Lisa Diamond
Associate Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies, University of Utah

Women Want Self-Determination

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Sex and gender researcher Lisa Diamond thinks the secret is all about not being defined.

Lisa Diamond

Diamond's research focuses on two distinct but related areas -- the nature and development of affectional bonds and the nature and development of same-sex sexuality. The common thread uniting these lines of research is my interest in the psychological and biobehavioral processes underlying intimate relationships and their influence on emotional experience and functioning over the life course.

Her primary research questions are as follows: (1) what are the basic psychological and biobehavioral processes underlying the formation and functioning of affectional bonds; (2) how are these processes related to sexual desire and sexual orientation; (3) what are the implications of affectional bonding for mental and physical well-being at different stages of life? In addressing these questions, she uses a diverse range of research methods, including in-depth qualitative interviews, controlled social-psychophysiological experiments, and assessment of naturalistic interpersonal behavior.


Question: What do women want?

Lisa Diamond: I think women want self-determination. One thing that I've really found in following these women over time is what they want, what makes women happy, is the freedom and the safety and security to define themselves in whatever way that they see fit, not according to the standard from mainstream heterosexual society; but also not necessarily according to the standard of their local, say, lesbian or gay community. And I do think we're sort of reaching a level of societal maturity that we're closer to that sort autonomy and that goal. A lot of the women that I've talked to have managed to really create the sort of lives that they've wanted for themselves, even in relatively conservative environments. Some of the women in my sample are living in the Deep South; some of them are living in the middle of Midwest corn-fed America. And yet almost all of them have managed to create a life for themselves that they're pretty happy with.

Recorded on November 4, 2009