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Main: Bisexuals aren't all Kinsey 3s

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Free the Kinsey 3! Sorry. The Kinsey scale, created in the 1940s by Alfred Kinsey, rates sexual experience and response to individuals - men and women, and then classifies that according to the sex of the subject on a homosexual to heterosexual scale. It looks like this:

0Exclusively heterosexual
1Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6Exclusively homosexual

It's been used since it was published to visualise sexuality, erase bisexuality and allow people to talk utter rubbish.

Re-working it as an identity scale doesn't work because people generally do this:

0Exclusively straight
1Predominantly straight, only incidentally gay
2Predominantly straight, but more than incidentally gay
4Predominantly gay, but more than incidentally straight
5Predominantly gay, only incidentally straight
6Exclusively gay

...which makes no sense - if 3 is bisexual then why do 1 and 2 reference 'gay' instead of 'bisexual'?

When Kinsey drew up the scale he was looking at sexual experiences of individuals - an different-gender sexual act was a point for heterosexuality, a same-sex one was a point for homosexuality. Consequently the scale is about gender and sexual experience, not identity - everything from 2 to 5 is bisexual in those terms:

0Exclusively straight
1Predominantly straight, only incidentally bisexual
2Predominantly straight, but more than incidentally bisexual
4Predominantly gay, but more than incidentally bisexual
5Predominantly gay, only incidentally bisexual
6Exclusively gay

...but this then gets into another trap - "true" or "proper" or "real" bisexuals are at 3. The amount of attractions can be based on so many things, and this just looks at gender. Is a person less bisexual because they're primarily attracted to long hair, and it's mainly women who have long hair in western society? We say no.

We think of sexuality as being a bit like the English Channel - if you set out from Dover then it doesn't matter how deep the water is beneath you; you can't start towelling yourself off until you get to Calais. And even if you're only dipping your toes in you will still get wet!

0Exclusively straight
6Exclusively gay

...because the Kinsey Scale is not about sexuality or identity or labels, it's about statistically analysing a person's sexual history by number of incidents.

Are you 50:50 then?

The whole "Are you 50:50?" idea has a number of other problems:

The Klein Grid attempts to revise the scale, but falls into the same trap of using a single scale to reference attraction, implying that the amount of attraction to one diminishes as the other increases. And it's fiendishly complicated, so it may well be useful if you're doing a survey of 1000s, but it's completely useless if you're comparing identity labels down the pub.

Don't worry about being a Kinsey 3, or a 'true' or 'proper' or 'real' or 'technical' bisexual. Don't worry that you sleep with more of one gender than another.

If you are attracted to more than one sex, you are bisexual. If you recognise that about yourself, why not identify as bisexual!

I am not a number! I am a free bisexual!

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Page last modified on March 02, 2011, at 02:59 PM