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Bisexuality – The Scientific Perspective

on . Posted in Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression.

This is the first part of a three-part series on bisexuality. This article explores bisexuality from a scientific viewpoint.

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Not gay, not straight. The never-never land between heterosexual and homosexual: the B word.

What does it mean, specifically? The dictionary defines it as a person who is attracted to both males and females. To what degree, it has never specified. The Kinsey scale hypothesises everyone as innately bisexual, except for a minority on the extreme ends of the scale.

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While the Kinsey studies have their own opponents, it has proven to be a fair approximation of the ground situation. The distribution would not look like a normal one, where intermediate values are most common, but (according to this author's untested hypothesis) more like this.

Bisexuality, along with homosexuality is a well-documented phenomenon in the animal kingdom. [Click here for an exhaustive scientific paper on this] It is common, in fact, for most animals to engage in bisexual behaviour than exclusively homosexual or heterosexual. The bonobo chimpanzees, in fact, are 100% bisexual, as stated in the paper.

But how is it possible that one is attracted to both sexes at the same time, some might ask.

Psychologically and physically, there are certain characteristics, male or female, and anatomical parts, which will arouse desire and love in a person. To most people, only the characteristics of one gender will elicit this response. And to some, it might seem that the brain can only be attuned to one gender, in that it is 'wired' that way. But not always... it is not entirely understood why a person of a certain gender would have feelings for the same sex, much less for people to claim that a person cannot be bisexual.

It is a documented fact that men are more likely to fall into either category, straight or gay, rather than bisexual [statistically]. There was even a study done on this. While I personally doubt the accuracy of that study, due to a limited sample size, I also feel it rushes towards a hasty conclusion: that there are only three categories, straight, bi and gay. And that if a person happens to prefer one sex over the other, even slightly, he immediately has to be boxed into gay or straight rather than bisexual, and that he is 'delusional'. The Kinsey scale is proof that this soup-can labelling is not entirely accurate.

For women, however, the straight-gay-bi boundaries are a lot more fluid, and they are true representatives of the Kinsey scale. However, very tentative conclusions can be drawn about women, because of the dearth of research into female sexuality. The only data on women are surveys on female sexual practices, such as this.

While studies indicate most people are innately bisexual, to whatever extent, many never act on it, or even realise it. Identifying as bisexual is essentially identifying as gay, and most people would rather live a purely heterosexual life than bear the stigma of that. Hence, the number of people who call themselves bisexual is far less than the true number... leading to the bisexual community being an minority in the gay community.

In essence, bisexuality is valid a sexual orientation as heterosexuality or homosexuality – and as essential a part of the gay community.

In the next column, Pleinelune shall discuss the problems bisexuals face.



# jjade 2010-02-01 21:25

jade said,

April 10, 2006 at 2:39 pm

i believe that everyone is inherently bisexual. It’s not an orientation per se, as are homo- and heterosexuality. It’s just innate, just that some prefer the left or right more than the other.
# Mier 2010-02-01 21:25

Mier said,

April 10, 2006 at 9:26 pm

Some people can never imagine themselves on the other side. Thus, i believe that some people occupy extreme ends of the spectrum as well.
# jjade 2010-02-01 21:26

jade said,

April 10, 2006 at 9:41 pm

some cannot imagine, but i have friends who swore they were straight like nobody’s business but fell in love with the same gender eventually. and others who swear they are gay but fall for the opposite gender. everything’s fluid.
# Mier 2010-02-01 21:26

Mier said,

April 10, 2006 at 10:03 pm

There are always exceptions in every case.
Other factors come into play as well… like religious bent… =)
# The Pandora’s Box 2010-02-01 21:26

Sayoni Speak » Bisexuality - The Pandora’s Box said,

April 16, 2006 at 5:52 pm

[...] Last week, Pleinelune discussed the scientific position on bisexuality. Today, she shall exposit on the troubles bisexuals face. [...]
# Tony 2010-02-01 21:26

Tony said,

June 10, 2006 at 11:42 am

Good discussion.

Kinsey also recognized and addressed the fluid nature of the scale over time. That is, there is flexibility in the WHEN as well as the WHERE on his scale.

More broadly, he realized that many aspects of nature fell along a continuum. If only more people were as wise …

Continue this discussion on your chest if you’d like:
# Samm 2010-02-01 21:27

Sam said,

April 16, 2009 at 12:20 am

Very informative discussion. I agree with Jade’s comments, I too believe that everyone is inherently bisexual, to some extend atleast.

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