TV & Radio
The more they like sex, the more women like women
Bisexuality is on the rise - but only on one side of the gender gap
By Jonathan Owen
Published: 12 February 2006
Being highly sexed changes men's and women's sexual orientation in startlingly different ways, a major academic study has concluded.
The research, conducted by Dr Richard Lippa, an internationally renowned sex expert at California State University, shows highly sexed women to be no less than 27 times more likely than men to become attracted to their own sex. The survey, of more than 3,500 people, is published in this month's Psychological Science. It showed that 0.3 per cent of men were attracted to their own sex, as opposed to 8 per cent of women.
For most women, a high sex drive increases their sexual attraction to both men and women. The opposite occurs in men, where a high sex drive simply exaggerates existing sexual orientation.
Dr Lippa told The Independent on Sunday: "Sexuality is more complex than we want to believe. It is more common for women to change their sexuality. My personal sense is that there are very few bisexual men, but there are significantly more bisexual women out there."
Researchers are finding evidence that there is a key biological difference at play between the sexes, rather than sociological factors alone.
This conclusion comes as no surprise to the television personality Rebecca Loos, a lifelong bisexual. "I do find that a lot of my female friends find women and men attractive, whether or not they happen to be in relationships with men," she says. "Most women I know have been with other women. Men and women are completely different when it comes to sex: for men it's a lot more physical."
As more women develop an open-minded attitude, celebrities are once again leading the way in bringing sexual orientation out of the closet. Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Saffron Burrows are among those famous for their relationships with both sexes. In the 1990s the columnist Julie Burchill had a much-publicised affair with the writer Charlotte Raven, whose brother she later married.
Data from last year's Sex Survey conducted by the BBC is expected to show twice as many bisexual women (6 per cent) as lesbians (3 per cent) in the UK. Numbers of women who had tried lesbian sex more than doubled between 1990 and 2000.
The TV sex therapist Tracey Cox says: "Bisexuality is going to be very interesting - something to watch, particularly with women. They've done experiments where they wire up people and get them to watch porn, woman on woman, man on man and hetero, and women were aroused by all three.
"Nearly all the sex therapists I know, if I ask what's the top fantasy for women, [will say] sleeping with another woman."
Wangari Maathai （2004年ノーベル平和賞受賞者・ケニア）
Manuela Di Centa （クロスカントリー・スキー、1992年アルベールビル、94年リレハンメル、98年長野の3五輪大会で金2、銀2、銅3個のメダルを獲得・イタリア）
Maria Mutola （2000年シドニー五輪800メートル走の金メダリスト・モザンビーク）
Somaly Mam (AFESIP, Acting for Women in Distressing Situations代表・カンボジア)
Sophia Loren （女優・イタリア）
Isabel Allende （作家・チリ）
Nawal El Moutawakel （1984年ロサンゼルス五輪400メートルハードルの金メダリスト・モロッコ：アフリカ女性最初の金）
Susan Sarandon （女優・アメリカ）
Italy Schedules Elections for Early April
Saturday February 11, 2006 1:16 PM
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO
Associated Press Writer
ROME (AP) - Italy dissolved its parliament on Saturday and scheduled elections for early April, opening a campaign that pits Premier Silvio Berluconi against a strong center-left opponent.
The government set the date during a Cabinet meeting minutes after the Italian president signed a decree that dissolved parliament, ending a five-year legislature.
The election date had been agreed upon in previous weeks between Berlusconi and the president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. Opposition leaders had also signed off on the date.
Parliament ended two weeks later than originally planned, after Berlusconi negotiated a delay that allowed his government to rush through a flurry of last-minute legislation. It also allowed the premier to keep up a barrage of TV and radio appearances, which will be limited during official campaigning because of rules aimed at giving competing coalitions equal air time.
``I'll be able to rest a bit,'' Berlusconi said, speaking on a talk show late Friday.
Despite the media blitz, opinion polls have consistently indicated that the center-left bloc headed by Romano Prodi, a former premier and former European Commission president, is leading the race by some five percentage points.
Berlusconi, a key ally of President Bush in the Iraq war, has expressed confidence that his media campaign will bear fruit, saying his own pollsters indicate the two blocs are virtually level.
``I have absolutely no doubt over the fact that I will govern for another five years,'' he said Friday on the sidelines of a conference in Rome.
Among the measures approved in the final parliamentary sessions were funding for the Winter Olympics, which opened Friday in Turin, and for Italy's dwindling contingent in Iraq, where some 2,600 Italian troops are currently posted.
Berlusconi, a key ally of President Bush who was elected in 2001, has been plagued by legal troubles surrounding his Milan-based business empire since he entered politics. He has contended he is the victim of a campaign by left-leaning magistrates.
Center-left parties - which range from centrist moderates to communists and secular radicals - are divided over proposals for a quick pullout from Iraq and granting legal rights to same-sex couples.
Italy's parliament dissolved for April elections
Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:32 PM IST
By Philip Pullella
ROME (Reuters) - Italy's parliament was dissolved on Saturday, opening the way for April general elections which opinion polls say the centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi looks set to lose.
President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi signed a decree ending the current legislature after receiving parliament's speakers, raising the curtain on five stormy months for Italian politics.
After the election there will be nationwide mayoral ballots and a referendum on plans to reform the constitution. The new parliament will also have to choose a successor to Ciampi, whose mandate expires in May.
