Bisexuality: Annotated Bibliography

This study looked at bisexuality with the Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Self Categorization Theory (SCT) as well as a self-identification lens to access the affect of the individual’s health and wellbeing when identifying with a marginalized group. The study believes a person’s health and wellbeing increases once they self-stereotype themselves with the group. The study also speaks about women having significantly higher levels of negative health and wellbeing affects and how the theories may not apply.

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The study consisted of 42 (33 females, 8 males, and 1 non-binary gender person) who identified as bisexual, from a university between the ages of 21-30.

“The measures included in this study were an identity certainty and centrality measure, the Current Thoughts Scale (Heatherton and Polivy, 1991), the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (Watson et al., 1988), and a social belonging measure adapted from Bollen and Hoyle’s (1990) perceived cohesion scale” (2016). The limitation of this study surrounds the size of the sample population and although the study was conducted with a very small sample, the results show “the process of self-stereotyping that appears to be helpful for other marginalized groups did not seem to benefit bisexual-identified people in the same way in this study” (2016).

This study examines how Americans view the LGBTQ community, more specifically; bisexuality, within the military, it speaks to sexual orientation and the heterosexual hierarchy, bisexual erasure, sexual flexibility, and homosexuality based upon the “one drop rule (if someone had one drop of black blood in them, they were considered black, but if they were black and had one drop of white blood in them, they were still considered black) and the “one-time rule” (if a person experiences sexual desire one time or engages in one homosexual act, he or she is ‘really’ homosexual and that is that) and speaks about the invisibility of the bisexual community as it relates to being part of the LGBTQ society.

The study compared sexual ?exibility over time across gender and found that lesbian women have not identified as homosexual at an earlier time than were gay men. The same study was conducted by Baumeister (2000) who similarly reported and argued that “female sexuality may be more malleable and ?exible”. According to the research, whereas women are accepted as being bisexual, men are viewed as homosexual when in fact, they are attracted to both sexes. As far as bisexual erasure goes, the study found it to be not that prevalent. They also found individuals may not believe bisexuals have equal amount of experience or preference or that bisexuals must have actually had sex with both men and women.

This study addresses the connection between the media (television, films, theater, and music industries) and its’ representation of issues and the impact it has on people’s perceptions, bisexuality and how it is not studied as an individual group but is combined with homosexuality and heterosexuality which in turn, produces inaccurate results, and how bisexuality presents greater risks for mental issues than either of the binary sexual groups. The mental health of bisexuals is described as the result of minority stress (not only linked to homophobia but also to rejection by straight and gay communities), added stigma and prejudice faced by minority groups which leads to social isolation.

Anxiety, depression, high rates of psychological distress, suicidality, alcohol misuse, and self-harming behavior among bisexual populations is noted to be very high. It is also reported that bisexuals do not seek help for mental health issues due to fear of biphobia from health care providers, especially if they are not familiar with the population. Some participants reported health care providers considering bisexuality as a symptom or cause of their mental illness. The media’s representation of bisexuals does not help the situation. In the media, male bisexuality is erased as female bisexuality is highly oversexualized and bisexuality is experienced differently between the genders.

In television and film, female bisexuals are exploited and negated. Either they are sex objects for straight men or portrayed as confused women. Since the media is mostly ran by men, women roles are downplayed and lessened by the men who dominate the industry. It is also believed that women in the pop music industry come out as bisexual to gain attention and other pop stars are believed to say they are bisexual for attention and profit, but keep in mind, not everyone who claims they are “bi” is being deceitful. In mainstream media, bi women are more prominent than bi men. The study concluded by acknowledging how detrimental negative media representation of bisexuality can contribute to the social environmental effects on individual’s mental illness.

This study examines the lived experiences and recent community-based research of an indigenous woman who identifies as bisexual as well as the comparison between bisexual and two-spirit (having both a masculine and a feminine spirit) identity. The Bisexual Umbrella encompasses pansexuality, omnisexual, polysexual, queer, fluid, homo- and hetero-flexible, and bi-curious are also examined along with the complexity of the identities, the role of spirituality, the elevated rates of poverty, sexual violence, and the influence of colonialism as they relate to two-spirited individuals and bisexuality. In the study, it is reported that being bisexual caused more hostility from gays and lesbians than being pansexual, queer or fluid identifying individuals.

