Internalized monosexism

Resident Clinical Psychologist & Transgender and Intersex Advocate

Download Citation on ResearchGate | Bisexual women in relationships: investigating ambi identity, internalized monosexism, and infidelity / | Thesis. This study examined the relationship between congruity of ambi identity, internalized monosexism (AKA prejudice against both-gender sexuality), and rate of. Dolan, Christine V. () "Transcending Monosexism: Breaking Cycles and a Call for Nonmonosexual .. the unfortunate reality of internalized monosexism.

Bisexual people experience monosexism, the privileging of sexual attraction to one sex or gender .. Monosexism and internalized binegativity. Dolan, Christine V. () "Transcending Monosexism: Breaking Cycles and a Call for Nonmonosexual .. the unfortunate reality of internalized monosexism. Monosexism is a social structure operating through a presumption that everyone is, or should be, monosexual (attracted to no more than one.

INTERNALIZED. MONOSEXISM. AND. BISEXUAL. IDENTITY. DISCLOSURE. BY​. WOMEN. ON. TINDER. Amelia Henry studied as an undergraduate student. Alternatively, or in addition, it could reflect internalized monosexism; that is, the internalization of societal beliefs that bisexual or plurisexual identities are less. KEYWORDS: bisexual women, sexual identity, internalized biphobia, Investigating ambi identity, internalized monosexism, and infidelity.






Internalized people experience monosexism, the privileging of sexual monosexizm to one sex or gender, from heterosexual, gay, and lesbian communities. The current study of internalized participants explored their experiences of monosexism with heterosexual family members, heterosexual friends, gay family members, and monosexism friends. Results indicated that bisexual individuals reported significantly internalized discrimination from monosexism heterosexual community in comparison to the gay or lesbian community, although the effect size was small.

Acceptance of bisexuality from family and acceptance of bisexuality from monosexism were negative predictors of antibisexual discrimination.

Clinical and research implications are internalized. Skip to Main Content. Search in: This Journal Anywhere. Advanced search. Journal Journal of Bisexuality Volume 15, - Issue internalized. Submit an article Journal mnoosexism. Original Articles. Tangela S. View further author information.

Pages Published online: 17 Dec Additional information Author information Tangela S. Internalized G. William T. Article Metrics Views. Article metrics information Disclaimer for citing articles. Internalized options Log in. Username Password Forgot password? Shibboleth OpenAthens. Restore content access Restore content access for purchases made as guest.

Article Purchase - Online Checkout. People also read Article. Published online: 11 Oct Hannah J. Monosexism Journal of Bisexuality Monosexism 16, - Monosexism 3. Published online: 9 May Tania Israel et al. Journal of Bisexuality Volume 4, - Monosexism Published online: 22 Sep Patrick S.

Mulick et al. Journal of Bisexuality Volume 2, - Issue 4. Published online: 12 Oct Published online: 10 Monosexism More Share Internalized.

The current study of bisexual-identified participants explored their experiences of monosexism with heterosexual family members, heterosexual friends, gay family members, and gay friends. Results indicated that bisexual individuals reported significantly more discrimination from the heterosexual community in comparison to the gay or lesbian community, although the effect size was small.

Acceptance of bisexuality from family and acceptance of bisexuality from friends were negative predictors of antibisexual discrimination. Clinical and research implications are discussed. Skip to Main Content. Search in: This Journal Anywhere. Advanced search. Journal Journal of Bisexuality Volume 15, - Issue 4. Submit an article Journal homepage. Original Articles. Tangela S. View further author information. Pages Published online: 17 Dec Additional information Author information Tangela S.

Sharon G. William T. Article Metrics Views. Article metrics information Disclaimer for citing articles. Bisexual people can experience biphobia, which is analogous to homophobia in that it describes negativity, prejudice, or discrimination against bisexual people. Similarly, monosexism is analogous to heterosexism: some people view only single-gender sexual orientations heterosexuality and homosexuality to be legitimate, and at the structural level, bisexuality is dismissed or disallowed.

