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Theoretical works on gender performance have primarily focused on drag performers, transgenders, and heterosexual women and men. Also, the limited existing research on bisexuality and gender has largely concentrated on the gender of bisexuals' relationship partners. Focusing on the gender performances of bisexuals themselves, this research contributes to the academic literature on bisexuality as well as the sociological study of gender. I examine how bisexuals utilize conventional scripts of femininity and masculinity in their relationships with women and men.
Soon after second-wave Western feminists developed social constructionist theories of gender, which deconstruct notions of sex the purportedly biological of female and male versus gender the culturally determined and socially recognized representations of femininity and masculinitygender was conceptualized as performance.
As sets of performed behaviors rather than a quality inherent to individuals, gender performances are culturally determined and contextually variable enactments of femininity and masculinity. More recently queer theorists such as Judith Butlerargue that of sex are as socially constructed as gender.
It is commonly assumed, as well as empirically researched, that women and men paired together in intimate relationships perform different sets of behaviors. Following this, it Bisexual girls in Old forge New York pd that individuals in interpersonal relationships do not—even cannot—share equality: one partner will have more power, specifically, more power over the other.
These assumptions reflect a highly gendered dynamic based upon the normative model of the monogamous heterosexual relationship Segal, that assumes that the male partner i. He is pd to initiate with the woman romantically as well as sexuallymake decisions on behalf of both partners, and generally exercise greater power of will and body within the relationship.
Thus, feminine women are pd to be sexually oriented toward masculine men, and vice versa. Assuming this as the hegemonic heterocentric configuration of power, does the same gendered dynamic hold precedence in intimate relationships that are not between a woman and a man? In all such pairings, the i. But how, then, might bisexuals perform gender in their relationships with women and men? Do they utilize conventional 1 gender scripts in their same-sex and opposite-sex couplings?
For instance, is the male bisexual who is conventionally masculine with a female partner also masculine with a male partner? Specifically, this article presents an empirical exploration of gender as a set of situated behaviors, or gender performance, in the romantic relationships 2 of bisexual women and men. My research has found that bisexuals negotiate conventional feminine and masculine gender performances with relationship partners in varied ways.
The reported s of such negotiations revealed some bisexuals' ificant self-awareness and conscious cooperative deliberation of gendered relationship dynamics between partners. The latter half of the 20th century saw the feminist politicization and academic exploration of the concepts sex and gender. Social constructionist perspectives perceive the gendered power differentials between women and men are instead an effect of cultural and social structural developments that create two sexes as masculine and feminine people; gender is not a reflection of any inherent traits of males and females, but rather gendering is a process that occurs through performing certain sets of behaviors.
Goffman's dramaturgical social analysis suggests that, like actors and actresses onstage, individuals engage in interaction through a variety of performances. Context- and audience-specific performances by individuals are perceived as authentic representations of the individual's innate essence.
Goffman instead argues that sex and gender are socially constructed. Further developing the framework proposed by GoffmanWest and Zimmerman assert that gender becomes meaningful in social interaction as it is in fact constructed through social interaction. West and Zimmerman suggest that gender is something people do : gender is a performance, not a natural or inherent quality within individuals. West and Zimmerman p.
Individual-level performances of gender simulate and reaffirm the presumably innate biological differences between females and males, thereby naturalizing and legitimizing the differential treatment of female and male sex.
Unlike West and Zimmerman's interactionist concept of gender as performance, Butler, conceptualizes the discursive performativity of gender production. As Goffman notes the everyday routineness of gender Bisexual girls in Old forge New York West and Zimmerman describe its mandatory performance, Butler emphasizes the repetitive necessity of gender performance required to create the appearance of a gendered self. Butler theorizes that gender is performative and therefore does not exist outside of discursive speech acts or performances.
Butler's theory of the performativity of gender has been criticized for ignoring the important physical realities of social bodies. Working to fill this gap R. Connell suggests that bodies are materially transformed through social processes that may be determined by gender. Biological bodies are transformed by gender ideology through such practices as the use of cosmetic drugs such as steroidshair removal, and dieting. These gender projects are not just constructions of the gendered appearances of individuals, Connellp.
Even in her extensive explorations of sexual identity, Butler does not substantively consider bisexuality. Discussing sexuality and gender, Connellp. How is bisexuality organized by gender of partner choice, because bisexuals may pair with women and men? Bisexual studies now foster a burgeoning literature, though empirical research on bisexuality as behavior and sexual identity is limited. I am unaware of any other empirical studies with a specific focus on bisexuals and gender performance.
However, there are a few works on bisexuality that are notable for their emphasis on gender, such as the study conducted by Weinberg, Williams, and Pryor in San Francisco during the s. The researchers investigated gender dynamics in bisexuals' relationships and found that the bisexuals in their study acted on conventional gender stereotypes in their relationships with women and men. The researchers suggest that bisexuality may have more in common with other sexualities than typically perceived, because bisexuals also utilize institutionalized gender scripts in the organization of their sexual desires.
Vernallis argues that the most important factor determining bisexuals' relationship satisfaction is whether or not the individual bisexual experiences her or his own gender in the same way with female and male partners.
But in the case of the bisexual, Vernallis asserts, such a definition of sexuality suggests that there is no discrimination between gendered object choices female or male : the bisexual participant will presumably experience either sex in the same way, and therefore a female or male partner can be equally satisfying. In light of bisexuals' application of hegemonic notions of gender to their female and male partners, Vernallis argues that bisexuals also experience themselves differently when in relationships with women or men. She presents an example of a woman who feels more dominant in a sexual relationship with another woman and more passive with a man.
