You are on page 1of 25

This article was downloaded by: [Computing & Library Services, University of Huddersfield

]
On: 06 October 2014, At: 10:44
Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Journal of Bisexuality
Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjbi20

“I Don't Know If She Is Bisexual or If She
Just Wants to Get Attention”: Analyzing
the Various Mechanisms Through Which
Emerging Adults Invisibilize Bisexuality
a

Milaine Alarie & Stéphanie Gaudet
a

b

McGill University , Montréal , Québec , Canada

b

University of Ottawa , Ottawa, Ontario , Canada
Published online: 24 Apr 2013.

To cite this article: Milaine Alarie & Stéphanie Gaudet (2013) “I Don't Know If She Is Bisexual or If
She Just Wants to Get Attention”: Analyzing the Various Mechanisms Through Which Emerging Adults
Invisibilize Bisexuality, Journal of Bisexuality, 13:2, 191-214, DOI: 10.1080/15299716.2013.780004
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15299716.2013.780004

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the
“Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,
our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to
the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions
and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,
and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content
should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources
of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,
proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or
howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising
out of the use of the Content.
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &
Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/termsand-conditions

Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services, University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014

Journal of Bisexuality, 13:191–214, 2013
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 1529-9716 print / 1529-9724 online
DOI: 10.1080/15299716.2013.780004

“I Don’t Know If She Is Bisexual or If She Just
Wants to Get Attention”: Analyzing the Various
Mechanisms Through Which Emerging Adults
Invisibilize Bisexuality
MILAINE ALARIE
McGill University, Montr´eal, Qu´ebec, Canada

´
STEPHANIE
GAUDET
University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Although homophobia seems to be on the decline in North
America, there seems to be somewhat conflicting academic data
on the acceptance of bisexuality as a legitimate form of sexuality
and identity. This article explores how bisexuality is represented
in emerging adults’ discourses about sexuality. More specifically,
the authors highlight four mechanisms through which their participants invisibilize bisexuality: (1) ignoring bisexuality, (2) depicting
bisexuality as temporary, (3) making it almost impossible to be a
‘real’ bisexual, and (4) devaluing bisexuality. The authors argue
that although their participants acknowledge bisexual practices,
feelings, or desires in others and/or themselves, bisexuality as a legitimate life-long identity and lifestyle is often forgotten or denied
as a possibility. In addition, the authors argue that gender shapes
the way bisexuality is perceived, and they highlight how it affects
the paradoxical recognition/invisibilization relationship that their
participants maintain with bisexuality.
KEYWORDS emerging adulthood, bisexual erasure, binegativity,
sexual identity, gender

This article was written with the support of Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council of Canada (SSHRC). The authors are grateful to Elaine Weiner, Kathleen M. Fallon,
anonymous reviewers, and the editors for suggestions.
Address correspondence to Milaine Alarie, MA, McGill University, Department of Sociology, 855 Sherbrooke Street West, Montr´eal, Qu´ebec H3A 2T7, Canada. E-mail: milaine.
alarie@mail.mcgill.ca
191

For instance. More specifically. and transgender (LGBT) community. Discussing the relative invisibility of bisexual men compared to bisexual women. 2009). he states that lesbians’ negative attitudes have influenced bisexual women to create their own sense of identity. and recently in some U. . seems to be decreasing in North America. legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005 in Canada. homophobia. there seems to be disagreement about the acceptance of bisexuality as a legitimate form of sexuality and identity. The growing acceptance of sexual minorities is visible at the political level (i. especially homosexuality (Altemeyer.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. this article explores how bisexuality is represented in emerging adults’ discourses about sexuality. we argue that gender shapes the way bisexuality is perceived.e. Israel & Mohr.e. 2001. (2) depicting bisexuality as temporary. men are more likely to mention being negatively affected by gender roles. and (4) devaluing bisexuality. In addition. Based on interviews conducted with university students. thus becoming more visible as a group different from lesbians. whereas women focus more on feeling rejected by lesbians and express a stronger desire to be included in the lesbian. Anderson. thus inadvertently reinforcing the sexual binary—that is. or desires in others and/or themselves. Bradford (2004) notices that when it comes to their challenges as bisexuals. Considering that the relationship between lesbians and bisexual women has been tenser than that of gay men and bisexual men. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 192 Journal of Bisexuality Today’s North American youth are growing up in a world increasingly tolerant of sexual diversity. 2003)—while others indicate that it is now recognized as a legitimate and nonstigmatized identity (Anderson & Adams. the heterosexual/homosexual opposition. states) and cultural level (i. 2011). 2001. we look at the various mechanisms through which our participants invisibilize bisexuality.. Some research shows how negatively bisexuality is perceived—when it is not ignored (Eliason. Bisexuality and Gender Research indicates that gender plays a role in how young people think of and experience bisexuality. or homonegativity. bisexual.. gay. increasing number of nonheterosexual characters on television). Steinman (2001) argues that the reaction of gays and lesbians toward bisexuals might have influenced bisexual men and women differently in their desire to publicly identify as such. feelings. We highlight four mechanisms: (1) ignoring bisexuality. and HIV/AIDS. bisexuality as a legitimate life-long identity and lifestyle is often forgotten or denied as a possibility. and we highlight how it affects the paradoxical recognition/invisibilization relationship that our participants maintain with bisexuality. We argue that although our participants acknowledge bisexual practices. (3) making it almost impossible to be a ‘real’ bisexual.S. threats of violence. Although homophobia.

they find that two young women kissing each other in public are more likely to be thought of as straight than lesbian or bisexual. Interestingly. The operation of stereotypes is part and parcel of the last strategy. Alarie and S.” According to her. older women are more likely to address feeling pressured to perform bisexuality in private. legal. 2009. that study does not address how young adults perceive male–male kissing. discrimination (social. and Crawford (2004) find that. 234) In recent years. Capulet. 2012. 2001) or biphobia. Hoburg. Rupp & Taylor. such as in a m´enage a` trois with their boyfriend/husband. institutional). approximately 30% of women report same-sex feelings. 2010) indicate that public bisexual behaviors among girls are on the rise. As for bisexual practices among youth. legal). generally to accommodate men’s sexual fantasies. The generational factor is also one to consider when addressing female bisexuality. Indeed. a few authors have studied the common representations of bisexuality in individuals’ own narratives and popular discourses on sexuality (Barker & Langdridge. Rupp & Taylor. 2009. 2003). Klesse (2011) summarizes how binegativity operates. but also for their refusal to choose a monosexual identity or lifestyle. Fahs (2009) argues that we are now facing a new phenomenon for women. as well as epistemic erasure and denigration through negative representations. some studies (Fahs. whereas 12% to 19% of young men do. Konik. Williams. there is increasing pressure on women to perform bisexuality. They . Erasure of Bisexuality and Binegativity Confronted by heterosexism and monosexism. ‘Binegativity’ works through a broad set of oppressive practices. young women are more likely to report feeling pressured to perform bisexuality in public. However. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 M. Addressing the new trend for young women to perform bisexuality in public. 2010). there are some indications of the importance of gender as a factor influencing one’s sexuality. which include forms of violence (interpersonal. Studies also indicate that this new phenomenon of public bisexual display does not extend to male bisexuality (Fahs. especially in festive contexts.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. cultural. Fahs (2009) notices that compared to older women. Lannutti & Denes. 2010. On the other hand. Negatives attitudes toward bisexuals and bisexuality have been referred to as binegativity (Eliason. Israel & Mohr. Gaudet 193 In studies that assess the prevalence of bisexuality among youth. among their sample of 202 self-identified heterosexual college students of various geographic regions. 2008. Lannutti and Denes (2012) find that 45% of their female participants had kissed a girl before. that of “compulsory bisexuality. (p. Based on a quantitative study with college students. bisexuals risk being criticized not only for their rejection of (exclusive) heterosexuality.

