Bisexuality Is On The Rise, Especially Among Women

So are same-sex encounters, according to the CDC

Jan 10, 2016 at 11:00 AM ET

Ruby Rose, Cara Delevingne and Miley Cyrus have done a lot to raise visibility for bisexuals in the last year. Now, the much-maligned orientation is getting a boost from a less alluring, albeit very reliable source: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A new national survey shows a rise in women using the label, and finds that more ladies report same-sex sexual contact than in years past. But make no mistake, the report also found an increase among men, although it was much smaller.

The report, based on data collected between 2011 and 2013, found that 5.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men identify as bisexual. Compare that to the CDC’s last report on the topic, published in 2011, which found that 3.5 percent of women and 1.1 percent of men claim the sexual identity.

Sexuality is more complex than chosen labels, though: Far more women and men report having had same-sex sexual contact—17.4 and 6.2 percent, respectively—than identify as bisexual. That means almost one-fifth of women have fooled around with another woman. These numbers have also risen since the last survey, which found same-sex nookie reported by 12.5 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men.

There were similar findings on the attraction front: 16.9 percent of women and 5.8 percent of men report sexual attraction that isn’t exclusively to the opposite sex or the same sex.

This builds on a much talked about study presented last year that found women are more likely than men to identify as bisexual, and are three times as likely as guys to report a change in their sexual orientation over time. As study author Elizabeth Aura McClintock put it in a statement: “Men are less often attracted to both sexes. Men’s sexuality is, in this sense, less flexible.” However, she also emphasized social and cultural influences on sexual orientation.

More broadly, sex researchers have been trying in recent years to prove that bisexuality, especially among men, exists, and that it isn’t just a phase or a baby-step in the coming out process.