Bisexuality is a sexual behavior or an orientation involving physical and/or romantic attraction to both males and females. It is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation, along with a heterosexual and a homosexual orientation. Individuals who lack sexual attraction to either sex are known as asexual. People who have a distinct but not exclusive preference for one sex over the other may also identify themselves as bisexual. Bisexuality has been observed in various human societies and elsewhere in the animal kingdom throughout recorded history.
The term bisexuality, however, like the terms hetero- and homosexuality, was coined in the 19th century. Bisexuality does not require that a person be attracted equally to both sexes; one may still have a distinct preference for one sex over the other while identifying as bisexual. A 2005 study by researcher Gerulf Rieger, Meredith L. Chivers, and J. Michael Bailey purported to find that bisexuality is extremely rare in men. This was based on results of controversial penile plethysmograph testing when viewing pornographic material involving only men and pornography involving only women.
Critics state that this study works from the assumption that a person is only truly bisexual if he or she exhibits virtually equal arousal responses to both opposite-sex and same-sex stimuli, and have consequently dismissed the self-identification of people whose arousal patterns showed even a mild preference for one sex. Some researchers say that the technique used in the study to measure genital arousal is too crude to capture the richness that constitutes sexual attraction. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force called the study and The New York Times coverage of it flawed and biphasic.
In 1995, Harvard Shakespeare professor Marjorie Garber made the academic case for bisexuality with her Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life, in which she argued that most people would be bisexual if not for “repression, religion, repugnance, denial, laziness, shyness, lack of opportunity, premature specialization, a failure of imagination, or a life already full to the brim with erotic experiences, albeit with only one person, or only one gender The American Psychological Association states that sexual orientation “describes the pattern of sexual attraction, behavior and identity e. g. omosexual (aka gay, lesbian), bisexual and heterosexual (aka Straight). ” “Sexual attraction, behavior and identity may be incongruent. For example, sexual attraction and/or behavior may not necessarily be consistent with identity. Some individuals may identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual without having had any sexual experience. Others have had homosexual experiences but do not consider themselves to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Further, sexual orientation falls along a continuum. In other words, someone does not have to be exclusively homosexual or heterosexual, but can feel varying degrees of both.
Sexual orientation develops across a person’s lifetime-different people realize at different points in their lives that they are heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual. According to Rosario, Schrimshaw, Hunter, Braun (2006), “the development of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual sexual identity is a complex and often difficult process. Unlike members of other minority groups most LGB individuals are not raised in a community of similar others from whom they learn about their identity and who reinforce and support that identity. Rather, LGB individuals are often raised in communities that are either ignorant of or openly hostile toward homosexuality.
In a longitudinal study about sexual identity development among lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths, its authors “found evidence of both considerable consistency and change in LGB sexual identity over time. ” Youths who had identified as both gay/lesbian and bisexual prior to baseline were approximately three times more likely to identify as gay/lesbian than as bisexual at subsequent assessments. Of youths who had identified only as bisexual at earlier assessments, 60-70% continued to thus identify, while approximately 30-40% assumed a gay/lesbian identity over time.
Authors suggested that “although there were youths who consistently self-identified as bisexual throughout the study, for other youths, a bisexual identity served as a transitional identity to a subsequent gay/lesbian identity. ” A 2002 survey in the U. S. by National Center for Health Statistics found that 1. 8 percent of men ages 18-44 considered themselves bisexual, 2. 3 percent homosexual, and 3. 9 percent as “something else. ” The same study found that 2. 8 percent of women ages 18-44 considered themselves bisexual, 1. 3 percent homosexual, and 3. 8 percent as “something else. The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior, published in 1993, showed that 5 percent of men and 3 percent of women consider themselves bisexual and 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women considered themselves homosexual.
The ‘Health’ section of The New York Times has stated that “1. 5 percent of American women and 1. 7 percent of American men identify themselves as bisexual. Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s 1948 work Sexual Behavior in the Human Male found that “46% of the male population had engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual activities, and ‘reacted to’ persons of both sexes, in the course of their adult lives. Kinsey himself disliked the use of the term bisexual to describe individuals who engage in sexual activity with both males and females, preferring to use “bisexual” in its original, biological sense as hermaphroditic: “Until it is demonstrated that taste in a sexual relation is dependent upon the individual containing within his anatomy both male and female structures, or male and female physiological capacities, it is unfortunate to call such individuals bisexual. Dr. Fritz Klein believed that social and emotional attraction are very important elements in bisexual attraction.
