Bisexuality: The Psychology and Politics of an Invisible Minority.Edited by Beth A. Firestein. Thousand Oaks Thousand Oaks, residential city (1990 pop. 104,352), Ventura co., S Calif., in a farm area; inc. 1964. Avocados, citrus, vegetables, strawberries, and nursery products are grown. , CA: Sage Publications This article or section needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. , 1996, 329 pages. Cloth, $55.00; Paper, $25.95.
Reviewed by Beverly R. King, Ph.D., South Dakota State University South Dakota State University, at Brookings; land-grant support; coeducational; chartered 1883 as Dakota Agricultural College, opened 1884. In 1907 it became South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, and in 1964 its present name was adopted. , Department of Psychology, Scobey Hall, Brookings, SD 57007.
Paradigmatic See paradigm. shifts in scientific theory and research occur when information becomes available which challenges a discipline's fundamental assumptions and for which the current disciplinary matrix cannot account (Kuhn, 1970). One of the purposes of Firestein in Bisexuality is to assert that a paradigm shift A dramatic change in methodology or practice. It often refers to a major change in thinking and planning, which ultimately changes the way projects are implemented. For example, accessing applications and data from the Web instead of from local servers is a paradigm shift. See paradigm. is underway in the social sciences' view of sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces. due to an increasing recognition of the bisexual experience. That is, the traditional model of sexual orientation was often a dichotomous di·chot·o·mous
1. Divided or dividing into two parts or classifications.
2. Characterized by dichotomy.
di·chot one that denied or obscured bisexuality; in the new paradigm New Paradigm
In the investing world, a totally new way of doing things that has a huge effect on business.
The word "paradigm" is defined as a pattern or model, and it has been used in science to refer to a theoretical framework. , which Firestein refers to as a "LesBiGay/Transgender Affirmative" one, sexuality and sexual orientation can and will be "accurately conceptualized as multidimensional mul·ti·di·men·sion·al
Of, relating to, or having several dimensions.
multi·di·men , fluid, and continuous in nature" (Chapter 11, p. 266). This change in thinking about and conceptualizing sexual orientation has been and continues to be triggered by the dissatisfaction of many social scientists with the dichotomous model, the organizational efforts of bisexual activists, and a growing discourse in society at large on bisexuality (albeit sparked by often distorted media images).
Firestein acknowledges that a paradigm shift does not occur overnight, however, what is not addressed sufficiently in the book is the various forms which a scientific and societal conceptualization con·cep·tu·al·ize
v. con·cep·tu·al·ized, con·cep·tu·al·iz·ing, con·cep·tu·al·iz·es
To form a concept or concepts of, and especially to interpret in a conceptual way: of sexual orientation may take before reaching the ideal end point of viewing it as fluid, continuous, and multidimensional. For example, I think the introduction of bisexuality into discussions of sexual orientation may result for many people in switching from a dichotomous model to a "trichotomous trichotomous /tri·chot·o·mous/ (tri-kot´ah-mus) divided into three parts.
divided into three parts. " one with bisexuality included, along with homosexuality and heterosexuality het·er·o·sex·u·al·i·ty
Erotic attraction, predisposition, or sexual behavior between persons of the opposite sex.
heterosexuality , as a discrete category In mathematics, especially category theory, a discrete category is a category whose only morphisms are the identity morphisms. It is the simplest kind of category. Specifically a category C is discrete if
intr.v. preach·i·fied, preach·i·fy·ing, preach·i·fies Informal
To preach tediously and didactically.
preach is tolerable if it makes others think of sexual orientation in these new ways as I think it will. It is also invaluable to have much of the history of and research on the concept of bisexuality presented in one readable volume, a goal at which Bisexuality succeeds admirably.
Bisexuality consists of 11 chapters written by a diverse group of individuals including research psychologists, sexuality educators, clinicians, activists, and a sociologist. This interdisciplinary approach is a tremendous asset of the book if you believe, as do I, that few phenomena, especially one with as many social and political ramifications ramifications npl → Auswirkungen pl as bisexuality, can be fully understood within the context of a single scientific discipline. The intended audience for the book also seems to be a diverse group including researchers, educators, clinicians, and students as well as lay persons interested in bisexuality in particular or sexual orientation in general. There are some caveats, however, that may help determine for whom and what purpose the book is appropriate.
For example, I would recommend this book especially to researchers in the area of sexology sexology /sex·ol·o·gy/ (sek-sol´ah-je) the scientific study of sex and sexual relations.
