Bisexuality: Why Calling It a Phase Is the Ultimate Disrespect

September 25th 2014

Lindsay Haskell

A new report by the Human Rights Campaign reveals that bisexual youths are significantly less happy and more often harassed than non-LGBT youths. And to be perfectly honest, who can blame them? Of course, all individuals of the LGBT community still deserve more respect than they currently receive, but bisexuality in particular often becomes a target for societal stigma. Bisexuals are frequently disregarded or degraded by society because people cannot seem to wrap their head around the concept as a whole.

The stigma is different for both men and women, but it boils down to the same problem: a degradation of their identity. For girls, bisexuality is often labeled merely a "phase," not dissimilar from how many regard moments of teenage angst.  Notwithstanding the condescension of this assumption, what I've always wondered is - what exactly constitutes a "phase"? Technically speaking, isn't every job we take, every decision we make, just a phase of our lives? And yet with this term comes the added connotation that bisexuality isn't who the person truly is. That, rather, it is merely a deviation from the person's true self, and later, when they "grow up," they'll realize the "error of their ways" and laugh about their (presumably foolish) "youthful choices." By calling bisexuality a "phase," one is essentially denying an individual their rightful identity. 

And that's not where the discrimination ends for bisexual women. No, there is another, equally if not more offensive, aspect to the prejudice: the idea that bisexual women must be doing it for male attention. We've all been there - when you tell a guy you have a bisexual female friend, they immediately follow it up by telling you how 'hot' it would be if you and your friend made out, tossing the idea of a threesome out there. We roll our eyes and disregard these comments as just "guys being guys" but that's not what it is. Rather, these comments are indicative of the pervasive view that women are sexual objects just for men, and so two women having sex is not really "sex" at all. Thus, bisexuality becomes synonymous with "will have sex with anyone" to men. The sad part is, this common attitude leaves only two options for bisexual women: to either be demeaned or demonized. Many bisexuals are forced to laugh off these offensive comments, no matter how degrading and disrespectful they truly are, or be accused of not being able to "take a joke" if they decide to talk back.

Sadly, bisexual men do not have it much better; they have to deal with society's proclamation that they are not, in fact bisexual at all, but rather closeted gay men. Again, this just highlights society's need to categorize everyone and everything into singular boxes. And when someone doesn't fit into these boxes, they'll force them in.  Oh, how silly of a man, to assume that he would have a better idea of who he is and his sexuality than mere acquaintances and society at large. By drastically underestimating bisexual individuals' level of self-awareness, we are in fact belittling them as people. Instead of trying to pin them into little boxes - which is merely for own comfort and peace of mind than anything else - we should accept them for who they are, regardless of whether it fits into our narrowly-defined mold of 'How The World Works.'

This widespread misunderstanding and discrimination cannot stand - we can't claim to stand up for LGBT rights, without also standing up for the rights of one of the largest parts of that community. Coming out as bisexual should not be an isolating event, but a liberating and empowering move. By accepting that bisexuals' feelings and identity are not only real, but deserving of our equal respect and appreciation, we can allow bisexual youths to feel happy being who they are, instead of victims of harassment and social stigma.