Gee, thanks for the spotlight, Sarah. I’ll do what I can to live up to it. And you can return the favor in October, when I’ll be too busy looking for an apartment to give this blog the attention it deserves. And, um, I just realized that I’m writing two posts in a row about lesbians. That was kinda unintentional, but I have this post all written now. Um, sorry, lesbians? (And now I sound like T-Rex. That doesn’t seem like it will make anything better…on the other hand, I clearly should have quoted him in the post on bicuriosity.)
Writing the second half of this entry, hanging out with our friend Megan (who introduced us!), I worried aloud that I was accusing all dykes of penis envy. When really I’m only accusing some dykes – the ones who don’t trust bisexual women – of penis envy. I found myself saying “Now I want to write ‘Don’t make your penis envy my problem’ somewhere in the entry. I suppose that would be a bad idea.” She responded, “I guess saying ‘It could be the title’ doesn’t help?” Everybody thank Megan.
I’ve spent a lot of time the past couple of years in the queer women’s/women and trans community. One of the things I can’t fail to notice there is a deep distrust of bisexual women from some lesbians, and a subsequent reluctance to date us. Happily, there are some lesbians (my girlfriend and at least one commenter on this blog, for example) who are delighted to date bisexual women, or simply don’t care whom else we like as long as we like them. But on the part of lesbians who won’t date bi women, it seems to come down eventually to a conviction that a bi woman will eventually “go back to men,” most likely leaving her partner for one in the process.
This has always driven me crazy. There’s an unexamined assumption here that bisexuals are fickle, flighty, and not to be trusted; that we’re having ourselves a little adventure in the magic queer kingdom before settling down to heterosexual marriage, thus betraying the women’s community we should never have been allowed into in the first place. But the truth is that people leave their lovers for others all the time. Straight women leave their boyfriends for other men, straight men leave their wives for other women. Even lesbians leave women for other women. It’s frustrating that this whole discussion is based on the assumption of any given bisexual woman being unfaithful and untrustworthy, when this is something that some but not all people of all genders and sexual orientations do. And yet it gets singled out when the person doing the leaving is bisexual, and the person being left is of a different gender than the new partner. Infidelity and abandonment are not flaws unique to bisexuals (or common to all bisexuals!), they’re human faults. I just don’t believe that the betrayal is worse when the person one is left for is of a different gender than oneself. I don’t believe one is being left, not for another person one’s former partner currently likes better, but for a gender as a whole — being left, not for a man, but for men. This is absurd, and I struggle to understand it. Because having a male partner after having a female partner — regardless of whether one cheated or simply broke up and later started a new relationship — is totally consistent with a bisexual life. It was on the table as a possibility the whole time. If one is attracted to people of more than one gender, then the odds are that at some point, she’ll have partners of different genders in succession. It’s statistics, not betrayal of the lesbian community. Not “going back” to a straight life and leaving queerness behind. Relationships with men are just as much a part of bisexuality as relationships with women (or anyone else). They don’t contradict our queerness; they’re part of it. We’re not gay on days we spend with other women and straight on days we spend with men, and going from one to the other doesn’t effect a great change in our sexuality, identity, or loyalty. (And when we’re single, none of those things ceases to exist!)
And yet I think in some women’s minds, this is exactly how it happens. Part of the problem is that in not really believing in bisexuality, many people assign bisexuals an identity based on what they see, not what those bisexuals say about their own lives. And so I think that some people look at a woman in a relationship with another woman, regardless of her life history and self-proclaimed identity, and decide she’s gay. That no matter who her partners have been in the past, she’s sworn off men from now on and will keep faith with the community of queer women that has welcomed her. And in that context it almost makes sense for them to feel it as a betrayal when, after her current relationship ends, another begins that night not be with a woman. Even though that is totally consistent with the desires, the queerness, and the identity she claimed all along. Because it’s not consistent with the identity they’d assigned to her. From their viewpoint, it looks like she infiltrated their community, had her fun, and ran back to the strong, welcoming arms of heterosexual privilege. Even when, the majority of the time, that’s not even close to what happened. After all, they saw her as leaving her old life and desires behind when she entered this relationship, it almost makes sense that they’d see her as leaving this one behind to go back to the former when it ends. Even if, from the perspective of the woman in question, her queerness and desires remained constant the whole time and aren’t dependent her partner’s gender.
