Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire
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Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  303 ratings  ·  63 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 groups...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 28th 2008 by Harvard University Press
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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
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
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
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 r...more
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 t...more
Janet Ferguson
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.
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
Mar 04, 2010 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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 sh...more
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 esse...more
Mary Gottschalk
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
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
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.
Jeanine P
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
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 m...more
Apr 05, 2008 Liza rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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 orientati...more
Jul 19, 2014 Elizabeth rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone willing to think
Recommended to Elizabeth by: a book
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Jennifer Miera
Let me just summarize the book by saying that it appears women's sexuality is more complex than we thought and possibly more complex than male sexuality. Guys, whether straight or gay, tend to be pretty static in their preferences and attractions. Women, on the other hand, may have a phase of life where they identify as lesbian and another phase where they identify as straight. Some may identify as straight, but find themselves attracted to a particular woman at a particular time. It seems women...more
Excellent book. Thoughtful, insightful, thorough. Diamond consistently rejects traditional models and questions scientific and cultural assumptions about sexual orientation, sexual desire, and love. Unfortunately, the early chapters are dense and dull, and the book gets only more engaging as it goes on, meaning, rather than hooking the reader from the beginning, the closer you are to finishing the book the more likely you are to keep reading. I almost gave the book four stars because of this, bu...more
Jun 17, 2014 Abby rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Abby by: chatting with Shae
I actually give this 3.5 stars. I LOVE the ideas behind the research, and the findings are intriguing. However, maybe I've been doing too much grad work, but I wished for more stories and less research over the course of the book.
Harper Jean
Based on a 10-year study of nearly 100 young women's sexual attractions, experiences and identities, this is a highly readable book that proposes that fluidity in our attractions is a fundamental aspect of our sexuality, and especially women's sexuality, and that our concepts of sexuality and our research approaches must change to account for it. Raises without answering some intriguing questions about what it means to be attracted "to a gender." The author discusses somewhat the small subset of...more
Kay Jenson
Captivating and thought-provoking. Finally a model for female sexuality.
Chandra Moore
I liked this book a lot. It gave me a new perspective on women and myself which helped me in my understanding of sexuality among women as a whole. While I wouldn't want to label any woman's desire or sexuality simply based on the sample group used in this book, my gut instinct say's it is a pretty accurate cross section of women's desires and sexuality. No matter your sexuality or desires, this is a fascinating read and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the subject of women's...more
Mary Kathryn
Lisa Diamond investigates the hows and whys of the fundamental difference between female and male sexuality: whereas women are more likely to experience desire for both women and men in their lifetime, men are more likely to be exclusively gay or straight. She sheds new light on topics such as women's reluctance to adopt the bisexual label, how queer women are often turned on by gay porn, and the difference between women's emotional connections w/ men and women. An encouraging read for any woman...more
This book is a good try but it's like talking about whether God exists or not: I will never be quite convinced.

It all has to do with one's own experiences and, as far as people wanting to understand sexuality, it's always going to be hit-and-miss. It's hard enough to understand women as it is. Trying to unravel what makes women tic sexually, well, it's a very tall order and I have to take the agnostic stance, because I don't think humans have been given the capacity to settle sexuality in any s...more
Sexual Fluidity is, despite the supple title, for the most part a blandly academic read. Of the eight chapters only the final three are particularly engaging. That said, those final three chapters were so explosively compelling that I count the book as a must read for anyone interested in better understanding human sexuality. There is much in this book to turn conventional wisdom on its head and it's well worth finding even if you have to wade through five less than riveting chapters to get to i...more
May 26, 2011 Sarah rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: psych
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.

Another hard one to track down, but I was finally able to access it ebook form during an overnight at Butler Library. Worth the hassle, it's a gentle but well-researched way in to the concept of sexual fluidity in women. Quite fun to see them seesawing back and forth over the years of Diamond's study, and how so many of her subjects see their sexual orientation based on what's going on at the moment, conveniently forgetting contrary bits of personal history.
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