For about a decade, same sex marriage has been the flagship issue of the GGGG movement*. Marketed as the single-issue battle which would bring equality and solve GGGG-phobia for all, it has been the main focus of GGGG activist and political effort. The struggle for same sex marriage has been presented to us as a struggle for full equality and citizenship. We are told that the one step separating between us – “the gays” – and perfect rainbow utopia is the ability to register our same sex relationships with the state**. As soon as this right is won, apparently, we’ll be all able to walk away into the sunset.
But before we start with the walking away, we first need to examine what it is that we are asking. Marriage, as an institution, has been a tool of patriarchy, capitalism, and government for about as long as it’s existed. It’s been used to control women, divide and consolidate money and resources, and to strengthen the power of states over their subjects. All in all, for most of history and to this day, it has been one of the most dangerous institutions created by society.
Cynthia Nixon’s recent comments about homosexuality and bisexuality created a full-on outburst within LGBT communities in the US and around the world. How dare this woman, asked the opposers, claim that being LGBT can be a choice? The audacity! It seems that Nixon’s words shocked the community so immensely that Nixon herself was obliged to “clarify” her remarks, saying that most people “Cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships.” Continue reading “Cynthia Nixon and Bisexual Choice”→
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.2Continue reading “Love, Rage and the Occupation: Bisexual Politics in Israel/Palestine – Part 1”→
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).
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).
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.
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 latest video hoax produced by the Israeli government and released unto YouTube has recently drawn wide attention to a phenomenon that many radical LGBT groups have been trying to combat for quite a while now: pinkwashing.
For those unaware of the hoax story so far, the gist of it goes thus: a mysterious video goes on YouTube in which a ‘disillusioned’ gay activist by the name of “Marc” tells his viewers about his attempt to join the Gaza Flotilla, only to be rebuked by the organizers on account of his being gay. “Marc” then goes on to tell us, that after being rejected in such a homophobic manner, he went on to find pictures of Palestine solidarity and human rights organizers embracing Hammas leaders. The shocked “Marc” then warns his fellow gay activists from believing the “lies” of these terrible human rights groups and, indeed, from joining or supporting either the flotilla or the Palestinian solidarity movement. However, all’s well that ends well: the video was quickly exposed as a hoax, tracking it back to a minor Tel Aviv gay celebrity by the name of Omer Gershon, by and by proving that the Israeli government has no fear of spreading outright lies in attempts to achieve its propaganda goals (for example, it’s worth noting that out bisexual author Alice Walker will be joining the flotilla).
Before I write – a disclaimer: this post contains criticism of the non-bisexual-identified transgender community and discourse. Please be aware that I am writing this criticism not as an outsider, but as a genderqueer person involved in transgender community, and activism. I hope this criticism is taken in the same spirit in which it was written – that of passion and solidarity.
This is a long post. But trust me, it is good. Take your time in reading in, it will be worth it ;)
A(n) (long) introduction
It appears increasingly acceptable of late, in transgender/genderqueer communities and activist discourses, to portray bisexuality as a binary identity, and thus intrinsically transphobic. As the claim classically goes – since the word “bisexuality” has “bi” (literally: two) in it, then it is inherently gender-binary, pointing to only two genders/sexes as its sources of reference – thus erasing non-binary sexes and genders out of existence. Those siding with this approach usually suggest the use of alternative identity categories, such as “pansexual”, “omnisexual”, “queer”, etc. (For the sake of fairness, I need to mention that I, too, once subscribed to these views, to the extent that they are now and forever recorded in a book and unchangeable. But – hey, we all make mistakes…)
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.
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 “The myth of myth-busting: normalcy discourse and bisexual politics”→