One third of the men in each group showed no significant arousal. The study did not claim them to be asexual, and Rieger stated that their lack of response did not change the overall findings. Human bisexuality has mainly been studied alongside with homosexuality. Furthermore, bisexuality does not always represent a halfway point between the dichotomy. Research indicated that bisexuality is influenced by biological, cognitive and cultural variables in interaction, and this leads to different types of bisexuality.
In the current debate around influences on sexual orientation, biological explanations have been questioned by social scientists, particularly by feminists who encourage women to make conscious decisions about their life and sexuality. A difference in attitude between homosexual men and women has also been reported, with men more likely to regard their sexuality as biological, “reflecting the universal male experience in this culture, not the complexities of the lesbian world. ” There is also evidence that women’s sexuality may be more strongly affected by cultural and contextual factors.
Most of the few available scientific studies on bisexuality date from before the 1990’s. Interest in bisexuality has generally grown, but research focus has lately been on sociology and gender studies as well as on bisexuals with HIV and AIDS. Several studies comparing bisexuals with hetero- or homosexuals have indicated that bisexuals have higher rates of sexual activity, fantasy or erotic interest. Van Wyk and Geist found that male and female bisexuals had more sexual fantasy than heterosexuals.
Dixon found that bisexual men had more sexual activities with women than did heterosexual men. Bisexual men masturbated more but had fewer happy marriages than heterosexuals. Bressler and Lavender found that bisexual women had more orgasms per week and they described them as stronger than those of herero- or homosexual women. They also found that marriages with a bisexual female were happier than heterosexual unions, observed less instance of hidden infidelity, and ended in divorce less frequently.
Goode and Haber found bisexual women to be sexually mature earlier, masturbate and enjoy masturbation more and to be more experienced in different types of heterosexual contact. Recent research suggests that, for most women, high sex is associated with increased attraction to one sex or the other, but not to both depending on sexual orientation. Most recent research, however, associates high sex drive and increased attraction to both sexes only in women. Bisexual men’s pattern has been more similar to heterosexuals with a stronger correlation with high sex drive for one sex, but with other-sex attraction as well.
A common symbol of the Bisexual community is the bisexual pride flag, which has a deep pink stripe at the top for homosexuality, a blue one on the bottom for heterosexuality, and a purple one, blended from the pink and blue, in the middle to represent bisexuality. Another symbol with the same color scheme is a pair of overlapping pink and blue triangles, the pink triangle being a well-known symbol for the homosexual community, forming purple where they intersect. Many homosexual and bisexual individuals have a problem with the use of the pink triangle symbol, as it was the symbol that
Hitler’s regime used to tag and persecute homosexuals (similar to the yellow Star of David constituted of two opposed, overlapping triangles). Therefore, a double moon symbol was devised specifically to avoid the use of triangles. Another symbol used for bisexuality is a purple diamond, conceptually derived from the intersection of an two triangles, pink and blue (respectively), placed overlapping. There is no single accepted definition of bisexuality. Some define it narrowly as sexual involvement with members of both sexes concurrently (within a twelve-month period or less).
Others define bisexuality more broadly as any sexual attraction to or involvement with members of both sexes at any time in one’s life. However, few people qualify as bisexual in its narrow definition. A comprehensive study, “Sex in America,” conducted in 1992 by the University of Chicago, found that less than 1% of either males 0. 7% or females 0. 3% had engaged in sexual activity with both males and females within the previous year. While no statistics exist on the numbers of Americans who fit the broad definition of bisexuality, estimates range from the millions to tens of millions.
Sigmund Freud believed that bisexuality was a “disposition” common to all humans. He contended that every individual has a masculine and feminine side, and that each side is heterosexually attracted to members of the opposite sex. Most people, however, according to Freud, repress one side, becoming either hetero- or homosexual. Alfred Kinsey posited a scale for human sexuality ranging from zero, representing exclusive heterosexual behavior, to six, representing exclusive homosexual behavior.
Between the two poles is a spectrum of bisexual activity. In Conclusion, bisexualism is a form of exclusivity and supports feminism and homosexuality by challenging sexism and heterosexism and by seeking equality of the sexes. People reach a bisexual identity in many different ways, and the Kinsey, Storms, Klein and Branden scales attempt to determine people’s sexual identity on a continuum.
Reference Page (2006).
Bisexualism. (online). Available. http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/bisexual Geller, Thomas. (1990). Bisexuality. TimesChangePress. Garber, Marjorie. (Feb 2000). Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life. NewYork Bagemihl, Bruce (1999). Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. London: Profile Books, Ltd.. ISBN 1861971826. American Psychiatric Association (May 2000). “Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues”. Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrics. http://www. aglp. org/pages/cfactsheets. html#Anchor-Gay-14210. Mitchum, Robert (12 August 2007). “Study of gay brothers may find clues about sexuality”. Chicago Tribune.