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Sophie's Choice: Straight talk on the bi-way

April 16, 2014

Let’s talk about sexual orientation.
For those of you who I haven’t immediately lost to another section of the newspaper, thank you for staying with me. I mean no rudeness, crudeness, or offense. But we’re all adults, and I would like to write about an issue that has been nagging at me for a while now.
When you hear the word ‘bisexual’, what immediately comes to mind? Mayhap I am exaggerating, but I don’t think it’s over the top to say that bisexuality is the redheaded stepchild of sexual orientations. Most people can’t even agree on a definition of bisexuality, which has led to a lot of perplexity, anxiety and “reality” show personalities that we won’t discuss here, lest the newspaper spontaneously combust in your hands.
With bombardments from way left Hollywood (and those aforementioned “reality” shows) and far-right conservative groups, it’s no wonder that people are confused about bisexuality and what it means. For the purpose of this column, I’ll define a bisexual as someone who is drawn to emo¬tional and/or sexual relationships with different genders.
In this piece, my goal is to disseminate some perspective on what it’s like to be bisexual, the principal misconceptions and stereotypes that myself and people I know have come up against. Sexual identity is different for everyone, and usually adds up to more than just a “phase” or “band camp.”

Bisexual means making out with other women to turn straight men on.

Also known as beersexuals, and less kindly in some circles as show ponies, these women do exist, but it’s usually within the realms of Girls Gone Wild DVDs and Penthouse Forum.
These lackadaisical examples aside, trust me when I saw most bisexual women are just, well, women, in that they do not appreciate being hit on by pervy guys who think every lady and her girlfriends want an invitation to his bachelor pad.

“You’re just confused. Once you find the right man/woman, you won’t be so indecisive.”

That would be well intentioned, if it weren’t so condescending. When was the last time you told someone you were confused about a situation and didn’t know what to, so they readily advised, “All you need is the right significant other, and that conflict on whether or not to accept that job will clear right up.”
Now imagine someone telling you that about your sexual identity, as if such an integral part of who you are can be wrapped up, complete with a ribbon, just by finding the “right” person. If that were true, you would see well-adjusted, happily married folk frolicking about from here to breakfast.
Unfortunately, such perceptions about bisexuality are alive and well in both the gay and straight communities. But if being attracted to more than one gender makes you indecisive, what does it say about you if you like more than one sports team? Own more than one house? I’m oversimplifying, but you get my drift. Bisexuals aren’t confused about who they are attracted to, any more than a straight person is confused about being attracted to the opposite gender.

Bisexuals are hussies.

Someone once told me that the best thing about being bisexual is that you always have a date on Saturday night. My experience has told me that usually isn’t true (I’ve met very few prospective partners, man or woman, who can compete with a good book and a tub of hummus). You have probably noticed that promiscuity is a “people” thing, not a straight, gay, bisexual, unicorn thing. Some people are monogamous and some are not.

Bisexuals are just lesbians or gays who have one foot out and the other still in the closet.

Some people see bisexuality as a “phase’ or “stepping stone” to a more recognized sexual identity, and if you are able to recall when Elton John married a woman, I can see how you would think that. But coming out of that proverbial closet is never an easy thing. A “phase” is having strep throat or being a 13-year-old girl who’s really into One Direction. Stepping-stones are used to describe stages in your career, or the actual ones you add to your rock garden or koi poind. Reducing someone to such easy terms is insulting, even if you don’t mean to be.

Bisexuals (or gays and lesbians for that matter) can’t control their sexual urges and will influence others accordingly.

This sort of lines up with the previously mentioned erroneous belief, that bisexuals are mega-harlots. There is a misconception among some circles that bisexuals and those who identify outside of heterosexuality perhaps have some type of ravenous lust flu that will infect those who are exposed to it, rendering them powerless to fight off the hedonism that follows these base urges.
First of all, forcing someone to have sex with you is actually called rape, and has no bearing on someone’s sexual orientation as much as it is about power and control over another being. Secondly, if our own sexuality were so easily swayed, than wouldn’t we all identify as bisexual?
Questions or comments regarding this column? I appreciate any opportunity to check me email, so please email me at Sophia@statesmanexaminer.com.

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