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On why bisexuals are like bats

I’m not sure she’s really bisexual – she just likes the attention.

There’s no such thing as bisexuals.

All women are a bit bi really, aren’t they?

All of the above statements are utter bullshit.

The main reason they’re bullshit is, of course, because they write off people’s sexual feelings as things that can be easily dismissed rather than things which can shape someone’s entire life. No matter what you believe about sexuality, I’d hope everyone can see why this is the sort of thing that only a total arsehole would do.

However, more subtly, they’re bullshit because they assume that it is easy for us to put ourselves in someone else’s position and make judgments about what it is that floats their boat.

Being a bat

Philosophers and people who are generally interested in this sort of thing will be familiar with a paper on the nature of consciousness called ‘what is it like to be a bat?‘ It’s by a dude called Thomas Nagel and is an excellent intro to the problem of inner qualia – that feeling that it is like to be a thing.

I have massively simplified the issues here for the sake of analogy, but please do read the paper – it’s ace. 

I can know that bats ‘see’ using sonar, and I can (if I study a bit more than I have) understand exactly how they do that. But the problem is that no matter how detailed my studies I will never be able to experience the feeling of what it is like to actually be that thing.

More simply: picture something sexual. A slim guy being bear-hug-fucked by a much larger guy, for example. You’ve got an image in your head now, right?

I can look at a number of physical things to try and work out what’s going on – I can see if you’re turned on, I can measure your erection/wetness, and if I have kickass equipment I can even see exactly which parts of your brain are active – the synapses that are firing.

But no matter how much I study I will never be able to fully experience the feeling that you have. I won’t see the same image, nor understand exactly how you feel about this particular instance of guy-on-guy action.

Sexual feelings and consciousness

People have physical reactions to sexual things, which we can measure and replicate. They’re deliciously and delightfully scientific, which is why scientists love them. If you want to find out what someone likes the most simple way to measure it is to show it to them and see if they get hard.

But the problem with people is that they also have opinions and emotions which, to be frank, are a pain in the arse to measure. So what’s the best way, in day-to-day life, to establish what someone likes? Well, we fucking ask them.

And when we ask them, we do have to take what they say at face value. I no more know what’s going on in your head than you know that right now I’m wishing you’d slide your trousers down and start slowly stroking your growing erection.

I don’t know what turns you on. The only possible way I can know is for you to tell me. And you can tell me anything – you like being fucked by men, you like rubbing your cock against fully-clothed women, you like rolling around in a mish-mash of people of all different sizes, shapes, colours and genders – I believe you.

Am I bisexual?

Depends on whether you feel like one. Sometimes I like to fuck women, but it’s quite a rare thing for me to find girls that I genuinely fancy. I have a very specific type of girl, and there are some women who make me giggle and drool and stare longingly at their tits, wishing I could pick them up, have them wrap their legs around me, and push them up against a wall while I bury my face in the smooth warmth of their cleavage.

So I fuck women sometimes. But I’m not bi – I’m straight. I feel straight. I don’t wake up in the night craving passionate lesbian embraces, I wake up in the night sweating and panting and reaching for the nearest cock.

You might have a similar mix of sexual preferences, but think that the occasional fucking of your non-preference gender does make you bi. And that, kids, is absolutely fucking fine. Tick whichever box you like on your equal opportunities form, because only you know exactly what’s going on inside your head.

If you tell me you like a particular sexual act or type of person not only will I believe you but I will march loudly through the streets to defend your right to do it with any consenting adult you choose.

People can listen to you and advise and discuss and disagree, but no one has the right to tell you that you’re ‘not a proper bi guy’ because you’ve never been anally fucked. No one has the right to say that you’re definitely gay because you’ve only ever fucked people of the same gender, despite the fact that you have wide-ranging masturbatory fantasies that include both genders banging you until your body aches. On a personal note, no one has the right to tell me I’m bi because sometimes I look at ladies’ tits.

People can know what you do and are and say, but no one knows the feeling that it is like to be you. It’s unique and individual and brilliant and personal – assuming that I know your exact sexual feelings is like assuming I can navigate Oxford Circus using sonar.

So the next time someone tries to tell you there’s no such thing as bisexuals, or that all women are ‘a bit bi’ or that so-and-so is only bi for the attention, ask them what it’s like to be a bat. Thomas Nagel would like to know. And so would I.

14 Comments

  • Grizzlybaz says:

    Great post, as ever, GOTN. Certainly provides some food for thought in the wee small hours. You’re quite right, of course, society shouldn’t label people into categories for the sake of convenience, and that’s as true of sexual preferences as it is of anything else. Keep up the great work.

  • Kandy says:

    I 100% agree with every word written. Do you often hear the phrases at the top of the page?

