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Journal of Bisexuality
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Concepts of Bisexuality
Ulrich Gooß Version of record first published: 11 Oct 2008.

To cite this article: Ulrich Gooß (2008): Concepts of Bisexuality, Journal of Bisexuality, 8:1-2, 9-23 To link to this article:

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2008 Copyright © The Haworth Press ISSN: 1529-9716 print / 1529-9724 online DOI: 10.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 I am 36 years old.234. 16. and bisexual. eroticize other people in a bisexual way. Konzepte der Bisexualit¨ at. That is to say that bisexuals are mutually drawn to each other. Nevertheless.194. as the author explains. Now I don’t know what is supposed to come out of this. but rather as a specific form of differentiation of erotic fantasies. By contrast. Zeitschrift f¨ ur Sexualforschung. Keywords: Bisexuality. I’ve been married for ten years and have two children aged five and four.1080/15299710802142127 CONCEPTS OF BISEXUALITY Ulrich Gooß Bisexuality. sexual identity. like themselves. 12A. 51– bisexuality continues to be interpreted as a transitory phenomenon or as a defense mechanism. 8: 9–23. Adalbertstr. as one of the theses of this author suggests. Translation: Elizabeth Horman Originally published as: Gooß. gender. B. as in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10). (2003). Germany (E-mail: praxis@dr-ulrich-gooss. In the last few weeks I have also begun to kiss men—which I had never done before. and in the now-familiar classification of sexual orientation into heterosexual. It was only in the 1970s that a process emerged as a result of which bisexuality was established as a distinct and visible sexual category. sexual orientation Downloaded by [189. among other ways.Journal of Bisexuality. Am I gay? Is this business with men only something temporary or could I be bisexual? Bisexuality—is there such a thing? —Mr. homosexual. U. About two years ago I discovered the gay scene. the author comes to the conclusion that bisexuals do not eroticize men and women as such but rather that they feel drawn sexually to men and women who. not as a form of sexuality derived from heterosexuality and homosexuality. On the basis of this premise. Address correspondence to Ulrich Gooß. has been marginalized in theory and practice as a result of the pressure in favor of monosexuality. homosexuality. This has been expressed in. the self-identification of bisexual men and women. . he advocates that bisexuality be conceptualized. Frankfurt am Main 60486.

determine the ongoing discussion regarding sexual desire. but also because there are indications that they also differ in the psychological basis of their bisexuality as well. as well as in the beginnings of psychoanalysis. which. was homosexuality. However. was the assumption of a constitutional bisexuality.” It was during these years that all the important terms were formulated that. Mr. At the center of the early sexual science discourse about sexual deviance. it can be assumed that given the social and psychological consequences of gender differences. either heterosexuality or homosexuality. theories for explaining the so-called puzzle of homosexuality. B an answer to his question from a scientific perspective on sexuality. however. among other things. which influenced theories about differences between the sexes and about the choice of sexual object. began our discussion. Theories about bisexuality were. was mentioned only in passing. as do homosexuality and heterosexuality. at that time. Modern theories about bisexuality are primarily a result of the move away from a societal approach to sexuality characteristic of the 19th century. and therefore are different phenomena. whereas manifest bisexuality was either not discussed. which have resulted in a lack of clarity and issues that persist today in current research on bisexuality.10 JOURNAL OF BISEXUALITY With these words. who had sought me out for a first interview. This is not only because there is empirical evidence that bisexual men and women differ with respect to their patterns of sexual behavior. I would like to provide an overview of the development of scientific thinking and concepts regarding bisexuality to articulate the initial rationale that would be essential if one wanted to give Mr. Although bisexuality in fact involves men and women. or whether. B will go. led to the establishment of the science of human sexuality. including in particular. These intellectually related theories have led to some conceptual difficulties. B.194. their sexuality received little or no attention in research on sexuality and sexual orientation. In other words. to this day. bisexuality has a different significance for men and women. Rather.and opposite-gender sexual contact. there may be a bisexual option. that is. above all. the term bisexuality. bisexual men and women do have in common that. through the very coexistence of same. he is asking himself if there is only a monosexual option. in what follows. Above all. A central theme in the developing discipline of sexual science. Thus a highly charged proximity Downloaded by [189.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . or was attributed to homosexuality. and specifically male homosexuality. only the scientific discourse regarding bisexual men is discussed. for a long time. This manifestly bisexual patient is looking for some perspective on his sexual orientation. I do not want to explain here in which direction Mr.234. The period from the middle of the 19th century to the early years of the 20th century was one of the most important phases of the ongoing process which Michel Foucault (1977) characterized as “bringing sexus into discourse.

