James W. Hicks, M.D.

Bisexuality among Indian Women

In Cultures on September 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Very little is published about sexual behaviour among women in the Indian subcontinent. Women are universally expected to have a feminine appearance, to marry, and to have children. A woman’s virginity and fidelity are of much greater concern than a man’s, so premarital sex between women might be restricted and condemned more than between men, though perhaps less than between unmarried men and women.

It is likely that some women find opportunities to express physical affection and erotic feelings for each other away from the gaze of men. Intimate friendships between female friends have been celebrated in India, sometimes in frankly sexual terms, as in the 19th Cent. Mughal poetry called Rekhti. More recently, Deepa Mehta’s movie Fire, which tells of a love affair between two married women (Radha and Sita), was critically praised but publicly protested.

One small study of female university students in India found that one-third described themselves as “homosexual with certain heterosexual tendencies.” Only half identified themselves as straight. The remainder said they were lesbian, bisexual, or something else. (This is in contrast to the male students, of whom only 5% said they were something other than straight, but similar to the findings of a recent study of college women in the United States.) This provides a hint that a substantial number of women in South Asia may feel attraction and affection for their female peers, at least until they fulfill their familial duty by getting married.

A recent article in India’s weekly newsmagazine, India Today, portrays bisexuality among cosmopolitan couples sympathetically as a growing and “chic… phenomenon [that] is here to stay.”

  1. so it’s true men are not bi

  2. See my earlier post about bisexuality among Indian men.

  3. i know already did but the new study says different

  4. Oh, I see what you mean. The studies indicate that men are much less likely to think of themselves as bisexual, compared to women, but they are certainly having bisexual experiences at high rates, even though they consider themselves straight.

  5. i see thank you for clear it up for me, and also for doing your research its awesome.

  6. […] also my posts on Sex Among South Asian Men and Bisexuality among Indian Women. Share this:FacebookTwitterRedditEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. ▶ […]

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