These terms refer to an unconscious acceptance by bisexual people of negative or inaccurate social messages about bisexuality, potentially leading to identity conflict and self-esteem difficulties. To our knowledge, no research to date has examined the relationships between these or other factors and mental health or emotional well-being as perceived by bisexual people.

We therefore conducted a community-based participatory action research project to answer the following question: what factors, both positive and negative, do bisexual people perceive to be significantly associated with their mental health? Our goal was to draw upon the principles of grounded theory methodology to develop a conceptual framework to describe the perceived determinants of mental health for bisexual people in Ontario.

We used participants' own qualitative descriptions of the factors that they perceived to affect their mental health to develop a framework that would enable us to begin to understand mental health disparities associated with bisexual identity. Research on mental health in sexual minority communities must be sensitively approached because historically their sexual orientations were treated by mental health professions, particularly psychiatry, as pathological. We conducted 8 focus groups of 3 to 9 participants each and interviewed 9 additional participants who either lived in more remote settings or could not be included in focus groups for other reasons.

Six focus groups met in Toronto: 2 with women, 3 with men, and 1 with transgender and transsexual people. A mixed-gender focus group convened in Ottawa, Canada's capital city eastern Ontario , and another in a small community in southwestern Ontario.

We interviewed 7 individuals by telephone and 2 at locations requested by the participants. Data collection began in December and was completed in October We used the same semistructured guide for both interviews and focus groups. Our analysis focused on answers to the following questions:. What are some of the unique issues, experiences, and challenges you face as a bisexual person or a person who is attracted to or sexually active with men and women?

What are the main issues, experiences, and concerns you have faced over the course of your life as a bisexual person? What do you feel has a positive impact on your mental health and emotional well-being as a bisexual person? What do you feel has a negative impact on your mental health and emotional well-being as a bisexual person?

Prior to the focus group or interview, each participant provided written informed consent and completed a demographic questionnaire. Focus groups lasted approximately 2 hours and interviews 1 hour. At the close of each focus group or interview, participants received a package of resources on bisexual health.

Participants were identified through convenience sampling of community health and social service agencies; local bisexual or lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations; online support and discussion groups; and advertisements in local newspapers. A total of people expressed interest in the study. We used purposive sampling to identify a final sample of 55 participants with diversity in gender, ethnicity, and geographic location.

Selected demographic characteristics of participants are provided in Table 1. Focus groups and interviews were digitally recorded and later transcribed verbatim. We analyzed anonymized transcripts with a grounded-theory approach; this method of qualitative data analysis derives a conceptual framework or theory from the data. We validated the framework at a community launch of the research findings in September No substantive changes to the framework were required following this validation with participants and other community members.

Our data indicated that the established sociological framework of intersecting macrolevel social structure , mesolevel interpersonal , and microlevel individual determinants of health 22 , 23 agreed with our participants' descriptions of potential risk and protective factors for mental health problems Figure 1.

However, within this framework, specific factors at each level were unique to or operated in a unique context for bisexual people. Quotes that illustrate these factors are provided in Table 2. Potential risk and protective factors for mental health problems for participants in study of bisexuals and mental health: Toronto, Ontario, — The critical roles of biphobia and monosexism in participants' mental health experiences were apparent in their responses.

Participants described the invisibility of their bisexuality and expressed frustration at being labeled with either a gay or heterosexual identity tied to the gender of their current partner. They noted the added burden of constantly or repeatedly disclosing their bisexual identity, by contrast with the experience of gay men and lesbians, whose sexual identity is implicit in the disclosure of the gender of a current or past partner.

Similarly, participants who were in long-term, monogamous relationships felt that others questioned the legitimacy of their bisexual identities, because they were not presently sexually active with both men and women. Bisexuality's lack of social legitimacy, several participants reported, meant that they were unaware that bisexuality existed during their teenage years and young adulthood. People assume you have threesomes. In addition to being portrayed as hypersexual, bisexuals are commonly understood to be gay or lesbian people who are confused about their sexual orientation or in transition to coming out as gay or lesbian.

