Some differences and similarities between bisexuality and pansexuality

This is my take on one aspect of the bi vs. pan debate. A lot of people on tumblr found this helpful, so I thought I might put this here as well. It’s important to remember that on tumblr, this debate is more like an ongoing flame war, so I’m responding based on a lot of prior discussion and knowledge. For a more basic (and comprehensive) post about the proverbial “bi is binary” debate, try this.

Bisexual and pansexual identities often look the same:

  • Both bisexual and pansexual people might feel desire towards people of any amount of genders. People who feel desire towards people of more than one, more than two, many, multiple or all genders can identify as bisexual or as pansexual (or really anything else): The word people use to name their sexual identity does not predict or convey the number of genders they might desire.
  • Both bisexual and pansexual people might be cisgender, transgender* or genderqueer*: Whether people identify as bi or pan does not predict or convey their gender identity.
  • Both bisexual and pansexual people can support transgender* and genderqueer* liberation/rights: Whether people identify as bi or pan does not predict or convey their levels of such support or their levels of transphobia/cissexism.
  • Both bisexual and pansexual people can support bisexual* liberation/rights: Whether people identify as bi or pan does not predict or convey their levels of such support or their levels of biphobia (and yes, people who identify as bi can be biphobic, too). Continue reading

Snippet #5: Internalized biphobia in intimate relationships

*** The snippets are taken from my book in writing, Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. For more, check out the notes for a bisexual revolution tag. ***

This is from the chapter about monosexism and biphobia, from the sub-section about internalized biphobia (and the sub-sub section about internalized biphobia in intimate relationships). I wrote about three types of internalized biphobia inside intimate relationships; this is the second.

Similar to social settings, internalized biphobia might also influence people inside intimate relationships in a way that is disruptive and harmful both to the relationship and the people within. Inside relationships, some bisexual people might treat their partners in ways similar to those of biphobic monosexual people, as informed by stereotypes about bisexuals’ dishonesty and lack of loyalty, as well as returning to some of the basic underlying themes of internalized biphobia such as lack of acceptance and worthlessness. Continue reading

Why I identify as bisexual and not pansexual

I’ve been asked this on tumblr and thought I might cross post it here:

Hey, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’m curious…why do you personally choose to label yourself as bisexual rather than pansexual?

Anonymous

Awesome question. I think about it all the time.

Here’s my story:

I identify very strongly as bi, though for a few years I also used to identify as pan along with it. Throughout those years, I went through a long process with both those words, at the end of which I dropped “pansexual” and stuck only with “bisexual”.

I’ve identified as bi since I was 13. When I first encountered the word “pansexual” (age 22), I was very pleased with the way it sought to subvert gender binaries and to create more space for people of multiple genders and sexes. I was also really happy to use a word that would distance me from the mainstream American/Western bisexual movement(s) with its assimilationism, cissexism, “both sexes” bullshit. I was certain that pansexuality was inherently more subversive, more queer, and generally better than bisexuality. Continue reading

Snippet #4: The bisexual invisibility report

This is a excerpt from my book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. If you like this text, please consider buying a copy.

Okay, so I know I haven’t posted anything of my own in a while, so I thought that instead of a short little snippet, I’d post something more substantial. This is still from my book, taken from the chapter about biphobia and monosexism. It’s my review of the Bisexual Invisibility report and why it’s so fucking important. I was going to do a blog post about this for a very long time anyway, so this is a good opportunity.

[Fair warning: it might make your blood boil or otherwise invoke violent urges, like punching biphobia in the face and breaking down monosexism]

After you read this, please contemplate why the fuck ##$@^*&(*(^!!!1 so many of us keep talking about stereotypes and other shallow symptoms instead of addressing the real issues.

