Recently, I was on the phone with my best friend, and the subject of women we find attractive came up. Talking about sexuality has become a normal part of our conversation — I came out as gay a few months ago after having identified as bisexual since I was a teenager. She’s 100 percent straight, but even she can appreciate the attractiveness of a woman, be it visually or sexually.
“I’d totally have sex with Rihanna,” she told me and, of course, I agreed wholeheartedly. I mean, Rihanna is fucking gorgeous; you’d be a fool to pass up an opportunity to have sex with her.
Of course, there is a very slim chance of my bestie or me ever getting the opportunity to have sex with Rihanna. But it was interesting to me that she talked about her sexual attraction to another woman so casually.
I had never really talked to any of my friends who identify as straight about their sexual feelings towards other women before. Part of me wondered if maybe I just surround myself by women who are more sexually fluid, but another part wondered if there was something more at play. Turns out my bestie isn’t an anomaly — there are a lot of women out there who identify as straight but also admit to having sexual attractions to women.
According to a 2011 study conducted by researchers at Boise State University, 60 percent of women who identify as heterosexual (straight) have admitted to being sexually attracted to another woman. 484 women were questioned for the study, and the numbers show that a higher amount of women than expected have sexual ideations about other women in one way or another.
Of the women who participated in the study, 45% of women admitted to kissing another woman. There are many women out there who can and will admit to experimenting sexually with women in their younger days. Kissing is usually as far as it goes, and it may not always be more than just a drunken make out session during a college party, but it’s still significant.
“Even among people who identify as heterosexual, there is a lot of variation in who they fantasize being with, who they’re attracted to, and who they actually engage in sexual activity with,” Elizabeth Morgan, the Boise State University professor of psychology who conducted the study, said in an interview with You Beauty back in 2011.
It’s worth mentioning that 50% of the women in the study admitted to fantasizing about a woman. During our conversation, my bestie also told me: “The naked female body is way more aesthetically pleasing than the male body.” I obviously agree. And I’ve seen more men naked sexually than I have women.
This is probably why straight women tend to be more interested in watching “lesbian” porn (I use the quotes because even most lesbian porn isn’t made for those who identify as lesbians.) Partially because straight porn (with a man and a woman) is so absurd to watch. Not to mention that even in pretty vanilla straight porn, the woman often serves as merely a vessel for the man’s pleasure, and is sometimes put into near demeaning situations that puts female viewers off. Lesbian-labeled porn focuses more on the pleasure of a woman, which we know straight porn very rarely does. According to a PornHub survey from 2015/2016, “lesbian” porn is the most searched for type of porn for women in the United States. Women want to see the way they experience pleasure mirrored back to them rather than watching some dude with a veiny penis spraying a woman in the face like his penis is a firehose.
So, how does age factor into this? Well, we all know that sexuality is fluid, and sometimes that fluidity becomes more obvious later in life. During the 2017 North American Menopause Society annual meeting, later in life sexual fluidity was a talking point.
“We know of a number of women who have been in perfectly happy marriages with men, they raised a family, and at some point—in their 40s or so—they find themselves unexpectedly falling in love with a woman, without ever having thought that was possible,” Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, division chief of ob-gyn behavioral medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and then incoming president of NAMS told Health.
And not just love, but sexual desire. Only a few days after talking to my best friend, another friend of mine brought up her sexual fantasies about women in conversation. This friend is happily married and has children, but told me that she gets older, her desire to be with a woman sexually grows.
Dr. Lisa Diamond, a psychologist from the University of Utah, told the Daily Mail, “‘We don’t know if fluidity is more likely at certain life stages than others. But one of the things we have observed is that individuals, but especially women, go through changes that give them a little more freedom.”
There is no concrete reason as to why many straight women feel confident to admit to these sexual feelings towards other women (and/or act on them) as they age, but it might have something to do with the fact that once you reach a certain age, you just don’t give a fuck anymore. Living the life that you want to live is one of the best parts of aging.
I don’t know if either of my friends will ever actually do anything more than fantasize about women, but the reality is that women are allowing themselves to become more sexually fluid. It’s hard to know if it’s because sexuality fluidity has become more socially acceptable in recent years, or simply because we learn to love who we are more as we age.
But no matter the reason, if you have ever felt these feelings, you’re not necessarily a lesbian, there’s nothing wrong with you, and you’re certainly not alone.