A brief history of the term “monosexuality”

(I’ve been asked this elsewhere and thought others might find it helpful.)

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The modern use of the word “monosexual” was invented along with “bisexual” by European scientists in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Back then, “bisexual” meant having a combination of male and female anatomical features, or a lack of sexual differentiation between male and female anatomy. “Monosexual” meant clear differentiation between male and female anatomical traits. Later, when bisexuality came to mean “having masculine and feminine psychological traits” (which is how Freud used it), “monosexuality” meant having the psychological traits of one “sex”. Under that framework, bisexuality also came to be understood as a form of attraction: it was presumed that people who had the anatomical sexual traits of “both sexes” also had “male and female” psychological traits, which meant that they also were attracted to “both sexes”. It was assumed that their “male side” desired females, while their “female side” desired males. Under this definition, “monosexual” meant someone with clear anatomical and psychological “male” or “female” traits, who is attracted to one “sex”. Note that they didn’t at all differentiate between sex, gender and sexuality. These were all considered as one and the same.They also used gender-binary language. 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.
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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