According to many, sexuality is a broad spectrum. Is anyone completely straight? Does that blur the distinction of what heterosexual implies? A research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior investigates people's sexual preferences and experiences.
Sexual orientation is a complex topic for many individuals, and sexualities that differ from heterosexuality are often stigmatized. Same-sex experiences or emotions can jeopardize people who identify as heterosexual’s sense of self, and can have emotional consequences that put them at harm's door.
Although gay marriage and adoption are now legal in Spain, discrimination and prejudice persist and can have significant effects on how people perceive and perceive their sexuality and gender. This study investigates the experiences of people who identify as heterosexual in Spain.
Juan E. Nebot-Garcia and colleagues analyzed data from 2900 Spanish heterosexual participants who participated in a larger investigation on sexual diversity and orientation. Participants were recruited via social media and completed the questionnaire online. The sample was mostly composed of women.
Participants completed a questionnaire about same-sex experiences, sexual orientation identification, sexual attraction, behavior intention toward the same and opposite sex individuals, aesthetic appreciation of the same-sex, and discomfort.
Results showed that 31.5 percent of women and 13.2 percent of men who identified as heterosexual reported having an affinity for persons of the same sex.
The most unsettling experiences we've encountered were having sex with someone of the same sex or having a sex dream with someone of the same sex.
The first may be more irritating because it is the most explicit behavior and involves greater intimate and social exposure. The discomfort around erotica may be due to the involuntary nature of the dreams themselves and because they are manifestations of unconscious intentions and desires, according to the researchers.
Men were significantly less likely to indicate that they would perform sexual activities with someone of the same sex than women. These gender differences are likely to be attributed to extensive gender roles, despite all efforts made in recent years.
"Our findings provide valuable insight on heterosexuality, which is often accompanied by significant levels of discomfort regarding different sexual manifestations," according to the researchers. "This may limit the enjoyment of sexuality and its full development, particularly among heterosexual men."
Despite these difficulties, this research employs self-report with a stigmatized topic. Such findings may be biased toward social desirability.
"These findings were specific to Spain, a country where legislative advances coexist with an unshakeable religious and machismo tradition," the authors wrote. "It is evident that there is a need to continue studying sexual orientation as a complex construct in order to encompass the affective-sexual diversity that characterizes the population in its entirety."
Juan E. Nebot-Garcia, Cristina Giménez-Garca, Mara Dolores Gil-Llario, and Rafael Ballester-Arnal coauthored the paper "What Does Heterosexuality Mean?"