Not Your Fetish

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.

It’s homophobic.

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.

44 thoughts on “Not Your Fetish”

  1. Hello again. 🙂 (My comments: very sporadic!)

    I feel the same way you do about “forced” bisexuality. It drives me nuts, and it’s everywhere in the femdom fiction I come across.

    (I’m pretty sure most of it is written by men, because I *can* see a version of forced m/m in a F/m context that would be super hot to me…which is to say, one where the emphasis was on the force (being made to do the thing, enjoying making him do the thing) and not on the taboo nature of the bi part. I’m fine with the “suck this cock because it makes her happy/the other guy happy/you happy to obey” part, but so very NOT fine with the “because touching another man is OH SO WRONG ZOMG, and it makes me ~less manly, unf unf~”. Yeahhh….no.)

    Anyway…belated happy bi visibility day! 😀 Having just got married to a woman a few months ago, I’m hitting the part where I get assumed to be lesbian a whole lot. Most of the time I don’t correct people, because I don’t want to sound like there’s anything wrong with being gay! Like “Oh, it’s okay, I’m not actually lesbian, I still like dicks.” But at the same time it’s inaccurate. Ah, well. On the Internet at least I can identify as “bisexual, married to a lesbian” and that gets some of it across. “And I write m/m and F/m porn,” gets said in some contexts too…though more rarely. 😉

    1. Right? I completely get a dominant woman getting off on having two men pay attention to her, or to each other for her, and I can see how knowing a man is doing it solely to please her would be all kinds of hot. But when it’s a man crowing about how he *really* wants to be forced to do this one specific awful thing that he would never ever want for reals…it ain’t about fulfilling her fantasy, it’s about getting permission to do a taboo thing without having to feel the shame that comes with doing it voluntarily. Squicks me lots.

      It has to be so much more frustrating to come out (if you want to) when you’re married/have just one partner. I get “you’re married; you’re straight!” a lot and the temptation to respond with “oh,shit, do you want to tell my girlfriend or shall I?” is really high. (The only thing stopping me is not wanting to forward the stereotype that bi folk can’t be monogamous or that it only counts if we have two partners of different genders at the same time.)

      And you write awesome m/m and F/m porn. 🙂

      1. Yeah, exactly. A dominant woman telling guys to fuck…um, yes. Please. XD But the whole plausible-deniability thing makes everyone else a prop. No fun.

        Most of my close friends and family know I’m bi and have watched my dating life over the years. But I’m never sure what to say to new people. 😛

        And thank you! I have a lot of fun with it–always nice to know when it hits the spot for someone else. Speaking of which, I’m on like the last thousand words of a new M/m story which I really need to finish, gdi. *goes to make supportive tea*

  2. Okay I am hoping that knowing each other online as we do that you understand this comment I am leaving comes from my attempt at understanding and not ignorance or discrimination.

    I will be honest that I made a policy a while back not to even consider dating someone who is bisexual. The reason for this being is because I have a problem with sharing the attention of someone I love. I’m not only stingy but I am also insecure. There have been good. honest, wonderful women who I have bypassed the idea of being with them because they were bisexual. I know this isn’t fair. However, I have never been able to get over my reluctance.

    My reluctance towards bisexual women is this..and again I hope you understand I am not a hater of bisexual women. With me if I dated a bisexual woman I think there would always be that worry in the back of my mind, that even if she chose to just be with me and not be with a man, that she could very well one day leave me for a man. My ex left me for a man. I guess this may have to do with it. I don’t know. I am curious as a bisexual woman what your thoughts and experience are with this.

    Respectfully,
    Mysticlez

    1. Honestly? It feels like a kick in the gut. Lesbians are still attracted to other women when in relationships, right? Would it have hurt less if she’d left and everything was the same but the person she left you for were a woman? Would it have hurt less if she’d just…left? Bisexuals can be monogamous. I’m not. Anyone I date has to handle not being the only one. Sometimes it’s been a mix of genders, sometimes not, sometimes there’s just one. It’s not related to being bi, for me; it’s related to an expression of autonomy that refuses to exercise or accept ownership of one partner by another. I know monogamous bi married people. It’s a pure flat insult to them to say they can’t be trusted to keep the commitments they choose to make because of their sexuality.

      My experience? My straight male boyfriend cheated with other women. A few years back I dated a lesbian woman who was cheating on her wife and lying to me about having a relationship. Every cheater that’s hit on me has been cisgendered and monosexual. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to mistrust all cis het men or cis lesbians. People lie and cheat and leave each other because people fucking suck. Not because they’re attracted to more than one gender.

