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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
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.
While biphobia and homophobia are distinct phenomena, they do share some traits: with attraction to one's own gender being a part of bisexuality, the heterosexist view of heterosexuality being the only true attraction applies to bisexual people as well as to gay people. However, bisexuals are also stigmatized in other ways.
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, or experimenting with their sexuality, and cannot be bisexual unless they are equally attracted towards men and women. Maxims such as "People are either gay, straight or lying" embody this dichotomous view of sexual orientations.
Resulting negative stereotypes represent bisexuals as confused, undecided, dabblers, insecure, experimenting or "just going through a phase". 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.
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 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."
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, 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.
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. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists. It is often a manifestation of biphobia, although it does not necessarily involve overt antagonism.
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. The term may be considered analogous to biphobia.
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.
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. 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.
Criticism of a study
A 2005 article in the The New York Times used the word biphobic when criticizing a study about male bisexuality. The study, which was by Gerulf Rieger, Meredith L. Chivers, and J. Michael Bailey, and took place in 2002, 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. The article criticized the method of measurement of arousal as too crude to capture the richness (erotic sensations, affection, admiration) that constitutes sexual attraction.
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