Archive for the 'in the media' Category

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.

29
Apr
09

One Woman Show

As the more astute among you have probably noticed, it’s been all Aviva all the time around here for a while now. Sarah’s been eaten by grad school, which has been demanding all of her energy and filling all of her analytical needs. So, despite my pouty face, she’s going to be stepping down as my co-blogger. She’ll still guest post whenever she feels moved to, and I for one am hoping that will happen a lot — particularly since it’s almost summer, and perhaps school will relinquish its grip a bit for a few months. And I’m still hoping to convince her to come to New York for queer film and theater festivals and check out all of the bi-themed offerings with me.  I’m eternally grateful to her for deciding we should start a blog and getting it started with me.

I hope there will be other co-bloggers in my future, when I meet people who are invested in bisexuality as a political identity who are willing to put in the time to write about it regularly here. But for now you’re stuck with me. I’ll try to live up to the burden.

And really, I’ve been pretty absentee myself lately. I’m working on that. In the meantime, there have been some interesting posts about bisexuality up on Bilerico in the past couple of months. Half of these are by a guest contributor and the other half by people who aren’t bisexual-identified, and I still maintain that they could use a bi-identified contributor who covers that angle (or, if they have one or more, they could use more active ones).  and it says something that I consider four articles in two months to be a lot of bi content on an LGBTQ blog, let alone such an active one. But take a look at what’s been going on over there while apartment drama (leaking! associated ceiling problems! bedbugs in the building! — though, so far, not in my unit…cross your fingers for me), broken computer (I fixed it! All by myself! I bought a new screen, and I installed it!!!!), and relationship processing have kept me away from you:

Ellyn Ruthstrom, President of the Bisexual Resource Center, has a list of tips on how to be a good ally to a bisexual person. I could suggest some additions — really move through the world as though you believe bisexuals exist and don’t assume anyone’s sexual orientation based on (what you perceive as) the gender of the partner you see them with, just off the top of my head — but it’s a good start.

Cathy Renna also writes about being an ally to bi folks, from the ally side. It’s good to know we have allies out there who are taking on the crazy things people say when we’re not around.

Ellyn Ruthstrom posts again, on how gay men and lesbians often use bi space as a place to come out and adjust to the idea that they’re not straight. It’s an interesting take. Many people argue that bisexuality is always just a phase on the way to feeling comfortable in a gay identity — often because it was for them, or someone they know.  This article looks at it from the other direction and suggests that one of the wonderful things about bi space is that it allows people that sometimes-necessary phase, without judging them or telling them who they should be or how they should identify. Presumably while also serving the needs of people who are bisexual as a stable and long-term identity, which seems to me to be a more important goal. Particularly when many of those same people, having arrived at a gay or lesbian identity, turn around and argue that we don’t exist and must just be taking our sweet time on the same journey. Still, I take her point that the bi community and the gay and lesbian community, to the extent that they’re separate, should try to be welcoming and good to one another, and worry less about who’s using whom and more about easing our common struggles.

And finally, Jess Hoffmann reposted an earlier article on why she doesn’t identify as bisexual. I agree with much of her reasoning, even though she avoids “bisexual” because of its binary connotations and I use it in order to change those connotations. In practice there are bisexuals who buy into the gender binary and are only attracted to people within it and bisexuals who don’t and are attracted to a wide range of genders, just as there are gay and straight people who believe in two genders and are only attracted to one and gay and straight people who see a range of genders but are only attracted to one or a few. I think it’s important to distinguish between a problem with the word’s roots with the behavior of the people using it; the bi and trans communities have a history of being allies to each other, and I personally find that more important than the Latin origins of the word. I certainly agree with her reasons for choosing “queer;” I’m also a big fan of the word’s political connotations, and almost always pair it with bisexual. But I still think that, despite the word being less than perfect (not only for the “bi”‘ but also for the “sexual,” which puts the focus on sex rather than identity in a way that “gay” and”lesbian” are clearly trying to avoid), it’s the best one I have to talk about who I am. Queer is descriptive of my politics but could mean just about anything as far as my attractions, and I appreciate the specificity of bi. The comments on both this and the 2007 post are also interesting and worth reading, and probably informed what I had to say on the subject.

27
Mar
09

It’s definitely time to find a new sex advice columnist…

I did say in the wake of Prop 8 that if Dan Savage kept it up with the racism I’d have to stop liking him altogether. And while I haven’t seen that kind of overt racism from him since, a) I’m sure it’s still there, b) he’s been terribly offensive about bisexuals more times than I can count, as well as not having a good record with fat folks and people living with domestic violence, and c) this week we have some equally shocking transphobia. There will be no more “He’s a good sex advice columnist, but…” from me anymore. I’m flat out of patience and excuses. If anything, it took me too long.

