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

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

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.

Snippet #1 (a quote from the book I’m writing)

Yeah, I’m writing a book about bisexuality :) Here’s a little paragraph that I like:

The stereotype of unfaithfulness brings to light the metaphor of the bisexual as traitor (one of my personal favourites). The dictionary defines treason as “a betrayal of trust”, or as “an attempt to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill [...] the sovereign”, a definition which betrays, if you will, bisexuality’s function as an agitator. We can think about bisexuality as betrayal of the trust imposed on us by power structures, as well embodying an attempt to overthrow or “kill” hegemonic order. We can then use this as a gate to betraying monogamy, to betraying patriarchy, to betraying governments, countries, wars. To betraying the “LGBT” (GGGG) movement, for normalizing and promoting the assimilation of our communities. We can be traitors to anything that confines us, and to anything that stands in our way: all power structures, all oppression.