A Kiss is a Kiss

Interesting article in yesterday's WaPo about how movie kisses between two men are treated very differently than kisses between two women, even and sometimes especially by the people whose lips are on either side of the kiss.

Something I've always found rather interesting is how few self-identified straight men, who are not remotely uncomfortable with seeing two men in a sexual situation, are turned on by it. This is something that's been studied (self-identified straight men who are admittedly homophobic are more likely to be measurably turned on by images of gay male sexuality than self-identified men who are admittedly gay-positive), and I've found it to be anecdotally true as well; I personally know extremely few gay-positive straight men who say watching two men make out or have sex gets them revved up, even if watching two women does.

What makes this interesting to me is that the same does not hold for self-identified straight women, who are more likely to be measurably turned on watching any combination of sexes—a man and a woman, two women, two men.

Surely part of it is the cultural gaze that socializes all of us, irrespective of our sex or sexual orientation, to sexually objectify women. But there's something else at play here, too—because lesbians tend to be as sexually amiable as their straight sisters, and gay men tend to be as sexually selective as their straight brothers.

This is something we all sort of know intuitively, which is why there's a cultural narrative about women generally being more flexible and fluid in their sexuality than men.

But, if I had to guess, I'd say there's no biological prescription for that (especially since there's not even any convincing theory why there would be one). I suspect instead that in obvious and less obvious ways, women are socialized to be more broadly receptive to sexual stimulus, while men are socialized to reject any sexual stimulus that does not serve their individual needs.

Which, if accurate, makes me sad for men, in the way that limiting humans' capacity to enjoy anything makes me sad.

I really wish we wouldn't do that to ourselves and each other. Of course, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

[H/T to Shaker Angelos.]

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