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Like a pendulum, it goes back and forth - The Ex-Communicator

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August 25th, 2011


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01:21 pm - Like a pendulum, it goes back and forth
A lot of people have been laughing about the recent research which has proved that bisexual men exist. Here is an article in the Guardian about it (nice Laurence Olivier pic) and here is the research paper.

This research was deemed necessary as the official line for the past few years has been that research proves that bisexual men are 'really' exclusively gay, and just pretending to like women for social reasons - see this 2005 article in the NY Times. I think enthusiasm for this point of view was fueled by misogyny (of course men are just pretending to like women) and/or homophobia (one step out of line and that's it). I think it's disrespectful to people who self-identify as bisexual to deny they are telling the truth.

This is my big problem with the saying 'an anecdote is not data'. If an individual experience is not replicable in the lab, nevertheless it may well exist. The experiences of people who are seen as 'other' are not considered real (they are anecdotes) until they are observed by official means (they become data). In this case the 'official means' of verifying sexuality is measured tumescence on viewing porn. But porn is not politically or socially neutral. It reflects many issues as well as sexual arousal - such as anxiety and projection by objectification. I personally dislike most heterosexual porn, although I am heterosexual. Does that mean my identification as a straight woman is a mere anecdote?

Anyway. Bisexual guys - you exist again. Carry on.

(26 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:executrix
Date:August 25th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
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Decades ago, I read a book that pointed out some weaknesses in the USian medical system. The author said that, irrespective of whether the equipment works, is properly calibrated, or the techs know how to use it, the doctor orders a raft of tests until an abnormal reading is discovered. Then they actively treat *the piece of paper* until a normal reading occurs. Little or no attention is paid to the patient's body or experiences in the meantime.

It strikes me as "if people fail to conform to my nonsensical theories, they are Sick and Wrong" is not a very scientific statement, but, hey, maybe it's just me.
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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 12:57 pm (UTC)
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I was thinking of you when I read this research because I think we are both fans of Bayliss from Homicide. The linked article says 'Detective Timothy Bayliss thereby became the first - and, as of now (2006) the only bisexual male lead on an American network television show'. Perhaps no longer true though.
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From:executrix
Date:August 25th, 2011 01:10 pm (UTC)
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Alas, I only have my Tim Bayliss "Clueless" icon on DW, not LJ. It's a matter of definitions though-- is Torchwood now considered an American network show since it's on Syfy and not the BBC? And are soaps (daytime or nighttime) considered "network television shows"? And do slash goggles count? I'd bet money on past Ripper/Ethan, for example.
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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I was wondering about Torchwood. Not my cup of tea - but I guess it's breaking new ground. I think on the rest of network telly it's all about plausible deniability.
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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:01 pm (UTC)
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the first m-m kiss I saw on British TV was John Noakes kissing Peter Purves the day he left Blue Peter (a kids show). It was just a peck, but as you can see it was memorable to me.
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From:kalypso_v
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:09 pm (UTC)
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Apart from an unsuccessful phone call to Gwen, where it wasn't even clear she got the point, it appears to me that Jack is coming across as almost exclusively gay now. I don't know whether John Barrowman has influenced that or it's a TV policy thing.

I never thought I'd complain about a shortage of gratuitous sex in Torchwood, but we were saying the other day that the most obvious consequence of moving it to the States appears to be replacing nearly all the sex with violence. Though I've been told they might have time for a bit of sex tonight.
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From:kalypso_v
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
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It's not been very exciting, really. I'm still hanging in there, but get a bit depressed when I work out how many episodes there are to go. One thing that strikes me is that the characters are now back to the stupidity-levels of first-season Torchwood.
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From:archbishopm
Date:August 26th, 2011 12:00 am (UTC)
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the most obvious consequence of moving it to the States appears to be replacing nearly all the sex with violence.

Well that's because violence is how Americans reproduce. It's true, I can prove it with Jackie Chan movies and penis machines.
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From:executrix
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
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A different issue, but I'd say the networks are now the underdogs and cable the topdogs.

Another question of definition re situational bisexuality--pretty much the entire cast of "Oz" except Sister Pete is situationally bisexual.

The exercise of defining "television" as "prime-time network shows in the US" reminds me a bit of defining "bisexual" as "spending your whole life equally attracted to men and women"--in either case, the triumphant result is to say "look, there aren't any!"
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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
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I think it is like the Overton Window: the scope of prime time telly defines what moderate/acceptable is, whereas cable can afford to target special audiences
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From:snowballjane
Date:August 25th, 2011 04:38 pm (UTC)
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One of the top male gymnasts in Make It or Break It (teen gymnastics show) is bisexual and had a scene in the season finale in which he had to deal with exactly the kind of denial you posted about from his best friend. Was quite surprised to see it so well-handled by ABC Family.

