Biphobia

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Biphobia is aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people as a social group or as individuals. People of any sexual orientation can experience such feelings of aversion. Biphobia is a source of discrimination against bisexuals, and may be based on negative bisexual stereotypes or irrational fear.

Etymology and use[edit]

Biphobia is a portmanteau word patterned on the term homophobia. It derives from the English neo-classical prefix bi- (meaning "two") from bisexual and the root -phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, phóbos, "fear") found in homophobia. Along with transphobia, homophobia and biphobia are members of the family of terms used when intolerance and discrimination is directed toward LGBT people.

Biphobia need not be a phobia as defined in clinical psychology (i.e., an anxiety disorder). Its meaning and use typically parallel those of xenophobia.

The adjectival form biphobic describes things or qualities related to biphobia, whereas the noun biphobe is a label for people thought to harbor biphobia.[1]

Negative stereotypes[edit]

While biphobia and homophobia are distinct phenomena, they do share some traits: attraction to one's own gender being a part of bisexuality, the heterosexist view of heterosexuality as the only “proper” attraction or lifestyle apply to bisexual people as well as to gay people. However, bisexuals are also stigmatized in other ways: two classifications of negative stereotypes about them center on the belief that bisexuality does not exist and the generalization that bisexual people are promiscuous.

Denialism[edit]

The belief that bisexuality does not exist stems from binary views of sexuality, that people are assumed to be exclusively homosexual (gay/lesbian) or heterosexual (straight), with bisexuals either closeted gay people wishing to appear heterosexual,[2] or experimenting with their sexuality,[3][4][5] and cannot be bisexual unless they are equally attracted to both sexes.[6] Maxims such as "People are either gay, straight or lying" embody this dichotomous view of sexual orientations.[6]

Resulting negative stereotypes represent bisexuals as confused, undecided, dabblers, insecure, experimenting or "just going through a phase".[7] Attractions toward both sexes are considered fashionable as in "bisexual chic" or gender bending. Relations are dismissed as a substitute for sex with members of the "right" sex or as a more accessible source of sexual gratification. Situational homosexuality due to sex-segregated environments or groups such as the armed forces, schools, sports teams, religious orders, and prisons is another facet of explaining why someone is allegedly temporarily gay.

Promiscuity[edit]

The strict association of bisexuality with promiscuity stems from a variety of negative stereotypes targeting bisexuals as mentally or socially unstable people for whom sexual relations only with men, only with women or only with one person is not enough. These stereotypes may result from cultural false assumptions that "men and women are so different that desire for one is an entirely different beast from desire for the other" ("a defining feature of heterosexism"), and that "verbalizing a sexual desire inevitably leads to attempts to satisfy that desire."[8]

As a result bisexuals bear a social stigma from accusations of cheating on or betraying their partners, leading a double life, being "on the down-low", and spreading sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. They are characterized as being "slutty", insatiable, “easy”, indiscriminate, and in the case of women, nymphomaniacs. Furthermore, they are strongly associated with polyamory, swinging, and polygamy,[9] the last being an established heterosexual tradition sanctioned by some religions and legal in several countries. People of any sexual orientation can change partners, practice serial monogamy or have multiple casual sex partners or multiple romantic relationships. The fact that bisexuals are potentially sexually attracted to both men and women does not mean that they must simultaneously engage in sexual relationships with both men and women to be satisfied.

Current issues of debate[edit]

Apparently validating the above belief and generalization and their related stereotypes are current issues of debate connected to identity and human sexuality in general.