bisexuality was not initially discussed. since the appearance of acquired immune disease syndrome (AIDS).194. As a result. or even the invisibility. the American author Fritz Klein could state in 1978—not without a certain legitimacy—that up until that point. which grows out of active cooperation with gay research participants. 11) With this. in that it is greatly influenced by the social movements involving women and gay men and lesbians. the successful development and societal anchoring of homosexuality necessarily produced pressure on everyone else living a form of sexuality that Downloaded by [189. In empirical sexual science as well. of establishing actual bisexuality as a sexual category. the sexual histories of those who have had sexual contact with men and women received hardly any scientific recognition. The current discourse about bisexuality thus represents a new version of the bisexuality debate that began with the origins of the science of sexuality. Significant for the question of bisexuality is. that sexual researchers began to perceive and to study manifest bisexuality as an independent form of sexuality. begun in the 1970s.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . The Bisexual Option. here too. above all. which has followed research on bisexuality right into the sexual science of today.234. is the paradigmatic case for the derivation of identities from sexual forms. made the effort to organize themselves. bisexuals had largely been ascribed the status of “non-existence. which was central to the development of psychoanalytic theory on homosexuality. that the concept of a “gay” identity was developed as one of the boundaries between homosexuality and heterosexuality and thus initially appeared to reinforce the dichotomous division of sexual orientation into monosexualities. which turned public and scientific attention towards bisexual men as a so-called risk group. However. Although Kinsey had shown that dividing men into heterosexuals and homosexuals did not do justice to the actual range of sexual relationships. It was only after bisexual men and women. and. A central topic of newer research on homosexuality is the concept of a “homosexual” or “gay” identity. of bisexuality and bisexuals. Klein’s 1978 book. Although Freud introduced the term psychological bisexuality. The construct of a gay identity. and in recent years. The same applies to psychoanalytic research. is an expression and a component of the process.” and he demanded that the “deep silence” about bisexuality be broken (p.Ulrich Gooß 11 developed between homosexuality and bisexuality. even today. which has developed especially in the United States since the publication of the Kinsey reports. repeatedly found in the bisexual emancipation literature: the never-ending complaint about the lack of recognition. manifest bisexuality was subsumed under the category of homosexuality. in Germany. above all. first in the United States. although nearly a century had passed since the theoretical construction of bisexuality. without which it very likely would not have come about. Klein launched a topic that is.

on the basis of which it was estimated that up to half of all men are bisexual. in lower estimates of the incidence of bisexual behavior. The source for this is mostly the data from the Kinsey reports. however. Meanwhile. There is often a tactical motive in using overstated figures—to emphasize the special significance of bisexuality. That is. the conclusion that bisexuals contributed to such a dramatic extent to the transmission of the HIV virus in the socalled “general population” has since been shown to have little empirical substance. heterosexuality. the need for such a self-construction is virtually mandatory because they cannot be visible experiencing themselves in a world only divided into homosexuality and heterosexuality. Where earlier. they include all those men who. the Journal of Bisexuality was first published. These numbers are problematic because they are based on a cumulative count of all sexual contacts. and bisexuality. they were assigned an enormous significance for the course of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic. Nevertheless. today it is politically correct to speak of “lesbian. bisexual men at least moved to the center of public attention and in medical and social science research. It would be more appropriate in this respect to use current bisexual behavior as a starting point or adult sexual behavior. it appears that the bisexual movement has been quite successful since the founding of the first bisexual centers in the United States in the mid 1970s. gay. Despite continual complaints about the lack of awareness of bisexuality. This would result. have had sexual contacts with or sexual attractions to men and women.” The ICD-10 divides sexual orientation into homosexuality. the self-organization of bisexual men and women and their attempt to start an emancipation movement were initially ignored by society. and bisexual. In the AIDS debate. Looking more closely however. This incorrect assessment was associated with completely overstated figures on the incidence of bisexuality. bisexual people are done a disservice as a result of this approach because the special nature of their sexuality again disappears as a result of the use of excessively high numbers regarding bisexual behavior. there are also many bisexual groups in other Western countries. and in 2001. However. Particularly for those bisexual men and women involved in gay or lesbian movements. and thereby Downloaded by [189. as new studies indicate. or at least not untouched by them.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . references to “gay” and “lesbian-gay” were made. With the appearance of AIDS. which were repeatedly—and occasionally still are—presented both by spokespersons for bisexuals as well as within the framework of the AIDS debate. and this tripartite division has also been taken over by Kernberg (2001). sometime in their lives.234.12 JOURNAL OF BISEXUALITY departs from the normative heterosexuality to develop and to anchor their sexuality in society in a way analogous to how gay men and lesbians have anchored their sexuality.194.

