In 1970 the ABC current affairs show This Day Tonight tackled the issue of LESBIANS.
In a 13 minute segment, currently available on ABC iView, reporter Peter Couchman interviewed Australian lesbians about their lives and attended a meeting of the Australasian Lesbian Movement.
The segment opened with newborn babies screaming in hospital cots, and the voiceover: "It's quite feasible that at least one of these babies will grow up to be homosexual. Even though there's a strong scientific theory that says none of them has actually been born that way. In fact, at birth, they were all potentially bisexual. But already, after only a couple of days, they've begun a so-called learning process that will virtually teach them to be heterosexual. Like any other kind of education, there'll be some dropouts from the system."
Using footage of 100 schoolgirls standing on an oval, Couchman explained how many women were likely to be homosexual.
Utilising the research of noted sexologist Alfred Kinsey, Couchman said: "Kinsey first formulated the notion that some people learn to be better heterosexuals than others, and that for some unknown reason, girls do much better at it than boys.
"In a sample group like this, for instance, there'll tend to be fewer homosexuals among the girls than in a group of boys the same size. It's probably because lesbianism is relatively inconspicuous, that a lot of people find it difficult to believe that it really does exist.
"This is how the figures work out for 100 girls..."
"Eighty out of the 100 will be entirely heterosexual. The other 20 will probably be involved in some kind of lesbian experience during the course of their lives."
"However, of that 20, 15 may simply display only vague homosexual tendencies, without ever actually taking part in a lesbian act."
"Of the remaining five, one would be capable of lesbianism only under extreme circumstances."
"Two would be bisexual in varying degrees."
"One would be lesbian, but capable of limited heterosexual feelings."
"And only one in the 100 would be exclusively homosexual."
So, how do Alfred Kinsey's calculations – which have been examined, criticised and contested – stack up against modern research on how many women are lesbians?
According to data collected in the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, 1% of Australian woman identified as homosexual – which matches with This Day Tonight's lone lesbian on the oval.
But the other categories were less perfectly aligned. Some 92% of women told HILDA they identified as heterosexual; 1.3% of women identified as bisexual; 0.8% identified as "other"; 0.8% said unsure; and 3.7% said "prefer not to say".
It's worth noting this is just one study – there is no scientific consensus on how many people are straight, gay, or bisexual.
I'm entirely heterosexual.I have vague homosexual tendencies.I'm capable of lesbianism, but only under extreme circumstances.I'm bisexual in varying degrees.I'm a lesbian, but capable of limited heterosexual feelings.I'M THE LESBIAN.
vote votesI'm entirely heterosexual.
vote votesI have vague homosexual tendencies.
vote votesI'm capable of lesbianism, but only under extreme circumstances.
vote votesI'm bisexual in varying degrees.
vote votesI'm a lesbian, but capable of limited heterosexual feelings.
vote votesI'M THE LESBIAN.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at email@example.com.
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