A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that straight people don’t actually exist.
The study challenges the heteronormative values long held by Western society, finding that women become aroused by both straight and gay adult films.
It was conducted on a sample of women, and compared the self-reported sexualities of the sample with the neurological reactions to depictions of gay and straight sex.
The study found that no matter what sexuality was reported, the bodies reacted positively to both hetero and homosexual sex, which means that the sexuality of the sample was not as simple as the ‘gay or straight’ dichotomy.
Ritch C. Savin-Williams, the Director of Developmental Psychology and the Director of the Sex and Gender Lab in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University orchestrated the study.
He told Broadly that the research is part of a wider trend of research to uncover human sexuality using the physiological response to certain triggers.
It’s basically a study that assesses sexual orientation by looking at the eyes and whether they dilate or not. You can’t control your eye dilation.
Essentially, that’s what the whole project attempts to get at, another way of assessing sexuality without relying on self report.
Another way of course is genital arousal, but that gets a little invasive.
The study does challenge the popular belief of traditional sexuality, but the researchers say that the reality is definitely more complex, and Savin-Williams is not surprised.
Savin-Williams said the negative aspect of this study reveals that people are reporting themselves in one way, when in actual fact their sexuality is not that.
He explains that this stems from the negative aspect of social norms which have influenced what people perceive to be normal. Recently, Savin-Williams has been working on the idea called the mostly straight male.
We've always recognised mostly straight women, that is, women who mostly are straight but if the right woman comes along, well maybe she'll try it out.
We used to think that was only a female phenomenon. We show straight men a picture of a woman masturbating and they respond just like a straight guy, but then you also show them a guy masturbating and their eyes dilate a little bit.
So we're actually able to show physiologically that all guys are not either gay, straight, or bi.
There are aspects [of male sexuality] along a contiuum, just as we have always recognised with women. Men have gotten so much cultural crap put on them that even if a man does have some sexual attraction to guys, they would never say it.
The hopes of the researchers, according to Savin-Williams, is to try to alter the perceived wisdom surrounding heteronormative sexuality, which plays a part in gender inequality.
I do see this loosening of the boundaries. I think that's happening for both sexes. It's probably a good thing, because it gives kids growing up more diversity, more options, so they don't feel like they have to fit in [at all costs].
Straight women and straight men feel much more comfortable than ever before in going into the realm of the other sex in terms of gender role and how they act.
If you look at women, the self esteem of lesbian women tends to be higher than that of straight women.
Maybe they feel like they have more freedom [to be who they really are]. Granted, society may not always like it, but it is your own authentic self.
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