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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bisexuality- What Is It Really?

"A bisexual is a person who reaches down the front of somebody's pants and is satisfied with whatever they find." -- Dana Carvey as The Church Lady, Saturday Night Live. Depending upon who is writing or talking, "bisexuality" may be defined in many different ways. I believe I see more outward signs of bisexual behavior than at any other time in my 58-year-old life. But, are these observed behaviors truly bisexual in nature or something entirely different? Many of us have been taught to look at almost everything in the universe as a duality- male and female. Now, human sexual feelings and behaviors are believed to be classified in a minimum of three classifications- heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual, and some researchers have reported five or six classifications are more accurate. Here are some very different definitions of what bisexuality actually constitutes: 1. Bisexuality may be viewed as sexual orientation in which an individual feels sexual attraction towards both men and women. In feeling this attraction, the person may decide to remain celibate, and still be considered a bisexual by himself/herself and others. The person may feel the bisexual attractions to each gender, but not necessarily to the same degrees. 2.Bisexuality could refer to a "lifestyle" in which an individual engages in sexual behavior with both men and women. Some then regard all bisexuals as promiscuous. In other words, a person must have engaged in sexual behavior with at least two people in order to be called a bisexual: one or more males and one or more females. 3. Bisexuality may be understood as when a person EITHER has feelings of sexual attraction, OR engages in sexual behaviors towards, both men and women. This definition takes into account both of the above views. Some think that "the word 'bisexual' should be limited to describing behavior, and the word 'bi' could be used for describing identity." (Soc.bi Newsgroup) 4. Others restrict the term bisexual to a person who not only has feelings of attraction to both men and women, but for whom "bisexuality is [also] an important part of their experience or identity." 5. Some people view bisexuality as a person who is sexually attracted to both men and women but feel more strongly attracted to one gender than the other. 6. Some people considered as bisexual are according to W.H. Masters and V.E. Johnson really "ambisexual" (Human Sexual Response and Homosexuality in Perspective) referring to a person who is sexually attracted to both men and women to the same degree. Pretty confusing if I do say so myself. Whether bisexuality is classified as attraction, behavior, attraction either/or behavior, sexual identity, attraction to both genders in varying degrees, or attraction to both genders in the same degree, it is pretty safe to say that many see it as merely one of those definitions, thus oversimplifying its true nature. I had no idea this term had so many definitions. Some view a rise in bisexuality due to masculinization of women and hypermasculinization of men, higher rates of sexual activity or erotic interests, genetic and social factors, hormones, or brain structure differences. Much research is going on to determine bisexual interests and practices. Some studies would say bisexuality is not even that prevalent. A 2002 survey in the United States by the National Center for Health Statistics found that 1.8 percent of men ages 18–44 considered themselves bisexual, 2.3 percent homosexual, and 3.9 percent as "something else". The same study found that 2.8 percent of women ages 18–44 considered themselves bisexual, 1.3 percent homosexual, and 3.8 percent as "something else." Whatever the case, bisexuality seems to have come "out of the closet" so to speak. Maybe, I'm just becoming more aware of it. After all, I believe my age is showing.
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