Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Sex, Lies...and Male Bisexuality




 Smarter movements than LGBTQ+ once stressed the importance of using identity politics judiciously - not as a reason for being. Unsurprisingly, as the rise and rise of ideological identity politics captures our institutions, it's LGBTQ+ which is most vulnerable to a backlash with unpredictable consequences. One such unpredictable consequence is that self-identity as well as self-reporting muddies the waters in terms of establishing accurate percentages of bisexual men amongst groups better defined as exclusive homosexuals and men who have sex with other men. The Klein Sexual Orientation Grid is a perfect example of how pseudo-science doesn't invoke objective science to establish meaning.

Bisexuality is a conceptual knock-on afterthought to the relatively modern notion of gay male homosexuality as both identity and pathology. Prior to that, Western civilization for better or worse only acknowledged sexual acts between men within the broader rules of male sexuality, as policed by homophobic elements of essentially religious patriarchy. As for what came before, it's a case of "It all depends..."

In the relatively few regions which survey sexuality, males self-reporting as homosexuals and bisexuals remain low. Adjusting for closeted dishonesty, it's not unreasonable to conclude that a <2% homosexual cohort is much higher, with a statistically similar cohort of those claiming bisexuality to be lower for much the same reason. "Men who have sex with other men" is an accurate medical descriptor, and responsibly avoids specifying homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual identities. AIDS research puts the number at <16%.  With removal of "out" and exclusive homosexuals, it's that group of males and their sexual behaviors which demand interrogation without interference from pseudo-science and identity politics.

 If one crunches the numbers according to the genderist /queer underlying notion that "everybody's a bit bi" you'd assume bisexuals comprise the largest demographic of male sexuality. They don't, and they don't to the point that one questions the queered bisexual man as more sexless academic abstraction than anything else. An identity if you like, and one which peoples social media in suspicious numbers. (Claims that "biphobia" is constitutionally similar to homophobia can be dismissed because the former lacks a body of credible evidence while the all-to-real latter is overwhelmingly evidenced to the point of murder statistics.)

 All the number-crunching in the world however doesn't reconcile how the political and the personal usually make especially poor bedmates.  LGBTQ itself has devolved into an anti-sex movement characterized by its politics-of-chaos approaches to innate sex and sexuality. Its attitudes quickly become sexual identities taken on by the naive, with cult-like zeal. It screeches "Love is love" while promoting every aspect of sexual dysfunction guaranteed to impede healthy consensual loving. Going forward, newer LGB organizations will need to stay on their toes and insist that 'B' inclusion is conditional on deference to sexual preference as a principle, in order to avoid being consumed by identity's demands. 

 

 

The Sins of Wikipedia 

 

 

   For a go-to online encyclopedia (compiled and edited by anybody and everybody) Wikipedia's "Bisexuality" entry is a dog's dinner of gender subjectivity which fails to define bisexuality beyond  American ideas gleaned from often-wrong psychology and untrustworthy psychiatry. And worse:  Hirschfeld and Freud are heavily referenced, as is Kinsey. Remarkably short on scientific expertise or proven science, the scientific mantle nevertheless lands on the suspect shoulders of Simon LeVay and John Money, with no nods whatsoever to evolutionary biology or behavioral neuroscience.

The entry's History component initially cites an article which fails to support it's claim re Spartan adult male bisexuality. Wiki's "History of Bisexuality" link serves as a lengthy love-letter to anti-essentialism...to the anti-sexual point that one can assume bisexuality as any kind of sexuality doesn't exist and never did. The elephant in the room is never addressed: for all the waffling about orientation and attraction, nobody is able to come up with an authoritative description of a bisexual sex act between two people.

Wikipedia's many sins regarding sexuality aren't restricted to bisexuality. An assembly of some facts and many ideological opinions couched in an over-reliance on strategically vague language choices doesn't add up to authority. It does however obscure important determining sexuality considerations like sex drive and sexual preference. Serious scholars of male sexology do the hard yards by critically evaluating everything from many related disciplines, in the full knowledge that social science and social criticism are often blurred to the point of having zero value. 

 

 

Bisexualty And Shaky Taxonomies


   As the various disciplines contributing to male sexology become captive to gender ideology, the erasure of essential sexual preference in favor of less substantial conceptual notions like "orientation" and "spectrums" gives free rein to new interpretations of old ideas, bad ideas and ideas which have been superseded and dismissed. Contemporary studies are tending to revisit Kinsey's sexuality-as-continuum / bisexualty-as-commonplace tropes (Valentova, Medrado and Varella), and running with ill-disguised hypotheses geared to wrecking both homo- and heterosexuality as discrete sexualities. We've come a remarkably long way since Kinsey. With modern sciences we're able to lay out facts in their correct order to establish (homosexuality as) a simple flow-chart, from bio-genetic origins through to sex-drive objectively completing homosexual sex acts. We're still however trapped in the conceptual language of Kinsey to the point that concrete sexual preference and abstract choice are sold as the same thing.