Vernallis p. Theorists of bisexuality and bisexual activists have increasingly debated how bisexual theory should locate itself in relation to queer theory and activism Hemmings, ; Storr, b. For example Garberp. Positioned as the middle ground between heterosexualities and homosexualities, bi requires such as referents for its meaning.
Aultp. As such, debate continues as to whether or not bisexuals should be encompassed within queer politics or pursue another political agenda.
This research echoes the findings of researchers on gender and bisexuality in that bisexuals greatly utilize conventional scripts for gender-normative behaviors and appearances, as well as sexual scripts in relationships with women and men. My aim in outlining the ongoing debate is to recognize the centrality of this discussion to the future of bisexuality research and bisexual politics, as well as to point out the importance of issues of gender to bisexuality theorizing and research.
This particular study does not seek to settle this argument, but it is intended to illustrate that scholarly research may inform such debates in bisexual theory. To learn more about the ways bisexuals engage in performances of gender in romantic relationships, I conducted one-on-one interviews with twenty self-identified bisexual volunteers.
The sample also included one Puerto Rican female and one African American female. Ages of respondents varied from 18 to The interviews were semistructured so as to allow respondents to guide our conversation toward topics pertinent to their personal experiences. Other questions concerned respondents' definitions of femininity and masculinity, perception of self as feminine or masculine, and whether physical appearance of the respondent reflected her or his gender or sexuality.
The interviews lasted from 45 minutes to 2 hours in duration, and were audiotape recorded. Content analysis was performed by the interviewer on complete interview transcripts. To protect the identity and privacy of my respondents no real names have been used; respondents selected the pseudonyms used herein.
This sampling methodology presents certain limitations for the generalizability of this research to a broader population of bisexuals. Due to the necessary succinctness of the data collection process, a one-time interview was conducted with each respondent; therefore this research can only supply a momentary snapshot of the lives of the participants.
Additionally, the sample was composed of self-selected bisexual volunteers who, as such, are likely to be different from other bisexuals who did not volunteer. Thus, as with much sexuality research, the conclusions of this research can only apply to the historical context in which the lives of the participants in this research exist, as well as provide only a momentary view into the life course and sexual development of the individual interviewees.
The bisexuals in this sample often described women as passive, emotional, and delicate, and men as aggressive, emotionally unexpressive, and physically dominant over women. Bisexual girls in Old forge New York following section is a discussion of the behaviors, or gender strategiesof the respondents in romantic relationships.
Gender ideology provides ideas about who we are, who others are in relation to us, and provides expectations for interaction with others that guide our behavior. Overall the respondents in this research were quite traditional in their perceptions of women and men, self-identification as gendered persons, and gender performances within relationships. Women are very different than men, and whether it's because of biology or because of the way women are socialized, they're just very different.
The bisexuals in this study perceived many conventional or stereotypical differences between women and men in accord with dominant gender norms. These norms situate women and men, and correspondingly femininity and masculinity, as polar opposites. In terms of physical differences, women were generally perceived as more delicate or frail than men, and men as larger and stronger than women. Stereotypical dispositional differences were also often cited between women and men. Women and feminine qualities in general were described as emotional and caring, accepting, and maternal.
Like you know, her absolute best in high heels. In contrast, masculinity was associated with a general lack of concern for physical appearance. In concurrence with common stereotypes, men were described as goal-driven decision makers who are less concerned about other people than women, and masculinity in general was associated with assertiveness and aggression.
They care, they care about looking as masculine as possible. Just you know, being in the Army and killing people and, hunting and the NRA and hating gays and lesbians not thinking about um, just feelings and stuff, I think is more masculine.
The most prevalently cited difference between women and men was the tendency for men to be more interested in sex than women, and less emotionally involved with their partners. Men were generally perceived as being more aggressive sexually and in all interaction with otherswhereas women were seen as being more emotional than sexual.
The findings of this study correspond to those of Weinberg et al. They specifically asked respondents about differences in sexual experiences with women and men. More than four-fifths of their sample asserted differences between women and men along three themes: body texture and physique, differences in behavior, and emotions Weinberg et al. The physical differences reported were perceptions of women as small and smooth, whereas men were described as larger and muscular. Female partners were perceived by men and women as being more emotional, and sexual experiences with women were described as slower and more gentle than those with male partners.
Also, the women in Weinberg et al. In addition to describing other women and men in conventionally gendered ways, the bisexuals in this research overwhelmingly applied conventional notions of gender to themselves. You know, I do karate and climb.
I can't really make myself care about clothing all that much. You know I don't feel like I'm a girl in any way shape or form. I don't feel weak or shy, you know. Interestingly, the bisexuals in this sample were often readily aware of their utilization of traditional ideologies and common stereotypes about gender and asserted recognition that their own gender ideologies were learned through social norms.
For example, A. And I'm a pretty strong person … And I think I was socialized as a hockey playing male, and that this is what guys do. So I think that the gender, the male gender script is probably a lot more firmly implanted in me … than other people.
And I've come to recognize that. Like A. I can be aggressively competitive as long as the stakes really don't matter. I was, I was in the military for awhile.
I, I was into a lot of sports. Into things like, auto repair, carpentry, as they say the list of things that you don't imagine typically being done in a dress. I guess if you want the capsule definition of what society considers feminine. I encouraged respondents to discuss their gender ideologies with me rather than reciting common stereotypes.Bisexual girls in Old forge New York
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Bisexuals “Doing Gender” in Romantic Relationships