"Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

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"Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Arisu » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:24 pm UTC

Researchers at the Boise state university conducted a study into the sexuality of women.
Their result was as the title implies: most women are bisexual, they also found that women became less certain of their sexuality as they aged.

full article:
Spoiler:
Researchers at the Boise State University have found that most women are bisexual by nature. Also, they discovered that these bisexual feelings increase with age. During this study, 484 heterosexual women were surveyed. 60 percent of them said to be sexually attracted to other women, 45 percent had already kissed with a woman en about half of the participants had fantasized about it.

Professor in Psychology Elizabeth Morgan says that heterosexual women often feel more than ‘just’ friendship for their girlfriends. Previous research did show that 20 percent of women are attracted to other women. This could explain why women tend to have a more physical relationship with each other than men have. Several experts mention that women’s friendships are hardly different from romantic friendships. Morgan: “Women are encouraged to bond emotionally. This could lead to the development of romantic feelings.”

On the other hand, women who, at a younger age, believe to be exclusively attracted to women, tend to change their minds too. For a period of 15 years, psychologist Lisa Diamond followed a group of women who first said to be attracted to the same sex. Her data shows how their sexuality develops over time. At the end of the study she asked them to identify their sexual orientation again, giving them the options ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’, ‘heterosexual’ or ‘indeterminate.’

Suprisingly, Diamond discovered that every woman had repeatedly changed her sexual orientation. “The older women get, the more often they define their sexuality as ‘indeterminate’. They feel that their sexuality can’t be confined. We generally think of getting older as becoming more sure of who we are and what we want. In this case, the opposite seems to be true.”


Can't link there as I don't have the required amount of posts yet, but I'm sure you all know how to use google :)
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Jessica » Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:57 pm UTC

The actual published article.

Spoiler:
Abstract from the article above wrote:Processes of sexual orientation questioning among heterosexual women.
Morgan EM, Thompson EM.
Source

Department of Psychology, Boise State University, 1910 UniversityDr., Boise, ID 83725-1715, USA. emorgan@boisestate.edu
Abstract

Because very little is known about heterosexual identity development, this study assesses and describes sexual orientation questioning processes of heterosexual-identified women and offers a comparison of these processes with those employed by their sexual-minority counterparts. Participants included 333 female college students (ages 18-23; M = 19.2): 228 participants primarily identified as "exclusively straight/heterosexual," and 105 participants indicated a sexual-minority identity. Sixty-seven percent of exclusively heterosexual respondents (n = 154) indicated having thought about or questioned their sexual orientation. The processes by which heterosexual participants described questioning their sexual orientation were coded for the presence of five emergent categories using an inductive thematic coding methodology. These five categories included unelaborated questioning (19%), other-sex experiences (16%), exposure to sexual minorities (26%), assessment of same-sex attraction (48%), and evaluations of same-sex behavior (26%). Several unifying and differentiating themes emerged between sexual orientation groups. Results from this study suggest that contemporary young women's heterosexuality is not necessarily an unexamined identity; indeed, the large majority of young women in this sample were deliberately identifying as heterosexual after contemplating alternative possibilities.

PMID:
19941193
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Problems with your version: The use of the word "natural". The application of a label to women who do not identify with it. The article you link makes jumps that the abstract does not make. The abstract in fact says that heterosexual women today generally don't assume they are heterosexual, and many choose that definition after thinking about it. Nothing talks about what is natural. Naturalism is a fallacy, and in this instance is very misleading.

The fact that it doesn't look at men is also a problem. The sample size is a problem, as is where they got their sample population (Participants included 333 female college students (ages 18-23; M = 19.2)).

This is a poorly created article about a study which doesn't have the implications the article states.

There are other cultural problems with this, but those are just a few to start.

Edit to put the text of the abstract (what I could see of the scientific paper) in the post.
Last edited by Jessica on Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:04 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Arisu » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:09 pm UTC

I agree with the problems you state, I only used the world natural as the article I found used it in its title, though I guess I should have been more careful, sorry if that caused any offense!
I guess I should have been more careful with choosing the article I linked to. I tried finding the actual scientific article but don't have the first clue as how to find the original sources and kind of screwed up badly.