 While it's scientifically impossible to establish true bisexuality, it's eminently possible to create much science fiction around the concept which is nevertheless entirely dependent on two discrete sexualities. We know male bisexuality exists but contemporary attempts to substantiate it as a third sexuality are falling flat. History seems to indicate that bisexuality - based on the reality that all men can have gratifying sex with each other - has barometric properties which rise and fall according to that society's requirements.

The hubristic claims of "Robust evidence for bisexual orientation among men" (Jabbour et al (2020)) were quickly shot down, not for over-reliance on identity but for crude science. Their data relied exclusively on penile arousal methodology, attended by unreliable self-reporting. Any producer of straight porn could have told them fifty years ago that heterosexual men become aroused by a big hard cock - it's a prerequisite to stimulate a straight viewer.  Ogas and Gaddam's findings on male sexuality and porn ("A Billion Wicked Thoughts" (2011)) are invaluable to understanding the contemporary male in sexology: straight men are aroused by large penises at about the same rate as gay men and probably always have been, for many reasons.

 The C19th specification of homosexuality (and later heterosexuality) doesn't entirely establish what is so across all times and all cultures. As K. Renato Lings eloquently explains (in "Love Lost In Translation: Homosexuality and the Bible"), we're missing the big picture when we ignore the homoerotic in favor of relatively modern concepts and taxonomies which explain nothing when superimposed on history's realities.

 

 

What You See Is What You Get

 

    Where and who are the bisexual men peopling our media? The heartthrobs who do it and talk it and don't give a damn, and demand more roles for bisexuals while they do it? We need names. 

Mass media is for the most part on board with a reductive 'member of the LGBTQ community' descriptor which effectively erases innate and exclusive male homosexuality, and the male bisexual's remarkable absence in media raises questions. We're wise to question the veracity of those who 'come out' as bisexual. Where are the masculine heterosexual stars and celebrity males declaring bonded sexual relationships with men outside their publicized heterosexuality? We're wise to interrogate a publicist's more-palatable descriptor as opposed to their client's actual sexual preference. Famous historical flyers of the bisexual flag like Elton John, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie invariably morphed to homo- or heterosexuality and did so in the absence of proof of bisexuality. Clearly, bisexuality-with-elan is often spin to garner edgy artistic cred. Just as clearly it's often simple deceit of the homophobic kind. Notably, mass media is usually complicit in refusing to "out" public figures despite its fundamentally exploitative nature.


 It's said that you'll never know as much about a man as you think until you know his pornography. As social study of men, it's oh-so-informative and getting to be more so. Realistically, so many lines have become so blurred across the reality/fantasy divide that pornography, sex work and sexuality itself have been been steered by technology into uncharted territories. Pornography informs us about male sexology with raw data from internet searches providing a much bigger picture than self-reporting. It's media consumption which is desire-driven as opposed to media which is passively consumed as served.




Naughty Boys


  In the real world a bisexual man won't often identify as 'bi' but just see his sexuality as his unique masculine trait. He's not theoretical, and aggressively pursues trouser as his heterosexual counterpart pursues skirt. One fairly well-run study found that male bisexuality is associated with pronounced masculinity, with a sexual preference of up to 75% weighted in favor of homosexual activity. More rigorously executed studies in lab rats confirmed male sexual attraction to other males is increases or decreases according to testosterone levels. The contemporary human male's sexual pitch to other males often presents as frank, dispassionate statements like "All men are biologically designed to sexually satisfy each other."

 

Suspicion and hostility towards bi-men predates LGBTQ+. Gay Libbers of the seventies and eighties generally dismissed claims of male bisexuality as closeted homosexuality. The numbers of men struck down by AIDS spoke volumes about men who were, and were not, out of the closet. Not everybody all of the time has bought the idea of bisexuality as a discrete third sexuality. The genetic findings of Andrea Camperio Ciani indicate no differences between homosexual and bisexual males, and many studies as well as the Implicit Association Test applied to sexuality struggle to establish difference. The Advocate chose to run with a they/them-authored "research paper" Bisexual erasure: Perceived attraction patterns of bisexual women and men constructed around the non-hard science of participant's thoughts when shown pictures of other people.  

 

There's a case to be made that the sexuality of many or most males is constructed on a lingering "naughty boy" component associated with youthful confidence, a desire to experiment and poor risk assessment skills. Youthful sexual experimentation among the cohort not identifying as gay however isn't an accurate indicator of bisexuality or homosexuality.  Nor is it conversely the same thing as young homosexuals' forays into heterosexuality which may very well be due to social pressures associated with homophobia. 


Pornographers are notoriously secretive about what sells and don't track the ages of buyers. The same doesn't apply to OnlyFans: it's said that when the site instituted age verification they lost 30,000 male content providers overnight. One can't however extrapolate actual sexuality from online behaviors which run the gamut from exhibitionism to 'cam boys' charging mostly male subscribers for what might be regarded as sex work lite.

 

 Many naughty boys' evolving sexual maturity brings about significantly different young males who aren't experimenting. Especially good-looking young males are quick to notice homosexual interest, enjoy that they're being appreciated and many work out that homophobia isn't a step up the ladder but exploiting their homoerotic appeal most certainly can be. It's cynical to dismiss this form of homosexual bisexuality as strictly transactional: before youth fades affectionate and enjoyable sex often contribute to a mutually enjoyable relationship. A more familiar stereotype however is the young-bisexual-as-villain: a homophobic society is still regularly served up both truthful and fictional tales of his calculating menace.




