18, September 2018
Citation: Erich Steinman (2011) Revisiting the Invisibility of (Male) Bisexuality: Grounding (Queer) Theory, Centering Bisexual Absences and Examining Masculinities, Journal of Bisexuality, 11:4, 399-411
Summary: The overall summary of the article “Revisiting The invisibility of (Male) Bisexuality…grounding queer theory..” focuses on research that was published by the author Erich Steinman in 2001 in the Journal of Bisexuality. The author’s main purpose throughout the article is to make observations about bisexuality using research and continuing his study/research of sex and gender differences within bisexual visibility. The article places great emphasis on queer theory and the research appears to reflect the author’s opinion on the importance of bisexuality and how this identity can be “transformative, liberatory, and even disruptive.” (Steinman)
The author advocates for a shift in sociological approach to studying bisexuality. The author believes that the inclusion of individuals who may not have identified as bisexual but behaviorally act as bisexual individuals is crucial to understanding bisexual identities. With this point the author appears to suggest that more empirical attention to material relations, social structures and everyday social interactions is needed to fully understand the symbolic emphasis that bisexuality has on queer theory. Steinman believes that by incorporating more analytical attention to non-bisexual-identified individuals, the academic world would have a better chance of grounding bisexuality studies. Steinman believes that through this process, there would be a massive redirection of critical attention to the multiple social processes that generate bisexual absence. Steinman’s main focus is the harm that masculinity can cause to bisexual identities. “Critical gender studies, which identify masculinity as a perpetually threatened status requiring continual performance to ward off discrediting stigmas, is identified as a promising framework for examining the continuing invisibility of male bisexuals and of bisexual behavior among men.” (Steinman)
Steinman’s overall conclusion is that he hopes “that findings about the relationship between sexuality and masculinity, grounded in concepts attentive to material relations and cultural constructions, and moving between theory and empirical research, will be published in future volumes of the Journal of Bisexuality,” If so, we may learn much about the presence and absences of bisexuality, and regarding “bisexual” men in particular. Steinman makes references to how often women are able to openly discuss bisexuality and by pointing out that masculinity is performative and that bisexual men may feel less at ease with themselves seems to be the undertone of the article.
Discussion: I enjoyed this article overall, there were a lot of very good points and reading about identities different than your own can often give way to a perspective that may not have been clear before. By reading this article there was finally a dialogue open for men to discuss their sexuality and to critique how unfair it is that male bisexuality is often hidden. This article made reference to several good points including that bisexuality is a difficult identity for many people; however, the focus on male bisexuality is separating and othering bisexual people from eacch other. This could be potentially viewed as a flaw because groups are stronger when standing together. When bisexual men and bisexual women are playing “oppression olympics” the attention for the actual issues at hand can be lost in translation.
The article was not based super heavily in fact and was primarily biased towards the original research which was conducted by the author Erich Steinman. This could potentially point to the article being biased which means that I am not heavily inclined to recommend this article to someone. However, by reading articles that include other points of view, humans become more compassionate to the plight of others. Because of that reason alone I think I would try to recommend this article to anyone who would be interested in reading it. The society we live in has become so grounded in identities that are socially constructed. Men have to wear pants and women are the only ones who can wear dresses – these trends create a gendered stereotype for what is acceptable for males and females. In my personal opinion I agree that male bisexuality is something that is not often talked about. The need for a distinction and to compartmentalize people is so inherently human, and yet – being complicated and having a grey area is also inherently human.