Why Are More Women Having Same-Sex Experiences?

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187d604db7709eef919526c77cd0d6dbPhoto: Courtesy of Wild Bunch.
According to a new long-term British survey, more women are having same-sex experiences than ever before. The survey found a fourfold increase over the past two decades in women reporting at least one fling with a fellow female.

Same-sex liaisons between men, however, have remained relatively constant. According to the report published in The Lancet, “The proportion of women reporting sexual experience with same-sex partners [now] exceeds that of men, at least at younger ages."

And, the Brits aren't the only ones: American research confirms these findings. Indiana University sex researcher Debby Herbenick told Salon that her U.S. research showed that eight percent of men and 15 percent of women report same-sex sexual behavior in their lifetime.

One possible reason for the gender disparity and increase? Women's sexuality is more fluid than men’s. Meredith Chivers, a sex researcher at Queen’s University, told Salon, “Women have a greater capacity for gender-fluid sexual expression than men do. This might relate to women’s capacity to become sexually aroused by a broader range of sexual stimuli, including images of women.” Chivers past research has shown that women's genital response to pornography did not depend on the gender of those involved — while men's did.

Interestingly, these findings might not necessarily be the reason for same-sex encounters but rather demonstrate how women have been "socialized in terms of their sexuality," says Chivers. This means that something cultural or societal is most likely behind the changes (think: Songs like "I Kissed A Girl," shots of Britney and Madonna kissing on TV, girl-on-girl action being fetishized and far less controversial than a kiss between two men, etc.). The study confirmed this, as most of the women who reported same-sex experiences were between the ages of 16 and 34, and, furthermore, more men than women identified as gay, and more women than men identified as bisexual.

It's important to recognize that the majority of these same-sex experiences did not involve any genital contact. So, we're left with a lot of questions about what this survey really shows us — if anything. The next step in really understanding these shifts in sexual behavior is to learn more about the circumstances behind the reported encounters: Were the women in public, performing for men? Were they having a romantic evening at home? Were they experimenting just for the sake of experimenting? The answers to these questions will give us a better idea of whether these variances are an actual reflection of the Sexual Revolution or merely an indication that women are succumbing to cultural pressure and societal influence. (AlterNet)