Author Archive for V.



09
Oct
09

I wanted to point you to an excellent post on Queer Subversion (a blog I will definitely be keeping an eye on!) about “Fake” bisexuality and slut shaming. Jackson makes some great points about how it doesn’t help anyone for us to draw lines in the sand between “real” bisexuals and people (usually women) who we think are “faking it” — for publicity, to arouse men, to look cool, whatever. As he writes, “it just leads to more of the same culture of bisexual doubt that makes it hard for all of us.” And I needed that pointed out to me, I think, because these are behaviors that I criticize myself. I try to criticize the way our culture presents a very particular view of bisexuals behaving in these ways and doesn’t tell any of our other stories, but the line is fine and I probably cross it sometimes.  I’m against every other way that communities try to disavow some of their own in order to “put their best foot forward.” My thanks to Jackson for pointing out to me this counts.

It also got me thinking again about the trope that most bisexuals will eventually “choose one” by settling down in a monogamous relationship with a person who, presumably, has a gender. And while this is not necessarily true –most of the bisexuals I know are polyamorous, because I move in very specific circles and most of the people I know are polyamorous; nor do all people (and therefore, all partners of bisexuals) identify with one of the two genders society recognizes — I’m frustrated by the way people react to it when it is true. Bisexuals who settle down with either a man or a woman are not finally choosing a side, admitting to being either straight or gay. This seems so obvious to me, yet seems to escape most people. Choosing monogamy is just that — choosing monogamy. That’s all.

Jackson ends with a note on how this dismissal of some ways that women express bisexuality basically comes down to slut shaming. All I’ll say about that is that I agree completely and you should go read it.

23
Sep
09

Happy Bi Visibility Day!

Today is Bi Visibility Day, which serves to remind me that I’ve been terribly invisible around here lately.

I’ve been thinking about something Robyn Ochs said during her keynote at the Putting The “B” in LGBT Summit. She articulated something that’s been bothering me for a while — that the ways for bisexuality to be visible at all mirror the most common stereotypes about bisexuals.

Most people seem to assess sexual orientation based on the behavior they personally observe. So if they see a girl with a boy, she must be straight. If they see her with a girl, she must be a lesbian. If they see her with both, either concurrently or in quick succession, she must be bi. And fickle. And a slut. And not to be trusted. (It doesn’t count if there’s a long enough gap between the two, because she’s clearly “switched” “sides.”) Most people won’t even entertain the notion that someone might be bisexual unless they see hir making out with people of different genders in quick succession, or breaking up with someone of one gender to have a relationship with someone of  another, or whatnot.  So our choices are either to reinforce tired, inaccurate stereotypes, or to be told that we’re not really bi because if we were, we’d do those things. This is not my favorite set of options ever.

I also have trouble with this entire way of framing things, with its implicit assumptions that it’s wrong to be greedy and slutty, and the way it values monogamous, long-term relationships over other romantic or sexual interactions. I often find myself torn about this when blogging. On the one hand, it’s true that not all bisexuals need partners of “both” genders, that bisexuals are probably about as likely to be both monogamous and faithful as anyone else. It’s certainly true that bisexuals are inherently no more likely to lie, sneak around, fail to care about their partners’ well-being, jump from partner to partner in an unethical way, etc. But I also don’t think it’s wrong to want or have multiple concurrent partners, or to have and value and enjoy brief involvements and/or involvements only for the sake of sex, or to generally get around. I have trouble framing my arguments against views of bisexuals as shallow and uncaring in ways that don’t feel sex-negative and anti-poly, that don’t seem to implicitly buy into the same framework I’m trying to critique.

Still, I think it’s problematic that there’s only one way for bisexuals to be visible in our culture, and that it plays into common stereotypes that have such a negative load attached to them. All of the pieces of this are problematic — the invisibility of bisexuals who don’t act in particular ways, the assumptions about those who do, and the idea that behaving in those certain ways is bad.

And I think the fever from my con flu is coming back, so I’m going to wrap this up while it’s still semi-coherent. Happy Bi Visibility day! I hope the ways you choose to be visible, today and always, are successful and joyous for you.