It is also reported that bisexual identifying individuals are likely to have many negative mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, alcohol use, or substance usage. It is noted that identifying as being two-spirited is spiritually based but not religiously based. In other words, the individual’s function within “their place in a web of relationships with other people, with the animals that share their territories, and with the land itself”. The complex identities for these individuals range from identifying as bisexual or not due to the stereotyping and preconceptions of other individuals to the point where women choose not to identify as bisexual or unlabeled rather than lesbians or heterosexual. Also, some use a two-spirited identity to describe their sexual difference rather than their gender difference. Two-spirited people were also noted for having high rates of poverty.

65% of the specific population report making less than $20,000 per year and social services and community aid is given. Poverty among these individuals could also contribute to their unmet mental health assessments, interventions, counseling and services being met. Sexual violence is also prevalent among two-spirited, bisexual females as opposed to lesbians and heterosexual females and statistically; 46.1% of bisexual women, 17.4% of heterosexual women and 13.1% of lesbians had been raped and some theorists believe it is due to the media portraying women bisexual statuses as women with sexual availability. Through a colonization lens, as bisexuality is part of the LGBTQ community, two-spirit individuals, by their identification, not only belong to the Indigenous community but to the Indigenous region and culture. Two-spirited Indigenous individuals identify as such as a way of “reclaiming” their culture while adhering to their values, their principles, and practices. The teachings being passed from one generation to the next is considered cultural continuity according to the study.

Although in the beginning, the purpose of the study was to show and measure the similarities between two-spirited individuals and bisexuality, the results showed similarities in the erasure, marginalization and oppression suffered by both groups however, even though the results were not conclusive, the writer expressed fear of further oppression if the group was not represented. The umbrella represents both bisexuality and Indigenous two-spirited individuals however, one possesses both sexes whereas the other is drawn to both sexes.

Tasker, F., & Delvoye, M., (2015). Moving out of the Shadows: Accomplishing Bisexual Motherhood. Sex Roles,73(3-4), 125-140. https://doi-org.proxy.library.stonybrook.edu/10.1007/s11199-015-0503-z

This study examines bisexual mothers and their identification as such, as well as how they structure their relationships in a heterosexual society. The researcher looked at how the women challenged heteronormative expectations throughout their daily lives. The researcher also investigated the family structure vs the family process and its’ effects on children’s socioemotional development and found that the quality of family relationships is the key to a healthy environment for the children and not the gender of the parents. As with the other studies where bisexuality erasure is prevalent, it is also prevalent in this bisexuality parenting study.

Like with heterosexual family dynamics, bisexuals face challenges after divorce and concerns regarding difficulties with bi-prejudices. There were different theories concerning motherhood and women’s bisexuality. The three theories researched in this study are: feminist theory, queer theory, and the life course perspective. The researcher reports some feminists are not sympathetic towards other self-identifying expressions such as heterosexuality and bisexuality. The study also reports almost all of the participants conquered that their children were their priority. The participant’s time and resources surrounded their expression that “the children come first” and that is where their emotional commitment lies. The mother’s commitment to their children was prevalent in all seven sub-themes prioritizing different needs and scenarios heterosexual parents face when raising children and the mother’s priorities matched if not excelled whether it cost them their identity or not.

Summary

I chose this topic because at a point in my life, I was in relationships with several women at different times. As I look back at that part of my life, I can’t honestly pinpoint what I liked about the relationships more. Whether it was the softness of being with another female, or the way they seemed to know what I needed, I remember it was at a time where I couldn’t hold my girl’s hand in public because she said it was not permitted.

While writing this paper it was apparent that marginalization, prejudice, oppression and bias is a daily prescription for individuals; especially mothers, who identify as bisexuals. This surprised me from the beginning of this course. while reading the case studies and the texts, explaining the struggles of being part of the LGBTQ community, and now to dig further into the “B” (bisexuality), I have found that the erasure and the way the community does not recognize bisexuals is ludicrous. How can the LGBTQ community, knowing how hard it was to get this far and nationally recognized, disregards and/or frown upon bisexuals? Throughout this assignment, it appeared that lesbians and gays were as hard on the bisexuals as the heterosexuals were, if not harder. It is like bisexuals are suffering from double oppression.

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