Alleged lesbianism expert Dr. Menelaos Apostolou recently published a study concluding that women have sex with women for the sole purpose of turning on straight men.
In the study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, Apostolou’s team surveyed 1,509 participants. Coincidentally enough, every single one of the participants was heterosexual. Most of the men said they were turned on thinking about their mostly-straight female partners getting it on with other women. A much smaller percent of the women eroticized hetero-flexible male partners.
The researchers concluded that attraction between women evolved because men have an innate desire for it, a desire connected to reproductive drives like avoiding cuckoldry.
This theory sounds closer to the late night weed-fueled horn-ball musings of a fraternity brother than of legitimate psychology study. And indeed, Apostolou’s academic peers and members of the LGBT community have rejected the study for privileging straight male erotic desire and promoting a heterosexist view of sexuality.
Dr. Shara Sand, a clinical psychologist affiliated with Division 44, the LGBT branch of the American Psychological Association, described the study as “suspect and in line with a straight man’s fantasy.”
Apostolou defended his theories to BTRtoday by saying that there’s a lot we don’t understand about sexual orientation, including what he called the “evolutionary puzzle” of same-sex attraction that’s unconnected to reproduction. He’s correct: there’s a lot we don’t understand about human sexuality. But in attempting to solve the puzzle, Apostolou clings to hetero male biology as the only possible frame of reference.
Such a narrow framework ignores the influence of cultural factors like porn. Diana Fleischman, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, told the International Business Times: “two women having sex with one man is such a common theme in pornography that I think it is very difficult to parse out that particular variable.”
The possibility of cultural conditioning on men’s sexuality stumps Apostolou. His hypothesis is predicated upon sexuality as a fixed and natural trait.
“I can’t really see how cultural factors would make some men be turned on when their partners tell them I want to have sex with another woman,” he told the IBT. “These kinds of sexual traits are more instinctive. It’s a mechanism that has been selected to serve a purpose – to make you reproduce. For me, these are expressions of old mechanisms.”
For Sand, it’s not the sexual mechanisms that are old but Apostolou’s theories, which she described to BTRtoday as “antiquated.” Sex is about more than procreation, she says and is therefore possible “for any gender combination.”
Despite his claims, Apostolou acknowledged the influence culture can have on sexual desires (though in a twisted way). Religion, he said, can render a man “reluctant to admit, even to himself,” his desire for woman-on-woman action, while porn can do the opposite and make him more transparent in his desires. “I believe that future studies will examine the impact of such factors in male desires,” he said.
“In male desires.” He admits, in other words, that male sexuality may be more complex than an inherent need to procreate. It’s female sexuality that is driven only by biology defined by male sexual desire, which may itself be innate or cultural or both.
The good news is that this is just one study, that psychologists like Fleischman and Sand readily disregard. As Sand told BTRtoday, “same-sex attraction between women has nothing to do with men, end of story.”