11 May, 2008

Liv Tyler and Human Sexuality

I don't slavishly follow celebrity news, but AOL's newsfeed does, and yesterday it popped up an announcement about Liv Tyler splitting from her hubby. Then there's the provocative post Paul's got up over at his place, and it comes down to one thing.

Time to confront my latent potential for bisexuality once again.

There's a backstory here. Stick with me and we'll get there.

Back in the days before the X-Files went to total shit, a friend and I were having a scintillating discussion about television women while we were shelving books at the store. No customers were harmed in the making of this conversation. Seth and I had the place to ourselves, and we used the time wisely to debate the relative attractiveness of some TV stars. He mooned over Lucy Lawless. I told him Gillian Anderson was the only woman I'd become a lesbian for.

"Oh, my God, so would I!" he exclaimed.

"You don't have that problem, Seth," said I. "You're a guy."

"No, you don't understand," he said with the fervency of a born-again. "If I found out she was a lesbian, I'd have a sex change!"

I'm not sure if she's the only woman he'd have a sex change for, but I know she remained the only woman I've ever been sexually attracted to until Liv Tyler burst on the scene.

Liv, many apologies if you ever read this. I don't spend my nights imagining hot, dirty monkey sex with you, but ye gods. If you and Christian Bale both showed up on my doorstep clammoring for my hand, I'd have an extremely tough time deciding between you.

And that used to disturb me, because I didn't think I "swung that way." But as I'm getting older, I'm finding myself more and more drawn to feminine beauty. At this point, I don't give a rat's ass if Right turns out to be Mr. or Ms. I'd be happy either way.

(At this point in the conversation, I should probably mention my criteria: Mr. or Ms. Right will be wealthy enough to let me quit my job, absolutely fascinated by my writing, quite capable of amusing themselves for long periods of time while I'm busy with said writing, and dead-set against the idea of having children ever. Absolutely must have excellent brain. God Delusion Index should be virtually nil. Physical attractiveness a plus. And no, I'm not intending to get married ever, thus the high standards and the refusal to lower them. Thank you for playing.)

Where was I?

Anyway. So, yes, Liv Tyler makes me question my assumptions about my own sexuality, especially when she does cruel things like separate from her husband and thus reminds me that a running joke between me and my former roommate was who would beat the other one to the door if she ever showed up, a joke that got gracefully retired when Liv tied the knot.

It does not help that the best kiss I have ever received, bar none, was from a woman. Alas, not Liv Tyler. But a damned attractive woman nonetheless, and made all the sweeter by the fact that we had every man at the party sweating. There are moments when you need to put your habitual preferences aside for the sheer fun of blowing a circuit in a smug bastard's mind.

Then Paul comes out with his "Why do Men Look at Teen Nudity?" post, and I got to thinking about it, and I realized I'm damned shallow. When it comes to men, I find a broad swath of them attractive, but my hormones only start singing at young, voluptious women who are not simply attractive but incredibly so.

Which, I suppose, is normal for someone who isn't really honestly truly bisexual, but more of a dilettante.

My hetero guy friends, at least the few who are comfortable enough in their masculinity to admit as much, seem to be the same way: it takes an extraordinarily attractive man to get their attention. And they never drool over old guys. The cut-off seems to be around the mid-thirties for both sets of us. Of course, my guy friends who are old enough to be attracted to older folk are usually not of the generation that would admit such things, so my sample is deeply flawed.

Human sexuality is a fascinating thing, innit? I don't think it's so cut-and-dried as so many claim. What we find attractive is amazingly diverse. Attraction to the same sex doesn't seem to be as rare as modern society would like to believe. Some of it seems hardwired, of course, but it seems to have mutable fringes. If that weren't so, I don't think so many societies that condoned homosexuality in varying degrees would have seen quite as much of it. It seems to me - and this is scientific by no means - that when the restraints are removed, we're a lot more versatile in our likes than society would have us believe.

Me, I'm just going to enjoy drooling over whomever catches my fancy at the moment, be it male or female, young or old. And while I'm not going to wait for Liv Tyler to ring my doorbell - we all know how likely that is - I'm not going to cut off a good thing if it presents itself just because it doesn't come in my usual flavor.


Efrique said...

Gillian Anderson is, to be sure, hot. To be honest, I've found her more attractive as she's got older.

But Liv Tyler is quite extraordinary, in that class of human beings for which our normal standards of attractiveness seem unsuited to discuss; when she's on screen I have to work hard to even see anyone else. I'm not sure it's even sexual with me - I have no fantasies about her at all, but I sure as hell can't not look at her.

As for who I'd turn gay for, I find that my answer, while fairly narrow for anyone who was gay or bi, becomes increasingly broad, and is probably pretty wide for a straight guy. There are definitely guys I find attractive, and my criteria are not so narrow as they once were.

My partner of many years (uh, wow, I just worked it out - a quarter century whizzed by some time back) said to me only a couple of days ago "You are so gay!"

I said "Yeah, maybe. Well, perhaps a little bi, anyway."

Most humans are not entirely hetero- or homo-, but mainly one with a little of the other, though there are a few people are right in the middle. I do think we get waay too hung up on defining our sexuality. I just sit back and enjoy noticing what I will respond to, without trying to categorize or police it.

Paul Sunstone said...

For me, the best way to approach my sexuality has been to dispassionately observe it -- as if it were the weather, perhaps -- and not something to judge. I find that a bit difficult to do, but worthwhile.

Good post! Thanks for the links, Dana!