The New Bisexuals

An article in Psychology Today online said something startling: girls now are three times more likely to be "non-heterosexual" than boys.

Where once lesbians and bisexual women were thought to number one percent of the population - while gay and bisexual men were five percent - the article said that now 15 percent of young women and girls identify as lesbian or bisexual.

Fifteen percent. A 14 percent jump like that is a giant and significant leap in our numbers, which could affect everything from political power to social approval.

The writer, Dr. Leonard Sax, wonders why there are "suddenly" so many queer girls.

And I do, too.

First, I wonder if those self-identifying girls call themselves bisexual because they're actually attracted to women or because they think it's sexier - and cooler - to call themselves bisexual and occasionally kiss girls for show.

After all, a label in our more understanding era is an easy thing to take on. Labels are important, but they don't necessarily lead to political action or even respect for equal rights (in fact, quite the opposite. A recent email I received was from a woman who said, "I'm bisexual, but I don't think they should have gay marriage." Basically her argument was that women should be free to sleep with whomever they want, but they should marry men.)

And if this new 14 percent is actually gay or bisexual (that is, having or seeking sexual and romantic relationships with women) - is it simply because America is more tolerant of lesbians now and so they feel able to come out, is it because bisexuality no longer carries the stigma in the gay and straight world that it used to, or is it something else (or some combination)?

Women have always expressed their sexuality more fluidly - hence all those "Lesbians Until Graduation" (or LUGS) I went to school with at Wellesley (and a long history at women's colleges of women "spooning" and writing romantic letters to each other). I've known women to come out in their 40s and 50s after long happy marriages to men. And I've known self-identified lesbians who married men in their 30s and had happy, successful marriages. This is lifelong bisexuality in fact, if not necessarily in self-identification.

Dr. Sax says - and I find this very interesting - that "female sexuality is different from male sexuality…sexual attraction seems to be more malleable. If a teenage girl kisses another teenage girl, for whatever reason, and she finds that she likes it - then things can happen and things can change. If a young woman finds her soul mate, and her soul mate happens to be female then she may begin to experience feelings she's never felt before."

Dr. Sax's conclusion - which is ridiculous on its face - is that girls are more interested in other girls because boys are "losers" who watch too much porn. Come on.

But girls do tend to have strong, deeply emotional attachments to each other. And it's interesting to think that those attachments - which may have previously just been labeled "girl crushes" and thought childish and insignificant - may now be socially considered lesbian feelings, and thus prod a girl to label herself differently, which leads to permanent changes in her brain.

Dr. Sax didn't break down the numbers; I don't know what part of that new 14 percent is lesbian and what part bisexual.

But what I do know is this: the LGBT community hasn't always been great about welcoming and reaching out to and understanding and supporting bisexuals. But if we want this flood of young women to support us, that has got to change.

5 Comments for “The New Bisexuals”

  1. posted by Regan DuCasse on

    This is interesting. Just goes to show how little women are understood. And always have been.

    Men and women are still trying to live down rigid artificial rules for their gender where none likely never existed.

    The basic formula for all this rigidity is in religious belief, and that women are inferior, weaker, and less resistant to temptations of all kinds.

    There might be a more primal matter at work here: self preservation, and emotional bonding.

    After all, childbearing has, up until recent centuries, been a widespread mortal hazard for females.

    And spreading STD’s between women has less risk to. To have sexual intimacy and emotional closeness without the spectre of pregnancy is a powerful instinct too, I would imagine.

    Men provide more economic stability, and of course, if a woman wants to be a mother, there is that too, but that’s mostly because women have been kept at a distance from professional and economic parity with men.

    Which is why so many women were latent in having a lesbian relationship. After the children are grown, and she’s gained more financial independence in her own work, the purpose of the man is pretty well done.

    Asexual people are another aspect of orientation rarely as known and understood. They are simply celibate people, but likely are still pair bonding. Some are same sex, some are opposite sex.

    Eventually, it’s the spiritual, emotional and intellectual intimacy that will matter the most to just about anyone.

    Sex itself, to young people is a means to an end.

    But, by the time we’re much older, it’s more incidental to everything else.

    This is complex, but not much of a mystery.

    Once all those ridiculous artificial standards and expectations about gender and orientation are dealt with more realistically, this issue will come down to it’s more basic truth: that we’re individuals first. We’re always unique, and that comfort and love don’t have a gender, or orientation to begin with.

  2. posted by MattSmith on

    Is that what I want. A flood of maybe bi maybe following a trend not sure what I am this week – maybe sorta – I hate boys this month because “Scott made me so mad” – “so I am a lesbian “this month – where does sexual fluidity begin and maturity end. A case in point is the cast on MTV programs where the females say they are bi because they kissed a girl once. To them it sounds so glamorous to be so open minded to be a rich suburban girl who’s so…. edgy – a victim – in reality it’s only words as they ALL pare off with their male mates – gender has nothing to do with it – maturity , the yarning to be different – drives this – and is a disservice to those LGBT youth who can’t change colors with the flip of a switch because you know they really are gay.

  3. posted by Lymis on

    It’s also likely that there will be an increase later on in the “Well, I used to be lesbian and now I’m straight, so everyone else can change too” logic. We already see a huge amount of “Well, everyone really is bisexual, it’s just social conditioning that makes people think they aren’t.”

  4. posted by Max the Communist on

    Okay, first of all there are so many deeply offensive things about this article, I could never really cover them in a single comment.

    1) There is no such thing as “the new bisexual”–bisexuality, pansexuality, and fluid sexuality have been around for as long as the human race has been around. Ancient Western Civilizations accepted and even fostered same-sex relations, although along different social lines than the modern world. If Jennifer Vanasco had bothered to do more research for this article than one article from Psychology Today, she would have discovered that.

    2) To wit: Vanasco might have bothered going to some sources that are far more reliable than Dr. Sax and certainly were established by the bisexual community as a source for the public’s education on our issues and perspective. These include, but are not limited to:

    BiNet USA, the oldest, largest bisexual organization in America

    The Bisexual Resource Center

    American Institute of Bisexuality

    Bi-furious!–a bisexual/queer feminist blog

    I heartily recommend that Vanasco read from these source materials before she writes one more word about bisexuality. Because right now, Jennifer, it’s quite obvious you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground.

    3) All the discussion about whether young women are “really bisexual” distracts from a much more vital topic: the fact that bisexuals suffer from the same forms of discrimination that lesbians, gay men, and transgender people do. Furthermore, information coming out of the Bisexual Health Summit in Chicago last summer revealed that bisexuals suffer from HIGHER RATES of suicide, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, and equal levels of sexual assault, drug, alcohol, and cigarette addiction to lesbians and gay men. We are hurting and idiots like you sit around ruminating on your laptops about whether we really exist. You make me sick.

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