Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bisexuality & Choice:

Eugene Volokh's controversy (which I earlier discussed) relied greatly on the fact that bisexuals have ability to choose which gender to have sex with and enjoy it. I think Volokh properly assumes that those who are exclusively homosexual (a Kinsey "6") and exclusively heterosexual (a Kinsey "0") really have no meaningful choice in the path which they ought to take when pursuing romantic and sexual gratification. There are "gay" and "straight" folks who are so exclusive in their respective orientations that the thought of having sexual relations with that gender to which they aren't attracted is unthinkable no matter what the circumstances.

Then there are the "bisexuals." I've blogged about this before on my site and many folks, at least in private correspondence, reject my understanding of the issue. I think there is a great lack of understanding regarding different types of bisexualities, precisely because of this issue of meaningful choice and who has it, who doesn't.

Volokh argues that 1) gays are trying to "convert" the orientationally bisexual but behaviorally heterosexual into at least exploring their homosexual sides, and that 2) given the greater medical risks associated with gay sex, it would be better that such orientationally bisexuals "who can be happy with women (my emphasis) not experiment with men...."

A few points. First, whereas there are many folks who are bisexual in a broad sense (Kinsey 1-5s), only the Kinsey 3s, who are very rare, almost nonexistent among the male gender, have any kind of meaningful choice to make. A perfect Kinsey 3 could choose lifelong exclusive homosexuality, exclusive heterosexuality, or switching back and forth and flourish in meaningful relationships all the while.

But what about Kinsey 1s and 2s? What about men like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Hugh Hefner (and probably the late James Dean, Cary Grant, and Marlon Brando)? Volokh would probably say that for health reasons, it would be better that they not experiment with homosexuality. Fine. But most of the men on that list would probably say that's not much of a sacrifice for them to make. It's like asking a right-handed batter who occasionally "switch-hits" to stop batting lefty. In fact, most of them easily gave up their homosexual experimentation and many of them never had much to begin with. None also, as far as I know, renounced their homosexual experiences. But could any of them meaningfully choose exclusive homosexuality and still flourish? I don't think so. That would be like asking the right-handed batter who switch hits to only bat lefty.

Volokh's thesis gives the surface impression, without further reflection, that Kinsey 1s and 2s could be "converted" into exclusive homosexuality and Kinsey 4s and 5s, exclusive heterosexuality. Likewise, a Kinsey 4-5 (which I think probably describes the orientation of most gay men who marry women and father children, often coming out later in life) can flourish in exclusive homosexuality but cannot flourish in exclusive heterosexuality.

As I've said before, I think many Kinsey 1s & 2s understand themselves to be "straight" just as many 4s & 5s understand themselves to be "gay." The 4s & 5s have the incentive to understand themselves as "gay" because if they identified as "bi," 1) the opposite gender would get the impression that they have an even chance at a date, which they don't, and 2) people would assume such a person has a meaningful choice to live a "straight" life, and again, they don't. 1s & 2s on the other hand have an incentive to understand themselves as "straight," and deny their homosexual feelings and experiences because given that 1) they prefer "normal" heterosexual experiences to homosexual experiences, 2) any admission of any homosexual feelings or experiences, no matter how mild or moderate gets one placed in the "gay or bi box," 3) such a box has a stigma that comes with it which they don't want, 4) such a person most likely is presently living ordinary heterosexual life, and desires a "normal" heterosexual identity as opposed to an "abnormal" gay or bi identity, the person simply identifies and understands him or herself as an "ordinary" heterosexual person.

This last box -- the 1s and 2s -- I find quite interesting because I suspect -- and I admit much of this is pure speculation -- they are far more common than we realize. At least 20% of the normal population, if not more. I think further research will bear out that I am right.

And, as I've said, I've gotten into some serious disagreements over how to properly categorize Kinsey 1-2,4-5s. Are Kinsey 1-2s, "bis," or straight folks who have the ability to enjoy gay sex to *some* minor or moderate degree in the short run. Likewise are Kinsey 4-5s, "bis," or gay folks who have the ability to enjoy straight sex to *some* minor or moderate degree, in the short run.


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Pat Arrapato said...

ok Jon...
I'm kind of dense. What are your feelings about "gay" and "bisexual". Can you write less and to the point?

I'm a bi-male. Do you like me or hate me? I can't tell!

Pat (

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