I recently stumbled on the term 「Bisexual Erasure」 while browsing tvtropes, which is a recognition that bisexuality only rarely is represented in media. Looking the thing up on Wikipedia provided a link to another term that I've generally just dismissed as silliness, biphobia. I'm not sure if phobia is really a great suffix there given that I suspect that most of the time there's just a strange insistence that bisexuality doesn't really exist, in one of two forms:
- People who don't believe that anything but heterosexuality is real, which is probably not what's being talked about
- People who believe everyone is either straight or gay
The only characters I can think of in media that are publicly bisexual are:
- One of the Pet Shop Boys (weird coincidence: the music video for their song 「Minimal」 just came up randomly on my TV-PC)
- The character of Jack from the Dr Who remake series
- The stereotype of heteroflexible women in certain kinds of bars, occasionally seen on TV
I find it interesting that there *are* issues with the standing of bisexuals in the gay communities; we don't necessarily share the same trials that homosexuals do because we could choose to just go for heterosexual relationships, and yeah, if we are monogamous and settle into a long-term relationship we're likely to either be effectively straight or gay, at least publicly (someone looking at our pr0n, or potentially someone who knows us well enough should we be attracted to people outside our relationship might be able to tell, but the general public would not unless we choose to make it public). It doesn't necessarily make for easy shared suffering, which is often part of the gay communities (at least, as I remember from undergrad it was). I'm not super bothered by uncertainty of the roles of bisexuals in gay communities personally, as while I am categorised as bisexual, it is not a significant part of my self-identity. My full solidarity with gays (and varying solidarities with other groups in the face of varying kinds of oppression) is because of my liberal values, not because of the raw facts of my sexuality. I have not been part of any gay/bisexual/sexual-alphabet-soup/queer communities for a long time, and really don't care whom they include/exclude; if I felt there were serious issues of justice involved in some exclusions I'd be concerned, but shared suffering versus open-entry seems a potentially valid foundational question. If they want to exclude bisexuals for some or all parts of their community, maybe they have a point; the usual arguments for and against high-inclusivity apply.
Is the bad media coverage bothersome? Maybe a bit; the frequent portrayals of bisexuals as being oversexualised might lead to prejudice (and I have occasionally been disappointed by people on OkCupid who won't date bisexual people because they think we have a need for sex with both guys and gals in our lives and thus can't possibly manage fidelity; it's even weirder when people say that they've had homosexual sex but would not date someone else who has, but I suppose people tend to trust themselves more than they trust others). My instinct is to just treat negligible presence of bisexuals in media the same way I do negligible presence of certain worldviews and the oversimplification of human nature; it's not a fundamental justice concern so much as a simple inaccuracy.
Again, a lot of the reasons this is not a big deal for me comes from my belief that while we have a (relatively objective) set of categories that describe us, and a self-identity we project outwards, others also have identifications they project onto us and that's ok; humanity won't ever see the world the same way and people not working from the same identity (or categorical) frameworks is a sign of philosophical maturity. From that perspective, any PR on the behalf of groups of identities is, at best, best-effort and not something to get too worked up over on the small scale. (And yes, I recognise that this negates/neglects things some people care about a lot; I'm willing to talk about the details of this if anyone's interested)
Also found on Wikipedia: Klein Sexual Orientation Grid.