That they did not reproduce this study with men also is regrettable, but does that invalidate the findings? (I honestly don't know and am curious)
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Dauric » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:18 pm UTC

Arisu wrote:I agree with the problems you state, I only used the world natural as the article I found used it in its title, though I guess I should have been more careful, sorry if that caused any offense!
I guess I should have been more careful with choosing the article I linked to. I tried finding the actual scientific article but don't have the first clue as how to find the original sources and kind of screwed up badly.

That they did not reproduce this study with men also is regrettable, but does that invalidate the findings? (I honestly don't know and am curious)


it may not invalidate the findings (though there's enough else wrong with it that they may be invalidated anyways), but it fails to actually say anything comparative between men and women. The implication that women have more or less ... searching for the right word through a haze of stress and fatigue* so forgive if I choose badly... 'propensity' towards non-heterosexual interaction can't be evaluated because the study doesn't have anything to compare that "more" to. More tendency vs. men? More tendency Vs. flying wombats? More tendency Vs. Post-Singularity AI programs?

It's a data set, but we can't really 'say' anything about the data set other than to note that it's a data set because there's nothing to compare it to.

(*House purchase closing was supposed to be today, may be Monday or Tuesday..)
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Belial » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:20 pm UTC

Arisu wrote:That they did not reproduce this study with men also is regrettable, but does that invalidate the findings? (I honestly don't know and am curious)


It doesn't invalidate them, but it does make them almost impossible to talk about in public without misrepresenting them. Because almost any time you say "science found that women [psychological trait]" it will be understood as an unspoken fact that that is in comparison to men. Which is not at all what happened here.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:20 pm UTC

I think you're supposed to compare it to your expectations.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Dauric » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:28 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I think you're supposed to compare it to your expectations.


The thing is "expectations" are generally not an equivalent data set, so you've got a type mismatch there. Like Belial said (who put it much better than I) there's issues of 'unspoken/unwritten context' when you put this data out for general consumption.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby RollingHead » Fri Oct 21, 2011 5:53 pm UTC

Out of curiosity, what was the aim of the study?
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Jessica » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:09 pm UTC

I posted the abstract for those who can't see the link. From my reading, it seems they wanted to know how people come to understand their heterosexual identity today, at least in women. I don't think they were trying to show that bisexuality was more prevalent, but I can't read the actual article. I think they just wanted to know how current understanding of homosexuality would change how people created their heterosexual identity.

I wasn't offended, so don't worry. I just... articles like this are like sirens and warning bells going off in my head. It's one of those "Oh great, more so called evidence for the 'all women are bi' meme that a lot of people I know believe". It's something I don't believe, and have other views regarding queer theory, but when I see things like this, I know people will take it and probably go far.

I found the link from this page which looked like the link you were using. I might be wrong though.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Dauric » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:28 pm UTC

RollingHead wrote:Out of curiosity, what was the aim of the study?

<cynical snark>
To ask a bunch of women questions to gauge how likely they were to engage in bisexual encounters with the resulting data becoming fodder for some guy's masturbation fantasies.
</cynical snark>
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby RollingHead » Fri Oct 21, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:To ask a bunch of women questions to gauge how likely they were to engage in bisexual encounters with the resulting data becoming fodder for some guy's masturbation fantasies.

Makes slightly more sense than "trolling" :D
Seriously, if (as has been already pointed out) this data isn't being compared to anything, the whole study seems quite pointless.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Arrian » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:09 pm UTC

Arisu wrote: I tried finding the actual scientific article but don't have the first clue as how to find the original sources and kind of screwed up badly.


scholar.google.com is your friend, it often has a link to a free .pdf version of the paper. Unfortunately that isn't the case for this paper, but we do find a reference to another paper by E.M. Morgan that studies basically the same thing in men and women, finding men think about it more, women try it more:

The majority of participants described identity commitment with passive exploration, with more men in this category than women. A significant subset of participants described identity commitment with active exploration, with more women in this category than men. Smaller numbers of participants described active exploration without commitment, unexplored commitment, and identity diffusion. More women were in the active exploration without commitment status than men; no gender differences emerged in the other two statuses.


