Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire

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Overview

Is love “blind” when it comes to gender? For women, it just might be. This unsettling and original book offers a radical new understanding of the context-dependent nature of female sexuality. Lisa M. Diamond argues that for some women, love and desire are not rigidly heterosexual or homosexual but fluid, changing as women move through the stages of life, various social groups, and, most important, different love relationships.
This perspective clashes with traditional views of sexual orientation as a stable and fixed trait. But that view is based on research conducted almost entirely on men. Diamond is the first to study a large group of women over time. She has tracked one hundred women for more than ten years as they have emerged from adolescence into adulthood. She summarizes their experiences and reviews research ranging from the psychology of love to the biology of sex differences. Sexual Fluidity offers moving first-person accounts of women falling in and out of love with men or women at different times in their lives. For some, gender becomes irrelevant: “I fall in love with the person, not the gender,” say some respondents.
Sexual Fluidity offers a new understanding of women’s sexuality—and of the central importance of love.
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Editorial Reviews

Ms.

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

Psychologies

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

Washington Post Book World

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

Times Higher Education
A fascinating read.
London Review of Books

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

Examiner.com

[Diamond] did something unique, following 100 female subjects with same-sex attractions for 10 years… Her book is worth reading.
— Sheela Lambert

Women's Review of Books

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

Ritch C. Savin-Williams
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.
Anne Peplau
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.
Ken Zucker
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.
Ms. - Hanne Blank
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.
Psychologies - Temma Ehrenfeld
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.
Washington Post Book World - Lily Burana
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.
London Review of Books - Adam Phillips
The book has many riveting accounts by women of their own experiences of sexual attraction and distraction… Diamond has written a fascinating book.
Examiner.com - Sheela Lambert
[Diamond] did something unique, following 100 female subjects with same-sex attractions for 10 years… Her book is worth reading.
Women's Review of Books - Ellyn Ruthstrom
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.
London Review of Books
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
Women's Review of Books
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
examiner.com
[Diamond] did something unique, following 100 female subjects with same-sex attractions for 10 years...Her book is worth reading.
— Sheela Lambert
Lily Burana
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.
—The Washington Post
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 2007 Reed Business Information
Times Higher Education Supplement

A fascinating read.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674032262
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 697,455
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa M. Diamond is Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah.
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Table of Contents

  • 1. Will the Real Lesbians Please Stand Up?
  • 2. Gender Differences in Same-Sex Sexuality
  • 3. Sexual Fluidity in Action
  • 4. Nonexclusive Attractions and Behaviors
  • 5. Change in Sexual Attractions
  • 6. Attractions to “the Person, Not the Gender”
  • 7. How Does Fluidity Work?
  • 8. Implications of Female Sexual Fluidity
  • References
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2009

    Worldview altering

    As a woman transitioning into an awareness of same sex attractions and sexuality, this work was fundamental in helping me integrate these seismic realities into my life and marriage.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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