Anyway, the article is moderately interesting, although it doesn't say anything earth-shattering and there are some problematic moments. FeministGal points out a few issues, such as Fischer's use of 'lesbian chic' as evidence of society's acceptance (rather than exploitation, a more accurate term) of lesbian relationships:
Lately, a new kind of sisterly love seems to be in the air. In the past few years, Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon left a boyfriend after a decade and a half and started dating a woman (and talked openly about it). Actress Lindsay Lohan and DJ Samantha Ronson flaunted their relationship from New York to Dubai. Katy Perry's song "I Kissed a Girl" topped the charts. The L Word, Work Out, and Top Chef are featuring gay women on TV, and there's even talk of a lesbian reality show in the works. Certainly nothing is new about women having sex with women, but we've arrived at a moment in the popular culture when it all suddenly seems almost fashionable—or at least, acceptable.Lesbianism is fashionable? Um. Yay? Also, I've heard that before (e.g. Laura Cottingham's book(let) Lesbians Are So Chic...: ...That We Are Not Really Lesbians at All and Linda Dittmar's article "The Straight Goods: Lesbian Chic and Identity Capital on a Not-so-Queer Planet," both written in the mid-1990s and a long time before the age of Katy Perry and Tila Tequila).
Fischer also points to a landmark 2004 study (referenced a few months ago in this New York Times Magazine feature) as evidence that female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality. I don't know. I haven't read the study itself, but it seems that Fischer is vastly simplifying the results. Regardless, I don't have too much of a problem with the idea that women's sexuality is more fluid--stereotypical though it may seem. Who knows, maybe it's true? I have a much bigger problem with the conclusion Fischer draws toward the end of the article: that women who leave men for other women tend to be more attracted to butch lesbians, androgynous women or bois. She writes:
Ironically—or not, as some might argue—it is certain "masculine" qualities that draw many straight-labeled women to female partners; that, in combination with emotional connection, intimacy, and intensity. This was definitely true for Gomez-Barris, whose partner, Judith Halberstam, 47, (above right, with Gomez-Barris, left) says she has never felt "female." Growing up in England as a tomboy who had short hair and refused to wear dresses, Halberstam says people were often unable to figure out whether she was a boy or a girl: "I was a source of embarrassment for my family." As a teenager, she was an avid soccer player—not that she was allowed on any team. And her 13th birthday request for a punching bag and boxing gloves was met with the demand to pick something more feminine. "Throughout my youth," she says, "I felt rage at the shrinking of my world." Halberstam channeled her anger into a distinguished academic career and authored several provocative books, including, in 1998, Female Masculinity. It was during the past few years that she started calling herself Jack and answering to both "he" and "she."With all due respect to Judith (Jack) Halberstam, whose work I really admire and whose own sexuality isn't really the issue here, it does seem a little reductive for Fischer to argue that most "straight" women tend to fall for masculine/androgynous women, and the article seems to come to some sort of unspoken conclusion that socially-sanctioned gender binaries (male as rational and female as emotional, for example) still play a role, even for women who fall in love with other women. This may be true for some people. It may even be more often true for straight women who date lesbians. But it's certainly not something I'd be willing to build an argument around.
Do you think female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality? Do any of you who are gay, bisexual or heteroflexible want to speak to whether or not you tend to be attracted to more "masculine" or more "feminine" women? And what that might mean, if anything? Is this even something about which we can make generalized claims?
Lest I sound too grumpy, I think the article's mostly fine, especially for something published in a mainstream publication. What do you all think?