  • girlonthenet says:

    Cheers, kids. Kandy – yes, it’s way more common than it should be. The first and the third in particular.

    For some reason some men think that because they are turned on by seeing two women pulling in a club/bar, those women can only be doing it in order to turn men on. I know that sometimes girls do this to arouse guys (side note – why should we be angry with them for it? If they both agree that’s what they want to do then let’s let them get on with it, yeah?) but it’s obviously not always the case. It’s not really up to us to make assumptions about their sexual feelings and motivations.

    Ours is not to question why, ours is just to revel in the spectacular diversity of human sexuality. Then rub one out.

  • AnotherGirl says:

    I had one gay relationship, and while my friends were roundly supportive, I did spend a lot of time explaining that I wasn’t a lesbian. My biggest pet hate is people saying that bisexuals are ‘greedy’. There is NOTHING greedy about going through the emotional turmoil of admitting to yourself that you might not be as straight as you thought you were, and having to tell your closest friends that you’re not quite who they thought you were. And running the risk of losing people you cared about because they might see you differently and not tolerate your sexuality and/or new relationship because they think you’re just greedy or going through a phase.

  • MJ says:

    I can’t agree more. I have been asked a few times recently if I’m bi, it irritates me that I have to explain that no, I just really like tits (how could anyone not?), I don’t have any fantasies about sex with women, I have never fancied a woman like I do men, I do quite fancy having my face/hands/mouth connected to a fantastic pair of tits. Alas it has never happened and yet I am still asked if I am bi, just because I express my delight for the female form, and Iam never convinced that anyone believes that I JUST LIKE TITS, no matter how loudly I scream it into their judgy little faces.

  • LL says:

    Hm, bit problematic saying that everyone likes tits (not everyone does, just like everyone isn’t a little bit bi!), but otherwise I roundly agree.

  • Greg Stolze says:

    Hold on a second while I get my Privilege Denying Dude teal-and-maroon backdrop up… okay.

    You say that, although you have sexual feelings about women and have had sex with them, you are not a bisexual woman.

    Also, a guy who has only had sex with men ever but who occasionally fantasizes about sex with women COULD be bisexual, if that’s how he chooses to identify himself. Or, a guy who only has sex with women but who chooses to identify himself as bisexual certainly could if he asserts that there are men in his fantasies.

    Okay. I’m fine with people calling themselves whatever they want. But the question this raises for me is… does the word, then, have any meaning left? If someone who has sex with both sexes is legitimately not bisexual and someone who only has sex with one IS legitimately bisexual, simply by virtue of saying “What you feel matters more than what you do…” well, how does the word communicate anything other than “This is my personal little category of bisexuality”?

    It could be a wonderful world if we could get by without the categories of straight/gay/lesbian/trans/genderqueer/etc. but a lot of people seem to find those labels useful – not least, people fighting for equal representation under the law. Getting people to agree to definitions that are behavioral (“You’re a dude and you had voluntary sex with another dude? Hey, welcome to the category!”) rather than subjective (“You’re a dude and one time you watched gay porn and you were aroused? Sounds kinda gay!”) is probably a lost cause. But it seems a little clearer.

    -G.

    • girlonthenet says:

      Ooh, loads of thoughtful comments! I am like a child in a sweetshop, only instead of sweets there are high-quality conversational nuggets.

      Greg – you make some good points, and I think I broadly agree with you. Yes, language is useful and I’m not advocating that people just use any old word with no regard for it’s common usage – we’d all end up far more confuised than we are at the moment. And you’re right – they are extremely useful for those fighting for equal rights under the law – the law loves a good definition.

      But the point I’m making isn’t really a linguistic one. I think what I’m saying is more about attitudes – yes, of course bisexual in the general usage means someone who fucks people of both genders. But more than that the word itself implies more – it implies that there’s a certain level of desire for both genders. Although I do fancy girls sometimes, it’s so rare that I feel like to use that word to describe myself would be, to a certain extent, a misuse of that word as it is commonly used, and therefore misleading.

      So we do have generally accepted definitions of these words, and people should use the words that, as we understand them, best fit the way that they feel sexually. I think from what you’re saying that you’d probably agree with that. Basically the categories are useful – fair enough. And we *do* have to have labels if we want to talk about sexuality in any meaningful way.

      The point I’m making is that it actually isn’t for anyone else to apply these labels – we don’t need to chuck these useful words out of the window (as I think you think I’m implying) but we do have to accept that these aren’t just labels that describe purely observable and measurable factors. If ‘bisexual’ means ‘someone who has had sex with both genders’ then yes, I am bisexual. But the word very obviously encompasses more than that – it covers things like feelings and emotions and desires and all that internal stuff too.
      So this blog isn’t about language, it’s about people feeling like they can apply that language to others without taking into account the whole picture.

