Love, Rage and the Occupation: Bisexual Politics in Israel/Palestine – Part 1

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.2 Continue reading

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

Giving a heads up to Gendercast

Episode 16: Bisexuality and the Binary or Are We Queer?

Apparently my post about bisexuality and the binary has managed to inspire a podcast episode. I wasn’t familiar with Gendercast before, but after listening to this, I was both fascinated and impressed, and felt honored to be mentioned on their show. Check them out, they’re very good.

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).

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