Like most women, I have no shame in admitting that I find other females attractive. I have even admitted to being open to experimentation ("Of course I would sleep with Halle Berry! It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity"). For women, it's perfectly acceptable to be a little bi-curious (cue every male fantasy), and according to the latest research, it's the norm.
A new study reveals that women's sexual preferences tend to be a gray area (yep, identity confusion wasn't just for those college dorm days). In fact, researchers at Boise State University found that in a group of heterosexual women, 60 percent were physically interested in other women, 45 percent made out with a woman in the past, and 50 percent had fantasies about the same sex.
I fall into that 60 percent.
Sometimes when I catch myself staring at a beautiful woman in the grocery store, I wonder about my own sexuality. I'm not supposed to like girls! (At least according to society.) Would I date a woman? I'm not sure, but I am attracted to the beauty of other women - and they're so much easier to understand psychologically than men. We girls form deep relationships through friendships, which some say are the basis of love. And personally I believe that emotional connection and physical attraction are linked - i.e., guys tend to get cuter in our eyes if they're genuinely nice.
Experts support this view. "Women are encouraged to be emotionally close to each other," says psychology professor Elizabeth Morgan. "That provides an opportunity for intimacy and romantic feelings to develop." From talking about personal issues for hours to calling each other "lovers" (well, maybe that's just women in my generation), women's friendships are often barely distinguishable from romantic relationships.
When heterosexual women hook up with other women, their relationships is based on an emotional connection. Lisa Diamond from the University of Utah believes that it only takes the right person for convince a woman to enter into a relationship with someone of the same sex.
Does that make them bisexual? Not exactly.
"You can still be heterosexual and have interests, experiences or fantasies with the same sex," says Morgan.
In addition, sexuality gets more, not less, fluid with time - yet more proof that experimentation isn't just for college. In a study conducted by Diamond, the older a woman was, the more likely she was to describe her sexual preference as "unlabeled". "We have this idea that sexuality gets clearer and more defined as time goes on," says Diamond. "We consider that a sign of maturity to figure out who you are. I've seen it's really the opposite."
And of course, the media plays a role in girl-on-girl attraction, only fueling the fire of our confusion. Not only have pop stars like Lady Gaga made bisexuality mainstream, but women can't help but ogle beautiful women - they are everywhere we turn. Neuroscientist Ogi Ogas, Ph.D., analyzed billions of web information including web searches, erotic websites and e-books, and found that women are just as likely to search for "sexy pictures of Ryan Gosling" as "sexy pictures of Jessica Alba." How about that.
"Women in the media are often sexualized and women constantly get the message that appearance should be important to them, so they're used to viewing women in a sexualized way," says Morgan.
I wonder how much of the attraction to other women is based on appearance and messages from the media, and how much of it authentic and genuine. Should we even try to distinguish between the two?
What do you think about this study? Have you ever been attracted to another woman?
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