Saturday, June 7, 2008

Open Forum: Is Bisexuality Old School?

Bisexuals get the hard end of the stick, they are often shunned by heterosexuals as being "confused", "selfish", "hedonistic" and often times they are rejected by gays/lesbians as being "traitors" or unwilling to admit that they are gay.

Bisexuality is very much a valid orientation as demonstrated by Dr. Kinsey who showed that sexuality lies on a continuum and that we all fall along that continuum to some degree or another.

There has been criticism however of the term and identity of bisexuality in recent years, especially by younger demographics who are having a new understanding of sexuality and gender as we have come to see it.

Bisexuality is the attraction two both males and females. "Bi" connotates two and by definition falls into the gender binary system. What if you are someone who is attracted or has the capability of falling in love emotionally/physically with someone who is male, female, transgender, intersexual, or genderqueer?

Bisexuality is often see as an equal division of attraction to both males and females, but some people do not have a 50/50 split in attraction and have varying percentages of how much they like either gender.

More recently many people no longer claim the term bisexuality, and prefer terms like pansexual or queer to define their identities.

Do you feel Bisexuality is an old and antiquated term, should the term be changed to be more inclusive of all gender identities?

31 comments:

Judith said...

First, as a general rule, I think people should be able to use whatever identity they want. That said, I think it is possible that bisexual is not adequate to describe those who are attracted to anyone, no matter their gender identity. But I don't think that all bisexuals are this fluid in terms of attraction. I'm sure there are bisexuals who prefer that people fit very comfortably into either male or female. This might be less likely in the case of bisexuality, I'm not sure. For me, I tend not to be attracted to those who are transitioning, though I totally support transgendered people. The fact is that I'm not attracted to male "parts" nor am I attracted to someone who identifies as a male. I understand that MTFs can't help what they're born with, of course, but being honest that would be a problem for me. Obviously the same is less likely for bisexuality.

Anonymous said...

I'm a gay man and in my experience the only men who call themselves 'bi' are those who are actually GAY but too cowed or scared or conditioned to accept it.

I also find that given some time to get used to the idea, most formerly 'bi' men will eventually go, 'Ok, society was telling me I should be straight when i was gay. NOW that I've stopped listening I really am just gay.'

I don't believe in bisexuality at all. It's just confusion.

Jesus Chimichanguez said...

I simply do not feel that the "B" needs to be in with "L,G, or T" when the issuesare for rights, equal protection, etc. The bisexuals can do whatever and whomever they want, if they are true bisexuals they have no idea of the struggles the L,G, and T's face and have always faced.

Pikku said...

I think the term should stay as-is.
Some people might not be attracted to those that aren't fully male or female, so the "bi-" fits rather nicely if it's only male/female (or two others). As for pansexuality, it is an all-encompassing term, and should also be used, in my opinion.
I find all classifications legitimate, really.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you should identify as what you feel is right. My boyfriend and I both say we're "pansexual" because we consider sex a physical trait, like race or hair color; it can define who you are, but it doesn't necessarily. To us, it's more important to look at a person's character and personality than sex or gender, even when it comes to sexual attraction.

Kid A said...

I'm upset, but not shocked, by the comments of Anonymous 1 and Jesus. I am bisexual, and their comments reflect exactly what keeps bisexuals silent. Perhaps you have only interacted with closeted gays who call themselves bi. That's common. But it does not imply that every bi is confused. As a gay man, Anon, have you ever had to deal with someone calling you confused, sick, sinful? Then why heap that garbage on me?

Gays who deride bis are no better in my mind than homophobes who hate the whole community, an irony that never fails to amuse me, and be lost on them.

And yes, Jesus, the whole LGBT community. YOU are an example of the struggle you claim I haven't faced. How do I not need equal protection when I walk down the street with a same-sex partner? For all onlookers care, I am gay. I've been physically assaulted, verbally abused, demonstrated, and written countless letters to public officials. I've done more for queer equality than most clubbing drunk peter pan gays will ever do. I've also lived, loved, and enjoyed life unapologetically.

