Textbook Bi

(Key rattles in lock. Cue sound effect of rusty door squeak.  Sound of electronic broadcast equipment warming up.)

Howdy! Been a while, which I will talk about at our next meeting.  Right now, I have something short to get off my chest.

I recently got access to a new (and, at east according to the publisher’s advertising materials, highly praised) textbook for Psychology of Women classes called, appropriately, Psychology of Women and Gender (Liss, M., Richmond, K., and Erchull, M.J., 2019 W.W.Norton).

Being who I am, I turned to the chapter on sexual orientation and started reading.

And stopped.  Cold.  Icy, even.

In a book with 108 pages of academic references, on page 176, is a table of “Sexual orientations beyond the binary”.  In it, bisexuality is defined as “attraction to both women and men”.  There are others listed, such as skoliosexual, “attraction towards non-binary individuals” and pansexual “attracted to all genders based on an individual’s personality”.

So can you hear the divisive and biphobic twaddle that is coming out of a college textbook that may be a student’s only official classroom interaction with bisexuality?  Fuel for the damaging idea that bi is a cis-only orientation?

Now, that’s the kind of thing that upsets me, but it’s not the reason I got pissed enough to temporarily come out of retirement long enough to drop a few hundred words.

No, the part that got me is, in an academic textbook that will be used for psychology, counseling, women’s, and gender studies, the authority that a generation of therapists and social activists will cite over and over, a book that has, again, 108 PAGES of researched references,

the reference for this table,

the peer-reviewed academic source,


are you ready?


The best source the writers of the textbook that will be used to educate young professionals and activists, is f*ing Tumblr.

On the next page, a graphic sourced from It’s Pronounced Metrosexual.

W.W. Norton, this is sloppy and beneath you.  Authors of this textbook, seriously? Is that actually the best source you could find?

If I was in your class and I cited Tumblr in a paper, not as an aside, but for an incredibly important and pivotal point, you’d reject it as not an academic source.  No peer review, no accountability.  Totally anonymous twaddle.

But now that it’s enshrined in a textbook?  Now it’s Official.

Thanks.  You’ve just your part to divide the bisexual community into separate parts that reflect not our prejudices, but yours.  You’ve erased all transgender bisexuals, you’ve reinforced the idea that people who use the label bisexual are only concerned with genitalia, and cis genitalia at that, while the Pure and Holy Anything But Bisexual people are attracted to individuals, and to personalities.





(There’s another piece coming soon, much longer, about activist burnout, whether one should let sleeping blogs lie, what the semi-retirement of a blogger actually means considering that while I wrote the vast majority of this over a couple year spurt of activity, it still gets new readers and even a few comments.  Looking forward to writing it, hope you enjoy reading it.  And, Judy?  Sorry I’ve been out of touch.  Busy is not an excuse, but… running my own business takes a lot more than I realized when I started it 3.5 years ago. I still think the world of you.)

About fliponymous

Bisexual activist, thinker, writer, husband, father, Licensed Professional Counselor.
This entry was posted in Bisexuality. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Textbook Bi

  1. camilleholt says:

    Grrr, now this is worth coming out of retirement for. Thanks, my friend!

  2. judyt54 says:

    oh, hush. I know you’re out there, I can hear you breathing and I caught you lurking last week at my blog…. My feelings aren’t hurt, because friends get busy, and sometimes one thing has to and I do mean has to take priority over the other stuff. And friends know that.

    And I agree with camille; you are always worth the wait.

  3. Ingo Kelmes says:

    Hi, I understand that this really upsets you, and such “academic” books might be the reason why really adequate psychological help for bisexuals is so rare to find. Also in Germany many psychologists still deny the concept of bisexuality, according to told bad experiences of bisexuals I know. It’s very important that a keen analytical activist like you unmasks such “works” !
    A cordial hug from Cologne, Germany !

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