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Rainy Monday: Biphobia

SILENCE

Etymology and use

Biphobia is a portmanteau word patterned on the term homophobia. It is derived from the English neo-classical prefix bi- (meaning “two”) from bisexual and the root -phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, phóbos, “fear”) found in homophobia. Along with lesbophobia, transphobia, homophobia, gayphobia, and biphobia is a member of the family of terms used when discussing issues of intolerance and discrimination toward LGBT people. Note that biphobia need not be an equivalent to the clinical or medical meaning of a phobia – an anxiety disorder. Instead, its meaning and use typically parallel those of xenophobia. The adjectival form biphobic is used to describe things or qualities related to biphobia whereas the noun biphobe is a label for people thought to harbor biphobia[1].

[edit] Basic ideas and their negative stereotypes

Multiple negative stereotypes of bisexuals center on the belief that bisexuality does not exist and on the generalization that bisexuals are promiscuous.

[edit] Belief – Bisexuality does not exist.

This belief stems from binary views of sexuality: a heterosexist view or a monosexist view. In the first view, people are presumed to be attracted to the opposite sex and only heterosexuality and male to female relationships truly exist. Therefore, bisexuality, like homosexuality, is not a valid sexuality or identity. In the second view, people are either homosexual (gay/lesbian) or heterosexual (straight). Maxims such as “people are either gay, straight or lying”[2] embody this dichotomous view of sexual orientations.

Resulting negative stereotypes represent bisexuals as confused, undecided, dabblers, insecure, experimenting or “just going through a phase”. Attractions toward both sexes are considered fashionable as in bisexual chic or gender bending. Either homosexual or heterosexual relations are dismissed as a substitute for sex with members of the “right” sex or as a more accessible source of sexual gratification. What’s more, homosexuality can also be perceived as purely situational, in other words due to sex-segregated environments or groups such as the armed forces, schools, sports teams, religious orders, and prisons. Conversely, heterosexuality and opposite-sex relationships are viewed as “caving into” society’s pressures, fostering oppressions, condoning discrimination, keeping up appearances, retaining straight privilege, hiding in the closet, being self-hating or in self-denial, suffering from internalized homophobia, etc.

[edit] Generalization – Bisexuals are promiscuous.

Categorizing all bisexuals as being promiscuous is a hasty generalization. Moreover, having more than one sexual partner in one’s lifetime, in addition to being commonplace in the world, is not restricted to bisexuals. People of all sexual orientations change partners, practice serial monogamy or have multiple casual sex partners. The strict association of bisexuality with promiscuity stems from a variety of negative stereotypes targeting bisexuals as mentally or socially unstable people convinced that sexual relations only with men, only with women or only with one person is not enough. As a result bisexuals bear a social stigma from accusations of cheating on or betraying their partners, leading a double life, being “on the down-low“, and spreading sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. They are characterized as being “slutty”, insatiable, “easy”, indiscriminate, and in the case of women, nymphomaniacs. Furthermore, they are strongly associated with polyamory, swinging, and polygamy[3], the last being an established heterosexual tradition sanctioned by some religions and legal in several countries.

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