by Stephanie McCrackenJune 13, 2014 couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychology, sexuality0 comments
“All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.” Milan Kundera
With the kickoff of Gay Pride weekend, sexual orientation is something that may be on the minds of many here in Pittsburgh. Particularly I would like to examine the nature of bisexuality, as some may call it, “one foot in/one foot out” or as other scholars may tend to think, a more realistic reflection of the nature of sexual attraction? We all can recall the intonations of female pop singers who declare “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” Thank you Katy Perry, but it seems you aren’t the only one! No discussion of sexual behavior can begin without the mention of Mr. Alfred Kinsey, of whom some of the more savvy readers or psychologically studied may already be quite familiar. The 1948-52 benchmark study which examined things such as subject’s sexual behavior and sexual attraction. Findings conclude that 10% of the population is admittedly homosexual with as many as 33-46% exhibiting some bisexual tendencies. Interestingly the outliers are those who note complete homo or heterosexuality, according to Alfred Kinsey’s renowned study, Bisexual thought and feeling is more normative than entirely homo or hetero orientation. (Kinsey, 1948) Given these statistics, for what reason does the bisexual orientation hold a precarious position within the thoughts of both hetero and homosexual lexicons, in fact more recently some are seeking to oust bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation.
In working with psychotherapy clients in my private practice, I have had many clients “come out” as bisexual, I am often one of the only people with whom an individual has shared such news. In addition to exploring this with the client, there may often be an internally stigmatizing effects for what had formerly been “a secret.” Could easily enter into a litany concerning how important it is to promote openness regarding a human’s ability to be whatever it is that we may be, along the colorful spectrum of plausible identities and modes of being. Yet there is sometimes an understandable kernel of shame for some men and women regarding their own exploration of same sex behavior, this may be particularly true for those who now report being heterosexual but have had a homosexual experience within sexual exploration in years past.
It is important to draw a distinction between sexual attraction, sexual behavior or contact, sexual identity. In more recent studies, according to the Kinsey institute “Data collected from a national sample of 13,495 men and women between 2006 and 2008. The study attempted to differentiate between sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as homosexual ranged from 2% to 4% of males, and about 1% to 2% of females. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as bisexual is between 1% and 3% of males, and 2% to 5% of females. About 4%–6% of males ever had same-sex contact. For females, the percentage who have ever had same-sex contact ranges from about 4% in the GSS, to 11%–12% in the 2002 and 2006–2008 NSFG.”
In working with Bisexual clients it is a trend where some individuals report having experienced criticism from hetero or homo sexual long term partners for having participated in same sex relationships in the past. Simultaneously, some men and women report that they have been emotionally injured by jealous accusations wondering if they are able to have plutonic friendships with same sex acquaintances. There seems to be something about bisexuality which encourages some to presume that with the declaration of this sexual orientation one suddenly has become an insatiable sex addict rather than an open and explorative human. Yet, this is in startling contrast to Kinsey’s work which proclaims there are many bisexual men and women in the population. Once again, I wonder at the gap which exists between the reportedly significant number of bisexually oriented number of men and woman in the greater population. Stigmatizing effects may be greater for men than woman as there is a cultural phenomenon which seems to allow for women to be more intimate in their interactions with other women, perhaps remnants from the mother being the earlier caregiver and expected to be physically nurturing. Males may have an idea that their sexuality is less malleable as men one average relate in a contrasting way compared to women, despite the multitude of ways that this may be injurious to both genders.