To homophobes, we're all a bunch of queers. They don't care about all these distinctions. We have a common purpose to work toward. Don't be part of the problem. What part will you play in the history books?

sonia said...

I don't know if I would say "old school". I think "bisexual" is an antiguated as any queer identity such as gay or lesbian.

But I do think it is very misleading. When one identifies as bi, people automatically assume a free-for-all notion of sexual attraction which is simply not true. I might be a bi-woman who is attracted to masculinity, but not necessarily men or might be heterosexual in every sense of the word, except I fell in love with a woman once. Or I might be someone who does view both genders within a sexual framework. To fit all this very varying sexual identities under one label "bi-sexual" is just inaccurate. Even the term "bi" implies a 50-50-ness that I don't like.

sonia said...

to the comments Anon and Jesus and whoever who says "bisexual is confusion" or that they are really "gay men posing" or some variation of that.


lol. haha:) That's so silly. And a classic example of the argument that just because you are queer, does not mean you automatically understand human sexuality.

Kate said...

I am incredibly offended by the comments of jesus and anonymous...

As a bisexual woman, these are exactly the ideas that make me afraid to be open about my sexuality [[nods to kid a]]. I have had relationships with both men and women, and have enjoyed each experience equally, although in very different ways. My sexual attraction has never extended to a trans or intersex individual - although, to be fair, I've never encountered the chance to be intimate with a person from either community. I tend to like more masculine men and very feminine women, and even though several of these women turned out to be pretty darn straight, *I* do not feel remotely "confused".

Just stop hating. Everyone is different.

Renee said...

I identify as a queer woman and feel that we need to move away from these terms altogether as all they seem to do is highlight difference there is none.
As anonymous1 and Jesus displaying that kind of ignorance and hatred towards others puts you in the same category with homophobes. You have become what you hate. You cannot seek tolerance for yourself and then not offer it to others. You should also be wary of making decisions based solely on your personal exposure. You have not met every single person on the planet that identifies as bisexual so how can you say that ALL bisexuals are a certain way. At least have the decency to qualify your hateful comments.

Sh@ney said...

Personally I don't think it should become an issue what identity we fall under. The only thing that matters is how we are treated by other's. We are who we are, regardless of how other's choose's to identify us, it is the disrespect and hatred towards the LGBT community that needs to change not the term/definition of our sexuality.

Miss Vicki said...

I hate the Bisexuality argument and debate (not said against you but it). I swear I never could understand the problem?

It's like the olden day, Biracial nightmare. What are you Black or White. Biracial people can't choose. They are neither one or the other - They are both.

The same goes for Bisexuality or whatever new word they will soon call it.

If a person is bisexual what does it truly have to do with me prospering and living in life?

Just as the argument if 2 gay/lesbian/bisexual/or transgender people get married - What effect and What does it have to do with a heterosexuals marriage? Nothing. It shouldn't destroy it.

As you once said to me, African Americans are judgmental on their own people.

And, I'll say it again, LGBT people can be their own worst critics.

How was the event - had fun I hope!

lindabeth said...

As someone mentioned above, I prefer pansexual, or just plain queer. Bi connotes "two" and I approach both gender and sexuality as a thousand tiny sexes and a fluidity of gender. It implies the "two" of men and women, "gay" and "straight"...all of which I am highly suspicious. I don't like the idea of sexual identity defining me, indicating who or how I can fuck or live. I think the more queers stick to rigid identities, the more heteros will too...and they shouldn't.

Definitive labels can tend to be prescriptive as well. For political purposes, I do see a value in identity labels (as Judith Butler also argues) but sometimes I dislike what they imply and some of the nasty remnant of heteronormative culture they can reiterate.

Daomadan said...

"Is bisexuality old school?" Is this question seriously being asked? I can't awit for the "Is gay old school?" or "Is lesbianism old school?" or "Is transgender old school?"

People have already expressed outrage at the ignorance spewing from the mouths of Anon and Jesus and I'll just add another voice to that chorus.

No, bisexuality isn't old school or an outdated term. People will identify as they want and they have that right. I prefer to call myself bisexual or queer. I think the only thing "old school" about bisexuality are the ignorant stereotypes that still persist in the hetero and GLBT communities.

