Tuesday, 20 February 2007

This is the beginning...

Of a piece I've been attemping to write on bisexuality. By attempting, I mean I've done some thinking, scribbled a bit on loose-leaf paper which was then predictably lost, and written a very bad start to an article. But it is a start, I suppose.

We think that we’ve reached the age of tolerance. We mock the non-cosmopolitan amongst us, the homophobic, the misogynist, yet we, supposedly, are the ones who have reached enlightenment: the acceptance of sexuality, the embrace of sex. Yet despite these claims of inclusiveness, we still maintain a tightly defined binary structure of sex. Slowly it’s been revealed that yes, we like sex, but really, with more than one, well, sex? One after the other of my liberal friends has revealed his or her big secret, whispered to me in phone conversations, through breathy apologies, with laughing self-deprecating dismissals: I’m sorry, they say, I just don’t believe in bisexuality. Their claims are rarely based on scientific studies [TALK ABOUT LAST YEAR’S STUDY HERE], so why do some on maintaining the sexuality binary and demand that you be either gay or straight. One friend, a straight female, told me, “I’m sorry, I don’t know why, I just don’t think it’s real. I just don’t think you get to have it both ways. Is that selfish?” Another, a gay male, when advising me about a bisexual friend coming out, claimed, “Well, I was bisexual for a while when I first came out. And look where I am now. Are you sure it’s not just a transition?” And most bizarrely of all, a bisexual woman once told me, “I just don’t believe there are male bisexuals. I know that sounds weird, but I think they must be kidding themselves.” None of these arguments are rational, and none could sustain an actual critique. All were liberally educated, and none had shown any indication of either homophobia or heterophobia before. Their responses were gut feelings, emotional reactions to the concept of a person who was actually, genuinely attracted to both males and females at the same time. Which begs the question, is the bisexual the next frontier for open sexuality? And if so, why hasn’t it yet been conquered?

It is particularly important for women to come to terms with the concept of bisexuality, particularly of male bisexuality, for its denial says much about the gender roles that are accepted and the norms which may not be transgressed. The old stereotype runs that any male would love to see two chicks go at it. Female bisexuality is accepted, and is often admired and sought after by male counterparts, because it is not seen as real. Instead it is just another sex act, an exhibition for male eyes, an attempt to please a male’s needs. Women may engage in this act and yet still fall within the norms of sexuality because to the male’s eyes, they haven’t actually stepped outside of them. This acceptance instead reveals the inner workings of society’s minds on the ‘essential’ female characteristics. Women are fickle, changeable, affectionate, and emotional. They can love each other and yet still prioritize men. Bisexuality may just be a phase, or a greater extension of women’s natural friendship and expressions of love.

To reject a concept of bisexual men is then to engage in a homophobia both detrimental to that man and to the status of women. Homophobia is automatically offensive to feminist goals as it is often reliant on stereotypes of the ‘effeminate’ man

By extension then, there is no acceptance of bisexuality but instead a stubborn determination to stay within a binary system which is harmful to women. While [] would argue that female subjugation originates in the sex act, and thus in order to overturn this subjugation the best way forward is lesbianism, this is clearly inapplicable for all women on an individual women. However, it is harmful both to reject homo- and bisexuality, as this maintains its own system of male-female relations dominated by the male. To reject the concept of bisexuality is the essentialize sex and thus gender, the very antithesis of the aims of the feminist movement. To refuse to date a bisexual solely because he has slept with other men is to express a homophobia founded in a concept of an essential man and an essential female. The essential man should not engage in sexual acts with other men; the essential female should not engage in sex acts with man who…and it continues on. In the end, this notion rests on the concept of the defeminization of women. To sleep with a bisexual man means that a woman has lost her standard counterpart in men. If the man is de-masculinized because he sleeps with other men, then the woman must in turn lose her ‘femininity’ because she is not sleeping with the stereotypical man who only wants to get laid with some chick.

Ok...I have other notes and this will be massively brushed up but I just wanted to get some bare groundings laid in this wonderful realm we call the internet.

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