Attention, all bisexual OKCupid users!


My rage, let me show you it below the jump!

They can say whatever the fuck they want about how their users report their height, income, or recentness of attractive pictures, but when the pricks over at OKC start using messaging stats to catch people lying about their own sexuality, then they’ve departed creepiness and gone straight to assholery.

In their latest blog post, OKC names bisexuality as one of the biggest lies their users tell, starting out with the “no offense, but—” disclaimer of:

OkCupid is a gay- and bi-friendly place and it’s not our intention here to call into question anyone’s sexual identity.

So of course they proceed directly to calling into question 80% of bi users’ sexuality.

Their reasoning is briefly, revealingly explained thus:

Please note, everybody, that we don’t assume that bis should be “into both genders equally.” We only assume that they should be into both genders at all. The swaths of red and blue that you see in these sexuality charts represent people who message only one gender. The purple areas are people who send any messages, in whatever proportion, to both men and women.

In other words, bisexuals cannot merely identify themselves as such. They must prove their sexuality. They are expected to perform in a certain way. If you are genuinely “into” people of a given gender, you will be expected to demonstrate that attraction in a way that website administrators can measure.

Your self-identification is not good enough. It is not your place to decide how you will express your sexuality and respond to your attraction to either gender. The well-meaning geeks at OKC will create a litmus test for your sexual minority status, and if you fail that test, then you’re a liar and need to choose one or the other.

What is their theory, you might ask, about why some users label themselves as bisexual when they’re really not?

This suggests that bisexuality is often either a hedge for gay people or a label adopted by straights to appear more sexually adventurous to their (straight) matches. You can actually see these trends in action in the chart below.

Thanks so much, OKC admins! I couldn’t see your heterosexual privilege clearly enough before.

They’re framing bisexuality as one of those factors that users mis-report in order to appear more attractive to others. Here is their reasoning for putting it on the list along with being tall, wealthy, and beautiful: it can be used as a hedge for gay people or a way for straights to appear more sexually adventurous. It’s what you hear when either gay people are afraid to commit to their “true” minority status, or when straight people (usually women) want to appear more exciting.

As my brother warned me when I first told him I’d signed up for online dating: “Nooooo, don’t tell them you’re bisexual!” He was (reasonably) concerned that I’d attract the attention of men who expect me to engage in threesomes, or otherwise who think I’m hot stuff because I also like girls. To their credit, most of the guys who messaged me at least succeeded in appearing to be interested because of my personality and/or pretty face, rather than the threesome factor. I’ll never forget my first day on the site, however, when about six men IMed me before I even had a profile online, and at least two of them immediately wanted to talk about my bisexuality. I guess they just couldn’t think of what else to ask me. That’s what happens when you don’t wait for someone to write a user profile before you demand her attention. Just because some heterosexuals (read: mostly men) see bisexuals (read: women) as fantasy objects, doesn’t mean we want to be seen that way. We’re not “asking for it.” Our self-identification is not about you.

More importantly, don’t project your own confusion onto our identities. I understand that the idea of bisexuality is still confusing to a lot of people, and perhaps it helps to manage your confusion by deciding who gets to use the label of bisexual. It’s a dazzling display of privilege when you set those criteria and make those decisions. Patrick Appel, who pointed out this data set at The Daily Dish, at least had the honesty to say, “I’m not sure what to make of this.” Is it really so difficult to say that? Is it really so painful to admit that there are some things you don’t understand, and allow those concepts, those entities, those actual living people, to get on with their lives outside of the cozy boxes that you recognize?

The scary thing about this nonsense is that OKCupid really is a bi-friendly site in terms of how it allows users to meet people. Of all the mainstream dating sites I visited (mainstream meaning it serves the general population), OKC is the only one that acknowledges the existence of bisexuality and allows its users to search for both men and women. All the others make their users “choose one or the other” up front—you’re either looking for men or for women, select one, and only one, upon registration—and stick with it, or they only allow for heterosexual matches. OKC is different in that it doesn’t demand that you “choose one or the other” at the beginning—instead, their code includes an option for Bi users, but now it seems we have to defend our sexual identities to them lest they warn their hapless straight users that we’re liars, manipulators and cowards.

Attention, OKCupid admins: your bisexual users do not owe you an explanation. It is not our responsibility to demonstrate our sexuality in ways that your online tools can measure. It is not even our responsibility to explain to you why we use your site in the way we do. Our love lives are ours to pursue, not yours to evaluate, verify and aggregate.

Your privilege is showing.

7 thoughts on “Attention, all bisexual OKCupid users!

  1. I’m so glad I closed my account there. As for why people may put bi sexual down when they’re not? Because OKC doesn’t offer the option of Bi Curious.

  2. As a bi guy on okcupid I have contacted both bi guys and girls. But have generally contacted bi girls. However while on the site I have received harassing emails from both gay men and a straight woman who would not leave me alone. Furthermore as a bi guy who is mostly interested in girls it was very frustrating I get one visit from a woman a month. And maybe 2 visits a month by gay men I have little interest in. The two bi guys I met via okCupid have had similar experiences. One has switched to “straight”. I talked to a bi girl and she said all of the bi guys she knows have been harassed or received negative emails on Okcupid. If I didn’t feel marginalized before I went on okcupid I have after I spent a year on the site.

    • I guess there are no bi-friendly dating sites in the mainstream. I closed my account there because I was tired of seeing this one straight guy continually stalk my profile, and meanwhile I was seeing someone so I didn’t see any point in trying to meet anyone else. All I see in front of me now are a lot of mediocre options.

  3. Thanks for this. Being bisexual is so frustrating sometimes. Fuck them for telling us we have to prove ourselves to them. I thought about getting a profile there, but now, no way.

  4. It’s certainly true that this doesn’t constitute proof in any sense, so putting it in an article entitles ‘biggest lies’ is disingenuous. However, although they don’t give the stats, it’s interesting to compare OKCupid’s overall percentage of bisexuals to published stats (however flawed they may be). The first survey I found on Wikipedia put the UK’s self-identified bisexual population at 0.5% — actually, to me this seems remarkably low. Let’s adjust it to 15% which is probably too high. In my admittedly anecdotal experience, self-identified bi users outnumber the self-identified straights, i.e. the percentage is over 50%. Can you disagree with this anecdote? How do you explain this? Although it may have been provocatively phrased, there is a unrealistically large statistical disparity here, and I tend to buy OKC’s explanation of it.

  5. It’s odd that they are so worried about this one angle, as if people weren’t deceiving others in countless other ways, some of which they could signal if they cared. THIS seems to warrant action.

  6. Supposedly, OKC isn’t only for finding dates. It also has ‘just friends’ options (apparently “New Friends”, “Activity Partners”, “Long-distance penpals”). Some people think it’s an odd thing to do, and sometimes people say they’re looking for friends just in the hopes of turning it into a date, but some people do really find (or at least try to find) platonic friends there. I wonder if their ‘analysis’ somehow took into consideration that some percentage of the messages would’ve been sent to people the sender wasn’t trying to date.

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