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Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire
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GROUP READS > March NON-FICTION selection SEXUAL FLUIDITY

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message 1: by Alexa (new)

Alexa (AlexaNC) This is supposed to present "a radical new understanding of the context-dependent nature of female sexuality." Sounds intriguing! Who will be reading this with us?


message 2: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El | 756 comments Mod
Me, me! :)


message 3: by Fitz (new)

Fitz I just ordered it from the library. In reading about it at Amazon, I'm curious to see how she links sex and love, of if she does.


message 4: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El | 756 comments Mod
Just started reading this now, so now very far along at all, but I just wanted to quote this part on p13 (and not a spoiler) as I think it's important to note:
...I use the term "other-sex sexuality" to refer to all aspects of other-sex desire, romantic affection, fantasy, or behavior (readers will be more familiar with the phrase "opposite-sex," but researchers have increasingly gravitated toward "other-sex" because it is more scientifically accurate. The two sexes are certainly different from each other, but they are by no means opposites).

This is another case of inaccurate usage of language which has gone on entirely too long. "Opposite sex" is something we've all said, and we've meant nothing by it, but when it's spelled out (at least for me) like it just was, it's like a lightbulb just went off. Because we are not opposites.

It's amazing how important verbiage is, and how we take so many phrases for granted without really thinking about what it is we're saying.

As the characters in The Giver say: "Precision of language!" :)


Taylor (seffietay) El wrote: "Just started reading this now, so now very far along at all, but I just wanted to quote this part on p13 (and not a spoiler) as I think it's important to note:
...I use the term "other-sex sexualit..."


YES. "Opposite Sex" never made much sense to me. Funny how we have clung to certain phrases like this. I just saw a comic about how straight women should stop referring to their non-romantic female friends as their "girlfriends". It is also confusing (though I totally do this) when people refer to their girlfriend/boyfriend as their "partner" because others automatically assume they are in a same-sex relationship. I hate saying "my boyfriend" because it seems really juvenile, but the more I say "partner" the more people assume I'm with a woman. It happened just the other day... I said something about my "partner" and in the other persons response they referred to my partner with female pronouns haha. LANGUAGE.

Here's the comic: http://www.autostraddle.com/saturday-...


message 6: by El (new) - rated it 2 stars

El | 756 comments Mod
Great comic, Taylor, thanks for sharing that. I go through the same turmoil over what to call my boyfriend/partner/whatever. We've been together 11 years, so it seems ridiculous to call him my boyfriend, but partner poses it's own issues. His elderly Corsican grandmother calls us husband and wife, which makes my skin crawl as well, but what can you do - she's also experiencing senility and since he was previously married, it's possible she thinks I'm that same woman, lol.

But, yes, the whole thing is complicated, and it drives me nuts that I feel this much frustration over a set of terms.


As far as the book itself goes, I'll admit I'm having a little difficulty getting into it. The first chapter or so is really bogged down with a lot of statistics which is normally fine, but when it's part of the actual text (instead of in a graph or other illustration), it becomes tedious to read, and hard (for me, anyway) to keep track of where she actually is. It's a lot of information, and good information, but could have been presented better.

I also mentioned this to someone else here on GR, that while this book was published in 2008, it already in some ways feels slightly dated, while at the same time being ahead of its time (since her study started in 1991). For example, she frequently references lesbian/gay/bisexual, and I'm so used to seeing transgender and questioning in the same sequence, that it's almost glaring that trans and questioning are left out entirely, especially trans since that was added to the LGB acronym in the 90s. It feels dated and a strange oversight to exclude the T from the acronym here, but maybe she does talk about that later in the book - though it didn't come up in her introductory discussion.

So, I don't know. I hope the book picks up as I think this is all a very interesting topic, but as a research study I am feeling pretty underwhelmed by her methods and her writing.

Anyone else far enough along to have an opinion yet? Hoping maybe it's just me. It seems to be pretty well received by other GR readers.


message 7: by Fitz (new)

Fitz This is another case of inaccurate usage of language which has gone on entirely too long. "Opposite sex" is something we've all said, and we've meant nothing by it, but when it's spelled out (at least for me) like it just was, it's like a lightbulb just went off. Because we are not opposites.