In the past few months political leaders have made sometimes vitriolic attacks on each other, and Ciampi appealed to politicians to try to keep the campaign fair and respectful and to keep the problems of the nation in sight.
The centre-left has accused Berlusconi of monopolising the airwaves unfairly as he appeared on almost every television and radio chat show since the New Year to talk up his achievements.
Latest opinion polls put the centre-left opposition, led by former European Commission President Romano Prodi, some five percentage points ahead of Berlusconi's coalition.
Hours after parliament was dissolved, Prodi presented the centre-left programme to a packed theatre in Rome and said Italy needed "radical reforms" to make its economy more competitive.
The economy grew at an average rate of just 0.8 percent per year under Berlusconi, near the bottom of the 12 nations in the euro zone and less than half the rate in the previous five years under the centre left.
Industrial output has also fallen in each of the last five years, and Italy's once export-led economy posted trade deficits in 2004 and 2005 for the first time since 1992.
Berlusconi shot back, saying Prodi, who is a former prime minister, was "inadequate" to lead Italy.
Prodi's alliance, ranging from hardline Communist parties to centrist Roman Catholic groups, has struggled to agree a platform, revealing divisions over everything from the Iraq war to same-sex unions and transport.
Berlusconi has managed to trim the opposition lead in opinion polls in recent weeks.
Berlusconi swept to power in 2001, securing the largest parliamentary majority in post-war Italy, but infighting among his centre-right partners has dulled the government's image.
Despite the feuding, Berlusconi managed to stay prime minister throughout the legislature, only the third person in post-war Italy to accomplish this feat.
He has blamed the country's problems on international events beyond his control, like the Sept. 11 attacks, but critics say he let Italy decline while his own businesses prospered.
(Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer)
The Financial Times
Italy’s centre-left question Prodi’s leadership skills
>By Tony Barber in Rome
>Published: February 9 2006 16:43 | Last updated: February 9 2006 16:43
The unity of Italy’s often bickering centre-left opposition parties will be tested from Friday when they launch their campaign to dethrone Silvio Berlusconi, prime minister, in the April 9 general election.
In a 274-page document considered too stodgy even by some centre-left strategists, the opposition, led by Romano Prodi, the former European Commission president, recently set out a draft programme for government.
It included promises to inject more competition into Italy’s rigid economy, simplify bureaucracy and gradually reduce the budget deficit – ideas to which Mr Prodi this week added an eye-catching pledge to cut Italian unit labour costs by no less than 5 percentage points, or about €10bn ($11.9bn).
But the programme, which centre-left leaders aim to approve this weekend, cannot conceal persistent divisions over issues ranging from same-sex civil unions and education to the environment and Italy’s military presence in Iraq.
These disputes, and Mr Prodi’s inability to settle them, are causing some centre-left activists to question whether he would last more than a year or two as prime minister if the opposition were to win the election.
“It is the great unspoken secret,” says one strategist. “We haven’t even won yet, but already some people are thinking about a post-Prodi government of the centre-left.”
Such speculation may not be so foolhardy. As a technocrat who belongs to no political party, Mr Prodi is in the same precarious position he occupied as premier from April 1996 to October 1998.
His government was eventually toppled in a parliamentary revolt orchestrated by Fausto Bertinotti, leader of Italy’s hardline Communist Refoundation party, and exploited by Massimo D’Alema, a centre-left rival who took the premiership.
To minimise the risk of similar future treachery, Mr Prodi staged US-style primary elections last October to pick the centre-left’s candidate for the premiership. He trounced all other contenders, winning 75 per cent of more than 4m votes cast.
At present, he seems well-placed in the battle against Mr Berlusconi: an opinion poll published by the Ekma research institute on Tuesday gave the centre-left a 52.5 to 46.5 per cent lead over the centre-right government.
But the same poll suggested that Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party – humiliated by crushing defeats in regional elections last April – was regaining strength, accounting for half the centre-right’s overall support.
The narrower the margin between centre-right and centre-left, the greater the risk of a hung parliament in which neither camp controls both legislative chambers and neither can implement serious economic reforms.
One frustration for Mr Prodi is that his efforts to woo undecided voters – the 10 per cent or so of the electorate who, some pollsters say, will determine the election’s outcome – are frequently disrupted by his nominal allies on the far left.
This week the trouble has involved environmentalists and other demonstrators protesting against plans to build a high-speed Alpine rail link between Turin in northern Italy and the French city of Lyon.
“Certain demonstrations must be stopped,” said Mr Prodi, conscious that the protests might damage Italy’s image during the 2006 Turin Winter Olympic games, which start today.
Francesco Rutelli, leader of the moderate centre-left Margherita party, went further, denouncing “extremist infantile behaviour of the left which must be isolated”.
Another dispute unsettling the centre-left involves same-sex unions, where the opposition’s Catholic wing – including Mr Prodi – takes a cautious stance, at odds with the radical secularism of other activists who want full legal recognition for gay couples. On economic policy, many of Mr Bertinotti’s communist chieftains explicitly reject the Prodi rhetoric of market liberalisation.
Mr Berlusconi’s strategists are quick to seize on such differences, saying a Prodi government would be at best incoherent in its strategy and at worst a puppet of more extremist forces.
“The inadequacy of the centre-left’s leadership is being dramatically exposed,” says Fabrizio Cicchitto, Forza Italia’s deputy national co-ordinator.