Aside from the obvious definition of "myth" (you know, the one pertaining to the ancient heroes and gods of yore), there are a few more definitions to consider. My online dictionary says it is an invented story or idea, or a false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution. Good ol' Merriam Webster calls it a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone, or a person or thing having an unverifiable existence. The bottom line is that myths, while sometimes popular, are not fact.
Below I have listed a handful of myths pertaining to bisexual women that I have encountered over the past few years. Some of these are common, while others are new to me, thanks to the world of Twitter, in addition to comments on my last essay, "Being Bi in a Gay World." Perhaps you identify with one or more of these myths, whether it be you, personally, or someone you've encountered. But just because you can relate, does that make it fact? I challenge the following myths, and I encourage you to do the same.
- Bisexuals are just gays with one foot in the closet. I cannot tell you how many times my friends, even those closest to me, have accused me of this. Subtly, quietly, they ask, "Are you sure you're not gay?" Or there are the less subtle, more direct friends who suggest in their usually loud and forceful voice, "Why don't you just admit that you're gay?" These are people I have known for over a decade, so I'm always baffled that they would think I'd lie to them. If I were younger, maybe, less sure of myself, then I'd be more understanding of the bisexuality-as-a-gateway-sexuality idea. Of course, that may be an accurate assessment for many people who are not ready to embrace homosexuality, but it isn't for all of us! It's not about having one foot in and one foot out; it's about not being boxed in by four walls.
- Bisexual women are straight girls having a fun dalliance or two before running off with a penis-swinging man. I have met quite a few women, both virtually and in real life, who have flat-out said they would never let themselves be interested in me, or any bisexual woman. It seems a little harsh, but many of these women have been burned in the past by this very scenario. Maybe some bi girls go into it knowing that they want to end up with a man, what some people would label "taking the easy route," considering the benefits afforded heterosexual couples by both a more accepting society and government. But maybe, just maybe, if your ex-girlfriend proceeded to date a man, it was because she fell in love with the person, and not the promise of an easier path to institutionalized marriage.
- Bisexuals are more likely to cheat. Frankly, this adage shocks me. I was genuinely flabbergasted the first time I heard this uttered, and even more shocked when I dug around and discovered that many people spout this as truth. There is no legitimate study proving this, nor would it be easy to attain accurate results if one was to perform a study, but it appears that this myth is touted in cities all over. Come on. Do I even need to spend time refuting this myth? If your bisexual boyfriend or girlfriend cheated on you, I'm sorry; I don't wish that on anyone. Please don't let that taint your view on a group of people as a whole.
- You're not bi unless you go down on girls. This is to say that merely being a recipient of oral sex does not qualify you; you actually have to perform it. Does that mean a girl isn't straight until she gives a guy a blow job? This "myth" is more of a segue into a larger discussion on whether it's whom you love or whom you have sex with that defines your sexuality. I will not be delving deeper into this topic today, but I wanted to include a reference to it, because it is a common saying when arguing about bisexuality.
- Bisexuals are greedy. Ugh. Who is behind these trendy sayings?
- Bisexuals are more likely to carry diseases. This is downright hurtful, and offensive.
- Bisexuals are looking for sex, while lesbians are looking for love. I know many bisexuals (including me) who are searching for love and romance. I also have some lesbian friends who are on the prowl for one thing only, and it isn't a soulmate. Then there are the girls who think they only want sex but stumble upon love, whether they be bi or gay (or straight, for that matter). This is a blanket statement that really does not make sense, considering that people are constantly changing their goals and dreams in the world of sex and relationships.
- Bisexuality does not exist. If you actually believe this, I fear any argument I assert will be futile. Again, ugh.
In my own life, I have friends on one side telling me that deep down they know I'm gay, and that they'll be waiting with open arms to hug me when I'm ready to admit it. On the other side, many of my friends have confessed that they've always thought I was straight and just figured I'd eventually find the right guy to remind me. Both parties think they know me, "deep down," which can be interesting, flattering, amusing, and frustrating all at the same time. Why can't they just accept me and take what I say as the honest and only truth?
There are a multitude of people trying to convince their friends or the world online that bisexuals fall under these "truths" or flat-out don't exist. I am bisexual, and none of the aforementioned myths apply to me. In fact, I find many of them to be insulting and grossly offensive. Let's stop with the generalizations and start looking at people as individuals part of a great community.