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AUTHOR: Paula C. Rust
PUBLISHER: New York University Press
DATE: 1995
PAGES: 367

Bisexuality and the Challenge to Lesbian Politics: Sex, Loyalty, and Revolution

edited by Paula C. Rust

The subject of bisexuality continues to divide the lesbian and gay community. At pride marches, in films such as Go Fish, at academic conferences, the role and status of bisexuals is hotly contested.

Within lesbian communities, formed to support lesbians in a patriarchal and heterosexist society, bisexual women are often perceived as a threat or as a political weakness. Bisexual women feel that they are regarded with suspicion and distrust, if not openly scorned. Drawing on her research with over 400 bisexual and lesbian women, surveying the treatment of bisexuality in the lesbian and gay press, and examining the recent growth of a self-consciously political bisexual movement, Paula Rust addresses a range of questions pertaining to the political and social relationships between lesbians and bisexual women. By tracing the roots of the controversy over bisexuality among lesbians back to the early lesbian feminist debates of the 1970s, Rust argues that those debates created the circumstances in which bisexuality became an inevitable challenge to lesbian politics. She also traces it forward, predicting the future of sexual politics.

Arguing that queer politics are uniquely suited as a response to the current crisis in sexual politics, Bisexuality and the Challenge to Lesbian Politics explores one of the most fertile and provocative realms of our sexual universe.

  • Foreward by Karla Jay
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Debate in the Lesbian Press: Introducing the Issues
    • The Publications
    • Coverage of Bisexuality in the Lesbian and Gay Press
  • Chapter 2: “Experts'” Voices: Lesbianism, Bisexuality, and the Social Sciences
    • What is a Model?
    • The Great Debate: Essentialism versus Constructionism
    • A Brief History of Sexology in the United States
    • The Interplay of Politics and Science and the Downfall of the Dichotomous Conflict Model of Sexuality
    • New Models of Sexuality
  • Chapter 3: Behind the Scenes: How the Study Was Done and Who Participated in It
    • A Brief and Nontechnical Lessin in Sampling Theory for Nonacademic Readers
    • How Lesbian and bisexual Women Were Recruited to Participate in the Study
    • The Women Who Participated: Who Were They?
  • Chapter 4: Lesbians’ Voices: What Do lesbians Think about Bisexuality and Its Role in Sexual Politics?
    • Does Bisexuality Exist?
    • Lesbians Who Are Skeptical
    • Liberal Opinions and Mixed Feelings
    • Bisexuality Exists
    • Everyone is Bisexual
    • Summary
    • What is Bisexuality? Or, Will the Real Lesbian Please Stand Up?
    • Bisexuality as a Matter of Behavior
    • Bisexuality as a Matter of Feelings
    • Bisexuality as a Matter of Ideneity — or a Denial of Identity
    • Bisexuality as a Matter of Preferences or Choices
    • Bisexuality as a Matter of Gender Blindness
    • Summary
    • What Are Bisexuals Like?
    • A Note About Method
    • Unflattering Images
    • Positive Images
    • Existentially Invalidating Images
    • Political Images
    • Images of Bisexual Privilege: “The Best of Both Worlds” and Political Distrust
    • Images of Bisexual Oppression: “The Worst of Both Worlds” and Political Sympathy
    • Overall Perceptions of Bisexual and Lesbian Oppression
    • Underlying Conceptualizations; Two Different Kinds ofHybrids and Apoliticality
    • Dissenting Voices
    • Summary
    • How Do Lesbians Feel about Bisexual Women?
    • Summary
  • Chapter 5: Who Believes What? The Impact of Lesbians’ Personal Politics and Experiences on Their Attitudes Toward Bisexuality
    • Race, Education, Class, and Other Demographic Differences
    • Political Differences: Do Political Lesbians Speak for Us All?
    • Politics and the Issue of Bisexual Existence
    • Politics and Sexual Conceptualizations, Beliefs, and Feelings about Bisexuality
    • Personal Experiences: The Role of Empathy
    • Summary
  • Chapter 6: The Pink and Blue Herring: The Issue is Lesbianism, Not Bisexuality
    • The Personal and the Political: Constructing Lesbianism as a Feminist Issue
    • Debate Over the Relationship Between Lesbianism and Feminism
    • Controversy over the Relationship of Lesbian Sex to Lesbianism
    • Controversy over the Nature of Gender
    • Competing Political traditions: The Feminist Tradition and the Ethnic Tradition
    • The Importance of Lesbianism as a Choice in Lesbian Feminist Discourse
    • The Importance of Essence in the Ethnic Political Tradition and the Construction of Lesbians as an Ethnic Group
    • Feminist Choices or Ethnic Essence: Internal Contradictions Are the Legacy of a Dual Heritage
    • Bisexuality: The Issue That Exposes Controversies and Contradictions in Lesbian Ideology
    • Summary
  • Chapter 7: Bisexual Women’s Voices: What Do Bisexual Women Think about Bisexuality and the Role of Bisexuals in Sexual Politics?
    • Does Bisexuality Exist?
    • What is Bisexuality? Or, Why is Everyone Standing Up?
    • Bisexuals’ Images and Feelings about Themselves
    • Positive Images
    • Unflattering and Existentially Invalidating Images
    • Political Images
    • Social and Political Preferences: Images Translate into Feelings
    • Impact of Bisexual Women’s Personal Politics and Experiences on Their Attitudes Toward Bisexuality
    • Race, Education, Class, and Other Demographic Differences
    • Political Differences: DoPolitical Bisexuals Speak for Anyone?
    • Personal Experiences
    • Summary
  • Chapter 8: Another Revolution on the Political Wheel: The Politicization of Bisexuality
    • The Bisexual Press: Forum for the Discussion of Bisexual Identity, Community, and Ideology
    • Deja Vu?
    • The Future of Sexual Identity Politics
  • Appendix A: Figures
  • Appendix B: Tables
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Subject index
  • Author Index


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