I took a class three years ago at Cal State I found pretty interesting. The name of the class was Perspectives on Gender. Most people took the class because they thought it was an easy A that would keep their GPA up without a lot of effort. A lot of them were not so pleasantly surprised.
The class was taught by three instructors, two women and one male. Overall the class was very informative, especially when we got into lecture discussions. The instructors were all left-thinkers, including the male, who looked like a skinhead on steroids. The first assignment was an opinon paper in which we could write anything we wanted to, so long as the subject was related to the class. Mine is below:
Audrey F. Liggins
I’ve never been much on judging people by who they say they are, or what it is they way they believe. As far as I’ve always been concerned, the only person who can judge one is oneself. Live and let live, I always say.
That said, I have a problem with the entire concept of bisexuality. Not so much that someone identifies themslves as bisexual, or the idea of being attracted to both genders, but how does that person express that part of themselves in a manner tha satisfies both sides of their sexual duality? And how do they do so within the confines of a monogamous relationship? Again, I don’t have a problem with any other person’s sexual identity, I’ve struggled with mine in the past, but what is it that makes a person decide that he or she is attracted to both genders? Is there some way that bisexuals reconcile the concept of monogamy with the reality of bisexuality?
Understanding that comitted monogamy is part of the cultural hegemony prevalent in most societies, the person who identifies as bisexual finds themselves forced to make a difficult choice. Their only options are the person of his or her own gender, a homosexual relationship, or someone of another gender, creating a heterosexual relationship. In committed monogamy, there can be only two people involved. to have a third member involved is not only unacceptable by most societal standards regardless of how permissive this society has become, it is consiered just cause for the dissolutin of the monogamous relationship the majority of the time. This is especially true in the event that the third member is not of the same sex as the partner of the bisexual person. How do bisexuals get around the more troublesome issues ivolved in this situation? There is no way I can think of to reconcile the two.
In the past, I’ve had the privilege of being allowed to ask this question frankly of a friend who identifies as bixesual. For him, it was simple: being involved in a monogamous relationship was not only more satisfying (emotionally), but safer (sexually) than living the sort of lifestyle that would allow him to experience sex at will with both men and women. As his significant other did not identify as bisexual, and was fully aware of my friend’s status, it was important that my friend ensured that his partner was comfortable within the relationship. Because of this, while he acknowledged his sexual duality, he simply did not indulge himself sexually with members of the other gender he was attracted to. While this conversation did little to address my concerns, or to answer my questions, I did come to some small understanding of what it is to be bisexual in this society.
The instructor who graded my paper (I never knew which one it was) added this response to the paper:
Under the first paragraph, they wrote…
As I understand it, there are lots of ways. maybe the most common is serial monogamy – when looking for a partner, being open to any gender. But when in a monogamous relationship, that’s that.
Under the last paragraph…
It’s great that you were able to have this conversation – maybe this will also help: If one is, say heterosexual, it doesn’t mean you are attracted to everyone of the opposite sex. On the other hand, if you are in a monogamous relationship, it doesn’t mean you aren’t ever attracted to anyone else, just that you don’t act on it. This is true regardless of your sexual orientation, including for people who are bisexual.
When I got the paper back, my first reaction was "Thank you Captain Obvious" (the cynic was alive and well, and kicking in my head). I realized later that the instructor had no idea who wrote the paper, since it was the first assignment, and was trying to be helpful in case it turned out the writer was young and naive. Eventually, all that mattered was that I got an A on it.