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Bisexuality and the Challenge to Lesbian Politics

Sex, Loyalty, and Revolution

Paula Rust

Publication Year: 1995

The subject of bisexuality continues to divide the lesbian and gay community. At pride marches, in films such as Go Fish, at academic conferences, the role and status of bisexuals is hotly contested.

Within lesbian communities, formed to support lesbians in a patriarchal and heterosexist society, bisexual women are often perceived as a threat or as a political weakness. Bisexual women feel that they are regarded with suspicion and distrust, if not openly scorned. Drawing on her research with over 400 bisexual and lesbian women, surveying the treatment of bisexuality in the lesbian and gay press, and examining the recent growth of a self-consciously political bisexual movement, Paula Rust addresses a range of questions pertaining to the political and social relationships between lesbians and bisexual women.

By tracing the roots of the controversy over bisexuality among lesbians back to the early lesbian feminist debates of the 1970s, Rust argues that those debates created the circumstances in which bisexuality became an inevitable challenge to lesbian politics. She also traces it forward, predicting the future of sexual politics.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. xv-xviii

Despite the efforts of lesbian and feminist publishing houses and a few university presses, the bulk of the most important lesbian works has traditionally been available only from rare-book dealers, in a few university libraries, or in gay and lesbian...

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pp. xix-xx

First and foremost, I am deeply grateful to the 470 women who took the time to participate in this study during its many interview and questionnaire phases, from the "speed demon" who completed the questionnaire in a mere 45 minutes to everyone...

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pp. 1-5

Bisexuality touches very sensitive personal and political nerves among lesbians. The very idea sparks heated debate. Does bisexuality really exist, or is it a phase one goes through while coming out as lesbian? Are bisexuals women who have...

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1. Debate in the Lesbian Press: Introducing the Issues

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pp. 7-24

What does The Lesbian Community think about bisexuality? Before we can answer that question, we have to determine who The Lesbian Community is, and who speaks for It. The truth is that there is no single, monolithic Lesbian Community...

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2. "Experts'" Voices: Lesbianism, Bisexuality, and the Social Sciences

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pp. 25-35

We live in an age of science and technology. It is the era of computers, laser surgery, space travel, fax machines, and hydroponics. We look to science to answer our questions and solve our problems. We have learned that science is objective...

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3. Behind the Scenes: How the Study was Done and Who Participated in It

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pp. 36-45

Chapters 4, 5, and 7 will present the findings of research in which I explored lesbian and bisexual women's opinions on the topic of bisexuality. But before I present the findings it is important for you to know something about the women...

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4. Lesbians' Voices: What Do Lesbians Think about Bisexuality and its Role in Sexual Politics?

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pp. 46-101

A few of the women who participated in this study might have, on occasion, written a letter to Out/Look or an article for a regional lesbian newsletter, but most have not. The women who participated in this study are the women who read these letters...

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5. Who Believes What? The Impact of Lesbians' Personal Politics and Experiences on Their Attitudes Toward Bisexuality

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pp. 102-122

One thing is clear: lesbians have a variety of attitudes, beliefs, and opinions about bisexuality. This variety is interesting in and of itself because it shows how diverse lesbians are and how many different ways there are to understand...

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6. The Pink and Blue Herring: The Issue is Lesbianism, Not Bisexuality

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pp. 123-200

Why is the topic of bisexuality so controversial among lesbians? Why does it arouse such passion in us, sparking heated debates in our newspapers and magazines? Why do most of us prefer to keep our distance from bisexual women...

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7. Bisexual Women's Voices: What Do Bisexual Women Think about Bisexuality and the Role of Bisexuals in Sexual Politics?

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pp. 201-229

In chapters 4, 5, and 6 I explored lesbians' attitudes toward bisexuality and bisexual women and showed how the controversy about bisexuality among lesbians reflects lesbians' historically rooted disagreements about whom they are as...

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8. Another Revolution on the Political Wheel: The Politicization of Bisexuality

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pp. 230-259

Since the study described in this book was done in the mid 1980s, bisexuals have made great strides in the process of building a political movement of their own. In the space of a few years, a few isolated bisexual support groups...

Appendix A: Figures

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pp. 261-307

Appendix B: Tables

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pp. 309-319


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pp. 321-343


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pp. 345-356

Subject Index

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pp. 357-363

Author Index

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pp. 365-367

E-ISBN-13: 9780814771518
E-ISBN-10: 0814771513
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814774458
Print-ISBN-10: 0814774458

Page Count: 387
Publication Year: 1995

OCLC Number: 45885682
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Bisexuality and the Challenge to Lesbian Politics

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Lesbians -- United States -- Attitudes.
  • Lesbians -- United States -- Identity.
  • Lesbians -- United States -- Psychology.
  • Bisexual women -- United States -- Attitudes.
  • Bisexual women -- United States -- Psychology.
  • Bisexuality -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Lesbianism -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Sexual behavior surveys -- United States.
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