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"bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of people.

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by NonsnsOnStilts, May 6, 2014.

  1. Chip

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    Actually, the responsibility is on the other side: There's zero evidence that I'm aware of supporting the idea that there's any separation, and the prevailing view among psychologists and sexologists, for many years, has always been that orentation is orientation. The whole notion of separating romantic and sexual orientation has cropped up in the past 5 years or so and as far as I've seen, there isn't a shred of evidence to support it. If someone has citations to credible, quality research or studies, or even detailed analysis and case histories supporting this idea, then there's something to talk about. But when I looked into it (admittedly, a fairly deep but not exhaustive search), I simply couldn't find anything.

    I try to keep fairly up-to-date on research topics related to the issues we discuss at EC, though, admittedly, my primary interest lies more in shame resilience and its related topics. My constant frustration is the poor quality of much of the research that is out there, and often you see studies with such awful methodologies, biases, or unsupported conclusions that I honestly have to wonder if any real peer review happened.

    I don't post this stuff to start, perpetuate, or maintain arguments. But I do feel a responsibility to do my best to ensure that what I convey has at least some evidence-based background behind it. Well, except when I disclaim that I'm pulling something out of my ass, which I do from time to time.

    And it gets annoying when people try to dismiss current thinking, evidence-based views, or skepticism of viewpoints that appear to be unsupported with either arguments that 60 years ago, the profession made some bad judgment calls, or drawing comparisons to non-similar circumstances.

    At the end of the day, EC is here to help people get good, reliable information on which to base decisions, and to get support and empathy for the struggles they are going through. Right now, with people who identify with unrecognized labels, those values are somewhat in conflict. And it isn't as simple as just saying "Well, let people do what they believe in" because in some cases, that can lead people down a path that could very well cause them a lot of unhappiness later. We've seen that with a lot of posts that people have written, saying they wish they'd listened to the advice they got, or paid more attention, or did more research.

    It isn't easy trying to walk that line. It particularly isn't easy trying to maintain empathy when people are yelling and screaming that their identity is being erased, or their labels aren't being respected, or they don't want to hear information that conflicts with their chosen belief system. But if we care about *everyone* in the community, not just those who have chosen beliefs/labels that are not yet mainstream, then we owe it to them to present the most accurate information we currently have available. And in my book, that is just as important, perhaps more important, than occasionally stepping on toes of someone's beliefs when there are contradictory views from the professionals who work with these populations and are in a better position than anyone else to have a large experience base from which to draw.

    I wish people could recognize this as a goal that's bigger than any one individual or small group, and see it for what it is intended to be, rather than an attack on anyone or any group.
     
  2. all paths

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    One can say many a d*ckwad thing to others which are "backed up by statistics and science."

    Doesn't make them any less d*ckwad to say.

    Context. Attitude. Compassion. Sensitivity.

    This is a SUPPORT site.

    If we're making people who come here run for the hills and accusing them of having persecution complexes, that is wrong, dammit.
     
  3. Rainbowchild

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    I'm a girl who is attracted to men only by personality not physical attraction. But am attracted to women in every way. What's my diagnosis? Haha

    ---------- Post added 9th May 2014 at 02:45 AM ----------

    I'm a girl who is attracted to men only by personality not physical attraction. But am attracted to women in every way. What's my diagnosis? Haha
     
  4. Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    I think a lot of people need that kind of space to figure things out for themselves,
    your approach allows for questioning people to get their agency back in doing it.

    My impression on this forum, is however that a lot of people, including myself are over-thinking things, and it has to do with the fact that a different sexuality would affect our lives beyond just our immediate attraction/sex, so there is a sense of needing validation and reassurance to 'jump the fence' and make sometimes drastic life choices.

    ---------- Post added 9th May 2014 at 01:29 PM ----------

    I am glad you could relate to my post, of course you can save/ and use it for later! :slight_smile:. I have been facing similar issues, although I was not married.
    "If I am "bi", there is a possibility that I could be fulfilled in a relationship with him, and I just wasn't trying hard enough." :
    this is one of the reasons why there is such a difference between 'bi with a preference for women' and 'gay', because each of these interpretations of our orientation has different implications for our life.
    I guess the real skill lies in separating those 2 from each other, which sometimes is difficult to do. Reading some other threads here, I've seen people say something along the lines of 'if you have to work hard to make it work,and it does not come naturally, then it probably is not your sexuality'. which kind of rings true.
     
  5. Reptillian

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    Oh please... If you were to find with different keywords, then maybe you would be able to find at least one study that would imply the existence between romantic attraction and sexual attraction.

    Source: The Common Neural Bases Between Sexual Desire and Love:A Multilevel Kernel Density fMRI Analysis

    Notice that the MKDA analysis shown that there is differences within a large area common to sexual desire and love. Also, in that study, it seems to indicate that there area different areas activated uniquely by love/sexual desire. This would indicate or imply the possible existence of differences between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. That would mean in a hypothetical person, if certain areas specific to one function or another isn't activated, then the person will only experience sexual attraction or romantic attraction. 20 studies were done to try to take a look at the differences for this study.