(See your usual caveats about small sample sizes and selection biases, etc.)

Another good place to find academic papers is from the authors' websites. (Not sure on the second author. Her institution isn't mentioned in another paper the two authored. I think, but names don't get much more confusing than "Elisabeth Morgan Thompson" and "Elizabeth M. Morgan," especially when they both use their first two initials instead of names.) They often post unpublished working versions of their papers which range in quality from "early rough draft" to "basically what got published." That, unfortunately, isn't the case for this paper, either.

So I struck out on the original but found some related info. Next time you've got a better idea of how to search for an academic paper.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Arisu » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:31 pm UTC

Arrian wrote:scholar.google.com is your friend, it often has a link to a free .pdf version of the paper. Unfortunately that isn't the case for this paper, but we do find a reference to another paper by E.M. Morgan that studies basically the same thing in men and women, finding men think about it more, women try it more:


Bookmarked, thanks a lot.

Jessica wrote:I wasn't offended, so don't worry. I just... articles like this are like sirens and warning bells going off in my head. It's one of those "Oh great, more so called evidence for the 'all women are bi' meme that a lot of people I know believe". It's something I don't believe, and have other views regarding queer theory, but when I see things like this, I know people will take it and probably go far.


Never heard of that one before, I was always taught that homo & bi-sexuality were rather rare (as in less than 10%) so I was rather surprised at the conclusion. Well, I guess the more you know...
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:36 pm UTC

I wasn't aware of that bizarre point of view either. My knowledge was that homosexuality and bisexuality appeared in about 3% of humans (although I'd hear exaggerated figures of 10%)
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby mmmcannibalism » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:41 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I wasn't aware of that bizarre point of view either. My knowledge was that homosexuality and bisexuality appeared in about 3% of humans (although I'd hear exaggerated figures of 10%)


I thought the cultural notion was actually that women are generally less heterosexual?
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:42 pm UTC

Oh, well, if you're talking about cultural notions then I probably have no place in saying anything at all ever.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Dauric » Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:47 pm UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:I wasn't aware of that bizarre point of view either. My knowledge was that homosexuality and bisexuality appeared in about 3% of humans (although I'd hear exaggerated figures of 10%)


I thought the cultural notion was actually that women are generally less heterosexual?


Well that's the thing from the second post onward, the data this study collected does nothing to support or refute that notion, it's just titillating that such a study was taken at all, and if the people in the lab coats bothered to study it there must be something to it...

... or y'know -not-, as we've pointed out in this thread.

As far as the percentages of overall population with non-heterosexual leanings I'd read somewhere that the statistics vary between 2% and 10% largely depending on which special interest group paid for the study, but the most reputable ones were in the 3% to 5% range.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Qaanol » Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:32 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I probably have no place in saying anything at all ever.

Quoted for posterity.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:52 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:I probably have no place in saying anything at all ever.

Quoted for posterity.

Come on, context. That's just cruel.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby omgryebread » Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:04 am UTC

mmmcannibalism wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:I wasn't aware of that bizarre point of view either. My knowledge was that homosexuality and bisexuality appeared in about 3% of humans (although I'd hear exaggerated figures of 10%)


I thought the cultural notion was actually that women are generally less heterosexual?
I've always viewed (and thought that the general view) was that there is a larger range of "acceptable" behaviors for heterosexual women. As in limited sexual contact with other girls is normal behavior for heterosexual women. I've made out with, and have had limited sexual contact with girls who do not consider themselves at all attracted to females. Almost all of it in the presence of males.

I have trouble even defining that as homosexual behavior, since the intent was to arouse and attract the dudes. Some were even uncomfortable to perform with me and only made out with other girls who considered themselves fully heterosexual.

(I don't really want to use the words "men" and "women" here, since this was high school and very early college stuff. Boys and girls just feels more accurate.)
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:07 am UTC

I went to an arts high school. When somebody kissed somebody of the same sex there, they meant it.

Honestly, I find your story kind of disturbing, if only because I have a hard time envision people my age behaving like that.