and simultaneous bisexuality. This commitment is explained in terms of biological and/or psychological theories. or as a predisposition. concurrent. the bisexual or monosexual orientation of a human being is interpreted as the result of an individual’s. homo.and bisexuality is Downloaded by [189.234. particularly in the controversy regarding constructionism and essentialism. first of all. Only the dimension of sexual behavior is relatively noncontroversial.194. Thus the task of scientific research on bisexuality remains to identify and describe the special characteristics of bisexuality. are involved.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . to the degree that assumptions about the origin of sexual orientation influence the conceptualization of the term. and sexual identity. In addition. there is the suggestion repeatedly found in the literature to differentiate between serial or sequential bisexuality. simultaneous bisexuality refers to those sexual situations in which at least one partner each of the same and the opposite sex. clarification of the different dimensions of terminology related to bisexuality. on the other hand. So. or at least those behaviors involving genital contact. or heterosexual. this acceptance is limited to the mere use of the term. This requires. during which longer monogamous or at least monosexual relationship phases may occur. From the essentialist perspective. the mere fact that a man has or has had in the past sexual contact with men and women says little about his sexual history and about his sexual orientation or even his sexual identity. is used for the coexistence of same-sex and opposite-sex sexual contacts within a certain period of time.Ulrich Gooß 13 by official psychoanalysis. Finally. using the chronological occurrence of homosexual and heterosexual contacts as a starting point. for example. The sexual researcher. The term sexual orientation is often limited in empirical studies to an individual’s selfidentification as bisexual. postulated: The only scientifically sustainable position that one can take with respect to the question of the origin of hetero-. that is. without close consideration of the accompanying lack of clarity and associated problems. specifically sexual behavior. Thus. Money (1988). theoretical problems arise. However. sexual orientation. early and durable commitment in a deterministic sense. Concurrent bisexuality. it is not very convincing. homosexual. The problem with a bisexual classification based only on sexual behavior lies in the fact that it combines completely different sexual behaviors. Alternating between male and female partners is described as serial or sequential bisexuality. though it is clear. at least three persons. Thus bisexuality seems to be accepted as a form of sexuality. However. under the same term bisexuality. which are the subject of discussion in research on homosexuality and bisexuality.

