April 27, 2013

"I like the soft roundedness I’ve found in women, the scratchy ridiculousness I’ve found in men, and the culinary generosity I’ve found in both."

"If you lined up 100 people I’m physically drawn to, maybe only 4 would be women, but the depth of attraction I’d feel for those women would be the same as for the men. This was true when I was 23 and entered my first romantic relationship (with a woman), and it’s true now that I’m 38. I do not think of myself as 4 percent lesbian but 100 percent bisexual."

Writes a woman named Wilson Diehl — op-edding in the NYT — who seems irritated that people won't believe her. She married a man named Jared:
Jared contacted me on an online dating site, and before we had even met I told him via e-mail that I hate tofu, sausage and girlie cocktails; I’m sensitive about textures, depictions of violence and buzzing noises....
Sensitive about textures.... presumably that explains scratchy ridiculousness.

Anyway, she's a stay-at-home mother (working on a book), and she doesn't use bisexuality as a reason to be nonmonogamous. Her "bi-ness seldom has occasion to come up organically," so she makes jokes like "I can’t pick a restaurant — I’m bisexual."

57 comments:

BDNYC said...

Is there anything more boring than yet another discussion of the uniqueness of female sexuality? How edgy, she's bisexual because she has been attracted to women before, but she's monogamous with her husband. Truly fascinating.

Palladian said...

Jared's probably getting blowjobs from guys off Craigslist.

Palladian said...

I can't think of any other way a man could tolerate life with this sort of woman.

BDNYC said...

There's something really wrong with our culture. Not for tolerating and embracing homosexuality and bisexuality. But for celebrating these public disclosures of highly personal aspects of a person's life. Why do we need to know the date her husband impregnated her? Why is it interesting?

But more to the point, the fact that many women are capable of "loving the person" regardless of gender is not exactly earth shattering. Male bisexuality, in my humble opinion, is much harder to understand and would create thornier issues relating to attraction, fidelity, and identity.

Will Cate said...

Definitely one of the dumbest columns I've read in a while, even by NY Times standards. More than anything, this woman is just really wrapped up in herself.

Palladian said...

But for celebrating these public disclosures of highly personal aspects of a person's life. Why do we need to know the date her husband impregnated her? Why is it interesting?

Many women seem to find the spectacle of revelation of intimate personal information entertaining, for some reason. Lots of my fellow gay men like it too.

Wait, did I just do it?

acm said...

Ugh. Dear Wilson, if you're married and not planning to cheat, why why why does anyone need to know which not-your-husband people you are attracted to? Does Mr. Diehl get to write his own op-ed next week "Yes, I Married A WASP but I'm Still Really Into Asian Women. Deal With It."

Come on, Wils. Let the all-the-way gays and the bisexuals in same sex relationships have their oppression. You can go whine about abortion access, can't you? Or maybe wail about your unfortunate name and the heteronormative assumptions inherent in how often a clueless customer service rep thinks Wilson must be a man's name?

Coketown said...

This op-ed has caused me to re-evaluate a lot of things I used to believe. Not about sexuality, but about the brisk, steady decline of our country's print media.

Maybe it's not the liberal bias of the New York Times that has caused so many readers to flee and stay away. Maybe it's the fact that 80% of everything it publishes is vapid nonsense.

This article should not appeal to liberals or conservatives. It should appeal only to drooling idiots who find it exhilarating when other morons divulge intimate, slightly uncomfortable details about their private lives.

It's the print version of Oprah and Ricky Lake.

But awesome. She's 4% lesbian. She could be the bisexual answer to Elizabeth Warren.

acm said...

I'm wearing jeans and a skirt because, bisexual!

No, sweetie, you're wearing jeans and a skirt because, Daddy, Mommy, Somebody Look At Me Oh Please If You Don't Look I'm Not Really Here

I can't pick a restaurant because, bisexual!

No, baby, If you can't decide between pizza and curry, so you eat both, you're a freaking glutton eating your feelings (see above).

Palladian said...

Maybe it's not the liberal bias of the New York Times that has caused so many readers to flee and stay away. Maybe it's the fact that 80% of everything it publishes is vapid nonsense.

I agree. It's like the "Style" section metastasized and has turned the whole paper into a twee, neurotic, shallow, high-income malignant tumor.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Palladian: I can't think of any other way a man could tolerate life with this sort of woman.

A woman who has slept with other women. Yeah, that would be a total turn-off for a straight guy.

Palladian said...

"I can’t pick a restaurant — I’m bisexual."

She can't decide between Le Bernardin and Nathan's Famous.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse: Her "bi-ness seldom has occasion to come up organically," so she makes jokes like "I can’t pick a restaurant — I’m bisexual."

