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Aug 23 2011

Scientists confirm that bisexuals exist

Oh science. You amuse me sometimes. File this one away in “We kind of already knew that, but thanks for getting actual data to make sure.”

Well, I already knew that, at least. But from all of the straight people who have told me bisexuals are just slutty or want attention, and all of the gay people who have told me bisexuals are just closet cases, maybe we did need a scientific study.

69 comments

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  1. 1
    Brent Royal-Gordon

    I always enjoyed “Science Confirms The Obvious!”: http://www.popsci.com/obvious

  2. 2
    Rbray18

    yeah,and it will be ignored just like anything else science says that doesn’t conform to peoples world views.i mean the earth has to be the center of the universe created just for us humans by a god that hates what we do yet still “loves” us :D

  3. 3
    Thomas Everett Haynes

    If you limit yourself to one gender, you just miss out on so much! Besides, how is a man supposed to emotionally understand what a girl goes through without doing the same. It takes a different kind of trust when you are letting someone inside your body, than the feelings and urges to stick a dick in whatever.

  4. 4
    Epistaxis

    That bisexual *men* exist. That was a subject of some controversy, actually.

  5. 5
    Caliguy7281

    I’ve never understood the thinking behind “you can be attracted to opposite or same sex, but not both.” There again, I’m assuming there’s thinking involved, which is probably not the case.

  6. 6
    miller

    At a glance, the first thing I notice is that this new paper shares an author with the 2005 Rieger paper.  JM Bailey.  I seem to recall among the many valid criticisms of the Rieger paper, there were also criticisms of Bailey for having controversial opinions in the past.  I guess this is a case where it would have been better to stick to content rather than ad hominem.

  7. 7
    pete084

    And it is widely recognised that there are more than two genders, some countries have actually given official recognition to the transgender community, even Pakistan, a Muslim country, has done so, yet nearby Indonesia still wallows in ignorance. In backward countries transgender persons are labeled as homosexual, and refused the right to live out their lives in the sexual orientation that they feel most comfortable in.For a touching video (I defy you not to feel emotion.) on transgender rights watch Sass Rogando Sasot deliver a speech to the UN: http://youtu.be/JrOc6CIQjtcSass has just started on her Bachelors degree in international law at The Hague in  Holland.

  8. 8
    Killer_Tapir

    You know, there is something oddly comforting about waking up to a news article confirming your existence.

  9. 9
    Andrew Hall

    True story. I was in marriage therapy with my wife (been married and have been monogamous for 17 years) and I mentioned, as I had done previously, that I’m bi. The therapist (otherwise a good therapist) looked at me and said “You still consider yourself bi?”Grrrrrrrr…Yes, just because I’m not currently sucking d*ck doesn’t mean I don’t think about it.

  10. 10
    Jacques

    Okay, that’s good news I guess…I’ve been bisexual since I was, well, forever, and now I’m 53 years old. I don’t need the attention but I am pretty slutty.

  11. 11
    Sam Barnett-Cormack

    It’s unclear how much use this will be in convincing anyone sceptical about it. After all, they’d not only have to be prepared to have reason challenge their own views, but they’d have to trust scientific processes themselves.

  12. 12
    Astrid H

    Unfortunately, even among scientifically minded people there are those who don’t seem to get that bisexuality is a real thing. There are just so many infuriating misconceptions out there.

  13. 13
    Faerie Fey

    I don’t understand at all how it can be considered NOT to be a “real thing”.  Are all the people who enjoy having sex with both females and males lying? Do they not actually exist?  What the hell?

  14. 14
    Åndrew Bergström

    Actually, I believe that we are all born with the potential to be bi by nature, since it is still a mystery as to why we are attracted to certain aspects of sexuality in another person. It has not been defined why some body parts over others cause desire in some more than others, nor has anyone proven why different positions or other labels like “Kink” are wired into our brains. There are not that many differences in the human body between male and female, as the fetus develops one path is developed (or even both.) Also, the dividing line between the pain and pleasure centers are close enough in the human brain so that some people derive arousal of one or the other (or a combination) to achieve an orgasm. There are still others that have never felt arousal at all, and have never had an attraction during their life, not to mention those that never find that one stimulus to achieve orgasm (even if they have been aroused, but rather fake it for their partner’s benefit.)The big question that seems to be tackled is whether this is due to nature or nurture. I would lean toward nurture,  since by nature we may be all closely related but are given various nurturing to teach us what is “Normal” or “Forbidden.” In that case any Religion is the chief culprit in sexual deviation, with some that deliberately suppress their desires while others embrace them out of rebellion to their upbringing. It would be interesting if there was proof of either of these theories…

  15. 15
    Ken Chambers

    It shouldn’t have been.

