Episode 63: A New Way of Thinking About Sexual Orientation

If you ask someone to describe their sexuality, odds are they’ll probably tell you something about the sex or gender of the people they’re attracted to. However, that’s just one of many aspects of sexuality that might be important to a given individual. Sexuality is multidimensional, and each of us has a unique constellation of factors that play a part in our attraction to others, from the number of partners we want to have, to the degree of support and nurturance we need, to the sexual roles we like to play.

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about a new way of thinking about sexuality known as Sexual Configurations Theory that can help us to better understand and measure sexual diversity. My guests are doctoral candidate Aki Gormezano and Dr. Sari van Anders, both from Queen’s University in Canada.

Some of the topics we discuss in this episode include:

  • What is Sexual Configurations Theory? Why is it important to expand our definition of sexual orientation beyond sex/gender-based attractions?
  • To what degree do our sexual fantasies, porn use, and in-person sexual behaviors overlap versus diverge? Why do some aspects of sexuality overlap more than others, and can this change over time?
  • Why is it problematic to assume that what people watch in porn necessarily reflects what they want to do in bed?
  • How should we measure someone’s sexuality in a research lab? Is genital arousal to porn really the “truest” measure of someone’s sexuality?
  • How can we do better, more inclusive sex research?

To learn more about Sexual Configurations Theory, check out the van Anders lab website. Also, be sure to follow my guests on Twitter @gormezaki and @sarivananders

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Credits: LEGIT Audio (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos used with permission of guest.

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