Steinman. 2005). Klein. for many people. although the relationship between bisexual women and lesbians is generally more antagonistic than that of gay men and bisexual men (Eliason. Studies addressing the acceptance of bisexuality point to different results. Indeed. Eliason (2001) finds that among self-identified heterosexual students. 2009. thus insinuating that one can only truly be monosexual. after interviewing 60 male athletes. Using the expression “one-time rule. the acceptance of female bisexuality seems somewhat limited. For instance.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. Israel and Mohr (2003) find that bisexuality is often associated in the public imagination with HIV/AIDS and deviant sexualities. based on their quantitative study among university students. Steinman. Queen. as bisexual practices among girls are still stigmatized. A study conducted among self-identified heterosexual college students indicates that female bisexuality seems to be more accepted than male bisexuality (Eliason. a single same-sex experience indicates someone’s homosexual ‘nature’ (Anderson. Analyzing the representations of bisexuality in the media. Furthermore. 1997. and women are more at risk of being blamed for having multiple partners (Klesse. or as a temporary phase in the life of an individual. 2001). whether it be his or her sexual practices or attraction toward men or toward women. . 2001. Barker and Langdridge (2008) show that it is often presented as a transitional phase toward homosexuality. However. The increasing number of women behaving bisexually in public seems to indicate a certain acceptance of female bisexuality. they note that only one side of the person’s sexuality is generally emphasized. Reviewing the attitudes toward bisexuality highlighted in the recent academic literature on sexuality. 2008. 2001). However. 2001). bisexuality is less accepted than homosexuality. such as polygamy and promiscuity.” some authors have also addressed how. as well as their loyalty to the LGBT community. They also assert that many people question the authenticity of self-identified bisexuals. Steinman. Lesbian and gay individuals also seem to evince negative attitudes toward bisexuality (McLean. Bradford (2004) states that some of her bisexual participants argued that they are facing difficulties in finding a romantic partner because of their sexual identity. All these common representations of bisexuality (and monosexualities) contribute to the invisibility of bisexuality as a legitimate identity and lifestyle. In the same vein. Lannutti and Denes (2012) find that a woman kissing another woman in public is more likely to be perceived as promiscuous by her peers than if she was kissing a man. Anderson and Adams (2011) conclude that these young men recognize and accept bisexuality as a legitimate and nonstigmatized sexual identity. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 194 Journal of Bisexuality mostly show how negatively bisexuality is perceived when it is not simply ignored. Gender affects social representations of self-identified bisexuals or bisexually behaving individuals. 2001). Furthermore. that author reports that more than 75% of her participants declared that they did not want to date bisexual people. 1993.

titillating male viewers while reassuring them that the participants remain sexually available in the conventional heterosexual marketplace. Addressing how female–female sexuality is generally presented in the media as ‘straight girls trying bisexuality to then go back to heterosexuality. attitudes. Alarie and S. METHOD AND DATA The findings and data presented in this article come from a research project that focused on representations and practices of bisexuality among emerging adults.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. Questioning the subversive power of female bisexuality in a context where “compulsory bisexuality” meets “compulsory heterosexuality” (Rich. [S]uch images implicitly convey that the most desirable and acceptable form of female–female sexuality is that which pleases and plays to the heterosexual male gaze. We use the term ‘representation’ in reference to the meaning of a concept—provided by a person—based on opinions. have been acknowledged in the literature. the rules are clear: either choose a man for a sexual partner. 1980). these practices do not automatically translate into the elimination of their own homophobic values or into the adoption of a bisexual identity for themselves (Fahs. and/or feelings. 2008). sexual identity. Rupp & Taylor. desires. and sexual history influence one another? Our participants’ tendency to erase bisexuality as a legitimate identity and life-long lifestyle—despite their own bisexual practices. Furthermore. 2009) question whether the growing number of representations of female–female sexuality actually reflects an increasing acceptance of nonheterosexual lifestyles for women. 447). Gaudet 195 Some authors (Diamond. In the present case. 2006) toward a given phenomenon. or choose a woman with a man’s approval” (p. 105) Furthermore. (p. 2008). 2009. This project was guided by the following overarching research question: How do individuals’ representations of bisexuality. as well as attitudes toward homosexuality (Andersen & Fetner. Representations are socially constructed and specific to a particular society. Differences between Canada and the United States in terms of the sociopolitical and legal context for LGBT individuals (Smith. and stereotypes (Negura. Fahs (2009) states. 2005. we aim to understand Francophone Canadian university students’ representations of bisexuality. research indicates that for girls behaving bisexually.’ Diamond (2005) questions the subversive power of such display of female bisexuality and highlights how such images have to be read as part of the heterosexual imperative. “For women. there are noticeable differences in cultural . University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 M. 2010). Fahs. or their acknowledgement of bisexuality in others—came out as one of the main findings.

University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 196 Journal of Bisexuality norms between the Anglophone and Francophone cultures in Canada. we never imposed or proposed any definition for the three typical sexual categories. Morris. feeling ‘in between’ two life stages (adolescence and adulthood). one in which individuals experiment with their sexuality and forge their own sexual identity (Brewster & Moradi. 2001). on average.to 25-year-old Francophone students who were willing to discuss sexuality with us. 2010. We specified that individuals of all sexual orientations were welcome to participate. To recruit participants. one woman identified as bisexual. which in turn might lead to better acceptance of bisexuality as an identity and a form of sexuality. No participant refused to answer any question. we were seeking 18. Today’s North American youth are growing up in a world increasingly tolerant of homosexuality (Altemeyer. No compensation was offered. For instance. We explicitly told each participant they could skip a question or stop the recorder at any time. and career. The flyers indicated that for the purpose of this study. Researcher Alarie was of similar age as the participants. Interviewees themselves defined any such categories and indicated the sexual identity they wanted us to use to describe themselves. four men identified as gay. Out of the 15 people who contacted us. 2009). During the interviews. and the other eight participants identified as heterosexual. and identity exploration. and most seemed very comfortable discussing the various sexual themes addressed by the researcher. Our decision to study emerging adults’ representations of bisexuality was motivated by the fact that today’s young people differ from previous generations in terms of their values. maturity level. Only one heterosexual male contacted us for this study. one he calls “emerging adults. Arnett (2004) argues that individuals age 18 to 25 should be thought of as a distinct group. participants start to question whether they are heterosexual or not at age 18 and come out to their friends and family at age 24. 2001. The semistructured interviews lasted approximately 1 12 hours and were conducted in private. two women did not use a specific label. They were between age 18 and 23 and enrolled in undergraduate studies at a university based in the city of Ottawa. Furthermore.000 bisexual women or lesbians. Morris et al. Gaudet. which might in turn have created a sense of camaraderie and facilitated the discussion.” This life period is characterized by instability in different areas such as love relationship. individualism. They were conducted by Researcher Alarie and were recorded. optimism about the future. we distributed recruitment flyers in several classes in various faculties at the university. & Rothblum. Waldo. in their study of more than 2. and so on (Galland. Fifteen Francophone students were interviewed in 2010: 10 were female and five were male. housing. 2007. and no lesbians did. (2001) find that. Anderson.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. . practices. research shows that adolescence and emerging adulthood is an important life period.1 so it is important to note that we interviewed French-speaking Canadians. 2009).

