Why are bisexual women more likely to have tried anal sex?

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Among men ages 18-44, homosexuality correlates with sex acts as you’d expect. The gayer the man, the less likely he is to have had any kind of sex with a woman.

But this pattern doesn’t hold among womenwomen who say they’re attracted mostly to men are even more likely to report having had vaginal sex. Isn’t that odd? A woman who’s mostly rather than entirely straight presumably diverts some of her sexual energy away from men. How does she end up more likely to have had vaginal intercourse?

women who say they’re attracted mostly to men are even more likely to report oral sex with a man. And here, the gap is bigger: Compared with exclusively straight women, mostly straight women are more likely to have had oral sex with a man by a margin of 9 percentage points.

Move on to anal sex, and the pattern gets even stranger. Again, women attracted mostly to men are more likely to say they’ve had anal sex with a man than are women attracted only to men. And in the case of anal sex, the gap is huge: While 30 percent of the totally straight women say they’ve had anal sex, 55 percent of the mostly straight women say they’ve done it. But get this: Among women who say they’re attracted equally, mostly, or exclusively to women, the figure is 41 percent. Lesbian and bisexual women are more likely than totally straight women to say they’ve had anal sex with a man.

If you find this number hard to believe, check it against a related finding in the same table: 48 percent of women who self-identify as gay or bisexual report having had anal sex with a man, compared with 33 percent of women who self-identify as straight. This gap is true of anal sex, but not of vaginal or oral sex.

What could explain this?

Here’s my best guess: In many if not most cases, openness to experimentation is driving everything else. Adventurousness makes a woman more likely to try various sex acts with men. And at the same time, it makes her more likely to express interest in other women. This factor would have to be strong enough in bisexual women, on average, to overcome the statistical effects of clear-cut lesbians who do nothing sexual with men.

This is from William Saletan’s very interesting piece. Read the rest of it here.

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