An article on Bisexual Myths I wrote for Biscuit Magazine.
I conducted a study into bisexual myths using such reputable sources of information as Twitter and the indubitably accurate information acquiring process known as Asking Drunken Strangers In The Pub. The following results were gathered under stringent conditions and are awaiting full publication in The Lancet, any minute now, honest.
My method was simple: I asked people to list the first three words that came to mind when I said the word bisexual.
The answers seemed to fit loosely into three camps:
- Those words indicating bisexual means wanting sex with everyone, all the time. Words in this category included: slut, slag, porn, greedy, cunt, cock, breasts. Which seem to conjure up images of bisexuals as sex-obsessed creatures roaming the streets for their next conquest like Sigourney Weaver’s erotically possessed character Dana Barrett in Ghostbusters, wild hair flailing, wanton eyes heavily shadowed with dusky makeup. People seem to leap from, bi meaning two, to mean both male and female, at the same time, all the time. The theme of greed resurfaced again and again, as if bisexuality was some kind of Man vs Food challenge or compulsion.
- Those words indicating bisexual means threesomes, with you, right now: fun, adventurous, curious, easy-going, liberal, powerful, up-for-it. These words were said by people who seemed to be sexually interested in bisexuals, or most particularly threesomes with them. The words were often accompanied by a glazed look into the middle distance and a wry smile that made me want to root in my bag for a tissue to stem the salivation that was pooling in front of them. On one occasion I had to make a swift exit from the pub as I noticed this individual directing his gaze at me and trying to touch my leg suggestively. Such is the power of the word bisexual, an almost aphrodisiac suggestion in itself, akin to rhino-horn, oysters, and cans of Irish Moss.
- Then there were the straight up negative connotations: confused, outcast, trendy, indecisive, low self-esteem, attention-seeking, drama-queen. And soon followed phrases like They don’t care who they hurt, They’re only doing it to attract other men, They’re only saying they are because it’s fashionable. As if the quest to have all the sex ever would render the bisexual a heartless, unfeeling robot, desperate for the attention of the opposite sex who it was all a rouse to attract anyway all because they saw Madonna kiss Britney on the telly and got some flighty idea in their head. These are the words that suggest bisexuality sits awkwardly on the binary spectrum as a bastard of its “legitimate” siblings gay and straight. The phase that comes before acceptance, that land to be journeyed across before you settle down and make up your mind. As my mother once said You can’t be both you know, you can only be one or the other. The instruction is clear: pick a team and stick with it. It’s all genetic anyway. Stop lying to yourself. Sexuality couldn’t possibly be a fluid concept, that finds desire on a case by case basis. Of course not. Get back in your pigeonhole and stay there. I wouldn’t want to end up confused like you.
So what conclusions can I derive from my scientifically rigid study? The term bisexual is so bound up in negative connotations and prejudiced assumptions that it’s a wonder that anyone identifies with the term at all. But they did. There were a few mentions of “me” as one of the three words. Though one participant never said so in public for all the above reasons and another preferred pansexual as a more positive term. Should more be done to reimagine bisexual identity in a positive light? Or should we try to think beyond labels and see their limitations in defining the complex human character. I think those’ll be the next questions for my pissed-persons opinion panel when we’re trying to put the world to rights at 3 am.
And just for fun here’s some square pegs I couldn’t bash into the round holes of the over simplistic categorisation above: hairy, Streatham, drag-queens, tattoos, body-building, Erasure.