Sexual Fluidity, Images & Biology
Why are women more sexually fluid in the Western world today?
Here’s one theory from University of Utah professor, Lisa Diamond’s book, Sexual Fluidity.
First, let’s make a distinction between orientation and arousal:
- Orientation is stable and biologically-based
- Arousal depends more on society’s ideas of what’s sexy
And “what’s sexy” varies from culture to culture.
In parts of West Africa obesity is thought attractive. But 1960s Americans thought skinny was sexy. Later it was skinny but big boobs. And nowadays big boobs and big butts are both thought sexy. Before the turn of the last century erotic dancers were often plump and pear-shaped.
Who’s eroticized, men or women?
In ancient Greece the male body was celebrated in painting and sculpture. And male homosexuality was thought the highest form of sexual expression.
But in today’s world women are much more eroticized than men, with sexy women plastered all over magazines, billboards, TV and silver screens. Plus, we fetishize women’s breasts — and we are beginning to fetishize their butts, too. But we pretty much ignore men’s body parts. So our sexualized images are mostly feminine.
But a biological difference between men and women might also help explain women’s greater fluidity.
Sexual fluidity and sex drive patterns
Sex drive typically measures as constant and high for men.
So whether a man is gay or straight, his sex drive will keep him noticing sexy men or women (depending on his preference) pretty much constantly. Perhaps reinforcing his basic preference.
But women’s sex drive is higher at ovulation and lower at other times of the month.
One theory is that when sex drive is lower, it might only be sparked when something sexy pops up. And of course, women’s bodies are constantly eroticized and displayed, and more constantly popping up. Heightening it all, their body parts are fetishized via this process (as I’ve written about before):
- Selectively hide and reveal — creating sexual tension
- Declare a body part hugely sexy, and then demand, “Don’t look at it!” — creating sexual tension
- Obsess over the body part: The camera zeros in. People discuss it incessantly… Because it is deemed SO SEXY.
Et voilà, women’s arousal becomes more cultural and situational. More fluid.
Women may or may not want to actually have sex with women, but their bodies might be more responsive to female imagery. Or going further, the thought of a little woman-on-woman could seem down right hot.
But that’s not all. More on the tie between fluidity and emotional connection later.