as a rule. by Kernberg (2001). and heterosexuality assumes a social construct caused by social pressures and defining processes. related to different approaches. an individual “has” a sexual orientation. This view frequently accompanies that which Dannecker (1989) called the “latent promise” of constructionism (p. The essentialist aspect relates to the development of sexual orientation. which is only shaped by social processes with or after the beginning of sexual activity. competing models. Sexual orientations in this perspective are thus not early and durably determined predispositions.194. heterosexual. Furthermore. Richard Friedman (1993) explicitly assumed a critical period in psychosexual development during which sexual fantasy is differentiated and permanently anchored structurally as homosexual. not particular behaviors.234. decide. but rather influence each other. The constructionst viewpoint on bisexuality. and also by Reiche (1997. experience. changeable sexual preferences about which the individual himself can. but rather understands them as different perspectives. if somewhat half-heartedly.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . Independent of the weight given to biological and psychological factors. prenatal and postnatal factors come into play. heterosexual. 129) The psychoanalytic theories about the origin of sexual orientation that were disseminated by Morgenthaler (1980). which do not cancel each other out. are compatible with this intellectual model. If they work together at a critical period of early development there results. it cannot change fundamentally. homosexuality. but rather exclusively as a result of a societal attribution and shaping process. a connection seems possible that does not treat the two ways of viewing this as separate. or bisexual. undirected. the two perspectives complement each other. on the contrary. as a compulsive structure imposed on the individual from outside.14 JOURNAL OF BISEXUALITY that with all three. in the final analysis. Friedman (1993). from this perspective. Formulated in this way. only a person Downloaded by [189. 2000). this starts with an initially undifferentiated and. the view that these compulsive forms could be set aside with more or less effort. is persistent and unchangeable. 124). With respect to the choice of sexual object. but. and. and though this might not be enacted as such as an adult. Whether one becomes monosexual or bisexual does not appear here to be an expression of a previous internal differentiation and thus also as an inner compulsion. but rather a durable orientation which. If the essentialist and the constructionist positions are not reduced to their one-sided extreme variants. (p. that is. while the constructionist aspect relates to the origins of sexual identity and one’s view of oneself. Such a synthesis also accepts the findings of research that indicates that a person’s sexual orientation as homosexual. or bisexual is predetermined in early childhood.

that means. Dannecker (1990) reflected as follows: “during adolescence at the earliest. develop a monosexual self-image. the assumption is justified. that initially. in the absence of the possibility of bisexual self-identification. via a glance. due to societal marginalization of homosexuality. 50).193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . Considering the socially shaped dichotomization of sexual orientation into monosexualities. that they can also attract the attention of persons of both genders. just as learning theory describes it. lead to an exclusively homosexual self-identification. With respect to the dawning awareness of sexual orientation in monosexuals. can. as constructionism maintains. an individual—whether homo.Ulrich Gooß 15 who is bisexually predisposed. the “object acquisition” for those who are bisexually differentiated should be presented differently because. or. with the start of sexual contact. A bisexual disposition means that individuals of both genders can potentially be eroticized. though there Downloaded by [189. so to speak. in this sense. the experience of homosexual attractions can. that is. without perceiving both options right from the start. that is. “find himself. so to speak. and is. be “made into” a bisexual.” Bisexuality that also includes self-identification as bisexual can develop at the earliest in adolescence. Although this description seems plausible for homosexually differentiated men. which only develops into a bisexual identity at a later stage of development. Given the difficulties attached to the homosexual option. 50). the tendency to develop a heterosexual self-image can be expected to be overwhelming. at least with respect to gender. to a significant degree. Dannecker (1990) also explained that “the homosexual inclination is discovered. However.194. These processes can contribute to the fact that bisexuals only become aware of their bisexual potential in adulthood after a sometimes longer monosexual phase. which the constructionist perspective emphasizes and examines. Bisexually and monosexually differentiated adolescents differ above all in that the bisexuals have a double—a homosexual and a heterosexual—option. On the other hand. that a man is bisexually differentiated does not mean that he will also engage in bisexual behavior or have a bisexual self-definition.or heterosexual—acquires an awareness of the sexual object connected with his sexual organization” (p. dependent upon those social pressures and defining processes. bisexually differentiated adolescents. growing out of the homosexual predisposition” which does not turn away from a person of the same gender (p. This means that “coming-out bisexual” takes place. which can make it harder for them to become aware of their bisexual potential. in two phases. for them “the inner pictures of an adequate sexual object” are differently predetermined than for monosexuals. and the related lack of possibilities for bisexual self-identification.234. there is the possibility of becoming sexual. On the other hand. in this sense.

