc. I wonder if there are gender differences in this kind of general empathy, and if that might be affecting the results here.
Anyway, I don't have a strongly held theory about the origins of lesbianism, so for all I know the overall thesis may have some merit. But, being female and all, when I read about this study those thoughts were what sprang to my mind.Posted by Camassia at June 21, 2003 04:10 PM | TrackBack