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Study: Females get aroused by both sexes
Thu Jun 19, 8:35 PM ET
Randy Dotinga, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
SUMMARY: A new study confirms what researchers have suspected for some time -- women may prefer to date one gender or the other, but they get sexually aroused by both.
It's no surprise that lesbians like to watch lesbian pornography. But the big news in a new study is that they also get turned on by watching heterosexuals and gay men have sex.
And straight women? They like it all, too.
The findings confirm what researchers have suspected for some time -- women may prefer to date one gender or the other, but they get sexually aroused by both.
Men, on the other hand, aren't nearly as flexible. Straight men like to watch women have sex, and gay men like to watch men. Case closed.
"This may well be relevant to the flexibility of female sexuality. I wouldn't be surprised if this is one reason why women transition more between sexual identities than men," said study co-author Michael Bailey, chairman of the psychology department at Northwestern University and author of "The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism."
In his study, completed over several years, Bailey and colleagues recruited 69 men and 52 women, both heterosexual and homosexual, to watch two-minute snippets of X-rated movies in a laboratory.
The men hooked themselves up to a rubber-band-like device that detected erections by measuring the thickness of the penis. The women used a small device that shines a light into the vagina and detects reflected light. According to Bailey, the vagina becomes darker during arousal.
The videos featured various types of sex (vaginal, oral and anal) and various types of partners (male-male, female-female, male-female).
The researchers will report their findings in an upcoming edition of the journal Psychological Science. They released an early report this month.
Heterosexual men were most stimulated by watching lesbian sex, followed by heterosexual sex. The gay men responded most to male erotica.
But the women -- straight or lesbian -- tended to enjoy watching all the types of partners have sex. Only 63 percent responded most to sex involving their preferred gender, a much lower number than among the men.
The study findings confirm the experiences of many women who find themselves suddenly developing a new sexual orientation, said Lisa Diamond, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Utah.
"With women, the experience of sexual attraction doesn't revolve around the gender of the partner as it does around other things," she explained. "Women say, 'I didn't think I was attracted to women , and then all of a sudden, boom!' This fluidity does not appear to be as common among men."
The next step, Bailey said, is to study sexual arousal among bisexuals. Initial research suggests that bisexual men share something in common with straight and gay men -- they're significantly aroused by one gender more than the other.