he was no longer able to deny the possibility that he could fall in love with a man. or at least to a feeling of confusion emotionally. however. and the living arrangement connected with it.234. male prostitution can also be considered an example of transitory bisexuality.194. the heterosexual self-image of the men involved is not called into question by their homosexual contacts. that is as temporary. which are occasionally characterized as secondary homosexuality. boarding schools. broke down—and Mr. 1992). which for the most part precede their first opposite gender sexual contact and. at least insofar as it involves the homosexual behavior of men who self-identify as heterosexual. homosexual contacts in prisons. the monosexual self-image becomes less secure. found himself in just this situation.. in some circumstances. but also had an emotional component. do not lead to later homosexual or bisexual experiences.” but perhaps also “I love my boyfriend. Afterwards. In the scientific literature on human sexuality. But once he began to kiss men.” Mr. and his previous self-image. Downloaded by [189. Finally.g. the passing same-gender contacts of adolescents. empirical research conducted by Blumstein and Schwartz (1976) show that married men who had anonymous homosexual contact for years only questioned their monosexual self-identification after they had contact with male partners that was not only exclusively sexual. as a rule. there is a generally “normal” strand of their sexuality in the sense of societal normality. For bisexually differentiated men.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . Furthermore. and similar institutions. for instance. In these instances. and this can also lead to compartmentalizing their sexual contacts with other men. in this case. even when these experiences were limited to spending only a few hours or affectionate moments with each other. or it is connected to a fundamental bisexual orientation in the sense of the process of bisexual differentiation described above.16 JOURNAL OF BISEXUALITY are indications that younger bisexuals less often take this “detour” (e. Altendorf & Feldhorst. be integrated into emotional relationships with men in a comprehensive way. and bisexuality can. as a general rule. If. it is seen as a transitional phenomenon. B asked himself how he was going to adjust to the fact of his bisexuality. described above. above all. B. there are basically four points of view on this question: bisexual behavior is seen as transitory. Despite his bisexual behavior. it is classified as defensive bisexuality. the coexistence of his marriage and occasional isolated homosexual contacts. a homosexual experience leads to falling in love. Included under transitory bisexual behavior are. he succeeded for many years in maintaining a fragile heterosexual self-image. such a bisexual man will not only say “I love my wife. Also transitory are those bisexual behavioral patterns.

whatever preconceptions his psychotherapist has about bisexuality would be of enormous significance for the course of the therapeutic process. in particular.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 They employ manifest bisexual behavior consciously or unconsciously as camouflage in an unconscious conflict. This conflict relates to accepting one’s own biological gender or one’s own homosexual or perverse instinctual vicissitude. but only “pseudo-bisexuals” that is. in these cases. Those actual manifest bisexuals were. At least for some of the men with this experience. B is monosexual. or as a defensive type of sexuality. for example—a bisexual self-identification is considered as an attempt to integrate the temporary coexistence of homosexual and heterosexual contacts into a coherent self-image. either a heterosexual man with a homosexual disturbance or a gay man in a late coming-out .Ulrich Gooß 17 If bisexual behavior and/or a bisexual self-image/definition is interpreted as an expression of a transitional phase—within the framework of coming-out gay. B goes into therapy. Reimut Reiche (1990). at this time. (p. monosexuals or perverse men. that is. a collective in “coming-out”—wherever it was that they came. At least on heuristic grounds. there are no bisexuals. classifies all the “bisexuals” he has seen in a clinical context this way: Downloaded by [189. Not very far from this viewpoint is the interpretation that men who call themselves bisexual are mostly or always “defensive bisexuals” (Reiche. Thus he may be convinced that Mr. shift the focus away from the bisexual differentiation of these men. behave bisexually. the conflict is about accepting the homosexual side of their bisexual makeup. This attempt at interpretation has achieved its aim when the “actual” sexual orientation has been achieved and stabilized. to understand and to study bisexuality as an independent form of sexuality not derived from heterosexuality or homosexuality. 64) If bisexuality is classified as temporary. what gives the clinical impression of defensive bisexuality can actually be the expression of a conflict about homosexuality. 1990). A hasty diagnosis of “defensive bisexuality” would. neither the assumption of a homosexual/heterosexual dichotomy in sexual orientation nor the generalization of the defensive bisexuality hypothesis seems justified empirically. temporarily or for a longer period. However. This also has direct clinical implications. From this perspective. Thus. all patterns of bisexual behavior appear attributable to heterosexuality or homosexuality or to perverse developments. so to speak.194. who. because if a man such as Mr. it would make sense.234. or as a transitional phenomenon.

