Confronting and debunking myths about bisexuality

 

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Photo Credit: Commons.Wikimedia.org

By Ann Sasala, ALLies Correspondent

Bisexuality doesn’t exist. Bisexuality is just for people who haven’t made up their minds. Bisexuality is just something girls do for attention. These are all myths and stereotypes I have heard regarding my sexual orientation. Fortunately, they have never been directed at me personally, but I take them personally all the same.

For the record, the definition of bisexuality that I use is “the capacity to be romantically and physically attracted to both men and women.” Now here are some things that bisexuality is not:

Bisexuality does not mean that a person is attracted to anyone and everyone. Just like a straight person isn’t attracted to every single member of the opposite gender, and a gay person isn’t attracted to every person of the same gender, a bisexual person isn’t attracted to every other human being. Personal taste plays just as big a part in attraction for bisexuals as for hetero- and homosexuals.

Bisexuality does not mean that it is impossible to have a monogamous relationship. Just as anyone who is single-gender-oriented commits to forgo the charms of other people, so do bisexual people in a relationship. It does not mean that they are not attracted to people not of the same gender as their partner, but they do not act on those attractions.

Bisexuality is not confusion over sexual orientation. Yes, some people who identify as bisexual later discover that they are hetero- or homosexual, but that is because bisexuality was a step on their journey of discovering their own sexual orientation. Bisexuality is a legitimate category of sexual orientation, and I will gladly defend that to anyone who says otherwise. I openly admit that some days, in some moods, I’m straighter than others. I tend towards attraction to men, but that does not mean that I can’t be attracted to women, too.

I suspect that our heteronormative society is partially responsible for that fact; as a small child, I would talk about the husband I would have someday, because it never occurred to me that I, as a girl, could have a wife. That picture of a man, a woman, and their children still affects how I think about relationships, even though I have had deep feelings for more than one woman.

As for the stereotypes with which I began this article, I would like to think that, if you have gotten this far, that I have firmly debunked the first one. If you still believe that bisexuality does not exist, well, then, you would not be reading this, as I would not exist. The second myth, that bisexuals are people who haven’t made up their minds, is a rude and narrow way of looking at my sexual orientation.

Bisexuals are wired to like both men and women, just as homosexuals are born liking the same gender and heterosexuals are born to like the opposite gender. It is not a choice, not something one can make up one’s mind about; it is simply a part of one’s essential being.

And now for the final myth that I mentioned about bisexuality: that it is merely an excuse for women to kiss each other in order to attract male attention. This is a patently false, patronizing and utterly heteronormative myth. The idea that a woman kissing another woman would have no other purpose than to attract male attention is offensive to me; there are, in fact, women who are attracted to women for themselves, and not for the gratification of anyone outside that relationship. I am one of them. When I kiss a woman, it is because I want to be kissing her. Thoughts of anyone else’s opinion do not even enter my mind; male attention, wanted or unwanted, is not in any way part of my motivation. The assumption that I am merely “putting on a show” to attract a man is rooted in the idea that women only want men and vice versa, which is part of the heterosexuality-asnormality that constricts our society. I doubt that it is intentional on their part, but women who play into this scenario are not only reinforcing standards of patriarchy, but undermining the identity of bisexuals, lesbians, and other women who love women as well.

The idea that a woman kissing another woman would have no other purpose than to attract male attention is offensive to me; there are, in fact, women who are attracted to women for themselves, and not for the gratification of anyone outside that relationship. I am one of them. When I kiss a woman, it is because I want to be kissing her. Thoughts of anyone else’s opinion do not even enter my mind; male attention, wanted or unwanted, is not in any way part of my motivation.

The assumption that I am merely “putting on a show” to attract a man is rooted in the idea that women only want men and vice versa, which is part of the heterosexuality-as-normality that constricts our society. I doubt that it is intentional on their part, but women who play into this scenario are not only reinforcing standards of patriarchy, but undermining the identity of bisexuals, lesbians, and other women who love women as well.

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