When I was growing up – say high school or college – I don’t think I know of a single person who identified as bisexual. Today bisexual seems to be approaching status of ‘default setting’, with so many young people characterizing themselves as bi.
During a discussion with my daughter the other evening, she shared that about a quarter of her (all girl) class would currently consider themselves lesbian, and about half – on top of that – would be bi. She also said that the trendy tattoo to get now is a faded triangle, signifying ‘open to change’ – meaning open to changing your own views on your sexuality.
This seems huge. And to be fair, maybe this experience is not the norm. National polling shows that identifying as bi is increasing, but not nearly to the extent I seem to be implying by the above. The latest US national polling show’s that while the number of people identifying as bi has risen by 300% between 2008 and 2018, it is still only 3.3% of the population that identifies as bi. And even among women, where it seems more socially acceptable to be open about your bisexuality, it is still only 6% of women who say they are bi.
But even at my age, it sure feels that more than 6% of women are somewhere on the bisexual spectrum. While I do tend to hang out with sexually progressive people, my own experience is that probably somewhere around 1/3 of women I know would consider themselves bisexual. For most, they are bisexual more in the physical sense – meaning they are sexually attracted to other women but would not necessarily ‘date’ another woman. But, still, they would consider themselves somewhat bi.
All this to say, you can quibble with the numbers. But it seem irrefutable that bisexual identification is becoming much more common.
What does this mean for society. Some will say it is a threat to the very fabric of society and will lead to population decline in western countries, as women stop pairing with men and having their babies. Maybe. It is possible that there will be a few less heterosexual couples and a few less babies. But we’re not exactly repopulating the Earth after the flood… we can handle a few less babies being born.
Others say all this bisexuality threatens the nuclear family. A man, a woman and their children. Again, maybe. But what’s so great about the traditional nuclear family. 50% divorce rate. Soaring childhood anxiety rates. Maybe we need to shake that up a bit.
Still others say that it is confusing, and even tempting for kids, to have this notion of bisexuality open to them so early in their lives. When told they can choose both, they probably will. They’re kids. They want it all.
On the plus side. All of the above. Being non judgemental about bisexuality allows our kids (and adults) to enter into the relationships that are most likely to be true to who they are, and happier in the long run. It will – I would hope – reduce the frequency of unhappy marriages and allow people to pick the partners that really fulfill them.