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I know what you mean. I am often baffled by how much inanity the average teenager is willing to put up with in a partner.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Argency » Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:11 am UTC

Well, yeah, that said I was pretty sleepy when I posted that. After accusing everyone in the thread of hot cognition I went back and reread it all and almost immediately decided I was jumping to conclusions. If it hadn't been for you meddling kids being so quick on the reply I'd have gotten away with deleting it!
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby buddy431 » Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:16 am UTC

The populations that they're comparing are women who self-identify as heterosexual vs. women who self-identify as a sexual minority. It says that in the first sentence of the abstract. Where's all this stuff about comparing to men coming from?
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:31 am UTC

People are arguing that there should be a study comparing this to men because otherwise the data set supposedly isn't useful.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby omgryebread » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:05 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:I went to an arts high school. When somebody kissed somebody of the same sex there, they meant it.

Honestly, I find your story kind of disturbing, if only because I have a hard time envision people my age behaving like that.
I don't think sexual contact between heterosexual females is that uncommon. I'll admit my high school experience wasn't typical (though it's sadly not incredibly uncommon), and certainly not healthy.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:49 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:I went to an arts high school. When somebody kissed somebody of the same sex there, they meant it.

Honestly, I find your story kind of disturbing, if only because I have a hard time envision people my age behaving like that.
I don't think sexual contact between heterosexual females is that uncommon. I'll admit my high school experience wasn't typical (though it's sadly not incredibly uncommon), and certainly not healthy.


It's not the action, it's the intent combined with the action that worries me.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby netcrusher88 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:13 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:The abstract in fact says that heterosexual women today generally don't assume they are heterosexual, and many choose that definition after thinking about it.

This is the exact sum total of what can be taken away. Nothing more or less.

You can build on it but "bisexuality is natural for women" is a bullshit thing to draw from it, based on the assumption that undefined - or more to the point undetermined - sexuality means bisexual. Hell, by that assumption bisexuality is "natural" for everyone.

There are two facets to sexuality: one is a (roughly) innate trait and one is sort of a personality construct. It's this duality that queer people refer to when we talk about "discovering" sexuality or identity. There is a biological component which is there, and which at some point becomes integrated into one's sense of self and personality. The default state of sexual identity - the "natural" state - is tablua rasa.

So, study says: women generally consider sexuality. They determine it through introspection.

I'm not sure I agree the study is flawed for not including men - I think it's incomplete and it would have been better with crosstabs for comparison.

I can say, though, that isn't true of men. Pretty much all men, around the age of majority, assume they are heterosexual or know they are not and have a specific reason for that. Nothing innate about that, though, that's all social influences. It's acceptable for women to be unsure, or fluid, or experiment, or generally not straight. It's not really acceptable (in the context of American society at least) for men. I'd expect as that changes so will the other.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby omgryebread » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:20 pm UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:I can say, though, that isn't true of men. Pretty much all men, around the age of majority, assume they are heterosexual or know they are not and have a specific reason for that. Nothing innate about that, though, that's all social influences. It's acceptable for women to be unsure, or fluid, or experiment, or generally not straight. It's not really acceptable (in the context of American society at least) for men. I'd expect as that changes so will the other.
I really haven't seen that. It's acceptable for women to act in a different way then men regarding sexual contact with others of the same sex. I think that's quite different from acceptance of women actually being not straight. Anecdotally, (did I make that word up?) it seems people are more readily able to accept a gay man, while still somewhat assuming that a lesbian secretly wants dick.

sourmìlk wrote:It's not the action, it's the intent combined with the action that worries me.
Yeah. I have no problems with teenagers and sex. When the entire social scene involving that is pretty much a hypersexual contest to please dudes the most, it gets creepy.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby netcrusher88 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:33 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:I can say, though, that isn't true of men. Pretty much all men, around the age of majority, assume they are heterosexual or know they are not and have a specific reason for that. Nothing innate about that, though, that's all social influences. It's acceptable for women to be unsure, or fluid, or experiment, or generally not straight. It's not really acceptable (in the context of American society at least) for men. I'd expect as that changes so will the other.
I really haven't seen that. It's acceptable for women to act in a different way then men regarding sexual contact with others of the same sex. I think that's quite different from acceptance of women actually being not straight. Anecdotally, (did I make that word up?) it seems people are more readily able to accept a gay man, while still somewhat assuming that a lesbian secretly wants dick.

