Monday, April 7, 2008

sexual fluidity---a controversial study that just makes sense

I just finished Sexual Fluidity, by Lisa Diamond over the weekend. I'd read about it in Publisher's Weekly and wished we'd acquired it. It's interesting timing, 'cause it was just reviewed in the Feminist Review This is a good thing cause I'm not really into reviewing books myself. Rather, I'm recommending this book to all Seal readers.

This study is fascinating to me because of the way it juxtaposes male sexuality and female sexuality and Diamond's claim that most female sexuality has been dismissed as too varied, and therefore a lot of the studies we have out there are based on males, because they're more reliably either heterosexual or homosexual. Women, on the other hand, according to Diamond's ten-year longitudinal study, tend to fluctuate in their attraction, and are more likely to vary in their sexual identity over the course of their lifetimes. Of course, Diamond's findings are controversial both for the Christian Right (fear that the claim that women's capacity to have emotional attractions that spill into physical intimacy means that all/many women are bisexual) and the GLBTQ community (too many "fake" lesbians are having sexual liaisons and undermining the legitimacy of lifelong lesbians). But no matter how you spin it, Diamond's findings are well thought out, thorough, and female positive. As a lesbian herself, she's not judgmental of the women she tracks. She's curious and openminded and astounded at the degree of nuance she finds among these women. My hope is that Diamond's book is read widely and that it sparks enough interest that it changes the way women's sexuality is studied, reported, and ultimately viewed by all sides.

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