For the past two generations, extensive research has been conducted on the determinants of homosexuality. But, until now, scant attention has been paid to what is perhaps the most mysterious--and potentially illuminating--variation of human sexual expression, bisexuality. Today, as ignorance and fear of AIDS makes greater awareness of all forms of sexual behavior an urgent matter of private and public consequence, leading sex researchers Martin Weinberg, Colin Williams, and Douglas Pryor provide us with the first major study of bisexuality.
Weinberg, Williams, and Pryor explore the riddle of dual attraction in their study of 800 residents of San Francisco. Fieldwork, intensive interviews, and surveys provided a wealth of data about the nature of bisexual attraction, the steps that lead people to become bisexual, and how sexual preference can change over time. They found that heterosexuals, more often than homosexuals, become bisexual; that bisexual men and women differ markedly in their sexual behavior and romantic feelings; that most bisexuals ultimately settle into long-term relationships while continuing sexual activity outside those relationships; and they also explain why transsexuals often become bisexual. Moreover, the authors discovered that as the AIDS crisis unfolded, many bisexual men entered into monogamous relationships with women, and bisexual women into more lesbian relationships.
Recent media accounts attest that a growing number of researchers and writers are narrowing the fundamental cause of sexual preference to a single factor, biology. But if, as this study shows, learning plays a significant part in helping people traverse the boundaries of gender, if past and present intimate relationships influence their changing preferences, and if bisexual activity is inseparable from a social environment which provides distinctive sexual opportunities, then a mosaic of factors far more complex than those previously considered must be entertained in explaining the fuller spectrum of sexual preferences. Dual Attraction is one of the most significant contributions to our understanding of sexuality since the original Kinsey reports and Bell and Weinberg's 1978 international bestseller, Homosexualities. It is must reading for all those interested in the study of sexual behavior--especially now, since the onset of AIDS.
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From Kirkus Reviews:
About the Authors:
Martin S. Weinberg is Professor of Sociology at Indiana University and Senior Research Sociologist at the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research from 1968-1980. He is the author or co-author of ten books, including Sexual Preference: Its Development among Men and Women, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, Male Homosexuals: Their Problems and Adaptations; and Homosexuals and the Military: A Study of Less than Honorable Discharge.
Colin J. Williams is Professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and Research Sociologist at the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research from 1968-1980. He is co-author of Sex and Morality in the U.S.; Male Homosexuals: Their Problems and Adaptations; and Homosexuals and the Military.
Indiana University sociologists Weinberg and Williams (coauthors, Male Homosexuals, 1974), along with Pryor (Wake Forest), offer ``the first major study of bisexuality.'' Working from the Kinsey thesis that sexual orientation is a choice rather than biologically determined, their study has implications for all sexual behavior. From interviews conducted at the Bisexual Center in San Francisco between 1983 and 1985, the authors concluded that all sexuality is fluid, complex, and socially structured, shaped by initial sexual encounters and altered by later opportunities. Hedonistically motivated, bisexuals, mostly male, self-identify in their late 20s--or, more technically, they either ``fail to unlearn'' or they ``rediscover'' pleasure in the same as well as in the opposite sex: they ``disconnect gender and sexual pleasure.'' In their surveys of behavior, mating rituals, communal ties, marriages, jealousy, and ``outing,'' the authors reveal a group of people who, unlike the homosexuals they have been identified with, have developed no life styles, many believing they are merely ``in transition.'' All of those who participated in the study (about 150) appear self-involved, sexually preoccupied, socially experimental individuals who objectify sex partners and feel that their range of sexual experience makes them superior. This very range, along with promiscuity and swinging, accounts for their rejection by both homosexuals and heterosexuals, who blame them for introducing AIDS into their community. Although their potential for sexuality is greater because of the varieties of sexual pairings they prefer, their numbers are nonetheless declining, their status, according to the authors, resembling that of homosexuals in the Sixties. Drawing conclusions from a small and idiosyncratic community, and assuming the unfashionable, politically dangerous position that sexual orientation is a choice, this study is, at best, a first. The prestige of Oxford and the panache of Mirabella may help it overcome a dry, flaccid style, narrow focus, incomplete theorizing, and outdated methods. (First serial to Mirabella) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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