In response to a reader who doesn’t know how to tell his girlfriend that he paid a trans woman for sex, Dan writes [heads up: offensive words for and thoughts about trans women below the cut]:

Continue reading ‘It’s definitely time to find a new sex advice columnist…’

05
Mar
09

Round-up

All of my time and energy for writing right now is going toward processing in my relationships. (It’s always something, isn’t it? I will never not be busy, and there will never not be something of that moment that I point to and say “It’s this, soon I will be less crazy.) It may be a few more days before I can sit down and write something thoughtful about anything else. Also, I dropped my Eee PC and cracked the screen today (apparently the world was trying to see how much hard stuff it had to throw at me to kill my high from an amazing Saturday night — okay, world, you win!), so blogging on the train and bus will be out until I come up with money to get it fixed or replace it. So in the meantime, a look at the things I might be blogging about if I were doing so at all…

Girlfriend, Esq. pointed me to Greta Christina’s response to Dan Savage’s latest insensitive comment about bisexuals. I’d missed it somehow, but as always, Greta Christina does a thorough and brilliant job of responding. I don’t think I have anything to add. Other than that Dan Savage may make his reputation on his snark, but the occasional columns where a dozen questions get brief answers really help no one. They just let him showcase his wit without giving actual advice. Even he could probably have done a better job of answering that one if he’d fleshed it out more; at least we’d know which fucked up thing exactly he was getting at.

Alex at Bilerico is doing a week-long series on abstinence-only education, looking at a new report on how abstinence-only education is actually implemented in Texas (the state that receives the most federal funding for it). Two days ago he wrote about homophobia in abstinence-only, yesterday about religion as part of the curriculum; today it’s sexism. Keep an eye on that one; it promises to be interesting and important.

Meanwhile, Bil at Bilerico posts about the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders filing a challenge to DOMA that they seem to hope to bring to the Supreme Court. He has a lot of really persuasive things to say about how the push for marriage actually harms the push for more basic rights in places other than the two coasts. I’m a coastal dweller myself, so I can’t say anything other than that it sounds about right, and lines up with/complements a lot of my reasoning on why pushing for marriage is not where our energy should be going. He also left a heart-wrenching comment on a different post by someone who supports the move. And Nancy Polikoff points out that it will only benefit couples with income inequalities, and talks about how the queers shouldn’t be shoring up heteronormativity — and you know how I love that.

HRC has announced some long-overdue changes to its Corporate Equality Index. I’m not best pleased with how long these changes will take to kick in and how long employers can continue to skate by while treating trans employees in really fucked up ways, but I have no way of assessing HRC’s claim that companies need that long to bring themselves into compliance. Of course I’m less concerned than HRC is about employers who don’t treat trans employees well getting to keep their perfect scores for a couple of years while they fix that, but they may have a point that companies are more likely to comply if they’re not ticked off. Since after all we’re not hoping they’ll do this out of the goodness of their hearts; we know they have to be shamed into it/get something out of it. And it is a positive change. Also, because he wins all of the links today, Bil talks about his disappointment that HRC will still not be assessing companies on their behavior internationally and factoring that in.

Have a lovely week!

20
Feb
09

More in common than we thought?

I am so woefully behind since last weekend’s conference. Especially since Girlfriend, Esq. got into town last night, so I spent the three days since I got home getting ready for her visit. If I owe you a personal email or haven’t responded to your comment yet (thanks for all the birthday wishes!), I swear I haven’t forgotten you and it is on my list of things to do. If you could give me until Monday before you give up on me, I’d be eternally grateful.

I’m still catching up on Google Alerts and Bilerico emails, too. In one of them I came across a link to this reaction to Rea Carey’s speech at Creating Change, from Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s a vile piece. They play up the Leather Leadership Award as evidence that the Task Force isn’t qualified to speak on right and morality, and clearly only have to say the words “transsexuality,” “prostitution,” “polyamory/nonmonogamy,” and “sexual freedom” to get their readers all grossed out and riled up. I also giggled at “If you are reading this website, you are seriously concerned about the homosexual activist agenda.” Yeah, actually, I am. Mostly I’m concerned with advancing it.

What I find fascinating about the article, though, is how similarly it reads to many things I see from the queer-positive radical left. The way they set the Left up as a monolithic, powerful Goliath against their poor, disorganized, minority David is awfully familiar. Check this out: Continue reading ‘More in common than we thought?’

09
Jan
09

Weekly round-up

It’s a short week this week, since last week spilled over into the weekend. I can’t say that much has gotten done in Aviva land. It’s been mostly work and errands, and those frustrating days where lots of little things go wrong and make you crazy, but nothing big enough that you feel like you get to really whine about it. But here’s what the corner of the world I’ve been observing has to offer us.

Continue reading ‘Weekly round-up’




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