She sounds like someone desperate to be edgy, to have an identity.

Palladian said...

A woman who has slept with other women. Yeah, that would be a total turn-off for a straight guy.

It ain't her sexual proclivities I was referring to.

Coketown said...

Can you imagine acting like this woman in everyday life?! Holy shit, I would throw myself off a cliff with an Acme anvil.

She shoves this absurd topic in everyone's face--making dumb non-sequitous jokes without any provocation--then demands that everyone stop acting so incredulous and "deal with it."

Let's imagine this:

"I just farted. Smell it? Come closer. Smell it now? What? Gross?! DEAL WITH IT!"

"Sorry, I can't pick a restaurant. I just farted and it smells like poached eggs, so all I would want is Waffle House and it's not fair to have a biased opinion. What, you lost your appetite? FUCKING DEAL WITH IT!!!"

"Now, for a moment of silence...ppppppppptttthththththth. Oh, that was disrespectful? Huh? Deal with it, fags."

Et cetera.

edutcher said...

Let's see how long it lasts.

Pool, anyone?

Jason (the commenter) said...

I can't think of any other way a man could tolerate life with this sort of woman.

A woman who has slept with other women. Yeah, that would be a total turn-off for a straight guy.


Only if she didn't bring them home.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Coketown: Can you imagine acting like this woman in everyday life?! Holy shit, I would throw myself off a cliff with an Acme anvil.

Half the reality programs on television are populated with people like this. And the internet.

It's boring, cliche even, but I could see how readers of the New York Times would think it interesting, living in their little protected enclaves.

Jason (the commenter) said...

edutcher: Only if she didn't bring them home.

It sounds like it's the only thing she wants to talk about, so maybe that's enough.

(I think her husband is the more interesting of the two. Is he such a prude that he finds her story "sexy"?)

St. George said...

My prediction: Two years from today, our Professor will be blogging about this person's pending divorce and her op-ed in the NY Times.

Really, writing about your sex life in the Times.

Poor Jared.

I wonder if he signed off on the piece before she submitted it or before it went to press. Even if he did, poor Jared.

Palladian said...

I think her husband is the more interesting of the two. Is he such a prude that he finds her story "sexy"?

Typical straight male sexist pig, getting turned on because he "conquered" a nascent Sapphist with his club-like penis.

Palladian said...

For fun, read more of Ms Diehl's creative non-fiction here.

Inga said...

Interesting, mostly gay men have commented on this story. I don't understand bisexuality, just doesn't seem to be a real phenomena.

But I'm probably wrong.

Palladian said...

But I'm probably wrong.

Yup.

Chip S. said...

even met I told him via e-mail that I hate ... sausage

Jared can't say he wasn't warned.

Jason (the commenter) said...

St. George: Really, writing about your sex life in the Times.

What's so terrible about writing about your sex life in the New York Times? In a culturally relativistic world something like the Times has no intrinsic value. There's no value in being published by it, in reading it, or in subscribing to it.

What's more, it's ridiculous for Althouse to post links to any of their articles. But being from an older generation, it's probably something she does out of habit.

And the people at the Times know that when everyone from Althouse's generation is dead, their newspaper will shut down and throw them all out of work.

They have a death wish, and god damn anyone who tries to keep it from coming true.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Inga: Interesting, mostly gay men have commented on this story.

We like to think we're experts on the topic, since bisexuality is included in the alphabet soup of the queer community, even though we probably have no more relevant experience on the topic than most straight people.

Freeman Hunt said...

Heh. I'm trying to imagine discussing what restaurant to go to with friends and having one of them exclaim, "Well, I can't decide; I'm bisexual!"

"I can think of a thousand less forced ways to have told us that."

But one wouldn't say that. One would say, "Oh, you are? Interesting!" Because then the person is happy, and a restaurant can be selected. Of course, one might now hope a restaurant would never be selected because chances of hearing the Saga of This Person's Latent Sexuality over dinner would be high.

Ann Althouse said...

I thought this column was lame at first, but as I kept reading I felt more charitable. She's working on a book of essays, and she's being pretty lighthearted and self-deprecating.

She and her husband seem dedicated to each other and they have a style of banter that includes stuff like that restaurant joke. If you can't see how that's a joke, then you just don't get their style of humor.

Yes, she's making this all about her, but this is the personal essay style that is very popular these days and she's working on a book of essays.

Is she not carving out her niche here? Whether it's a book you'd buy or not, can't you give her some credit as a writer with something of an original take on these things?

Inga said...

One doesn't hear "I'm bisexual" nearly as much as one being gay or straight. I wonder if most bisexual people are still in the bisexual closet. It might cause a worse disruption and upheaval in a marriage than a gay person marring straight person as a cover (beard situation) for their true sexuality.