(3) making it almost impossible to be a ‘real’ bisexual. and (4) devaluing bisexuality. (2) depicting bisexuality as temporary. In accordance with grounded theory. What do you think about that?” or “Would you ever date a bisexual person? Why or why not?” For the methodological underpinnings of this study. when discussing sexuality. After they told us their sexual identity. and so on. participant’s sexual behaviors. in chronological order. to understand how individuals make sense of bisexuality. participant’s sexual desires. 1990). definitions of sexual categories.’ and if they had heard the term ‘bisexual’ before. Gaudet 197 During the interview. as it influences individuals’ perceptions. Some participants wrote down the names of male and female partners. we look at the various mechanisms through which our participants invisibilize bisexuality. we asked them to provide a personal definition of ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual. Alarie and S. participant’s love feelings. but also gender. we asked questions like “Imagine you are in a bar or at a party. we drew inspiration from grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin.” This allowed us to learn about their romantic and sexual history. The analysis that follows is organized based on the codes related to our participants’ representations of bisexuality that emerged from their interviews. Indeed. each transcript was open coded and then grouped into categories—such as representations of sexual categories. one needs to take into account not only heteronormativity and monosexism. We relied on these codes and categories to develop a theory about lived experiences of bisexuality among emerging adults. and you see two girls kissing. we asked them to tell us what it meant for them. We highlight four mechanisms: (1) ignoring bisexuality. and romantic feelings. the participants were first asked to write down. and then we asked open questions such as “tell me about your relationship with X. sexual desires. and thus their sexual practices. RESULTS In this section. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 M.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. For instance. Indeed. and on common stereotypes related to bisexuality. We also highlight how gender shapes the way bisexuality is perceived and how gender contributes to the recognition/invisibilization paradoxical relationship that our participants maintain with bisexuality. 1. dating. depending on the participant’s sexual identity). We also asked them to comment on fictional scenarios about sexual practices. our participants tended to . the names of the significant people they had in their love/sexual life. Ignoring Bisexuality as an Identity The first mechanism by which our participants invisibilize bisexuality is by ignoring it. whereas others waited until we asked more direct questions such as “have you ever had any sexual experience with someone of the same sex?” (or opposite sex.

. if one day I need sex and I meet a girl. . self-identified heterosexual: One can have a [sexual] experience with someone of the same sex. we usually had to explicitly ask what they thought of it or how they would define it. . . that doesn’t make him bisexual. thus omitting bisexuality.” What could be read as a contradiction in Francine’s discourse is actually common. . I would say. I’m not against the idea [of sleeping with a girl]. You are still heterosexual. she also said at some point: “One cannot be 100% heterosexual or 100% homosexual. it is not necessarily surprising to hear that for her. some participants specified that such permissiveness in terms of sexual experiences has its limits. most of our participants read those behaviors as perfectly compatible with a monosexual identity. Like. The fact that bisexuality as an identity was often ignored by our participants can be explained partly by the fact that most of them consider that bisexual practices do not conflict with monosexual identities. And having such an experience doesn’t mean that “oh. they often ignored it and depicted the world as being made of heterosexuals and homosexuals only. However.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services.” With this statement. I think you should ask yourself some questions. while nine people in 10 identify as heterosexual. But I don’t consider myself to be bisexual. Holly. whereas female bisexuality . Francine (no label) stated: “I heard the statistics are that one person in 10 is homosexual. . although most of the participants stated that they believed bisexuality to be a legitimate identity. when asked to tell us what proportion of the population she believes heterosexuals represent. we noticed that male bisexuality was generally perceived as homosexuality. You know. kiss other girls. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 198 Journal of Bisexuality put heterosexuality and homosexuality in opposition. it can happen. it is possible that something will happen . . at the sexual level.” Knowing how she had kissed girls in the past to seduce her boyfriend. When confronted with bisexual practices among others and/or themselves. . I mean. she seems to agree with the traditional homosexual/heterosexual dichotomy. not as an indication of one’s bisexual identity. . For instance. But if you sleep with one. while supporting a dichotomized view of sexuality in other instances is what we call the “recognition/invisibilization relationship” that our participants maintain with bisexuality. kissing female friends should not be considered to challenge a girl’s heterosexual identity. However. To understand their representations of bisexuality. bang! You are bisexual!” Nathan. self-identified homosexual: It sometimes happens [that I sleep with a girl] (laughter) . Ophelia (self-identified heterosexual) mentioned: “You can . For instance. or identifies as homosexual. Gender shapes the way bisexuality as an identity is often ignored in our participants’ discussions about sexuality. This tendency to acknowledge bisexuality at times. Indeed.

self-identified homosexual: One of my female friends says. whereas male bisexuality homosexualizes men. Nobody questions the significance of their behaviors anymore. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 M. It seems like it’s so not a big deal. because it is perceived as an indication of one’s monosexual identity. [I would think the two guys are] gay. Daniela’s words highlight how neither women nor men engaging in same-sex sexual practices in public would be considered to be bisexual. . it’s automatic: for anyone. is considered gay. Every time we get drunk. . in their head. That . self-identified heterosexual: Some will pretend to be bisexuals just to get attention.” Do I consider her to be a lesbian? No! . contrary to male bisexuality. . and we end up having sex.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. As for girls. . In this sense. . . The two girls however are not necessarily lesbians. bisexuality is once again made invisible. he would consider them gay. if two guys kiss. but women love me. The belief that girls engage in bisexual practices or claim such an identity to get men’s attention is quite common. it’s something else than ‘really’ kissing girls. Many of our participants share this point of view: Luc. they have other motivations. Alfred (self-identified homosexual) explained that if he saw two men kissing. kissing. female bisexuality is thought of by many of our participants as a strategy for a girl to reaffirm her heterosexuality. You see girls dancing together. .” However. . because why are they doing that? Because nobody will take pictures and post it on Facebook ‘because it’s funny. I know there are a lot a girls kissing other girls to please men . Daniela. Alarie and S. but two guys kissing? Most people will say they are gay. those men are gay. Two guys kissing or being affectionate with each other. I saw her kiss a girl last night. Gaudet 199 was usually seen as heterosexuality.” However. It wouldn’t even cross their mind to think they’re bisexual. Maybe they really want to kiss each other? Then. In both cases. not bisexual: “Automatically. and how one’s gender influences which monosexual identity one would be given. they are probably truly gay. Alfred admits he would not think the same thing of two girls kissing in public. and I quote her: “I don’t know why. they come up to me. or doing it to another guy. it is almost only to entertain the crowd. No one will say the next morning: “she’s probably a lesbian. I would be suspicious. Josie (self-identified bisexual) said that many girls “claim to be bi in order . Bella. .’ That’s not what is going on. it’s hard to take their little game seriously. For instance. self-identified heterosexual: Let’s say you’re in a bar and everyone is drunk. we argue that female bisexuality heterosexualizes women. Bella’s comments highlight how. grinding. Would it be like that for men? Absolutely not! A guy getting a blowjob from another guy.