What does all of this mean, well the take away point is that bisexuality is a valid orientation. Sexual orientation is in fact a malleable proffering yet we must as a culture, a city, be mindful of how much pride is afforded for those who exercise sexual, sensual, and loving freedom of being. How much shame can we turn towards bold and loving glory? In sharing peace, and love for what has been a benchmark year in Pennsylvania with the granting of marriage equality for ALL LOVERS TO UNITE becoming husband and husband and wife and wife! What a glorious opportunity and brightening of the future for all! If you would like to celebrate this weekend journey out and show your support for equal rights and equal love, check out this link which will lead you to the extensive list of Pittsburgh Pride events! http://www.pittsburghpride.org/
In loving equality,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., and Martin, C. (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders. Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., Martin, C., and Gebhard, P. (1953). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.Learn More
The 60’s may be an era far behind us but women all over the world may want to reconsider why it is still a good idea to burn those bras! More and more research is indicating that underwires and demi cups could be doing more damage than good for the shape and health of the breast. Furthermore I would personally encourage women to consider exactly why is it considered a faux pas to allow their nipples the experience of grazing their clothes without the interference of padding or lace? The male nipple is legally and culturally approved to expose itself wherever it may wish, yet the female nipple is somehow shrouded, forevermore to be contained in secrecy. At its most bare level, to require woman to cover their breasts is a violation of basic equal rights guaranteed by the American constitution. Women are not given the same rights as men when it comes to this point. How does this legal stance effect women psychologically, are we so different from the Muslim women who don their head coverings or hijabs to prevent men from becoming aroused by their lustrous locks? What sort of repercussions do women experience when they chose to defy these cultural norms, by either going braless or topless? What is it really like to be a woman in modern day America?
Let’s begin from the more common reasons that women may be dedicated to wear a bra. Media and transmitted popular culture has some convinced to keep their breasts supported 24/7 this allegedly prevents the breasts from sagging and dropping. The fact is that breast tissue is suspended by the pectoral muscles, just as any other muscle in the body the more that the muscle is activated the stronger it becomes. Wearing a bra is known to cause the atrophy of the pectoral muscles and thereby hastens the dropping of breast tissue long before nature may have effected such changes. Old, young, high, low, grande or petite, we love and salute the breast in all of its forms.
Form however is not the only consideration when it comes to breast tissue. America has one of the highest instances of breast cancer in all industrialized nations. Researchers are turning to the bra in an effort to understand why. Some studies have concluded that wearing a bra is correlated with higher instances of breast cancer. Some are concluding that bras, particularly those with underwire, are preventing the lymphatic system from cycling toxins out of the body, leaving them trapped within the breast fat and later developing into cancers.
With all of this confusion surrounding the bra, I wonder why Victorias Secret seems to increase their sales every year? Isn’t one of the points of covering the nipple so that a woman appears chaste, yet ironically the very bras that we use to cover the nipple have come to symbolize sex with even the youngest girls seek out the lacy sheers of Victoria’s and Fredrick’s. With all of these inconsistent messages surrounding sexuality it is no wonder sexual dysfunction and body image are topics that continually crop up in therapists offices.
Why is it that our male counterparts are not forced to cover their nipples, in fact a man can go topless while jogging outdoors without fearing legal repercussions. For a woman it is indeed against the law to exercise the same way, anyone who knows the basic tenants of constitutional equal rights is likely cringing! What is it about the female breast with its mammary glands and vital function which is the cause of such a stir? We see primates and other zoo animals topless and think nothing of this, in Europe many females visit the beaches and pools without tops and in the European countries nobody seems to care very much about this would be spectacle. Just like with most anything prohibited, the breast becomes more alluring the more that it’s mystified. We owe it to ourselves and our future generation to provide clear messages surrounding these tufts of tissue, these parts of ourselves. Breasts are beautiful, they are for some sexual a source of sexual pleasure, they are a source of nutrition for our young, yet they should not and will not be source of shame. I at times hear the whispers that others speak about women who breast feed in public places, I hear them be the subject of ridicule as they perform the most natural of all mammary functions, we must cease to shame this.
The point of this essay is to allow woman a moment to consider just why we are binding and gagging ourselves with covers that very well may be leading to our early demise. Why we are taught to be “modest” from a young age, and just what is hidden beneath our lacy bras, the female breast should be celebrated for its function, a provider of life and vital nourishment, a place for the young to feel protected and safe as they suckle to maturation. If any woman should be so bold as to desire taking a jog or a walk outdoors with the sensation of cool wind fluttering against their bare upper body, then in the essence of equality and love of the human body, we should be provided the opportunity for equal rights and equal freedom. Until that day, we are given July 9, 2013, A day to go braless, enjoy the human experience ladies.
In freedom and health,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave Pittsburgh Pa 15233
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