(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 →
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).
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).
*** Which also happens to be Snippet #10. These snippets are taken from my book in writing, Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. For more, check out the notes for a bisexual revolution tag. ***
Fuck marriage, fuck equality
For about a decade, same sex marriage has been the flagship issue of the GGGG movement*. Marketed as the single-issue battle which would bring equality and solve GGGG-phobia for all, it has been the main focus of GGGG activist and political effort. The struggle for same sex marriage has been presented to us as a struggle for full equality and citizenship. We are told that the one step separating between us – “the gays” – and perfect rainbow utopia is the ability to register our same sex relationships with the state**. As soon as this right is won, apparently, we’ll be all able to walk away into the sunset.
But before we start with the walking away, we first need to examine what it is that we are asking. Marriage, as an institution, has been a tool of patriarchy, capitalism, and government for about as long as it’s existed. It’s been used to control women, divide and consolidate money and resources, and to strengthen the power of states over their subjects. All in all, for most of history and to this day, it has been one of the most dangerous institutions created by society.
Fuck queer assimilation. Credit: Night Terror//Art Terror
*** Which also happens to be Snippet #9. These snippets are taken from my book in writing, Notes for a Bisexual Revolution. For more, check out the notes for a bisexual revolution tag. ***
Before you respond, please take a look at the comments policy (or risk having your comment deleted…)
The curious case of bisexual women
In an article called Curiouser and Curiouser: the Strange ‘Disappearance’ of Male Bisexuality, British gay journalist Mark Simpson writes about biphobia against bi men, and compares their status to that of bisexual women. “It’s unquestionable,” he argues, “that female bisexuality is today much more socially acceptable than male bisexuality, and in fact frequently positively encouraged, both by many voyeuristic men and an equally voyeuristic pop culture.” [This quote is dealt with in greater depth earlier on the chapter]. In this section, I would like to look a bit deeper into this “positive encouragement” and to question whether it really is so positive. Continue reading →
Cynthia Nixon’s recent comments about homosexuality and bisexuality created a full-on outburst within LGBT communities in the US and around the world. How dare this woman, asked the opposers, claim that being LGBT can be a choice? The audacity! It seems that Nixon’s words shocked the community so immensely that Nixon herself was obliged to “clarify” her remarks, saying that most people “Cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships.” Continue reading →
Remember I posted about my article Love, Rage and the Occupation, which got published on Journal of Bisexuality? So, I discovered that I can put the text on my blog without breaching copyrights. Now everyone can read it for free. Hooray!
Since this article is very long, I’m going to be posting it in parts over the next few weeks. This is part 1 out of maybe 8-9, so stay tuned for further updates.
Love, Rage and the Occupation: Bisexual Politics in Israel/Palestine
Introduction: who I am and why I’m writing
My name is Shiri. I’m 28 years old at the time of this writing [I wrote this last year], I live in Israel/Occupied Palestine, and have been an activist on feminist, queer, anti-occupation and animal rights issues for nearly seven years now. I’ve been a bisexual activist for almost three years. This text tells my story as a bisexual activist, and through it, I hope, also the story of the bisexual movement in Israel so far. In addition, I hope to show my readers the strands of Israeli militarism and its culture of violent and racist occupation of Palestine and the Palestinian people, which weave through all of our lives and all of our experiences here. With this I hope to achieve two things: firstly, to deconstruct the false separation between the two fields of “LGBT rights”1 and anti-war activism, emphasizing connections between oppressed groups and their struggles; secondly, to promote the principles of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, encouraging actions of solidarity with the Palestinian people and non-violent struggle against the Israeli occupation.2Continue reading →
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).
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 →