. . self-identified heterosexual: If you’re a straight man and you want to get attention. some participants indicated that female bisexuality is also used by men to reiterate their own heterosexuality and pointed out the normativity associated with publicly expressing sexual attraction for female bisexuality. describing people who identify as bisexual as people who are still unsure about what they want. . I think [the best way] is when you get seen with a bunch of different girls. thus insinuating or expressing explicitly that only homosexuality and heterosexuality constitute legitimate long-term identities and lifestyles. Caroline mentioned the influence of the media on young women’s desire to perform bisexuality: “Young women. You are lucky. I have more respect . . as female bisexuality heterosexualizes women. I would say they have this quality of ‘I want to experiment new things in order to please my man’ more than men do. Erika (self-identified heterosexual) stated. He still has to say that he thinks it’s hot to see two women sleeping together. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 200 Journal of Bisexuality to attract men. people are going to be like: “wow! This man. Depicting Bisexuality as a Temporary Identity. So they [young women] kiss each other. they want to do a threesome. they see [female] stars kissing each other. and who therefore constantly alternate between men and women when it comes to relationships and/or sexual partners. I need to do this [perform bisexuality] if I want to satisfy my man. one must note that gender influences this representation. and see it. in a social setting. This omission can be partly explained by the fact that bisexual practices are often read as not being in conflict with a monosexual identity. it can make you think ‘ok. Indeed. while male bisexuality homosexualizes men. if you can get them [two girls]. indecisive. he’s a real man!” . . 2. and they are all super sexy. In short. [For men] it is a fantasy. ignoring bisexuality as an identity works as one of the many mechanisms of invisibilization of bisexuality. people who don’t know what they want in life. “Bisexual people . self-identified homosexual: For a straight man who’s not really excited by two women sleeping together.” Comparing men and women’s tendencies to act bisexually in order to seduce their partner. and/or Lifestyle Many of our participants invisibilized bisexuality by associating it with a temporary phase.’” Finally. . [These images]. because he will be perceived as being weird. Caroline (self-identified heterosexual) said. Mathieu.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. . Some of our participants associated bisexuality with indecisiveness. he won’t be able to [say it]. Sexuality. . they are like. “women . . George. However. participants often depicted the world as consisting of heterosexuals and homosexuals only. [like doing] a m´enage a` trois.” Like other participants. live [for a threesome].

. one will discover what he prefers. One should note that unlike other participants..’ than for someone who says ‘I like guys and girls. I don’t believe in it. Some claimed that sooner or later. Alarie and S. she thought homosexuality was a lifestyle as legitimate as heterosexuality to reach the ideal of marriage/parenting: . which will indicate his ‘true’ sexual identity: Luc. being gay. . I consider her to be a real bisexual.M. and then. The more you sleep with or date men and women. she will split up and she will switch: her next partner will automatically be a man. In that sense. . Caroline and Nathan try to distance themselves from what they call “real bisexuals” using the argument of indecisiveness: Caroline. Whether you like it or not. And slowly. a person who identifies as a bisexual should opt for a monosexual identity and choose a stable partner to have a long-lasting relationship. Sometimes. She’s always switching like that. Daniela. . . She dates a woman for 2 or 3 months. self-identified homosexual: Bisexual people . I like guys. I really know what I want.. or straight. . Many participants thought of bisexuality as a form of sexuality or an identity one usually adopts during adolescence or in the early phase of adulthood. . We can explain why bisexuality was often associated to a temporary phase of a young adult’s life partly by the fact that for some. self-identified heterosexual: For a lot of people. . Personally. Nathan. . One morning. self-identified heterosexual: One of my friends is clearly bisexual. our purpose on Earth . which seem to be important goals for some of our participants. THAT GIRL (participant’s emphasis). Gaudet 201 Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. homosexuality as well as bisexuality was seen as problematic because it is perceived as preventing people from following these norms. that doesn’t happen. make a decision! You know?” Although they had many sexual experiences with both genders and have expressed emotional attraction toward both genders in the past. self-identified homosexual: In the past I have met people who consider themselves bisexuals. As for me. bisexuality is incompatible with marriage and parenting..” According to Francine. when they are younger. the guy is homosexual. they say they’re bisexual . it’s to make babies with the person we love. . the more you’ll discover your preference. at the beginning. . Isabelle (self-identified heterosexual) asserted: “You know. . they will discover who they are and will become gay or lesbian . that’s it. . is to procreate.’ It’s like. . they [bisexual people] are always confused and they don’t know what they are attracted to. She doesn’t know what she wants. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 for someone who says ‘I’m gay. and the next he’s straight.

. Ophelia (self-identified heterosexual) described her own sexual experiences with girls as “typical experiences of university life. another girl kisses another girl . . You know. whether we like it or not. self-identified heterosexual: You know.” I did not really find it sexually exciting. And at some point. . and have kids . and that does not necessarily reflect same-sex sexual desires. At some point. in bars. [female bisexuality] is more visible. as a certain rite of passage. it wasn’t the passionate kiss of the year. Holly. corroborating other authors’ observations (Fahs. . self-identified homosexual: Girls face this norm to please men.” Indeed. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 Francine. you’ll want to have a serious relationship with someone. Holly’s comment regarding one of her bisexual experiences highlights how female bisexuality acts as a rite of passage for young women trying to fit in. in movies. one that is also linked to adolescence and early adulthood. 2009. . in private parties) or in a semiprivate context (i. Similarly to Fahs (2009). we noticed that some participants depicted bisexual experiences as a new norm for young women. it is generally women who perform bisexuality in public (i. First. to kiss even if they don’t feel a sexual attraction toward other girls. drunk people playing drinking games. So it has almost become a norm. it’s like a bit linked to being young. they don’t have that pressure to try to please girls by kissing other men.. . . 2010). no label: [Bisexuality]. while helping them in their heterosexual quest for men’s attention. Rupp & Taylor.202 Journal of Bisexuality Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. some participants say that gender affects this perception of bisexuality. For sure.e. to perform bisexuality improves young women’s status by making them appear ‘cool’ and sexually open. so we’ll do it. . via a threesome).. You’ll want to settle down with someone. . being open to bisexual experiences seems to have become a new norm for the contemporary young woman. self-identified heterosexual: It was nothing special. and in life. And then. at some point. .e. everywhere. . and then you keep on playing. or not have kids . start a life with that person. our results suggest that the public display of bisexual practices is mostly a young women phenomenon. you know. I was indifferent [to my kiss with a girl]. [But at least] have a certain emotional stability! Although bisexuality was often associated with a temporary phase. Holly. your dare is to kiss one of your female friends. You can’t be sleeping around all the time. So you kiss her. you have to settle down. Many participants stated that although many young men might also secretly experiment with same-sex sexuality. . As for guys. one that is common especially in youth-oriented festive contexts. Alfred. It’s unfair. all the time. It was just like “we have to do it. . or she kisses a guy.