  1. The nature versus nurture debate over homosexuality complicates matters. Supporting a polar view of sexual orientations, discussion here revolves around possible causes for a homosexual orientation and not a heterosexual or bisexual one. See separate articles on Kinsey scale and Klein Sexual Orientation Grid
  2. In line with the nurture side of the previous debate is Sigmund Freud’s term for sexual disposition and gratification in the first five years of a child’s development: the polymorphous perverse. This theory is misinterpreted as meaning that all people are (born) bisexual,[10] that socialization is the key factor in determining whether people will be heterosexual or homosexual, or that people eventually choose their sexual orientation toward one or the other sex, but not both.
  3. People do not always choose to identify themselves strictly according to their sexual orientation. Just as someone can feel pressured not to disclose his or her homosexual orientation and claim heterosexuality, so too can a person claim bisexuality. Mainly out of oppression from negative bisexual stereotypes, the reverse is true for some bisexual people choosing to identify or state that they are straight, gay or lesbian depending on company and the situation.
  4. The concept of bisexuality may not exist in a given culture or may be encompassed by transgender identities as in some indigenous cultures such as those of Native Americans, Aboriginal peoples in Canada or the Zapotec in Oaxaca, Mexico.
  5. Having sexual relations with people of the same as well as different genders is perceived as a direct indication of a person’s sexual attractions and, hence, a bisexual orientation. This perception explains how the Kinsey Scale is used to label sexual orientation despite its original design and use to explain a person’s sexual history or past. Moreover, in many parts of the world, gay men and lesbian women still lead so-called straight lifestyles. The reasons cited are discrimination, internalized homophobia, strong personal or religious beliefs about the family, and a lack of information on and visibility of same-sex relations and sexuality.
  6. Regardless of their actual sexual orientation it is sometimes assumed by those not in the industry that all sex workers or actors/actresses opt to participate in homosexual sex scenes only as part of their jobs. Confusing fantasy and acting with reality, this has been dubbed “gay-for-pay”, this myth has been used to create further confusion and reinforce biphobia.

Bisexual erasure[edit]

Bisexual erasure or bisexual invisibility is the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, the news media, and other primary sources.[11][12] In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists.[13][14] It is often a manifestation of biphobia, although it does not necessarily involve overt antagonism.

However, there is also increasing support, inclusion, and visibility in both bisexual and non-bisexual communities, especially in the LGBT community.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

Monosexism[edit]

Monosexism is a term used to refer to beliefs, structures, and actions that promote monosexuality (either exclusive heterosexuality or homosexuality) as the only legitimate or right sexual orientation, excluding bisexual or other non-monosexual orientations.[21][22] The term may be considered analogous to biphobia.[22]

The term is primarily used in discussions of sexual orientation to denote aversion towards all non-monosexual people as a social group or as individuals. It was likely adopted in place of unisexual, which is already used in biology and would produce confusion. It is sometimes considered derogatory by the people to whom it is applied,.[23]

The proportion of people who fit into the category depends on how one uses the word. If the term is used to mean exclusively monosexual in behavior, then according to Alfred Kinsey's studies, 63% of men and 87% of women are what may now be termed "monosexual" as determined by experiences leading to orgasm.[24] Freud thought that no one was born monosexual and that it had to be taught by parents or society though most people appear to believe that monosexuals are in fact the majority and identify as such.[25]

Controversial studies[edit]

A 2002 study said that a sample of men self-identifying as bisexual did not respond equally to pornographic material involving only men, and to pornography involving only women, but instead showed four times more arousal to one than the other. However, bisexuality does not imply equal attraction towards both genders. In addition, opponents state that genital arousal to homosexual pornographic material is not a good indicator of orientation both because the material is chosen by the researchers, ignoring the study participants' preferences (i.e. body types, looks, scenarios, particular fetishes, presentation of relationships, etc.), and because tumescence is problematic as an indicator of arousal (some tumescence may be caused or prevented by anxiety, and erectile dysfunction should be considered before such studies commence). They also state that the study showed a third of men had no arousal, and ask why this does not mean that one third of men are really asexual.[26][27][28] This is likely to suggest a heavy bias to the sample, especially as the men were recruited via "advertisements in gay and alternative newspapers". The study, and The New York Times article which reported it in 2005, were subsequently criticized as flawed and biphobic.[26][27][28] Lynn Conway criticized the author of the study, J. Michael Bailey, citing his controversial history and stating that the study has not been scientifically repeated and confirmed by any independent researchers.[29]