01
Aug
09

IBARW

This week is International Blog Against Racism Week. I’m not willing to let it pass without notice, but I also don’t know what to write. And really my thoughts on and analyses of racism are not the ones anyone should be reading. They’re not nuanced, developed, or aware enough; I’m working on that. In the meantime…

I cannot recommend the blogs Racialicious and The Angry Black Woman highly enough. And everyone should be reading brownfemipower’s Flip Flopping Joy!

And here are some links to IBARW posts, and just general brilliant, important things on race and racism I’ve read recently:

This post about cultural appropriation and the word “Hapa” was a worthwhile read in its own right and led me to this heart-wrenching account of racist bullying in middle school.

In response to the publishing industry white-washing of book covers (here’s one example), Coffeeandink is starting the Open Source Book Re-Covery Project, for reader-designed book covers that don’t pretend the protagonists are white. [Thanks to commenter and dear friend TGStoneButch, who pointed me toward both of the previous pieces]

K. Tempest Bradford has a series of pieces up at the Carl Brandon Society blog tracking genre fiction published by people of color. And speaking of the Carl Brandon Society blog, they also responded to a recent dust-up with an open letter about lows we don’t resort to even when we’re arguing.

Here‘s nojojojo’s response to people’s assumptions that she might enjoy being angry all the time, and why she does it when it’s actually no fun at all.

And this is an absolutely brilliant post about the difference in how white and black female characters are written (when the latter are written at all), why Nyota Uhura being single in the original Star Trek was not empowering, and why her having a love interest is important and not a step down for her. (Mild Enterprise spoilers. And mentioning Enterprise, I feel the need to say both that on first viewing it is a fun, engaging movie — much better than I expected — and that, as my friend Natalie points out, on second viewing it is a cheerful, uplifting movie about genocide. Um.)

Go forth. Read about race and racism. Blog against racism. All year.

29
Jul
09

Awww!!

I’ve written a lot here about my experiences trying to come out to my father’s side of the family, particularly my paternal grandmother. Short version: she doesn’t hear me, and even if she did, she wouldn’t want to talk about it.

That context makes a conversation I had with my maternal grandmother the other night even more lovely and refreshing. I already know she got it that I’m queer — she’d asked me what my “friend” did for a living, but I figured that was good enough. Then two nights ago we were talking about the small family get-together she’s planning. One of my favorite cousins is going to be in town briefly and has a couple of hours free Sunday morning, so we’re all going to my grandmother’s house so we can see her. Yay. And while we were working out the details, out of the blue, my grandmother says to me “You know, Aviva, I don’t know if your girlfriend is in town this weekend, but of course she’s invited.”

!!!

Aw.

I can’t tell you how much I lit up. The moment I got off the phone I called Girlfriend, Esquire; I couldn’t wait to tell her. That step from knowing to accepting and welcoming feels warm and fuzzy and wonderful. I wish Girlfriend, Esq. was going to be in town this weekend (thought of course if she was I’d already have called and announced my intention to bring her). I’m almost upset that we’ll be away queer camping when the family gets together for Rush Hashanah, which is finally on a weekend. But I’ll bring her to something and introduce her around eventually. And it’s lovely that she’ll be actively invited, instead of me informing them she’s coming.

And it gets cuter. My grandmother continued on to tell me that she’s joined a mailing list for discount theater tickets, and ask me if there was anything I wanted to see. She made a point of telling me about The Temperamentals, a new play about the two men who founded the Mattachine Society.”It sounded interesting,” she told me, “I thought of you.” It does sound interesting, but I’m sure it was the gay premise that made her think of me. And, um, aw. I’m not the Mattachine Society’s biggest fan, but right now I am my grandmother’s.

01
Jul
09

Well, um, that was anti-climactic

I went to that wedding on Saturday. And no one said anything. Just in case any of you were waiting with bated breath to find out how it went, like I was. Yes, that’s right, not a word.

My tweets from the evening amused me, though:

Katy perry is playing and still no one is asking me about my sexuality…awesome!

