For those who may not be familiar with the term, Bisexuality is defined as sexual attraction to at least two genders. Most of the time, bisexuality is framed within the context of a cisgender or binary transgender person experiencing attraction to people who identify as either male or female. However, this definition can accommodate people of non-binary gender identities as well. (Click here for more information on binary vs. non-binary gender identity.)
Many people have expressed their discontent with the orientation. Often, bisexuality carries a loaded stigma regarding one’s sexual activity. Bisexual people face assumptions, stereotypes, bad or a complete lack of representation, and as recent studies have shown, elevated rates of intimate partner violence (IPV).
Why is that?
In our society, sexual consent is still widely misunderstood and ignored. Bisexual people are perceived as naturally hypersexual beings, indiscriminately sleeping with any and every person who identifies as male or female or non-binary. A combination of entitlement and ignorance makes it easy for those around bi people to violate their consent, citing the person’s orientation as justification. As well as promiscuous, those who are bi are assumed to be sexually “confused” or somewhat less inclined to commit to relationships than those who are monosexual.
This stereotype facilitates a pervasive, harmful behavior perpetuated against bisexual people known as biphobia. Biphobia can look like many things.
In relationships, biphobia is exhibited by:
- constantly forcing your partner to prove they aren’t cheating on you;
- unfairly isolating your partner from friends or acquaintances; and
- other controlling behaviors displayed, using your partner’s sexuality to justify them
Biphobia reaches further than relationships though. Many people believe it is okay to disregard the consent of bi people and make inappropriate sexual demands such as threesomes and other risky sexual behaviors, justifying their impropriety with the untruth that bi people are “down for anything.” Not only that, but many people assume that biphobia is a “diluted form of homophobia,” rendering erasure and therefore more harm to those who identify as bi. It is worth noting that those who are bi, can and do face discrimination from people who identify as gay and/or lesbian.
So why is biphobia such a big deal?
Biphobia puts a person at higher risk for mental/mood disorders, poverty, health complications, domestic abuse, and suicide. Being out as bisexual is an extremely complicated and dangerous sociopolitical position to occupy.
So what can be done about it?
You can combat biphobia by:
- Researching and educating yourself on bisexuality
- Confronting any problematic ideas you may have that align with or help perpetuate biphobia
- Being supportive to those in your life who do not align their orientation with monosexuality
- Offering an open ear to your bisexual loved ones who maybe just need to vent