Academic journal article
By Zheng, Yong; Zheng, Lijun
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal , Vol. 39, No. 7
Among gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM), distinctions are commonly made regarding preferences for insertive or receptive intercourse (Sanderson, 1994; Wegesin & Meyer-Bahlburg, 2000). Three major self-labels are typically specified: top meaning one who prefers the insertive role, bottom meaning one who prefers the receptive role (Sanderson, 1994), and versatile meaning one without a strong preference for either sexual role (Hart et al., 2003; Moskowitz, Rieger, & Roloff, 2008). However, a few researchers have focused on sexual behaviors among lesbians and bisexual women. Oral sex, digital vaginal penetration, and mutual masturbation were the most commonly reported sexual practices among lesbians (Bailey, Farquhar, Owen, & Whittaker, 2003). Although lesbians use the same sexual self-labels as gay men, their reference to top and bottom indicates one's likelihood of taking the initiative sexually and one's tendency to either give or receive sexual pleasure, instead of a preference for a sexual role (Bailey, Kim, Hills, & Linsenmeier, 1997).
Sexual self-labels are common among Chinese lesbians (Zeng, Zhang, Liu, Guo, & Ren, 2009; Zheng & Zheng, 2009): those who prefer the active role during a sexual act label themselves "T", those who prefer the receptive role label themselves "P", and those who enjoy both roles equally label themselves "H" (Zeng et al., 2009; Zheng & Zheng, 2009). Zeng et al. reported that 43% of Chinese lesbians engaged only in an active role, while 27% engaged only in a receptive role, and 25% engaged in both active and receptive roles during sexual acts.
In previous studies of gay men and MSM, it has been found that self-labels appear to be associated with psychological (Hart et al., 2003; Moskowitz et al., 2008) and sociodemographic variables (Wei & Raymond, 2011). For example, tops are less likely than versatiles or bottoms to identify as being gay and tend to report higher internalized homophobia compared to versatiles (Hart et al., 2003). Wegesin and Meyer-Bahlburg (2000) suggested that there was an association between top or bottom self-labels and femininity in adulthood. Women's sexual behaviors are also associated with psychological factors. For example, Ethier et al. (1992) found that self-esteem and emotional distress are associated with sexual behavior among adolescent women. However, to our knowledge, there are no published studies on the relationship between sexual behavior and psychological variables among lesbians.
It is possible that lesbians identifying as P, which is often thought of in general culture as being the woman's role in heterosexual sex, may identify more with feminine personality traits. Conversely, it is possible that those identifying as T may identify more with masculine personality traits. It is also possible that there are personality differences among the sexual self-labeled groups. In relation to this, we investigated the personality differences in Chinese lesbians identifying with different sexual self-labels.
Participants were recruited on a number of Chinese websites that serve homosexual individuals, including homosexual forums and chat rooms. Research participants who responded to notices for a free personality test, which was offered as part of a research project conducted by the Southwest University of China, were instructed to send their email addresses to the first author. Questionnaires were sent to prospective participants as email attachments, and the completed questionnaires were returned to the first author, also as email attachments. The questionnaires included measures of gender-related traits, Big Five personality scales, sexual self-labels, and demographic information questions. Some questionnaires that appeared to be duplicates, according to the respondents' email addresses, were excluded from the analyses.
The demographic composition of the sample is shown in Table 1. …