It's been awhile since a sexuality study was so roundly dismissed by so many people (sex-havers and scientists alike), but that particular dry spell is over. A paper out of the University of Nicosia in Cyprus argues that female bisexuality exists as a biological imperative because men like it. Lead researcher Menelaos Apostolou made this conclusion — surprise, surprise — by analyzing the survey responses of men. Even more cringeworthy? The paper, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, was titled "The Evolution of Female Same-Sex Attraction: The Male Choice Hypothesis." Gross.
The survey results showed that 30 percent of straight men in short-term relationships and 15 percent of straight men in long-term relationships were sexually excited by the idea of having a partner who was predominantly interested in the opposite sex, but occasionally interested in the same sex. In other words, straight dudes are turned on by the idea of being with a woman who has a casual interest in other women. No groundbreaking discovery there. By comparison, only 7.8 percent of straight women surveyed said they'd be turned on by the idea of their partner being interested in other men. Why the discrepancy and how can that be, Apostolou wondered? That's where his analysis went off the rails.
He theorized that female bisexuality evolved because men were sexually interested in women who experienced low-key same-sex attraction. Women, in other words, are only bi to land a man. Apostolou also theorized that men liked women who were sexually interested in other women, because it decreased the likelihood that she'd seek extra-relationship sex with other men, assuaging their cuckolding fears.
There are obviously reaches aplenty here and the internet was swift to poke holes in all of Apostolou's theories. Diana Fleischman, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, commented on the study to IBT, saying, "The paper totally ignores a lot of other possible hypotheses and makes claims that are really not supported by the evidence they provide."
She points, for example, to the influence of watching porn on straight male desire and to the fact that fluid female sexuality is less stigmatized that fluid male sexuality. "There's a big cultural influence of porn because men are more likely to form associations through classical conditioning and stimulation and sexual arousal," she adds. "It only takes a few trials to get a man aroused at a piggy bank or a boot."
Twitter got in on it, too:
Plus, casual conversation with any queer woman will reveal a gaping inconsistency in Apostolou's conclusion: although straight men are typically quite chill with women's casual interest in other feminine women, as soon as a woman expresses attraction to a masculine-of-center woman, toxic masculinity tends to rear its ugly read. Bisexuality does not exist in a femme-on-femme vacuum, and if that study were repeated showing men photos of potential same-sex sexual partners for their partners across the gender spectrum, I bet there would be very different results.
Women's sexual identity doesn't exist in the service of male desire, no matter how men feel about it.