Those kinky penile plethysmograph fetishists at Northwestern University just can’t get enough cock.
Dr JM Bailey and his chums have been strapping a fresh batch of penises into their sex-lie detector machines again, showing them porn and feverishly twiddling their knobs. But this time – hold the front page! – their ‘scientific’ findings very kindly allow men who like cock and pussy to actually exist.
Which might not in the real world seem such a major finding – but it represents a major flip flop for this outfit. Six years ago, using the same cranky equipment, they claimed they had demonstrated that male bisexuality didn’t exist. That their data suggested that bisexual men were in fact ‘really’ homosexual.
A ‘finding’ that was trumpeted around the world. Because of course it told people, straight and gay, what they wanted to hear, and what common sense tells them to be the case. Gays have always wanted bisexual men to join ‘their’ team. While straights don’t want the dirty dogs on theirs. However liberal they might be. Especially in the devoutly monosexual USA. ‘Straight, Gay or Lying?’ was the infamous, shameful headline in the New York Times which greeted the 2005 paper from Bailey ‘proving’ male bisexuality doesn’t exist.
Just as all women are ‘really bisexual’, no men really are. Since virility is directly related to a man’s ability to perform compulsory heterosexuality, any man who is aroused by cock can’t be virile. He is, by definition, emasculated. Impotent. A fag. Or ‘gay’ if you’re liberal. No wonder the vast majority of men attracted to other men don’t advertise the fact.
All this despite of course the way hardcore ‘straight’ porn watched by most men when they’re not strapped to a plethysmograph in Northwestern University features pussies AND cock. Usually lots and lots of ENORMOUS cocks – and a sorely-tested pussy or two. By way of contrast, I’d point out that I’ve never seen a single pussy in gay porn. (Except once in the art-house porn of Bruce La Bruce – who was anyway only doing it to wind up The Gays.)
In my own private ‘researches’ I’ve come across – and over – scores of straight/bi-curious/bisexual men who want to re-enact the straight hardcore porn they’ve been watching. With them as the ‘greedy slut’. They tell me they decided that it looked like fun. And besides, they thought they could do a better job. (Probably correctly, since the ‘slut’ fantasy of straight porn is of course a largely male construction.)
But Bailey’s yen to strap penises into sex-lie detectors is much more respectable than my private perving. The jaw-droppingly dreadful recent C4 documentary series The Sex Researchers presented Bailey as some kind of sexual seer, rather than the highly controversial and frankly rather dodgy figure he is. Worse, it gave his favourite sex toy, the penile plethysmograph, a starring role in the first and last episode, presenting a contraption which is probably even less reliable than a non-kinky ordinary lie detector, as a pure, objective and accurate way of measuring and studying sexuality, in contrast to all that subjective tosh and ‘dirty data’ that Kinsey and Freud came out with. By listening to people.
Likewise, the series began and ended with the ludicrous but apparently highly reassuring assertion, based on this objective and scientific research, that most women are bisexual and hardly any men are.
In keeping with this ‘Loaded’ ideology – and it really is an ideology, make no mistake – the entire series on sex research, lavishly illustrated with ‘ironic’ vintage soft porn footage of naked ladies playing with themselves and jiggling their boobies, the penis and the male body was almost completely absent – except when undergoing gruesome ‘corrective surgery’ or being subjected to ‘testing’ in the plethysmograph. We were repeatedly told that female sexuality is ‘complicated’ but men’s sexuality is… mechanical.
The denial of male bisexuality and bi-curiousness has its roots in a sexism that keeps men in their place even more than women.
‘Sex’ for the C4 documentary makers meant (a very particular kind of) ‘female body’. It was as if the documentary had been directed by Benny Hill, but without the laughs. The commercial breaks, featuring tarty half-naked men selling breakfast cereals and moisturiser were much more enlightened and realistic than anything in this series based on an already highly dated heteronormativity (which incidentally is the subject of an official complaint to Channel 4 about its inaccurate and misleading nature by several of the sex researchers interviewed for it).
So why the turnaround by Bailey? Well, it seems the loud and angry protests from bisexual organisations that Bailey’s 2005 findings understandably aroused has taken its toll -– and indeed one bisexual organisation even funded this recent research.
They got the result they wanted, but I fear they’re wasting their money and merely encouraging more bad science. Some of course will hold these findings up as proof that this Heath Robinson kind of bio-mechanical sex research can correct itself. But they would have to be true believers to see it that way. All that has been proven is that measuring penile blood-flow in a laboratory is a highly reductive and highly abnormal measure of male sexuality. Men are not just penises. They are also prostate glands. Perineums. Earlobes. Inner thighs. Brains. Nipples.
It also shows that you get the result you’re looking for. In 2005 Bailey wanted to prove that male bisexuality didn’t exist. In 2011 he didn’t. QED.
Perhaps the worst thing about this new finding is that Bailey et al will now try to turn male bisexuals into a ‘species’ to be studied and dissected. Bisexual men may quickly come to the conclusion that they were much better off when they didn’t exist.
Unless of course they themselves have a bit of a fetish for penile plethysmograph play.
Matthew-Dual attraction was an excellent study but it’s now very dated.