Kate said...

I understand the gripes about the term "bisexuality" - that it denotes only two genders - but I never thought about it that way. I always viewed the definition as 'being attracted to the two specific genders of male (not trans or intersex) and female (not trans or intersex)'. This label pretty accurately describes me and I don't see much of a problem with it as long as it is thought of in that light.

Thoughts?

randombabble.com said...

this is a fascinating conversation.

i am going to have to go w/ the people who believe that we are whatever we think we are.

it is such a personal thing, our own sexuality, and it falls into a vast spectrum. we should be free to choose whatever terms we want to define ourselves as long as we aren't forcing anyone else to define themselves by our terms.

personally, i fall into the "fook the binary" school of thought.

the amazing kim said...

*shrug* I just fall in love.

But I use the word "bisexual" for the purposes of identity politics. It helps to have a large body of people out there with approximately the same experiences; makes advocacy easier.

Sure, bisexual invokes a gender binary but "gay", "straight" and "transsexual" do that too. I'm suspicious that someone would seek to eliminate one term without proposing the same for others.

Surely gay and straight people are people "attracted or [have] the capability of falling in love emotionally/physically with someone who is male, female, transgender, intersexual, or genderqueer" too? Ultimately all labels are impractical in reality.

It's like the olden day, Biracial nightmare. What are you Black or White. Biracial people can't choose. They are neither one or the other - They are both.
Yes, but they're going to be labelled as the Other anyway; the one that isn't the norm. Like Mr Obama at he moment - by your reasoning he could just as easily be described as white. Now, that's not going to happen any time soon, because a teaspoon of Not-normal is enough to justify throwing the whole pot away. Same with bisexuals : we're a little bit queer = we're 100% queer.

Anyway, it's all semantics. I'm not going to stop falling in love.

Kate said...

[[bows to "the amazing kim"]]

You said it!

Wendi Muse said...

as a bisexual person, i am always annoyed when i am told my sexual identity does not exist, is a state of delusion or confusion, etc. i like men and women, and typically am attracted to those who fit into said gender binaries (hence my still using the term bisexual and not pansexual). i don't deny anyone else of their right to identify as they please, and i get tired of hearing from both straight and lesbian and gay communities that my state of sexuality is a figment of my imagination when my dating men and women (and monogamously at that...i know, huge shock considering i am bi) is certainly far from that.

ted said...

Thank you, Wendi M. Anyone has the freedom to identify however they choose--omnisexuals, bisexuals, asexuals, queer... The denial of this basic right is oppression.

As to my own identity, I don't think "bisexual" is a bad term, but it isn't the best one either. "Bisexual" is not adequate enough of a term to define my experience as a person who is capable of fully appreciating a person regardless of their gender. Sure, part of that appreciation is sexual, but my boundaries of attraction and love extend beyond the sexual. I recognize that there are more than two genders, but to define my own experience, "bi" is adequate for now, since I have only been attracted to either men or women.

It's the "sexual" part of the word that trips me up. I have known no gay or lesbian person to call themselves "homosexual"as their main term of self-identity -- I've usually heard it used it as a tag, and a negative one, placed on them by straight people. And straight people generally don't claim an identity primarily using the word "heterosexual" (if they even bother to think about their sexual identity, since they really don't have to as members of the normative group). Both of these omnisexual groups have names for themselves that don't include the word "sex" but speak to a broader sense of the culture around straightness or gayness. But no such term exists for bisexual people that I am aware of.

I prefer to identify as "bi" or "queer" but in conversation with others, I will often say "bisexual" because it's simpler than explaining all that.

I don't hate "bisexual" -- it's who I am, even though I'm more than a sexual being. Any suggestions for a new moniker?

Queers United said...

ted you bring up a great point which i often ponder, there is gay, lesbian, and straight but bisexuality doesnt have its term without the "sexual" component. which just further insinuates that bisexuality is all about sex. sure someone can say bi but that means two. i wish there was another was for bisexuality.