The Bisexual Invisibility Report

Published in March 2011, the Bisexual Invisibility report (perhaps more aptly called “the bisexual erasure report” or the “monosexism report”*) is the first report about bisexuality to have been released by a government body in the US. Without a doubt, this is one of the most important texts to have ever been published about bisexuals. Its importance cannot be overstated, as this is one of the only published texts today addressing the material results of monosexism and biphobia on the lives of bisexual people. And just as this report is important, the content thereof is both saddening and infuriating. I’ve gathered a few of the report’s findings, in hopes to shed light on these material effects. In this, I seek to further stress my argument that monosexism is a widespread oppressive system influencing bisexual people in many walks of life.

* I generally oppose the form “bisexual invisibility”, as I believe that “invisibility” is not a trait inherent to bisexuality, but is rather actively socially constructed by bisexual erasure. Continue reading

The weekly snippet #3: Monosexism

This is a excerpt from my book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. If you like this text, please consider buying a copy.

I’m posting it not only because it was a nice piece of writing, but also following some online discussions about the necessity of the term.

In her article BT vs. LG, Jillian Todd Weiss criticizes the terms “biphobia” and “transphobia” for being too clinical and implying a psychological and personal problem rather than a social structure. Instead, she suggests the use of the term “heterosexism”, so as to imply a structure of oppression influencing all LGBT people. Now, whereas I perfectly agree with the first part of Weiss’s criticism, the latter part seems to unify four distinct structures of oppression while erasing the differences between them. Whereas all LGBT people certainly share oppression by heterosexism, using it as a single term leaves out the structures of heteropatriarchy*, cissexism** and monosexism – all equally shared by LGBT people but often erased as a result of these power structures themselves. As an alternative to Weiss’s suggestion, then, within the frame of discussion on biphobia, I’d like to suggest the use of the term “monosexism” as a tool for examining and deconstructing the power structure revealing itself through biphobic behaviour.
Continue reading

The monosexual privilege checklist

This text also appears in my book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. If you like it, please consider buying a copy.

En Español: La lista del privilegio monosexual, and thanks to the people at La Radical Bi!

Before you continue: One huge clarification!

I was translating/editing the male privilege checklist (link in Hebrew) a couple of days ago, when it occurred to me that I have never seen a monosexual privilege checklist. Indeed, I’ve never heard the term spoken or referred to before. Despite the fact that many privilege lists exist for many groups, it appears that the idea that monosexuals enjoy privilege is relatively new as well as foreign to queer and bisexual political thought. More often than not, when the word “privilege” arises in relation to bisexuality or bisexual people, it is coupled with “heterosexual” and with the claim that bisexuals “enjoy heterosexual privilege” (here’s a helpful hint with that: we’re not, in fact, heterosexual). And so I thought it might be time to try to unpack some of these notions and compile a monosexual privilege checklist. Continue reading

Words, binary and biphobia, or: why “bi” is binary but “FTM” is not

This text also appears in my book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. If you like it, please consider buying a copy.

Before I write – a disclaimer: this post contains criticism of the non-bisexual-identified transgender community and discourse. Please be aware that I am writing this criticism not as an outsider, but as a genderqueer person involved in transgender community, and activism. I hope this criticism is taken in the same spirit in which it was written – that of passion and solidarity.

This is a long post. But trust me, it is good. Take your time in reading in, it will be worth it ;)


A(n) (long) introduction

It appears increasingly acceptable of late, in transgender/genderqueer communities and activist discourses, to portray bisexuality as a binary identity, and thus intrinsically transphobic. As the claim classically goes – since the word “bisexuality” has “bi” (literally: two) in it, then it is inherently gender-binary, pointing to only two genders/sexes as its sources of reference – thus erasing non-binary sexes and genders out of existence. Those siding with this approach usually suggest the use of alternative identity categories, such as “pansexual”, “omnisexual”, “queer”, etc. (For the sake of fairness, I need to mention that I, too, once subscribed to these views, to the extent that they are now and forever recorded in a book and unchangeable. But – hey, we all make mistakes…)

On the other hand is the bisexual side of the debate, arguing to the contrary. I will say that I find these arguments to be nothing but a pile of apologetics, and so I’m going to be relatively brief with it, as they only matter to me here as background to the real core of the discussion: Continue reading

A bisexual manifesto

I found this text in Getting Bi almost two years ago. I liked it immediately, as any feminist might – it spoke my language. In Israel, this feminist manifesto is famous for having been translated with slight alterations to fit Israeli culture (for example, a reference to militarism). The local transgender community also wrote a similar text two years back, which brought it even closer to my heart. And so, when seeing this in Getting Bi, I automatically wanted to translate it.

