Using bisexual+ men’s presumed superlativeness encourages sexual intrigue firmly rooted in the biphobic reduction of bisexual+ men to objects of sexual pleasure.
TW: biphobia, sexual violence/rape culture, mention of sexual abuse against boys, mention of genitalia, fetishization of bisexual+ men, misogyny
By J.R. Yussuf
“Bisexual men are the best in bed” is a comment that continues to gain steam. Cosmopolitan even featured a personal essay engaging the topic of bisexual men being the best in bed – ten years after debuting an egregiously biphobic and homophobic piece. Just like supposedly affirming talking points about bisexual+ (pansexual, fluid, no label, etc.) men being less misogynystic, the zinger that is bisexual+ men are better than straight men in bed, is not always true and more importantly is dangerous to us. It’s as if people cannot help but ping pong between “bisexual men are cheaters, they are disgusting, they don’t exist,” and “bisexual men are the best in bed; go get yourself one!” Never quite landing on the harried truth. The latter is mistakenly seen as positive, affirming, and a balm for those of us who have experienced rejection and tribal gaslighting surrounding our sexuality, though it costs. What’s missing is that these are two sides of the same biphobic coin which sees someone’s bisexuality as the entirety of their being and more relevant than their personhood. Further, the latter contributes to sexual violence against bisexual+ men who already face higher rates of sexual violence than our straight and gay counterparts, especially if they’re Black or Brown, especially if they’re disabled, and especially if they’re transgender. Being fetishized is not a replacement for affirmation, resources, and putting an end to biphobia.
At least 1 in 6 men report having been sexually abused or assaulted, whether as young boys or as adult men. And this is probably a low estimate, since it doesn’t include non-contact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects and many boys and men are not always taught to recognize them as sexual violence. Men who have such experiences are less likely to disclose them than are women and this problem is common, under-reported, under-recognized, and under-treated. In some cases these incidents are encouraged by loved ones and not recognized as abuse by them or their community. Being on the receiving end of sexual abuse is riddled with a particular kind of stigma for boys, men and people assumed to be men, and a large part of what it is to be a man in many circles is centered around expressing oneself sexually with a woman (and not being gay). Men who’ve experienced sexual abuse are at much greater risk than those who haven’t for serious health problems, including PTSD, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, suicidal ideation, attempts and completion, problems in intimate relationships and a distrust of others, underachievement at school and at work, denial, (social) anxiety, and disassociation. The combination of these things creates quite the cocktail for destruction, abuse, and shame to fester.
37% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 26% of gay men and 29% of straight men. 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 40% of gay men and 21% of straight men, and 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Also important to mention there are barriers to why bisexual+, gay, and transgender men don’t report these instances because of unique forms of intimate partner violence, fear of discrimination or bias, and ineffective and victimizing legal responses LGBT+ individuals experience, especially if they are Black or Brown. It’s safe to say, touting bisexual+ men’s presumed superlativeness encourages sexual intrigue firmly rooted in reducing bisexual+ men to objects of sexual pleasure and gratification. This attitude borrows from the idea that men are always ready for or interested in having sex, are naturally aggressive, have high libidos, and other aspects of rape culture.
Sexual violence is about aggression, domination, and power which can be performed no matter the gender. Patriarchy calls us to harm and violate one another, lest we be harmed and violated – though we will be as long as it stands. Ignore the call. Please do not run out and “go get” you a bisexual+ man. This attitude implies that bisexual+ men are items to consume or conquests to be had. A common form of antagonism many bisexual+ people face is running into partners who take our sexuality as a challenge. Partners who are determined to win us over to their side and change our sexual orientation to no longer desire or be attracted to the other gender(s). That is not how sexuality works and that aspiration reeks. These attitudes and more need to be checked long before engaging—sexually or otherwise— with bisexual+ people.
To only be considered because of the promise of good sex, which may not extend to romantic partnership, is a special kind of burn. Fetishization aside, being “good in bed” is extremely subjective and something that can change depending on individual desires and boundaries, or if a person is experiencing a low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, an injury or disability, a change in employment status, mental health challenges, disconnection, and so on. Moreover, every bisexual+ man has a personal, layered relationship with gender, gender roles, sexuality, religion, kink, genitals, etc. so each bisexual+ man is different—in and out of the bedroom. We can’t all be “the best in bed.” Somebody lying. Whether you have flesh dick, plasdick, or no dick at all, one’s sexual orientation is not enough to determine how one performs in bed. Some of us have trash dick, some of us have dick that can’t get hard, some have decent dick, some of us have dick that’s A1. And perhaps most importantly, good sex doesn’t have to center or involve dick at all, even if your partner has one. Outside of the bedroom, we’re just as varied, and many of us are just as problematic as our straight counterparts. We don’t all read bell hooks and Vātsyāyana. Not all of us have been to or can afford therapy. Not all of us are aligning our chakras. Some bisexual+ men look at their sexuality with eyes of acceptance and curiousity, and are still misogynystic. Some bisexual+ men are not open to dating transgender men or women, don’t acknowledge non-binary identities—or think there are more than two genders, for that matter—while some bisexual+ men are not open to dating cisgender people. Some bisexual+ men are virgins. Some bisexual+ men only engage with women while some only engage with men. Some bisexual+ men are transgender. Some bisexual+ men are intersex.
When our existence goes from being denied completely to then being regarded as though we’re the best, most open-minded, experienced lovers, there will be problems. Neither offers us the opportunity to be individual human beings who are alive, learning and growing in some areas, and drowning or stagnant in others. Many bisexual+ men who have begun the work to unlearning misogyny and getting to know ourselves better can be amazing partners, fathers, friends and fuck buddies. A lot of us are aware of the way gender impacts our lives in a very different way than our straight and gay counterparts and intimately know the similarities and differences between bodies of all makeups. But we are not a monolith. There are many pressing issues impacting bisexual+ communities that have nothing to do with wanting to fuck us. Being fetishized may even be alluring for some bisexual+ men but piercing through every bait is a shiny hook that leads to your demise. When society says you don’t exist and calls you every name in the book because of your sexuality, being wanted for the very same thing can feel like being seen, but that’s not what’s happening. Being fetishized is not the same as being seen. If promise of experiencing the best sex is the only way we’ll be considered, it’ll be more of the same in this biphobic society; more gestures that reinforce the prevailling belief about bisexual+ men’s inferiority, which will be exploited for self-serving causes.
Here’s a resource for male survivors of sexual assault.
J.R. Yussuf is the award winning author of the The Other F Word: Forgiveness. He has written for Men’s Health Magazine, Black Youth Project, Thrive Global, Queerty, and Queer Majority. Yussuf created the tag #BisexualMenSpeak for bisexual+ men & masculine identified folks to have the space to speak for themselves & talk about how being bisexual+ impacts the way they move through the world, and he maintains a YouTube channel devoted to emotional intelligence, mental health & bisexuality. Learn more here.
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