Situational / Incidental 'Bisexuality' In Heterosexual Men


 

    An uncertain number of heterosexual males will participate in homosexual activities for a variety of reasons. They can be rightly called heterosexual because heterosexual preference remains a constant, with many or most reverting to exclusive heterosexuality as conditions change or a stable heterosexual lifestyle is available. Many or most count this homosexual activity as proof of bisexuality but that's highly debatable since undefined periods of bisexuality are just that, and situation-dependent.

 

 Bisexuality, or situational homosexuality, is endemic to segregated male populations, with army service and incarceration being the best-known (but rarely acknowledged) situations. Males for the most part don't like being denied sex when they're young and increasingly don't tolerate loneliness as their sexuality matures. Confident heterosexual males often snicker about selling their bodies, and feigned horror at the thought balances the fact that they quite like the idea. It's an idea which serves the male ego. Straight men who actually do it very quickly find that there's little or no money to be made servicing females: if it's their only source of income they won't be eating unless eighty or ninety percent of their clients are other males.

 

And then there's show business. A male who's 100% determined to see his name in lights in industries with around 97% unemployment tends to start early with giving his all for his art: where there's a gay photographer there's an opportunity to show just just how seductively cooperative he is. With stardom and some marriages the scuttlebutt regarding his willingness to "go under the desk" is suppressed to the degree of his clout. Celebrity males have not attached themselves to the #MeToo movement as victims, and probably wisely so.

 

 "Gay for pay" isn't anything new or a feature of sexual liberation. It arcs over times and cultures. Prior to Islamist crackdowns in the 1970s, North African family men did well from gay European emigres and tourists, and always hoped for an ongoing business relationship. The most recent gay for pay shocks concern gay porn made in the Czech Republic: around 90% of the performers are straight and remarkably enthusiastic young college men, with gays deemed too temperamental for the business. The shame of being cash-poor it seems far outweighs the shame of violating heterosexuality's prescripts. The reality of economic downturns in many regions, in tandem with the decimation of porn industries by free online content, determines that more males are competing for fewer opportunities to cash in on their virility.




It's Not Gay If You Don't Kiss

 

   A fundamental question remains: can the concept of bisexuality legitimately claim the many heterosexual males who partake in situational homosexuality? The answer's moot at best. What's not moot is that males will always purpose their sexual selves to meet their wants and needs, as they negotiate their way up or around male hierarchies. Contemporary homophobia is only of the times: while it's intended to serve preservation of male power structures, earlier Classical power structures  built on the significantly homoerotic served the same purpose. One could argue that the primitive male brain is hard-wired with a homoerotic component. All males of all sexualities find masculine males most attractive, and that makes perfect sense in terms of survival threats. The Theban Band and Spartan military models insistence on bonded boyfriend couples successfully exploited the supposition.

 

No two things are ever quite the same, and a FFM 3-way is far from the same thing as a MMF 3-way. Two women plus one male constitute a bisexual experience for only the women with heterosexual male gratification being of paramount importance. Compulsory performative bisexuality for the gratification of the other sex however is not a two-way street: contemporary straight women have difficulty organizing a 3-way with two men on female terms which prefer male-on-male affection, as well as full participation to penetrating each other. While it's relatively normal for straight men to enjoy something up their backside to heighten heterosexual enjoyment, that something apparently isn't another man if it's not on male terms. 


 And then there's the not-entirely-unrelated "bromance". This new, bright and shiny "We're not gay!" descriptor for a kind of intense male relationship within heterosexuality revisits what we've been seeing since the specification of homosexuality. Not-dirty bromance is a perfect candidate for seizure by the many queer theorists masking a Puritanism which de-sexes essential objective sexuality. 




Bisexual or Closet Queen? And Does It Matter? 


  Well...yes and no. The bisexual man presents a significant challenge (or threat) to gay men who aren't as secure and authentic as we'd like to have folks believe. Most often that insecurity manifests itself in the belief that bisexual men are just casual sexual opportunists...paradoxically not unlike many gay men. Or perhaps: "Our little hearts might get broken if we can't railroad the guy into a relationship of dubious intent." In that scenario, neurosis has closed the door to the idea that a bisexual man may very well be open to a healthy, loving sexual relationship with another man. And how we ascertain that is best done with open and honest dialog which leaves both men feeling better about it all: our nominated identities may very well be cold and superficial and highly unlikely to sustain anything meaningful. 


There are always red flags when it comes to intimate relationships between men. The Pew Research Center found very few men claiming bisexuality were out, with very few valid reasons for their secret-keeping. If we're being subtly told we need to respect another man's choices by diminishing our fought-for status as an out homo then a power imbalance is being demanded. Discretion and being regarded as an unimportant piece on the side are two very different things. The sexual maverick one might need to be with shows his colors early on: he's physically available and he's emotionally available.

 

 At the end of the day, nobody in their right mind bangs an identity. Or maybe not more than once.


 

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