This is the first part of a three-part series on bisexuality. This article explores bisexuality from a scientific viewpoint.
Image taken from biflag.com
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.
Image taken from iss.co.za
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.