Pansexuality: a sexual choice beyond gender roles
The world is plagued by sexual orientations that remain either taboo (at best) or directly punishable (at worst). However, the fact that in many cultures the freedom of individuals to be attracted to whomever they want is beginning to be recognized does not mean that all these orientations are coming to light equally and receiving the same attention.
To realize this it is enough to see how many people are familiar with the concept of pansexuality .
What is Pansexuality?
We were able to see a simulation of the typical reaction to the definition of pansexuality in one of the last (and worst) seasons of the British series
Skins . One of the characters, Franky Fitgerald , was questioned about his sexual orientation at a time when he had to be on the podium of the most interesting sequences of the season (note the level of quality).
The answer, which his deafening companions had to take for granted and which could not be developed much further either textually or narratively, was this:
I’m into people . This sentence is very short, but it can serve to give a basic idea of what it means to be labelled as pansexual .
What does a pansexual person look like?
Let’s start with the easy part: starting from a type of sexual orientation that is not very hegemonic to define a sexual orientation that is even less hegemonic. Let’s take as an example the
Coincidentally or not, homosexuality is based on a distinction between two sexes, as is the form of sexual orientation that has eclipsed it for centuries: heterosexuality.
Both homosexuals and heterosexuals divide society into sexes to determine which is potentially attractive.
Pansexual people, however, do not take the variable “sex” into account, or at least they feel it when they consider the criteria by which they are attracted to one or another person. That means that, although a pansexual woman may find another woman attractive, her preferences cannot be described by placing her on a scale with the extremes of “greater tendency toward heterosexuality” or “greater tendency toward homosexuality,” because
rejects the distinction between men and women that gives meaning to that measurement tool.
Pansexuality is simply a sexual orientation that is not governed by those parameters.
So, pansexuality and bisexuality are the same thing?
Not at all, although it is possible that there are people who declare themselves bisexual because they are unaware of the idea of pansexuality. These are similar sexual orientations, since
question the male/female dichotomy and its relationship to sexual attraction , but there are nuances that keep them apart.
Someone who is bisexual is, in short, someone who can be attracted to people of both sexes. However,
bisexual people define the sex of people by associating a gender burden with it : women are female and men are male. It is important to bear this in mind because, although being attracted to both sexes may call into question the value of this criterion, bisexuals still recognise the existence of gender associated with sex as important.
The difference between bisexuality and pansexuality is that in the latter, gender does not play an essential role either, that is, in the set of roles, attitudes and behaviours that are considered male or female. Someone who is pansexual does not take into account either the sex of a subject or the way in which his or her behaviour is more or less gender-neutral. They are simply attracted to people.
No, that cliché doesn’t apply to pansexuals either
consider that both sex and gender are empty concepts , but this does not mean that they are attracted to everyone. The myth that someone who is attracted to people of the same sex is attracted to everyone is also false in the case of pansexuality. Someone who defines himself or herself by this sexual orientation is perfectly capable of feeling little attraction (sexual or otherwise) to the vast majority of people, and will still enjoy the company of a few individuals, regardless of their gender and sex.
In that sense, it is possible that pansexuality implies
more openness towards the sexual appreciation of people , but not more openness towards all individuals in particular. This is an important nuance.
A silenced sexual orientation
Pansexuality may be a more romantic idea than homosexuality or heterosexuality, but it is also more shocking, more revolutionary. It is a challenge to the categories of sex and gender, which is why it is a difficult orientation to understand. It is not something that can easily become folklore, like the one that makes up the stereotypes of the gay community, and therefore it is also more difficult to recognize, make visible, and fill in with good amounts of
clichés and marketing .
Perhaps that is why, ironically, it is possible here and there to believe that pansexuality is a
fashion , a way of seeking the attention of others. Perhaps that’s why, even today, there are many people who are unable to assimilate the idea that it’s possible to be attracted to people, just like that.
- Aponte Carías, Yllelyna (2009). I am pansexual and do not discriminate. Available at: http://www.gaceta.udg.mx/Hemeroteca/paginas/573/G573_COT%209.pdf
- Serrano Ruiz-Calderón, José Miguel. (1994).Ideology and bioethics: The case of pansexualism. Available at: http://aebioetica.org/revistas/1994/1-2/17-18/19.pdf