New research published by the Journal of Homosexuality proposes handholding among lesbian partners is much more than a display of affection.
Authors of this study, Alison Che and Richard Wassersug, write: “Our results suggest that handholding position does not reflect a dominance of power differential between partners, at least within a female-female relationship.”
While handholding in a heterosexual pairing usually means the man taking an overhand grip and the women sliding her hand underneath, results of this study gives light to the faces of healthy egalitarianism: lesbian couples.
In 1971, sociologist Erving Goffman wrote that while the concept of handholding, itself, can appear to be egalitarian, “the details neatly allow an expression of the traditional [heteronormative] ideal.”
Researchers of this study resurfaced Goffman’s publication to structure the online survey administered to 340 women throughout the country in same-sex relationships. Questions in this survey included those about “age, height in comparison to their partner’s height, handedness, duration of their relationship, length of time living with that partner, their income, the country and state/province in which they lived, if they had previously been partnered with a male, and whom they felt had the most ‘say’ in decision-making.”
Yet despite the overwhelming number of variables considered, only two made a significant difference: height and relationship history with a man.
While hetero-handholding seems to obsess with gender roles and traditional, heteronormative ideals, lesbian-handholding opts for practicality – and, as a result, the discarding of scripts that simply will not do.