In an unusual scientific about-face, researchers at Northwestern University have found evidence that at least some men who identify themselves as bisexual are, in fact, sexually aroused by both women and men.
Some men. Interesting.
This finding is not likely to surprise the many bisexuals (both male and female) who have long asserted that their attraction is not limited to one sex specifically. In 2005, Northwestern released a report “with respect to sexual arousal and attraction" and said, "it remains to be demonstrated (proven) that male bisexuality actually exists.”
And to think we paid for this!
Their conclusions simply outraged the many bisexual men and women who said the report appeared to support a stereotype of bisexuality as closeted homosexuality.
So, in advancement of the facts, I'm guessing this protest by bisexuals brings to light they have notions regarding closet homosexuals and they're thought of as lowly.
Kind of like civil society in general.
In the new study, however, things would be different. They required participants to have a sexual experience with at least two people of each sex and a romantic relationship of at least three months with at least one person of each sex.
They weren't asking for too much, were they?
Both studies found that bisexuals reported subjective arousal to both sexes, and had the genital responses to match.
“Someone who is bisexual might say, ‘Well, duh!’” said Allen Rosenthal, the lead author of the new Northwestern study and a doctoral student in psychology at the university. “But this will be validating to a lot of bisexual men who had heard about the earlier work and felt that scientists were just not getting them.”
The Northwestern study is the second such study published this year to report a distinctive pattern of sexual arousal among bisexual men, again, to think we paid for this just makes me angry! What I'd like to know is where are the grants to study Trans-persons?
Another study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, in many ways just like the Northwestern study, reported the results of a slightly different approach to the question. In their study they also showed participants erotic videos of two men and two women and they included scenes of a man having sex with both a woman and another man.
The researchers; Jerome Cerny, a retired psychology professor at Indiana State University, and Erick Janssen, a senior scientist at the Kinsey Institute, found that bisexual men were more likely than heterosexuals or gay men to experience both genital and subjective arousal while watching both types of videos.
And this is important to know because . . . ?
Dr. Lisa Diamond, a psychology professor at the University of Utah and an expert on sexual orientation, said that the two new studies, taken together, represented a significant step toward demonstrating that bisexual men do have specific arousal patterns.
My issue is, Who cares?
Simple non-scientific interviews of many trans-individuals I've had revealed how invalidating it is when one's own family members think they’re confused or simply going through a minor stage of life or they're in total denial about their own biology is bad enough! Converging lines of university level evidence, using different methods and stimuli, only gives the scientific community the confidence to say this is something real.
We queers already know it! This is merely our tax dollars hard at work!
The new studies are totally absent of any bi-sexual females but the Northwestern study included 100 men! These men were closely split among bisexuals, heterosexuals and homosexuals. The study at the Archives of Sexual Behavior included 59 participants, among them 13 self-admitted bi-sexuals.
In fairness, the new Northwestern study was financed in part by the American Institute of Bisexuality, a group that promotes research and education regarding bi-sexuality. Still, advocates have expressed mixed feelings about the Northwestern research.
Jim Larsen, 53, a chairman of the Bisexual Organizing Project, which is a Minnesota based advocacy group, said the findings could help bisexuals still struggling to accept themselves. “It’s great that they’ve come out with affirmation that bisexuality exists,” he said. “Having said that, they’re proving what we in the community already know. It’s insulting. I think it’s unfortunate that anyone doubts an individual who says, ‘This is what I am and who I am.’”
I think I agree with Jim!
Ellyn Ruthstrom, president of the Bisexual Resource Center in Boston, echoed Mr. Larsen’s discomfort. She said, “This unfortunately reduces sexuality and relationships to just sexual stimulation,” She went on to say, “Researchers want to fit 'bi' attraction into a little box; you have to be exactly the same, attracted to men and women, and you’re bisexual. That’s nonsense. What I love is that people express their bisexuality in so many different ways.”
In a refreshing note, despite her cautious praise of the new research, Dr. Diamond noted that the kind of sexual arousal tested in the studies is only one element of sexual orientation and identity. Good for her! All studies interpret results in a rather simple manner about sexual arousal which is not quite so uncomplicated. "Monitoring genital response to erotic images in a laboratory setting cannot replicate an actual human interaction", she said. "Sexual arousal is a very complicated thing,” she added. She concluded by saying, "The real day-to-day life is extraordinarily messy and multi-factorial."
And all us cross dressing men know it can be exactly that! But I have serious reservations we'll ever see that study done using tax dollars!
A version of this article appeared in print on August 23, 2011, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: No Surprise for Bisexual Men: Report Indicates They Exist.