Archive for May, 2009

07
May
09

The “two” in “bisexual”

As Jen pointed out in a comment a few days ago, The Bisexual Index has a great take on which two things the “bi” in “bisexuality” really refers to:

Bisexual isn’t about there being only “two sexes”

Some people get hung up on the ‘bi’ and protest that gender isn’t binary. In traditional dictionaries:

  • Homosexual is defined as “attracted to the same sex”
  • Heterosexual is defined as “attracted to the opposite sex”

So why then dismiss bisexuality as being about “men and women” when the definitions of hetero- and homo- don’t mention those? In this modern age with a wider understanding of gender some would re-state those as:

  • Homosexual means “attracted to people of broadly the same gender”
  • Heterosexual means “attracted to people of broadly a different gender”

In fact many people say there’s more than two genders, but if two options are either “the same as me” or “different to me” then we think it’s clear that “both” can refer to those two options rather than two perceived sexes.

I love this. Really love it. I’ve written here before about finding the word “bisexual” problematic but feeling strongly about using it anyway. In the past few days, as this way of thinking sinks into my psyche, I’m feeling less like the word is really all that flawed.

There are a lot of genders different from my own (and each other), and several that are similar to mine as well. But I’m perfectly comfortable describing my sexuality as attraction to both similar and different genders. It’s not always the similarities or differences that I get off on or that draw me to someone (though sometimes it is), but as a way of describing the group of people I might potentially be interested in, it works for me. It’s big enough to not make anyone invisible or deny their existence.

If I continue to have a problem with the word, it’s that it implies one is both hetero- and homosexual in a way that encourages people to refer to a bisexual’s “queer portion” or “straight half”. As far as I’m concerned bisexuality is a complete identity in and of itself, not a mishmash of other things. It doesn’t look like a pie chart unless you want it to. But, while it’s something to keep thinking about, I can deal with that for now. I don’t think any of the other words at my disposal are much better.

My very sincere thanks to The Bisexual Index for pointing this out to me. It’s delightful.

05
May
09

OMG Make it stop

For the past three days, 90% of my Google Alerts (for “bisexual” and “bisexuality”) have been about Pink. And you know what? I don’t care.

I really shouldn’t complain about it here, though. I’m probably just doing it to someone else.

Update: OK, actually I do care a little. It just occurred to me that, even if the story was totally fabricated…in three days of articles quoting Pink saying she’s bisexual (or saying she never said any such thing), not one of them was headlined “Pink is a lesbian!!” And that’s progress, of a sort.

05
May
09

Can guys actually be bisexual? Oh, I don’t know, let me consult my magic 8 ball…

Hm. It says “Yes, definitely.” Let’s try again. “You may rely on it.” There, I think that means “No…”

A couple of days ago, bi email lists were buzzing about the two op-eds about bi men on Gay.com. The first was Ari Bendersky wondering “Can guys actually be bisexual?” — and of course concluding that they can’t, they can only be gay men who haven’t yet realized that they’re not actually into women.

Is it really possible for a guy to be bisexual? There are a lot of opinions about this, but when you ask gay men, the answer is often “No.”

Because, of course, gay men are the experts on male bisexuality. It wouldn’t make far more sense to ask self-identified male bisexuals. Their opinions are pretty dismissable, since we already know they’re almost certainly gay, straight, or lying. It’s far more sensible to ask a group which in many ways has privilege over the people in question.

The crux of Bendersky’s argument seems to be this:

In our culture, if a guy has oral or anal intercourse with another guy, most would say that he’s gay, because, for many of us, “being gay” describes a man who has sex with other men.

Sure, we can say that many other things go into being gay, but sexual activity is what many of us believe what makes up the person who is gay. A man could be into leather and Levi’s; he could really like theater; he could really be into fashion. These interests don’t necessarily make a man gay, though. But when this man has sex with other men, there’s really no denying what camp he falls into.

So what do we make of these guys who define themselves as “bi”? Are they really fooling themselves as they screw their way down the path to gayhood, or do they really enjoy having sex with women? I realize that some people are just sexually charged and will take it wherever they can get it. But I say that if you’re a guy having sex with another guy, chances are there’s a part of you that’s in denial, and only time will tell when you finally come around to the realization that, yup, you’re gay.