or bisexual option. leads to a structural anchoring of sexual fantasies as homosexual. in contrast to Reiche. Gender dimorphism is therefore not merely a biological fact. which predetermines the later development to monosexuality or bisexuality. which. 188). They assume significance through the social and psychic meanings that are attached to gender differences. or heterosexual. but rather the structures of sexual relationships. the suggestion is that it is not the sexual orientation of the individual. but he could also consider and allow for the possibility of a bisexual orientation without committing Mr. as a result. 12). heterosexuality. However. bisexual. in principle. it can be assumed that bisexual differentiation will necessarily also find expression in an individual’s central masturbation fantasy. Thus. This point of view is. p. This viewpoint is rooted in a way of thinking that is “based on the belief that people’s sex is the brute reality before which all human relationships must bow” (DeCecco & Shiveley. can be understood using the terminology of Friedman (1993) as a differentiation of erotic fantasy. and here particularly those factors not bound to gender. a sociocultural construction. that the creation of “protogender identity” and “proto-object choice” can lead not only to a monosexual but also to a bisexual result (p. which gives it a bisexual character.194.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . if one assumes. Furthermore. if the establishment of object choice is to be understood from a psychoanalytical perspective. However. and that it determines whether an individual will have a heterosexual. which leads to different inner anchoring of the perception of gender and gender differences and thus to different mental structures. at least. Furthermore. B to it. and that it presents differently for the proto-bisexual boy than for the protomonosexual boy. the anatomical differences between a man and a woman are not in themselves significant. and as such. and bisexuality. According to Reiche (1990).234. homosexual. the relation between biology and sexual object choice is reduced to the fact that is has to be accepted that phylogenetically there emerged only two genders. There is also an argument from the constructionist perspective against the categorization of sexual orientation into homosexuality. This is seen as essentially a biological concept because it assumes that the anatomic differences between a man and a woman are the most important criteria for sexual orientation. that should be the subject of research. also compatible with Reiche’s (2000) concept of synchronous development of gender identity and object choice. 1983/1984. it can be assumed—at least as a working hypothesis—that the attempt to come to terms with gender dimorphisms presents itself from very early on. it is indeed a “brute reality” that a scientific analysis of human sexuality should not ignore. It is.18 JOURNAL OF BISEXUALITY phase. above all. it can be assumed that sexual orientation becomes an autonomous element of the psychic organization after the process of differentiation is complete. Downloaded by [189. This process.

as a denial of the gender differences. or even constitutes sexual relationships. bisexuals frequently report that they are more attracted to “the qualities of a particular person than by the gender aspect as such. As we have seen. although it is a conceivable hypothesis. That means that what should be studied is whether and in what way the specific eroticization of gender differences by the actors involved influences. it would not make sense to shift the focus away from biological gender or to consider the gender of the partners as merely one of the many independent variables that are important for sexual relationships. Thus. in accordance with this point of view.194. to some extent. is not the assumption to which bisexuality research should be reduced. 1979. Comments frequently found in the bisexuality literature such as “I love people. which underlie various theoretical constructs about bisexuality. or as a “defensive” sexuality. The conflict hypothesis assumes an incompatibility between same. From this point of view. The indifference hypothesis is understood to mean that bisexuals attach no or only subordinate significance to the gender of the partner and that therefore other factors are decisive for entering into sexual relationships. manifest bisexuality. in this interpretation. or as a symptom of an identity conflict. The commonly held view—spoken or unspoken—that bisexuals are indifferent with respect to the gender of their partner. and manifest bisexuality would generally be interpreted as an attempt to deny gender differences in a sexually active way. From the androgynous perspective. is understood as a transitional phenomenon. connections between bisexuality and androgyny should also be considered. 138).234. but rather bisexuality is attributed to a tendency to Downloaded by [189. 1985). particularly in relation to the erotic cathexis of gender differences.and opposite-gender eroticization. the prototype of gender-indifferent bisexuals insofar as “the gender of the current partner at any given time seemed completely unimportant” to them (Masters & Johnson. there are additional hypotheses about the significance of gender differences for bisexually differentiated men. bisexuals do not seem indifferent to gender differences.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . p. In the context of bisexual research. not their gender” would be understood. Furthermore. Along with this. Rather. These could be attributed to a “conflict model” or a “flexibility model” of bisexuality (Zinik. therefore.Ulrich Gooß 19 Bisexually differentiated men thus enter puberty differently from those men who are monosexually differentiated. structures. it is not imaginable that a sexual attraction to persons of both genders can possibly be relatively conflict free.” The indifference hypothesis would also apply to that group which Masters and Johnson (1979) characterized as “ambisexuals. it would make sense to acknowledge as a central focus the distinctive characteristic of bisexually differentiated men that they can eroticize and be attracted to persons of both genders.” These are.

