Thursday, June 10, 2021

Bi-furious: Myths, Misconceptions and Mistreatment of Bisexuality

Hello my loves,

A belated happy Pride to you all! As a loud and proud bisexual who is tired of biphobia both in and outside of the LGBT+ community, I figured I'd kick off my pride posts with a good ol' educational post about the common myths and misconceptions of bisexuality. 

Bisexuals have been a backbone of pride since the very beginning, yet are often misrepresented or ignored altogether. So here's a brief rundown of common myths and misconceptions surrounding bisexuality, that contribute to the still rampant biphobia we see today.

 1. Bisexuals are only attracted to binary genders

I put this one at the top of the list because it. fucking. infuriates. me. Once of the most annoying pieces of discourse you see surrounding bisexuality is a variety of misconceptions about what bisexuality truly is. Some claim it's just an "attraction to binary genders", while others claim something like "an attraction to two genders".

This is often accompanied by someone comparing it with pansexuality, where people usually say something along the lines of pansexuality is an attraction to all genders, or attraction regardless of gender. There are some major issues with this idea.

1. It pushes the narrative that bisexuality is often exclusionary of trans and non-binary people. Not only does this erase the fact that non-binary and trans bisexuals exist, it also paints bisexuality in a bad light, suggesting it is not as progressive or inclusive as it's pansexual counterpart. The Bisexual Manifesto, first published in 1990 even explicitly tells people "not to assume there are two genders".

2. The idea that bisexuality still requires an inherent focus on gender is often used to push a sex-driven narrative. That an essential part of attraction for bisexuals is what's in your pants. While this may be true for some, it's incorrect to assume this is true for all bisexuals, or is a key part of the bisexual definition.

Many bisexuals may in fact find a closer attachment to the definition of pansexuality, the attraction to all regardless of gender. No, this does not make us pansexual. This idea of attraction regardless of gender has been at the forefront of bisexual theory since it's first written conception. Ignorance regarding bisexuality is what pushed the truer definition into the hands of pansexuality.

Before I go any further, this is not to say that pansexuals aren't valid, history and culture has resulted in two sexualities with near the same definition, and that's fine, but I wish people would not ignore bisexuals when try to educate someone on what their attraction truly means to them. Mini rant over.

2. In order to be a "true" bisexual, someone has to have at least dated both men and women

After my first rant we will ignore how this misconception further reinforces the idea of bi equalling binary, and instead focus on how it simply isn't true that you need to have dated every gender you're attracted to in order to be a "valid" bisexual.

Many people know they are straight without entering a relationship, and many people know they are gay without entering a relationship. While for some it may take some exploring in order to figure out their identity, it is absolutely not essential to have "experience" to confirm your bisexuality.

You are bisexual from the moment you wish to identify as such, and if you later feel that label doesn't work for you? That's cool too! There is absolutely no need to "prove" your bisexuality to anyone, so long as you are aware of yourself, that's all that matters.

3. Bi people turn gay or straight depending on who they settle down with

I saw a really fun analogy to help explain why this idea is wrong. A werewolf is a werewolf, right? When they are in human form, they are still a werewolf, and when they transform into their wolf form, they are still a werewolf.

The obvious next step here is that bisexuals are werewolves, right? Okay maybe not quite.

But what this analogy gets across is that just because a bisexual has a long term relationship with someone of the same or other gender, doesn't mean they have to forfeit their identity as bisexual. If a heterosexual man got married, that doesn't mean he forfeits his identity as heterosexual and will never find women attractive again, rather he has committed to a relationship with one woman, but still has the capacity to be attracted to other women, the outcome of that capacity being irrelevant.

4. Bisexual people are more likely to cheat, or enter non-monogamous relationships

No matter what that scorned ex or gold star lesbian (which is an issue all in itself, maybe I'll write about that later) tells you on the internet, promiscuity and sexuality do not correlate. 

Just because somebody has the capacity to like more than one gender doesn't mean they are equally more likely to cheat on you because of it. An interesting article by Lighthouse discusses how the misconception that bisexuals are more likely to be promiscuous is a consequence of the historical association of bisexuality with hedonism or sinfulness.

In the same vein, polyamory also bares this misconception. Whether someone is polyamorous is entirely down to each individual and their preferences, there is no correlation between bisexuality and polyamory. And fun fact, the most common form of polyamory is almost universally heterosexual, with the most common style of relationship being one wife with multiple husbands, or vice versa.

5. Bisexuals are greedy

Yeah we're greedy, I'll sleep with your girlfriend, your mum and your dad b*tch.

6.  Bisexuals are more likely to have an STI

This is actually true! When someone starts identifying as bisexual, they actually lose the fine motor skills needed to be able to put on a condom or wear a dental dam, leading STD rates to skyrocket like never before. But seriously, sexuality has nothing to do with a person's sex life other than who it is they're having (if they're having) sex with. 

Some bisexuals may be very sexually active with multiple people, others may not be very active with only one person, so long as they use protection, everything is fine! The myth that bisexuals are more likely to have an STI is just one of many consequences caused by the "sex-driven" narrative. Sexuality dictates who you're doing the deed with, not how you're doing it (though you should be looking out for yourself and doing it safely).

7. Bisexual attraction is 50/50

I guess this is a somewhat understandable misconception, bi in the Latin sense means "two" so you instinctively may want to split it down the middle. But bisexuality comes in a multitude of varieties, some may be mostly attracted to a particular identity, others may date with a preference for particular physicality. The amount a bisexual may be attracted to one identity compared to another is completely down to the individual, and so long as such individual is not invalidating anyone's identity* in the process, their levels of attraction are entirely valid. 

(In case any TERFs get uppity in my comments, I'm saying you can have a preference for a certain identity or biology i.e you can be only attracted to those with vaginas, just don't invalidate anyone else's identity just because they don't fit your preference, a trans-woman is still a woman regardless of if you're attracted to them or not).

8. Bisexuality is just a stepping stone to being gay

For some, yes it is, for other's, it's a lifelong identity - and both of these are valid! I've always hated the suggestion that bisexuality is a phase, because for most it certainty isn't, and even if it is for some, that's absolutely okay too! Some people may go from being gay to being bisexual, others from being bisexual to being straight, because identities can change.

Identities, just like our personalities, our interests etc are often in a state of flux. We can go from one identity to the next over time, and there's nothing wrong with that, we don't live in a permanent absolute state of being. For some, bisexuality will be one part of discovering themselves, while for others bisexuality will be a life-long identity. 

All that matters is that we don't judge someone for the path that they are on. Everyone has the right to explore their identity, change their mind or try different avenues. So long as nobody is getting hurt, you have every right to hop along that bisexual stepping stone.

It's estimated that bisexuals make up the largest part of the LGBTQ+ community at around 50%, so this pride lets do our bit to educate ourselves and others, to ensure such a large part of our community doesn't feel misrepresented, mistreated, or forgotten all together.

I hope you found this post somewhat insightful, I was kidding about dating your parents.

Take care and stay safe lovelies x


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