      My experience has included being told, over and over, that I’m not relationship-worthy–even for a poly person–because bisexuals are dangerous sex addicts. Because we carry diseases. Because we “can’t make up our minds,” are reckless, and–my favorite–don’t form real emotional attachments. (I might not be relationship-worthy, but it ain’t because of that.)

      My experience has included being left, lied to, and cheated on and told that it’s not a big deal because of those misconceptions. It’s ok to lie to bi people, we’re all lying about who we are, right? It’s ok to cheat on us; we’re cheaters. It doesn’t hurt when our partners leave; we don’t have feelings.

      If you believe these things–that being bi causes cheating or recklessness or harm, that bi people are more likely to lie or leave or cheat or hurt you, that is ignorance, and frankly it hurts.

      But yeah. Absolutely do not date a bisexual if you feel that way because it really, really sucks to have our hearts broken by people who can’t see that.

      1. Nic,

        First, let me apologize because I don’t mean my question to be a kick in the gut for you. My comment was my attempt at expanding my knowledge in order to gain an understanding. If I was ignorant I would choose to remain blind instead of seeking the view through the eyes of someone bisexual.

        “being bi causes cheating or recklessness or harm, that bi people are more likely to lie or leave or cheat or hurt you”

        I don’t believe that being bi causes cheating, recklessness, harm, being more likely to lie, leave, or cheat. That is not what I meant at all. I am not sure how to explain this so maybe it can be understood but I think I need to try now.

        I don’t believe in forcing someone to change who they are. I did for someone and I lost my agency because of it. A bisexual woman is who she is and that is wonderful. I liked a bisexual woman once very much, in fact I fell for her hard. But I felt as though asking her to be with me, and to put aside any feelings she would have for men, was asking her to change who she is as a person. I can’t handle her dating men while dating me just as I couldn’t handle her dating other women either. I personally felt like being with her I was asking her to forget who she was and mostly pretend to be a lesbian for me.

        I respected who she was too much for that. So yes, I bypassed any chance of a relationship with her for that reason. I am NOT saying it doesn’t work or it can’t work. I am saying that I have a hard time getting past feelings that I would be asking her to change. Can you understand that?

        Respectfully,
        Mysticlez

        1. Hmm…bisexual woman married to a lesbian here, monogamous in practice if not in theory, so that’s where I’m coming from. Different place than Nic, a bit.

          When you say you wouldn’t want a bi woman to change who she is for you, and put aside any feelings she might have for a man…do you mean that you have difficulty with the idea that a partner might have sexual fantasies, etc, that aren’t you? Or that, knowing that people do have parts of their sexuality that aren’t about their partner, you would be uncomfortable with the fact that some of her fantasies or crushes-she-didn’t-act-on might be about men?

          I don’t think you have to ask a bisexual woman to change in order for her to be with you and be faithful to you. It wouldn’t be fair to ask her never to think “Captain America is hot” or whatever, or never to read porn involving men, or to censor her sexual fantasies by restricting them only to women. But it seems like all of us have to deal with the fact that our partners are probably going to wank to things that aren’t us, or have kinks that we’re not into, and that doesn’t mean that they don’t love us and can’t be faithful to us. I’m not sure that my wife’s crush on P!nk is more threatening than my crushes on Captain Janeway and Spock. If that makes sense?

          Just thoughts I am having that may or may not be helpful.

        2. “I respected who she was too much for that.”
          …too much to respect that she can choose to be monogamous and still be bisexual. Too much to let her decide what she wants, who she is, how she needs to express that. That’s not respect. Period.

          The thing you don’t seem to be seeing is that there is no difference between bisexuals and gay or straight folks except that we are attracted to multiple genders. Being with a monogamous bi person does not in any way affect their identity. If you like both blonds and brunettes, and are in a monogamous relationship with a brunette, you probably still find blonds hot. Not acting on it isn’t a sacrifice (for a monogamous person), nor does it erase anything about you. Treating us as fundamentally different because of our sexuality is problematic, and by necessity based on assumptions about bisexuals as a class that are stigmatizing and untrue.

          I have a whole page of resources about bisexuality on here. A couple of them include bi people sharing their experiences both in relationships and with stigma. Perhaps those might help show you a broader picture of how we’re just folks.

  3. Isla Sinclair,

    Yes, kind of along those lines. However, that doesn’t really bother me as much. I am okay with my partner in her having any fantasies that she has really. Heck I am a lesbian and I find gay men porn hot! lol

    Has your partner ever expressed the worry that you might fall for a guy along the lines somewhere and you choosing to stay with her over that guy would be her asking you to change? Kind of along those lines.

    I hope you aren’t upset at me Nic. I meant no harm. I was trying to maybe educate myself.