Anonymous said...

i hate bisexuals because is nasty n confusing.. a women has a lot more to offer than a gay man does.. n that sucks.. is unfair.. n inconsiderate.. is all about sex n and it hurts me so much... i think if u like women stay wit them... stay away from us real gay men.. we suffer enuuf alreadi knowing we can have a healthy relationship with a man due to society and womens rights over us gay men..im physicially attracted to guirls.. does it mean i have to go n fuck them? nooo.. like i said is all about sex... if u have anything to say.. here is mah aol.. beanzfinezt... im dying to hear what u have to say..

Anonymous said...

People with short left index fingers date women and people with short right index fingers date men.

M said...

no idea Jesus (ironic name?) I've been threatened, followed, yelled at, harrassed when coming out of a GLBT bar or event, and almost raped, and lost a lot of friends for being bi. So I don't understand the struggle huh? Tell me, how exactly do I not know, and how I am I benefiting from "hetero privledge"? If you would deny people like me equal rights, you don't deserve them yourself. People don't stop to ask if you are bi or gay before they bash. And you anonymous-you're just an idiot and wrong. Try looking up a scientific study and actually reading it. Sure there are men who transition from bi to gay, but there are plenty of bi's who really are bi. Stop the hate.

M said...

http://bisocialnews.com/bisexuls-hetero-privilege-myth/

proudbichick said...

uh, anonymous-if you're attracted to women and men....you're BI! Typical, coward biphobe in the closet.

Anonymous said...

i have known my boyfriend for more than 4 yrs and last yr i gave birth to our daughter. but ever since last december i been suspecting that my boyfriend can be bisexual. and evidents build up. i first came across to sexual IMs btwn him and some "people". i confronted him but we wind up having a huge fight and nothing had been worked out or talked out. he was very angry about it. i guess he just didnt want anyone to know. recently i pretty much confirmed it cuz i seen conversations btwn him & other guys on his phone which include inappropriate picture msgs and verbal contents. & i think that he sends pictures of his private areas to others as well via his phone. it has been bothering me especially these days i have been going through his phone. and time to time i see the same things. its no difference when it comes to him talking to a girl or a guy. because to me either way i still consider it as unfaithful. all the other times that i caught him talking to other girls behind my back i always spazzed out on him right away. but lately i have been keeping my mouth shut pretending like i dont know anything at all. i want to talk to him about it but i know he will react the same way he did. i dont want this to keep on going but i just cant seem to sit him down and talk about this seriously. i really want to know what other people would do if they were in my shoes.

Anonymous said...

Although I understand and accept true bisexuality, more than enough times in my life, I have encountered men who simply consider themselves 'bisexual'. The underlying reason for this is the fact that they are actually displaying narcissistic behaviour: an easy way to get as much attention as possible, not only from females but from males as well, creating a full circle of optimum attention. If you were to actually confront one of these self- proclaimed 'bisexuals' and make a definite pass at one, you would find that 99.9% of the time they will decline a sexual advance due to such reasons as: 'I am in a relationship' or 'I don't know, I still haven't really figured this out yet'. This type of man is best avoided and left to the younger minded set to sort out.

Anonymous said...

Some of the comments on here amaze me. After much soul searching for all my life, I realized I a really AM a bisexual man, always will be, even now that I'm with a man in a monogomous relationship.

There IS no "community" and not only am I rejected, but so is any man of color, man with HIV, or man with a disability.

I refuse to hide my orientation, just as nobody else should. I'm also choosing because of this rejection to permanently leave the lgt community ("b" omitted), and I do this with great sadness.

I really had a lot to offer, but it's unwanted.

Anonymous said...

to the last poster:

Your gauge for 'testing' bisexuality is whether or not they have sex with you and THEY are the narcissistic ones?

Wow.

Anonymous said...

To Kate and the amazing kim,
I agree totally with your opinions,
I am attracted to both men and women, but I am constantly told that bisexuals are just people that can't make their minds up, I can't bear it. Saying that all bisexuality is "confusion", is just a refusal to understand that you can be with whoever you love, regardless of gender.

Love whoever you want to!

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