Why We’re All Bisexual

It seems that we can have it both ways. One person might think bisexuality is a bad thing, but another might think it’s a good thing. This study finds the former attitude “more common among men” and the latter attitude “more common among women.

Some men and women feel that bisexuality is an acceptable option with a few caveats. Most believe bisexuals have more in common with both men and women (as a group, not in individual cases) than with either one gender. But in some cases, men are more willing than women to “just accept it”–that is, to tolerate bisexuals if one does not. Overall, however, both men and women seem to want to do a better job of promoting acceptance of bisexuals.

Of course no sexual orientation is a choice, but it’s interesting to compare the views of bisexuals with their gay and lesbian colleagues. Gay rights groups have made a big deal of the fact that many lesbians see bisexuals as a challenge to lesbian privilege. The bisexuals in this study disagreed. They believed that lesbians, who seem more hostile to bisexuality in some cases, had a point. Women do have it that much harder than men.

One thing the study found in its research was that people tended to think that their own sex might be bisexual. Of course, this is a generalization. It is the male sex which is most inclined to think this way. (When asked if they thought themselves to be straight or gay, about 60% of men, but only 40% of women, said they were actually bisexual.) One would expect the female sex to be less biased toward thinking their sex is bisexual. But again, this was not the case.

The study found a similar bias toward thinking your own sex is straight by lesbians. When asked (again, when asked only about the group of women who did not identify as lesbian), many of this women thought they were straight rather than lesbian. Again, the findings were not very significant and the reason given for thinking this way was varied–that is, the bias did not seem to be as large in women as in men.

Bisexuals who thought their own sex was not straight tended, on average, to feel more alienated from their sex than bisexuals who had thought about their own sex. This finding was not significant at the group level but for individual men it was.

This study makes clear how hard it is to explain the bisexual community, to make it seem that it is more in tune with and representative of the broader population. But it also illustrates some of the reasons why it is hard to get people in the larger population to accept it–even more than straight women. It is a community that comes from a very different background and culture, one which may not be able to appreciate the difficulties of the larger group just because they themselves have faced a difficult situation.

We may ask ourselves why we are so quick to criticize and condemn a group when the larger population of society appears so willing to tolerate its existence and promote acceptance of it. What are we missing?

*This study was funded in part by the National Health and Welfare Council (NHCWCC) of Korea. NHCWCC was established on June 1, 2004, at Korea’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. On August 29, 2004, it was officially established as a special economic zone. Its responsibilities include providing the basic infrastructure of health care, public and private nursing centers, primary health care for young children, and other health welfare programs.

Copyright 1999-2013 Bibliography of Korean Biomedical Research: Biomedical Science Review, Volume 27. Edited by Chang Seo-Hee, Dong-Hee Kim, and Jang Hyun-Soo. Korea Biomedical Society, Seoul.