Usually when a gay partner comes out to their straight spouse , the "marriage" is usually over. What happens when a bisexual partner comes out to their spouse and admits they are equally attracted to men as women and vice versa.

Or would it be easier to take, because your partner didn't use you as a "beard"?

Inga said...

*Marrying*

Ann Althouse said...

Here's an old post of mine from July 5, 2005:

What if no one is bisexual?

Some researchers attached sensors to 101 penises and then showed the possessors of these penises either all-male or all-female porn movies. It was kind of a lie detector test, because the men had all professed to being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. All the bisexuals, it seems, were lying -- or deluding themselves. Once you disregard the one-third of men who weren't aroused by any of it -- which, rightly or wrongly, the scientists do -- all the men were distinctly attracted either to males or to females. This contradicts the views of Freud (who thought bisexuality was the norm) and Kinsey (who thought there was a continuum from heterosexuality to homosexuality).

I think you can critique the study in various ways, but I'm also interested in how this finding -- if we were to confirm it as a solid fact and applicable to women as well as men -- would affect various arguments about gay rights. Let me posit that believing Kinsey was right about the continuum is currently causing many people to resist the social acceptance of homosexuality. They are hoping to influence people in the middle of the continuum to choose a heterosexual "lifestyle." But if no one really is in the middle, this attempt at influence is truly misguided. You may as well remove the obstacles to the individual's free choice of sexual orientation.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Althouse: Is she not carving out her niche here? Whether it's a book you'd buy or not, can't you give her some credit as a writer with something of an original take on these things?

I'll give her some credit, but you'll have to handle some of my cynicism:

I have no doubt her book will sell, because she was in the New York Times. She'll probably also be on NPR. And somewhere down the line the publisher will buy some ads in the Times and make a donation to NPR.

I'm sure she's careful not to say anything that challenges the ideas held by the Times or NPR and as a reward she gets included on their gravy train.

Very clever.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Inga: I suppose, in some sense, I am bisexual, because I had sex with males and females before my marriage (to a man) and I still have sexual thoughts about women cross my mind.

I don't think about the bisexual label much in relation to myself, and I don't talk about my "orientation" not because I'm closeted or something, but because it's just not that relevant. I don't act on those feelings anymore--even to the extent of fantasy or in other private ways--because I believe my church's teachings on the sinfulness of acting on sexual feelings outside of the marriage relationship.

This is more than I've talked about it in ages-it just doesn't come up. My husband knows about it but we don't really talk about it. A few close friends do, but only because we were talking about sexuality and religious beliefs.

acm said...

Ann, it's not at all original for bisexuals married-to-men to insist upon inserting their stories into the gay rights discussion. The stereotype of bisexual as attention whore/martyr is actually way more familiar to me than the "it's a phase" or the archaic "they spread AIDS" (especially since we're talking about bi women). It's old, obnoxious, "OMG me too" ground she's covering, not a fresh new niche.

I do get that "because, bisexual" is a joke, but it's an obnoxious one that plays on a dumb stereotype and that forces people to think about her sex life when it wouldn't otherwise come up. She doesn't say it's part of her banter with her guy, but her way of disclosing it when the matter (i.e. her totally real, hot, crushes) doesn't come up organically. It's dumb.

Inga said...

So it appears that the study points to the suspicion I've had about bisexual people.

But studies can be wrong too.

Freeman Hunt said...

Acm already covered what I was going to write. I don't see any new ideas in there. I've heard people talk like this since high school.

Inga said...

Wow, thanks for being so honest Pants. I'm shocked to say the least. Maybe I'm a prude. Or I'm just one of those people in the studies that would not react to female on female porn. I can quite honestl say I've never experienced sexual feelings toward female, so the reality of true bisexuality is hard for me to grasp. So in your case your faith has helped you overcome these feelings?

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

I've had sex with many men who were in relationships with women (even married to them), and the closest that any of them ever came to describing themselves as bisexual was "I'm straight... well, maybe bi" or "I'm mostly straight". These guys clearly liked sex with women, but they also liked sex with men. I think the difference was that (to many of them) sex with men was something they liked to do, not what they were. I believe that this is a valid and common form of male sexuality, and shouldn't be mocked or overlooked as people desperately try to shoe-horn people into categories of orientation. There certainly are many people, including myself, who are gay. There are also, I'm sure, some people who are bisexual. But there are many people who are straight who also occasionally like to have sex with people of the same sex. That's not bisexuality.

There's also a fair number of men who lead "straight" lives, with girlfriends or wives, who are gay, but have decided that living a straight life is easier for various reasons, or who feel like they can't live as a gay man because they don't have any interest in the crap that passes as "gay culture".