Also mostly all of the male bisexuals I’ve met either are more into men or are 50/50 and they’re out about their sexuality.
There are a lot of bisexual activists who are in same gender relationships, marriages/civil unions, etc. with people of the same gender and they’re not in hetero marriages.
Mark W. Someone gave me book the other day “Dual Attractions” which reported that the majority of bisexual men were straight-leaning 40%, the minority were gay-leaning 18%, an even smaller 50/50. And then occasional bisexuality filling out the other percentage on both the gay and straight side.
I really think that your experience is more informed by the gay community, and I also believe most of the visible bisexual men are on the gay side. While the majority mantain invisibility in marriages or simple discretion.
I am an acception only because I am visible on the hetero leaning side. But not so uncommon in the art world. Even in the art world there is a closet. But we have all been indoctrinated by LGBT politics to “come out” when we are in college. I have met a few like myself that are out so far ALL are writers because who would want to censor their best content (accept the male version of Susan Sontag).
But the other intersting thing to note although most of the gay-leaning bi’s have tended to be more visible, almost ALL the major bi activists are in hetero marriages! Probably because their identities, health needs, psychological services, etc. have not and will not be met very well within the gay community.
Yes well this is the absurdity of Joe Kort as mentioned. I mean really? None of the straight men I know who tell me about themselves want a “gay identity”, no matter how far they wanted to explore themselves. So I am chatting with another guy online who wants to be out and not give a shit but does not know how to do this without ruining his “straightness” as it is expressed through his relationships with women. This is the delimna that Joe Kort is clueless of. It is a bit sad at times to tell a woman that your a homo and have her have a panic attack, but I have been willing to pay the price – it helps if your a stud. : )
Jasper: I often forget about the Millenarian origins of American Protestantism and in fact American culture. But never stop seeing its effects.
You’re right of course about today’s College campuses being training grounds for today’s Millenarian missionaries, each with the ‘right’ plan for the New Jerusalem.
Matthew: Did Savage actually say that about bi men having to come out to their fiance before their wedding? If he did, then America really deserves a better sexpert. It seems that Savage sees everything through the pink distorting lens of his own gay identity. So bi men are just a confused, dissimulating young Dan Savage waiting to come out as a gayist sex columnist. Male bisexuality doesn’t exist – it’s just gayness that needs to be ‘outed’.
But as you say, most men have very powerful homoerotic fantasies. Freud claimed that he hadn’t come across a single case of male analysis that didn’t involve homoerotic fantasies. I doubt he told them to ‘come out’ to their wives.
It was Freud who famously warned against early homosexual rights campaigner Hirschfeld’s desire to turn homosexuals into a separate species. Savage is living proof of how right he was.
I think what Dan Savage does not understand as many gay men do not, is who are bisexual men in the straight world. Most men with attractions to both genders actually repress the homo-side of themselves, I know I have talked to a lot of them, I really don’t think my homosexuality is any more or less strong than the friends who tell me of their homoerotic fantasies, most go through their lives without fullfilling them. So when Dan says “I hope that bi guy has the decency to come out to his fiancée before the wedding, because she deserves better.” I realize he is totally and completely clueless! Many men have experimented, have sexual attractions, even full out love affairs and still will not identify as bisexual. Really the few that do on the straight end of things actually are being honest about themselves, have been sexually experimental, and would have no problem coming out to their partner. It is mainly “straight” men who will not. It is funny because my “straight” friends always tell me “we are all a little bit bisexual” or “we are all on the down low” only til years later do they tell me what they have actually experienced.
Fantastic post and discussion, Mark, I like your point about religion in American Politics. Identity Politics in America are an outgrowth of the Millenarian Protestant social movements that colonized New England. Gay, Queer, Radical Feminist and now Trans, each group conceives of itself as the lost children of Israel who’s mission is to build the New Jerusalem on American soil. American college campuses are practically missionary training grounds complete with conversion experiences.
Yes the disturbing thing of Dan Savage “not believing teens” us that is when I needed someone to talk to the most. I basically outed myself and no one quite believed it so the pressure to be straight or gay. I snapped out of it when I met “gay” performance artist Ron Athey who told me he was bisexual and advised me to “just date who you feel good about being with” which became a philosophy of life. He also told me to make my art about it. It has been good being out but it set my life up in a very peculiar way. I am fortunate that I am of a masculine build a personality as it has helped me attract women otherwise my homo branding would probably make it rather difficult. There is a lot at stake for bisexual man to be out because straight women have a lot of homo-anxiety and a lot of gay men? I don’t know what the f@ck their problem is. some seem thrilled. Others really angry and nasty.
Even that annoying twit who doesn’t know anything about human sexuality known as Dan Savage had something to say about this junk “science” all while he still claims that bisexual men don’t exist or that you can’t be a teenager or young adult and be bisexual. He also completely heralded the 2005 study as total truth and has been very open about how he does not like bisexual men or women, let alone Trans people or black voters in the state of CA.
Brilliant. I never thought of it that way. I grew up in a United Church of Christ that ordained gay ministers since 1971. And many other church’s within this seminary followed including the Methodists, Lutherans, Anglican, etc. While the other Christians the Baptists, the Evangelicals etc. maintain the opposite position.