The study of human sexual behavior. but also to any researcher interested in collecting data in which sexual orientation is a variable. Several chapters in the book provided lists of future research directions (e.g., in the area of HIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and bisexual men and women, Stokes, Taywaditep, Vanable, & McKirnan, Chapter 6 & Rila, Chapter 7) or provide food for thought in terms of future research in the area of sexual orientation (Chapter 1 by Fox on Bisexuality in Psychology and the Social Sciences is particularly useful in this regard). However, one major omission in the book and one to which an entire chapter could have been devoted is how research can and should be conducted to account for the diversity of human sexual orientations. Much research, especially in the psychological sciences, is quantitative in nature, that is, the variables under investigation must be quantifiable which usually implies categories and labels. If we are moving from a dichotomous or even a "trichotomous" view of sexual orientation to a continuous one, how will this affect how researchers operationally define sexual orientation? Should a behavioral or a self-identification definition be used or some combination of the two? The two definitions do not always coincide and one may be more useful to some research than the other (Stokes et al., chapter 6, point out, for example, that in research on HIV/AIDS, a behavioral definition is much more desirable than a self-labeling one). Will qualitative research Qualitative research
Traditional analysis of firm-specific prospects for future earnings. It may be based on data collected by the analysts, there is no formal quantitative framework used to generate projections. become more desirable to account for the variety of human sexual experience? Social scientists interested in sexological research have debated these issues for a number of years and some consensus would be useful in terms of interpreting and replicating research.
Clinicians are another group for whom Bisexuality is appropriate. In fact, although the book is divided up into five major sections and only one of these is labeled as dealing with counseling issues, it seems that fully seven of the 11 chapters are directed toward counselors and therapists who may work with bisexual individuals. Advice for clinicians include maintaining a sex-positive approach and respecting the diversity of the bisexual experience. These emphases make this book a valuable asset not only to "seasoned" clinicians but also to clinicians in training and could be very effectively incorporated into a graduate-level course concentrating on recognition and respect for client diversity. Although Bisexuality could also conceivably be used as an undergraduate text, the fact that it raises more questions than it answers (reflecting the state of research on and knowledge of sexual orientations) may make it too complex for undergraduate reading and discussion.
Although Bisexuality is certainly directed primarily to professionals, it is not so filled with specialized terminology to be incomprehensible to the lay reader, especially the one who is motivated to acquire up-to-date and reliable information about bisexuality. This is particularly true of individuals who define themselves as bisexuals or are exploring what it means to be bisexual. One of the biggest hindrances in the past to the recognition of the bisexual experience has been the lack of visible images of as well as support and resources for bisexuals. Firestein's book is a tremendous asset in this area. Not only do many of the chapters address the existence and extent of bisexuality and list references but also there is a resource appendix which includes a partial, introductory listing of U.S. resources on bisexuality, HIV/AIDS, polyamory Polyamory (from Greek πολυ (poly, literally “multiple”) & Latin amor , sexuality education, and transgender/transsexual issues.
The type of resources listed hint at the far-reaching ramifications that any discussion of bisexuality can have and the many issues addressed by Bisexuality. For example, Rust (chapter 5) has found in her sociological studies that the most preferred and most frequent relationship type among bisexual respondents was an "open" relationship in which partners agreed to form secondary sexual, romantic, or emotional relationships with other people. Although polyamorous or polyfidelitous relationships are hot limited to bisexuals, bisexuals are among those asking "hard questions about what constitutes family and why there can't be more than one kind of legitimate, committed, sanctioned relationship form that society approves" (chapter 10 by Hutchins, p. 252). A theoretical and political issue which Firestein mentions (chapter 11) but which certainly will need to be expanded on in future discourse is the challenge that bisexuality brings to either a strictly essentialist or constructivist con·struc·tiv·ism
A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 and characterized by the use of industrial materials such as glass, sheet metal, and plastic to create nonrepresentational, often geometric objects. view of sexual orientation, and the necessity of not only a multidimensional view of sexual orientation but also a multidimensional view of the etiology of sexual orientation.
Bisexuality, the concept and the book, also causes us to consider intriguing and sometimes difficult questions involving, for example, the role of gender in the lives of bisexuals, the similarities and differences between homophobia homophobia Psychology An irrationally negative attitude toward those with homosexual orientation, or toward becoming homosexual. See Closet, Gay-bashing, Heterosexism. Cf Gay, Homosexual, Phobia. and biphobia and how to reduce each, the difficulty but perhaps necessity of coming out as bisexual in a biphobic culture, and identifying inaccurate stereotypes of bisexuals as well as addressing those that are more accurate. Bisexuality is about challenging boundaries and this book will, if nothing else, make you think about the boundaries commonly used to categorize cat·e·go·rize
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.
cat human experience and whether those boundaries are more artificially imposed than real. If you are like me, it will also make you hopeful that old dichotomous views of sexual orientation, gender, and other aspects of sexual identity are becoming less influential in the social sciences and that, correspondingly, it is becoming easier in society to say, "I don't fit traditional categories and that's OK."