but an expression in this sense. derives bisexuality from monosexuality instead of attempting to understand it in itself. this means that homosexual and heterosexual desire are not mutually exclusive. of the different structure of bisexuals. and thus also the differences between sexual orientations. 1998). in other words. leads to a speculative reflection on the ideal sexual objects of bisexually differentiated men.194. above all. then it can be assumed that bisexuals. However. On the contrary. do not find. in the appearance of bisexuals as an independent social group. who—like themselves—they eroticize the genders bisexually. but also can be connected to each other in the form of bisexual eroticization. or find only in a limited way. the changes that have accompanied so-called sexual liberation and emancipation movements of women and homosexuals have not led to a decline in the differences based on gender and sexual orientation. “bisexual” would mean being homosexual and heterosexual. but that. as a result of their bisexual structure. If these reflections are applicable. would have a tendency to disappear. it is valid for at least some bisexuals that they do not eroticize men and women as such. Wolff’s interpretation is connected with a utopian concept popular in the emancipation literature of the 1970s. but rather. the situational sexualization appropriate to them. when they are in places designed to meet the needs of homosexual or heterosexual desire and eroticism. However. which differs from the respective forms of eroticization in monosexually differentiated men. In that case.20 JOURNAL OF BISEXUALITY abolish the gender difference. But this interpretation too. p. Downloaded by [189. the distinctive characteristic of bisexuals is the ability to move between a homosexual and heterosexual position. that in a sexually freer society. This would mean that bisexuals mutually attract one another. bisexual eroticization can also be understood as that bisexuals eroticize the genders and gender differences in a particular way. 9) From this perspective. or. 1985. the differences between the genders. bisexuality would establish a connection beyond gender boundaries.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . which is visible in the public articulation of various sexual forms and is discussed in the literature in the science of human sexuality (Sigusch. not least of all. in turn. Bisexuals would be something like “chameleons” who can move back and forth between the heterosexual and homosexual worlds and thus are able to experience and live “the best of both worlds” (Zinik. this has led to diversification. If a particular flexibility is attributed to bisexuals. they feel attracted to men and women who do not have one of the corresponding monosexual structures. bisexual sexual tension. This. According to this then. Bisexual eroticization would then not be a mere addition of homosexuality and heterosexuality. Apparently. This can be seen. Charlotte Wolff (1979).234. represented this interpretation in a very pronounced way: bisexuality levels out the gender differences and allows the androgynous nature of the person to emerge.

but also some idea of what it could mean to live as bi. It is not a preference. moreover. This also explains the popularity of constructionist theoretical concepts in the bisexual emancipation literature. but rather no world at all which reflected their sexual state.Ulrich Gooß 21 Bisexuals would then have not two worlds between which they could go back and forth to get the best of both. deconstructing monosexual perspectives. connected with a not-negligible effort in light of the hegemony of monosexuality. By their very existence. that is. or lesbian. whereby there are indications that biphobia hits bisexuals much harder than homophobia does homosexuals. sexual orientation. This impression can occur because bisexuals— viewed from the outside—actually do have a larger range of possibilities in shaping their sexual relationships than do monosexuals. given the current monosexual-heterocentric societal situation. That would also make the continual complaint of bisexuals about their not being perceived more understandable. due to their sexual tension and dynamic. However. but also put it into practice. and those sexual situations are more likely to develop.” that is places where. or lesbian not only struggle to develop a consciousness of their sexual constitution. insofar as those who identify themselves as bi. and perhaps also how this could be achieved. for some time. been summarized in the term biphobia. they are flexible in the sense that they can decide for periods of time to live monosexually without giving up their bisexual option.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 . for those who discover themselves to be bisexuals. a more specific bisexual eroticization comes into being. Downloaded by [189. this is also always the result of a reconstruction of one’s own life history. If they then have satisfactory sexual contact with men and with women. This would also have to be one of the decisive driving forces prompting bisexual men and women to organize themselves and to arrange for “bisexual places. who at least do not question monosexual certainties. In such places. could be characterized as bisexual contact. independent of the number and the gender of the actors involved. This is true. they challenge the monosexual order. Here it is all about struggling with sexual self-definition. this relates not only to sexual attraction. To be aware of this and to accept this fate is. which. and at the same time a draft for the future. if you will. To become bisexual thus demands chipping away at or. unlike in heterosexual or homosexual relations. at least under the premise that they are not only aware of their bisexuality. The view that bisexuals are distinguished by a particular flexibility frequently goes along with the short-sighted thesis that bisexuality is a freely chosen preference. but rather fate.194. gay. gay. But that does not mean that the bisexual orientation as such was freely chosen.234. they do not always have to deal with meeting partners who want to nail them down to the appropriate monosexuality. The negative and defensive reactions of monosexuals on both sides to this challenge have.