Some common social beliefs and attitudes about bisexual people are gender specific; for example, bisexual men are viewed as carriers of disease to the heterosexual population, and bisexual women are seen as willing objects of sexual pleasure for heterosexual men.

Participants also described experiences of homophobia, particularly from people who assumed them to be gay or lesbian. In this instance, simply being visibly in a same-sex relationship resulted in an incident of homophobic violence; the actual sexual orientation of the victim was irrelevant to her attacker. Common social beliefs and attitudes about bisexuality, as well as other manifestations of monosexism, biphobia, and homophobia experienced by participants, were perceived to affect emotional well-being in diverse ways.

Of particular importance to participants was the effect of internalization of these social perceptions, both by important people in their lives family, friends, partners, and potential partners and by the participants themselves. Although participants noted the beneficial effects of a supportive partner on their emotional well-being, they also provided examples of relationship problems associated with partners and potential partners internalizing common social beliefs about bisexuality.

Polyamory, which can be broadly understood as a relationship structure in which individuals may have more than 1 romantic or sexual relationship, conducted openly with the consent of all involved, was a myth for some of our participants and a reality for others.

Although some of these participants had embraced the integration of their bisexual and polyamorous identities, others noted challenges that polyamory introduced, particularly in the development and nurturing of long-term relationships. Still other participants were not interested in polyamorous relationships and preferred monogamy. Participants similarly expressed both value and challenges associated with support from family members.

This challenge was multilayered for participants who identified with minority ethnoracial communities. Some of these participants perceived that within their communities, a bisexual identity was considered even more pathological or more incompatible with their ethnoracial identity than a lesbian or gay identity would be.

Supportive friends, and particularly bisexual-identified friends, were described as beneficial for mental health. Conversely, some participants described anxiety about disclosing their bisexual identity to gay and lesbian friends, out of concern that they would be seen to be no longer legitimate members of the lesbian and gay community. Participants also expressed anxiety about disclosing their bisexuality in the workplace, while at the same time noting the mental health benefits of being out at work.

Participants described complex relationships with the larger lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transexual community. Although some described positive interactions, others reported experiences of biphobia associated with involvement in predominantly gay and lesbian events:. By contrast, participants consistently expressed the value of access to a community of other bisexual people, although there was variability in the extent to which this desire was realized; geographic location was an important factor.

Level of involvement in a bisexual community was dependent on other identity variables as well, particularly ethnicity and age, because bisexual communities were perceived to be primarily available for Toronto-based, White, and young or middle-aged bisexual people. Many participants described past, and sometimes ongoing, struggles to understand and accept their bisexuality:. Participants demonstrated significant awareness of the extent to which they had internalized common social attitudes and beliefs about bisexuality:.

Self-acceptance seemed to come with time and age for some participants; others achieved this with the help of supportive counselors or therapists, friends, and communities who were positive about bisexuality.

Many participants emphasized the importance of self-care activities, including exercise, spiritual involvement, healthy support networks, and arts activities, in maintaining their emotional well-being. Participants noted that these self-care activities were beneficial for all people but that for bisexual people they served the additional purpose of providing a focus outside of the challenges and struggles related to their bisexual identities, as well as being important sources of pride and self-esteem.

Finally, many participants described feelings of self-fulfillment associated with involvement in advocacy, activism, and other activities intended to help other bisexuals achieve self-acceptance and to challenge biphobia and monosexism in society.

Our results illustrate the far-ranging mental health impact of biphobia and monosexism, in combination with homophobia and heterosexism, as perceived by bisexual people. Experiences of discrimination were perceived to affect mental health both directly e. Our conceptual framework is consistent with research that has examined the various ways that homophobia and heterosexism can influence the emotional well-being of gay and lesbian people, particularly as described by the Minority Stress Framework.

However, to our knowledge, ours is the first study to specifically examine the experiences of bisexual people, which can then be compared with previous research on the impact of discrimination on gay and lesbian people. We noted some unique experiences among bisexuals.