but . But. . Josie. . self-identified heterosexual: [I’m] not totally opposed to [the idea]. . I know we are going to kiss” (laughter) . And then. Indeed. And it’s like “Woooh! Guys like that!” I don’t know. the fact that men seemed to appreciate women performing bisexuality in public helped her accept her same-sex sexual desires and motivated her to act on them. I know it’s going to happen eventually. And in a sense. it would be fun. . (pause) It’s not very probable. some of our female participants said they might one day have sexual practices with another woman. I started to go out in clubs. However. when you and I are drunk. It was like trying it and waiting to see how people would react. . like . I never kissed a girl I didn’t find attractive just to get men’s attention! I was always attracted to these girls. I know we will both be like “woohoo!” (celebrative tone) and it’s going to happen. I would need to erase all the factors. . it’s simply like . you know the “. but I think it will happen. although they identified as heterosexual and showed no or little sexual desire towards women. For Josie. all the contexts.” I never had that kind of feeling with a girl . I think at first. I would need to forget that I like men. . (pause) no. Gaudet 203 Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. Let’s say that one time. I wasn’t expecting that. . I like experimenting new things.M. I saw the guys’ reaction . Interviewer: Why? Do you find her particularly attractive? Isabelle: No. some of these women expressed ambivalent feelings as to whether they would like to have such an experience with other women. . I’m not saying it has to happen. And it was also curiosity [about bisexuality]. I was dancing with a friend and she kissed me. self-identified bisexual: When I was 15. self-identified heterosexual: I always say to one of my girlfriends which I’m really close to: “one day. . I think. I’m open to anything! Holly. Alarie and S. in a party atmosphere. . University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 To publicly indicate that one is open to female bisexuality seems to have become a norm for young women. maybe it would work. . I think that it is maybe a life experience that one has to have at some point. as if it is on my bucket list. her bisexual practices were an attempt to attract men and a reflection of her bisexual desires. . . It was new for me. [But] I never had this kind of attraction. self-identified heterosexual: I would probably try it . Isabelle. I don’t know. However. and I think it helped me accept it [my sexual attraction towards women] . . so I would probably try sleeping with a girl. . I drank a bit. I played a bit with it. . As a teenager. when I realized it got me attention. Daniela. But you know. Trying to manage the contradictions between the pressure to appear open sexually and their own sexual desires. . .

because in people’s mind it’s like: “he still loves women. our participants raised the bar so high that it became almost impossible to be a ‘real’ bisexual. many of our participants argued that to rightfully qualify as a bisexual. not young women’s bisexual identity. Someone who equally loves [both genders]. young men linked to bisexuality are often thought as being in transition toward homosexuality. for whom bisexuality as a temporary phase is associated with a rite of passage. . Raising the Bar So High That It Is Almost Impossible to Be a ‘Real’ Bisexual Many of our participants invisibilized bisexuality as an identity by allowing very few people (if any) to rightfully qualify as a ‘real’ bisexual. Caroline. because female bisexuality acts as a rite of passage for young women. . I came out as entirely gay. young gay men see the bisexual identity as a refuge where they can express their same-sex desires while maintaining their masculine image—that is. that is what I said–[that I was bisexual]. For some participants. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 204 Journal of Bisexuality Unlike young women. the depiction of bisexuality as a temporary sexuality or identity works as a second mechanism of invisibilization of bisexuality. one must also have an equal attraction for both genders. I know a lot. As we mentioned earlier. our participants rarely project that stereotype onto girls. Then a few months later. the idea that bisexuality is a transitional phase toward homosexuality was generally brought up to explain young men’s bisexual identity. and because most girls identifying as bisexual or having bisexual practices are thought to use bisexuality as a strategy to reinforce their heterosexual status. self-identified heterosexual: [A bisexual] is someone who has romantic AND (participant’s emphasis) sexual relationships with both men and women.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. Yes . by indicating that they are also attracted to women. I think it’s easier that way. who is 50% hetero and 50% homosexual. by expecting bisexuals to meet a list of difficult criteria and by questioning the authenticity of self-identified bisexuals or bisexually behaving individuals. In short.” So it [bisexual identity for men] is like a bridge allowing you to slowly cross over to homosexuality. bisexual practices were not perceived as an indicator of someone’s bisexual identity. I mean a lot of gay friends who did the same thing. Indeed. Furthermore. Alfred. so it’s not that bad. self-identified homosexual: When I was 12. 3. The ‘bisexual identity as a transitional phase towards homosexuality’ stereotype seems to be one that mainly touches young men. Indeed. Indeed. .

but I think that. . Gaudet 205 Some participants questioned the legitimacy of bisexuality as an identity based on the idea that everyone probably has a preference. I know there are many girls who kiss each other to please men. there are always girls kissing each other. You know. I think in life. everyone will have one significant relationship. to be with that person for a large part of your life . unless proven otherwise. [I am suspicious]. Well. I’m heterosexual and do I shout it from the rooftops? No. I don’t have a clue. many simply resort to using heterosexuality as the default sexual identity. I have no other choice than to say that person is heterosexual. Holly. When confronted with a situation where someone’s sexuality is not easily definable. . Daniela. . . . seriously. . . Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. that person must have a preference.M. which in turns determines if one is gay or straight. . And I think you will be with that person for a long time. self-identified heterosexual: [A friend] keeps saying “I’m bisexual. . whether it is a man or a woman. bisexual practices are not enough proof for someone to be qualified as bisexual. self-identified heterosexual: It’s like the Kinsey Scale. I cannot believe that someone wouldn’t have a preference. . I think. self-identified heterosexual: Well . . I’m bisexual!” I don’t know if she is bisexual or if she just wants to get attention. .. And. . whether for men or for women. Josie was unsure if she qualified as a ‘real’ bisexual. . These next passages illustrate the type of suspicion that self-identified bisexuals or bisexually behaving individuals face: Daniela. I think it would be healthy to have a long-term relationship. You are more hetero or more homosexual. but has never been in love? . . . Are those girls all bisexuals? You know. Alarie and S. . The strength of heterosexism is particularly obvious in situations of ambiguity. . if someone is really bisexual. In my mind. . I think they [bisexuals] exist. Bella. self-identified heterosexual: I have no clue. Yeah . . but . As Holly’s comments show. self-identified heterosexual: Some people will pretend to be bisexual only to get attention. Someone who sleeps with both men and women. until proven otherwise. And like other participants. When I hear that at every party. things like that. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 Isabelle. from 0 to 6. . she wouldn’t [talk about it] . she herself often questioned the legitimacy of other self-identified bisexuals. because she has never felt love feelings for a woman before. It’s simply that I don’t believe one can be right in the middle [of the scale]. Many tried to distinguish real bisexuals from impostors.

