Science is revealing that most of us can get sexually aroused by both men and women, even if we are not consciously aware of it.
Research on the topic is being conducted by Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Director of Developmental Psychology and the Director of the Sex and Gender Lab in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University.
His most recent study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. In it, Savin-Williams monitored the response of women and their bodies to a range of pornographic material, both heterosexual and homosexual.
The idea is that a person’s body, through eye dilation, will show a response, regardless of how a person identifies sexually. “You can’t control your eye dilation,” Savin-Williams told Broadly. “Essentially, that’s what the whole project attempts to get at, another way of assessing sexuality without relying on self report.”
He found that the women exhibited a positive physiological arousal response to some degree or the other, no matter if the erotic visual stimulation was lesbian or straight. He has also found a similar response with men.
“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,” said Savin-Williams.
“There are aspects [of male sexuality] along a continuum, 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.”
These ideas are not new. In the 1940s, Alfred Kinsey’s groundbreaking research on sexuality suggested that most people fall somewhere on a spectrum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality.
It does also appear that people are increasingly acknowledging their sexual fluidity, especially among the younger generations.
A 2017 UK survey found that one-third of young people aged 16 to 22, known as Generation Z, refuse to identify themselves as heterosexual. Just two-thirds of those surveyed in this group said they’re “only attracted to the opposite sex”. This compares to 88% of baby boomers and 85% of Generation X who said the same.