It’s Bisexual Awareness Week: Let’s talk about Bisexual Representation in Erotic Art and Porn

 

For every person comes a time when they start questioning their sexuality, gender identity and sexual preferences. Some are privileged enough to explore themselves in a safe and supportive environment and to have an understanding and educated support system of friends and family guiding them on their journey to self-discovery. Unfortunately though, for the big majority, this scenario is still a utopic dream.

 

While anything straying outside heterosexuality is still illegal in some parts of the world, discriminated against globally and even in the most sex-positive and open-minded societies often dismissed as a “phase”, no group within the LGBTQIA+ community has been made more invisible than bisexual people. Bisexuality has a tradition of being mis- and underrepresented within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

 

For bisexual awareness week, we want to talk about the B in LGBTQIA+. First of all, what does it actually mean to be bisexual? Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behaviour toward both males and females, or to more than one gender. It may also be defined to include romantic or sexual attraction to people regardless of their sex or gender identity, which is also known as pansexuality.
Negative connotations have followed bisexual people for years, from all sides – their attraction to more than one gender is often dismissed as greedy, or untrustworthy, or a propensity for infidelity from both the queer community as well as heteronormative folks. Bisexual women are massively oversexualized, fetishised and not taken seriously, meanwhile, bisexual men are assumed to be “just gay”.

 

Negative connotations have followed bisexual people for years, from all sides

 

But it is also worth mentioning that there is a paradox privilege bisexuals should be aware of that comes with being bisexual and causes tension within the queer community: Bisexuals possess a form of privilege not afforded to most other queer people because of their ability to “pass” as straight if they want to, or if they have to.

 

Bisexual people have to justify their sexuality and choice of partner constantly and negative stereotypes about bisexual people have dangerous real-life consequences. For example, in a 2014 survey by Statistics Canada, bisexual women are four times more likely to be victims of a violent incident and seven times more likely to experience sexual assault than their heterosexual counterparts. Recent data shows that bisexual men and women face more mental and physical health problems than gay men or lesbians: bisexuals have a higher rate of suicide ideation and bisexual women are more likely to “experience frequent mental distress” and have “poorer general health” than lesbians.

 

bisexuality awareness week

 

Bisexual Representation in Erotic Art and Porn and Why it Matters

Bisexual erasure is so prevalent and pops up in almost every aspect of our culture, including erotic art and especially pornography. Most representations of bisexuality in erotic art and porn until recently have been, you guessed it, through the lens of straight men. This is why being a bisexual woman in erotic art and porn is often constructed as nothing more than a heterosexual, male fantasy rather than an autonomous sexuality that can exist without involving the male gaze. Bisexual men are often erased because for the heterosexual male gaze, two men involving in sexual acts with each other are simply gay.

 

Bisexual erasure is so prevalent and pops up in almost every aspect of our culture, including erotic art and especially pornography.

 

Authentic, true-to-life representation in art and beyond matters. It has the power to empower. It can educate and it can quite literally save lives. Looking through the actual lens of bisexuality allows a new perspective from which to view art and offers an opportunity to change the societal narrative around bisexuality.

 

To sum it up for you, here is a list of tips on how to ensure authentic and empowering bisexual representation on erotic art and porn platforms.

 

1. Education is key

We can only do better when we know what we’re doing wrong. Use your outreach and your resources to educate yourself and your community about popular misconceptions and stereotypes about bisexuality and to highlight bisexual voices on your platform.

 

2. Have conversations with artists portraying bisexuality and encourage a community that is open for constructive criticism

We know that this can be a tough one. But it is important to talk to creators who create erotica that is clearly unauthentic, fetishising or hurtful. Encourage them to not get offended by constructive criticism and to believe and empathise with people offended by their creations. So many people are trying to tell bisexual stories and they’re simply getting it wrong.

 

3. Make sure that bisexual people know there’s a safe space for them on your platform

Give room for bisexual artists to voice their opinions and showcase their experiences, talents and gifts.

 

4. Support Bi Performers and Models

Porn is a rough industry for bisexuals. Especially ‘crossover’ — male talent suffer from discrimination and stigma. Most bi performers who have performed in both gay and straight scenes (because bisexual scenes are not actually a thing in porn) has experienced losing roles and scenes due to the latent fear surrounding gay sex and potential HIV transmission as well as a drop in popularity among their audience. There are also still a lot of rigid, unwritten rules in place if you’re a straight male pornstar. For example, any form of anal penetration (even by the hands of a woman) is frowned upon. Even kissing a woman if a performer ejaculated on her face beforehand can be a controversy due to the straight audience’s disconnect with anything that could even vaguely be interpreted as “gay.”  Educate your audience and hire bi performers for diverse roles.

 

5. Hire Bisexual Directors and Artists

If you want to make sure you publish authentic bi movies or art on your platform there’s no easier way to do it than to hire and prioritise actual bisexual artists for key roles.

 

6. Create Labels and Filters That Actually Work

Especially in porn, a sex scene involving two women and one man or two men and one woman is generally not identified or labelled as bisexual, even if the female or male performers engage in sexual acts with each other. Creating filters for bisexuals can help give them visibility.

 

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