This question has been buzzing like crazy in my brain all day, demanding an answer I was worried that I’d never be able to give it. My inner bisexual knew what I wanted the answer to be. “theyreallylikewomentheyreallylikewomentheyreallylikewomen.” It would be more evidence to me that we are, after all, existing on a sexual scale of preference, rather than fixed to a straight/gay binary.
But that felt like an easy answer. It doesn’t seem quite that straightforward. Straight men, for instance, do not watch gay porn. They just don’t. They need some girl-flesh to get off to and watching men do things to men generally makes them squirm, or die inside or something. I’ve been told by men of the world that “guy on guy sex is just “unnatural”, whereas girl on girl is part of the way of the world – because men like to watch it DUH! And so do straight women, apparently. So if the answer is simply that “we’re all a little bit bi, then girls are clearly a little bit more bi than boys; a conclusion that makes very little logical sense.
It’s fairly obvious that men are anxious about their masculinity, and that so much as daring to watch Brokeback Mountain can be perceived as a gay, anti-male threat in many circles. There’s simply no reason for a manly straight man to watch gay porn if he isn’t immediately aroused by it. And if he is, then then the instant conclusion is, of course, that it’s because he’s a repressed gay(not bi). On the other hand, straight porn is a harder sell to women because representationally it’s … pretty horrible mostly. In terms of power dynamics it’s not only all male fantasy, it more often than not features male dominance and displays of power over women. Women in porn are mostly fuck toys. As a woman, it’s not easy to get into a space/frame of mind for being aroused when the person on-screen you identify with is being objectified and shown as dehumanised or subservient.
If we consider lesbian porn, instead, it’s entirely different. Of course, lesbian porn isn’t actually made for either straight or gay women to enjoy, it’s still a male fantasy game, but no matter how tawdry the onscreen dynamic is still entirely different. Instead of watching a male figure dominating and subduing women, two (or more) women are meeting for sex and pleasuring one another on rather more equal power- terms. How much easier to switch off and feel arousal if there’s at least something onscreen that the woman can identify with How much more enjoyable. The male in straight porn is so often a little bit threatening, but in lesbian porn that figure has gone. It may not be that all women are fantasising about fucking the woman onscreen as men are when they watch straight porn. They may be using the sexual scenario as a way to fuel their own, more abstract, fantasies.
If this is close to correct, does that make straight women free from the potential, horrific curse of being labelled bisexual – are they still being honest with themselves if they call themselves straight? Well, I guess this depends on how one views sex/arousal; I doubt that most women who say this are actually lying, but I think that their language of sexuality and our culture of anti bisexuality suggests to them that the straight box is the one they should fit into. Does saying “I like watching women onscreen, but I wouldn’t go out and have sex with one” mean that you are definitely straight? For me, whatever the reason you’re doing it, surely the fact is that if watching two women having sex arouses you, takes you to a place in which you have erotic thoughts and desires, then you’re aroused by the thought of your own sex.(Do you have to actually have sex with a woman to consider yourself a bisexual woman?) In my mind, that’s still a strong indication that sexuality exists on a continuum, and that what we call ourselves, straight, gay, bi, pan or whatever, we still have the possibility to break free from the constrictions of our language and the boxes it tries to put is in and consider that sex and desire is flexible and more than a little unpredictable.