M. Berlin. From this perspective. so should the title of a flyer from the Initiativegruppe bisexueller M¨ anner und Frauen [Bisexual Initiative Group] (1987) that said “Don’t dream it—bi it. (1989). Stuttgart. (1990). Foucault. determined to a larger degree by the constructive activity of the individuals involved than the already established forms of homosexuality.” be understood as an imperative to first create a bisexual reality. 86). and which.). Dannecker. 9 (2/3). bisexuality. but something desirable” and that “thus we must work towards becoming homosexual and must not be stubbornly insistent that we already are” (p. & Feldhorst. which has not risen to differentiated sexual constructs. or the current form of bisexuality.. REFERENCES Altendorf. Bisexuelle Identit¨ at und Sexualit¨ at [Bisexual ¨ Sexidentity and sexuality]. as that broad rest of sexual reality. A. 1: Der Wille zum Wissen [Sexuality and reality: Volume 1: The will to knowledge].22 JOURNAL OF BISEXUALITY Downloaded by [189. 113–127). and above all. Gooß & H. . Eine sexualwissenschaftliche Studie zu Sexualverhalten und Lebensstil [Homosexual men and AIDS: A scientific study of sexual behavior and lifestyle]. P. (1976). defined through the criterion of nondeviation from the so-called normal. will continue to be included under the residual category of heterosexuality. Le Bitoux [Friendship as a way of life: A discussion with R. DeCecco. for the time being. Germany: ¨ Sexualwissenschaft. Germany: Verlag rosa Winkel. Urban Life.. Gschwind (Eds. Dannecker. Danet. (1992). Bd. Centrum fur Blumstein. J. Le Bitoux]. & Shiveley. In: Berliner Arbeitskreis Sexualit¨ at im Centrum fur ualwissenschaft (Ed. P. (1983/1984). In U. at least at the present moment. M. G. is the product of a social construction process entirely in the sense that constructionism maintains. Germany: Suhrkamp.234. J. Foucault.). that it was “not a form of desire. Von der Freundschaft als Lebensweise. Bisexuality in men.194. Germany: Kohlhammer. M. Frankfurt am Main. Homosexuelle M¨ anner und AIDS.193] at 15:53 11 February 2013 While the monosexual structures of gay men and lesbian women have developed and increasingly differentiated and consolidated in the course of the changes since the 1960s. Berlin. 5. (1981). de Ceccatty. Germany: Merve. bisexuality as a sexual form and way of life has only just now emerged. Berlin. Homosexualit¨ at und Gesundheit [Homosexuality and well-being] (pp. P. (1977). 85–93). J. and J. In Von der Freundschaft als Lebensweise. 1–26. Michel Foucault im Gespr¨ ach (pp. Sexualit¨ at in Berlin. Zur Konstitution des Homosexuellen [Toward a theory of homosexuality]. Journal of Homosexuality. De Ceccatty. Danet und J. M. Band 1 (pp. 37–46). From sexual identity to sexual relationships: A contextual shift. Gespr¨ ach mit R. Just as Michel Foucault (1981) once said about homosexuality. Bisexuality then appears to be. M. 339–358. M. & Schwartz. Sexualit¨ at und Wahrheit.

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