This article explores some of the misconceptions of bisexuality and pansexuality, and many of the microagressions and biphobic thoughts that exist in society today. From the assumption that bi or pan people are only experimenting, through to the bizarre idea that it takes the presence of a male to have sex - there are a whole series of myths that we really need to clear up.
Most people are familiar with the idea and term 'bisexual'. Pansexuality is a little different, but similar enough that the two terms often end up being used interchangeably. The difference between the two, in my mind at least, is quite distinct; so I personally identify as pansexul. I don't call myself bisexual, as it makes me seem like I'm straddling a fence between two sides. I never get to belong in any one place, neither 'gay' nor straight, and by many pop culture definitions am 'playing for both teams'.
However, I think that pansexual is a much more inclusive term and encompasses more than the two societal constructs of 'male' and 'female'. I also don't really like describing myself as bisexual simply because of the social stigma that is attached to the word. Biphobia exists from within the LGBTQ+ community and from without, and is a very real problem faced by many pan and bisexual people.
Let's start with the big one: society as a whole and the way that many bi and pansexual people are characterised in the media and pop culture. Bi or pan couples are primarily portrayed as being experimental relationships, and/ or people who are sexually confused. The typical American film where the college girls all experiment because everyone does it at Univeristy, right? Wrong.
'You're just experimenting?'
I am in fact not experimenting nor am I sexually confused about my identity. I am romantically and sexually attracted to people regardless of how they choose to identity: female, male, gender fluid, trans. I'm don't register someone's gender when I become attracted to them. I'm in no way confused, I register attraction to everyone on an equal level regardless of how they choose to present themselves.
'How do you manage to have monogamous relationships?'
People always ask me if I'm more likely to cheat on my partner because I 'play for both teams'. In the same way that in a heteronormative relationship people are not attracted to every person of the opposite gender they see, I, in fact, am not attracted to every person I see.
'Do you want to have a threesome?'
It frustrates many of us that the first thing you say when you realise that we are bi/ pan, is ask if we would have a threesome. Some people may take you up on that offer and as long as everyone is consenting, you guys have fun. I on the other hand think it is a little insulting that the offer is usually more 'could I have a threesome with you and your long term partner because you are both female and need some dick in there to make sex actually sex".
Well, no offence to any males out there, but please don't flatter yourselves with the thought that we need you and your genitalia to have sex. Firstly, we manage pretty fine without it thanks. Secondly, if we did want a dick in the equation, Ann Summers and Love Honey have a great range which in many ways are far superior to your actual human one.
'Should I tell (insert name of ex boyfriend) what he drove you to?'
Another micro-aggression which is in fact not true, he/ they didn't drive me into anything. This is actually not a choice that I made. I didn't wake up one morning and decide that today was the day I turned a new leaf in my life and became pansexual because I hated men and fancied a change, that's not how it works.
'So you just do it for guys, right?'
This is possibly the most annoying one, no, I do not have relationships with girls simply to fan the ego of the patriarchy. Please get over yourself.