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Forty qualitative interviews were conducted with women of diverse backgrounds to explore women's narratives about performative bisexuality. Although younger women reported more performative bisexual experiences in public, older women reported more pressure to perform as bisexual in private e.

Further, experiences with performative bisexuality did not consistently predict political attitudes that supported full civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer LGBTQ community, indicating a disconnect between behavior and attitudes.

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The current study explores the implications of such behavior and the way in which many women report that performances of bisexual behavior feel compulsory or required to garner sexual-validation within their heterosexual relationships or the heteronormative culture at large. Research on bisexuality reveals its contentious and often ambiguous qualities.

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Jennifer Baumgardner argued, In a sex obsessed world, it appeared that no one wanted to know about bisexual sex. Reading about it is confusing because bisexuals themselves are just confused. Besides it's just a phase.


Did I mention that bi is code for gay? And, you know, it's just a trendy way for straight girls to fit in with other radical and oppressed folks. Others argue that bisexuality serves as a vehicle through which women decide whether to be gay or heterosexual, whereas still others claim that bisexuality is a legitimate and permanent identity category. Some point to the chic and hip qualities of bisexual identity, whereas others question whether bisexuals should be included in the gay rights movement.

This confusion is of course compounded by the increasing emergence of performative bisexuality Levy,where women often deny the ificance of same-sex encounters even while engaging in them, thus further challenging the meaning of bisexuality as a permanent or meaningful identity.

Examining the research, these tensions become increasingly clear.


Even the historical context of bisexuality reveals a fluidity of definition and meaning, as scholars have struggled to situate bisexuality in relationship to heterosexuality and homosexuality for quite some time. Thus, though bisexual behavior has existed as a persistent fact of human life, bisexual identity represents a cultural invention that shifts in meaning as concepts like heterosexuality and homosexuality arise as opposites.

Bisexual experiences for women are demonstrably on the rise. Other research has found that ificant s of women have sexual encounters with other women outside of the context of men Baumgardner, Diamond's, study found that bisexuality was not a transitional stage that women outgrew, but rather, a label more women adopted over time.

These studies did not, however, for women who engaged in same-sex eroticism but still claimed heterosexuality, as in the case of performative bisexuality.

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Conflict about bisexuality as an identity is a common theme in research that addresses the topic. Several television shows have begun to explore women's bisexuality, often involving a story arc in which the character explores their bisexual feelings and then ultimately reverts back to identifying as mostly heterosexual. Notably, however, none of these women remained bisexual or lesbian for the remainder of the show.

Few shows, L Word notably on premium cable aside, depict heterosexual women choosing bisexuality or lesbian identity in a permanent way. Films that depict these choices most often earn reputations as non-mainstream Indie films. In contrast to these often thoughtful portrayals of sexual identity exploration, the past several years have also ushered in a dramatic increase in the of television shows that rely upon performative bisexuality as a form of entertainment.

In line with the highly publicized kiss between Britney Spears and Madonna at the Video Music Awards, shows like A Shot at Love with Tila TequilaFlavor of LoveNextThe Real WorldParental ControlRock of Love and Elimidate represent the exploitation of women's same-sex eroticism, as women kiss, engage in sexual banter, and sometimes compete for each other typically in front of men, either literally or virtually.

Movies like American Pie 2 and Cruel Intentions also map onto these trends. The proliferation of Girls Gone Wild videos—in which Craigslist Phoenix Arizona for male sex show their breasts, hook up with other women on camera, and sometimes show their genitals or masturbate on camera—reveals the changing landscape of bisexual acceptance, particularly forms of bisexuality that can be appropriated into the male gaze.

Hand in hand with such pseudoacceptance of bisexual expression, however, is the potential for exploitation and manipulation of women's sexual identity fluctuations. For example, Baumeister found that women's sexualities tend to be more easily shaped by sociocultural and situational factors, regardless of sexual orientation.

Women's sexuality shifts in response to changing social trends and pressures more readily than men's sexuality, which can be particularly dangerous in a patriarchal climate. Women may benefit by being more open to trying new things that partners suggest, seeking and taking advice about sex, and developing their sexual selves. But the detriment is that women may be more susceptible to pressure and coercion and more prone to confusion and discontinuity in their sexual lives.

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Plante,p. Such plasticity may make temporary or transient bisexual identification possible, as women internalize messages that it is okay for them to experiment sexually with other women. At the same time, such plasticity may construct women as having the potential to be easily manipulated by the changing whims of the culture. In the case of Girls Gone Wildthe films exploit for profit the normative pressures women experience that tell them to behave as bisexual in front of men.

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Implicit in this question is the suggestion that real acceptance of bisexuality is not inherent to its proliferation in the mainstream media. Just because women perform as bisexual, it does not suggest that they necessarily want to do these things; rather, it may indicate that this represents the newest form of selling women empowerment via exploitation.

She went on to argue, A tawdry, tarty, cartoonlike version of female sexuality has become so ubiquitous, it no longer seems particular. It is worth asking ourselves if this bawdy world of boobs and gams we have resurrected reflects how far we've come, or how far we have left to go. Levy's analysis of Girls Gone Wild included a variety of interviews with women who performed sexual acts with other women on camera. But when you think about it, I'd never do that really. It's more for show. Thus, though women may consider this behavior fun or pleasurable, and may in fact claim agency in doing it, we must nevertheless examine the cultural demand for performative bisexuality.

