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The 50/50 Myth: 6 Reasons to Stop Assigning Percentages to Bisexuality

The 50/50 Myth: 6 Reasons to Stop Assigning Percentages to Bisexuality

The 50/50 Myth: 6 Reasons to Stop Assigning Percentages to Bisexuality

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Any bisexual person can tell you that the question we're asked most often is "What's the percentage? Is it like, 50/50?" We hear it during the coming out process, we hear it at work, and we hear it from strangers. Everybody wants to know.

There's a fascination with our interest in different genders and, along with it, comes the belief that to be truly bisexual you must be 50% attracted to men, and 50% attracted to women. This could not be more wrong.

Human sexuality and attraction are nuanced. Everybody has different preferences, behaviors, and interests. The idea that bisexuals have to be split down the middle, 50/50, is harmful in a lot of ways.

1. It creates a gender binary and perpetuates the (false) idea that bisexuals are transphobic or only attracted to cisgender individuals.

Suddenly, all of the work that we've done to adjust the definition of bisexuality to better work within a gender spectrum has been lost. Rather than hearing us when we say that we are bisexual because we are attracted to 1) people of our own gender and 2) people of other genders, people take bisexuality to mean attracted to 1) cis men and 2) cis women.

2. It alienates anyone whose attraction is not evenly split.

The 50/50 myth forces bisexuals who are not evenly attracted to different genders to think they are somehow less of a bisexual. It makes them think that maybe they are not allowed to idenitify as bisexual because having evenly-split attractions is some kind of requirement. It's not.

I generally find my own attraction to be pretty evenly split between people of my own gender and people of other genders. My best friend finds that he has a slight preference for people of his own gender. My work friend says she has a clear preference for people of different genders than herself. All of our attractions are valid. We are all gold star bisexuals.

The only requirement to be a "true bisexual" is the potential to find yourself attracted to multiple genders. Just the potential. You could only have sex or relationships with one gender for your whole life and still be bisexual.

All we have to do to recognize that and understand that is to look at what is accepted by many as being the best definition of bisexuality. It comes from bi activist Robyn Ochs:

“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge that I have in myself the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”

3. It allows no wiggle room.

A huge amount of bisexuals will tell you that attraction is like a roller coaster, with preferences changing month by month, week by week, or even day by day. Sometimes we'll find that we have a stronger pull towards one gender, but that'll flip the next week. How can we allow ourselves to truly feel each twist and turn in our attractions if we feel we're supposed to always be evenly split?

In many cases, bisexuals can start to question themselves and their identity if they are not allowed to fluctuate. Changes in attraction levels become scary, forcing us to constantly question ourselves.

Anxiety-filled confessions like "Oh my god, I've been into a lot of women recently, am I actually a lesbian?" or "Sometimes I worry that I'm just gay and I've been denying it this whole time," become commonplace. Instead of proudly asserting ourselves in our identity, we're left to hide away and try to figure it all out on our own.

4. Percentages are, simply put, just a terrible way to describe human sexuality.

This isn't high school stats class; we shouldn't have to use numbers and percentages to describe ourselves. That puts an overly simplistic, even scientific or analytical scope on something that is inherently jumbled, diverse, and complicated.

5. It only works to support the myth that bisexuals are 50% gay and 50% straight.

As bisexuals, our identity is whole and valid in itself. We don't need to borrow or scavenge from others. As the lovely and talented Zachary Zane puts it:

"At the end of the day, while it might be easier for you to conceptualize that I’m 50 percent gay and 50 percent straight, or 70 percent gay and 30 percent straight, it’s just not true. I’m 100 percent bisexual."

And, finally, 6. We don't want to be subjected to being grilled about our sexual attractions at any given moment, especially if people are just going to judge us by our answer.

A lot of the time, when someone asks this 50/50 question, it's in a situation that does not inherently attract questions about sex and relationships. I've been asked this question at work, at family gatherings, even during a college lecture. These are not times when I want to answer super personal questions.

And it's important to note that, in my case, my answer is oddly straight forward. As I said, my attraction is generally pretty evenly split. It fluctuates, sure, but not widely. But I cannot stress enough how that makes me the weird one. Most bisexuals are not like that. I'm the odd duckling here, folks.

The point is, that when people ask me this question, I can comfortably nod to them and be done with it. I feel comfortable nodding along so that we can move on with the question and I will no longer be in the hot seat I didn't ask for and had no intention of being in. Others cannot.

For a lot of people, the answer to that question is no. No, their attraction is not evenly split. But because society expects it to be, they may feel that they cannot answer honestly without further inquiry and more time in the hot seat. Additionally, people may begin to accuse them of not being a "real bisexual," because of their attractions being uneven or in constant flux.

So, for all these reasons and more...

Let's just get rid of this whole numbers game.

Let's agree that bisexuals are still bisexual regardless of preferences or patterns. No bisexual is more bisexual or a better bisexual than any other. You do not have to be "this bisexual" to be in the club. There's no limit, no restriction, no test you have to pass.

Most importantly, there are no percentages.

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Mckenna Ferguson

McKenna is a freelance writer, Netflix addict, and Colorado State University alumna. Her hobbies include sleeping, staying indoors, and crop top advocacy. #CropTopsForAll

McKenna is a freelance writer, Netflix addict, and Colorado State University alumna. Her hobbies include sleeping, staying indoors, and crop top advocacy. #CropTopsForAll