Bi-nary objections: Voices on bisexual identity misappropriation and bisexual resistance
This research project makes clear the ways social forces, social structures, and social interactions combine to shape and situate bisexual bodies. While there is much literature on the development of gender in relation to sexuality, there have been few opportunities to practically apply sociological theory about gender to the social construction of sexuality in general, and specifically, to bisexuality. In-depth conversations with forty-eight self-identified bisexual women and men attempt to rectify this disjuncture primarily by proposing that the gendering and sexualizing process serves as a foundation for a social landscape that proselytizes either/or dichotomous categories; thus, leaving little space for a bisexual identity to stand alone. The central research problem is the myriad ways heterosexism both hides my informants and makes them boldly appear. I suggest that some bisexuals have a unique position in that they may challenge assumptions of heterosexism by calling into question the "either/or" dichotomy of heterosexual/homosexual. Because bisexuality locates one's social sexual identity as fluid, dynamic and ever-changing, binary categories are not sufficient. Coupling grounded theory method with contextual notes, I offer a new theoretical construct, "doing bisexuality," to describe how the self-identified bisexuals in this study confront and even temporarily disrupt what one respondent aptly called "the dichotomous imagination.". Providing both a theoretical and a practical lens to commingle sociological theories of gender with social constructions of sexuality is integral to understanding the empirical lives of my respondents. In my final analysis, I introduce an improved framework for understanding how self-identified bisexuals deviate from a paradigm that insists one's sex and gender are linked to one's sexuality. By using social constructionism as the starting point, the self-identified bisexuals in this study begin to understand their impact on the meaning-making systems over which they have some control. As I ultimately conclude, rather than simply reproducing "normative" structures of heterosexism, some bisexuals resist and transform such structures; thus, creating a new theoretical space for an authentic bisexual identity to take root.