So now that I’m done with school for the summer, I actually get to spend my time reading blog archives and play videogames guilt-free. Well, mostly guilt-free. There’s still the “gah, I need a job and money and why don’t I have a job yet” guilt. But that is not the point of this post. One of the blogs I’ve been reading the archives for is BlagHag, also known as the birthplace of Boobquake. I got to this post, and thought, “yes, exactly!”
For those of you who have an aversion to links, the post is about how Jen dealt with bi-erasure by defining herself as heterosexual because it was easier than defending her bisexuality. I’m not going to go too much more into that, because that’s Jen’s story and you should hear it from her. I am talking about her post first because this has been bothering me a lot for a long time, especially in the last couple of years.
Unlike Jen, I am more physically attracted to women than men, though my infatuations have been fairly even. However, I am more likely to act on my infatuations with men, because I am like those awful portrayals of teenage boys in sitcoms when it comes to knowing how to start anything romantic with women. So in terms of bi-erasure, I’m sure people assume that I’m saying it for attention. The most frustrating question I have been asked multiple times is “If you’re bisexual, why do you have a boyfriend?” If I was a more confrontational person, I’d have many sarcastic comments prepared to throw back at them, but I’m not, so I usually just answer along the lines of “because he’s who I’m interested in dating,” though that really doesn’t point out how rude it is of them to question my sexuality because I am not polyamorous and therefore cannot date even numbers of men and women at the same time. Though of course, if I did that, I’d probably be called a slut instead.
The other infuriating comment I’ve gotten whilst single and not wanting to be is “well, you’re lucky. You have twice as many options.” While I get that this could be seen as harmless reassurement, and is less blatantly stupid and rude than the above question, I hate it. First of all, just because I am attracted to both men and women does not mean that I am not picky. A lot more goes into my decision of who I’ll date than “would I sleep with him/her?” Also, I have trouble with focussing on more than one person at a time. Though there have been occasions where I’ve been interested in two people at a time, I generally make myself pick fairly early on, to avoid drama. This statement really feels like it is defining my relationships to be about sex and only about sex, as opposed to all of the other really cool stuff like shared interests, respect, humour, and emotional intimacy that I want to be present in all parts of the relationship, whether I’m sleeping with the person or not. It doesn’t help that whenever I hear this, I think of the “all bisexuals are promiscuous” stereotype.
Of course, I know I’ve gotten off fairly easy. Since I’m currently dating a man, no one knows I’m bisexual unless I say it, so theoretically I can pick and choose when to deal with it. I know that during high school I never said anything about my sexual preferences unless specifically asked, and as far as I can tell, people tend to assume I’m straight. The more I think about this, the more I can’t stand it. Most movies and tv shows that I’ve seen have blatantly ignored any sign of bisexual tendencies in their characters, even in love triangles with both opposite- and same-sex options. When bisexuality is acknowledged, it’s almost never positive. Usual variations include a) bisexuality is a stepping stone to either being straight or gay, b) bisexuals are psychopaths, or c) bisexuals are promiscuous. Before anyone brings up Torchwood, I’d say that could fall under c, though admittedly that show felt a bit like a love dodecahedron with aliens. (Note that I have only seen up to the first few episodes of the second season.)
And yes, lots of minorities are stereotyped or outright ignored in the media. I’m really not surprised. What did shock me though was the textbook for my sociology class this past semester. The book was made up of articles that explored the various binaries used as social constructs and how they are inherently oppressive through the approach of intersectionality. We got to the section on sexual orientation, and there was one sentence that mentioned bisexuality. One. In a list of possible sexual orientations.* There was a paragraph or two in a chapter on sexism in which talked about how the show Sex and the City handled a bisexual character(c), but the article was really about hegemonic feminism, not sexual orientation, and the focus I wanted was not there. I know this was an introductory sociology class, but bisexuals should still be talked about if there are discussions about sexual orientations. I know there is academic work on this subject, but we need it in the easily accessible 101 courses. If we’re invisible there, it’s an even stronger sign that not only do we have to point out that yes, we exist, but to keep insisting we do even as people try to tell us we don’t.
-40 minutes left.
*Also, trangender people were not mentioned at all, anywhere in the book. This also really pissed me off, but I do not feel qualified to rant on the discrimination against transgender people in the same way as I have ranted here.