However. Alfred (self-identified homosexual) said. the example our participants gave was generally one of a woman performing bisexuality. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 This lack of credibility attached to bisexual girls leads her to keep her sexual identity to herself. “these people [bisexuals] cheat a lot. they won’t scream it from the rooftop. some participants believed that bisexual people are more likely to be unfaithful than people choosing a monosexual identity. As the previous quotes illustrate. it seems that young adults were more forgiving of those situations than when it came to women ‘pretending’ to be bisexuals. it’s none of my business” (Isabelle. you will never hear me say that I’m bi. Most of the time. Many participants expressed binegativity by associating bisexuality to deviant forms of sexualities.206 Journal of Bisexuality Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. whether through ‘false’ self-identification or through (often public) bisexual practices. For instance. I consider myself bisexual. However. but among people I know. Devaluing Bisexuality as a Legitimate Permanent Identity and Lifestyle Most of our participants tried to be respectful of sexual minorities at some point during the interview. despite attempts to appear respectful toward sexual minorities. self-identified bisexual: In my head. our participants seem more resentful towards women identifying as bisexual than of men doing so. 4. For instance. The bisexual identity is then once again kept invisible. therefore also expressing suspicion toward male bisexual identity. Josie. our participants contribute to its stigmatization and marginalization. because I am attracted to both [genders]. By devaluing bisexuality. many of our participants devalued bisexuality at some point through negative representations. so I keep it to myself. that is what is often being said [about bisexuals]. Indeed. who could fall in love with both men and women. which in turn can influence others to avoid choosing bisexuality as an identity for themselves. Furthermore. usually. I’m not saying that all bisexuals are unfaithful to their partner. who are really bi. he can do whatever he wants with it. it’s because she wants to be like: “Guys! I’m bi! I can do it with men and women!” (flirty tone) It’s generally the image that bi girls have. This desire to express tolerance toward sexual diversity was visible through sympathetic comments such as “it’s his sexual orientation. self-identified heterosexual). because when a girl says she’s bi. And also. girls who are serious about it.” When asked if it is possible for a bisexual man . though some participants did refer to bisexuality as a temporary identity for still-closeted gay men. most of the time it’s to be a tease. when addressing the idea that many self-identified bisexuals are in fact impostors.

These perceptions were often used as an argument to justify not wanting to be in a relationship with a bisexual partner. which leads them to think it could explain why guys rarely behave bisexually in public: Holly. Nathan (self-identified homosexual) would hesitate to date a bisexual man. as hypersexual people. such as with her boyfriend: “I feel like he always sees it [bisexuality] in a negative way . I’m afraid that if I told him I consider myself to be bisexual. he doubted that could be possible. [it’s difficult for me to think bisexuals would stay faithful] . For instance. because of the representation of bisexuals as hypersexual. . there are doubts. . trust issues.” Erika. . which is that many try to uncover impostors from real bisexuals. You ask yourself “Is there another girl?” But now. [If he says] “I’m going out with male friends. and vice-versa]. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 to stay faithful during the relationship. Aware of the stigma attached to bisexuality. who are trashy. Francine (no label) at times associated bisexuality with “always sleeping around. that then. Josie sometimes chooses to present herself as a heterosexual. self-identified homosexual: It’s because of what my [bisexual] friend told me. insatiable sexual partners: “I would be afraid he [a bisexual man] would want an open relationship so he could satisfy his sexual needs. They claim to be bi in order to attract men. Honestly. you must ask yourself “Is there another girl? Is there another guy?” It’s too much for me! I don’t want that! What if he says “I’m going out with some female friends. Alarie and S.” I’ll freak out. who have one-night stands all the time and who aren’t selective when it comes to sexual partners. The idea that bisexuals are less faithful is linked to the representation of bisexuals as incapable of resisting temptation. male bisexuality is less socially accepted. if she hadn’t told me that. [with a bisexual boyfriend]. Gaudet 207 Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services.” This passage also highlights our previous point. self-identified heterosexual: Guys kissing in a bar? It looks like guys are too afraid of what it could do to their masculinity. Nathan stated that because of his bisexual friend’s comments. self-identified heterosexual: When you are dating someone. he might change his opinion of me. Nathan. who sleep around. some participants depicted bisexuals as promiscuous. or I don’t . I won’t be able to trust anyone to be alone with him! Similarly.M.” According to our participants. But since she told me she had difficulty maintaining long-term relationship. .” I’ll also freak out. the kind of girls who are dirty. . . then I would probably tell you it is possible. because sooner or later she will wake up feeling like she’d rather be with a woman [instead of a man.” Josie (self-identified bisexual) stated: “There is .

he thinks he should not reveal his own bisexual desires. A few participants brought some nuance to the idea of a greater acceptance of female bisexuality compared to male bisexuality. for it could affect his masculine/heterosexual status in a significantly negative way. if it’s two girls who really look feminine. It would turn me off sexually. . I feel like it would take away a bit of his virility. as long as they look feminine (and heterosexual). Josie could not help it and admitted judging male bisexuality more harshly than female bisexuality. (uncomfortable laughter). But if my boyfriend told me he had slept with a man in the past. high heels [it’s .208 Journal of Bisexuality Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. . University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 know . . That’s not it. This idea that male bisexuality is less accepted than female bisexuality affects George’s sexual life. . addressing the possibility of doing a m´enage a` trois. that would be a bit strange. self-identified homosexual: Female homosexuality. And I know I shouldn’t think like that. On the way home. . She explained why she would not want to be in a relationship with a bisexual man. self-identified heterosexual: I went out [to a club] with him. . . But for me. . Ophelia (self-identified heterosexual) said she considered male bisexuality to be uncommon and even bizarre: “When people think of doing a threesome. Addressing public displays of affection between same-sex couples. neither of us had picked up someone. So he was like: “wanna do something [sexual]?” I was like: “hum. Although he knows many women in his life behaving bisexually and does not judge them for that. George. . big breasts. I feel like I’m a follower by saying that. . I know I should see it equally. . I’m still conscious enough for . I said no. that I’m a bit of a sheep. it’s generally two girls and a guy. . So a guy will rarely. Alfred noted that it is more accepted for women. But I would have a hard time with it. unless the two guys are bisexuals. I accept them equally. Whereas for girls. I never heard or met guys who would be game to do it [with another man] . What is going to happen if people find out [I slept with a man]? It would be a disaster! The greater societal acceptance of female bisexuality compared to male bisexuality was reflected in some of our participants own comments about bisexual men. even never kiss another guy. For instance. It’s not so much that I have a harder time. it’s like “Go! Go! Kiss!” and girls do it.” Even if I’m drunk. self-identified bisexual: I have a hard time with that [the idea of dating a bisexual man]. . like with blond hair. I was curious . But I have more of a hard time with homosexuality for men than for women. Josie.” Although she acknowledged the double standard she was suggesting. But then I realized. Alfred. .

