restricted access 2. A Bi Jurisprudence

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T W O A Bi Jurisprudence "Bisexuality: No t Gay . No t Straight . A Ne w Sexua l Identit y Emerges" proclaim s Newsweek o n it s cover . Shunne d b y het erosexuals and many gays and lesbians alike, bisexuals recently have been "discovered" by the popular media as well as conventional researchers . Nonetheless, th e categor y o f bisexualit y re mains elusiv e fo r mos t adults . Onl y abou t i percen t o f th e adult populatio n identifie s a s bisexual . Ye t nearl y 4 percen t acknowledge that they are attracted to people of both sexes.1 Bisexual invisibilit y pigeonhole s individual s int o ga y an d straight boxes. A bisexual perspective allows us to ask ourselves who w e find attractiv e an d why , rathe r tha n t o presum e tha t sexual partners are chosen on the basis of gender. This perspective broadens t o a "bi " perspective2 a s we reject conventiona l bipolar categories in the areas of gender, race, and disability in understanding ou r ow n lives , a s wel l a s i n respondin g t o others.3 I. Harms that Flow from Categorization A. Invisibility to Ourselves and Others Martin S . Weinberg an d hi s colleague s repor t tha t one-fourt h of self-identified bisexual s are currently "confused " abou t their 15 16 A Bi Jurisprudence bisexuality, with more than half o f the women and three-quar ters of th e men reportin g previous confusion. 4 Peopl e who d o not self-identif y a s bisexuals , ye t hav e sexua l relation s wit h people o f bot h genders , repor t eve n mor e identit y confusion : "Some peopl e wh o behav e bisexuall y ar e confuse d an d thin k that they may be in the process of becoming homosexual. Oth ers simply den y thei r same-se x feeling s an d behavior s i n orde r to preserve their self-image as heterosexuals."5 The pressure to identify with a monosexual label of "gay" or "straight" lead s to some odd results. Some women continue t o identify wit h the label "heterosexual " despite the fact that they are intimately involved with a woman. Other women who have had prio r intimat e relationship s wit h a woma n continu e t o identify wit h the label "lesbian " even when intimately involved with a man. One of the best-known examples of this phenomenon wa s Holl y Near , a ver y popula r songwrite r an d singe r among lesbians , wh o persiste d i n labelin g hersel f a s a lesbia n despite he r intimat e relationshi p wit h a man. 6 Alternatively , some wome n simpl y hav e fel t immobilize d b y thi s nee d t o fit into a categor y an d hav e therefor e chose n th e "choos e no t t o label" category.7 A bisexual perspective facilitate s pickin g the "choos e not t o label" categor y rathe r tha n th e stati c an d bipola r categorie s of homosexua l an d heterosexual . Rut h Gibia n describe s th e problematic, bipolar structure of the dominant sexuality categories : "Th e definitio n o f a stati c sexualit y i s based o n binar y opposition. . . . Indeed, our entire Western system of thought is based on binary opposition; we define by comparison, by what things ar e not." 8 Bipola r injustic e i s of epidemi c proportions ; it i s no t limite d t o th e are a o f sexua l orientation . Althoug h it is unrealistic to think that we can dismantle an entire system that i s built o n binar y opposition , w e ca n tak e smal l step s i n A Bi Jurisprudence 17 the are a o f lif e tha t touche s u s mos t personally—ou r self identity . We should no t allo w ou r bisexualit y t o b e invisible even t o ourselves. When I ended an intimate relationship with a woman and bega n datin g a...


Subject Headings

  • Discrimination -- Law and legislation -- United States.
  • Minorities -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Sexual orientation -- United States.
  • Law -- Social aspects -- United States.
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