August 26, 2011

Do bisexual men exist?

Beyond the binary
Do bisexual men exist?

You should think that this was a meaningless questions, as there are enough bisexual men around to tell you that yes, they do exist.

That does not stop scientists from developing theories that deny their existence, though, especially if the fundamental thinking in a specific discipline is based on a different "truth".

The binary of sexual orientation

As far as I can see, the dominant ideology among many sociobiologists and biologically oriented psychologist has been  that men are strictly homosexual or heterosexual, while women may have a more fluid sexual orientation.

This is, I believe, a  result of the old evolutionary theory that men are constantly trying to spread their seed to as many as possible, while women are more oriented towards love and nurturing. This is why men are believed to be focussing solely on the visual clues of an attractive body, while women might even find footage of bonobos frolicking exciting.

This was at least the conclusions made by J. Michael Bailey and his team over at Northwestern University.

The return of the bisexual man

The International Herald Tribune now reports on a new Northwestern study, led by Allen Rosenthal (an associate of Bailey's, I believe),  that indicates that bisexual men do in fact exist.

There are other studies pointing in the same direction:



In March Jerome Cerny and Erick Janssen published a report arguing that bisexual men were more likely to experience both genital and subjective arousal when watching videos of a man having sex with both a man and another woman.


The Tribune/New York Times puts it this way:

"In both studies, men watched videos of male and female same-sex intimacy while genital sensors monitored their erectile responses. While the first study reported that the bisexuals generally resembled homosexuals in their responses, the new one finds that bisexual men responded to both the male and female videos, while gay and straight men in the study did not."

The relevance for crossdreamers

Why is this relevant to crossdreamers?  After all, crossdreaming is not defined on the basis of sexual orientation, but on some kind of identification with the opposite sex.

Well, it is all about ideology. J. Michael Bailey is a supporter of Ray Blanchard's autogynephilia theory, and that theory is based on the premise that male to female transsexuals and crossdressers/crossdreamers are either "homosexual" (i.e. "androphilic" or sexually attracted to men) or "heterosexual" (i.e. "gynephilic" or sexually oriented towards women).

The androphilic transwomen are considered extremely feminine gay men, while the gynephilic transwomen are understood to be perverted men who have internalized their external love object. They want to become what they love.

All of this is based on the premise of there being just two types of male bodied persons: (1) feminine gay men and (2) masculine heterosexual men. There are no other options.

Any bisexual man is a gay man living in denial. Any gynephilic male bodied person who feels like a woman is a heterosexual man living in denial.

The new reports clearly shows that this dichotomy is bogus. Nature allows for a kind of variation Blanchard and Bailey's theory does not permit. And if they are wrong about the basic facts, what does that say about the rest of the theory?


Jerome A. Cerny and Erick Janssen:  "Patterns of Sexual Arousal in Homosexual, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men,"  Arch Sex Beha Jan 2011

12 comments:

Lunavo said...

The reason for existence of the concept of "sexual orientation" I think is to ensure that most men pick up the real-man category of heterosexual, so that is it shown to society that real men always spread seeds and so cannot desire men sexually. While the men who do are lesser men,gay, TOTALLY gay, and can never spread seed.
To allow the concept of bisexuality means giving someone a luxury to both spread the seed as well as to enjoy sex with men and still be a real-man. That would never do because then, probably, many many more men would come out and not waste their time spreading seeds and not just that,even go back to the barracks with other men, leabing women only in the hands of metrosexuals and MTF crossdreamers (their true lovers).
Jack dear, your article probably spells danger on the ears of those promoting stability and harmony in a civilized society! Peace!

Pinaki said...

I am a male who likes sex with females only for the physical.I am not physically attracted to men at all. But I am highly turned on by male attention. I would like it hot when a gay or straight guy shows interest in love with me to the point of desiring me.
I would be instantly in bed with a guy for the emotional aspect, although i have no interest in sexual things about a male body.
Now go figure. How do you label me? In a lab test, I would get turned off by gay porns because male nudity does nothing to me though female bodies in a straight porn would.
But give me anytime, I would enjoy my 'homosexual' part more than the 'heterosexual' one as it is simply more pleasing to the emotions.
So, am I a homoromantic bi? Or some non-homosexual gay? Lolz....sometimes I think labels are annoying

ACH said...

