This post is my response to joannadeadwinter‘s latest post Ooh, Look, A Bisexual! as part of our ongoing and respectful conversation about our views on the topic of bisexuality. I wanted to say “thanks again” to joannadeadwinter for initiating this discussion and for her thoughtful, intelligent, insightful, and respectful interactions! Everyone, please feel free to join the conversation, either here or on her blog…
I admit my thinking about sexual orientation has always been rather black and white.
My admittedly strong opinions are based upon my own absolute certainty of my sexual orientation from the time I was a child, as well as my observations over the years of other women I have known, and have known of.
And: in my observations, all of the women who I have known, or known of, who have said they were bisexual turned out to be straight women who ended up with men, including the famous women who have come out as bisexual.
In one comment on a previous post regarding this topic, Chonky mentioned that some lesbians initially said they were bisexual to sort of “ease into” coming out as a lesbian, noting Martina Navratilova as an example, a fact which I didn’t remember (or perhaps I simply never knew). This comment added a new dimension to the topic which I had not previously observed/considered (thanks, Chonky!).
My point is: through this ongoing back-and-forth discussion, I am considering aspects which I had not before, and that is always a good thing.
So, on to my response:
Joannadeadwinter makes the following points in her response to me:
“I theorize that very few women (or men) are 50-50% attracted, that most lean one way or the other. That has certainly been the case with me, and apparently, most “Straightbians.”;) This would explain why there is not a population-wide trend towards bisexuals ending up with men vs. women in equal numbers…
…The majority of bisexuals end up with men because the majority of bisexuals lean straight. Just as the majority of humans on the planet are orientated straight, I believe most bisexuals are oriented straight also. This would confer an evolutionary advantage in the event that a large number of humans were dead or otherwise unable to reproduce.”
These are excellent points which help to explain my perpetual conundrum of “Why does it seem that most, even, it seems, perhaps all, women who say they are bisexual end up with men eventually?”
Joannadeadwinter goes on to explain:
“My idea is that, to the extent that bisexuals enjoy the non-preferred sex, they are attracted to partners that remind them of their preferred sex.”
“It makes sense that a straight-leaning bisexual targets masculine women and seeks to maximize her partner’s presentation and style of interaction to mimic her preferred love interest-straight men.”
Again, after consideration, I agree that these are all great points which make both intuitive and logical sense to me. I believe that everyone has, to varying degrees, a certain “type” that we find attractive; so, of course, it also makes sense that we will gravitate toward those who fall into whatever “type” we find attractive.
For instance, I find Butch women attractive and Dirt finds Femme women attractive; so, naturally, we both ended up marrying a partner who fell into our preferred category. So, even within the broader category of “lesbian”, most lesbians will likely have preferred “types”, and the same general principle for everyone else too. For example, my straight friends definitely have “types” of males they are attracted to.
Joannadeadwinter goes on to explain further:
“Sexuality, in my view, is 50% internal and 50% external. What you are drawn to, what you imagine, and how those attractions and imaginings make you feel comprise the internal aspect of sexuality. A discussion of bisexuality will not make sense without integrating the internal aspect of sex into what makes a person bisexual. So how do you explain self-identified bisexuals who only act on their desires with women? Wouldn’t they just be lesbians?
A bisexual person who is primarily or exclusively interested in partnering with women, and has been for a long period of time (not just the rebellious college girl phase) may still find men physically, intellectually, and emotionally fascinating to the extent that it goes beyond friendship and into love.”
Please note that I am not trying to argue with what joannadeadwinter is saying, because I certainly can’t speak for everyone else’s fantasies and desires (and don’t even want to try to).
But: I must say, as a lesbian, I will admit that I am still having much difficulty conceptualizing how it’s possible for a woman to be primarily/exclusively attracted to women, but yet still have the capability of finding men physically, emotionally, and/or intellectually fascinating, especially to the extent that it could extend beyond friendship into love.
Miep commented on my first post that it is difficult to conceptualize of a sexuality that is different from our own, and while I definitely agree that this statement is true and that it is a part of my puzzlement, I have realized that it is not the entire issue for me.
Something has been nagging at my subconscious, and until now, I just could not pinpoint exactly what it was.
But I think I have figured out, at least in part, the cause of my consternation, and I will attempt to explain my thoughts here:
So, as in the example given above, let’s say a bisexual woman who leans straight becomes involved with a Butch woman because that Butch woman superficially (**See Note) resembles her preferred love interest, a straight male.
**Note: I use the word “superficially” here, because, even though Dirt and other Butch lesbians are frequently “sir’ed” and “pass as male” (even though they are NOT trying to), Butches are most certainly not men in any way, shape, or form. Butches are 100% female; they just “carry female differently”, as Dirt often says. In fact, Dirt and I don’t like and don’t use the word “masculine” to describe Butch women (although it is commonplace to see that terminology), because Butches are not male and therefore Butches are not “masculine”.
Back to focusing on our hypothetical example, I think the key words that have been nagging at me are “preferred love interest”.
Let’s state our example again, and this time, let’s really, really, really think about the implications of these statements:
Our hypothetical bisexual female’s preferred love interest is male. This woman in our example has the capability of falling in love with a male, even if she never acts on it.
Here’s my deeply felt problem with this scenario: no matter who we are, I highly doubt most people would be comfortable with falling in love with someone who has a preference for, and the capability of falling in love with, someone we are not, and can never be.
I think this gut-level resistance and skepticism explains so-called “biphobia” in the lesbian community, which isn’t really a phobia, but rather a fear of, and an aversion to, having our hearts broken, and to the feelings of insecurity and confusion that would accompany a relationship on those terms.
For a Butch or a dyke who is pursued by our hypothetical bisexual female, who gravitated toward her because of superficial resemblance to the preferred male love interest, the resulting situation can be much more than merely upsetting: it could potentially be devastating.
In the worst case scenario, the Butch or dyke might even be tempted to transition in a tragic, misguided, and ultimately ill-fated attempt to try to become her lover’s preferred love interest, a male.
So, even if I eventually were to come to believe that bisexuality is a true orientation (I am still skeptical and leaning toward bisexuality as behavior rather than a true orientation), I still would feel very hesitant, and very protective toward lesbians who might become romantically involved in such a situation.
Contrary to what some people apparently think, I am not saying that most women who identify as bisexual, or even most Straightbians, are bad people, nor am I saying that they are intentionally trying to hurt lesbians. In fact, I think most are likely well-intentioned and don’t even realize how/why lesbians can be hurt in these scenarios.
I guess my bottom-line thought is this: No matter what a woman calls herself, if a woman’s preferred love interest is a male, I honestly believe that she should just stick with dating males.
Why? It’s not because I am trying to be mean, harsh, and/or exclusionary, but rather because I truly feel that if a woman has a preference to males, I honestly don’t believe that being with any female would ever truly and totally satisfy her, which will inevitably lead to dissatisfaction, even if the relationship lasts.
In our hypothetical example, it is not fair to the lesbian partner to be a sort-of stand-in surrogate to her lover’s preferred male love interest, and it is also not fair to our hypothetical bisexual female to not obtain her actual preferred male love interest.
I truly believe that lesbians deserve to be with a partner who wants us, prefers us, desires us, and loves us wholeheartedly, completely, and unreservedly…as only another lesbian can.