Palladian said...

I call these types of men "Republicans".

Palladian said...

OK, that was a cheap joke, but it needed to be made. There are plenty of Democrats who are closet cases too.

If I played my cards right, I could get an article published in the New York Times.

acm said...

Inga, I'm not sure what would be so different about a married woman admitting she's bi, to an appropriate person like her husband? Surely Mr. Pants and Mr. Diehl get (on some level) that their wives are attracted to other people. As long as the wife is still attracted to the husband, and faithful, not insensitive about ogling, what difference would it make? Coming out as bi to ones husband strikes me as similar to coming out as one who likes blondes, or some other type that the husband is not---"Honey, when you are dead and I am old, I will probably take a lover who is different from you." Weird, maybe, but not at all like coming out as gay-gay. If a spouse came out as totally gay to the opposite sex spouse/beard, then he/she is saying "Not attracted to you, never was, thanks anyway"

Æthelflæd said...

I had a friend who just liked sex, didn't matter who it was with, men or women. He was a very good-looking guy, who happened to be a hedonist. i don't know that he "identified" as anything.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I wouldn't say my faith has helped me overcome my feelings--I and other religious folks who experience same-sex attraction never expect to quote pray away the gay unquote--but it has certainly contextualized those feelings for me, and given me a structure for sort-of understanding them and dealing with them.

It's really not that different from being attracted to men who are not my husband, except that if I were to be single again someday, I would never consider a relationship with a woman but I would with a man.

Inga said...

Acm,
In the case of a wife admitting this to a husband, I don't think it would threaten the marriage as much, because men seem to get off on female/ female sex. However, if a husband would come out to his wife as being attracted to other men, even though he is still attracted to her, hmmmm, I just think it would be a much bigger issue.

Again I'll readily admit I could be wrong. I'm thinking of my own marriage, if my husband would've told me he was attracted to other men, I would have been devastated.

Michael K said...

There was a study many years ago, even before the "sexual revolution" as I recall, that was about tracing sexual contacts in a syphilis case in New York. The journal, I think the NEJM, published a chart like epidemiologists use showing all the traced contacts, starting with the "index case." It was a big family with lots of contacts you would not expect including a bunch of female to female contacts. It was the first time I realized how common female bisexuality is.

Sam L. said...

Will Cate, I think that IS the NYT's standard. We're pretty certain 'truth' is not part of their standard.

Oooooooohhhhhhh, transgressiveness!

n.n said...

I think a non-monogamous relationship undermines the quality of intimacy between two people. It serves to confuse the commitment two people have made to each other. It has a similar effect to pornography, but also career, hobbies, etc. when they promote isolation.

I think this problem can be more easily understood when described with set theory. Each partner is a set. They join together in a union. When this happens there is an intersection. The greater the intersection, the more compatible the union. The introduction of other sets reduces the relative intersection of the original union. With a decorrelation of the original union, the result is a progressive disunion, which will ultimately lead to a separation of the original sets.

This is a simplified model of a relationship. It is effective to understand the dynamic, but it obfuscates the details of the relevant sets and multiplicity of intersections between them.

A relationship, and, actually, an individual human being, is a systems problem, where not only are there multiple systems, but there are also a multiplicity of transitions, each exhibiting a chaotic behavior (i.e. bounded with random intermediate behavior).

Palladian said...

Good God, if you think being married to Wilson Diehl would be difficult, imagine being married to n.n.!

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crunchy Frog said...

My wife admitted she was also attracted to women about a year or so into our marriage. She was quite worried that I would consider it a problem.

On the contrary. Neither one of us was the jealous type, and it turned into some interesting play with other like minded women...

Crunchy Frog said...

My wife admitted she was also attracted to women about a year or so into our marriage. She was quite worried that I would consider it a problem.

On the contrary. Neither one of us was the jealous type, and it turned into some interesting play with other like minded women...

gutless said...

Another candidate for the Pit 'O Hell. Come on down!

Jim said...

Can't believe I used one of this months NYT links following that BS. women can be bi. Men can't.

Kirk Parker said...


"they don't have any interest in the crap that passes as 'gay culture'."

Fair enough, but to paraphrase George Gilder: is it really any more crap than the rest of our culture these days?

MayBee said...

Why would being attracted to women as well as men make a good excuse to not be monogamous?

It isn't any different than being straight and being attracted to men other than your husband.

So this chick is bisexual. She made her choice to marry a man. With that, other attractions become moot. How much does he want to hear about other people she might be attracted to?

"What restaurant shall we go to?"
"I can't decide. I've always been promiscuous"

Æthelflæd said...

Because you see, MayBee, she is a special snowflake. She's just hipster posing.