  16. 16
    Zuche

    “You’re either with us or with them,” is an aberration of thought with a long, persistent history. It was old by the time someone claimed we couldn’t serve two masters.

  17. 17
    Ratshag

    Huzzah! Grats on not havin’ fer ta worry about not existing no mores. I imagines ma felt sumthin’ similar 50 or 60 years ago when someone finallies told her what bein’ left-handed were a real thing too.Me, though, I’d be oddly disturbed ta wake up ta a news article what confirms us orcs exist because, well, unlike bisexuals, we’s fictional.

  18. 18
    Vander Baulk

    Well, strictly speaking, you kinda didn’t know that already; all you had for the evidence of bisexual people was anecdotal evidence. (He said, with tongue about 90% in cheek.)

  19. 19
    nathan lee

    I’m of the opinion it’s more or less determined by hormone balances in the womb (that was the best theory of the cause of homosexuality a few years ago). But you’re right that we really don’t know yet what causes sexual orientation. There are no known reasons why I think girls are awesome, but horses are sexually ugly. Why don’t I mate with trees, as some insects do? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s much of a nature/nurture problem though. In biology, everything I can think of is both nature AND nurture. You could argue down to the shape of your body being nurture in the womb, only losely supported by the nature of oocytes. There is no dividing line between the “original nature” and “caused by nurture” in biology.

  20. 20
    Darwiniandog

    “But from all of the straight people who have told me bisexuals are just slutty or want attention, …”And tell me, what the hell is wrong with slutty bisexuals who want attention?!?!

  21. 21
    Bruce McGlory

    Are these the same scientists that couldn’t figure out what was going on with male duck dongs, until a female scientist said, “uh, guys, did you ever look at FEMALE DUCKS?”

  22. 22
    Melissa E

    Good to know I exist! Except apparently female bis were never as hotly contested as male ones for some reason. Probably because the same guys who are repulsed by gay guys find girl-on-girl hot. You know, it’s interesting – I feel like I could have very easily turned out effectively straight, and I’m so bi precisely *because* of the Christian religion trying to brainwash me into feelings of gender inferiority (we were specifically told in theology class that women are inherently less able to resist being evil than men), which drove me to embracing my “masculine” side more… my family complains that when I was younger, I was so adorably feminine, and then I started acting too tomboyish…

  23. 23
    InfidelsLaughter

    It’s high time we have actual hard data on this subject. As a victim of bi erasure I can tell you that it’s crushing to hear the exact same biggoted arguments from fellow members of the LGBT community, that I hear from heterosexual homophobes. These anti bisexual arguments are found even among the pillars of the LGBT community, including people like Dan Savage.

  24. 24
    Azkyroth

    I assume the reason behind denialism about bisexuality is that it presents a more acute threat to the binary essentialist gender model – the idea that there’s a discrete set of “man” traits and “woman” traits that are inherent and immutable.  Homosexuals challenge this but can be assimilated by treating them as mentally backwards (think of the “all lesbians are bull dykes” stereotype, or the frequency with which “gay” men in mainstream movies were portrayed as giggling, emotional drag queens – you can sorta cling to the binary essentialist idea if you pretend a gay man is just a “woman” brain in a man’s body, and vice versa).  “Bi” females are actually fairly comfortable under this model because it’s sexist and man-centric and allows men to be titillated by sexual contact between women while maintaining that all women really need a man in charge of them to be emotionally and romantically satisfied.  Male bisexual relationships, though, really can’t be assimilated into that model.I have no idea why much of the gay community went along with this.

  25. 25
    Azkyroth

    Unfortunately, there are too many people who really think like that for it to be funny. >.>

  26. 26
    John34

    I acknowledge bisexuals exist. I have a best friend who was in a relationship with a man for many years, and then followed that up with a several-year relationship with a woman. Neither relationship was his first. But where I wonder is when people discuss attraction. I’m attracted to men and women, physically and sexually. Sometimes I get really turned on by same-sex thoughts, and one of my same-sex encounters went really, really well. However, I would not consider myself bisexual. Am I being too rigid with my definitions? Should bisexuality account for anyone who has a fleeting same-sex thought, or just people who are truly open to relationships with either gender?

