Within both the straight world and the gay world and whatever world you are from there are prejudices about bisexuality. Some of the most common ones are: they can’t decide, spread AIDS, they are not subject to homophobia or heterosexism, they will cheat, they’re in a phase (which sometimes may be the case for transitioning people who are gay), they’re unique cases, men can’t be bisexual, and they are promiscuous. There is also the claim that it is a myth.
According to Kinsey, most people exist somewhere on the scale from 1-5 (see earlier Kinsey post), meaning they are a little bisexual or have had a bisexual desire or experience sometime in their life. Bisexuality or bisexual desire is not rare, but seeing it is a different story. Since monogamy is the default or the norm within society people are assumed to be either gay or straight depending on what partner one may have at the time. Bisexuality also implies sexual and/or romantic attraction to men and women. This does not mean that being bisexual equates to having the same level or intensity of attraction to both men and women. It is not always an attraction that is split down the middle or stays constant and sometimes depends on being attracted to specific individuals, not widely men and women.
Recently, bisexuality has gained a bad reputation because of its association with Katy Perry, experimentation, Lady Gaga, and pop artists adopting it for the sake of marketing to men who have wild imaginations. There have been a lot of misconceptions about what it is and how long it has existed for. Throughout time bisexuality and the expression of it has been represented differently across time. Today actresses and actors are coming out as bisexual, which is definitely a difference from the days of free love and also the Victorian period. Sexuality across time and geographical location varies. This exploration of it while be more general for the time being.
In this entry I will talk about being bisexual and identity. This is just a short introduction the topic, which I will probably expand on extensively later to talk about topics explicitly linked to people who are bisexual.
Origination of the Word
As is not well spread knowledge, the term homosexuality developed before heterosexuality, but over time the definition and associations have began to mean different things. Along with the term homosexuality and heterosexuality, the term bisexuality was coined in the 19th century.
Even though many people have bisexual desires, not many people are bisexual or claim bisexual identity. Many people who I have encountered today who have had a history of being romantic or sexual with both men and women have called themselves lesbians, straight, and pansexual. Labeling oneself bisexual has come to mean something negative because it represents the sexual binary and limits a person. Although this criticism is true and the b is included in the lgbtq acronym that no one can ever remember and is always being altered, the representation of people who are bisexual and express desire for both and have had girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers of both genders/sexes is still incredibly rare and stigmatized. Even more so than homosexuality (I argue).
Identity is a complicated thing. Many theorists argue about this saying the basis of sexual orientation is biology, socialization, and sometimes an interaction of both. I will not profess to understand it at all, because I really don’t, but I like wondering about it because its so complicated. So being bisexual for some is about identity, some about behavior and for some its political. Sexuality in general is a subjective topic.
Many researchers, sex researchers and psychologists, have claimed that men can not possibly be bisexual (a study done in 2005), that people are naturally bisexual (Kraftt-Ebing), and that people can not strictly be categorized as straight or gay (Kinsey). Sexuality is not that simple. Sexuality depends on context and individual and comfort level and arousal and many many other things. Studies inform opinions and may say something about sexuality but should not be absorbed as absolute truth, so I am always skeptical whenever reading something about sexuality, but also interested.
Basically, its complicated. Bisexuality is not simple and neither is homosexuality or heterosexuality. Heterosexism and homphobia affects us all and assumptions always make an ass out of you and me. So read up and get back to me.
Wikipedia is always good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisexuality
Richard Von Krafft-Ebing thought that bisexuality was the natural state of being: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Freiherr_von_Krafft-Ebing
Recent coming-out of an actress in True Blood: http://www.okmagazine.com/2010/06/anna-paquin-on-being-bisexual-it-wasnt-like-it-was-a-big-secret/
The Bisexual Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/x-3366-Bisexuality-Examiner~y2009m7d15-Bisexuality-101-Am-I-bisexual
NY-Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/health/05sex.html?_r=1
Religious Tolerance: http://www.religioustolerance.org/bisexuality.htm
Arousal patterns of bisexual men: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/ps/bisexuality.pdf