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At the risk of bruising your fragile ego and sense of self, science has unequivocally debunked the long-held societal acceptance of sexuality being completely rigid. Turns out, human sexuality is a fluctuating experience, so much so that no one can really be defined absolutely by a label denoting whom they find attractive. Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a study conducted by Ritch C. Savin-Williams of Cornell University uproots beliefs regarding heteronormative sexual orientation by observing gender expression in women and measuring the physiological response to the exposure of a variety of different pornographic material.

Cover your eyes, conservatives, because here’s where your head might explode. The study found that regardless of how a woman self-reported her own sexual orientation, their bodies physiologically responded to pornographic material of both a heterosexual and homosexual nature. Oh, and women are also a lot hornier than you think. Shocking to think women enjoy sex too, isn’t it? This study is a breakthrough in terms of providing evidence of the complexity and fluidity of human sexuality and response.

The study was conducted in Savin-Williams’ Sex and Gender Lab in the Department of Human Development at Cornell as part of a larger examination and project looking to discover how human sexuality truly works. “It’s basically a study that assesses sexual orientation by looking at the eyes and whether they dilate or not,” Savin-Williams said of his most recent findings. “You can’t control your eye dilation. Essentially, that’s what the whole project attempts to get at, another way of assessing sexuality without relying on self report. Another way of course is genital arousal, but that gets a little invasive.”


Before you start going around like a psychopath, flashing pictures of naked men and women in people’s faces and observing their pupil dilation to see what their sexual orientation really is, you need to understand that just looking at someone’s eyes doesn’t definitively prove sexual orientation in the slightest. Rather, what Savin-Williams’ study is trying to express is the fact that our bodies are much more honest and in tune with what or who it is that stimulates us, deconstructing the notion that how we identify ourselves in terms of sexuality isn’t an airtight summation of our sexual identity or expression.

A study like this could be an important step in recalibrating cultural and societal norms regarding sexual orientation, expanding people’s views on not just sexual identity, but gender expression and identity as well. “We’re trying to get at the way people really are. Sometimes, it seems people are one way but believe they have to report themselves in another way, and that’s not good.” This instinctual reaction to paint ourselves as solidly one thing, especially in a heteronormative society, is a product of restrictive social influence, according to Savin-Williams, which has been a bit more lenient in granting straight women the acceptability to be more fluid and experimental with their sexuality (no doubt due to our patriarchal society, but that’s another issue in and of itself).

Particularly with men, where masculinity is a much more fragile and lauded characteristic that heterosexual men wish to embody and the rest of society casts upon them, Savin-Williams is working on a concept he describes as the mostly straight male. “We show straight men a picture of a woman masturbating and they respond just like a straight guy, but then you also show them a guy masturbating and their eyes dilate a little bit. So we’re actually able to show physiologically that all guys are not either gay, straight, or bi. There are aspects [of male sexuality] along a continuum, just as we have always recognized with women. Men have gotten so much cultural crap put on them that even if a man does have some sexual attraction to guys, they would never say it.”

So wake up, society! It’s 2015, and we’re all a little gay. Deal with it.

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