It’s Bi Visibility Day, which means I’ve been shoving my sexuality in everyone’s face across various social media outlets all day long. I’m also doing sexual health research into disparities faced by bisexuals. More of the literature review than I’d expected has involved rejecting those papers that don’t actually address bisexuality at all (except in the title) or that are overtly biphobic.
I’ve been out as bisexual for almost fifteen years. Coming out as bi is a continual process, and all too often it means dealing with ignorance and biphobia. Most people I come out to on some level simply do not believe bisexuality is real. It’s either a show for the menfolk, or it means I’m a sex addict: I’ll do anything to get off, even sleep with the “wrong” gender. I’m asked if I prefer gay or straight relationships, told I’m being oversensitive when I answer that I’m neither gay nor straight, so the question makes no sense.
I have a problem with the fetishization of “forced” bisexuality (or homosexuality). Specifically, it raises red flags for me when a straight person wants to be “forced” to be bi. This is difficult for me to articulate. I consider myself sex-positive. YKINMKBYKIOK is an idea (if not an acronym) that I can almost always get behind. But with this kink, sometimes, I hesitate. “Forced” bisexuality is not my kink. And I’m really not sure, in many cases, whether it’s okay.
Fetishizing “forced” bisexuality relies on a few unsettling preconceptions.
Bisexuality only exists in the context of threesomes.
m/f activity means you’re straight. m/m or f/f activity means you’re gay. m/m/f or f/f/m activity means you’re bi.
Sexuality is a significant part of a person’s identity. “Forced bisexuality” reduces a person’s sexual identity to their sexual activity in a given moment. It suggests that bisexuality can be adopted for the length of a scene or a drunken night and immediately discarded for one’s real sexuality. Bisexuality is already treated as a phase. I’ve been out since high school and still have to correct people who assume that I’m straight or lesbian based on which partner I’m with at the time. If a bisexual person has only one partner, has an exclusive relationship, or (god forbid) gets married, everyone–everyone–we know who isn’t also bi has a smug comment about how we’ve finally picked a side.
If a guy wants to have sexual contact with another guy but can only do it if he’s “forced” by a woman, he’s homophobic.
“Forced” bisexuality is essentially fetishizing same-sex activity in a specific context because it’s taboo to want it. Meaning that consensual or enthusiastic bisexuality is taboo. It’s forbidden, icky, not okay to be bisexual for real. If a person fetishizes “forced” bisexuality, what must they think of people who identify as bisexual?
It carries over male-gaze assumptions about what bisexuality is.
Those assumptions are beyond offensive. It’s about sex, not relationships or attraction or desire. It reinforces the straight male idea that a man’s body can’t be an object of desire, so he has to be motivated by desire for a woman’s body to act.
There’s a grave risk of treating the third partner as an object or sex aid rather than as a person.
I’m trying to imagine a way to invite a third person to participate in the “forced” bisexuality fantasy without some variation of “my partner and I want to have a threesome with you but he’s actually straight and not interested in men at all.” I’m trying to imagine this going well. I can’t.
All that said, I’m still not willing to say “forced” bisexuality is not a valid kink. (aside my general objections to “forced” anything as a kink)
The things kinky people do in general are considered disturbing by much of the population. A kink is going to push boundaries. For your average vanilla person, being punched by or punching a partner is a sign of a seriously broken relationship. It lacks the consent, intent, and context that exist for those of us who engage in that sort of play. And I do still believe that we have the right to do things that others find disturbing.
We have the right to play with the uncomfortable, the disturbing. We also have the responsibility to be mindful of how we do it, to acknowledge potential harm, and to examine our own motives. We may not like them. We may change, or we may learn to live with that. Wanting to experience “forced” bisexuality doesn’t make someone a bad person. It may mean that a person is avoiding thinking about an aspect of sexuality (either personally or on a societal level)*. If nothing else, mindfulness and introspection about kinks can help prepare for possible emotional or psychological fallout after trying something new. Because it can happen. And hoo, boy does it ever suck to be Not Okay when neither you nor your partner knows how to articulate or fix the problem.
But if you’re straight, and your partner is straight, you’re going to have a hell of a time exploring this kink in a way that doesn’t contribute to some really harmful ideas about bisexuality, and I think I have a right to be bothered by that. Those ideas aren’t innocuous. They don’t exist in a vacuum. And when your fantasy is over, bi folk still have to deal with the very real effects of misconceptions about who and what we are every day. We’re assaulted more, more prone to suicide in youth, mischaracterized in research, and shoved under the rug by everyone else.
*No, I’m not saying “clearly this person is bi/gay and in the closet.” It’s never acceptable to tell someone else they are wrong about their sexuality. Period.