In 2011, a new article published in The New York Times mentioned a new study elaborated by Jerome Cerny and Erick Janssen showing evidence of bisexuality in men and therefore contradicting Bailey's study.[30] While both studies have been criticized for the aforementioned flaws in their methodology, this study attempts to resolve the sampling bias, by finding subjects from bisexual-specific communities who had experience with sex and relationships involving both sexes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eliason, MJ (1997). "The prevalence and nature of biphobia in heterosexual undergraduate students". Archives of Sexual Behavior 26 (3): 317–26. doi:10.1023/A:1024527032040. PMID 9146816. 
  2. ^ Michael Musto, April 7, 2009. Ever Meet a Real Bisexual?, The Village Voice
  3. ^ Yoshino, Kenji (January 2000). "The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure". Stanford Law Review (Stanford Law School) 52 (2): 353–461. doi:10.2307/1229482. JSTOR 1229482. 
  4. ^ "Why Do Lesbians Hate Bisexuals?". lesbilicious.co.uk. April 11, 2008. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ Geen, Jessica (October 28, 2009). "Bisexual workers 'excluded by lesbian and gay colleagues'". Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Dworkin, SH (2001). "Treating the bisexual client". Journal of Clinical Psychology 57 (5): 671–80. doi:10.1002/jclp.1036. PMID 11304706. 
  7. ^ "It's Just A Phase" Is Just A Phrase, The Bisexual Index
  8. ^ "Bisexuals and the Slut Myth", presented at the 9th International Conference on Bisexuality
  9. ^ GLAAD: Cultural Interest Media Archived April 19, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Myths About Bisexuality (PDF pamphlet from Bisexual Resource Center)
  11. ^ Word Of The Gay: BisexualErasure May 16, 2008 "Queers United"
  12. ^ The B Word Suresha, Ron. "The B Word," Options (Rhode Island), November 2004
  13. ^ Hutchins, Loraine (2005). "Sexual Prejudice: The erasure of bisexuals in academia and the media". American Sexuality magazine (National Sexuality Resource Center) 3 (4). 
  14. ^ Hutchins, Loraine. "Sexual Prejudice - The erasure of bisexuals in academia and the media". American Sexuality Magazine. San Francisco, CA 94103, United States: National Sexuality Resource Center, San Francisco State University. Archived from the original on 2007-12-16. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  15. ^ "Queers United". 
  16. ^ "Task Force Report On Bisexuality". 
  17. ^ "HRC article on bisexuality". 
  18. ^ "GLAAD TV Report". 
  19. ^ Maria, September 24, 2009. How Far Have We Come?, BiSocial News
  20. ^ "Thirteen On House". 
  21. ^ Highleyman, Liz (1995). "Identities and Ideas: Strategies for Bisexuals", from the anthology Bisexual Politics: Theories, Queries, and Visions. Haworth Press. Black Rose Web Pages.
  22. ^ a b Rust, Paula C Rodriguez (2002). "Bisexuality: The state of the union, Annual Review of Sex Research, 2002", BNET.[dead link]
  23. ^ Hamilton, Alan (2000). Archived August 5, 2007 at the Wayback Machine of "LesBiGay and Transgender Glossary", Bisexual Resource Center.
  24. ^ (1999). "Prevalence of Homosexuality", The Kinsey Institute. Note that Kinsey did not use the term "bisexual", but that he uses "exclusively homosexual" and "exclusively heterosexual".
  25. ^ Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture & Society, Volume 8, Issue 3, 1995, Feminist Economies, DOI:10.1080/08935699508685453, Margaret Nash, pages 66-78.
  26. ^ a b Carey, Benedict (5 July 2005). "Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisited". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2007. 
  27. ^ a b National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (July 2005). The Problems with "Gay, Straight, or Lying?" (PDF) Retrieved 24 July 2006.
  28. ^ a b "New York Times Suggests Bisexuals Are 'Lying.' Paper fails to disclose study author's controversial history". Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. July 8, 2005. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Straight, Gay or Lying? Bisexuality Revisted" J. Michael Bailey attacks the identities of bisexual men
  30. ^ Tuller, David (August 22, 2011). "No Surprise for Bisexual Men: Report Indicates They Exist". The New York Times. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Garber, Marjorie (1995). Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life, pp. 20–21, 28, 39.
  • Fraser, M., Identity Without Selfhood: Simone de Beauvoir and Bisexuality, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press 1999. p. 124–140.

External links[edit]