Rosenthal is a grad student of Bailey's.

Jack Molay said...

"Jack dear, your article probably spells danger on the ears of those promoting stability and harmony in a civilized society!"

This is very much about fear for the social order. I am old enough to remember how gay men were considered a threat to Christianity, children, old women and capitalism (and then some). Now we have had a Conservative gay minister of finance, and the country is still working ;)

femslut21 said...

I hate to defend Prof Bailey but here it goes:

He did not come to his conclusions based on any evolutionary theory at all. He performed a study, looked at the evidence, and from that evidence made a not completely unreasonable conclusion.

It just so happens that his study was extremely poorly designed. Therefore his evidence was junk. Therefore he came to a very wrong conclusion.

He recruited any biological male who claimed to be bisexual and showed them porn of various types while they were connected to his erection measuring machine. He wasn't interested in self reports of arousal, but wanted the erection to provide externally verifiable evidence of arousal.

The problem is he didn't screen his subjects well at all. He found that in this population 75% were only aroused genitally by homosexual imagery, and 25% were only aroused genitally by heterosexual imagery.

From this he drew the not unreasonable conclusion that : "Male bisexuality appears primarily to represent a style of interpreting or reporting sexual arousal rather than a distinct pattern of genital sexual arousal."

The press later exaggerated this finding into the claim that "male bisexuality does not exist". In articles with charming titles such as: "Straight, Gay or Lying?" Benedict Carey, New York Times, (July 5, 2005).

The bisexual community and others pointed out to Prof Bailey and his peers that their study was flawed.

He and his grad students* conducted a follow up study in his own lab[1]. They required the subjects to have had (1) sexual relations with both biological sexes and (2) lasting relationships with both biological sexes.

In this population they did find a significant number of men who responded with erection to both hetero- and homosexual porn.

Now Prof Bailey is no saint, but I will give him credit. He had an important and controversial paper that was getting him a lot of recognition in his field. He could have stopped there. But he was humble enough to admit that he might be wrong. So he followed the scientific method and set out to prove himself wrong in his own lab. Not many scientists will do that.

* Rosenthal AM, Sylva D, Safron A, Bailey JM (July 2011). "Sexual arousal patterns of bisexual men revisited". Biol Psychol

beagirl said...

I think it is also worth noting that many clinicians dispute that penile plethysmography is an effective way to reliably determine this kind of adult sexual orientation, as it is known to produce both false negatives and false positives, and can be intentionally 'fooled' by the subject.

It is considered useful as an indicator of involuntary response in sex offenders, notably to discern whether someone has a pedophiliac orientation (that they deny). But Freund, Blanchard, Bailey, etc.'s use to determine whether bisexual men are 'really' bisexual, or whether transwomen are "homosexual" or "autogynephiliac"... it's just bad science. Unreliable at best, complete nonsense at worst.

When I read about these PPG studies, I usually get a mental image of Bill Murray at the beginning of Ghostbusters, when he's doing his 'psychic experiment'...

Jack Molay said...

@beagirl

"I think it is also worth noting that many clinicians dispute that penile plethysmography is an effective way to reliably determine this kind of adult sexual orientation"

It is worth noting that a lot of crossdreamers report not getting an erection from sexual arousal. It seems they stop thinking of the penis as a penis, which has a direct effect on a reaction Blanchard & Co think is autonomous.

Abhirup said...

@Jack,
"All of this is based on the premise of there being just two types of male bodied persons: (1) feminine gay men and (2) masculine heterosexual men. There are no other options."

