[CW: rape, sexual assault, HIV/AIDS, and biphobia]
Like all members of the marginalised orientations, gender alignments and intersex (MOGAI)* community, bi people find themselves faced with many myths and misconceptions. However, many people outside the bi community, and even some within it, are unaware of just how many stereotypes there are, and just how insidious they can be.
This post is not an attempt at any kind of in depth analysis, and much of it is based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence, but it is a resource for those who simply had no idea.
1. The most common stereotype is that bisexuals are confused/undecided/in a phase (most commonly directed at teenagers, especially teenage girls).
2. The idea that bisexuality isn’t a ‘real’ sexuality leads to the next two stereotypes that:
a) Bisexuals are ‘half out’, or using bisexuality as a stepping stone towards homosexuality (most commonly levelled at bi men) or
b) That bisexuals are ‘secretly straight’ and are ‘fake queers’ who are trying to infiltrate/invade LGBT spaces (and spread STIs - bi men were blamed for spreading HIV/AIDS amongst straight people). The ‘secretly straight’ stereotype is also heavily associated with bi women who are assumed to be performing bisexuality for cishet male attention
3. Bisexuality must be a 50/50 attraction (often erasing non-binary identities), meaning that a preference for/against any gender means that someone ‘isn’t really bisexual’. Bisexual people who convey a clear preference for a single (binary) gender are put under even more pressure to label themselves as straight/gay
4. Bisexuality is highly sexualised and, as such:
a) bisexual people are often assumed to be sexually insatiable and are therefore sexual predators who are incapable of maintaining any kind of stable/committed romantic/sexual relationship (this is especially insidious for bi women who are hypersexualised and therefore very often victims of rape/sexual assault - some studies claim that up to half of bi women are rape survivors) and
b) no bisexual could ever possibly be monogamous/faithful/in a long term relationship because they could never possibly be satisfied with just one partner.
5. Bisexual are often accused of entering relationships with gay/lesbian people solely in order to validate their ‘fake queerness’ (rather than out of any genuine love/care/affection) before inevitably settling down with in a ‘heterosexual’ relationship.
6. Bisexuality is often assumed to be an inherently transphobic sexuality (and therefore bi community is assumed to be more transphobic than other MOGAI communities) as many people use the ‘bi=men and women’ definition, thereby ignoring the various definitions used by bi organisations which are consciously inclusive of non-binary identities as well as erasing the trans and non-binary members of the bi community.
7. Bisexuality is also often linked with mental illness/instability, meaning that some psychologists (unofficially) use bisexual identity as a diagnostic tool for conditions like BPD and anxiety.
With all these stereotypes it is important to note that many bi people can be confused, polyamorous, aromantic, promiscuous or have mental illness; we are human and are comprised of diverse individuals just like other members of the the LBTQ+community. Additionally, there are a lot of bi people who later identify as gay or straight and a lot of bi people have long term monogamous romantic relationships with someone of a different gender.
Personally, I am often confused by my sexuality, am in a non-monogamous relationship and I am mentally ill. The point of this post is not to erase the existence of these types of bisexual people. See more- http://biwoc.tumblr.com/post/105606474207/poetry-wsw-m-by-jan-steckel-biscuit. There is a huge amount of diversity within the bi community, and great damage is done by attempting to homogenise us.
* MOGAI is a more inclusive and succinct alternative to LGBTQIAAP+.
Maz. E is a Black British polyamorous bisexual cis woman and final year history student. She's a feminist/womanist, makeup enthusiast, vegan foodie and budding activist.