However, the text was a bit too liberal for my liking (government/rights focused, gender-binary and monogamous) – and so I translated it with a few changes and additions.

Anyway, I figured now that I have a blog, it might be a good time to translate it back into English.

The Hebrew version may be found here, in the form of a flier.

**FEEL FREE TO USE THIS TEXT FOR ANY PURPOSE. NO RIGHTS RESERVED, though I would appreciate credit, where applicable :)**

BECAUSE we are not real AND our orientation is only a phase AND we’ll just leave for a member of another sex any day AND our way of loving is only a sign of confusion AND when we haven’t changed in 5 or 10 or 20 or 50 years we are still just confused AND when we’re in a different-sex relationship then we are holding onto “straight privilege” AND when we’re in a same-sex relationship then we’ve finally “come all the way out” AND when we’re in a different-sex relationship we’re really just straight AND when we’re in a same-sex relationship then we’re really gay or lesbian AND when we dare suggesting that we have our own identity we are traitors of the community AND if we identify as bisexual we think there are only two genders AND when we identify as pansexual then we’re simply hipsters AND when we don’t self-define then we’re invisible AND because every historical figure or celebrity who has ever had a same-sex relationship was really gay or lesbian no matter how they may have felt about other genders AND we’re told we can’t make up our minds AND that we’re just attention seekers AND when we’re monogamous then we’re not really bisexual AND when we’re polyamorous then we’re reinforcing stereotypes AND because we want to fuck anything that moves AND because it’s okay to sexually harass us and we’re not allowed to choose or refuse or reject it AND because it’s okay to ask us invasive questions about our sex lives AND because every fuck up about our relationships is attributed to our bisexuality AND because we see personal ads that say “no bisexuals” AND for lots and lots of other reasons, WE ARE PART OF THE BISEXUAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT

Love, rage and the occupation – my talk from London BiCon

First, an apology: I really sincerely was intending to embed this video into my post so as to save my readers the hassel of a seperate site. But alas, try as I might, I could not convince WordPress to do my bidding.

And so, I provide you with the link to the talk I gave in September at the International BiCon in London:

http://makore.6tzvaim.com/node/524

Summary:

Love, rage and the occupation: bisexual politics in Israel/Palestine

The Israeli occupation of Palestine has had a deep influence over both external and internal LGBTQ and bisexual/pansexual politics. What is the connection between the occupation and inner LGBTQ violence? How does that connect to last year’s Bar-No’ar shooting? How are all of these events related to bisexual erasure? And what does the Israeli bisexual community think about all this?

(For more topics mentioned in the talk, check out the tags).

Video length: 69 mins. Language: English, no subtitles :(

Please feel free to ask me any questions or to make any comments.

P.S.

Also worth checking out: Lilach Ben-David’s talk about queer resistance to the occupation.

How does it get better? Empowering youth and our bisexual community

(Why criticize?)

About a week ago, director Kyle Schickner, in cooperation with the American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB) released a new video under Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign. The video, I must admit, was deeply touching for me. As a bisexual person who feels the effects of biphobia, erasure and isolation every day, and as someone who spent many years of her life suffering from depression – this video struck a very deep chord in me. Undoubtedly, this video, and the activist work done by Schickner and by AIB is highly important, and I deeply appreciate it.

However, I would like to raise some doubts regarding the campaign, its viewpoints, and our response to it as a bisexual movement. Before I do, I need to say that I am making this criticism with the deepest respect and appreciation for the people involved as well as their work. However, I believe that in order to grow and develop as a movement, this kind of criticism is important and vital. Continue reading