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Lisa M. Diamond

Sexual Fluidity

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Catalog No. 29599

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 M. 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, and, most important, different love relationships. This perspective clashes with traditional views of sexual orientation as a stable and fixed trait. But that view is based on research conducted almost entirely on men. Diamond is the first to study a large group of women over time. She has tracked one hundred women for more than ten years as they have emerged from adolescence into adulthood. She summarizes their experiences and reviews research ranging from the psychology of love to the biology of sex differences. Sexual Fluidity offers moving first-person accounts of women falling in and out of love with men or women at different times in their lives. For some, gender becomes irrelevant: "I fall in love with the person, not the gender," say some respondents. Sexual Fluidity offers a new understanding of women's sexuality--and of the central importance of love.

"Many women experience a fluid sexual desire that is responsive to a person rather then a specific gender, argues Diamond in this fascinating and certain to be controversial study. Diamond, associate professor of psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah, is best when detailing, with vivid examples, how scientific studies of sexual desire and behavior have focused on the experience of men, for whom the heterosexual/homosexual divide seems mostly fixed. Diamond says traditional labels for sexual desire are inadequate; for some women even bisexual does not truly express the protean nature of their sexuality. Diamond details in accessible and nuanced language her own study of 100 young women (by her own admission not fully representative) over a period of 10 years. She says that she is calling for an expanded understanding of same-sex sexuality that could radically affect both LGBT activists who hold that sexual identity is fixed and antigay groups who believe sexuality is chosen. Sexual fluidity involves a mix of internal and external factors, but is not, Diamond emphasizes, a matter of conscious choice, and she speculates that a younger generation that views sexuality as personal rather than political might embrace this less rigid view."-- Publishers Weekly

"Sexual Fluidity is the most important book on sexuality in many years. The scholarship is impeccable and the writing lucid. Exploring issues that have political, scientific, and personal ramifications, Diamond answers the tough questions: Do women have a sexual orientation? Do women choose their sexuality? Can a heterosexual woman fall in love with a woman? Can a lesbian fall in love with a man? Are women really sexually changeable? Are men? Diamond challenges both traditionalists and radicals‰ۥif you want to understand female sexuality, listen to what women say."--Ritch C. Savin-Williams, author of The New Gay Teenager

"Freud once asked: 'What do women want?' He did not really know. In this beautiful and scholarly book, Diamond has attempted to answer his question. In her study of 100 young women growing up in the postmodern era, she has found that what women want is far more complex than was previously thought and cannot easily be answered with a simple theory. This book will be read by students and scholars across the social and biological sciences. It is a gift to be cherished."--Ken Zucker, University of Toronto

Lisa M. Diamond is Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah.

2010 Book Award, International Association for Relationship Research

2010 Outstanding Book Award, Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender

352 pages. 2009

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