The Sexual Fluidity of Women

Meghan O’Rourke

The New York Times Magazine.

… the notion that female desire is based less on intimacy (the old truism) than on the perception of being desired—a notion that, it would seem, complicates feminist notions of owning your sexuality. To take just a few bits of  research from the piece: As Bergner reports, scientists have long wondered why women sometimes describe feeling arousal (even orgasm) during nonconsensual sex; some scientists now theorize that it stems from an evolutionary adaptation to early human sex. (Women whose genitals remained unlubricated were more susceptible to injury, infection, and, consequently, death.) Bergner connects this to the fact that women seem to be more  responsive—on a physiological level—to a breadth of visual stimuli than men are. One recent study, conducted by psychologist Meredith Chivers, found that heterosexual women responded sexually to a wider array of videos than men did; while the men in the study mostly responded to images involving women (and the gay men mostly responded to images involving men), the straight women in the study were turned on by everything from heterosexual sex to a nude woman doing calisthenics to bonobos mating.

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