    That's pretty much the only evidence that I see which looks at romantic attraction and sexual attraction. There does seem to be the lack of evidence, but the lack of evidence means that you cannot make a conclusion yet until there are sufficient amount of researches that are done as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence by itself.

    Oh, and I'm forgetting to mention Lisa Diamonds.

    Lisa Diamond | Psychology :: The University of Utah

    Here, if you would ask her about sexual fluidity, she would say that there are differences in experiences of physical same-sex attraction and emotional same-sex attraction which would imply that they aren't always equivalent. This is based of a longitudinal study she had done.
     
    #85 Reptillian, May 9, 2014
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  6. Reptillian

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    Oh, hey look, I just found a recent study that confirms earlier finding which is mentioned at my last post before this one.

    "The studies showed consistently that the anterior insula was associated with love, and the posterior insula was associated with lust. However, as in all fMRI studies, the findings were correlational."

    Secondary Source - Brain's 'sweet spot' for love found in neurological patient -- ScienceDaily
    Primary Source - Stephanie Cacioppo et al. Selective decision-making deficit in love following damage to the anterior insula. Current Trends in Neurology, February 2014

    Even more evidence that there are differences between romantic attraction and sexual attraction.
     
    #86 Reptillian, May 9, 2014
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  7. Quem

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    I find this very interesting, thanks Reptillian! :icon_bigg
     
  8. all paths

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop



    Reptillian :kiss:
     
  9. Chip

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    Reptilian:

    Those are, in fact, interesting studies that provide the first indication of credible evidence I've seen in this field, and I want to spend more time reading them. My tendency is to look in the psych, sociology, and sexology literature rather than in neuroscience, so I'm glad you've posted these.

    Where I'm not comfortable yet, because I haven't read these studies (and related materals), is the impact of this research on a practical level; we know there are many different parts of the brain that are activated simultaneously for certain types of emotional responses, activities, and functions, so my first response (not based on having familiarity with this material, obviously) is I don't know if we can draw the conclusion that romantic and sexual orientations are different based solely on activation of different parts of the brain for those separate functions.

    And from a brief reading of the abstract, it appears to make no claims that there's any separation of romantic and sexual orientation/attraction. in fact, it doesn't address differing [i.e., hetero/homo] attractions at all, but says they are closely interrelated, and talks about "love" rather than "romantic attraction", so I'm not even sure we're talking about the same issues.

    But it does, indeed, raise some interesting questions. I do find it problematic that this study was published in 2012 and none of the findings from it appear to have made their way at all into the psychology or sexology journals or thinking that I'm aware of. I know a couple of pretty sharp psychologists with a pretty good familiarity with neuroscience, so I will check in with them to see if they have any insights on this.

    As for Lisa Diamond... I'll have another look at her work. I remember looking at some of it earlier, and finding a lot of criticisms of her methodologies or conclusions so I didn't put a lot of credence in what she said (on some other topic, I think... this was a couple years ago...) But there are some interesting-sounding articles on her site so I'll dig further.

    In the meantime, none of this yet changes my position on any of these issues, but it certainly raises some interesting issues that need to be considered when this sort of discussion is happening.
     
  10. Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    I've been reading the part of this thread following from what Chip said in his first post.

    I am not sure I understand how the discussion about the split between romantic and sexual orientation labels relates exactly to the way the bisexual label works.

    Can somebody kindly explain the core of the discussion to me? I just feel like I cannot really understand it, because I am not that familiar with the details.

    I think the split can be useful in terms of figuring things out, but it is a short-hand.

    I agree with one of the problems being that those labels are unrecognised: when I had a look today on one of the main discussion sites (can I mention the name?) straight people were discussing the split between romantic and sexual orientation as something that attention-seeking teenagers to do to make themselves look special.

    So this is the perception, so Chip is entirely right to worry that those labels are perceived as fringe labels.

    Also one of the responses was along the lines of 'somebody who experienced a lot of homophobia and now identifies as bisexual homo-romantic, with time will have full acceptance and come out AS A FULL BISEXUAL'.

    But many people in this situation choose to identify as gay!

    For me the truth is that my opposite sex interactions were both romantic and sexual, and yet something deep was missing.

    I can say that the missing came from lack of lust for opposite sex, or from a lack of capacity on my side truly intimately connect to men, 'blocking men', or I can say that I am a bi-romantic lesbian, or even a bisexual homo-romantic, but it will be just putting names on the fact that I feel different about same sex than the opposite sex, and that my experiences with opposite sex are missing something fundamental, and therefore I am not bisexual, but that I feel strongly that I am gay.

    But I seem to struggle with accepting that, because I love a man and life as a bisexual is more secure than a a gay woman, coming out as gay means owning up my sh*t, and I am not ready for it, and I am scared of: 'what if I am bi? and I've ruined my life the way I knew it?'.

