My imagination is out of whack with that of the population at large. Of all the dangers facing the humanity, the ones I find frightening often don’t match what everybody else worries about. For example, I find antibiotic-resistant bacteria scarier than a couple degrees of global warming. Maybe I shouldn’t, but that’s my first impression. Or here’s another one. Serious people worry about the gender imbalance in China. Sex-selective abortion is leaving a surplus of Chinese men compared to Chinese women. That’s a lot of men who won’t be able to marry, and that can’t be good. I don’t buy the theory, by the way, that sexually frustrated men go off and start wars. The heads of state who initiated the Great War weren’t suffering from involuntary celibacy, and the men who fought were doing their unpleasant patriotic duty. But, regardless, having many more of one sex than the other is sure to mess up one’s society in profound ways.
The report, based on data collected between 2011 and 2013, found that 5.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men identify as bisexual. Compare that to the CDC’s last report on the topic, published in 2011, which found that 3.5 percent of women and 1.1 percent of men claim the sexual identity.
Sexuality is more complex than chosen labels, though: Far more women and men report having had same-sex sexual contact—17.4 and 6.2 percent, respectively—than identify as bisexual. That means almost one-fifth of women have fooled around with another woman. These numbers have also risen since the last survey, which found same-sex nookie reported by 12.5 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men.
There were similar findings on the attraction front: 16.9 percent of women and 5.8 percent of men report sexual attraction that isn’t exclusively to the opposite sex or the same sex.
Female sexuality is more malleable than male sexuality, more easily manipulable by social expectations. As lesbianism becomes high status, the female id responds. We see the status of lesbianism rise in two ways. First, there is the level of political conviction: homosexuality is now celebrated, and its critics are ostracized. Second, there is what one might call the level of pornographic status, the impression that men find lesbianism sexy. Of course, a woman responding to the latter incentive must remain at least somewhat bisexual, because there’s the idea in the background of a future man’s titillation to be exploited. Against this, society is still heavily heteronormative, not in the sense of heterosexuality being morally normative, but in the sense of it being the default. Most girls grow up with a mother and father in a heterosexual relationship, and most of the older women they know, who provide their image of what a woman’s life at 40 or at 50 looks like, have husbands. All the Disney princesses are heterosexual. One might say that homosexuality is celebrated, but heterosexuality is expected. Given the state of the culture, one could argue that this is a reasonable compromise, but neither traditionalists nor feminists are happy with it. Traditionalists have no power, but feminists do, so we can expect the expectation of heterosexuality to be eroded by government and media campaigns.
According to that report, at least 17 percent of women have sufficient same-sex attraction that they could identify as lesbians with the appropriate social conditioning. Probably social conditioning could raise this number even higher. Suppose, though, that 17% of women and 6% of men is the cap on homosexuality. That would mean we’re heading for a situation with around 88 heterosexual women for each 100 heterosexual man. As I said, my guess is that the true extent of female erotic malleability has not yet been seen. If the Chinese have trouble, we have trouble too.
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