I read Troy's initial post and was intrigued. I saw some of the early comments and understood both the support for and the critique of what had been written. I felt decidedly unqualified to enter into the mix on this, though. And, now, I wonder why I felt that way. Many others have said it before, but I think part of the problem is the "sexual" part of the identifiers - actually, it may be that identifiers are used period.
A long time ago, I wrote a little bit about the "continuum" and how I perceived it. For refresher, if it's of any interest, see here: http://www.soulforce.org/forums/show...3&postcount=30
That seems like such a long time ago now and some thoughts have developed.
Even if we consider the continuum concept to be accurate, which I do, by understanding it in terms of sexuality we still carve out “moral” territories within the continuum. If we consider just the sexual, then I think we have the following:
At one end, we have people who are decidedly straight. At the other those who are decidedly gay/lesbian. These are those of us who only get sexually aroused by the kind of partner that fits our place in the continuum. Then, it seems obvious, that those dead smack in the middle are truly bisexual - they can be freely aroused by either gender.
We are more than penis and vagina, however. Heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual are labels that, by name, categorize us by our genitalia and what we do with them. Now, I know, sex is 90% what happens in your head and 10% what happens in your organs. But most people, even if they know this, consider sex to be physical - it is foreplay (for the lucky ones), arousal, intercourse of some description (even if its autoerotic) and orgasm (well, hopefully
Now, considering that social mores have long had a hard-on for things sexual, people become judged by that which much of the population, with its basically puritanical anal-retentiveness about sex, considers at least a little "dirty" and "secret" - and, therefore, titillating (which just adds to the dirty, secret thing). While there will be exceptions, how many of us have good, long, graphic discussions with our parents about what our moms and/or dads did with their particular genitals and where they put them, in what positions, how often, and the qualities of their orgasms?
"Hey, mom, tell me again how you like it when [dad or mom] flicks you clitoris with the tip of his/her tongue."
"Hey, dad, would you show me how to use that anal stimulator you've talked about so often?"
"Sally, sit down, let me tell you about how your dad made me orgasm five times when we played Geronimo coming through the pass."
(OMG, I'm gonna throw up - so, now, who's puritanical?
) For most of us, I think, this ain't happening.
Heterosexuals DO NOT generally refer to themselves as heterosexuals – as oriented genitals - they refer to themselves as people with multi-facetted lives - usually in terms of what they do, but not in terms of what they do with their genitals unless the issue of sexuality is broached. "I am a carpenter/teacher/whatever." "I enjoy gardening/sewing/whatever." "I am a Christian/Buddhist/whatever." What we don’t hear generally is Billy Bob Joe Salesman walking into a crowd of people and saying, “Hi! I’m Billy Bob. I’m heterosexual.” People would move away like there was a bad odor.
Heterosexuals DO, however, refer to, and think about, others by what they do with their genitals. "He's homosexual." "She's bisexual". In the minds of most, these terms immediately transfer to images of what someone does with their penis, vagina, tongue, anus, nipples, belly button (oops, sorry - I don't know how that got in there) or whatever. So, when we have been raised to be so inhibited that we don't want to imagine dad blowing a load into mom or dad, or mom squealing with delight in rapturous orgasm, or either one of them wanting to even remotely insinuate to their kids that these things happen, we use identifiers that immediately raise the specter of dirty, erotic, titillating, and oh so enjoyable (damn, honey, you're gonna have to whip me again for being a bad boy - we should close the windows, though) sex.
Now, where was I - I am sure there was more of a point to this than just being comic relief. Oh, yeah!
Most have been socialized to think that sex is a very private, very secret, and (for many) dirty thing. And in this environment, if we go telling people that they fall on a continuum of bisex
uality - well, I think, there's gonna be a strong knee-jerk reaction - just like the strong knee-jerk reaction that GLBT people experience from the anal majority.
I, for one, while I know I fall somewhere on the continuum of sexuality, am not sexually aroused by men. Sorry guys, no insult intended. I've even been curious and checked out some websites that should have aroused me if I was arouse-able by men - and, nope, it ain't happening. I realize this isn’t scientific, but I’m not in the practice of putting electrodes on my private parts – so anecdotal will have to do.
That said, I can be and have been intimately close emotionally with men. There are men I dearly love. There are men I have, or would be comfortable, holding in an embrace when they are in need of comfort or closeness. There are men that "arouse" me emotionally and mentally, "stimulate" me in many ways - just not genitally. Does that make me purely 100% heterosexual - I personally don't think so. I am more than my penis. I am capable of – actually, I need – emotion involvement with people of the same and opposite gender. I think that is true for most.
But, if I was socialized in a more puritanical way, considering this as an indicator of bisexuality would scare the shit out of me - I would probably be rampant in my denial and quite possibly engage in verbal, or even physical, abuse of those who even remotely reminded myself that I was a little "off center". Oh, wait a minute - I DID DO THAT in my previous "life" because I WAS socialized that way.
This even works within the GLBT community. Considering things sexual – with the titillating aspects, but also the intimate aspects that so easily raise specters of vulnerability and rejection – leaves bisexual people in something of a “no-man’s land” with regard to moral territorial norms for those who believe they are distinctly homosexual. Despite having come to terms (possibly) with our puritanical puckering about our own sexuality, we are faced with people who can be aroused by people who match our particular criteria and, most importantly, those who DON’T. We all have our ICK factors. I believe this has the same root as heterosexual judgment. It is a bias, based still on socialization, which has to be overcome by the person holding the bias.
I don’t really know if I’ve made any salient points or added to the conversation in any way, but these are thoughts bubbling up from this discussion so far.