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Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire

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3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  505 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
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 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 ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 28th 2008 by Harvard University Press
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El
Mar 23, 2016 El rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to El by: The F-Word
This may be the longest I've gone before writing a review for a book I finished, but it's partly because of this book and partly because of just life. Though right now I have no excuse (other than the fact that I'm at work, but pshaw), so I just need to bite the bullet so this is no longer over my head.

The idea behind the book was fine. I expected a lot more from the book itself, however. Diamond's study covered about ten years of research with a core group of women, meeting with them periodical
...more
Julia
Sep 26, 2009 Julia rated it really liked it
Shelves: sex-therapy
Fun fact about the author: Lisa is a faculty member in my department, and in addition to being a ridiculously prolific researcher, she is an outstanding baker. (At high altitudes, no less!). This includes everything from whatever her grad students request as their special birthday treat to transgender ginger people before winter break.

Back to the book: fantastic. The moral of the story is that for decades, researchers treated a large segment of women as "noise" in their sexuality work: the women
...more
Book Riot Community
Although I had a few issues with this book–namely the cissexism–I can’t ignore that this was a life-changing read for me. It completely changed how I think about sexual orientation and identity, and it was the most affirming book I could possibly read at this point in my life. It argues that women’s sexuality is characterized by change and fluidity (to different degrees for different people). Diamond demonstrates that our framework for viewing sexuality is fundamentally flawed. It blew my mind. ...more
Ms. Online
EBB, FLOW - Review By Hanne Blank

WHAT TO MAKE OF COLLEGE women who are “lesbian until graduation”? Or straight married women who suddenly fall in love with other women? For that matter, what about queeridentified women— Anne Heche, anyone?— who wind up with men? Perhaps they’re really bisexual or “confused” or maybe they were simply repressed or closeted. Alarmists might imagine them victims of predatory dykes and Stockholm syndrome. Or, as University of Utah psychologist Lisa Diamond suggests
...more
Danika at The Lesbrary
Jul 24, 2016 Danika at The Lesbrary rated it it was amazing
This wasn't a perfect book--mostly because of its cissexism--but it was a life-altering book for me. This recontextualizes my entire romantic and sexual history. It was the most affirming thing to read at this point in my life. It's changed the way I think about sexual orientation and identity. If you have ever felt like you don't fit into the traditional models of sexual orientation, I highly, highly recommend this book.
Sarah
May 26, 2011 Sarah rated it did not like it
So many methodological problems with this book I don't even know what to say. If you know anything about setting up a good study, you know this is not a good study and then you feel bad because this woman devoted 10 years to creating a pretty worthless study.

Outcomes synthesis: many white, affluent, educated, gay/bi women who fantasized/slept with/were attracted to both sexes in college were still somewhat ambivalent about their sexual preferences/fantasies/partner genders later in life.

Ouch.
DoctorM
May 16, 2009 DoctorM rated it really liked it
Diamond asks a number of questions: why do women seem to experience more fluidity in their sexual attractions and involvements over their lives than males do--- and what does such fluidity say about the categories (gay, straight, bi) that society seems to insist on? She also raises a number of very intriguing issues: why do we insist that anything that changes or shifts, that can be described as a 'phase', is somehow 'inauthentic' or false? Diamond looks at a ten year (1995-2005) sample of women ...more
M
Jul 23, 2009 M rated it really liked it
Hats off to Lisa Diamond for this book. Even though there's a bit of sampling bias and limitation in her longitudinal study (which could easily be remedied by better grants and more research assistants; no doubt after this book she'll be in a better position to get that), the findings she uncovers are doubtless invaluable to the field of sex research, and will hopefully be taken seriously by the scientific community and laypersons alike. For common readers, the book is very accessible, easy to ...more
Melinda
I enjoyed this book when I first read it, but in retrospect, coming from a place in my life where I'm far more aware and critical of compulsory heterosexuality, I find the lack of discussion of social pressures on women to be be "fluid" — i.e, involved with men — to be highly suspect. Diamond's analysis positions itself as rejecting traditional models of sexual orientation and desire, but, ultimately, it reinforces heterosexuality, which falls far from the challenge of social expectations about ...more
DeAnna
Nov 24, 2013 DeAnna rated it it was amazing
I've been reading quite a few books about polyamory and sexuality, but nothing has seemed more true to my experiences as Lisa Diamond's book, Sexual Fluidity. I've had questions concerning my own sexual orientation my entire life and have never felt normal. Well, which this book didn't result in feeling any normalcy, it does an amazing job of explaining the complex interaction of genetic, environment, situation, chemistry and human connection plays in female sexuality. Now I finally understand ...more
Janet Ferguson
Apr 16, 2012 Janet Ferguson rated it it was amazing
This groundbreaking book and Lisa Diamond's research should be mandatory reading for anyone studying human sexuality or anyone interested in women's sexual orientation and identity.
Sara
Mar 04, 2010 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it
Even if you're completely, 100% heterosexual (in other words, a staunch "O" on Kinsey's scale), you've probably at least pondered the fluidity of female sexuality. As far as Kinsey's 0 to 6 scale on a continuum from "completely heterosexual" at zero and "completely homosexual" at six, as the word continuum might suggest, most people fall somewhere in between. However, one topic that is rife with debate, tends to have very passionate opinions, and that is most certainly a hot button issue within ...more
Cari
Diamond theory is definitely moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, her presentation of that theory sucks.

