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The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Sincesocial scientists have studied the General Social Survey to chart the complexities of social change in the United States. The survey, which is conducted every couple of years, asks respondents their attitudes on topics ranging from race relations to drug use. Inthe survey started including a question on sexual identity.
Percentage of gay couple households, by race of householder u.s.
In the 10 years that the General Social Survey has included a question on sexual identity, rates of identification among gay men, lesbian women and bisexual men in the U. Of all of the women who responded to the survey, more than 1 in 18 identified as bisexual. One decade ago, only 1 in 65 did.
The most dramatic shift among bisexual identifying women is happening among young people. In the sample, more than 1 in 8 women from the ages of 18 to 34 identified as bisexual.
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There were more than twice as many young female bisexuals as there were young lesbians, gay men and bisexual men combined. That rate was more than two times higher than for white women or other racial groups — and almost four times higher than for men of any racial group.
And the majority of that change can be ed for by bisexual-identifying black women. But beyond this, other demographic research shows that black women have led the way in other trends related to gender.
Consider the gender gap in college attendance. As early asblack women began to outpace black men in completion of a four-year college degree.
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And in the first half of the 20th century, more unmarried black women started having children. Eventually, more unmarried white women started having children, too.
Perhaps when it comes to sexuality, black women are also ahead of the curve. Caudillo also analyzed the General Social Survey. Rather than study sexual identities, they studied sexual behavior.
Yet they discovered a similar pattern: Young black women were more likely to engage in same-sex sexual behavior than women and men in other racial and age groups. This too might explain why young black women, in particular, seem more willing to explore bisexuality.
Another aspect of the hypothesis involves the disproportionately high rates of incarceration of black men in the U. Yet over this period of time, the percentages of young black women identifying as bisexual have grown substantially. Finding reliable ways of measuring sexual identity on surveys is more difficult than you might thinkand the trend could have been spurred by something as simple as the way the question is phrased in the General Social Survey:.
Either way, one thing seems clear: Young people — especially young black women — are more willing to explore their sexuality. And the ways they are sexually identifying themselves on surveys is only one indicator of this change. up today.
Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Nicole S. MooreBarnard College. What forces might be fueling this shift?
And what can learn from it?