Men are attracted to bisexual and gay women and still want to produce offspring with them, claims a new study, which has put forward an explanation for how lesbianism survived and flourished through evolution. The theory has attracted fierce rebuttals.
A team led by Cypriot Menelaos Apostolou from the University of Nicosia interviewed 1,509 heterosexuals – both men and women – to find out how they would feel about their partner sleeping with the same sex.
“It was found that heterosexual women did not desire partners who experienced same-sex attractions, but a considerable proportion of heterosexual men desired partners who experienced same-sex attractions. In addition, it was found that men were more sexually excited than women by the same-sex infidelity of their partners, and they desired more than women, their opposite-sex partners to have sex with same-sex individuals,” concluded the study published in Science Direct, as quoted by Pink News.
More precisely, 34.3 percent of males – and only 7.8 percent of women – would prefer a partner who is attracted “predominantly to members of the opposite-sex but occasionally of the same-sex.”
One explanation is that in evolutionary terms, women were not reproductive rivals to straight men.
“A woman, driven by her sexual desires, may seek sexual contact outside of her long-term intimate relationship. When this woman has sex with another woman she does not have sex with another man which translates into same-sex contact reducing the risk of cuckoldry,” said the study.
Another explanation, put forward by previous studies on the subject, is that a man would welcome the addition of a new woman into his partner’s social circle as a chance to spread his seed further without repercussion – a polyamorous relationship in which everyone benefits.
It is, however, notable that only about 15 percent of those surveyed desired to see bisexual tendencies in their long-term partner.
Conversely, in a mirror scenario women would not presumably benefit from the father of their child being distracted by another suitor, even if male, nor would they desire confusion about the identity of the progenitor of their offspring.
The study has been greeted with hostility from published media, and Twitter, where many accused Apostolou of trying to downplay the existence of lesbianism, or failing to provide robust evidence.
“The paper totally ignores a lot of other possible hypotheses and makes claims that are really not supported by the evidence they provide,” Diana Fleischman, a psychologist at the University of Portsmouth, told the International Business Times.
Beyond the online outrage, there are several questions not addressed by the study. While bisexuals are potentially attractive, what about strictly lesbian women, with no interest in reproducing with men – how did they survive? Or homosexual and bisexual men, who, as the study suggests, hold no premium as partners for women looking to reproduce? Also, how transferable are the modern-day attitudes towards lesbians to prehistoric times and relationship models?
“I believe also that there are additional factors that need to be taken into consideration if same-sex attraction in women is to be understood,” admitted Apostolou to Pink News. “The publication of my theory gives the opportunity for a fruitful academic dialogue, where another scholar may attempt to refute, alter, or expand it and replicate my findings.”
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