      I hope this sort of makes sense. Here’s an example: a dude has had sex with twenty guys and no women, but he craves girls and is desperate to fuck one. None have yet fucked him, as he finds it difficult to communicate with women. We wouldn’t say he was gay because he’d shagged lots of guys and no girls – we’d ask him how he felt. And we wouldn’t then turn around and dismiss the way he’d labelled himself, because we’d accept that his feelings and emotions played a huge part in how he defines his own sexuality.

      • Bodhi says:

        My views on this have changed a lot as I’ve gotten older; I can definitely relate to what Greg says, but I’m more on GOTN’s page now. The gender of the person(s) you have sex with doesn’t necessarily determine your sexuality. If it did, we’d have to consider virgins asexual. I know it makes it harder to define, but if you’re going to ask someone their sexuality, you have to accept their answer. Listening to someone describe their sexual history then telling them ‘You’ll be pleased to learn that, despite believing you were straight, I can inform you that you’re actually bi’ is ridiculously condescending among other things.

        Maybe the terms need to be redefined/clarified but I think something along the lines of the Kinsey Scale would be more useful – if ‘they’ insist on putting people into brackets. I’m very much in agreement with the idea that sexuality is fluid and in the future labels like ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ will become obsolete.

  • Chaz says:

    I agree with Greg, that words need definition, regardless of how you feel. Words are important and help us to define the world around us. That doesn’t mean you have to pigeon-hold yourself, though.

    I’m straight – I’ve never kissed a girl, nor wanted to. I do, however, enjoy looking at the female form. And why not? Women have these great lines and curves and a soft roundness to them that can be very attractive. Because of this I’ve been called “pink” (whatever that means). The person who called me “pink” said that, while I wasn’t gay, I had the potential to be(!) Yeah, we all have that same potential, Einstein(!)

    But when it comes to sex, I’m all about the cock. I love the shape, the texture, the smell the taste. I like how it feels when it’s inside me – hell, I love it! I fantasize about it, I even crave it sometimes. I have no such thoughts about pussy. No quim for this girl. So I’m straight.

    However, I’ve been told I’m gay because of my hairstyle/clothing choices in the past (not asked, mind, *told*). I was at a club with a male friend, who was slightly built, very slim and exotic-looking. And very straight. His girlfriend was working that night, which was why she wasn’t with us. A boy and girl came up to us and the girl said, “You’re not a couple, ‘cos he’s a fag and you’re a dyke!” (Nice.) I replied, “You’re right, we’re not a couple, but we’re both straight.” She looked us both up and down and sneered, “With that hair and those clothes, you’re gay.” I told her she was wrong, but she wasn’t to be swayed from her conviction that we were a “fag” and a “dyke”. Some people have very strong ideas about what makes someone gay/straight/bi/trans/poly, etc. and there’s no changing their minds. These people aren’t worth your time. Let them think what they like and walk away, comfortable in the knowledge that you know who you are.

    I’ve certainly never let someone else’s opinion bother me. Usually I find it quite amusing that someone is so certain they “know” who you are. As you’ve said here, who, other than a bat, knows what it is to be a bat?

    • girlonthenet says:

      Good Lord, this person sounds like a total bastard – apart from anything else, hair and clothes can say many things (e.g. “this person has money” or “this person has spent far too long in Shoreditch”) but it’s rare for clothes to say conclusively ‘gay’. It’s often quite hot when people have a very specific style with which they’re trying to say something, but if their mouth then says something different (i.e. “I’m not actually gay, thanks for asking doucheface”) I find it hard to believe that anyone other than a gold-plated dickbag would dispute it.

      The ‘walking away’ think I find it a bit harder to do, and I think I’d probably challenge the person in that situation. But that’s just, perhaps, because I’m a gobshite.

      Re: definitions – see above response to Greg.

  • boggits says:

    I think the problem here is the word bisexual (in this case meaning two) rather than something closer to pan/omni/polysexual where the definitions move from being attracted to just ‘guys’ or ‘girls’ looses its meaning and the individual becomes attracted to different people at different times (or even different bits of different people at the same time).

    But then again its always easier to short cut the long discussion about sexual identity by picking the word closest to they way you are feeling at the point the issue arrises.

    For me I just people would stop it with the identifying and get on with the sex…

  • Jane says:

    Even back in the 40s the Kinsey scale was offering 7 different degrees of sexual orientation. Which would at least offer you the option of “1: predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual”.
    I find it hard to understand how 70 years later society still sticks rigidly to “hetero, homo or bi”.
    As Kinsey himself said “the living world is a continuum in each and every one of it’s aspects”
    Looking forward to the day that everyone gets a free choice of where they want to be on that continuum and can get on with enjoying themselves with people who are cool with it.

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