Amid rave reviews, praising the new AMC series for “finally letting the vampires be gay”, the conversation about the show’s treatment of bisexuality is silenced. To describe the show’s take on bisexuality in one word, it is complicated. Simultaneously erased, elevated, trodden down, associated with evil, seductiveness, villainy, privilege, freedom, and queerness. Laden with rich meaning, some of the scenes form a master class in cinematic storytelling through bisexuality, while others are the epitome of classic biphobia.
This is going to be a series of articles in which I show how Interview With the Vampiretakes the source material’s bisexuality and turns it into ambivalent biphobia, by depicting it as simultaneously oppressive and liberatory. I’ll explore bisexual erasure, the meanings given to bisexuality, and explain how these ultimately reveal bisexuality’s subversive power against dominant social structures.
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).
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 “Hot sexy bi babes: media depictions of bisexual women”→
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).
Brain dead + some free time + wanting to be productive = some more bi graphics. This one is an A4 poster version of this bisexual manifesto. Download, print and spread around at will (for non-commercial purposes only).