Congratulations to Professor van Anders!
Awards from the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) are given to books and articles that make significant and substantial contributions to research and theory that advance our understanding of the psychology of women and promote the goals of the AWP.
Beyond Sexual Orientation: Integrating Gender/Sex and Diverse Sexualities via Sexual Configurations Theory
Sexual orientation typically describes people’s sexual attractions or desires based on their sex relative to that of a target. Despite its utility, it has been critiqued in part because it fails to account for non-biological gender-related factors, partnered sexualities unrelated to gender or sex, or potential divergences between love and lust. In this article, I propose Sexual Configurations Theory (SCT) as a testable, empirically grounded framework for understanding diverse partnered sexualities, separate from solitary sexualities. I focus on and provide models of two parameters of partnered sexuality—gender/sex and partner number. SCT also delineates individual gender/sex. I discuss a sexual diversity lens as a way to study the particularities and generalities of diverse sexualities without privileging either. I also discuss how sexual identities, orientations, and statuses that are typically seen as misaligned or aligned are more meaningfully conceptualized as branched or co-incident. I map out some existing identities using SCT and detail its applied implications for health and counseling work. I highlight its importance for sexuality in terms of measurement and social neuroendocrinology, and the ways it may be useful for self-knowledge and feminist and queer empowerment and alliance building. I also make a case that SCT changes existing understandings and conceptualizations of sexuality in constructive and generative ways informed by both biology and culture, and that it is a potential starting point for sexual diversity studies and research.