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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