Every few years, “new” research about women’s sexuality splashes across headlines. “All women are bi!” it proclaims, giving a half-assed summary of the research that goes something like this:
Researchers hooked people’s bits up to a machine that measures physical arousal—how hard or wet they get. They show each participant a bunch of videos: action films, documentaries, animal mating videos, and different types of porn. Lo and behold! People with penises* only get hard while watching porn that matches their sexuality. Meanwhile, people with vulvas get wet for all sorts of sex, including—*gasp*—the animals fucking.
The popular narrative stops there, concluding that all women are bi. The truth goes deeper.
The clickbait leaves out that many of these studies also measure participants’ subjective arousal, or how turned on they say they feel. This is where the research gets really interesting.