I also wonder if some of this comes down to some lesbians’ insecurity about being in competition with men – not just with other dykes, who are a known quantity, but also the ever-mysterious “opposite sex.” Not all, mind; some. The ones who claim they’ll never date another bisexual woman because they all just go back to men in the end, anyway (and this drives me extra crazy because, um, I’m not the one who hurt you. Possibly I wasn’t even born when she hurt you. It’s really got very little to do with me, and please don’t make assumptions about my ethics and behavior because someone who shared my sexual identity hurt you in the past). This is exemplified by something a woman I was dating once said to me. She was one of those dykes, the ones who believe bisexual women all end up married (to men) with children, leaving a trail of broken hearts and wounded prides behind them. (And please don’t ask me what I was thinking; I have no idea. We had fun, but it became apparent over time that this was not the only place where our politics were completely incompatible.) I dated a men very briefly while we were seeing each other (we were never monogamous; I rarely am), and it really freaked her out. She insisted on treating our continued involvement after I slept with this guy as unlikely, and when I finally got her to tell me why, she asked, “Who knows if you’ll be interested in me anymore after you’ve had the real thing again?”
“The real thing.”
This took me completely by surprise. It had never crossed my mind to think of it that way. If I thought being with a man was “the real thing,” I would never have been there with her in the first place. And if she thought it was the real thing, I thought to myself, she had other problems to deal with. Ones I couldn’t help her with.
I wonder how many other dykes are out there buying into the myth that all bi women need is a good deep dicking and we’ll run back to men with glad hearts and slightly sore elsewheres, leaving sapphism behind us forever. Who think cock and penetration with it are the holy grail of sex (leaving aside for the moment the fact that some women have cocks and not all men do, since the people who believe this stuff usually seem to have missed that one, too.) Now that I think about it, I find it a little insulting. I don’t really know what I want, and all I need is a good dose of cock to remind me? (As GF said in a conversation about this months ago, when a man implied that I’d just forgotten how good sex with men is, if I’d ever known “Clearly all of your previous dickings have been too shallow.” Yes, indeed. Clearly, if I still like girls, all of my previous male lovers have failed to penetrate me sufficiently. I’ll tell the next guy so he can see about fixing that. Someone’s gotta take one for the team.)
No. I know exactly what I want, and what I like, and it has little or nothing to do with which set of genitals a partner comes equipped with. And an amazing lay, from someone of any gender, is not going to convince me that I was wrong about liking all the others.
The extra funny part of this, to me, is the idea that a man (or a person with a cock that’s part of hir body) can automatically provide me with the deepest, most thorough and satisfying penetration. Because that has so not been my experience. For one thing, dykes get to choose their size, and from a much wider range than nature provides. The only things I’ve ever had inside me that were larger than the cock of the woman so worried about competition from “the real thing” were another strap-on and a hand; both belonged to women. Having a cock permanently attached to your body doesn’t give you any advantage when it comes to penetration, so I’m not sure what certain dykes are so worried about.
I just hope they’ll soon stop letting a bare few women who are in it for the performance and the adventure ruin it for the rest of us, who could genuinely respect and desire them if they could do the same for us. The vast majority of bisexual-identified women are not with other women because we just can’t get a man right now, and we’re not about to abandon one gender for another because we don’t know what we want or are never satisfied with what we have. We’re just as capable of commitment, monogamy, and faithfulness as people of any other sexuality, and this is really not a war in which we’re looking to sell out one side and get in good with the other at the first available opportunity. I’m so tired of being treated like I can’t be trusted to keep my word because everyone buys so easily into this idea of bisexuals as changing sex partners the way some people change shoes, hurting and betraying everyone they touch.
And really, I just tired. I’m going to wrap this up now, because I think it’s getting less coherent rather than more, but I wanted to get it up before I head off for the weekend. I’ll be back next week with part 2 of this thought process, about reactions to bisexuality among straight women and straight men, and how this proves my theory that people believe everyone secretly digs dudes (and science has proven it, too!). If anyone wants to brief me on how gay men treat bisexuals before, say, Monday or Tuesday, I’ll try to include that, too…(or I can just use Dan Savage as an example? No, maybe not. Mental note: solicit guest posts from bisexuals who aren’t women, to even the balance around here a bit)