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Oysters, fragrances, canoeing, space stations, God, hats, and of course people - the word ‘bisexual’ has described a great deal of different things, with different meanings, in its fairly short existence. And that whole time, it has had a pretty bumpy ride.
Mark Wilkinson studied 70 years of Times newspapers to trace how the British mainstream press used the term.
This was an episode that could have turned into ten episodes (‘urning’ alone could have been one!). There’s an awful lot more to say about this word, particularly in how it is used now. Meanwhile, I’d recommend listening to last year’s Allusionist episode about the word ‘queer’, as there’s a lot of thematic overlap there.
“Bisexuality is a whole, fluid identity. Do not assume that bisexuality is binary or duogamous in nature: that we have “two” sides or that we must be involved simultaneously with both genders to be fulfilled human beings. In fact, don’t assume that there are only two genders.” The Bisexual Manifesto, 1990.
History of the use of ‘pansexual’.
About the Kinsey Scale, and Kinsey’s study of the “endless intergradations between every combination of homosexuality and heterosexuality”.
About the Wolfenden Report.
About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, who probably deserves an episode all to himself.
I did not know where ‘down-low’ came from.
Read Mark’s study of the word ‘bisexual’ in the Times newspaper here.
There’s a transcript of this episode at theallusionist.org/transcripts/bisexual.
The Allusionist live tour of Australia is almost over; next, we’ll be performing No Title at the London Podcast Festival in September. Gig listings and ticket links are at theallusionist.org/events.
YOUR RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
Mark Wilkinson is a PhD student and the author of the paper ‘Bisexual Oysters’: A diachronic corpus-based critical discourse analysis of bisexual representation in the Times between 1957-2017’. Follow him on Twitter @MarkJoseph_82.
Thanks to Paul Baker, who you heard on the Polari episode. His book on the subject, Fabulosa!, is out now, and is excellent - well worth your time.
This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman. Martin Austwick makes the music that you hear in every episode. Download his songs at palebirdmusic.com and listen to his new podcast Year of the Bird about the songs he writes.
The Allusionist is a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.
In June 2019, the Allusionist is sponsored by:
• Squarespace, your one-stop shop for creating and running a good-looking and well-working website. Go to squarespace.com/allusion for a free trial, and use the code ALLUSION to get 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.
• Bombas, socks that won’t let you - or themselves - down. Buy your expertly engineered socks at bombas.com/allusionist and get 20% off your first purchase.
• Babbel, the app that teaches you a new language with confidence. If you’re in the USA, text ALLUSIONIST to 484848 to try a Babbel lesson for free. Elsewhere? Check out the courses at babbel.com and on the Babbel app.
• Progressive. Get your car insurance quote online at progressive.com and see how much you could be saving. Discounts not available in all states and situations.