  27. 27
    Faerie Fey

    My first reaction is to think you’re being too rigid in your definition.  If a same sex encounter went well and you really were turned on by it (or other such fantasies), then that means you, at least occasionally, enjoy sex with other males (assuming you’re male based on your handle).   Sure, maybe you overall prefer sex with females, with only the occasional foray into sex with males, but it remains a fact that you -enjoy- those occasional forays.  It counts.  It’s not like there’s a single binary switch, it’s a range, like this:Hom—–Bi—–HetYou’re not all the way to the right, you’re maybe on the third dash from the right on this scale.  So you’re bi with a het preference or something like that.  But definitely bi because you’re not ALL HET! ALL THE TIME!! ;D  I’m probably more like the first dash to the left of Bi, and I identify as bi.  I like having sex with women, but I’ve been with my husband for 23 years and I enjoy sex with him, too. :)

  28. 28
    Melissa E

    Different people do define “bi” differently, which is probably part of why there are so many misconceptions about it. I’ve noticed over my brief life that almost everyone is a little bi by the more liberal definitions. One of the most stereotypically straight guys I know had a male lover when he was young and still calls himself straight. Me personally,  I separate “physical attraction” from “romantic long-term attraction.” I’ve never fallen in love with a girl. I’m bisexual but heteroromantic.

  29. 29
    miller

    The threshold between bisexual and not bisexual is arbitrary. That’s why I recommend using an identity that is most useful to you (and within reason).Lots of bisexuals are only really interested in serious relationships with one of the genders. It is not a general requirement of bisexuality. All the same, you may allow it to inform your identity.

  30. 30
    Mike Knowler

    Wonder what Dan Savage will make of this. He’s made some profoundly uninsightful comments about male bisexuality in the past

  31. 31
    Jen

    Uh, he’s already written two supportive posts about it. And seriously, I’ve heard this claim over and over again, but I’ve yet to see any proof showing me something stupid Dan has said about bisexuals. This just seems to be something parroted by bisexuals who don’t know Dan’s work. He’s been nothing but supportive of bisexuals for the years I’ve been reading his column and listening to his show.

  32. 32
    Indigo Violent

    I think the missing component in a lot of discussions about orientation is identity, although that’s starting to change.  In general, I argue that people should be able to apply their own labels, based on what they’re comfortable with, and have them, for the most part, respected. Doubly so in cases of sexual orientation, where only the person actually inside their own head can know with any certainty what their deal is. So if you don’t identify as bisexual, that’s cool – don’t!  If you consider your same-sex attraction to be less important or having less weight or however you want to put it, I don’t see that as a problem.

  33. 33
    quantheory

    An actual study is useful. I’ve had some pretty diverse incidents involving people saying that I’m not bi. My mom said so, but I think she was just uncomfortable with ambiguity. She had tried to somewhat prepare herself for having a gay son, but it made her anxious. The added anxiety of not knowing what my life might be like seemed to make it worse for her.I also remember this friend of mine. He’d been dumped by his boyfriend for a woman, and had decided somehow that this was a problem with bisexuals. (I think that that explanation made him feel better because it felt less personal and more avoidable in the future than just thinking “My ex is a douchebag.”) When I told him I was bi, he had some kind of cognitive dissonance between how he thought of me and this bisexual stereotype in his brain, so I guess he thought of me as just a closet case for a while.I think that a lot of people convince themselves that they understand relationships, or have a handle on them, by building these stories about how men and women are, often out of half-truths and stereotypes. You can salvage a lot of those half-truths by allowing for “exceptions” to the various rules. But people who simply ignore those stereotypes, who neither follow nor deliberately break them, and don’t see where they come from in the first place, those people can be a much stronger challenge, because they show how deep the flaws in the stereotypes go.However, those people also tend to be a lot less memorable. Confirmation bias causes people to remember things that reinforce their preconceptions. A direct and blatant contradiction to one’s preconceptions is also notable. Something that doesn’t go one way or the other… that’s easy to forget. And one is likely to be motivated to forget it as well, because these preconceptions are a source of security and confidence. It’s scary enough to acknowledge that one doesn’t understand something. Acknowledging that one doesn’t even know how to think about something, or what sorts of categories are even useful to apply, that’s even scarier.

