A new study looking at the sexuality of American men and women has found a substantial increase in the number of women reporting female-female sexual encounters. The study, appearing in the journal Public Opinion Quarterly, took in more than 20,000 men and women of all ages. The components of the survey about sexual behaviors were obtained using self-administered paper questionnaires so the respondents did not have to reveal their answers to the interviewers.
Their study found that for women of all ages, the percentage reporting a female sexual partner in the previous year increased from 1 percent in the period 1988 to 1994 to almost 3 percent in 1996-2002.
But the increase was more dramatic amongst young women. The percentage of women aged between 18 and 29 who reported having a female sexual partner in the preceding year rose from 4 percent to 8 percent.
The researchers said that the findings continued a long-term trend of increased female-female sexual contact. The percentage of women reporting female-female sexual contact during their lifetime rose from 1.6 percent for women born prior to 1920 to 7 percent for women born after 1970. "Our research documents not only a short-term trend in the 1990s but a historical shift across the 20th century," says researcher Charles Turne, who led the study team.
As one would expect, the findings are complemented by a dramatic increase in tolerance of same-gender sex. Among women, the percentage saying same-gender sex is "not wrong at all" rose from 5.6 percent for women born before 1920 to 45.2 percent for women born after 1970.
Interestingly, no similar trend was observed in the reporting of male-male sexual contacts. The percentage of men reporting male-male sexual contacts in their lifetime fluctuated in the range of 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent with no statistically significant trend over time.