OK Cupid, We’re Checking the Bi Box
A close friend recently introduced me to OkCupid’s survey results collected from people who use their dating site. The page in question (which is entitled “The Big Lies People Tell in Online Dating”) claims that “80% of self-identified bisexuals are only interested in one gender.” OkCupid thus suggest that such users are lying about their sexual identity because of their messaging habits. In other words, if a bisexual only messages folks of one gender, the site throws their bisexuality into doubt: “This suggests that bisexuality is often either a hedge for gay people or a label adopted by straights to appear more sexually adventurous to their (straight) matches.” They also review their statistics by stating that “By the end of our chart, 3 of every 4 bi males on OkCupid are observably straight.”
Holy crap, does anyone think over there?
Even if some do lie about being bi, (and I very much doubt there are many) I can come up with many reasons why bisexual people might only message those of one gender: Let’s say Fred recently split up with a guy and is thinking he would prefer to date a woman right now? Or consider Karen, who has had a string of difficult flings with women and is figuring that, in terms of a steady relationship, she might be better suited to a guy? Or what about Layla who has only ever dated women and is excited about trying for a man this time? Or Joe who is into some men, but is far more into women? Or Mary who dates transgender men and finds that OkCupid provide no option for checking the “Queer” box rather than the “Bi” or “Gay” box? Or Kay, who already dates Maud and Emma, and would also like to date a guy? And the scenarios go on and on…
Would we prefer these folks to lie by calling themselves heterosexual?
I would hope not.
The truth is, you can’t measure sexual identity by looking at relationship patterns. One does not dictate the other. “Bisexual” means we are sexually attracted to folks of more than one gender (whether or not we might act on that) and this encompasses a heck of a lot of possibilities.
Our tastes might change, our fears might change, our sexual fantasies might change, our understanding of what constitutes “gender” might change…but when we say we identify as bisexual, people should think and listen instead of conducting whole studies to discover whether we exist, and throwing a load of tripe our way about being “observably straight” when sexuality has nothing to do with how we’re “observed.”
You only need look at the comments section of the OkCupid article in question (I drew from some of these when forming the scenarios above) to see excellent arguments and observations that go against OkCupid’s false logic. Isn’t it interesting that OkCupid don’t discuss whether self-identified heterosexuals message people of more than one gender on their site? And even if heterosexual folks do message same-sex users, is it our business to question their reasons?