  34. 34
    quantheory

    He’s gotten much, much better over the years, and honestly I like his columns and his podcast and the vast majority of what he does.That said, I think it’s pretty indisputable that he has said some stupid things about bisexuals, whether or not they accurately represent his actual beliefs, or whatever. On a hunch, I did a search and pulled up a couple of Greta Christina’s columns, for example:http://gretachristina.typepad….http://gretachristina.typepad….

  35. 35
    Jen

    Thank you for actually giving me links, even though you weren’t the commentor I was talking to. I’m just sick of people making claims without any evidence – I’ve asked dozens of people for any shred of evidence of Dan saying something bad, and you’re the first person to actually respond. I’m pretty sure most people just have a bind hate on for him without actually knowing what they’re talking about.And yeah, those things he said were not the greatest – but I’ve been listening for the last two years and he’s gotten much, much better. I’m just annoyed that now if he even says the word bisexual, followed by nothing but positive things, his bisexual enemies will still find a way to twist what he said into something bad. People need to get over themselves when someone is trying to do a better job.

  36. 36
    Lou

    Now can we just have a study to show asexuality is a Real Orientation too please?

  37. 37
    Chris Slaby

    I think I’ve read all the comments so far, but if I’ve missed something and I’m repeating what someone else has said, apologies. Gar! to both you and the NY Times, since you’ve both used the category of “homosexuality” to describe your discussions of this recent paper. It’s not that I all out object to this, but I always like to ask the question of whether something can be done in a better way, more accurately. And so it seems that using “homosexuality” as a category tag for a discussion of bisexuality reinforces some ideas that bisexuality is really just latent homosexuality. Of course, the real problem is probably that these three labels for sexual orientation (gay, straight, bi) are really just an approximation, that most people are in some sort of a grey area on a Kinsey continuum, and that sexual orientation is not a completely fixed identity or character trait (I’m not sure if that’s me saying that most people are really just shades of bi, because I’m not sure of that, but I’m certainly willing to bet it’s more complicated than a simple, clear cut gay-straight-bi system would suggest). Anyway, I guess my wish would be for you to also tag this as “bisexuality” and/or, perhaps the most accurate term for all this talk, simply “sexuality.” I do realize that your discussion, and that of the NY Times, has to do with homosexuality as well, but they also talks about heterosexuality, so why not a label for that? Again, I don’t think that’s the best solution, to just keep adding tags. I say keep it simple and just label this as a discussion of “sexuality” (or, as you already have it, “sex”, though if I were being really picky, which I often am, I would distinguish between the two), and/or “bisexuality.”

  38. 38
    quantheory

    I do try to get back to people’s original words when talking about this sort of thing (although I’ll admit that my Google-fu is weak at times). There’s too much exaggerated he-said-she-said on the internet to toy with people’s reputations. (Heck, this happens in papers and books too; atheists get a lot of crap about being too militant, don’t we? And feminists, too, and so forth.)As for Dan Savage specifically, while I do endorse him, and I think that a lot of the criticism of him is overblown, he’s been more cavalier about his statements than seems appropriate sometimes. On a personal level, I think that the “It’s a waste of time for you to get mad at me” attitude is kind of annoying.But I think we eventually run into this problem with any public figure that has done something admirable. Eventually they show that they are human beings with human flaws and we get disappointed (e.g. how the whole left seems to feel about Obama nowadays). But there’s a difference between treating someone as perfect, versus acknowledging that someone screws up at times, versus considering someone persona non grata the moment they step out of line with one’s personal moral convictions. It’s just hard to find that balance (see also: Elevatorgate).TL;DR: moar nuance plz.

  39. 39
    Eric RoM

    I believe Dan has recovered from that particular stupidity.

  40. 40
    Eric RoM

    “One of the most stereotypically straight guys I know had a male lover when he was young and still calls himself straight. “What part of “lying” don’t you get here?

  41. 41
    Eric RoM

    I remember reading those posts.  He’s better, BUT at one time he subscribed to the Same Old Shit.Frankly, it cracks me up when gays just ‘can’t believe in’ bis.  WTF?  Your kink has some kinda privilege?

  42. 42
    Astrid H

    Nothing in principle, just the fact that it’s a stereotype and is meant to be dismiss bisexuals.

  43. 43
    Ben Gilder

    Has anyone else come out as bisexual to a heterosexual and been told off then later come out to a homosexual and also been told off(in almost the same words!)? Sigh, we’re all bigots…… wonder what some of us bisexuals will be commonly perceived to be bigoted against in due course?