I think that this is an important point. I've found it useful to question whether or not our linguistic oppositional pairs actually reflect objective opposites in reality (or, y'know, as near as one can get without getting lost in the labyrinth of subjectivity/objectivity). Also, whether what we may have been conditioned to think of as oppositional pairs, like male/female, are actually indeed opposite at all, even linguistically, because I think some of that is actually political more than anything else.


Taylor (seffietay) El wrote: "Great comic, Taylor, thanks for sharing that. I go through the same turmoil over what to call my boyfriend/partner/whatever. We've been together 11 years, so it seems ridiculous to call him my boyf..."

It does seem ridiculous to call a long term partner a "boyfriend", it's so insufficient. I call my bf my Wife when we are together alone (he is totally my 1950's "wife", he does all the laundry, cooking and cleaning, and I work and pay all the bills) but that is obviously problematic for a few reasons, ha.

I haven't started yet (I'm chronically running behind on group reads) but it has been shipped and I should have it soon!


message 9: by Summer (new) - added it

Summer (paradisecity) El wrote: "For example, she frequently references lesbian/gay/bisexual, and I'm so used to seeing transgender and questioning in the same sequence, that it's almost glaring that trans and questioning are left out entirely, especially trans since that was added to the LGB acronym in the 90s."

I wonder if that was an intentional choice for specificity. As I recall, there wasn't a lot of research on/stories from people who self-identified as trans or questioning, so she may have been using only the relevant bits of the acronym.


message 10: by El (last edited Mar 14, 2016 07:17AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

El | 756 comments Mod
Thanks for your thoughts, Esse. I did read your post a few days ago, and tried to get back into my reading with that in mind, which helped. I am happy to say, however, that there is mention of trans in one of the later chapters. It's a short chapter and not totally satisfying, but it did make me feel better that the demographic wasn't entirely excluded.

I finished reading the book over the weekend, and I'm torn overall. The first part was hard for me to muddle through, but occasionally Diamond would drop some information or details that seemed relevant. Unfortunately, then it would get back to talk about study after study after study which made for tedious reading.

I'm also disappointed that Diamond wrote with a lot of bias. Actually, now the only thing that comes to mind is one mention of Oprah always being right, which was such a turn-off to me. I don't care what one feels about Oprah, and so having it thrown in my face that she's always "right" was off-putting. And the fact that that is what stands out to me the most is problematic.

And finally I seem to only remember a certain age group being used in the study. Maybe I missed the part where Diamond explained that, but I did recognize that throughout the book each time she mentioned one of the participants, the ages all ranged from 18-30. Considering she discussed "older" women (she mentioned Ellen Degeneres throughout, and a few other people), none of the participants in her study seemed to be older than 30 (at the end of the study). I've known a few different women myself who decided later in their life they would identify as a lesbian now, whereas earlier in their life they would not have, and in fact were married and raised families before coming to the realization on their own. Diamond talks about that sort of thing, but it isn't reflected in her own study.

And also the study appears to be pretty darn white overall - another lost opportunity. I seem to remember only one reference to one African-American woman.

All that being said... it's not an awful book. I just hoped for something better.

(Whew, writing all this out now will help me when I finally put together my review!)


Taylor (seffietay) I'm about 34 pages in now and so far things are very academic and dry (it's taken me a long time to get this far haha). It's interesting, but the writing is very clinical and hard to follow in places. I enjoyed the part where she addressed essentialism and social conditioning - great information. Admittedly the following sections on heritability were a little difficult for me to make sense of. I will continue to plow on!


Gayle Noble (outsmartyourshelf) I've read about 120 pages so far and it is still very difficult to actually 'get into' the book. For an interesting subject, it is written in a very uninteresting way and I've found my attention wandering once or twice. There's the odd snippet here and there but mostly just very dry writing style. I will see if it gets any better further on.


Taylor (seffietay) I'm at page 145 and definitely agree about the dry writing style. I found things picked up for me a lot when she started talking about her research and sharing quotes from the women. There is a LOT going on here that I can definitely relate to, so I'm glad I'm reading it for that reason. It's definitely interesting.


Taylor (seffietay) Ok finished, finally! I really liked this in the end. I feel like the first chapter was out of step with the rest... it was difficult to navigate but once I got past it I liked the writing a lot more. I'm really pleased to see that research is being done on women's sexual fluidity; I've never been able to put a label on myself either but have been made to feel that choosing to remain unlabelled was insufficient. I'm not alone! Woot!


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