Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'll get back to you on that

People sometimes send me private emails (as distinct from public comments) about things that I have written - and this particularly applied to my post back in January on Michael Bailey's work about the supposed non-existence of bisexuality in men.
One man in particular questioned how many bi men there are - I would say from a perspective of disappointment, not hostility - as he met very few that he considered to be "really bi". Part of the trouble, he suggested, was that there was no agreed definition of the term "bisexual" - it could mean people who are only marginally interested in both sexes, or those who truly don't differentiate on the basis of gender.
I wrote him a long reply. It's too long to post all in one go, so here's a section...

You said that one of the problems is that there are no
precise definitions of bisexuality - it's not
necessarily a 50-50 attraction. To my mind, that's one
of the beauties as well as one of the problems of
bisexuality - it covers so many different types of
feelings / behaviours / attractions etc. Fritz Klein
came up with the definitions gay-bi, straight-bi, and
bi-bi. Personally, although I think this is useful, I
think of sexuality more on the spectrum model - that
some are towards the gay end, some the straight end,
and most of us are floating around in the middle. We
may be more at one end or the other, or slide up and

But is bisex about "doing it", or feeling it, or
having experienced it, or self-identity, or what?
Probably a mixture. I'm sure you know, too, that all
bisexuals seem to be quite different from each other.
I have come across a lot of men whose feelings towards
other men seem tremendously confused. They like the
sex with men, but don't "fancy" them. They only fancy
them once they are naked. They only want to have sex
with them when women are in the room. They only want
very masculine men. Or men when they are dressed as
women (ie transvestites who are only dressing up for
sex, not transsexuals). Some bi men do want to go on
the gay scene and get men, but perhaps not in huge
numbers. Some of them seem to hate the gay scene,
though, not because they don't really want sex with
men but because they find it alienating in one way or

Yes, it is true that men with high libidos do have sex
with people they're not attracted to. But, quite
honestly, so do women. Not to the same extent as men,
but they do. Women who are swingers, for instance. Or
perhaps they are turned on by the situation, what they
are doing, a feeling of "naughtiness" perhaps, rather
than experiencing desire for that person per se.
Someone I interviewed, for instance, described having
sex with men, especially transvestites, as "extra
pervy". Now, of course this is nothing like 50-50
bisexuality, but neither is it *not* bisexuality. This
is where I do think it is all really complicated.

Where I think men (even many gay ones) do seem to be
definitely women-oriented is emotionally. That, I
think, might be where I do agree that men are more
likely to be straight: many bi men only see themselves
as bisexual in a sexual sense. (A lot of men who do
have sex with men have said that they don't want any
emotional intimacy with men. Indeed, that they find it
horrifying, almost. I wrote about this before in a
post about men not wanting to kiss each other.

How far this is because if men have a love
relationship with another man then they really have to
out themselves - to themselves and to other people - I
don't know. Perhaps that is simply too dangerous on an
emotional level. But I personally know some gay men
who don't seem to have allowed themselves to fall in
love with other men, either. They are happy to shag
around, or at least try to, and to have women as their
constant companions. One of my friends calls that
"heterosocial". This, too, is connected to the fact
that straight men tend to rely on the women in their
life for emotional support, as indeed do most women
regardless of sexuality.

Thoughts, anyone?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a guy who considers himself bi I would have to say it is rare to find a male partner with whom you form a real emotional connection, but when it happens it can be as sweet as any hetero love.