Contrary to what popular culture might suggest, college campuses aren't actually a hotbed of lesbian experimentation. In fact, the National Survey on Family Growth reveals that women who didn't finish high school were more likely to have engaged in same-sex activity than women who graduated with a bachelor's degree.
The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that less than 10 percent of women between ages 22 to 44 with a bachelor's degree admitted to having a lesbian experience. Fifteen percent of women without a high school diploma reported having one, while those with a high school diploma or some college education (but not degree) fell somewhere in between the two. More Middle-Aged Women Coming Out As Lesbians
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Likewise, 6 percent of college-educated women said they'd had oral sex with a female partner, compared to 13 percent of those who did not finish high school. Of the 13 percent of women overall who reported a same-sex experience, only one percent identified as gay, compared to 4 percent who said they were bisexual.
While this news may surprise those who regard same-sex experimentation as an undergraduate rite of passage, experts agree that the "lesbian until graduation" phenomenon has eclipsed the experiences of ethnic, working-class and minority lesbians. According to gay sex columnist Dan Savage, female college students may unwittingly contribute to the strength of the college lesbian phenomenon by using their experiences as a means for attention—not necessarily in an effort to tease males, but in order to tear down college patriarchy. Are Lipstick Lesbians Just A Myth?
Meanwhile, high school dropouts may be engaging in same-sex activity due to living in areas lacking in eligible males, says Barbara Risman, an officer of the Council on Contemporary Families and a University of Illinois at Chicago sociology professor.
While more women without degrees are experimenting, their lack of higher education may keep their stories from receiving attention. Women who earn bachelor's degrees usually go on to become professionals, which affords them more opportunities to publish screenplays, write novels, and speak about their experiences in a public forum. College-educated males who were privy to tales of homosexual experimentation can also reinforce the stereotype by recalling what they'd seen to large audiences. As we see so often in society, those with fewer resources are often less represented—in media, in politics and in the cultural zeitgeist.
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Does this surprise you? Did you think the college lesbian experimentation phenomenon was overstated?
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