Why is the search/crusade for a ‘gay gene’ a mostly American preoccupation? Because America is a very religious country and the ‘gay gene’ and all other ‘inborn’ faiths about the ’cause’ of homosexuality are all essentially religious in motivation.
Though of course American liberals and gays – many of whom applaud Bailey’s ghastly late-Nineteenth Century approach – think that because they are contradicting the religious Right’s ‘it’s a choice!’ mantra (basically with ‘it isn’t!!!’) that they are being secular or scientific. They’re not. They’re just being heretical Christians. Essentially their’s is a theological dispute.
As Gaga put it in that execrable song: ‘God makes no mistakes’.
I think the search/crusade for gay marriage is very closely related to the one for a gay gene.
Oh and if they find the “gay gene” what they will have likely have found is the “interior decorator gene” and if the abort so called gay fetuses, where in the world will find good upholstery?
Gwen we should all be wary of the “gay Gene” project. “the born this way” idea really is a surrendering of individual power. This may be a bit of a bi perspective because it feels like a “choice” (in a way) to me, but even for gay men I think it is a dangerous narrative, more dangerous than the 1950’s AnnaFreudians or gay reparative psychology. The “gay gene” seems more of a project of segregation, “keeping gay away”, and creating legit and illegit sexualities than anything remotely resembling liberation.
Gwen: I haven’t read Bailey’s book on transgendered men, but reading up about it online it does seem as if his original determination to prove that bisexual men didn’t exist fits very nicely into his binary view of transsexuals (either ‘effeminate homosexuals’ or very kinky heterosexuals). You could retitle ‘The Man Who Would Be Queen’ as ‘Gay, Straight or Lying’.
In some ways Bailey seems to me to be an object-lesson in what happens if you try and make an ‘inborn’ species out of homosexual men.
Which would explain why ‘gay brain’ fetishist Le Vay is a fan.
I’m both B and T. Now that Bailey has admitted that I exist as a bisexual, what happens to the BBL theory about transwomen either being just extremely-gay or autogynephilic? Doesn’t this sort of undermine the taxonomy between “homosexual” and “nonhomosexual” laid out in “The Man Who Would Be Queen?”
To be sure, I don’t have an absolutely anti-BBL mindset, I just tend to think that Bailey et al have confused cause-and-effect.
Anyway, completely agree with your concern that now bisexual men will be turned into a species to be dissected… welcome to my world, honey. =)
I would like it all to change. coming out at 19 meant I was a joke, really. I also had a girl then and we both just abandoned LGBT and gay culture. I want to contact the gay men in my life and really talk to them, I don’t share much with them and have a knee jerk response that I will be ridiculed. Because it happened all the way up til recently. – I am arranging to speak on college campuses to talk to the LGBT student union. And have a speaking engagement at a Gay & Lesbian Center. It has been easier being out amoung straights than in gay culture, Ironically.
Thanks for the insight Matthew, a large percentage of the men I know are bisexual and I have always wondered why they were timid to inform me that they have sex with women as well. It bothers me that bi people have to feel this way about gays as well.
Matthew: I can understand why you feel relief that you’ve been given permission to actually exist, and can only imagine the kind of grief you’ve had in the last few years being openly bi in the monosexual US of A.
But nobody – nobody – needs validatidon from that bunch of freaks at Northwestern University.
Thanks Mark! I really appreciate this. Since the last Baily study my life had really turned upside down. No matter where I went I heard the results repeated and did not even hear the news til 2008 because I was absorbed in grad studies. But when I started dating again both gay men and straight women have put me under a lot of scrutiny. Because I am surrounded by the “ethos of being out” this is how I have lived for years but with little benefit to myself as many Gay and Lesbian organisation don’t really serve bisexuals (only in name) and I hadn’t been to a gay bar in over ten years.
I did eventually find another sexual out law of the female variety and we are still dating.
But to be honest and frank this has been a very painful ordeal and almost like being in a science fiction novel. I am glad the new study was published just to change the public narrative for the time being.
But really it might be back to “Bisexual men exist beware they are dangerous.”
Good post. The study seemed to ignore that pre-conditioned stimuli may have an impact on the response. Ultimately, does this not boil down to the fact that most men are stimulated by porn, regardless of its nature?…
People actually still spend good money on this horse-shit? Maybe they should look at something a bit more realistic, like Craigslist, for What Men Really Want!
We all know there are many famous bisexuals yet they are usually not labelled that and those relationships are usually called ‘experimenting’
What would be positive role models for males are fought over by straight and gays for ownership.
A lot of media folk from straight mags refuse to cope with the sexuality of athletics. It’s gay, straight or nothing.
Great piece Mark. The supreme surreality of “Straight Gay or Lying” (and indeed shame too) forced me to submit my first ever letter to a newspaper editor, which the Times printed (though severely truncated). I think your comment on all of this being about keeping *men* in their place is spot on. And love the reference to Benny Hill without the laughs…
This kind of study is so hopelessly reductionistic and bizarre it’s hard to know where to begin to critique it.