It warms my heart to see that the comments on my last post took the discussion in the same direction I was planning to; it’s good to know I’m following a coherent train of thought.
Thinking about the way some lesbians react to the bisexuals in their midst got me thinking about other responses to us. They all seem to come down to “bisexuals really like men” – like all bisexual women are essentially straight and all bisexual men basically gay. A nice conclusion in a culture that always assumes men are superior and preferable, and men’s pleasure is top priority.
The flip side to some lesbians’ wariness of bi women is some straight men’s amused tolerance of us. The thinking seems to be, in the sphere of the straight world where bi men barely exist and bi women are everyone’s favorite fantasy, that women are only good for fun and titillation. These people find it inconceivable that a bi women would partner with anyone but a man. Everyone remembers Rage from Bi The Way, right? “Yeah, it’s possible that Taryn could leave me for another woman…but it’s also possible that a meteor could fall on my head right now.” To steal some phrasing from Megan, since she put it better than anything I’d come up with — these men seem to fetishize their female partner’s relationships with other women without ever taking them seriously enough to find them threatening. The same way lesbians worry about dating bi women because they see men as (sometimes inherently superior) competition, straight men don’t worry about dating bi women because they can’t possibly imagine ladies as their competition.
I can’t tell you how many different-sex couples I meet where the man is straight, and the woman is bisexual, and their arrangement is that she can sleep with other women, but he’s to be the only man in her life. Sometimes the arrangement is made even more attractive with the qualification that he gets to be present for any such extra-relationship play, or even that he gets to participate. Frankly, these particular boundaries around open relationships give me the creeps. I understand that every couple (or triad, or whatnot) has to negotiate their boundaries in ways that work for them. And I understand that some people are more threatened by, and feel more replaced by, their partners having sex with people of their gender. But it seems to me, especially in the case of bi women in relationships with men who are allowed to have sex with women but not men outside of their primary relationship, that the personal can never be entirely divorced from the political. And a widespread adoption of these sorts of boundaries amounts to a tacit acknowledgment that women are not a serious threat to men, that we’re not viable as real partners. That cock is the be-all and end-all of sex and that any sex that doesn’t involve a penis is less enjoyable, less meaningful, and less real. While I have a lot of issues with Kant, I do think it’s a good idea to think about what would happen if everyone made the same kinds of decisions one is about to. And arrangements like this contribute to a system wherein men are more privileged and powerful, where they get to dictate women’s sexuality, and where what sexuality women do get to enjoy is really for men’s pleasure. At the very least they don’t do anything to help dismantle it.
I personally won’t date women who are in serious relationships with men and only “allowed” to fool around with other women, for a multitude of reasons. One is simply that, while casual sex is fun and I’m open to having more of it in my life (and there are always people for whom I’ll make exceptions even when I decide it’s not a good use of my energy), mostly what I want at this point is a relationship that has a chance of evolving into a primary partnership — and there’s no possibility of that with someone who already has a primary partner. And that, of course, has nothing to do with the genders of anyone involved and everything to do with what I feel is lacking in my own life. But most of my reasons are about that particular set-up.
Continue reading ‘What’s so great about cock, anyway?’