POLL DANCING: Is bisexuality an experiment, a phase or an orientation?


By Sexual Politics by Jennifer Baumgardner

Caroline Sykora's art work for Look Both Ways: BiSexual Politics by Jennifer Baumgardner


In 2005 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report stating more American women, particularly those in their late teens through 20s, admitted to having experimented with same-sex encounters.

In the story by the Associated Press, the survey found 11.5% of women aged 18 to 44 said they had had at least one sexual experience with another woman. This is in comparison to a similar 1995 survey showing only 4% of women aged 18 to 59 reported a same-sex encounter.

The survey also revealed 6% of men in their teens and 20s said they had at least one same-sex encounter. It was unclear whether the increase was due simply to people being more willing to talk about their sexual experiences in 2005 than 10 years before.

However, this January, USA Today reported on research conducted by the University of Utah revealing bisexuality among women is not a phase, but an identity. The study was conducted by Lisa Diamond, an associate professor of psychology and gender studies.  She suggests that most women “possess the capacity to experience sexual desires for both sexes, under the right circumstances.”

This falls in line with what The New York Times reported in 2007, that sexual desire is in the genes. It noted research conducted by Dr. Larry Cahill of the University of California that found men and women’s brains are significantly different and are used in different ways by the sexes. Sexual orientation expert J. Michael Bailey found that women tend to “get aroused by both male and female images” in experiments. He even goes as far as saying “I’m not even sure females have a sexual orientation. But they have sexual preferences… and most choose to have sex with men.”

(Guys, remember this; we “choose” to have sex with you.)

For men, sexual orientation is settled from birth, the report goes on, unlike women who “are probably born to become gay, but clearly some get there quite late in life.”

A 1989 unpublished doctoral dissertation by J. R. Little titled “Contemporary Female Bisexuality: A Physical Phenomenon” identifies 13 types of bisexuality. Unfortunately, I can’t find the actual dissertation, but several people have cited her in their work here, here and here. Below are the 13 different types of bisexuality identified by Little.

  • Alternating bisexuals: may have a relationship with a man, and then after that relationship ends, may choose a female partner for a subsequent relationship and many go back to a male partner next.
  • Circumstantial bisexuals: primarily heterosexual, but will choose same sex partners only in situations where they have no access to other sex partners, such as when in jail, in the military, or in a gender-segregated school.
  • Concurrent relationship bisexuals: have primary relationship with one gender only but have other casual or secondary relationships with people of another gender at the same time.
  • Conditional bisexuals: either straight or gay/lesbian, but will switch to a relationship with another gender for financial or career gain or for a specific purpose, such as young straight males who become gay prostitutes or lesbians who get married to men in order to gain acceptance from family members or to have children.
  • Emotional bisexuals: have intimate emotional relationships with both men and women, but only have sexual relationships with one gender.
  • Integrated bisexuals: have more than one primary relationship at the same time, one with a man and one with a woman.
  • Exploratory bisexuals: either straight or gay/lesbian, but have sex with another gender just to satisfy curiosity or “see what it’s like”.
  • Hedonistic bisexuals: primarily heterosexual but engage in gay or lesbian sex only when under the influence of drugs and / or alcohol.
  • Isolated bisexuals: 100% straight or gay / lesbian now but has previously had sexual experiences with another gender in the past.
  • Latent bisexuals: completely straight or gay lesbian in behavior, but have strong desire for sex with another gender, but have never acted on it.
  • Motivational bisexuals: straight women who have sex with other women only because a male partner insists on it to titillate him.
  • Transitional bisexuals: temporarily identify as bisexual while in the process of moving from being straight to being gay or lesbian, or going from being gay or lesbian to being heterosexual.

On that note we bring you a double poll for this week’s POLL DANCING:

 – JD  

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