its acceptance is somewhat limited by the fact that it is still associated with hypersexuality. Somewhat normalized in the youth-orientated contexts. female bisexuality is generally more accepted than male bisexuality. young adults contribute to the stigmatization of bisexuality as an identity. by devaluing bisexuality. we looked at emerging adults’ representations of bisexuality and analyzed the main mechanisms through which they invisibilized bisexuality. In that case. if it means that it’s sentimental. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION In this research. or desires in themselves and/or others and also recognize bisexuality as an identity. Two women with. no. . than if it was two girls kissing on TV. let’s say.M. because it represents the possibility for women to challenge the heterosexual system. short hair. and promiscuity. . they acknowledge bisexual practices. George: Yes. Our participants’ usage and representations of bisexuality are paradoxical. if she is open sexually. . . it would be a different thing. female bisexuality seemed to be accepted as long as it fits the heterosexual imperative. It doesn’t interest me to compete for a girl with another girl. . George’s (self-identified heterosexual) comment reflects how the acceptance of female bisexuality is often limited to practices that are performed as a way to please men. However. No. through recognition/invisibilization. Klesse (2011) summarizes the paradoxical role of bisexuality in the common conceptualization of sexuality: . bisexuality serves a paradoxical function in maintaining the dominant dichotomous paradigm of sexuality. Alarie and S. However. I mean if she asks me if she can bring a girlfriend [for a threesome]. In short. Gaudet 209 Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. if the two girls do not have that look. . Interviewer: Would you be comfortable to be in a relationship with a girl who identifies as bisexual? George: Yes and no. it wouldn’t be perceived the same way .” . Interviewer: Explain. At times. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 more accepted than male homosexuality]. raising a baby together. . . Klesse’s (2011) comments highlight how. Emotional attraction toward women can be seen as threatening for ‘straight’ men. therefore potentially influencing others to choose a monosexual identity as a strategy to avoid criticism and marginalization. Furthermore. Mentioning the work of Angelides (2006). No. that my rival is a girl. to live without men. bisexuality is erased through various mechanisms. infidelity. At other times. . it’s like: “listen. feelings.

as monosexual identities and lifestyles are often thought to be not only more common. and that gender affects the way bisexuality will be interpreted. This temporary aspect of bisexuality is a consequence of monosexism. and many try to distinguish real bisexuals from impostors. or feelings as monosexuality. our results indicate that bisexuality is generally thought to be temporary. as many read bisexual practices. or that they do not believe some people have bisexual experiences. However. young women identifying as bisexuals are generally thought to use bisexuality as a strategy to reinforce their heterosexual status and attract men. and in the negative feelings our participants expressed toward women ‘pretending’ to be bisexuals. Indeed. This paradoxical role that grants (limited) intelligibility (by attributing a place in discourse) paired with disavowal (through theoretical subordination. these young adults conclude that not many people (if any) qualify as ‘real’ bisexuals. Similar to Barker and Langdridge’s (2008) results regarding the common representations of bisexuality in the media. participants often ignore bisexuality as an identity when speaking of sexuality. (p. our results indicate that this applies not only to bisexual practices (such as kissing). male bisexuality is generally thought of as homosexuality. 230) First. based on their (unstable and contradictory) definitions of sexual categories. we add to this that the “one-time rule” does not apply to bisexuality either. It is not so much that these participants do not believe one could be sexually or emotionally attracted to both genders. In contrast to this societal view of female bisexuality. Like Anderson (2009). Furthermore. many participants depict bisexuality as consisting of a highly exclusive group that very few people have a right to belong to. as well as when assessing the social endorsement of the “one-time rule” of homosexuality. but also to the bisexual identity. However. Bisexuality is often believed to be synonymous with emerging adulthood.210 Journal of Bisexuality Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. desires. but also more desirable. The perception of bisexuality as temporary phase is also part of the paradoxical process of recognition/invisibilization of bisexuality. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 [Bisexuality is] essential to various explanations of heterosexuality and homosexuality without ever being given recognition as a valid distinctive mature sexual orientation or identity in its own right. pathologization and ethical dismissal) lives on in various popular representations of bisexuality. similarly to Lannutti and Denes (2012). we found that our participants are somewhat eroding the “one-time rule” of homosexuality. Gender . The correlation with gender is noticeable in the common association between ‘fake’ bisexuals and women. we note that female bisexuality is generally read as heterosexuality. This underscores the importance of considering gender when analyzing how individuals think of bisexuality. who found that two young women kissing each other in public were more likely to be thought of as straight than lesbian or bisexual.

but also to underscore their heterosexual status.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. to be publicly known as bisexual and non-monogamous tends to have particularly stigmatizing effects on women” (p. Female bisexuality as a rite of passage for young women can also be read as having two effects: on the one hand. where they are encouraged to perform bisexuality and punished for their association with it. bisexual practices are thought of as a new norm for young women. as our results indicate. hypersexuality. young women are placed in an uncomfortable and risky situation. something to perform in order to fit in. it can influence young women who are not interested in same-sex sexuality to behave bisexually . Thus. and infidelity. Furthermore. This finding is in accord with Eliason (2001). as a temporary identity for still-closeted young gay men. Gaudet 211 also shapes the association made between bisexuality and emerging adulthood. As Klesse (2005) argues.’ On the other hand. a finding that supports the argument proposed by Fahs (2009) regarding compulsory bisexuality. 445). Indeed. female bisexuality is becoming a sort of rite of passage for young women. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 M. who reported that most of her participants (all heterosexual) declared that they did not want to date bisexual people. our results suggest that young women might face conflicting norms when it comes to bisexuality. Josie’s decision to hide her bisexual identity from her boyfriend highlights the type of stigma that is attached to bisexuality and brings some support to Bradford’s (2004) findings regarding the difficulties bisexuals face when trying to find a romantic partner. which. our participants contribute to the stigmatization and marginalization of bisexuality. Alarie and S. are still stigmatized among young adults. or infidelity. we argue that the devaluation of bisexuality works as a mechanism of invisibilization. it might allow young women who are sexually or emotionally attracted to other women to experiment with same-sex sexuality without facing as much stigmatization as was experienced in previous decades. One the one hand. and a useful strategy in order to reaffirm their heterosexuality. On the other hand. our participants are particularly critical of women ‘pretending’ to be bisexual. Finally. The management of the social risks and benefits associated with bisexuality varies depending on one’s gender. thereby influencing others to avoid identifying as bisexuals. female bisexuality is increasingly becoming a norm. Indeed. a rite of passage for young women. individuals linked to bisexuality risk being associated with promiscuity. by ‘falsely’ identifying as such or by behaving bisexually in public ‘only to attract men. “[d]ue to the prominence of gender as a differentializing factor in the discourses on promiscuity. male bisexuality is often perceived as a transition phase toward homosexuality. An additional indication of the binegativity found in our participants’ discourses is the fact that most of them assert they would not want to be in a relationship with someone who identifies as bisexual. by associating bisexuality with deviant forms of sexuality such as promiscuity. indeed. hypersexuality. On the one hand. On the other hand.