This kind of western opinion is in stark contrast to the non=-Christian oriented cultures where it is male bisexuality that was totally the norm and attraction of a man to another man was considered as noble, virile and masculine, while liking women (gynephilia) was considred to arise from the inner feminine side of a man. Jack, could it be that it is actually the anima inside us that creates an attraction to women for the gynephilic crossdreamers?

http://www.westernbuddhistreview.com/vol3/homosexuality.html

"Not unlike other warrior societies, particularly ancient Greece, in Japan ‘[t]he love of women [was] regarded as disgraceful and a sign of weakness, whereas the love of men [was] virile and honourable’.[53]"

Jack Molay said...

"Jack, could it be that it is actually the anima inside us that creates an attraction to women for the gynephilic crossdreamers?"

That is a tricky question. Jung's anima represents the repressed feminine traits of man who consciously identify as masculine men.

A lot of male to female crossdreamers do identify as masculine men, and as I have noted elsewhere, their tendency to develop a female alter ego (with a female avatar and name), tells me that their hidden side is expressed through that "personality complex" (or "ponyo" as I call it).

Following Jung we could say that this "ponyo" makes use of feminine symbols found in the surrounding culture, and that it channels the anima archetype.

The fact that male to female crossdreamers normally fall in love with women and idealizes women, indicates that this fascination is the anima speaking.

But I am unsure if this fascination for women can explain the sexual orientation or sexual attraction to women.

After all, masculine homosexual men should also have a feminine anima, and they should project this anima out on people around them.

And in some way many of them do. The fascination for drag queens, divas, extreme feminine symbols and mannersisms may be the result of such a projection.

Still, they remain attracted to men and not women.

Then there are the effeminate gay men, who clearly both identify with women and worship women, but who still feel attracted to men.

All of this leads me to believe that sexual orientation is a variable separate from both the anima and sex identity.

Abhirup said...

@Jack,
Interesting question here! I think here we do need to separate adoration and worship form of attraction from sexual-attraction.
Is it that most crossdreamers also have a real physical attraction to women just like heterosexual males do?
I often get to hear that may do like women but not in the same way as the lust of a heterosexual male. They tend to adore women more than sexually desire them all the way like a horny teenager. Of course, sex may enter into the picture as romance is deeply associated with sex too. But it is still different from just pure physical lust of heterosexual men who actually otherwise don't adore women but just physically desire them.

Abhirup said...

There is another confusion here. Experts such as Jung often claim that homosexuality in males is caused due to a form of anima complex and they often mix up two separate phenomena together,ie., transgenderism and homosexuality.
This may be true in a few cases such as effeminate gay males.
However, a masculine homosexual man is certainly not of that type as he has very low anima if at all and he gets attracted to a man as another masculine man and his anima hardly comes into play here.
Another exception to that view is in the case of gynephilic transwomen or crossdreamers who have an anima side but are attracted to women.
Both, in my view, totally challenge the conventional view of conflating homosexuality with transgender.

Jack Molay said...

@Abhirup

"Is it that most crossdreamers also have a real physical attraction to women just like heterosexual males do?"

I obviously do not know what the regular Joe really feels, but friends and the media has given me a certain impression. It seems to me that the crossdreamer attraction has lot in common with what cisgender heterosexual men feel.

There may be a strong attraction to feminine body traits, smells, clothing, and mannerisms. This is mixed up with an attraction to personality traits, which may or may not be "feminine" in the traditional sense of the world.

Each and every male body person, cisgender or transgender, is attracted to a particularl mix of traits.

They have this in common with lesbian women, and in particular the "butch" lesbian women who are looking for "femme" lesbian women.

The difference between most male to female crossdreamers on the one hand and cismales and butch lesbians on the other, is that the male to female crossdreamers have a tendency to identify with the feminine role. I guess they have more in common with the "femme" lesbian in this respect.

But this is a genuine sexual attraction, not some kind of internalized fascination for the feminine only.

"Experts such as Jung often claim that homosexuality in males is caused due to a form of anima complex and they often mix up two separate phenomena together,ie., transgenderism and homosexuality."

I agree. I have made same argument in my post on the transgender Jung.