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.
The use of “monosexism” that I suggest is not meant to completely replace the use of “biphobia”, nor indeed deny its reality in people’s lived experiences. Nor is it meant to locate gay and lesbian people as oppressors of bisexuals. In fact, my goal is quite reverse: to look upon monosexism as a social structure first and foremost originating from and upholding heteropatriarchal structures, to examine it as a form of oppression shared by everyone (not just bisexual people), and to add an additional perspective through which to examine biphobia. What the use of the concept of monosexism might give us is the option to examine a structure not necessarily or directly linked with named bisexual identity or with explicitly biphobic behaviour. It might allow us to read between the lines of culture in order to delineate where it is that bisexuality is forbidden, denied or erased, and why. It might also allow us to examine how monosexual people are themselves influenced – and indeed oppressed – by monosexism, as well as examining what privileges they might enjoy by virtue of this structure, all by way of deconstructing it.
* Heteropatriarchy means heterosexual male rule and standard.
** Cissexism is the underlying presumption that everyone is or should be cisgender, including the social system of privilege for those who are cisgender, and punishment for those who are not.