A friend recently posted about sexual shame, something that I fear far too many of us are familiar with. The post was about the stigma of bisexuality as opposed to homosexuality, a difference in social shaming that I didn’t even know existed. I figured that we all have things we’re taught are acceptable or not as children and have to fight our desires with our inner conscience and come to grips with who we love and desire and how we act accordingly. Apparently, there are people who deny that bisexuality is real.
Recently, I had a sex talk with an attractive, well educated, early thirty year old female. No, no! Not that kind of sex talk! Rather a talk about the nature of sexuality in general and ambisexuality in particular. She claimed bisexuality is a ruse, a cover up, a “beard” if you will. She said that bisexual men are gay but can’t come to grips with that reality. I was dumbfounded that anyone born after The Kinsey Report (1948) could possibly hold this view.
Tina, a casual acquaintance whom I am getting to know better, was born in 1983. She has a Master’s degree and has traveled extensively throughout the USA and, to a lesser extent, the world. She is a married woman and though she has no children she has worked with school aged kids up to early adolescence. She is well versed in physiology and psychology, making her credentials superior to my own in the field of human sexuality. I still cry poppycock.
I was first introduced to results from Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in Human Male in 1978 as a seventeen year old high school student. Kinsey had surveyed 5,300 non-prison population white males in an attempt to discover the sexual practices and proclivities of post World War Two American men. Kinsey reported that over 11% of the men surveyed were equally likely to engage in sex practices either with other men or with women while 10% of the men engaged exclusively in same sex encounters. As a youngster from a conservative religious home I found this data shocking but as time progressed and my circle of friends grew larger I removed my blinders and accepted human sexuality for what it is rather than what we are frequently taught it should be.
And my youthful opinion concerning the immorality of homosexuality was shared by the nation. In 1978 most US States had laws prohibiting consensual sodomy and punishment for breaking the law included life in prison. It wasn’t until 2003 when The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of John Lawrence in Lawrence v. Texas that laws prohibiting sodomy among consenting adults were deemed unconstitutional.
Tina knew about Kinsey’s findings but she dismissed them. She stated that men who claim to be bisexual are actually homosexual but are in denial about their nature. I, again, was shocked.
I asked her if she believed that we come into the world as pleasure seeking, pain avoiding animals and she agreed that we do. I asked if we are not canalized to find some forms of pleasure, specifically sexual pleasure, acceptable while being taught to reject others. She again consented that she shared this widely held belief.
Which left me stumped. We agreed that inherent proclivity would lead some to prefer same sex partners while others would prefer opposite. Neither of us felt that this proclivity has been proven to be entirely predetermined biologically nor is the evidence compelling that sexual preference is simply a matter of psychological training. We leave open the idea that perhaps some are born gay while others are borne exclusively straight regardless of their environment.
We agreed on a great many things but what we didn’t agree on was the simple concept that people can be sexually attracted to both sexes. She flatly rejects the thesis that sexual attraction is a continuum and that a given individual can find both men and women desirable.
This reasoning is along the same thought pattern as people finding only one physical type of human sexually attractive, that a given man will only desire buxom blondes or muscular mocha colored mates or skinny Scandinavians, a concept I find a far cry from my own appreciation of human form and in direct conflict of my observation of most people’s appreciation for beauty.
None the less, there we stood. She in her binary, yes/no A or B world and I in my spectrum based, touchy- feely continuum.
At some point in the children’s book Shiloh Phyllis Reynolds Naylor says that people with a high school education or less tend to think they’ve learned everything they need to know while folks who go on to college, and one would assume, people who earn graduate degrees, understand that a need for learning never ends. It seems to me that a caveat to this generalization includes having a mind open to thoughts that run contrary to early training. Sometimes I wonder if I’m living in 2017 or 1817.
(BTW- Yes, I did ask her if her feelings held true when it is a woman who claims to be bisexual and her answer was, “I think so;” hardly a ringing endorsement for her thought process.)