All Women Are Attracted To Other Women, New Study Says

Photographed By Alexandra Gavillet.
If you are a woman who happens to call yourself straight, there's a researcher who says you're lying. Gerulf Rieger, PhD, is basing this assertion on a study he published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In the study, 345 women who identified as either straight or lesbian were shown erotic videos of women and men. Researchers then measured the women's genital arousal and pupil dilation — two signs of sexual response — and concluded that "women are, on average, physiologically sexually aroused to both male and female sexual stimuli." They added that "lesbians are the exception because they tend to be more aroused to their preferred sex than the other sex."

Nothing earth-shattering here, but the lack of nuance in Dr. Rieger's interpretation has us cringing: "Even though the majority of women identify as straight, our research clearly demonstrates that when it comes to their physiological sexual arousal, they are either bisexual or gay but never straight," he wrote.

Listen: "Straightness" is about not only the people who, when naked, make your pupils dilate in a laboratory. It's also about the people you want to actually date and sleep with and everything in between — and declaring that straight women don't exist ignores women's right to self-identify however they choose.

Plus, feeling turned on by something or someone doesn't necessarily mean we want to act on those feelings. According to Autostraddle's Ultimate Lesbian Sex Survery, 41% of lesbians and 32% of queer people watch straight porn, which in no way indicates they're also inviting opposite-sex partners to bed. Nor does sexual response itself translate cleanly to attraction, as Dr. Reiger himself acknowledged to Mic when he ceded that self-lubrication may occur in women as a form of protection from sexual assault, not just as an expression of arousal.

Especially given the controversial nature of research on female sexuality, let's leave the selection of labels — whether "straight," "lesbian," "bi," or something else entirely — up to women themselves.
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