She's the openly-gay high school senior who wanted to take her girlfriend to the high school prom at Itawamba High School in northern Mississippi. The principal told the girls that all prom couples have to be boy-girl. In response, the school board canceled the prom.
District Court Judge Glen Davidson to intervene and reinstate the prom. The judge ruled that although the school had violated Ms. McMillen's civil rights, he wouldn't force them to hold a prom. On Friday, April 2, Ms. According to the Associated Press, her girlfriend's parents wouldn't allow the year-old girlfriend to go, so McMillen escorted another young woman instead.
To make the story even worse, it turns out that the alternative prom at the Fulton County Country Club was a fake , with only seven kids attending, according to McMillen. The real prom, i. The story continues to attract national attention because it's just so darn quaint. As a physician and a psychologist, what I found missing in the noise surrounding the Constance McMillen story was any serious discussion of why a growing number of girls self-identify as lesbian or bisexual.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld might say. But why are young women today at least three times more likely than their brothers to identify as bisexual or homosexual?
There is no comparable crowd of young male celebrities rushing to assure us that they go both ways. Imagine a young man singing "I kissed a boy and I liked it. Why is it OK for girls to be bisexual or homosexual, but not boys? Over the past seven years, I've posed this question to hundreds of teenagers and young adults across the United States. The most common answer I get isn't really an answer. They're just doing it for attention. It's not for real.
Pretending to be lesbian or bisexual doesn't explain why a growing proportion of young women are lesbian or bisexual. Female sexuality is different from male sexuality. If a straight boy kissed another boy, perhaps to amuse some girls who might be watching, he would be unlikely to undergo a change in sexual orientation as a result. But, as Professor Roy Baumeister at Florida State University and others have shown, sexual attraction in many women seems to be more malleable see note 3 below.
If a teenage girl kisses another teenage girl, for whatever reason, and she finds that she likes it - then things can happen, and things can change.
If a young woman finds her soulmate, and her soulmate happens to be female, then she may begin to experience feelings she's never felt before. Especially if all the guys she knows are losers.
Which brings me to the second point I've encountered in my interviews with young people. Twenty years ago, when I opened my practice in a suburb of Washington DC, it was rare to find year-old boys who were looking at pornography every day.
Today it's common, in fact it's becoming the norm. When I meet with a group of year-old boys and I ask them, "how many of you guys subscribe to a porn site? I don't believe them. But today, no boy wants to admit that he's the weirdo who doesn't look at online porn. Twenty years ago, hardcore pornography was tucked away in adult bookstores.
Today any year-old can access such photos online in seconds. Is there any connection between these two trends - between the rise in the number of young women who self-identify as lesbian or bisexual, and the increasing normalization and acceptance of pornography in the lives of young men? A young woman told me how her boyfriend several years ago suggested that she shave her pubic hair, so that she might more closely resemble the porn stars who were this young man's most consistent source of sexual arousal.
She now identifies herself as bisexual. I don't know a guy who could even comprehend the conversations we have. But I have to wonder: Are there so many girl-girl couples out there because that's truly who they are - or because the guys are such losers?
How common has bisexual and lesbian sexual orientation been among women, historically?: In the third edition of his textbook Evolutionary Psychology: He implies that this figure has been generally valid over time, a finding which he acknowledges poses an as-yet-unsolved mystery for evolutionary psychology. Popular accounts of homosexual behavior often suggest that these behaviors make evolutionary sense because the people practicing these behaviors make better aunts and uncles than heterosexuals do, a theory first advanced by E.
Wilson back in the 's. However, studies published in the past twenty years have provided little support for this hypothesis, and have often directly refuted it, particularly for male homosexuals: Nobody seems to have told the New York Times about this, as they repeated E. It's very difficult to estimate accurately the "true" proportion of lesbian or bisexual women 50 years ago or years ago.
In many jurisdictions 50 years ago, lesbian behavior would have been a criminal offense. Even when assured of confidentiality, women might reasonably under-report the true incidence of bisexual or lesbian orientation. However, it's hard to deny that lesbian and bisexual behavior has become much more visible in our time compared with one or two generations ago -- and also that lesbian behavior is much more visible today in mainstream North American culture than is homosexual behavior among men.
How common is bisexual and homosexual orientation, today? Researchers at Cornell University, examining data collected from a representative sampling of young Americans which included more than 20, individuals in 80 communities across the United States, found that Among young men, Ream, "Prevalence and stability of sexual orientation components during adolescence and young adulthood," Archives of Sexual Behavior, volume 36, pp.
The proportions in Europe might be higher. Hegna, "Sexual orientation and suicide attempt: A longitudinal study of the general Norwegian adolescent population," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, volume , pp.
In a study from New Zealand, Dickson and colleagues, "Same-sex attraction in a birth cohort: Maybe a straight woman is just a woman who hasn't yet met - the right woman? Professor Roy Baumeister's most relevant article about erotic plasticity is " Gender differences in erotic plasticity: Professor Lisa Diamond has made a compelling case that many women don't discover their "true" sexual identity until their 20's, 30's or even 40's.
A woman may reach her 40's, believe that she is a straight woman, and then find herself falling in love with her soulmate - who happens to be a woman. Here are three of Professor Diamond's most relevant articles: A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire," Psychological Review, volume , pp.
John Mayer said what? John Mayer's current preference for pornography over sex with real women wasn't well-known until his interview with Rolling Stone February 4 and his March interview with Playboy magazine , in which he also explained why he now prefers porn over sex with actual women: I'm more comfortable in my imagination than I am in actual human discovery.