it is often in a way that ultimately reinforces the homosexual-heterosexual binary. we ask readers to be careful when analyzing the meaning of the increasing permissiveness when it comes to (female) bisexuality. the right to adoption for same-sex couples. by extension. 311–330. a large proportion of couples. and raising the bar so high than only a few people can rightfully qualify as bisexual. more than in any other Canadian province. more than one third of couples in Qu´ebec were not married (Belleau & V´ezina. the bisexual identity. R. Cohort differences in tolerance of homosexuality. present but never really in the game.. do not live in legally recognized unions. 63–75. Indeed. Ignoring bisexuality. REFERENCES Altemeyer. (2001). 72(2). When bisexuality is acknowledged. we believe our findings are rather provocative in terms of illuminating how young adults can (and do) interpret bisexuality in themselves and others in quite paradoxical fashion—that is. and question these young women’s motives and as well as the repercussions of such behaviors on their lives. In 2006. by simultaneously recognizing bisexuality and invisibilizing it—and how one’s gender influences the way others will read his or her bisexual practices. . we must also take into account gender relations and power dynamics that shape women’s sexuality. more diversified sample would allow for the consideration of race/ethnicity and/or class as a factor influencing representations of bisexuality. a larger. although recognized as an identity by our participants. more research is needed to ascertain how widespread these representations are among North American youth. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 212 Journal of Bisexuality essentially to please men. B.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. Like the team’s substitute player who’s never asked to play unless the team’s stars are too exhausted to continue alone. Public Opinion Quarterly. However. a predominantly French-speaking Canadian province. 2005. Furthermore. devaluing it. Qu´ebec. In conclusion. NOTE 1. depicting it as temporary. Although this study’s findings rely on a small sample. in press). Therefore. Fahs. (2008). For instance. bisexuality as an identity is kept on the discursive bench. Journal of Homosexuality. T. & Fetner. Andersen. if we can be tempted to celebrate what seems like the growing acceptance of female bisexual practices among youth. although being in a serious relationship and often living together. was one of the first provinces to recognize same-sex marriage and to recognize. Changes in attitudes toward homosexuals. 42(2). is in reality not really an option for themselves and others. are all mechanisms invisibilizing bisexuality as a legitimate long-term identity and lifestyle. desires and feelings. like authors (Diamond. 2009) before us. Future research might also explore in greater depth the reappropriation of female bisexuality by heterosexual men to better understand how men experience pressures to incorporate female bisexuality as part of their heterosexual life and identity.

Angelides. H. S. E. Fahs. Les transitions conjugales a` la crois´ee d’univers normatifs pluriels [Conjugal transitions and plural normative worlds]. B. C. ´ Paris. France: Presses de l’Ecole Normale Sup´erieure. “I’m straight. Klesse. S. & Adams. Capulet. In A. (2011). Gaudet. Eliason.. Sexualities. “Aren’t we all a little bisexual?”: The recognition of bisexuality in an unlikely place. Journal of Bisexuality. Brewster. L.. 11(1). E. 4(1/2). (2008). II. R. J. 3–22. 52(1/2). New York. future directions. France: Armand Colin. Klesse. Repenser les politiques publiques [Re-thinking family and life transitions. and pomiscuous sluts: Creating bisexual intimacies in the face of heteronormativity and biphobia. With reps like these: Bisexuality and celebrity status. & Moradi. Journal of Bisexuality. Journal of Homosexuality. & Mohr. E. J.. Hurtubise (Eds. Bisexuality: Working with a silenced sexuality.. 8(4). & Crawford. (2007). (2010). Le cas de la jeunesse qu´eb´ecoise de 1960 et 2000 [Becoming an adult then and now: A double experience of transmission and definition of the self. non-monogamy and differentialist antipromiscuity discourses. 404–428. J. 15(1). NY: Oxford University Press. M. Bisexuality among self-identified heterosexual college students. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 M. Journal of Bisexuality.). 4(1/2). Journal of Bisexuality. Journal of Bisexuality. Galland. 9(3/4). A. (2009). T. (2004). NY: Routledge. (2009). Sociologie de la jeunesse [Sociology of youth]. (2003). Journal of Bisexuality. (2004). Gaudet. C.. L´evesque (Eds. Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. Shady characters. 127–146). Feminism & Psychology. Qu´eniart & R. 4(1/2). 18(3). 10(3). (2010). Hoburg. Devenir adulte hier et aujourd’hui: Une double exp´erience de transmission et de d´efinition de soi. D. Qu´ebec. (2005). 1(2/3). Israel. . (2011). Barker. I. 119–134. (2004). Alarie and S. 227–244. Compulsory bisexuality? The challenges of modern sexual fluidity. M. Gaudet 213 Anderson. Personal.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services.. but I kissed a girl”: The trouble with American media representations of female-female sexuality. Canada: Presses de l’Universit´e Laval. Paris. Journal of Bisexuality. Bi-negativity. untrustworthy partners. & M. The case of Quebec’s youth in 1960 and 2000]. NY: Haworth Press. relational and community aspects of bisexual identity in emerging. (2006). 137–154. The bisexual option. 104–110. (1993). Regards sur l’interg´en´erationnel (pp. F. Bisexual women. In N. 445–464. 125–158. M. 11(2/3). J. 7–24. M. & V´ezina. Inclusive masculinity: The changing nature of masculinities. 2– 36. and queer theory. 431–449. Klein. (in press). Burlone. S. O. feminism. Konik. B. Arnett. Anderson. 294–308. Diamond. Williams. 10(4). Journal of Bisexuality. & Langdridge. (2005). Intersections: Historicizing (bi)sexuality: A rejoinder for gay/lesbian studies. Journal of Bisexuality.). J. Penser la famille et les transitions de vie. (2009). New York.. The bisexual experience: Living in a dichotomous culture. Feminism & Psychology. 389–394. (2001). M. Re-thinking public policies].. early and middle adult cohorts. Belleau. Bradford. Attitudes toward bisexual women and men: Current research. M. New York.

the ethical experience and responsibility of young adults. (1997). . NY: Routledge. R. Corvino (Ed. science. She is interested in the narratives of everyday life experience for the purpose of analyzing the individuation process in contemporary societies. J. She has received numerous awards and scholarships. Influenced by queer and feminist theories. L.Downloaded by [Computing & Library Services. E. & Denes. (2010). Interpreting the invisibility of male bisexuality: Theories.. New York. Strauss. C. Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social Worlds. She has published on several cultural aspects of youths’ everyday life. K. M. and representation of sexual categories such as bisexuality. (1990). She completed her master’s degree in sociology at the University of Ottawa. is a PhD student at McGill University. University of Huddersfield] at 10:44 06 October 2014 214 Journal of Bisexuality Lannutti. Inside. Political institutions and lesbian and gay rights in the United States and Canada. A kiss is just a kiss? Comparing perceptions related to female–female and female–male kissing in a college social situation. P. V. Rich. Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Same sex: Debating the ethics. 61–71. & Taylor. and social and political involvement. In her research.. (2006). F. E. politics. Straight girls kissing. and culture of homosexuality (pp. L’analyse de contenu dans l’´etude des repr´esentations sociales [Content analysis for the study of social representations]. Signs. Smith. such as the religious practices of Muslim immigrants. Retrieved from http://sociologies. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 1(2/3).). She works on the topic of the life course and specializes in the transitions toward adulthood. & Rothblum. 9(3). 8(1/2). Newbury Park. Sociologies. 15–45. A. nowhere: Bisexual men and women in the gay and lesbian community. A. C. (2008). 5(4). J. 71(1). A model of predictors and outcomes of outness among lesbian and bisexual women. Journal of Bisexuality. Steinman. she analyzed the relationship between sexual identity. Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. PhD. CA: Sage. Journal of Bisexuality. Canada. (2001). 28–32. her analysis also highlighted the limits of sexual identities as well as the influence of gender on emerging adults’ sexuality. Journal of Bisexuality. (2012).. C. interactions. D. A. Lanham. (1980). L. Strangers at home: Bisexuals in the queer movement. J. Milaine Alarie. outside. Negura. McLean. In J. Waldo. sexual history. J. such as the prestigious Vanier Doctoral Scholarship. (2008). & Corbin.. Morris. MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 12(1). M..org/993 Queen. Rupp. 258–263). L. St´ephanie Gaudet. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Ottawa. (2001). 49–62. MA.revues. 63–80. 631–660.