    I generally struggle with processing my sexuality, still not understanding why I don't feel bisexual, feeling that is an issue with my attitude/ blocks, rather than my sexuality, I keep testing if I might be attracted to men, etc.etc. I worry that I struggle with internalised bi-phobia and am not gay.


    In this context "the bisexual club" (not on this site) has not been helpful at all,
    because there is always a reason to identify as bisexual =not gay.
    And for me 'not gay' means : 'yaay, I can give it another chance with guys, because I get on so well with them as friends!"
    It's easier, its simpler, and it keeps us in the closet.

    I guess it is a feature of any group of people who identify a certain way, to want to reinforce each others identity. Gay and lesbians will want to reinforce each others identity, and so will bisexuals.

    The problem is that the process will always take the form of creating a distinction between 'our group' and the 'other group', and in some situations 'bisexual' and 'gay' are the ones who are mutually 'the other'.

    For somebody who is struggling with coming out as lesbian it is kind of helpful and healthy to want to be subjected to the whole group identity formation that comes with it, it is an essential part of growing into your own identity: to be accepted by people who are similar.

    And a very big part of it is to distance oneself from the straight world, do gain strength to cope with being outside of its security net.
    The hope of being 'bisexual' is precisely the reason why many of us keep delaying shutting the door of the closet behind us, because only being gay can justify us in doing certain drastic things, which are damn hard to do.


    But because bisexuality often gets ascribed based on BEHAVIOUR, not actual innate preference, and as a result 'everyone is a bit bi', it results in pushing the label onto everyone who has ever been intimate/ liked the opposite sex.

    Even those people who felt something immense lacking in their opposite relationship can still be seen as bisexual, because they DON'T ACTIVELY DISLIKE OPPOSITE SEX.

    (heterosexism anyone? "I am bisexual because I don't actively dislike same sex": how ridiculous it sounds!).
    It is not only how people use the label in relationships to themselves, but how the bisexual discourse itself works, it's tenets can be heterosexist: 'you still like opposite sex even if you don't like x,y,z,', because you don't actively dislike them as a whole.

    It's is never 'you are still bi because you had a bromance once, even though you never imagine having sex with a guy, but you are not disgusted by the idea= that means you are bi! yaay!"

    And because bisexuals and gay/lesbians share the same spaces often, any process which would be designed to allow actively help a person gain a gay identity IN OPPOSITION to a straight identity, gets censored out because it amounts to 'biphobia', when for some it is heterosexism deprogramming.

    In this context it seems like the split between romantic and sexual orientations seems to serve the reinforcement of the bi identity more, than serving the process of coming out as gay, because of the nature of the bisexual discourse: 'you can still be bi, if x,y,z', its then up to the individual then to say "oh but, you know what I think DESPITE not hating the opposite sex and still liking them in some way, I think I am gay".
     
    #90 NonsnsOnStilts, May 10, 2014
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  11. KyleD

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    I find women attractive but I have no desire to form an intimate relationship with a woman. That's why I identify as gay.
     
  12. Mattx

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    I was talking to.a friend the other day and they said you can't be bi either you like men or women which is.untrue
     
  13. Quem

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    He obviously never met real bisexuals then. :slight_smile:
     
  14. Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop


    Yeah you can like both, sure!
    It's up to you if you have a preference, or not.
     
  15. Best of Both

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    I agree

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6SXrK0l-ZA
     
  16. Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    But how is this helpful to somebody who might have some kind of capacity to have sex/relationships with the opposite sex, but who is trying to figure out WHY those relationships never feel 'complete'?
     
  17. jb2559

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    Wait, so is it normal that i'm sexually attracted to both but only romantically attracted to women?
     
  18. Chip

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    Very simply, on the issue of bisexuality, Kinsey (and other studies since) have made it clear that the majority of people are somewhere on the spectrum. (in the case of the Kinsey scale, 0 to 6.) The problem is, people try to turn a spectrum into a binary (gay/straight) or trinary (gay/bi/straight), which it is not.

    So there are Kinsey 5s and 1s that choose to identify as "bi", and that's fine. And there are Kinsey 4s who choose to identify as "gay" and Kinsey 2s who choose to identify as "straight" and that's fine also.

    I don't understand why this is such a contentious issue. It's not even controversial, it's pretty much settled, understood, and accepted by most everybody (except, maybe, some angry faggots that had a guy leave them for a girl) :slight_smile:

    The romantic/sexual orientation stuff, and the asexual/demisexual stuff is less clear, and far less agreement, but the bisexuality piece really isn't in dispute by anyone credible.
     
  19. Chip

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    Depends on who you ask. For those who support the idea of a separation between romantic and sexual orientation, then it's completely normal.

    For those who believe that, the majority of the time, the separations are "bridge" identities that tend to go away as one gets more comfortable accepting that one is gay, then it is just that... a part of the process of accepting oneself fully.
     
  20. jb2559

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    Re: "bi" is a flawed and incoherent category and leads to confusion for a lot of peop

    It seems like a squares and rectangles thing to me, but I'm new to this whole thing.