- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (April 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674032268
- ISBN-13: 978-0674032262
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire
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From Publishers Weekly
Many women experience a fluid sexual desire that is responsive to a person rather then a specific gender, argues Diamond n this fascinating and certain to be controversial study. Diamond, associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, is best when detailing, with vivid examples, how scientific studies of sexual desire and behavior have focused on the experience of men, for whom the heterosexual/homosexual divide seems mostly fixed. Diamond says traditional labels for sexual desire are inadequate; for some women even bisexual does not truly express the protean nature of their sexuality. Diamond details in accessible and nuanced language her own study of 100 young women (by her own admission not fully representative) over a period of 10 years. She says that she is calling for an expanded understanding of same-sex sexuality that could radically affect both LGBT activists who hold that sexual identity is fixed and antigay groups who believe sexuality is chosen. Sexual fluidity involves a mix of internal and external factors, but is not, Diamond emphasizes, a matter of conscious choice, and she speculates that a younger generation that views sexuality as personal rather than political might embrace this less rigid view. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Sexual Fluidity is the most important book on sexuality in many years. The scholarship is impeccable and the writing lucid. Exploring issues that have political, scientific, and personal ramifications, Diamond answers the tough questions: Do women have a sexual orientation? Do women choose their sexuality? Can a heterosexual woman fall in love with a woman? Can a lesbian fall in love with a man? Are women really sexually changeable? Are men? Diamond challenges both traditionalists and radicals―if you want to understand female sexuality, listen to what women say. (Ritch C. Savin-Williams, author of The New Gay Teenager)
The book raises fundamental questions about women's sexuality. Lisa Diamond's comprehensive analysis of the scientific evidence illuminates the interconnections of love, sex and sexual identity in women's lives. Her analysis of sexual fluidity is both original and compelling. (Anne Peplau, University of California, Los Angeles)
Fascinating and certain to be controversial… Diamond says traditional labels for sexual desire are inadequate; for some women even 'bisexual' does not truly express the protean nature of their sexuality. Diamond details in accessible and nuanced language her own study of 100 young women (by her own admission not 'fully representative') over a period of 10 years. She says that she is 'calling for an expanded understanding of same-sex sexuality' that could radically affect both LGBT activists who hold that sexual identity is fixed and antigay groups who believe sexuality is chosen. (Publishers Weekly 2007-10-29)
Freud once asked: 'What do women want?' He did not really know. In this beautiful and scholarly book, Diamond has attempted to answer his question. In her study of 100 young women growing up in the postmodern era, she has found that what women want is far more complex than was previously thought and cannot easily be answered with a simple theory. This book will be read by students and scholars across the social and biological sciences. It is a gift to be cherished. (Ken Zucker, University of Toronto)
Captivating, nuanced, and rigorous… Diamond's work is vital precisely because sexual fluidity is not a new concept―Freud called his version 'polymorphous perversity'―but merely one that is typically dismissed. Nor is it news to women, particularly not to a generation for whom a nonspecific 'queer' affiliation, or no affiliation at all, is increasingly common. What is so important is not that this fluidity exists, but that someone has finally paid it systematic attention and found that it is in fact not the exception, but may well be the rule. (Hanne Blank Ms. 2008-01-01)
Traditionally, female sexuality has been presumed to work in the same way and by the same rules as male sexual identity, but Diamond argues that for women, sexual identity isn't fixed in the same categories. (Temma Ehrenfeld Psychologies 2008-03-01)
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.' The women move from men to women and back again (or vice-versa), their sexual identity as changeable as their desires. Additionally, she delves into the brain science behind lust, love and infatuation, revealing that what draws women toward a particular partner is as much a function of biology as it is anything else. To her credit, Diamond avoids scripting her arguments in obtuse academese. With her compassionate, understated approach, she has stepped up the business of gender research. (Lily Burana Washington Post Book World 2008-04-13)
A fascinating read. (Times Higher Education 2008-04-17)
The book has many riveting accounts by women of their own experiences of sexual attraction and distraction… Diamond has written a fascinating book. (Adam Phillips London Review of Books 2008-06-19)
[Diamond] did something unique, following 100 female subjects with same-sex attractions for 10 years… Her book is worth reading. (Sheela Lambert Examiner.com 2009-08-05)
Diamond's study has the potential to lead to more acceptance of variety within sexual orientation. With young women leading the way, everyone will become less fearful of diverse sexual experiences. Sexual Fluidity can take us beyond the divisive language of 'phases' and 'denial' as we speak the truth of our lives to each other. (Ellyn Ruthstrom Women's Review of Books 2009-03-01)
Top customer reviews
If lesbians are not formed at birth then it seems likely that they become so later in life. But, as Diamond points out, what often gets a lot of press are the lesbians who become straight later in life: Anne Heche, Holly Near. Diamond has other anecdotal evidence that comes from one rather non-random sample: the students in a women's studies class. Diamond conducted interviews with many women from this class who answered her request to talk with women who are gay or bisexual or any other alternative status.
Diamond does not consider the evolutionary basis of homosexuality until page 223. Even the few scant paragraphs spent on evolution sound off base. Terry Coyne's book "Why Evolution is True" says that evolution is only interested in characteristics that improve the ability to survive and to spread one's genes. So the evolutionary case for homosexuality must improve a group's ability to survive. That case can be made in a better fashion. Obviously, if there are too many males the often tragic competition for females can be reduced if some of the males are matching up themselves. Considering that males are preferentially conceived (Y sperm can swim faster than X sperm) the possibility of too many males is a real possibility. But early death rates for males are higher than for females and a few disastrous hunts or battles might reduce a group's male count drastically and quickly. In such a case, the group's survivability might improve if some of the females start matching up even though they were heterosexual earlier. Diamond doesn't follow this path or I'm not understanding the few pages that discuss evolution.
In order to find more women whose sexuality can be considered "fluid", Diamond goes to great extremes. One person is married and completely faithful to one man but she considers herself a lesbian. We are supposed to think this is ironic or an example of sexual fluidity but it seems to me to just be an abuse of the English language.
I did not know about the acronym LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation) until this book. Diamond also considers transvestite, transsexuals, and straight women with gay fantasies. The only persons not considered are the guys who write "Help, I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body" on bathroom walls.
Diamond starts off making it clear what she does NOT believe. Not all women are bisexual, sexual orientation cannot necessarily be changed, and she does not intend to prove that it is a "nuture versus nature" problem. But she thinks that perhaps all people are fluid and women more so than men. What does she believe? She says that she is one of "the social scientists who view sexual feelings and experiences as simultaneously embedded in both physical-biological and sociocultural contexts that require integrated biosocial research strategies." Oh, is that all!
If a woman that I knew and cared for was concerned about her sexual orientation, I would recommend this book just because it explores that so many distinct manifestations of female sexuality. However, this book won't provide specific guidance. I give this book 4/5 stars because I think it uses almost 260 pages to expound on the points that I think were sufficiently studied in the first 2 chapters (50 pages).
The following is probably irrelevant but the reader may think otherwise: Diamond is currently in a same-sex relationship; this reviewer is a married, heterosexual male.