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Report: Women Having Far More Lesbian Experiences Now...

Report: Women Having Far More Lesbian Experiences Now...

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My technique when interviewing celebrities about their lives used to involve questions beginning with: "As a lesbian, I ..." That would always get women – from Sharon Stone ("butches are my favourite") to Missy Elliott ("never say never") to Holly Hunter ("I think gay women have it best") – jumping up and down in their seats, declaring how they wished, wished, wished they were lesbians. Now that I identify as a Kinsey 4, my approach is slightly more tortuous (the question is more likely to begin: "As a lesbian who's now shagging a gay guy …") but it's increasingly rare that you'll meet a cool straight girl who'll admit to being completely straight.

I was on a panel in Soho last week co-sponsored by Women in Journalism and the lesbian magazine Diva to debate "Lesbophobia in the Media". I came in for a bit of bisexual bashing from Clare Balding's girlfriend, Alice Arnold ("betrayal" was the word), and from Eleanor Margolis, the 24-year-old who writes a column about being a lesbian in the New Statesman. "I don't believe in all this fluidity thing," she said, which, to be fair, was exactly the sort of thing I used to say at her age. The fact is, even if you don't believe in the concept of sexual fluidity, it is, like gravity, simply a fact of life.

The findings of the latest National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) seem to suggest this too. The number of women reporting same-sex partners has increased from 1.8% to 7.9% over the past 20 years. At the end of the lesbophobia debate, I asked the audience of around 100 women – many of whom had come with the Diva crowd – to put their hands up to indicate how they defined themselves sexually. About a third didn't raise their hands at all. Of the rest, the majority were lesbian, a large smattering were bisexual and about five hands wavered nervously in the air, owning up to the very square fact of being straight. In this sense, this media crowd had a lot in common with chicks in the contemporary swinging scene. I've been checking out this world recently and have found that while the male half of the swinging couple's profile will identify as straight, it's pretty much par for the course that a woman will indicate "bi-curious" or "bisexual". Sure, a lot of this is about women trying to please their men – it plays to a common male fantasy of a threesome involving two women and a man – but actually, in my experience, the bisexual ones really are up for it. I think there are a ton of "straight" women out there who, once they've ticked all the safety boxes (get married, get financially secure, have babies), are ready to "play", using swinger terminology. And that is the thing about this new sexually fluid world (for women). Its politics are much less right-on compared with the old-school lesbian separatist thing. The women who claim to be bisexuals in the National Survey are not the type to go marching on the streets about it. Continue reading via The Guardian...

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