Friday, April 16, 2010

Sexual Fluidity


I've just begun reading this really fascinating book discussing a longitudinal study of young women and their sexuality.  I'm not very far in yet, but even the basic background topics are super interesting and provide a lot of material for fun thought experiments.  One of the  main ideas the book posits is that female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality.  Its focus is, I think on the sex of the people one is attracted too... but it also does note that sexual fluidity can also apply to other areas of attraction.  And that made me think..

Most people I know have a "type", in some way, but the type itself.... varies.  I have one friend who mainly attracted to tall, broad shouldered, "jocky" guys, who are intelligent and a little aggressive.  She has had flings with men who don't fit the description... but most of the men she had always described as being interested in fit that narrow description.

I, personally, have a broader range-- men that are tall, intelligent, well read, funny, and a little arrogant.  But my physical standards-- other than that they're of a similar height to me or taller-- have never been as firm.  Hell, I don’t even stick to one ethnicity.  One of my friends in college described me as not having a type one time.  At first, I was a little offended, but after some reflection i decided that hey, that's a good thing!  I'm more open to men who might be different but awesome.  I've always been exceedingly picky about who I’ll actually be in a relationship to, but open to giving almost anyone a chance at a casual date. 

But what I’m wondering now is—how much fluidity is there in the average person, not in terms of sexual orientation, but in terms of taste and preference.  The book posits that women are more fluid in orientation, but are we also, in general more fluid in the type of people we date?   I really don’t have an answer on this one—I haven’t really observed too much about this, even though I do talk a lot with my friends about our dating lives.  As far as the small subset of over-educated nerds I know goes, it seems that most of us are fairly consistent in personality—or at least, consistent once you get past a few intro dates.  However, there does seem to be a large variation in the appearance of people my friends date, regardless of gender.  Granted, a few things remain consistent—everyone tends to go for people of around similar attraction levels—but specifics change.  It does seem like the guys might stick to a specific body type more than the women do—but part of that may also be due to the fact that society tells us that men are attractive with a wider range of physical appearances than women are.  Still, we can all write out a description of what we like, and there tend to be some characteristics we like more than outhers.  Really, it makes sense for us to not be too fluid, since our personalities tend to stay relatively stable as adults—and while a ton of personalities may seem fun, dating around helps us realize what personalities actually work with our own.

3 comments:

SDaedalus said...

teresting post. I am fortunate enough to have a number of different types, all clean-shaven, light-skinned and fairly thin though. I really would have no preference at all in relation to hair colour, some hair is nice though if possible, although some men can carry off the bald/shaven look.

This makes life much more fun and also allows more choice.

Sometimes the fact that the hero in a film/tv programme is of a particular type may make that type attractive to women who might have overlooked it in the past, certainly this has been my experience.

dlynnthompson said...

Amanda,

I'm not sure that is what Diamond means by "other areas". I would argue that women have more fluidity in their attractions to people, but not to everything. The reality is that Western cultures allow women a more diverse definition of sexual attraction. It is more acceptable for a woman to be lesbian and especially bisexual than it is for a man to gay or bi. If a man has any male attraction, the label flies to the other end of the spectrum. He is gay. Current prescriptions of masculinity do not allow for the same diversity that femininity offers.

Smaller "gender boxes" for men, if you will...

April said...

I, personally, have a broader range-- men that are tall, intelligent, well read, funny, and a little arrogant. But my physical standards-- other than that they're of a similar height to me or taller-- have never been as firm. Hell, I don’t even stick to one ethnicity. One of my friends in college described me as not having a type one time. At first, I was a little offended, but after some reflection i decided that hey, that's a good thing! I'm more open to men who might be different but awesome. I've always been exceedingly picky about who I’ll actually be in a relationship to, but open to giving almost anyone a chance at a casual date.

I think we're blog-world soul mates. Haha.

But seriously, "tall, intelligent, well read, funny, and a little arrogant" perfectly describes dominant personality traits of the guys I've been involved with in my adult life, including my husband. I shortened it to "tall, smart, and a little mean," although I think "arrogant" works better here.

But yeah. I have never had a "type" as far as looks were concerned. Big, ultra thin, white, Asian, clean-cut, scruffy... whatever. The only constant are the personality traits and intelligence (and considerable height as the one particularly desirable physical trait).

By the way, I love your blog! Blogrolling you, unless you object.