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).

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.

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

The myth of myth-busting: normalcy discourse and bisexual politics

(Why criticize?)

I have a 20 minute lecture talking about this. Want to see? :)

In a recent blog post, a certain bi blogger dedicated a paragraph to what she referred to as the “obligatory myth-busting post that pretty much every blog on bisexuality provides”. And indeed, it seems near-impossible to encounter any English-language text about bisexuality without seeing these same myths countered in this same way. I thought I would take this opportunity to explore what this myth-busting and these myths mean, politically, and for us as a community.

Quoth the post:

  • Existence. Yes – we do.
  • Monogamy. Yes – we can.
  • Fidelity. Yes – we can. And – we do.
  • HIV & AIDS. No – it’s not all our fault.
  • Confusion. No – we’re really not.
  • Indecision. No – that’s not what fluidity means.
  • Greed. Yes, we can have just one piece of cake.
  • Pants. Yes – we’re as capable as anyone else of keeping our various bits in them.
  • Choice. No – we cannot choose to be straight; we cannot choose to be gay; we did not choose our sexual orientation in some thoughtlessly frivolous moment of rapacious abandon. Who does?

Let’s walk through some of those, shall we? No, we’re not promiscuous. No, we don’t sleep around. No, we’re not infectious. No, we don’t choose to be the way we are (SRSLY, why would anyone choose that?). Yes, we’re normal. No, we don’t threaten your sexual identification. Yes, we are just like you. No, you are not in danger of being like us. No, we don’t threaten your beliefs, your society or your safety. Continue reading