Allow me to translate: “Let’s examine whether male bisexuality seems like a possibility. Well, our culture says that having sex with another man automatically makes a man gay. If we stipulate that, it becomes clear the bisexual men, being men who have sex with other men, are really one epiphany short of identifying as gay.”  That’s a very rigorous, logical approach, and not at all circular. It’s terribly useful to define “gay” as “all men who have sexual contact with men” and then declare that all men who have sexual contact with men are gay. Consider me completely won over. Not to mention the nod to the typical just-looking-for-the-next-warm-wet-hole stereotype that seems to be the only type of bisexuality some people will concede the possibility of. And I do like the way he asks whether bisexual men genuinely enjoy having sex with women, and then ignores the question as if it were totally irrelevant — which it is, to him. After all, even if they enjoy it, it must be only because they haven’t realized yet that they don’t. That makes sense, right?

As well as being less than persuasive, this argument strikes me as buying into a lot of our culture’s oppressive heterosexism. Sex with another man taints you, and once you’ve had it the only possibility is that you’re a big gay homo forever? None of your other behavior or opinions on your own desires and identity matters because you’ve touched teh cock? Um. I know I’ve heard that before, and it wasn’t from our friends.  (Well, actually, I heard it from my first boyfriend, too. “I didn’t know you had a foot fetish,” I said to him one day. “All gay men have foot fetishes!” he declared. Because, um, he was from Texas, and apparently in Texas all men who’ve hooked up with another man are gay. Even if they’re currently lying in bed with me, naked, still catching their breath from the sex we were just having. He identified as bisexual most of the time, but it was a weird moment…Oh, and speaking of my first boyfriend. And my last boyfriend, come to think of it. Yes, guys can be bisexual. I promise. I was there, I should know.)

Now, this sort of faulty and vapid reason is pretty common. And Gay.com is a personals site, it’s not really where I’d expect to find a political analysis of bisexuality. So, while sucky, this is a pretty expected level of fail. But of course, in a space that’s centered around dating it’s especially important to acknowledge and support the existence of bisexuals and treat us like legitimate dating partners. And with a large audience comes a large responsibility to set an example and treat everyone respectfully. Do they really want to serve only gay men, rather than any men seeking to date men? That’s what it seems like right now, and that would be pretty unfortunate.

Also disappointing was the follow-up by Robert Lawrence, which was about as rambling, petty, and illogical as the original post:

Let me pull my mouth away from my boyfriend’s crotch long enough to respond to this question.

The best studies of identity panic show that denialists are the ones you meet later at the glory holes, so maybe there’s a woman in your future. If you ask the scientists, the answer is “Yes, Vagina, there is such a thing as bisexuality.”

Huh? There are a couple of promising leads (“Now you tell me why you refuse to believe in the existence of my female and trans lovers. Do you have the right to define what I am?” “When I came out, our very lives were illegal. We fought for everyone’s freedom to choose partners without straight lines holding us back.”), but they kinda go nowhere. And while I understand Lawrence’s anger and think it’s completely justified, I question Gay.com’s choice of this piece to represent the bisexual community/standpoint.

I’m already irritated by the Point/Counterpoint approach to whether a group of people actually exists. But if Gay.com is going to do such an offensive thing, they could choose an articulate, persuasive counterpoint. They had a chance to showcase an intelligent, reasonable opinion on male bisexuality, and passed it up. I can’t help but think that their choice of this bloggger/article says more about their stance on male bisexuality than even the fact that they ran these two pieces at all.

02
May
09

Raise your hand if you’re a unicorn!

Check out Franklin Veaux’s utterly hilarious flowchart for those hunting the elusive hot bi babe.  It’s dead on.

I’m sure at some point I’ll write at length about my own feelings about M/F couples looking for another F. But in the meantime, the Sex Geek eloquently feels about the same way I do on the subject.

if I knew of a couple who was actively seeking to bring a bi girl in, it would likely decrease my interest in them because I’d worry about how they’d like to fit me into a pre-existing plan, without necessarily considering that I’m a third person involved in the dynamic, as opposed to the embodiment of their hopes.

Basically any situation in which I felt like a predatory eye was being turned my way, or I was being pressured to hop into bed, would be an instant turn-off.

when the quest for a hot bi babe effectively or explicitly becomes a rule about what sort of non-monogamous arrangement is permissible for a given MF couple, what assumptions does such a rule make about the validity or “realness” of same-sex relationships?

Yeah.




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