I am not a lesbian, not a woman, and have Issues with the label of bi so I’m probably the wrong person to ask about this when it comes to thinking about it from the perspective of people impacted by that discussion (who like… should be everyone’s priority?). spinsterprivilege & goldstarprivilege & gaypocalypse are all really good people to ask about this.
That being said, I think there’s a few pretty obvious statistical issues that those studies in general need to address. Those are a) wonky as all hell, b) not really a direct answer to your question, but c) still kind of important to keep in mind on this and other issues with ~demonstrating privilege~ and I’d like to think the sort of thing that would motivate someone to ask me about this. So. More about them under the cut.
I received this same (actually perhaps a very very similar) anon earlier today while I was at work and wasn’t able to put forward the necessary effort to respond. I’m assuming this is possibly the same person? If so, anon, please know that I wasn’t ignoring your ask, just leaving it until I had more time to write a careful response.
Personally, I would like to take a closer look at a lot of the studies done about bisexuality, since I frankly haven’t studied all of them in depth. I have, however, seen some of the stats I assume you’re referring to, and I’ve skimmed Matt’s post now [and will read it more fully tomorrow]. So far, I do think he covers many of my main points. The most pertinent of these are as follows:
- several of the most frequently cited studies rely on small sample sizes or specific methodology that absolutely cannot be extrapolated out as a statement about the general bi population.
- correlation does not equal causation. As unfortunate a fact as this is for people who prefer to act as if nuance and things like multiple variables (including different axes of oppression) do not exist, it’s still unfortunately true and they do.
- related to the last point, what I personally have seen from people who uncritically use the findings of these studies to show how bi-identified people are unilaterally and unconditionally oppressed is a tendency to ignore combining factors: if bi people have been found more likely to live in poverty, for example, what are the other mitigating factors? No study that I am aware of has ever been able to conclusively prove this result [poverty, or nearly any other factor studied] is actually caused by someone identifying as bisexual.
- While I am skeptical about some of these numbers, and frankly infuriated by anyone who would use them to claim another similarly marginalized group “has it so much better” than bisexual people, it should hopefully go without saying that any amount of abuse, oppression, discrimination, -phobia, etc. is unacceptable. I don’t for one minute want to minimize the oppressive, violent, or painful experiences of bi-identified women.
- An enormous part of my frustration with many of these posts is feeling as if the OPs don’t feel the same—really, truly, in more than name and lip service only—toward the statistics about lesbians. This discussion shouldn’t be about who has it worse; that’s the worst kind of contest. This should be about ending all abuse and all oppression, period. That’s the fight I want to have. For all of us.
- Essentially, I am not denying either that these statistics exist or that bi-identified people do not experience unique oppression; I do, however, question the claims some bloggers make based on those numbers. I have some more nuanced thoughts I can perhaps etch out later (though some of these, particularly regarding bisexuality and communities of color, I would prefer to repost from someone else more qualified), but I believe this covers most of it for now.
***On a related note, I do know of a blogger who is working on a comprehensive and fair review of these most frequently cited studies. When she does finish, I will absolutely repost it on my blog. I’m not sure when the post will be ready, but please either check back for it or feel free to ask on anon for links when it is posted.