We Need to Address Violence Against Bisexual People

by | December 21, 2013
filed under LGBT

Bisexual pride flag

Bisexual pride flag

by Lola Davidson

Trigger Warning: biphobia, biphobic violence, intimate partner violence

According to the CDC, almost 75% of bisexual women have been victims of sexual and/or domestic violence. This number includes rape, molestation and stalking. 81% of those bisexual women (61% of total bisexual women) have experienced violence from an intimate partner.

This makes bisexual women the number one target of sexual and domestic violence in the world, followed by bisexual men (47.4%), then lesbian women, heterosexual women, gay men and heterosexual men. The study doesn’t specify whether trans folk were included in the identities, but I’m assuming statistically they had to have been in some way.

As a bisexual woman, these numbers are very scary to me but also painfully believable.

I wanted to explore the issue further, so I made a post on my blog explaining what I was doing and asking fellow bisexual people to share their stories. The response I got was unbelievable. I found myself reading through their responses for days; it was a very emotional experience.

Bisexuals of different ages, genders, races and classes told me about how they’ve been beaten, punched, had bricks thrown at them, disowned, stalked, raped, harassed, mentally and verbally abused – there was even one person who shared with me a story about how their neighbor came to their house and beat them repeatedly to “cure”  their bisexuality.

The attackers mentioned where both heterosexual and homosexual. The interesting thing is that almost all these survivors said they felt that the people in their lives would have been okay with their orientation if they were either gay or straight but they weren’t okay with them being bisexual because they needed “to pick one or the other”.

The mainstream media often addresses the issue of homophobia and LGBT acceptance; however, biphobia is usually not mentioned or acknowledged in any way. To a lot of people, bisexuality is seemingly synonymous with greed and depravity. There’s something very unsettling about how unaccepting society is of a sexuality that includes attraction to more than one gender, and how bisexuality has become the universal punching bag of people to take out their sexual frustration.

The fact that bisexual women and men are at the highest risk for violence is not a coincidence. It’s clear to me that a big factor of violence towards bisexuals comes from the oversexualization of bisexuality in the media and pornography. Bisexuals are often portrayed as very promiscuous and morally-ambiguous, often cheating on their partners or threatening their identity in some way.

In the former Showtime series “The L Word” one of the main characters, Jenny, tests the waters of bisexuality by cheating on her boyfriend. In the popular musical “Rent”, it’s implied that Maureen, an openly bisexual woman, leaves her boyfriend for another woman and is portrayed as a person with deep commitment issues.

These negative stereotypes are reinforced even more in porn, where female bisexuals are portrayed as depraved beings who will fulfill any male fantasy.

This brings me back to the issue of the high percentage of rape survivors in the bisexual community mentioned in the CDC study. Porn sends the message to people that bisexual women are willing to do anything and everything, and will enjoy it completely the whole time. A lot of the bisexual people I spoke to about their past sexual abuse said that their attackers repeatedly told them that they knew they were enjoying it. The majority of their attackers were their partners at the time and the attackers told them that they were disgusting, unnatural, confused and perverted.

Their attackers also constantly redefined their sexual orientation for them, telling them they were not really bisexual and were just gay/straight and immoral. A lot of these survivors said that they now frequently lie to strangers about their sexual orientation for their own personal safety, which after hearing their experiences, is completely understandable.

I find it infuriating how often bisexual issues are swept under the rug and how bisexuality is still the butt of jokes. There is nothing funny about the violence that occurs and there is no excuse for this continuation of negative bisexual stereotypes in society.

The fact that three out of four bisexual women have experienced sexual and/or domestic violence in their life and the fact that nearly half of bisexual youth contemplate suicide is an issue that should be brought to everyone’s attention and that desperately needs to change.

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