bisexuality


Sexual activity with, or sexual attraction to, members of both sexes.

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Words nearby bisexuality

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

BEHIND THE WORD

What does bisexuality mean?

Bisexuality is a sexual orientation where a person is attracted to people of their own and another gender (e.g., both men and women).

How is bisexuality pronounced?

[ bahy-sek-shoo-al-i-tee ]

What are other forms of bisexuality?

bi (shortened form for bisexual)

What are some other words related to bisexuality?

Where does bisexuality come from?

While we can find discussions and depictions of bisexuality in history, the term bisexual is first seen in the 1790s. Bi- is a Latin-derived prefix meaning “two.”

The term was initially biological, referring to organisms, especially plants, that have both male and female sex organs. In the 1830s, bisexual began describing anything involving or pertaining to both men and women (e.g., a bisexual name). Unisex is the term we’d usually use now.

Bisexuality emerges in the 1890s in a translation of the works of German psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing in his studies of human sexuality. In the 1920s, Sigmund Freud stated that all humans had innate bisexuality. The sexologist Alfred Kinsey helped move bisexuality into mainstream understanding of sexuality in the mid-1900s. His groundbreaking work saw sexuality as a continuum, not absolutes (Kinsey Scale).

During the gay rights movement in the 1960s, bisexual activists formed some of the earliest LGBTQ organizations and demonstrations. In the 1970s, the National Bisexual Liberation Group was founded, as well as a support group called Bi Forum. Bi is a common short form of bisexual.

By the 1990–2000s, bisexuality was a pillar of the queer community, represented by the B in LGBTQ. A number of prominent figures identify as bisexual, including Anna Paquin, Lady Gaga, Kristen Stewart, Alan Cumming, and Jason Mraz.

Evidence suggests that more bisexual individuals are women, which may be due to social norms around masculinity and heteronormativity.

Speaking of norms, bi erasure is when bisexuality gets dismissed as fake, characterized as just a phase on the way to homosexuality or a form of promiscuity, or is ignored in popular media and discourse altogether. It can happen in both the queer and cishet community.

While bisexuality is commonly discussed as the attraction to both men and women, note that bisexuality can be the attraction to people of one’s own gender and to one other gender identity, not necessarily confined to a gender binary.

How is bisexuality used in real life?

Due to ignorance or prejudices, bisexuality is often popularly discussed to assert its legitimacy and demystify misconceptions.

The 2010s, however, saw an increasing acceptance of alternative sexual orientations and gender identities, leading to a growing acceptance of bisexuality, which means more and more people are openly identifying as bisexual and sharing their stories.

More examples of bisexuality:

“Well, I was making an example of my own sexual preferences, which at times have been on either the female gender or the male gender, so bisexuality, if you will. And as I was writing this letter, that Billboard…asked me to write, I realized I couldn’t write it to a community that stood over there.”

—Jeremy Hobson, Here & Now (radio show), August 2018

Example sentences from the Web for bisexuality