What’s loyalty got to do with it?

There are a lot of flaws* with this piece from momlogic about bisexuality. It tries, and makes some good points, but I’m not sure about it overall. Here’s the sentence, though, that really grabbed me:

The truth is that sexuality occurs along a bell curve — that is, the number of people who are 100% gay and 100% straight is relatively small. “Gay” and “straight” are defined as being loyal to same-sex or opposite-sex in both behavior and fantasy.

I mean, the definition is clearly problematic in and of itsef. Claiming definitely that *anything* is the definition of “gay” or “straight” is problematic, and it’s awfully strict and possibly circular to describe them this way. Not to mention that the bell curve is a speculation, and it’s stated here as if it were some kind of scientific fact. But the word “loyal” just jumped off the page at me here. (I know, I’m persnickety. I hang too much on a single word. But I think the words we choose say a lot not only about what we’re trying to say but also about what we’re thinking.) Defining people as being “loyal” to either homo- or heterosexaul fantasies and behavior has a lot to say, implicitly, about bisexuals. And thanks, but I’m not interested in being defined as disloyal. I’m quite loyal to my bisexuality — and what exactly about a sexual orientation requires loyalty, anyway? What happens, who’s hurt, what are the consequences, if I “stray?” If I’m “unfaithful?”

What does that even look like? Is the implication here that bisexuals bounce back and forth between homo- and heterosexuality? ‘Cause we already know what I think of that one (though my inability to quickly find a link maybe means it needs its own post.)

Obviously if it were just this one article and word choice, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. But this feels like it ties in to a lot of other ideas of bisexuals as prone to disloyalty and fickleness. Gay and straight people know what they are and are loyal to it, while we can’t even make up our minds! And that doesn’t work for me at all.

*My other major problem is the implication in the last paragraph that trying sex with a woman once will tell you if you like it. Rather than telling you whether you like sex with that particular woman, or even just reminding you that first times are awkward and often don’t tell you very much about what you like. But, you know, points for noticing the different receptions male and female bisexuality are getting right now. And for setting out to write an article about how it’s ok to be bi, and to try it and find out if you’re wondering. Even though the way that’s handled reminds me that I want to write a post about how “open-mindedness” as a goal and a way of framing things just isn’t working for me anymore.

5 Responses to “What’s loyalty got to do with it?”

  1. 6 January 2010 at 12:29 am

    Yeah, reading your excerpt, “loyal” totally jumped off the page to me too. I’m not totally settled with it, but the other thing I’m thinking about is taking “loyal” as a military metaphor as well as a monogamy one. “Loyal,” and phrases like ‘went to play for the other team,’ seem also related to sexism/The Gender BinaryTM through the ridiculous “battle between the sexes.” It figures both ‘men’ and ‘women’ as coherent groups 1)in which an obligation to one becomes an obligation to the collective, which seems rather troubling, and 2)which have opposing interests, such that abetting one is necessarily hurting the other… I don’t want to run too far on one word, but it does seem like a good jumping-off point for analysis.

    ….But that opening paragraph was, um, interesting, as well. Way to fetishize & erase my body at the same time…oh hell there’s so much else wrong with it I don’t know where to begin.

    And while I’d agree that reactions to male vs. female bisexuality are really different, she oversimplifies the issue…She claims P!nk is bi after she’s explicitly denied it which is pretty dubious in my book, and ignores Adam Lambert’s statements that he’s bi-curious, David Bowie’s (admittedly inconsistent) comings out as bi, as well as both Torchwood & Doctor Who (The Doctor, Shakespeare, both Captain Jack Harkness-es, Captain John Hart, Ianto, and sorta-kinda Owen and The Master–compared to Toshiko and sorta-kinda Gwen). It seems like something, you know, worth a little bit of analysis, even if a)it’s not the subject of her post, and b)she’s being consistent with the making big, poorly supported claims from ‘conventional wisdom’ as fact…

    (also your link to “momlogic” needs fixing.)

  2. 2 Imp Merlin
    6 January 2010 at 10:57 am

    I also like the points made about the bell curve in the article about it at the Bisexual Index, I think it’s call Curved Both Ways…

  3. 3 Hamilton-Lovecraft
    20 January 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Actually, it’s not just the choice of the word “loyal” – the writing in that whole article is bad/incoherent. I can’t even parse “Now you’ll risk a whole new set of bacterial exposure to fun girls.”

  4. 24 January 2010 at 7:15 am

    Where IS your “Like” button?

  5. 5 CLandar
    3 March 2010 at 10:03 am

    Meh, the piece is a quickie Cosmo type sidebar. I’m not sure about the Bell curve either, I’ve always thought of it as a grayscale myself.

    About the ‘loyalty’ thing? Just as there are rabid sports team fanatics and nationalistic zealots (aka patriots), I suppose there will also be those who have a ‘you’re either with us or against us’ black and white mentality about sexual orientation.

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