Here is an opinionated research paper I wrote for my English class this past semester. For my research paper, I challenged the definition of bisexuality and noted how the public and media exploited it. Bisexuality was most striking to me because almost every female celebrity (i.e. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry) claims they’re bisexual, and a lot of people label themselves as Bi as well. I had a lot of fun researching this topic and learned some interesting facts! This is the first research paper I wrote during the semester and my teacher gave me a solid “A” on it! I cited my work at the end.
Hope you enjoy,
If Katy Perry enjoys kissing girls and Madonna doesn’t mind broadcasting her make-out session with Britney Spears, what side should the public be on when it comes to supporting the gay community? The gay community involves people – men and women – who are attracted to their own sex. But what about men and women who claim they’re attracted to both sexes equally? Bisexuals often feel alienated from both homosexuals and heterosexuals (Prevalence of Homosexuality, Bisexuality). According to a straight eighteen-year-old male, bisexuality orients someone who fantasizes about and sees themselves with both boys and girls. Bisexuality is a popular trend and because it is presented, especially through celebrities, as a cool label to have, others become interested in experimenting with both sexes.
Through the media, artists like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga – both females who have been in functioning heterosexual relationships – publicize their fantasies with the same sex in their songs and interviews. Gaga confesses that her song “Poker Face” is about fantasizing about being with women while being with her boyfriend. She claims that her attraction towards women is only physical and she can fall in love only with men (Rolling Stone). Whether Lady Gaga is sharing the truth about her sexuality through her songs or not, does the attention that Lady Gaga is receiving have an affect on how other’s label themselves sexually? If Katy Perry gets a good reaction when she kisses a girl, is it okay to experiment with your best friend?
When conducting research on bisexuality, I asked three different people (straight male, straight female, bisexual female) a selection of questions. During the interview, I asked each of them how they thought the sexuality was looked upon today. Each of them defined bisexuality as being a phase or the thing to be. The eighteen-year-old bisexual female said, “Bisexuality has always been around, but lately the media has opened it up. Because of how its been exploited, seeing two girls kiss is sexier than a straight couple kissing and more acceptable than two men kissing.” All three people agreed that bisexuality has been influenced by pop culture; the straight male stated, “Now that gays and lesbians have support, there is no fear in being bisexual.” Continuing on this note, the forty-six-year-old straight female said, “If it wasn’t for the freedom within the gay community, we wouldn’t know much about bisexuality.”
Although all three people that I interviewed agreed that bisexuality is a phase, the bisexual female said, “How the sexuality comes across depends on the person’s maturity. It can come across as attention seeking especially through girls who aren’t taking it seriously.” When asked to elaborate on her beliefs she added, “People who aren’t consistent do it for attention. If it’s serious, it is not a phase.” An USA Today article written by Sharon Jayson reported the results of a study conducted by an associate professor, Lisa Diamond, of psychology and gender studies at University of Utah. Diamond interviewed seventy-nine non-heterosexual women and noticed over time that they still referred to themselves as bisexual (Jayson). After keeping in contact with these women every two years, Professor Diamond claims that bisexuality is a distinct orientation and that is it not a phase (Diamond). Most women “possess the capacity to experience sexual desires for both sexes, under the right circumstances;” while heterosexual women may “experiment with same-sex desires and behaviors, but if they really are predominantly heterosexual, they may enjoy experimentation but may not change their sexuality” (Diamond).
Although Diamond’s long-term study on bisexuality has proved that it exists, there are still many cases where girls act provocative towards other girls even though they’re more attracted to men. I asked my three participants how they think an acceptable bisexual should act intimately with both sexes. All of them said that if a girl who claims to be bi is in a relationship with a man but has only kissed a girl is not honestly bisexual. My participants agreed that someone who is bisexual should be comfortable with being as intimate as they’re with a man, with a woman.
Nikki Dowling, who wrote an article for the gay community section of online CNN, refers to these women as “Facebook Lesbians.” “These are chicks you see on social networking Web sits and in clubs and bars getting touchy-feely with their platonic girlfriends to get attention from men” (Dowling). Dowling claims to have many female friends who say they swing “both ways;” but when they’re asked if they could be intimate with a woman, they seem repulsed. “Although for most of these girls it stops with a kiss or an innocent boob-grab, some of them actually identify themselves as bisexual” (Dowling). For those of us who do not believe bisexuality exists, Dowling believes that our opinion on bisexuality is influenced by these “Facebook Lesbians,” which is not fair to girls who are honestly bisexual.
Although the broadcasting of two girls kissing at a live award show seems to be widely accepted by all audiences, some viewers still struggle with viewing two men engaging intimately. In 2008, a Heinz Deli Mayo commercial, featuring two men kissing, was pulled off the air after getting hundred complaints that it was offensive and inappropriate (Plunkett, The Guardian). Unfortunately there is some controversy over the acceptance of sexuality.
Two girls kissing is categorized as sexy, while two men kissing is viewed as being inappropriate. Audiences, especially male audiences, enjoy watching two girls share a kiss. Watching two girls, who claim to be straight, experiment with each other fulfills many fantasies; while only a certain audience – gay men – are interested in watching two men share a kiss. Not only does the gay community invest interest in an artist who has come out as bisexual, but so does the average audience member. For female artists like Katy Perry, when she announced that she was bisexual, she became a sex icon. Her attraction towards both sexes was not only welcomed by the gay community, but also the heterosexual community. Because of her sexuality, she is sexy.
Yet, she is a woman. For artists like Adam Lambert, it was more of a struggle for him to come out as being gay. In his interview with Rolling Stone he stated, “I didn’t want the Clay Aiken thing and celebrity-magazine bullshit. I need to be able to explain myself in context … I find it very important to be in control of this situation. I feel like everyone has an opinion of me, and I want a chance to say, ‘Well, do you want to hear how I really feel about this? (MTV)”
Although bisexuality has been proven to be a honest sexuality, it has also been treated as being a label and temporary phase amongst women who need attention: “Facebook Lesbians.” The way a sexuality is exploited in the media affects how people view and use it themselves.
CliffsNotes.com. Prevalence of Homosexuality, Bisexuality. 14 Nov 2011
Plunkett, John “Heinz: Gaydar Radio calls for boycott after ‘men kissing’ ad pulled” The Gaurdian (2008) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/25/advertising
Rolling Stone “The New Issue of Rolling Stone: The Rise of Lady Gaga” Rolling Stone (2009) http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-new-issue-of-rolling-stone-the-rise-of-lady-gaga-20090527
Jayson, Sharon “Women’s bisexuality an ‘identity,’ not phase” USA Today (2009)
Dowling, Nikki “Bisexual or lesbian — please make up your mind” CNN (2009)
Kaufman, Gil “Adam Lambert Struggled With Coming Out: ‘I Didn’t Want The Clay Aiken Thing’” MTV (2009) http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1613628/adam-lambert-struggled-with-coming-out-i-didnt-want-clay-aiken-thing.jhtml