People grinding on the dance floor and I’m laughing imagining “my wedding*” and my relative’s reactions as I danced on+made out w/all my friends

Managed to avoid joining the single ladies hoping to catch the bouquet, so tempted to join the group of single dudes hoping to catch the garter…

Every woman has her price, and this evening was worth it for the chocolate covered strawberries.

And that pretty much tells you how it went. Apparently I’m out to my family now, and I never ever have to talk about it? Awesome, I guess? We’ll see how continuing to talk freely about my life goes. I’ll report anything interesting here, but apparently interesting things will not be happening.

On a brighter note, Girlfriend, Esq. and I had a delightful anniversary. Yay us!

*”My wedding” in in quotations because I have no intention at this point of ever getting married. It’s kinda funny to imagine what it might be like if I did, though.

26
Jun
09

June is the month of weddings! And Pride! How can I combine them?

I’m sitting on a bus to DC, on my way to my cousin’s wedding. It promises to be an interesting and exciting experience on the coming out front. I’ve written here before about my attempts to come out to my extended family. Basically, I feel pretty strongly about not sitting everybody down and making a big Announcement About My Sexual Orientation. That’s just not how I live my life. As someone I recently dated observed, my matter-of-factness about being queer is a political stance. The casual mention tells people both that I’m queer, and that I don’t consider it a big deal and don’t expect them to, either. (Obviously, in some ways I do consider it a big deal. I spend hours writing and talking about it, and have a whole politic evolved from it. But I also expect it to be one more fact about me that people will learn by interacting with me, not some big drama-causing deal-breaker; so I treat it that way and expect them to as well.) So about six months ago I started mentioning my girlfriend around them any time the conversation gave me the slightest pretext. I also started talking much more openly about my passion and convictions around and activism for LGBT political issues. My aunts and grandmother are the kind of women who hear “girlfriend” to mean “friend who is a girl,” but very few people talk about one of their platonic friends that much or in that way. Last month at my sister’s graduation, my mother helped me out by following up a comment about Girlfriend, Esq, with “And you two have been seeing each other seriously for a couple of years now.” My grandmother is really good at denial, and tends to just not hear things she doesn’t want to, but come on. A couple of weeks ago I asked my aunt whose daughter is getting married to let me know if she ended up having a brunch or anything on Sunday, since I’d be staying in town anyway to celebrate my second anniversary with my girlfriend [which, um, !!!!!] on Monday. I was being far too subtle to achieve my actual goal, which was finagling Girlfriend, Esq. an invitation to any family gathering that might be happening on Sunday — but I was definitely not being the slightest bit subtle about being in a long-term romantic relationship with another girl. You’d have to be really trying to miss it at this point.

So imagine my surprise when my sister called me a few weeks ago to tell me that there was all kinds of drama going down because I’d been outed to that side of the family.

Yeah. I am not making this up.

Continue reading ‘June is the month of weddings! And Pride! How can I combine them?’

23
Jun
09

Bi Lines II: Erika Kate McDonald’s “Fluid”

Following the Putting the “B” in LGBT Summit was Bi Lines II, an evening of readings and performances by bi writers, musicians, and one playwrite. It was a pretty well-put-together evening, it was neat to see Edmund White read, and I’ve decided I like bi songwriter Rorie Kelly and would like to check out more of her work. But the highlight of the evening was the excerpt from Erika Kate McDonald‘s one-woman show, Fluid. In fact, Erika Kate herself was one of the highlights of the Summit. She’s great company, and I was delighted to learn she lives in Brooklyn.

I first saw Fluid over a year and a half ago on a date with Girlfriend, Esq. In fact, when I started this blog I was disappointed that it had been so long that I didn’t feel I remembered it well enough to write about it. So it was great to get to see a bit of it again — my favorite part, no less! Play-by-play after the cut, with pictures. I apologize for the quality of the pictures; I took them on my phone on the spur of the moment. Continue reading ‘Bi Lines II: Erika Kate McDonald’s “Fluid”’




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