Erasure of bisexual men is common, even among other people in the LGBT+ community, according to new research.
Meanwhile, most people believe bisexual women are equally attracted to both men and women – suggesting that there is a problematic bias in perceptions of bisexuality.
Participants were told that the study was investigating people’s views on online dating, but the real purpose of the study was to investigate gendered ideas about sexual orientation.
Those who took part in the study were shown a fake profile of a man or a woman who identified as bisexual. They were then asked whether they thought the person would be more attracted to men or to women.
Notably, many of the respondents who were presented with the bisexual man’s dating profile thought he would be more attracted to men than to women.
The same was not true of the woman’s dating profile. In fact, the study found that female bisexuality is widely accepted, with most people believing they are equally attracted to men and women.
Respondents were also asked whether they agreed with other statements about sexual orientation. Many respondents thought bisexual men “just haven’t come out as gay yet”, but the same sentiment was not shared for bisexual women.
Gay men and lesbians were just as bad for bisexual erasure
Around 73 per cent of those who took part in the research identified as heterosexual, while 27 per cent said they were gay or lesbian.
Worryingly, the study found that gay and lesbian people were just as likely to hold stigmatising, inaccurate views about bisexual people as their heterosexual peers.
Speaking to PsyPost, study author Thekla Morgenroth said their “key finding” in the research was that gay men and lesbians have “the same bias” as straight people when it comes to bisexual men.
“They believe that bisexual men are more attracted to men than women even when there is absolutely zero indicators of that and even if the person explicitly states that they are bisexual,” Morgenroth said.
“One surprising finding was that we didn’t find evidence for erasure of female bisexuality. That might be an indication that female bisexuality is more accepted, but ultimately it’s important to keep in mind that this might also just be a reflection of our specific methodology.”
Morgenroth went on to suggest that the biggest limitation of their study was that they don’t know why erasure of male bisexuality is still so common.
They originally thought the problem was down to sexist attitudes, but the research didn’t back up that view.
“To test this, we included a bunch of different measures of sexism and related constructs such as valuing masculinity over femininity,” they said.
“If we were right, then the pattern we found should be more pronounced in people who score high on these measures, but that wasn’t the case, so we still don’t really know why people erase male bisexuality in this way.”