What do (people) want?



Dear Andrea:
Have you heard of a study that analyzed biometric feedback from self-identified male bisexuals, and the notable finding was that the overwhelming majority of these men were in fact homosexual, not bisexual? The conclusion of the study was that "true" male bisexuality is extremely rare. (For what it's worth, I consider myself a "true" male bisexual, but what do I know?)

I also heard about another study from at least 10 years ago that tracked the sexual fantasies of self-identified lesbians, and the surprising result was that some 50 percent of these women actually fantasized about men while doing it with their female partners.

Have you heard of these, and would you care to comment?

Actually Here!

Dear Here:

I have, of course, and they're all fascinating, partly for the science (which is generally super-simple and not easily misinterpreted) and partly for the reactions in the various communities whenever one of these studies is reported, which are frankly pretty funny.

The "there's no such thing as male bisexuality" studies have received the most press, and the biggest, most offended reactions, but it's not like the researchers at Northwestern University and the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto set out to disprove the existence of an entire sexual orientation! All they did was hook up some volunteers to a plethysmograph and show them porn. I think the first researchers were probably as surprised as anyone when the self-identified bi men failed to respond in a recognizably "bi" manner. About three-quarters of the bi men read as completely gay according to their penises (do penises lie?), while the rest were indistinguishable from the self-identified straight guys. There was no recognizable "bi" pattern of arousal, and the subjects seemed overwhelmingly to fall on one or the other end of the Kinsey scale:

Regardless of whether the men were gay, straight or bisexual, they showed about four times more arousal" to one sex or the other, said Gerulf Rieger... the study's lead author.

So obviously, you think you exist but you're wrong, Bi Guy!

Okay, no. What do I really think? I think, for one thing , it's all funny since in my little bubble of not only San Francisco-ness but San Francisco sex educator-ness, fake bi guys who are actually straight but want hot bi chicks to think they're cool way outnumber bi guys who are actually gay but closeted. Also, I do think you exist. Clearly truly bi men are rarer even than we thought, but I'm fairly certain that you are not a figment of your own or my imagination, and I think sexuality is a mite more complicated than penile plethysmography.

Another study, described here in a ScienceDaily article from 2003, and distinguished by including only people who identified as gay or straight, turned up more bisexual women than expected, but replicated earlier results where gay and straight (but not bi) men responded consistent with their self-identification: In contrast, both homosexual and heterosexual women showed a bisexual pattern of psychological as well as genital arousal.

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