The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure

Posted: 13 Dec 2000


In this article, Professor Kenji Yoshino seeks to explain why the category of bisexuality has been erased in contemporary American political and legal discourse. He first argues that the invisibility of bisexuality relative to homosexuality does not reflect the incidences of those orientations in the population. Defining bisexuality as the possession of more than incidental desire for both sexes, Yoshino shows that the major sexuality studies demonstrate that the incidence of bisexuality is in fact greater than or comparable to the incidence of homosexuality. Yoshino explains the erasure of bisexuality by positing that both self-identified heterosexuals and self-identified homosexuals have overlapping interests in the erasure of bisexuality that lead them into an "epistemic contract" of bisexual erasure. These interests include: (1) the stabilization of exclusive sexual orientation categories; (2) the retention of sex as an important diacritical axis; and (3) the protection of norms of monogamy. Noting that such contracts tend to become visible only when they are challenged, Yoshino describes how bisexuals have increasingly contested their own erasure. Finally, Yoshino examines the effects of bisexual invisibility and visibility in the legal realm, focusing on the sexual harassment jurisprudence of recent decades.

Suggested Citation

Yoshino, Kenji, The Epistemic Contract of Bisexual Erasure. Available at SSRN:

Kenji Yoshino (Contact Author)

NYU Law School

44 West Fourth Street, Suite 9-53
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

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