The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Bi erasure occurs both inside and outside the LGBTQ+ community. A bisexual woman in a heteronormative relationship with a cis man does have the privilege of passing as straight and may not be a victim of homophobia during that relationship. However, if they kiss a woman afterwards, they’re faced with preconceptions like “so he turned you gay”, “pick a side”, or “you’re only doing that because the guys like it”.
This foolish assumption that a bisexual’s sexuality is overridden by their partners being straight/gay is invalidating and even sometimes pushes them further into the closet, caught up in their own internalised biphobia and external pressure confusing their identity. The same idea of being half-straight-half-gay sometimes triggers the older generation or homosexual people to coin it a ‘phase’ or ‘experimenting’. This biphobia comes from society’s binary view of sexuality, “heterosexism and an endorsement of strict male/female, straight/gay dichotomies.”
The idea that these women are greedy and performing for straight men is a typical interpretation by the male gaze. Performative bisexuality plays into the fantasy of a hypersexual man, encouraged by the combination of the sexualisation of lesbianism and actually having a chance at the end of the night because bi women are attracted to both. “Lesbian” has been the most watched genre on “Pornhub” for almost a decade, fetishizing queer women. It is NOT a compliment that men enjoy watching, because being reduced to a fantasy for the cis-heterosexual male gaze is neither acceptance nor inclusion. The erasure is clear here; bisexual women apparently do not exist unless they have men as a voyeur.
The motif of a woman engaging in performative touching or kissing is frequently depicted in popular media. It seems then that the only visibility of bi women in movies is through characters “performing” bisexuality but still being “sexually available to men”; for example, Megan Fox in ‘Jennifer’s Body’. This spreads the damning message that women do not engage in same-sex activities for themselves, as an expression of their own identity, but rather for the satisfaction of the men watching.
Unfortunately, erasure also exists among bisexual men. On the contrary though, this demographic are victims of much more homophobia. There is a naïve stigma that bi men are “basically gay” while bi women are “basically straight”. They are not fetishized in the same way, rather seen as “halfway out the closet” or using bisexuality as a “stepping-stone to coming out.” This overt homophobia only exists towards bisexual men because they don’t serve misogyny in the same way bi women do. Simply put, whether a bisexual woman is single, in a heteronormative relationship, or a sapphic relationship, their bisexuality is not compromised. Even if one settles down with a man, their sexuality remains relevant, and should not be erased just to succumb to the dichotomies of our society. Bisexuality does exist; women can get with each other for themselves, not just for men to watch.