He's not quite a lead character though, since MIOBI really had 4 female leads.
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From:snowballjane
Date:August 25th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
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Hulu links in the After Elton article don't work, so here's the scene on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VRIOXbCueA
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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
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That's good. Not heard of the show before. Thanks for the pointer.
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From:executrix
Date:August 25th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
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Due to Sean Maher being in it for five minutes, I have watched a number of episodes of Make It or Break It. It is a *terrible* show but it's good to see female athletes getting some respect.

Speaking of ABC Family, there does not seem to be exclusive heterosexuality running rampant in "Huge"--quite a few of the kids seem to have same-sex as well as other-sex attractions.
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From:snowballjane
Date:August 25th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
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I can't in all conscience recommend it as quality TV, but i do love it. Not only is it a show centred around girls' ambition and friendship, Payson is one of my favourite telly teens ever, under constant pressure to be more feminine from peers, coach, the sport itself, she's continually awesome.
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From:storme
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
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Ah man, I'm so past being furious about how bisexuality is regarded as a myth. If you identify as bi then everyone tells you you're wrong about your own sexuality one way or another; my reaction is that a) I'm doing a fine job of deluding myself, then and b) sheesh, it must be so awful to not see the beauty and appeal of all the gender spectrum and c) yay! I'm a magical unicorn!
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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
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I think the belittling of female bisexuality is done in a slightly different way - they don't say it doesn't happen, but that it isn't meaningful. It's real but it's not Real.
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From:storme
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
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Well, there's the 'it's only to titillate men' angle, which is depressingly common as an accusation.

But you do also hear the 'you're deluding yourself' aspect reasonably often as a bi woman, along with 'oh, you'll make your mind up one day'--as if bisexuality were a process, not a stable state.

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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
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Casting my mind way back, when I did identify as bi - and this is a long time ago - a lot of women got very cross with me about it. It was quite horrible really. I'd sort of forgotten what it was like. Anyway, I suppose in a way I have proved them right, by settling down with a man. I think part of the problem is when you do settle into a decades-long relationship it all becomes a little bit theoretical anyway, so one tends to give up a bit.
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From:storme
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
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I admit I tend to let people call me a lesbian rather than correcting the assumption, now I'm dating a girl. Whereas I was more stringent about asserting my bisexuality when I was with a man.

I think this is largely cowardice, born from the desire to not be perceived as flirting/available because of the tendency of people to devalue a girl-girl relationship if the participants are bisexual. I dunno. I have guilt over it. But I do enjoy the reaction when I later on confuse their perception by commenting on attractive men.
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From:i_ate_my_crusts
Date:August 25th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
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This. So much.
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From:executrix
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)

Someday He'll Come Along, The Man I Love

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It's at times like this that I remember the old lapel button, "Are you a lesbian? Are YOU the alternative?" with fondness.
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From:kalypso_v
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
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I remember, years ago, an interview with Marianne Faithful in which she was talking about affairs with women and said something like "In the sixties, if you were young and beautiful you didn't have to be put in a box" and I thought "but why the hell do you think you had to be young, beautiful and living in the sixties to avoid boxes"? To me, the insistence on polarising attraction by gender seems bizarre and unnatural.
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From:storme
Date:August 25th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
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Indeed. People are endlessly fascinating and diverse and what determines their attractiveness (or lack thereof) is rarely anything to do with their gender, as far as I'm concerned.

(I mean, I understand intellectually that *maybe* it's possible for one's physical and mental preferences to be found mostly in one gender or the other. But surely not 100% of the time. Maybe I just know too many androgynous people.)
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From:steepholm
Date:August 25th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
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Not at all surprised to read about the selection bias in the earlier study (subjects "were recruited through advertisements in gay-oriented and alternative publications") when I saw that the author was J. Michael Bailey, notorious for his similarly-flawed study, The Man who Would be Queen.
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From:communicator
Date:August 25th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
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God almighty, Bailey sounds like a complete git. I am surprised that people like Dan Savage bought into the research, given the background of the author. Personally I find it quite shocking:
Among some of Bailey's reported HBI cohorts, that racist science of old is still just as alive and well as their current sex research. The Institute's main activity appears to be an "invitation-only" online discussion list for "a small, elite and eclectic mix of experts."

According to a list posted on HBI's Web site until last summer, (their) "elite" includes:

Jean-Phillippe Rushton, a prominent researcher on black genetic inferiority who is president of a pro-eugenics hate group, the Pioneer Fund;

Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, which purported to show black and Latino intellectual inferiority;

Kevin MacDonald, a professor at California State University at Long Beach who has written several books about supposed Jewish strategies to subvert "Euro-American" culture;

Gregory Cochrane, a physicist who has suggested the existence of a genetic "gay germ."

I know bad people can do legitimate research but it appears to be a centre for enthusiastic axe-grinding.

(apologies for the multiple edits, screwed up the formatting.)

Edited at 2011-08-25 07:18 pm (UTC)

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