A brief history of the term “monosexuality”

(I’ve been asked this elsewhere and thought others might find it helpful.)

This post on tumblr

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

The myth of myth-busting – YouTube video

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).

Enjoy! :)

Love, Rage and the Occupation: Bisexual Politics in Israel/Palestine

Update 15.4.2012: You can now read this here on my blog for free: Click here

I just got a new article published on Journal of Bisexuality, how exciting ^_^

Click to download: Love, Rage and the Occupation: Bisexual Politics in Israel/Palestine

Abstract

This text narrates the writer’s story as a bisexual activist and, through it, also the story of the bisexual movement in Israel so far. In addition, the text endeavors to highlight the strands of militarism, violence and racism in Israeli culture, with a focus on the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the Palestinian people. This is meant to achieve two things: first, to deconstruct the false separation between the two fields of ‘LGBT rights’ and antiwar activism; and second, to promote the principles of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, encouraging solidarity with the Palestinian people and nonviolent struggle against the Israeli occupation.

* If you have any problems with downloading the file, don’t hesitate to email me and ask me for a copy (or leave a comment below).

Cissexism and transphobia in bisexual communities

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

Note: If you came here seeking reassurance that bisexuality is binarist and/or that all bisexuals are transphobic, you will not find it here. Please see this first.

A note for commentators: Please remember that I’m the same person who wrote Words, binary and biphobia, or: why “bi” is binary but “FTM” is not, and that I consider these two posts as complementary. If you could avoid using my own arguments to dispute me, that would be helpful for productive discussion. Thank you.

If you’re not aware of the problems with using a binary gender system, please see this post: Not Your Mom’s Trans 101.

* Thank you to Robyn Ochs, who helped me think of many of these things.

Why this post?

(Why criticize?)

Within the mainstream bisexual movement, the links between bisexuality and transgenderism have always been thought of as close. Challenging of binaries, and the close relationship often existing between bisexual and transgender communities and politics, have been spoken and applauded by the mainstream bisexual movement (especially in the US) since its very beginnings. However and notwithstanding, in this post, I would like to raise a few thoughts about why the efforts of the mainstream bisexual movement to be trans-inclusive have been lacking. I’d like to call out specific problems within bisexual movements so that we, as a community, might be able to put work and energy into addressing these issues, and to be accountable for our communities’ cissexism* and transphobia. Continue reading

Snippet #6: Binormativity and bi assimilationism

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

As an offshoot of the need to “redeem” bisexuality and bisexual people through good behaviour*, some people might feel as if all bisexual people need to fit into certain standards of normativity, so as to avoid making other bisexuals “look bad” politically. This includes being either “not bisexual enough” or “too bisexual”**, but also includes such things as radical or “unpalatable” opinions, criticizing assimilationist ideology, speaking too much about specifically bisexual issues (rather than assimilationist gay ones such as marriage, military, adoption, etc.), addressing transgender issues, etc. (For example, some people might feel that the definition of bisexuality should remain gender binary for purposes of palatability for the general population, claiming that “maybe after” more people understand binary bisexuality, “we can start” explaining to them about non-binary genders). Many people might feel as if people with such opinions might damage the bisexual movement, much in the same way in which assimilationist gays often feel that bisexuals might damage their movement by tarring their normative image. In this way, the normativity, which is the condition for entrance into the GGGG movement, is inherited into bisexual movements whose goal is assimilation with the assimilationist gay movement. I call these phenomena “binormativity” and “bi assimilationism” respectively.

* “Redeeming bisexuality through good behaviour” is something I explain in the previous paragraph inside the book. I mean the need for many bisexuals to “prove” that they belong in the LGBT movement by actively contributing to it (and, correspondingly, feeling as though bisexuals who are not LGBT activists do not deserve inclusion in the movement).
** “Too bisexual” and “not bisexual enough” are terms that I define previously as expressions of internalized biphobia directed by bisexuals towards other bisexuals. “Too bisexual” means someone who fits the bisexual stereotypes (cheating, being “promiscuous” i.e. sexually independent, having unsafe sex, etc.). “Not bisexual enough” means someone who doesn’t fit the acceptable “standard” of “true bisexuality” (not having had sex/relationship/emotions with people of at least two genders, etc).

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

Snippet# 2: Bisexuality and Love

*** 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. ***

Note: do excuse my lack of hyperlinking/citations. All the claims I make are backed up by written sources. However, books made of paper don’t work well with hyperlinks :( If you’re curious about anything in particular, however, feel free to ask me in the comments section.

Through a language of coupled love, people are pushed into the government-privileged financial agreement called “marriage”, forming docile units where women and children are controlled by men, and men are controlled by capitalism. Through a language of love and caring, governments embed their rule, a system protecting the big and the strong, the white and the powerful, from the weakened, the marginalized, the oppressed and the raging. A system criminalizing poverty, criminalizing color, criminalizing resistance, criminalizing women, criminalizing survivors, criminalizing queers, controlling our lives and protecting none of us. Through a language of love for the country we are sent to die, to kill, to take over, to rape, to poison, to destroy and to imprison. Through a language of love, rape and violence against women are justified, when “he did it out of love”, when “all is fair in love and war”, when love means you “can’t resist”. Through a language of love for the white race, for white values, white culture and white forms of family and union, the structure of racism is facilitated. A language of love is used against bisexuals and other queers in order to delegitimize our lives, our desires and our very existence. Love is a tool that keeps us down.

But love is also a tool of resistance. Love can help us transgress boundaries, it can help us forge alliances and solidarity, and break through the walls of the system and oppression. Love can help us erupt the borders of isolation formed around us by a biphobic society keeping us apart and keeping us down. We can break the rules of love, find new ways to love each other and ourselves, resist the ways that love is used against us, reclaim love and make it our own. As bisexuals, love is our tool with which we break the master’s house. Our tool to resist boundaries, our tool to break the system. Our tool to kick and scream and love and play, our tool to imagine and create the impossible. Our tool for the revolution.

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

BDS, LGBT, and Why You Should Care about Pinkwashing

X-posted from my article in P U L S E.

The latest video hoax produced by the Israeli government and released unto YouTube has recently drawn wide attention to a phenomenon that many radical LGBT groups have been trying to combat for quite a while now: pinkwashing.

For those unaware of the hoax story so far, the gist of it goes thus: a mysterious video goes on YouTube in which a ‘disillusioned’ gay activist by the name of “Marc” tells his viewers about his attempt to join the Gaza Flotilla, only to be rebuked by the organizers on account of his being gay. “Marc” then goes on to tell us, that after being rejected in such a homophobic manner, he went on to find pictures of Palestine solidarity and human rights organizers embracing Hammas leaders. The shocked “Marc” then warns his fellow gay activists from believing the “lies” of these terrible human rights groups and, indeed, from joining or supporting either the flotilla or the Palestinian solidarity movement. However, all’s well that ends well: the video was quickly exposed as a hoax, tracking it back to a minor Tel Aviv gay celebrity by the name of Omer Gershon, by and by proving that the Israeli government has no fear of spreading outright lies in attempts to achieve its propaganda goals (for example, it’s worth noting that out bisexual author Alice Walker will be joining the flotilla).

Image: PrettyQueer.com

So, What’s This “Pinkwashing” Anyway?

Continue reading