Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Female Bisexuality Is Cool, Male Bisexuality Is Still Forbidden


This little commentary comes from the University of Colorado (Boulder) Independent - a student forum. I find it interesting that men still are essentially forbidden from exploring same-sex attractions while women who do so are cool.

On the other hand, bisexual men are rejected by the hegemonic straight world, but they are also rejected by the gay community for the most part. Bisexual men are seen by gay men, in general, as either not out of the closet about being gay or straight guys who are dabbling. Either way, you don't want to get into a relationship with one.

This bias forces many bi men into straight relationships - or no relationship at all.

Anyway, in this article, a female bisexual student laments the bias against bisexual men on campus.

Opinion: exploring male bisexuality

Social prohibition exists toward men who experiment with other men

The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily represent those of the staff of CUIndependent.com nor any of its sponsors.

(CU Independent graphic/Sara Fossum)

As a young woman who engages in bisexual behavior, I have yet to experience a stigma or any form of discrimination surrounding my sexual identity.

Based on the opinions of other people, I am a straight woman who experiments sexually with other woman. Because I prefer to date men, I am allowed to maintain being straight.

This same concession is not made for men. A man participating in a sexual act with another man is immediately identified as gay by cultural standards. There is a taboo surrounding male bisexuality. It is the forgotten sexual identity.

Strides have been made to create a culture of tolerance for lesbians and gays, but male bisexuality breaks down the dichotomy of straight versus gay, and this gray area makes people uncomfortable.

Bisexual women are able to exist easily in our society because their identity is either sexualized or marginalized. The erotic benefits of their sexual choices outweigh their deviation from the normative path.

A bisexual woman, or simply two women kissing, is often regarded as attractive and therefore offers these particular women an exemption from regular cultural expectations. An example of the eroticization of bisexual and lesbian women is the lesbian kiss poster that hangs on the walls of young men across the country.

It is common, accepted, and even expected that young men relish in lesbian sex. There is little eroticization of gay or bisexual men.

The visual imagery of two men kissing often incites fear and discomfort, and the reaction bares little resemblance to the reaction of two women interacting sexually. From the other standpoint, bisexual women are sometimes labeled as straight women seeking attention or simply experimenting, and their existence is refuted.

Male bisexuality corrupts the concept of the standards of masculinity. Based on the power dynamics of sex in America, the man is supposed to serve as the penetrating and dominating force. By submitting to penetration (or any same-sex act), these power dynamics are shifted.

In the article “Understanding Patriarchy and Men’s Power” Joseph Pleck explains how power is associated with the heterosexual male and how it is revoked when a different sexual orientation is claimed.

“Our society uses the male heterosexual-homosexual dichotomy as a central symbol for all the rankings of masculinity, for the division on any grounds between males who are ‘real men’ and have power, and males who are not,” Pleck said. “Any kind of powerlessness or refusal to compete becomes imbued with imagery of homosexuality.”

This supports the concept that masculinity and power are rooted in heterosexuality. It is important for men to suppress and dominate others, whether they are women or gay men, according to Pleck.

This narrow-minded view of masculinity creates a stigma that prevents men from exploring their sexual and emotional desires in their entirety. An iron-clad code of silence has been prescribed to all who witness or partake in an act of male bisexuality. Some men consider a widespread knowledge of their bisexuality to be social and sexual suicide.

Josh, a student who wished to remain anonymous, is a 20-year-old junior psychology major who offers a perspective on male bisexuality from a straight male’s perspective.

“I think the stigma exists because there have been hundreds of years of sexual negativity,” Josh said. “Men are expected, in this society, to be masculine and this [male bisexual behavior] threatens it.”

Negative attitudes towards male bisexuality and stereotypical notions of what define masculinity contribute to unfair attitudes towards men who identify as bisexual. Without conversation, these attitudes will never change.

According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, only 6.6 percent of men surveyed identify themselves as gay or bisexual, but approximately 15 percent of men ages 50-59 say they have received oral sex from a man.

Although these 8.4 percent of men may identify as straight, culturally, they would be considered gay if their sexual experiences with men were exposed.

A man in American culture is not allowed to choose his sexuality. Instead, his actions and preferences identify him.

While male bisexuality and male bisexual behavior most certainly exist, both of these concepts are marginalized to the point of near invisibility in terms of cultural consciousness.

An open discussion between communities will begin the process of changing stagnated, archaic values.

Male bisexuality, along with all other forms of sexual expression or identities, must not bare a stigma. Every individual is entitled to explore their sexuality, and men interested in exploring bisexuality, or simply sexual acts with men, should not be discouraged.

An informed conversation and the passage of time are the realistic solutions to the stigmatization of male bisexuality, and that is a solution worthy of the effort.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Devon Boen at Devon.Boen@colorado.edu


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I am a closeted bisexual man in my 30s. I stay closeted because, even though I live in one of those most tolerant communities in America, there really is not any support for bisexual men within the GLBT community. Bisexual women who are with women are viewed as women who finally playing for the right team. Bisexual women are with men are viewed as strong allies of the lesbian community.

Bisexual men, on the other hand, are viewed just like you say they are, as gay men unwilling to embrace their homosexuality, or straight men who are just being obnoxious hipsters by experimenting.

I would say it is harder to be bisexual than homosexual. I have nowhere to go. I fear I will wind up alone.

Anonymous said...

I am a female who has been married for over 15 years. I love bisexual men. My husband is strictly heterosexual. My husband is aware that I find both sexes equally attractive so I guess I fall into a shade of bisexuality. We have both been monogamous our entire marital relationship. My bisexual relations occurred before we were married. My most ideal relationship is poly amorous..which I have wanted for as long as I can remember..is to be in a loving relationship with 2 bisexual men. For me it's not just the sexual experience, which are no doubt a turn on, but it includes the intimate emotional connectivity. I am not turned on by swingers club type of scenarios or one night stands or orgies. My husband and I openly express our desires and fantasies but we have never acted on them because 1. He is totally opposed to the idea, which I fully respect. He does not judge my desires and entertains them as much as he is able within a heterosexual, monogamous relationship and I reciprocate 2. I could not be in a MMF or FFM where any of the parties could not connect on the various levels of a fully intimate relationship. 3.Even if there was a remote possibility, we wonder how that would affect our relationship once it really became a reality. And we both debate the affect of the fall of certain boundaries. Is it healthier to keep certain desires a fantasy because it fuels our relationships own fires? My husband openly admits he couldn't handle it. However, I don't have hang ups about opening our relationship boundaries to include another male or female...providing we both had equal attractions and felt safe with the person that would become a part of our lives. I have often questioned my sexual "normality" because I can basically form a bonding relationship both emotionally and physically with either gender with whom I am strongly attracted. I can be monogamous or poly amorous. I am grateful that my husband and I can express our desires in this way. We mutually respect each others boundaries. I do feel bisexual people have a harder time finding community acceptance. Even though my husband and I have been open there are certain topics where he gets uncomfortable. If you are really looking for a relationship type of situation your best bet would be heterosexual couples. Many women love bisexual men and there are a lot of men who just haven't come out. Women can come out easier because we are not as stigmatized, it's openly known that many men enjoy 2 women together..just look at all the porno geared at this...but what isn't as well known is that women enjoy 2 bisexual men too. Lesbian communities shun bisexual women too but maybe not quite as much.