Agreed. It's a weird thing to unravel - gay men are more readily accepted at some level than gay women, but women expressing attraction for each other is more tolerated than men doing the same.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby aoeu » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:56 pm UTC

netcrusher88 wrote:
omgryebread wrote:
netcrusher88 wrote:I can say, though, that isn't true of men. Pretty much all men, around the age of majority, assume they are heterosexual or know they are not and have a specific reason for that. Nothing innate about that, though, that's all social influences. It's acceptable for women to be unsure, or fluid, or experiment, or generally not straight. It's not really acceptable (in the context of American society at least) for men. I'd expect as that changes so will the other.
I really haven't seen that. It's acceptable for women to act in a different way then men regarding sexual contact with others of the same sex. I think that's quite different from acceptance of women actually being not straight. Anecdotally, (did I make that word up?) it seems people are more readily able to accept a gay man, while still somewhat assuming that a lesbian secretly wants dick.

Agreed. It's a weird thing to unravel - gay men are more readily accepted at some level than gay women, but women expressing attraction for each other is more tolerated than men doing the same.

Perhaps gay men are more accepted because discussing the matter is not tolerated.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby big boss » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:41 am UTC

aoeu wrote:Perhaps gay men are more accepted because discussing the matter is not tolerated.


From a strictly male point of view: perhaps gay men are more accepted, by the male half of the population at least, because its hard for a heterosexual male to imagine being attracted to another man (at least from my experience with talking to heterosexual males) and therefore straight men think it is easy for a homosexual man to be "certain" that he is gay. On the flip side, its easy for a heterosexual men to imagine a straight women being attracted to another women because, well, the man is attracted to women as well and its easier to imagine things you have an understanding of already.

I hope that makes some sense... In my mind it does at least.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:49 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:Yeah. I have no problems with teenagers and sex. When the entire social scene involving that is pretty much a hypersexual contest to please dudes the most, it gets creepy.

Teenagers and sex fundamentally creep me out because the idea of that is just alien and bizarre to me (I have had nothing approaching a love life). Mind you, I recognize intellectually that it's not wrong, but emotionally it's creepy.

Is that why people are discriminatory against homosexuals? Because they can't intellectually get past their emotional discomfort?
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby aleflamedyud » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:13 pm UTC

big boss wrote:
aoeu wrote:Perhaps gay men are more accepted because discussing the matter is not tolerated.


From a strictly male point of view: perhaps gay men are more accepted, by the male half of the population at least, because its hard for a heterosexual male to imagine being attracted to another man (at least from my experience with talking to heterosexual males) and therefore straight men think it is easy for a homosexual man to be "certain" that he is gay. On the flip side, its easy for a heterosexual men to imagine a straight women being attracted to another women because, well, the man is attracted to women as well and its easier to imagine things you have an understanding of already.

I hope that makes some sense... In my mind it does at least.

I object on grounds of David and Yonatan!

Well, ok, to elaborate, I object on grounds that "friendship", "romance", and "sexuality" are not as clearly delineated as we tend to think of them. Hell, even in our modern culture where deep, emotional male-male bonding is discouraged as "gay", we've managed to develop the slang term "bromance" to describe it. Should we be surprised that, with "female bromance" being socially encouraged, there's plenty of it?

Now admittedly, a deep emotional bond is one thing, and fantasizing about kissing someone is another, but the boundaries really aren't that black-and-white that we shouldn't have expected these results from this study, and something similar for males too.
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:28 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Is that why people are discriminatory against homosexuals? Because they can't intellectually get past their emotional discomfort?


These days, I'd suggest that religion is probably one of the most important aspects of it at this point. Or, if not religion, at least... cultural integration of religious values, let's say?
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Re: "Bisexuality is natural for woman" study finds

Postby Jessica » Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:34 pm UTC

Religious values, cultural values, emotional values derived from the previous two...
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