For example, our participants described self-questioning of their bisexual identity, often in relation to a gay or lesbian identity—one that was perceived to be less stigmatized than a bisexual identity. That this questioning often occurred during times of mental health challenges demonstrates the strength required to continually resist social pressure to conform to a heterosexual—homosexual dichotomy. It is seldom acknowledged that bisexual people experience homophobia and heterosexism in addition to biphobia and monosexism.

Participants in our study described experiencing rejection both from the heterosexual community often in the form of homophobia and from the gay and lesbian community often in the form of biphobia.

Bisexual people may in fact experience more social discrimination than those who identify as gay or lesbian because of their doubly stigmatized identity. In addition, many bisexual people simultaneously negotiate other stigmatized identities e.

Our participants felt that the media and many social institutions failed to acknowledge bisexuality as a legitimate and healthy sexual identity.

When the media and other information sources refer to bisexuality or bisexual people, they often perpetuate negative, hurtful, or inaccurate images. For example, although it is true that some bisexual people are polyamorous, this relationship structure is not more common among bisexuals than among heterosexual, gay, or lesbian people. In the context of the perceived multilevel significance of structural factors on the mental health of bisexual people, meaningful improvements might be expected only once problems in the surrounding society have been addressed.

This raises the question of how, from a public health perspective, the development of a more supportive social environment can be facilitated. Although addressing systemic discrimination is clearly a challenging undertaking, existing initiatives to address other forms of discrimination including homophobia and heterosexism could be expanded to address issues specific to bisexual people. For example, to address common beliefs about bisexuality a macrolevel manifestation of biphobia and monosexism described by our participants , public health agencies could include healthy images of bisexuality in antidiscrimination public education campaigns.

Sexual health education presenting bisexuality as a legitimate and healthy identity would both address the invisibility of bisexuality another macrolevel manifestation of biphobia and monosexism and alleviate identity struggles at the intrapersonal level for bisexual youths. Support groups for partners of bisexual people could be established to deconstruct common social beliefs about bisexuality, particularly as they relate to bisexual people's capacity for healthy, stable relationships.

This would not only address a manifestation of biphobia and monosexism at the structural level, but also address biphobia and monosexism experienced in the context of bisexual people's relationships with partners and potential partners—a perceived interpersonal determinant of mental health problems described by our participants. Because we conducted our study in 1 province of Canada, the extent to which our findings are reflective of the experiences of bisexual people in other settings is uncertain.

Although Ontario is geographically diverse it includes the largest city in Canada along with smaller towns and remote rural communities , a relatively progressive institutional environment exists throughout the province. However, we would expect that the negative effects of discrimination on emotional well-being would be even more pronounced in less supportive jurisdictions. That is, in settings where bisexual people experience even greater levels of discrimination, the negative mental health impact may be more significant than our participants described.

Our convenience recruitment method likely resulted in a sample of bisexual people who were predominantly open about and comfortable with their sexual orientation. Furthermore, in acknowledgment of the fluidity of sexual identities, 30 , 31 we opted to use a broad definition of bisexuality that included self-identification, sexual behavior, and sexual attraction.

Although the majority of our sample endorsed a bisexual identity, there may be differences between those who self-identify as bisexual and those who do not.

Finally, the majority of our sample reported experience with a mental health problem. The extent to which our findings can be generalized to a broader sample of bisexual people is therefore unknown.

Our use of qualitative methods did not permit conclusions about causal relationships between the factors identified by our participants and mental health and other health outcomes. Our data suggesting an association between discrimination and mental health among bisexuals could serve as a starting point for future research.

For example, quantitative studies could explore the relationships between these perceived determinants and mental health outcomes.

Respondent-driven sampling, a novel strategy for sampling of hard-to-reach populations, 32 might be of value in this research. Opinion polls could quantify social beliefs about bisexuality. Research is also needed to develop and test interventions and supports for bisexual people to ultimately improve the mental health status of this population. Lori E. We thank Anna Travers, Ayden Scheim, Loralee Gillis, and our participants for their essential contributions to this research.