The modern use of the word “monosexual” was invented along with “bisexual” by European scientists in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Back then, “bisexual” meant having a combination of male and female anatomical features, or a lack of sexual differentiation between male and female anatomy. “Monosexual” meant clear differentiation between male and female anatomical traits. Later, when bisexuality came to mean “having masculine and feminine psychological traits” (which is how Freud used it), “monosexuality” meant having the psychological traits of one “sex”. Under that framework, bisexuality also came to be understood as a form of attraction: it was presumed that people who had the anatomical sexual traits of “both sexes” also had “male and female” psychological traits, which meant that they also were attracted to “both sexes”. It was assumed that their “male side” desired females, while their “female side” desired males. Under this definition, “monosexual” meant someone with clear anatomical and psychological “male” or “female” traits, who is attracted to one “sex”. Note that they didn’t at all differentiate between sex, gender and sexuality. These were all considered as one and the same.They also used gender-binary language. Continue reading →
(Written in a discussion on the Bi Tumblr group on facebook. I wanted to post it here because people might find it helpful).
I think acceptance and tolerance are important, and I also support the idea of addressing material oppression of bis. However, I also differ somewhat in my views, since I like thinking about bisexual politics in the most expanse way that I can.
When asked, I always define the goal of the bi movement (that I want/promote) on three levels:
The first level is the one you all addressed here (from a different perspective, though) – liberation of bi people (I use “bi” here as an umbrella term). By this I don’t mean acceptance and tolerance – these terms imply that we are asking to be accepted and tolerated (presumably by straight people), which is problematic because it seems to be deferring to an existing power rather than challenging it. So when I say “liberation of bi people”, I mean attacking all of the structures that help maintain the oppression of bis – challenging and tearing down monosexism as part of a struggle to free ourselves of biphobic/monosexist oppression. Continue reading →
So, I know a lot of people have been curious about my new book (which isn’t officially out yet, but is on pre-sale!). Since it still doesn’t have a “look inside” feature, I figured I could put chapter summaries here, so that you could have more of an idea of what the book is actually about.
The introduction gives background about the book, about me and my reasons for writing. It also includes important background material for reading the book, such as the difference between liberal and radical, the relation I see between theory and activism, an explanation about trigger warning, and other things you should keep in mind while reading. Continue reading →
But before I answer, I have to clarify something first, because a lot of people seem to think I invented the word “monosexism”: So, while this is incredibly flattering, the fact is I didn’t. This word has been in use in bisexual movements from the 1990s or even earlier. I’m willing to take credit for popularizing it on tumblr, though :p
This is really upsetting. It appears that the idea that biphobia originates from gay and lesbian communities is so deeply ingrained in bisexual* communities many people are incapable of thinking outside it.
To make myself clear: THE IDEA OF MONOSEXISM MEANS THAT IT’S A WIDESPREAD STRUCTURE. IT MEANS IT DOES NOT ORIGINATE IN GAY AND LESBIAN COMMUNITIES. GAYS AND LESBIANS ARE NOT OUR OPPRESSORS (though they may well cooperate with this structure).
Here’s a snippet from my book to help explain. It is part of a much longer criticism of this idea (some parts bolded for emphasis):
The stance that bisexuals are only oppressed as a result of homophobia and lesbophobia erases the need for a unique bisexual liberation struggle and places bisexuals as mere “halfway” appendages to the gay and lesbian movement.
[. . .]
Considering the fact that the overwhelming majority of biphobia and monosexism originates not from gay and lesbian communities, but from heterosexual structures, it seems like the bisexual movement, as a whole, is all-too-focused on the wrong aspect. This overwhelming focus on gay and lesbian biphobia creates a false impression that, as a commentator recently put on my blog, “[bisexuals are] perfectly justified saying we get worse treatment in the gay community [than in straight ones]”. In turn, this notion contributes to the belief that bisexuals do not, in fact, experience (as much?) oppression by the heterosexual society, as well as sprouting the belief that our “real problem” lies with not within heteropatriarchy, but within gay and lesbian communities (that is, scapegoating).
Depicted as duplicitous, traitorous, and promiscuous, bisexuality has long been suspected, marginalized, and rejected by both straight and gay communities alike.
Bi takes a long overdue, comprehensive look at bisexual politics—from the issues surrounding biphobia/monosexism, feminism, and transgenderism to the practice of labeling those who identify as bi as either “too bisexual” (promiscuous and incapable of fidelity) or “not bisexual enough” (not actively engaging romantically or sexually with people of at least two different genders). In this forward-thinking and eye-opening book, feminist bisexual and genderqueer activist Shiri Eisner takes readers on a journey through the many aspects of the meanings and politics of bisexuality, specifically highlighting how bisexuality can open up new and exciting ways of challenging social convention.
Informed by feminist, transgender, and queer theory, as well as politics and activism, Bi is a radical manifesto for a group that has been too frequently silenced, erased, and denied—and a starting point from which to launch a bisexual revolution.
Seeing as my last blog post raised a lot of interest, I figured I’d go ahead and make this amazing field of bisexual theory/studies more accessible for those interested in exploring it. I complied below ten of my favourite articles about this topic (in no particular order) – ones that I found inspirational, influential and exciting. Note that they are just a tiny sample of this huge field, limited not only in scope but also technically (since some very important texts couldn’t be uploaded). This list is neither definitive nor comprehensive – it reflects my taste, associations and limitations in a given moment.
You might notice that most of the writers of these texts are white and cisgender, and that they all write from North American and Western European perspectives. This unfortunate fact reflects an existing set of power relations in academic contexts, and in particular in queer theory and LGBT studies. These fields are both often centered around the experience of white, cisgender, and “western” people, and are written by people from these contexts. Albeit that they have written some awesome shiny theory, this fact should not be ignored and we, as bisexual scholars, should seek to acknowledge and work against it. Much more bisexual research is needed in order to fill in these gaps, and I encourage my readers to join me in doing that.
This is a lecture that I gave in the annual queer studies conference in Tel Aviv University, “An Other Sex”, in May 2012. In this lecture I talk about how, rather than trying to refute “biphobic myths”, we should try and use them to create a radical bisexual politics. It is based on, but is not identical, to this post. It is also one of the best talks I ever gave.
Language is Hebrew, with ENGLISH and HEBREW SUBTITLES. (To view the subtitles, make sure you have them on by pressing on the leftmost button on the lower right hand corner of the video).