Along these lines, feminist theorists have consistently argued that women shape their sexual desires to please patriarchal fantasies about women, directly as they assume their male partner's fantasies and indirectly as they assume cultural fantasies about women more broadly. If men's patriarchal fantasies dominate the landscape of sexuality, and men's fantasies become normative and widespread, this in women internalizing men's fantasies to feel accepted, loved and, perhaps, objectified and sexualized Willis, French feminist Luce Irigaray explained this by stating: Woman, in this sexual imaginary, is only a more or less obliging prop for the enactment of male fantasies.

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That she may find pleasure there in that role, by proxy, is possible, even certain. But such pleasure is above all a masochistic prostitution of her body to a desire that is not her own, and it leaves her in a familiar state of dependency upon man. Thus she will not say what she herself wants; moreover, she does not know, or no longer knows, what she wants. As such, women's assertions of whether they want to engage in performative acts of same-sex behavior are rendered less important than the fact that many heterosexual men fantasize about their female partners engaging in bisexual behavior while including them in the act.

Can women actually have desire, given these problems? Is there a cultural space for authentic female sexuality outside of patriarchal fantasy? Although sex positive theorists e. Such questions point to the complexities of studying and analyzing women's descriptions of their bisexual encounters, particularly in performative spaces where men are literally watching, analyzing, and perhaps Craigslist Phoenix Arizona for male sex turned on.

Because of the increasing proliferation of performative bisexuality in popular culture materials aimed at younger women ages 18—38I hypothesized that younger women would report more public performative bisexuality though, because these normative pressures exist in many long-term relationships, older women ages 39—59 would report more private performative bisexuality e.

I also hypothesized that, because of the exploitative context of performative bisexuality, women who either experienced or witnessed performative bisexuality would not consistently report political solidarity with or support for full civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer LGBTQ community. In addition, a more exploratory set of questions guided this research, including: Does performative bisexuality represent a trend of increasing acceptance toward bisexuality for women?

Or, is performative bisexuality a symbol of ever-increasing efforts to control and manipulate women's sexuality for the purpose of serving male pleasure? What does it mean if it represents both of these positions? Does performative bisexuality allow more reserved women to preserve a sense of sexual conformity while indulging in what they construct as sexual taboo?

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The current study utilized two waves of qualitative data from a sample of 40 women recruited over the span of 3 years — Half of these participants Wave 1 were interviewed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the other half Wave 2 of these participants were interviewed in Phoenix, Arizona. Participants were asked to participate in a 1. All interviews were fully transcribed, identifying data was removed and each participant was ased a pseudonym to ensure confidentiality.

There were no ificant demographic differences between Wave 1 and Wave 2 with regard to any key demographic features.

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Participants were interviewed by the author using a semistructured interview protocol. Interviews lasted for approximately 1. How do you feel your body image affects your sexual experiences? As predicted, younger women were overrepresented in the group of women that reported feeling the specific pressure to perform as bisexual in front of male partners or groups of men in public. Women frequently reported that they felt pressure to accommodate their male partner's sexual fantasies that they engage sexually with other women; further, all of the young women reported that they were aware of, and had witnessed, some form of performative bisexuality either on television or in person.

For example, heterosexual-identified Sally said, I have kissed girls before.

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I made out with girls before but it was mostly because I was drunk at a party and they're my very close friends. I would not make out with any of my friends if I was sober. It was like a mutual agreement, I guess, between me and the other girl and we felt perfectly fine about it.

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It was just a fun experience. When I later asked Sally about whether she witnessed this happening for her friends and others she knew, she said, Oh yeah.

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Oh, I'm sure, absolutely. I think that every time that I do go to a club, you know, there's [sic] always some girls kissing. I think it's just a way to know you're turning someone else on, knowing that you're getting attention from it. I think it sometimes can feel good to a woman, knowing that you're the cause of their arousal.

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She was kind of crazy, and she had a friend of ours take pictures and she took my skirt off and performed oral sex on me and then she had me do the same to her. Bisexual and lesbian women also reported feeling pressured to engage in performative bisexuality, as others primarily men recognized these women's sexual identity as something they could exploit for their own sexual arousal. For example, Julie said, I get [asked to perform as bisexual] a lot because when people hear that you're bisexual, they automatically assume.

Some people automatically assume that you do it for men's pleasure, but really, a lot of my sex with Craigslist Phoenix Arizona for male sex has not even included men at all, but some of it has. I've definitely felt pressure to indulge in fantasies about men watching women together … I just don't want to be pegged as just for men's pleasure because I'm bisexual, because that can happen sometimes.

Lucy reported having similar experiences, telling me, There's [sic] times you know when I was in college and I was with girls, and maybe I would be dating a guy that didn't mind if I was with a girl. I had two friends that we'd go out dancing and we'd bump and grind and kiss each other, so I have done little things like that in front of guys. Several lesbian and bisexual women indicated resistance to being appropriated into male fantasy scenarios, shifting the paradigm to encourage men to consider eroticism with each other, such as Leigh, who said: Well, like I have these guys, these neighbors down the hall that like, the other night they kind of know that me and my roommate are more than just friends.

I've had people do that to me before, and I'm just always like, there are two guys here and two girls here so if you want us to make out, you go first. ZIP: 85008 85009 85006 85007 85004 85083 85086 85087 85085 85383 85033 85304 85306 85308 85020 85021 85022 85023 85024 85027 85028 85029 85353 85019 85018 85013 85012 85015 85014 85017 85016 85254 85003 85044 85045 85042 85043 85040 85041 85048 85054 85037 85035 85034 85032 85031 85307 85310 85051 85050 85053 85001 85002 85005 85010 85011 85026 85030 85036 85038 85046 85060 85061 85062 85063 85064 85065 85066 85067 85068 85069 85070 85071 85072 85073 85074 85075 85076 85078 85079 85080 85082

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