    Respectfully,
    Mysticlez

    1. Ha, so does my wife sometimes (the gay porn despite not being into guys IRL)…funny how sexuality works!

      My partner hasn’t ever said she worries about something like that, though. “Asking me to change” — if I’ve already agreed that I’m not going to sleep with anyone else, it doesn’t matter if that anyone else is a woman, a man, or a gorgeous genderqueer person. Like, my mother’s married to a man, and if she were ever to fall for some other guy and choose to stay with my dad anyway…would that be asking her to change her sexuality for him?

      If a bisexual person leaves their partner (of any gender) for another person (of any gender), that says something about that particular relationship and that person’s specific choices. It didn’t happen because the bi person needed more cock or whatever, even if that’s what someone claims. But unless you’re asking a poly bisexual person not to be poly anymore (which I do think would be unfair and probably wouldn’t work well), I don’t think you’re asking them to “change” when they choose to be with you. A monogamous bi person hasn’t narrowed their options down any further by settling down with one person than a straight or gay person has by settling down with one person.

      You might be worrying that a bi person will always be craving the gender they’re not with. And I’d say…that’s why I read porn with men in it. (When I was dating a man, I was into a lot more lesbian porn!)

      Basically, not all bi folks are poly. It’s two different things. It’s completely likely that a bi woman and a lesbian (or two bisexual women, for that matter!) could be together without either of them giving up an aspect of their sexuality for the other.

      (Sorry Nic! I can bow out. :))

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  6. I love the idea of ‘forced’ bi and ‘forced fem’ and I have tried the latter and I loved it (the guy did too). To me it’s super-hot; I’ve no idea why, but I don’t question it, I just do it with people who want it done to them. My ‘squick’ kinks are age play and inter-racial cuck stuff.
    Age play seems off the scale to me (no criticism intended towards people who enjoy it), yet (in my limited experience admittedly) seems to be far more acceptable than forced bi/fem.
    I don’t think analytically about these things (I just get on with the stuff I enjoy, and don’t bother with things I don’t), but in my mind, all of the above are toying with people’s sense of transgression?

    1. It really is the phrasing more than anything. The act of pushing a man outside of his comfort zone in terms of partner gender, for a variety of reasons is fucking hot. Consensual boundary pushing is, and I don’t see it as objectionable.

      The thing with forced bi is that it conflates the above with bisexuality. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize how goddamn many people already don’t understand what actual bisexuality is. Look at comment threads in my posts on bisexuality (including this one) : respondents are either bi and saying “I totally get this” or not and saying something painfully ignorant about bisexuality (“bisexuals aren’t relationship material.” “Bi women actually like women, it’s not just to turn on men? That’s hard to really wrap my head around.” etc.). I only have a handful of readers and most of them are sex bloggers, so the problematic ideas are pervasive even in the circles where I’d expect the most sex-positivity.

      Let me put it this way. I really, really like impact play. Punching and beating with steel pipes and kicks to the ribs that lead to bruises for weeks. We call it impact play. The average vanilla person looking at it would call it abuse, but we know it isn’t and we are going to fight that terminology because it’s pathologizing.

      Bisexuality is a minority sexuality. We’re misunderstood by both straight and gay communities. So when someone does this (potentially hot, kinky, boundary-pushing thing) and slaps the label of “forced bisexuality” on it, it hurts. I’m not just saying “hurts my feels,” that’s not relevant (or really true). I’m saying it is damaging to our ability to move and be understood in social circles, that it perpetuates the mistrust that bi people disproportionately experience in relationships, and that it is erasive of the actual experience of being bi. And that’s problematic. You’re not “forcing” a partner to be bi (any more than “forcing” femininity is turning a male partner into a woman; we call that forced feminization, not forced transwomanhood), you’re “forcing” him to an MSM or MSMW encounter that has nothing to do with his sexuality. Using a term like “forced MSM” or “forced MSMW” instead of “forced bi” removes the pathologizing context. I’m not trying to prevent consenting adults from doing anything they want to do, I’m trying to ask that folks think about the meaning and effect of the language they use around the behavior.

      Does that make sense?

  7. 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.”

    Yeah, that’s one of my many problems with forced bi. How is the third person supposed to feel about the idea that sucking his dick is so disgusting that the guy doing the sucking had to be forced to do it? If I were that guy, I’d feel pretty shitty about it. I’m all over doing things to people that they (love to) hate, or making them do things they love to hate, but the idea of trying to have any kind of sexual interaction with someone who is disgusted by my body just makes me sad.

    “Forced bisexuality” reduces a person’s sexual identity to their sexual activity in a given moment.

    I don’t know why that never clicked for me, but that’s a really good point. Grudgingly sucking a dick does not magically make a guy bisexual. Maybe “forced bi” would be less objectionable if people called it “forced [specific sexual activity]”?

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