21 April, 2008

Sexual Fluidity

In a culture in which the pornographic has become predictable, it seems downright cheeky to write and publish a sex book — not because it's difficult but because, to cop an exhausted term, eros has jumped the shark. Is there really anything new to say about sex?

Lisa M. Diamond and Brian Alexander think there is.

The title of the first chapter in Diamond's Sexual Fluidity — "Will the Real Lesbians Please Stand Up?" — is likely to intrigue even the most jaded sexpert.

In the kick-off to her study of the malleability of female erotic longing, Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, writes: "In 1997, the actress Anne Heche began a widely publicized romantic relationship with the openly lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres after having had no prior same-sex attractions. ... The relationship with DeGeneres ended after two years, and Heche went on to marry a man. The actress Cynthia Nixon of the HBO series Sex and the City developed a serious relationship with a woman in 2004 after ending a 15-year relationship with a man. Julie Cypher left a heterosexual marriage for the musician Melissa Etheridge in 1988. After 12 years together, the pair separated and Cypher — like Heche — has returned to heterosexual relationships. In other cases, longtime lesbians have unexpectedly initiated relationships with men, sometimes after decades of exclusively same-sex ties. ... What's going on? Are these women confused? Were they just going through a phase before, or are they in one now?"

Setting out to prove the theory that, for some women, love is truly blind where gender is concerned, Diamond presents her evidence in a fascinating, anecdotal fashion — by tracking over the span of a decade the relationships of nearly 100 women who at one point or another had experienced "same-sex attractions." Read more >>

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