  44. 44
    Eric RoM

    We’re NOT “all bigots”: the bigots are bigots.

  45. 45
    UrsaMinor

    Yes.  It’s pretty infuriating, having both heterosexuals and homosexuals tell me that I’m confused and/or fooling myself.I’ve been with another man for the past twenty years.  It’s just easier to say “I’m gay” to people I’m not close to, and leave it at that.  It isn’t correct, but it gives people a label that makes them feel comfortable and matches my observed behavior.Maybe I should stop doing this.  I’m contributing to bi erasure.

  46. 46
    Azkyroth

    How do you justify that conclusion?

  47. 47
    Azkyroth

    I think an “LGBT Issues” tag might be a better choice still.

  48. 48
    miller

    I’d say it’s pretty clear he improved over time.  Here’s a much worse example from 1999: http://www.thestranger.com/sea…12 years is, of course, plenty of time to forgive.

  49. 49
    Melissa E

    Wow, that is really offensive, actually.It’s his right to ID as a straight guy who once had a positive homosexual experience as much as it’s anyone’s right to ID as gay or bi.

  50. 50
    Vander Baulk

    Yeah, I was kinda worried about whether I should post that or not, for fear that people would take it the wrong way. Really, though, it’s meant to be more about science confirming things that ‘everybody already knows’ than about bisexuality.

  51. 51
    Aaron Harmon

    Yeah, so I consider myself Bi, but I have been faithfully married to my wife for 11 years. When people hear me say I am Bi, they seem to think I am confessing to infidelity.

  52. 52
    Azkyroth

    I’d rather just leave the ducks in the ponds, personally. O.o

  53. 53
    neapel

    oh, you mean Erectile Dysfunction? (or they just assume the connection to their penis-twitch-sensor was faulty)

  54. 54
    Flameraven42

    I was thinking exactly this. It took me forever to realize that that was an option.

  55. 55
    Comrade Stokesi

    Some great points here, but, er, Pakistan is nowhere near Indonesia geographically. Australia is right under it on the world map.

  56. 56
    pete084

    Hawaii is nowhere near America, but it’s part of the United States of America! Pakistan and Indonesia are both on the Asian continent, or it’s continental shelf, you’ll find there are economic and cultural ties between the countries in that region. Indonesia is comprised of a number of islands, one of them (Sumatra) stretches round into the Andaman Sea.

  57. 57
    Svlad Cjelli

    On the other hand, the terminology is muddied by the form, which often indicates a discreet preference. If “bisexual” followed the same rule, it would be referring to engaging both sexes in preference to engaging either single sex.

  58. 58
    Svlad Cjelli

    Well, that’s rather an imbecillic assumption. The ragingly horny have little in the way of special resistance against erectile dysfunction. Though they would suffer it harder.

  59. 59
    Svlad Cjelli

    “But from all of the straight people who have told me bisexuals are just slutty …”I must have misunderstood what is meant by “slutty”. It apparently isn’t very relevant to sexuality.

  60. 60
    ad_astra

    So glad science has finally confirmed my existence!  Hooray, kisses all around!

  61. 61
    Tea Cosy

    He isn’t ‘lying’ if he’s describing his experiences and preferences accurately, you know.

  62. 62
    Azkyroth

    I agree with you overall but this is pretty blatant goalpost moving coupled to a Humpty-Dumpty argument.

  63. 63
    Svlad Cjelli

    (“But from all of the straight people who have told me bisexuals are just slutty …”)Bah, humbug! That is not your desire to kiss all around! It is merely your desire to kiss all around! *huff*

  64. 64
    ad_astra

    Not all kisses are sexual and I reject the validity of the word “slutty.” :)

  65. 65
    Svlad Cjelli

    True. Not my word, though.

  66. 66
    Der Cat

    I guess the same way you can not both enjoy Choclate and vanilla flavored pudding?

  67. 67
    Der Cat

    I’m pretty sure you know what and who can arouse you sexaully. I’m going to assume unless you state you don’t that you do.

  68. 68
    Atilla

    Well, Dilbert once proved his dog’s existance, using only math:http://dilbert.com/dyn/str_str

  69. 69
    Nautica Binx

    Wohh precisely what I was looking for, regards for putting up. “Arguments are like fire-arms which a man may keep at home but should not carry about with him.” by Samuel Butler.

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