(Content: biphobia; transphobia and rape culture at the Dan Savage link. Fun content: math! No, really. Come back!)
This may be considered a sequel to another 'enrich your life through queer math' post from my old blog.
This isn't a post about Dan Savage, but it was inspired by things he's said that really neatly embody one of the major forms of biphobia. (He's also painfully transphobic and sexist and so many other things; I am not a fan. I am sure he's done good things, yay for him, but he desperately needs to not be The One Mainstream Queer Voice.)
This specifically is about the idea that bisexuals--both men and women, though Savage speaks more often regarding men, obviously--are just playing around and are still going to settle down in a hetero relationship once they've had their homo fun. The specific quote is thus: "And here’s another thing that is: Most adult bisexuals, for whatever reason, wind up in opposite-sex relationships. And most comfortably disappear into presumed heterosexuality." The implication (often made an explication) is that we bi people are users, happy to get all countercultural with our sexytimes but ultimately intending to ditch a same-gender partner and spend the rest of our lives taking advantage of all that sweet, sweet straight privilege while leaving said same-gender partners adrift and emotionally abandoned. (This feeds nicely into the similar claim that bi folk are all promiscuous sex-fiends, which I have laughed at enough for the time being; just noting the way one line of bigotry usually supports another.)
Now, it's difficult as hell to get actual reliable numbers on the proportions of queer folk in the world, for obvious reasons: first being that no matter how many times you swear that your survey is completely anonymous, queer people are generally going to need a good reason to single themselves out in a crowd, and 'the curiosity of straights' tends not to be it. A quick scroll through this wikipedia page on orientation demographics shows the hilarious level of variation in surveys, ranging from 1 in 7 to 1 in 200.
Fortunately, this is napkin math, so we don't need exact numbers to prove my point. Let us once again oversimplify tremendously and go with 10% of the population, all else equal, being in some way attracted to people who are theoretically the same sex as them (so including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and gender variants that tend to have trouble getting recognised, let alone catalogued). That's our starting assumption: 90% straight (P = 0.9), 10% queer (P = 0.1). You may see where I'm going with this.
I was waiting for a bus the other day and I saw this guy: gangly and a little stubbly and just generally ridiculously attractive and reading Perdido Street Station. Knucklebite. And I did some quick math in my head: the independent chance of flipping heads on a coin is 0.5, so the chance of getting two in a row is 0.5 * 0.5 = 0.25, the chance of getting three is 0.5 ^ 3 = 0.125, and the chance of getting four is 0.5 ^ 4 = 0.0625.
Say the chance that this ridiculously hot dude waiting for the bus next to me was interested in dudes is 0.1, like we said. That means that, the moment I see him, if I grab a quarter from my pocket, I have a better chance of flipping three heads in a row than I have of even being the right gender for him to be attracted to me. If any of the three are tails, sorry, he only likes women, better luck next time.
Whereas every time I meet a woman I find attractive, the probabilities are reversed: keeping in mind that both straight and bi women might be interested in me, I'd likely have to flip four heads in a row for her to say "Sorry, I only like the ladies." (So far this has only happened 1.5 times. The 0.5 is for when I didn't even have time to start flirting before she brought it up of her own accord.)
Most people have more than one romantic relationship in their lives before they settle down, if they are the settling type, meaning that, if not restricted by institutional homophobia, bisexuals will probably date a range of people with differing genders and orientations over the course of their lives. And while I might be equally attracted to men and women, the feeling is not mutual. Should I be fortunate enough to meet someone so perfectly matched to me that we decide to spend the rest of our lives together, raw probability says that person is probably going to be a woman. That's not my evil bisexual heartless fucklust driving me to use and discard innocent gay men: that's all that math will allow. Most of the people I'm attracted to in my life will probably be straight. I am as upset about this as anyone I mean seriously you should have seen that guy's face I just wanted to congratulate him on owning it--
Where was I?
Oh, right. Biphobes can shut the hell up and either do their math homework or (should they unfortunately be afflicted with dycalculia, like my lovely and non-biphobic sister-in-law) just start flipping coins every time they see someone hot, until the lesson sinks in.