One thing media is terrible at is imposing stereotypes on the masses. For example, as a bisexual woman, growing up was a little bit difficult for me because I didn’t have anyone to look to for guidance. A lot of characters that claimed to be bisexual weren’t how I wanted to be portrayed, or were only speculated to be LGBT, and never confirmed. A big trope about bisexuals that negatively affected me was the overt overly sexual nature of these characters. It made it really difficult for me to want to come out because that’s not how I felt. I was fourteen and just trying to understand my own emotions so having these weird sexual fantasies about bi women being thrown at me made me feel gross and that I would be rejected. After I started dating my first girlfriend, my sexuality continued to be erased with people claiming or thinking I was a lesbian despite my mostly male dating history. I had never told anyone I was a lesbian, but somehow that word kept floating around, and when I finally met my now boyfriend I was back to being straight, not bisexual. My sexuality that I had finally become comfortable with was constantly being erased and I didn’t know how to fix it, and I still don’t, six years later. 

The two main stereotypes that I mentioned experiencing can be seen all over the place in media, despite their depictions clearly being harmful. An example of an overly sexual bi character is Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones. I love Oberyn, but I do think that since he is the only confirmed bisexual character in the show, and because his sexuality is purely on finding pleasure everywhere, it does reinforce some of those harmful stereotypes against bisexuals. The other example I provided is the bisexual erasure trope, where bisexuality is almost a myth, and you either have to be gay or straight. There are countless examples of this in media. Oddly enough, despite the film being very progressive for its time, The L Word even shot down the idea of bisexuality. There is a scene where Dana’s character says to Alice “Alice, when are you going to make up your mind between d*ck and p*ssy? And spare us the gory bisexual details.” Wow, right? Not only does this erase bisexuality but it also reduces it down to genitalia, further sexualizing the word, instead of it being a way to describe loving people for people, rather than because of gender or reproductive organs. 

I think that’s the big issue with these portrayals. People don’t want to see bisexuality as a way of choosing the people you love, but rather how you choose the people you sleep with. They see it as greed, rather than acceptance. I think all these ideas come from people just not talking to bisexual people because even those of us that do enjoy many nights of fun will tell you that they aren’t bisexual because they are sex addicts, it is because they can look beyond genitals to find the good in people and make connections. I think this also relates to the bisexual erasure because people don’t understand it so they just pretend it isn’t there. 

All of these stereotypes are harmful, and affect young bisexuals trying to identify themselves, and older bisexuals who have come out and accept themselves, but are still searching for that acceptance from the world. I think film and TV continue to put these ideas out in the world, specifically bisexual erasure (with introducing characters as bi and then never discussing it again) because it is a way to reel LGBT viewers in without actually being progressive and making an effort. When bisexuals realize what has happened, it is usually too late, with their view already being tallied to help renew a second season. 


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