When presenting a lesser known theory that's just beginning to gain traction, presentation is key. This is not a new theory, despite what the author implies; I've encountered the fluid sexuality idea several times in other reading, although never in such detail. Diamond is moving it forward, not nearly as much as she seems to think she is in the book, but she's got a fairly solid star
...more
Loren Olson
Jan 15, 2011 Loren Olson is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am about 1/3 of the way through this book. I chose to read it because I have questioned whether women can more easily move from relationships with women to men and back again. This book's theme is sexual fluidity for women, and it seems to support the idea that women fall in love with a person, regardless of their sex and they are less inclined to fall into fixed categories of gay/straight/other.

In my research with men who have been in relationships with women, it is very unusual for men to mo
...more
Gayle Pitman
Aug 29, 2011 Gayle Pitman rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt-nonfiction
I wanted to like this book more. I have a profound respect for Lisa Diamond's research, and I think it took incredible courage for her to propose a new theory of sexual identity development - especially since it contradicts the firmly-entrenched "stage theories" of development. The writing style, however, was not particularly engaging, and I found the book to be tedious. Diamond's work has been groundbreaking, but I think the general public could easily lose interest. I also think that, while ...more
Mitch
Aug 21, 2009 Mitch rated it it was amazing
This one book may well be the most important work on sexuality in general and female psychology in particular I have come across in decades! Newer research will make us all rethink everything we ever assumed we knew about the subject. Diamond is incredibly balanced and compassionate as much as dispassionate about what the data tells. She is a superb researcher and finally accomplishes what I have begging researchers to do: combine the previously warring and normally antithetical theories of ...more
Mary Gottschalk
Sep 30, 2013 Mary Gottschalk rated it it was amazing
It is my experience and my belief that there are many women who, after a failed relationship with a man, have found themselves passionately involved with a woman.

What was so remarkable about Lisa Diamond's research was her ability to validate this experience -- a search for and an attraction to a familiar personality profile -- without the necessity of gender labels. A woman to whom this happens once is not "bi-sexual" or "lesbian" ... but based on societal values, she has been "outside the nor
...more
Aubrey
Jun 06, 2012 Aubrey rated it really liked it
I thought this book was a good overview of women's sexuality and how it tends more toward the fluid in orientation. As a bisexual, it gave me some understanding of why I feel like my orientation often shifts along the Kinsey scale. I am a fan of the continuum concept.

I would have liked more stories from the women surveyed. I felt like Diamond got caught up in theory, statistics and jargon. I wanted more personal experiences. However, I felt like this was good, for what it was. It felt like a PhD
...more
AnneJ
Jan 28, 2010 AnneJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender-studies
Even though sexual orientation is fairly stable, women in particular possess a certain amount of sexual fluidity. A very important contribution to research on sexualitiy, even though the author is ever so slightly too essentialistfor me.
Morgan Dhu
Mar 03, 2015 Morgan Dhu rated it really liked it
Lisa Diamond is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah and a self-identified feminist scientist. Her primary field of research lies in the realm of the psychological and biobehavioral processes underlying intimate relationships and their influence on emotional experience and functioning over the life course. Her book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire discusses her results of some of her research in this area.

Diamond begins with an overview of current prevailing as
...more
cait
Oct 15, 2016 cait rated it liked it
lots of cissexism. but beneficial to thesis? yes.
Anita Fajita Pita
Jun 24, 2016 Anita Fajita Pita rated it it was ok
Recommended to Anita by: The F-Word
Shelves: 2016, educate-myshelf
I think this book would have benefited from much more editing. A ten year research project should have afforded plenty of time for organizing, and I can't really come up with any acceptable reason why this book didn't present that research in a clear and engaging way. A lot of this book read like a college essay, and it was very repetitive throughout of a handful of themes that were never clearly tied up neatly at the end of the presentation. I didn't actually even come on here to critique the f ...more
Catia
Nov 23, 2015 Catia rated it really liked it
Based on the case studies of 100 different womens romantic journeys spanning across 10 years is a solid effort and deserves a few stars for that dedication alone.

