Bisexuals, bisexuals, where for art thou bisexuals? Fox News wants to know why, when images of bisexuality have become more visible in pop culture lately, more bisexuals aren’t coming out of the closet.
“By all indications, true bisexual orientation is rare,” writes resident FOX “sexpert” Dr. Yvonne Fulbright, adding that good data about people who identify as “bisexual” is infrequent — but is the problem a lack of data or has society’s disapproval of bisexuals forced many into the closet?
Dr. Fulbright, who has written several books on human sexuality, blogs for the Huffington Post, and has been active in the fight for comprehensive sex education, is not denying the existence of bisexuals in the article (I get instantly defensive when Fox News is involved), but pointing out how few people actually call themselves bisexuals.
Fulbright lists studies from the ’80s, early ’90s and early 2000s that show little in terms of men and women who identify as bisexual, but there have been other studies done since that sing a different tune — without using the “bisexual” label.
While studies of arousal patterns in men have been pretty consistent over the years, research into women’s sexuality has always been lackluster. In 2003, Northwestern University conducted a study of arousal in men and women who identified as heterosexual. The study found that women were much more likely to be aroused by both images of men and other women &mdsah; but continue to identify as heterosexual. Fulbright writes:
These findings naturally beg the question: Are many bisexuals in the closet? That would, in some ways, explain society’s current love affair with bisexuality. Many people may be living vicariously through bisexuals in the media, since they can’t fess up themselves.
When processing any prevalence data, it’s important to remember that a number of elements may play into a person’s honest reporting of his or her sexual orientation. One’s social environment, political ties, and personal issues are just a handful of the factors that can influence how we label our sexual orientation and the types of relationships we have.”
As we all know, “bisexual” is a term that many in the queer community have struggled with over the years, fearing they would be labeled as promiscuous or attention-starved. While I highly doubt bisexuals are “living vicariously” through the media, have stereotypes prevented people from identifying as bisexual?
I know several women who dated strictly men for years before entering relationships with women. Some now identify as lesbians, others bisexual, many are tired of the labels. But let’s be honest — both the queer and hetero community has seldom embraced bisexuals over the years (which is one of the reasons AfterEllen.com explicitly includes bisexual women in its tagline).
Despite Dr. Fulbright’s pop culture references, a kiss between Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Madonna says very little about legitimate bisexuals. Nor does Tila Tequila’s “adventures.” One problem with the research Dr. Fulbright cites is its insistence on labels, which is why studies into arousal levels seem much more accurate.
Do you think many bisexuals are in the closet, or people are just tired of having to label themselves?