Bi-Erasure in Media and Academia

L. Mutton

This research is broken into two distinct sections which attempt to take on the topic of bierasure in two different spheres: academia and the media. The first section includes a critical literature review of queer theory looking at the absence of bisexuality throughout the history of queer theory since Teresa De Lauretis coined the term in the 1990s. The research looks at the gaps left in queer theory through bisexuality’s exclusion and it is argued that while queer theory’s goal may be to destabilize traditional binaries around sexuality found in North American society a homosexual-heterosexual dichotomy is actually reinforced.

The second part of this research analyzes the representation of, and lack of, bisexuality within the media, focusing primarily on film and television representations. This is an attempt to show how the absence of bisexuality transcends fields from heavily theoretical academia to the mass media consumed by society. The research found that when bisexual characters were portrayed they were often not labeled as such or were seen as someone the protagonist could not always trust. The research also explores how negative representation of bisexuality in the media affects people who are bisexual, since studies have shown that these negative portrayals can have consequences for the mental health of people who are bisexual. Negative portrayals in the media have also been found to give non-bisexual people negative perceptions of those who do identify as bisexual. As well as the effects that negative representation in the media there is also a brief comparison of the representation of male and female bisexuality in the media, as the two often receive different negative treatments.

This research is important since the exclusion of bisexuality from academic studies and literature, as well as the media, contributes to the marginalization and erasure of people who are bisexual and as such they face greater systemic and personal challenges as a result of their marginalization. Because of this it is important to take a critical view of queer theory and the media as well as to support the spread of accurate information on bisexuality in order to combat the gaps as well as the negative stereotypes that are pervasive throughout academia and mass media.