University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Sexuality has in the history of mankind occupied a very important pat of the society. In all history of mankind, it has been hard to categorize people in any other form without one’s sex playing an important role. However the problem is not the biological sex differences. The problem is the sex roles the society has allocated to men and women, making it look like there are some things that women can do but men cannot do, and that there are some roles boys can play but girls cannot. This has come to be known as gender mainstreaming.
This paper examines bisexuality in the society and how it has led to discrimination to those who do not subscribe to the majority’s sexual orientations. Bisexuality refers to a situation whereby a person desires to engage in romance or sex with both males and females. However most bisexuals tend to have an affinity for either males or females and it is often rare for a bisexual to balance the desire to both sexes. According to Kinsey Scale (Klein & Wolf, 1985) bisexuals are predominantly heterosexual and incidentally homosexual.
Therefore bisexual could be characterized by aesthetic attractions for members of the opposite sex and does not necessarily have to involve romance or actual sex (Klein & Wolf, 1985). Although bisexuality was in the past confused with hermaphrodites, the term has become very popular and new terminologies have emerged to further clarify bisexuality. Such terminology include Biphobia which refers to the fear which bisexuals are subjected to by being rejected by people from mainstream sexual orientations such as heterosexuals and homosexuals who hold that, bisexuality is not an appropriate lifestyle.
Bisexuals are also faced with homophobia which stems from the fear of rejection and dejection by people who only believe in heterosexuality as the only appropriate lifestyle and therefore do not recognize bisexuality as a lifestyle. This leads to the discrimination of the bisexuals by heterosexuals who form the greater part of the society. According to (Greene, 2000), about 2% of the American populations are bisexuals. This is an indicator that bisexuals form a considerable proportion of the American society and therefore deserves to be listened to and recognized in all social dimensions.
Most of the problems being experienced in terms of fighting the discrimination being leveled against bisexuals have got something to do with how the society at large constructs sex. Most people look at life from the dimension of duality (Peplau, & Garnets, 2000), something which leads many people to have problems comprehending how people can comfortably engage in sexual or romantic relationships with either sex. This has led to stereotypes which in turn have led to discrimination. Bisexuals have been faced by numerous challenges in their endeavor to gain recognition from the society.
These challenges mainly stem from the tendency of most bisexuals to have the phobia to come up in the open and reject discrimination while at the same time making their points known to the society. Conflicts dominate most of the bisexuals’ life spheres like marriage, education and job. Bisexuals in a marriage get it very difficult to open up to their spouses and confess about their sexual orientations in fear of rejection by their partners or outright rejection. This can be very trying moments for bisexuals and therefore many results into living in self-denial.
Despite the fact that there are many married people who are bisexual; opening up is not something many are ready to do. The reality of divorce does not attract many in that, many bisexuals interact in public as heterosexuals unlike it is the case with homosexuals and heterosexuals where partners something which is widely regarded as infidelity in the society. The other major challenge facing bisexuals is recognition by religious organizations. Most religious sects have a problem recognizing any other sexual orientation apart from heterosexuality.
This presents great challenges to those who happen to be spiritual as it turns that their lifestyles do not agree with their religious doctrines. This is very challenging and is a common source of discrimination for bisexuals. Bisexuals are faced with an identity crisis arising from the above challenges and this is currently a major worry for bisexuals whose right to expression is greatly affected by challenges evident in the religious, social, marital as well as work life. Cultural barrier continues to be a source of discrimination for bisexuals.
Most cultures are traditionally male dominated and the social structures are constructed such that; the man is the head of most households (Lane, & Goeltz, 1998). The issue of bisexuality has not quite been received well in most traditional cultures. This presents hardships to bisexuals who wish to lead normal lives as bisexuals but at the same want to fit in the culture. This is evident in schools whereby the education system does not take into consideration the needs of bisexuals but assumes that everyone is heterosexual. This is agonizing for bisexuals whose interests are not well taken care of, which is clearly a source of discrimination.
Bisexuals currently seem to be the latest victims of the unending obsession of sexuality in the society. Discrimination on the basis of one’s sex occurs when an individual is denied some rights and freedom on the basis of their beliefs concerning sex and relationship. Usually, sexual discrimination is common in cases whereby the victim belongs to a minority sex group such as bisexuality, and homosexuality. Consistent fight for equal rights for homosexuals and heterosexuals led to the recognition of the homosexuals as social bonafide groups.
Today in many states, homosexuals can be proud of their sexual orientation, express themselves freely and also seek social rights. Some states recognize and allow homosexuals to marry. It is no longer a big issue for one to be gay or lesbian. The society has now evidently turned the heat on bisexuals. However the reasons for this discrimination are baseless some of the common reasons opponents of bisexuality give are; it is awkward, it is backward, and it is strange (Peplau, & Garnets, 2000). These are some of the reasons being advanced by opponents of bisexualism.
Clearly, the above reasons are baseless and lack empirical support as they do lack in any legal backing. This has made it particularly hard for bisexuals to lead normal lives not only in colleges but in all spheres of life such as the work place. Bisexuals are even facing discrimination from homosexuals who having gone through the same experience of discrimination, should be in the forefront of protecting and defending the bisexual movement. Unfortunately that is not the case. Homosexuals just like the heterosexuals are not about to relent in their discrimination against bisexuals.
This is totally unacceptable and is in direct violation of the rights of the bisexuals. The fact that the bisexuals are only a minority in the community and therefore cannot wage a strong ‘war’ against discrimination has made bisexuals to continue to suffer unfairly. Sexual discrimination takes a lot of forms and is manifested in the workplace, in accessing education, accessing of job opportunities, as well as in the accessing of social security. The access to opportunities based on sex is discriminatory in that, it favors people from some sexual orientations and oppresses others. In the U.
S. , the legislation that protects people from discrimination based on sex is the Title VII, in Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Randen, 2001). The law has been criticized due to the fact that it only addresses issues surrounding sexual harassment that is applicable to the work place but fails to address sexual discrimination in other contexts. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is the other law in the US that covers those facing or are under threat of sex discrimination. Again, this law like the others only covers some members of the community and does not take good care of bisexual interests. Conclusion
There is a need for the society to be enlightened in regard to emerging trends in sexual orientations and lifestyles. This is possible through interest groups and the government putting in effort in terms of legislations, awareness campaigns, and incorporation of sex education into the education curriculum. All the above measures, will lead to a better understanding of bisexuality and therefore the discrimination currently being directed towards bisexuals is likely to cease. It is possible for bisexuals to overcome the current discrimination, only if the bisexuals continue in the fight against sex discrimination.
References Greene, B. (2000). African American Lesbian and Bisexual Women. Journal of Social Issues, 56(2). Klein F. and Wolf T. (1985). Bisexualities: Theory and Research. Haworth Press, New York. Lane, R. and Goeltz, W. (1998). Identity confusion, bisexuality, and flight from the mother. Clinical Psychology Review, 18(3). Peplau, L. and Garnets, L. (2000). A New Paradigm for Understanding Women’s Sexuality and Sexual Orientation. Journal of Social Issues, 56(2 Randen, H. (2001). Bi Signs and Wonders: An interview with Robyn Ochs. Journal of Bisexuality, 1(1): 5-26.