Word for the Day: Heteroflexible

Ally McBeal, Heteroflexibility, and Lesbian Visibility on TV

This curiosity by heterosexually-identified women isn’t new, but the increase in public awareness and public acceptance of it is a recent development. It is best described by the term “heteroflexible,” which Salon.com writer Laurie Essig explains as the willingness to explore same-sex encounters while clearly and publicly maintaining a preference for heterosexuality. “Heteroflexible,” she elaborates, “is a lighthearted attempt to stick with heterosexual identification while still ‘getting in on the fun of homosexual pleasures'” (Nov 15, 2000).

For some women, to paraphrase Ally’s roommate Renee (Lisa Nicole Carson), heteroflexibility is what happens when opportunity and curiosity collide (Season 3, Episode 2).

Unlike heterosexual women, heteroflexible women are open to homosexual experiences, as long as these experiences stay firmly in the “experimentation” camp. And unlike the bisexual woman or bisexual straight woman, the heteroflexible woman makes no claim to bisexuality and has no interest in developing a romantic relationship with women outside of sex. Quite the opposite, in fact–her identity is securely rooted in heterosexuality.

I ran into the term in an alarmist article about how our society’s young people don’t even realize that they’re engaging in “deviant behaviors,” and decided to go learn more about the concept. Now I’m curious—why is heteroflexibility apparently limited to females? Is it that icky old Penthouse paradox? (It’s “sexy” to see two women together, but it’s “gay” to see two men together.)

Current Mood: 😕curious
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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