Different for Bis: October 2018

The lastest bi research rounded up.


The Journal of Bisexuality, a weighty quarterly academic tome, has published a special issue following on from European bisexuality research conference EuroBiReCon. If you’re worrying you just missed a 2018 event – don’t panic, in the way of academic publishing timelines it has just taken this long to come to fruition following the 2016 conference.

Titled “EuroBiReCon: (Inter)National Research Frontiers” the contents include bisexuality at work, multiple partners and multiple marriage, and how bisexuality is erased in law and in cinema – just a fraction of the research presented at the 2016 Amsterdam conference.

Jacob Engelberg’s paper on bisexual representation in film focuses on American filmmaker Gregg Araki, whose work across three decades he summarises as about “Teenagers who take drugs and have sex […] Stories without endings. Chain-smoking and drinking. Teen suicide. Young cinephiles who make films. And finally—importantly—characters who desire people of more than one gender.”

Nancy C Marcus’ “The Global Problem of Bisexual Erasure in Litigation and Jurisprudence” focuses on how “bisexuality has too often been omitted from legal rights discourse, with bisexual people […] barely acknowledged in LGBT-rights litigation and discourse beyond the minimal inclusion of the letter B in the acronym LGBT”.

In “Inactionable / Unspeakable” Milena Popova looks at bisexuality in the workplace in the UK. Milena argues that the challenge is that bisexual identity is invisible whereas workplaces are “action-focused” spaces. Where bisexuality becomes visible through things like employees who have multiple relationships it is too far removed from the ‘norm’ to be accounted for in institutional practices. Bisexual inclusion in many workplaces got a kickstart when bi issues were formally categorised for the first time in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index in 2012.

Read the whole thing for free for a short time online at tandfonline.com/toc/wjbi20/18/1?nav=tocList

Unseen On The Big Screen

A University of Southern California report Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films looking at minority representation in films shows bis are still squeezed out – even compared to gay and lesbian characters.
An analysis looking at films over the last decade takes each year in turn and so tracks the slender representation we have in mainstream film.

Among 17,820 speaking roles examined the representation of bis and other queers is sparse:
Year 2014 2015 2016 2017
Bi 5 5 6 6
Trans 0 1 0 0
Gay 12 19 36 16
Lesbian 4 7 9 9

Those bi figures are even worse when you remember that we are the majority of the LGB population – so like-for-like we should at least be matching the total of gay and lesbian representation, as well as there being way more than six of us! Sadly the bi stats are not broken down by gender.

The report, from Professor Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism notes:

“A total of 4,403 characters were evaluated for apparent sexuality. Of those, 0.7% (n=31) were Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual. Over half of the LGB characters were Gay (51.6%), while 29% were Lesbian and 19.4% were Bisexual.

The lack of bis may reflect the on-screen gender divide: “Over half (58.1%) of LGB characters were male and 41.9% were female.” Most research finds men are slightly more likely to be gay than bi, whereas women more likely to be bi than gay.

Full report: http://assets.uscannenberg.org/docs/inequality-in-1100-popular-films.pdf