At first i wasn't sure if Lisa and I were going to see eye to eye. After all, one of the main ideas of this book is that women are naturally more fluid than men.
"Nonsense! Men have equal potential too! It's just that homophobia and patriarchal blah, blah runs deep!" i'd throw the book aside.
Though I think i was left a little more open m
...more
Nicole
Jul 30, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing
I hardly know what to say about this book that won't involve me just completely gushing. Okay, I'll gush: OH MY GOD, THIS BOOK. I felt profoundly validated and reassured by both the responses of the research participants as well as Diamond's analysis of the results. My own experience of sexuality has been ...confusing, to put it mildly, so it was really nice to feel "normally abnormal"! And on a purely "just did a Masters in Linguistics" nerd level, I about peed myself when she brought dynamic ...more
Liza
Apr 05, 2008 Liza rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women, psych geeks
Lisa Diamond is a psychologist at the University of Utah (yes, Utah) whose research reinforces the need for a paradigm shift in our understanding of sexuality. Diamond launched a longitudinal study in which 100 females (some of whom are trans) were interviewed about their sexual attractions and experiences every few years for 10 years. The result is the book Sexual Fluidity.
In this book Diamond profiles some of the women she interviewed and also provides excellent descriptions of the biopsycholo
...more
Matthew
Sep 15, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: gender-studies
The star thing is going to be a little different with these research books I'm reading because according to the previous requirement of affecting my ideas, I have certainly integrated a lot of these ideas about gender into my understanding of gender and sexuality. However, it isn't a creative writing book, so I was uncertain about a 4 star rating, because I could have even gone five but. You know, this really boils down to me exposing myself to a non-creative book. So, in the sense that books ...more
Erica
Oct 01, 2016 Erica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
It's wonderful to read a book that authoritatively legitimizes feelings and experiences that, until that point, had not been recognized by most researchers. Like most of the women in this book, my "sexual orientation" was never something I could jam into a neat box. Every few pages I had an "ah ha" moment or was struck by the novelty of Diamond's views on sexuality: the idea that there are multiple pathways to being gay, that women experience same-sex attractions in largely different ways than ...more
Jeanine PD
Mar 12, 2013 Jeanine PD rated it it was amazing
There are many scientifically written books about lgbt and related issues, and most of the great ones I came across have humans as their main subject study. There are many reasons for that, which aren't pertinent to discuss here. This book, however, presented people's sexuality with exhaustive research and scientific studies over a long period of time, on a large and various sample population; which makes the publication more trustworthy and free from bias. I can't help emphasizing that this is ...more
Nyanko Yue
4.5 stars

As someone who falls within the asexual spectrum, I feel that part of the experiences some of the women had weren't even given the chance to be analyzed with an ace-aware perspective, and while I do understand that at the time this study was conducted there wasn't much information about it, it's also true that some texts within the academy were already showing the word "asexual" by then.

That and the nearly absence of mention of the non-binary gender spectrum, as well as the very little
...more
Meg
Apr 02, 2011 Meg rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, feminism-gender
Very interesting exploration of how women's sexual orientations are often fluid and changing. I really enjoyed the attention she gave to her participants' experiences. Her theories about why women's sexual orientation is fluid (and why it is more fluid than men's) are very interesting and I am taking away a lot of ideas from this book. I also really liked how she made the distinction between "Sexual orientation can change" and "Sexual orientation can BE changed." That is to say, sexual ...more
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The F-word: March NON-FICTION selection SEXUAL FLUIDITY 14 42 Apr 11, 2016 09:47AM  
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“(...) I think your definition changes based on your experiences." (age twenty-two, bisexual)

Six years later, this same woman noted:

"I date both men and women, but i don't like the word "bisexual", because I think it implies polarity. I guess I started thinking about this around 4 1/2 years ago, when I was involved in a long-term committed relationship with a man, but a queer man. And it made me redefine things, because I didn't believe that a queer man and a queer woman together in a relationship like ours was conventionally heterosexual." (age twenty-eight, bisexual)”
3 likes
“Antigay activists have historically maintained that same-sex sexuality is a lifestyle choice that should be discouraged, deemed illegitimate, and even punished by the culture at large. In other words, if lesbian/gay/bisexual people to not have to be gay but are simply choosing a path of decadence and deviance, then the government should have no obligation to protect their civil rights or honor their relationships; to the contrary, the state should actively condemn same-sex sexuality and deny it legal and social recognition in order to discourage others from following that path.
Not surprisingly, advocates for gay/lesbian/bisexual rights see things differently. They counter that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice but an inborn trait that is much beyond an individual's control as skin or eye color. Accordingly, since gay/lesbian/bisexual individuals cannot choose to be heterosexual, it is unethical to discriminate against them and to deny legal recognition to same-sex relationships.
(...)
Perhaps instead of arguing that gay/lesbian/bisexual individuals deserve civil rights because they are powerless to change their behavior, we should affirm the fundamental rights of all people to determine their own emotional and sexual lives.”
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