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Flex rhymes with sex

By Steve Korver Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 16:52
Media is awash with ‘bisexuality’. Studies suggest women are more ‘fluid’ in their orientation. But why are we nervous when men are more fluid? Is it because straight men find woman-on-woman action so hot? These news flashes and more in this week’s Sex in the Press.

When it comes to dealing with modern life, many people recommend ‘being flexible’ as essential for getting ahead. So why is fluidity in sexual orientation not more accepted?

Bisexuality – having romantic and/or sexual inclinations to either sex – is often described as the ‘silent B’ of LGBT because bisexuals get it from both sides (as it were). Both straights and gays tend to view bisexuals with suspicion, as Love Matters recently covered in ‘Bisexual: discrimination both ways’.

Why make it complicated?
The past year has seen bisexuality come out as a major topic in the global media as more celebrities are coming out as ‘bi’, ‘fluid’, ‘bi-curious’, ‘flexi-sexual’ or ‘whatever’. 

In the resulting discussions, “three things stood out as making bisexuality more confusing than it actually is,” according toThree problems for bisexuality’.

Problem one: why make female sexuality so complicated? A recent study in the UK suggested that same-sex contact between women increased fourfold over the last 20 years. In response, columnists began citing all sorts of genetic, evolutionary, social, political and cultural factors to explain this phenomenon. But these explanations are just theories. All we know for certain is: 1) women tend to be more fluid than men, 2) people are more accepting of bisexuality in women than in men, and 3) straight men tend to be hot for woman-on-woman action.

Problem two: why do we need labels? Sure, labelling makes it easier for everyone, especially journalists. But studies suggest that orientation is not binary as in on/off, gay/straight. Orientation is a spectrum that can even shift over time. If you want to choose a colour to identify with (or not): fine. If you want to adjust the shade later: also fine. If someone is happy in the florescent purple zone: that’s fine too.

Problem three: despite it being documented by science, why is the existence of bisexuality still doubted by so many people? “The fact is, even if you don't believe in the concept of sexual fluidity, it is, like gravity, simply a fact of life,” opines the author.

Going with the flow
The queen of fluidity science is Professor Lisa Diamond, the US author of the groundbreaking book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire. Her work has been used by anti-gay activists as proof that orientation is malleable and therefore validates “ex-gay” therapy.

Diamond rates this idea as ridiculous. “It should not matter how we got this way. Either we are a society that protects people’s rights to sexual expression, to how we choose our families, or we’re not […] It doesn’t matter why we love who we love,” Diamond says in ‘Exploring the umbrella: bisexuality and fluidity’.

"Among the younger generation, I've seen much more openness about bisexuality in both men and women, and often a rejection of all labels. They're more open to the idea that, 'Hey, sexuality is complicated, and as long as I know who I want to sleep with it doesn't matter what I call myself'," Diamond says in ‘Bisexual: a label with layers’.

So at least the youth seem to have what it takes to get ahead in the modern world.

How fluid are you? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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