The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

illust2
Credit: Claire Shin

When Drew* finds out that I am bisexual, he’s fascinated. My friend Bianca* mentions it in passing to him, explaining that I am dating a woman. 

“What would you do if Isabella wanted to make out with you in the middle of the night?” Drew asks her.

Weeks later, Bianca and I are hanging out with him, watching a movie, and the questions persist. 

“Would you ever hook up with Bianca?”

“No,” I laugh, “I don’t think of her that way.”

“So you think she’s ugly?”

“No, I just don’t think of her that way. She’s my friend,” I insist.

“Would you hook up with the both of us? At the same time?”

There are a lot of misconceptions about bisexual women. I date women, and I date men. It’s not a phase. It’s not for attention. I’m not a closeted lesbian afraid of fully coming out. I’m also not a sex addict or “unicorn” who loves having threesomes with straight couples. The legitimacy of my sexuality is constantly questioned. What’s more, I’m fetishized and viewed as an object of sexual fascination by straight men.   

And I’m not the only one.  

“I would say any woman who identifies as liking women, there’s someone who’s gonna jump on that whether it’s on Tinder or at a party,” said Meerie Jesuthasan, a College senior who identifies as bisexual.

Dating apps like Tinder serve as a way for members of the LGBTQ community to connect within heteronormative culture. On Tinder, I frequently come across couples looking for bisexual “unicorns” to have threesomes with. Some of the most searched terms on PornHub in 2017 included “lesbian,” "threesome,” and “3 girls one guy.” Watching porn isn’t the problem. But targeting and sexualizing queer people is extremely harmful. 

The fetishization of bisexual women is a product of a larger issue: bi erasure. Many people deny the existence of bisexuality, attributing it to sexual confusion or experimentation. Because people don’t take queer relationships seriously, it becomes easier to fetishize bisexuality. Most fetishes are rooted in the allure of the unfamiliar — that’s what makes them enticing. Until bisexuality is more widely accepted, people will continue to force their fantasies on queer women.

Even within the LGBTQ community, being bisexual can be extremely isolating. 

When College senior Julia Pan, who identifies as bi, first announced that she was running for chair of the Lambda Alliance, a lot of people told her that she was “too straight” or not “gay enough.”

Bisexual people have trouble finding their place in straight circles without being fetishized or objectified, and in LGBTQ spaces they are thought of as only partially queer. As a result, I usually feel uncomfortable in my own skin no matter where I am.

When College junior Jessica Araten had her first serious relationship with a woman, her bisexuality was a huge roadblock. 

“[She] told me essentially that if I was bisexual then we could not be together,” Araten said. “[She] tried to stamp that part of my identity out.”

Jesuthasan explained that erasure of her identity has mostly come from straight men that she’s been in relationships with. One of her ex-boyfriends told her that if she cheated on him with a woman he wouldn’t be as upset as he’d be if she were with a man. 

Credit: John Ortega

 “I think the first step is taking queer relationships seriously and not thinking that every sexuality is for men,” she explained. 

Coming to terms with bisexuality can be challenging given the lack of representation in our culture.

College senior Osiris Childs said that while he knew he wasn’t straight, it took him a long time before he could comfortably identify as bi.

“As you go through your queerness, whether you’re gay, lesbian, bi,” he said, “You only really hear [about] gay and lesbian. You’re never exposed to any other possibilities because when you’re growing up you’re like, ‘Well I’m definitely not straight, but it’s either one or the other.’”

While bisexual women are viewed as sexual creatures, bisexual men are viewed as outliers. Often, women are put off by bisexual men, because they assume that they’re gay. 

“I never immediately tell a woman that I’m bi,” Childs explained. “Even when you’re bi once you sleep with a man you’re automatically weaker.”

Although he’s not fetishized in the same way that women are, he is often asked to participate in mixed-gender threesomes on dating apps like Grindr.  

Being bisexual at Penn is a challenge, one I know will only get harder as I enter the “real world.” I usually find myself feeling on the periphery of the straight social scene, and not quite welcome in the queer one either. I don’t go to frat parties anymore, because I’m not interested in the men there, and I’m tired of being sexualized by straight men. Meeting girls on Tinder feels artificial. I also don’t want to be solicited for threesomes every time I open the app.  

Until people recognize the legitimacy of bisexuality, bi erasure will never end. My sexuality is real, and it isn’t for your entertainment. You might not be able to control what turns you on, but don’t expect me to help you play out your fantasies. 

*Name has been changed

ISABELLA SIMONETTI is a College sophomore from New York studying English. Her email address is simonetti@thedp.com. Follow her on Twitter @thesimonetti

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.