Bi Matters: Female Bisexuality Misconceptions in the Queer Community

accepting all sexuality via VeralynMedia

NOTE: This essay is of the personal opinion of JasSoandSo. Because the author is a female-bodied queer attracted to cis women, this article will focus on female bisexuality.

When I initially met my best friend, she identified as specifically queer and avoided the dreaded “bisexual”  term like a cat avoids water. It wasn’t until recently that she confidently accepts bisexuality as a part of her identity. Why, you ask? Because bi-haters. The worst part is, I didn’t realize, for the longest time,  my own prejudice against bisexuality was no better than the bi-haters I’d actively accused.

In mainstream consciousness, the queer community is seen as a close-knit bunch. However, like any other social group, we have our own inequality issues. With the growing trans* visibility in our media,  we are (very) slowly growing in support and inclusion of transgender people within our community. But sadly, with all the progression we’ve seen with trans* issues, I find we (the queer community) are equally as stagnant, or even weakening, in the understanding of bisexual people.Seeing that the bisexuality spectrum represents the majority of the  LGBT community, it’s time we respect that fact.

MYTH- Bi people are just gay people that haven’t come out yet.

Today many of the people that once identified as bisexual now associate more with “queer,”  due to the growing understanding and redefining of gender.  Unfortunately, mainstream society hasn’t caught up with queer culture, and as of now we’re still known as LGBT and sometimes Q. Furthermore, the term “bisexuality” holds the weight of dozens of types of attraction that are far more queer, or genderqueer, than the term implies. The B in LGBT could mean anything from a person that is equally attracted, romantically and sexually, to both extremes of the gender spectrum (cis men or cis women), to a person that enjoys sex with both men and women, but is only romantically attracted to men.

MYTH- Bisexuals are indecisive or confused.

According to Buzzfeed’s quiz, ” How Gay are You,” I am “very gay.” Why thank you Buzzfeed, for confirming that for me. But in all seriousness, there is some validity in the phrase “very gay;” just refer to the Kinsey scale of sexual attraction.  I’m a Kinsey scale 6, meaning I have no attraction to the “opposite sex” ( in terms of the gender binary). I’ve found over my time, as an out Kinsey 6, that I’ve felt I had some sort of right to condemn those on different parts of the sexuality spectrum than myself. I’ve been, dare I say, elitist, about something as natural and innate as sexuality.

Full Disclosure:

When I learned the news that actress, Michelle Rodriguez, and stunning model, Cara Delevingne,  were dating, the most ridiculous thought came into my mind; That relationship’s not going to last- they’re probably just experimenting.  Umm…WHAT?

First of all, who am I to put a marker on the demise of anyone’s relationship? Second of all, their sexuality is not up for questioning by anyone but themselves. It sounds crazy, but there is a such thing called gay privilege.  I find myself deciding which bisexuality is okay and which is “unacceptable”, as if I have any say in the matter. My privilege as a gay person is that my defined sexuality leaves little to no room for question from possible naysayers. Bisexuality, on the other hand, is by definition, far more fluid. The fluid nature of bisexuality makes people feel the right to question anyone that identifies as such, as if their attractions are less valid, simply because it is not as black and white.

I believe other “very gay” people like myself, when met with bisexuality, find it difficult to know where on the bisexuality spectrum our romantic interest stands, in order to protect ourselves from getting too emotionally involved, in case that person is not interested or capable of romantic attraction to us.

  • Are they “experimenting?”
  • Am I their guinea pig?
  • Are they “confused”, or do they really know that they want me?

All thoughts that have crossed my mind when met with the possibility of dating a bisexual woman #notproudofthis.  From that discrimination, I, and many others like me, have grown unreasonably prejudice against all bisexuality.  Now my critique is coming from very personal experiences with self- identified bisexual women. I do not think i’m speaking for all lesbians or female bodied queers, but I do believe many can relate to this issue.

The issue with cherry picking which bisexuality is “okay” is that we should not be discriminating at all. You see, these discriminatory thoughts encompassed me, as if the question as to whether someone is actually interested doesn’t come up regardless of that person’s sexuality. Any relationship begins with insecurity of newness and the unknown. Just because I’ve had a few bad relationships with bisexual women doesn’t mean I should discount all people that identify as bisexual.

MYTH: Bisexual women only do it to turn straight guys on. 

A lot of how we understand sexuality is fueled through porn. Bisexual women in porn are almost always portrayed as hyper feminine women that hook up with other women, specifically for a male audience. Jezebel wrote an article denying the widely agreed upon belief that all women are, at least,  “a little bi.” But consider this article, because this is exactly the angle porn and most other media portrayals of female bisexuality reinforce; bisexual women are best compatible with straight, cis men. The queer community faces the negative repercussions of constantly seeing this trope perpetuated, because whether consciously or not, we may learn to understand female bisexuality as hetero-centric, a.k.a- not queer. Though a very dangerous perception sexuality, I fear that’s kind of what’s happened.

Undoubtedly, popular culture understands female bisexuality as a form of a cis-male arouser. I know many self-identified “straight” women that have made out with other women “for the fun of it,” while in front of cis male comrades. Consider Katy Perry’s song ” I Kissed a Girl,” in which Katy explains that while she just found out she loves kissing girls, she also hopes her boyfriend doesn’t mind. Then there are the countless female celebrities, often “straight-identified,” that make out with each other for the wildly exaggerated publicity that follows such a stunt.

Bisexual-haters be like…

Glee, Judging You via PhotoBucket

Glee, Judging You via PhotoBucket

 

My prejudice is driven by fear. I fear bisexuality because of the complexity of the term; the idiosyncrasies that cannot be assumed simply based on someone identifying as “bi.”   Fear is always the culprit behind prejudice, and my discrimination against bisexuality is no exception. So what if some bisexuality is a Kinsey scale 2 and others are 4? Is it not best we make each romantic decision on an individual basis rather than rely on faulty stereotypes to explain an entire group? Bisexuality is no less valid than gay, queer,  pansexual or otherwise. To make overarching assumptions of bisexuality is to devalue the person that identifies as such, and that’s just not cool.

Love is love is love… Love you, bi family.  – Jaz

UPDATED- March 16th, 2014- Jaz added note before article and also a title change.

Gender and the In Between- A Gender Queer’s Journey

Featured on Afropunk.com and SheWired.com!

As a child, I spoke as few words as possible. The sound of my feminine voice disgusted me. I hated to be called a girl, while loving the color pink. I was a budding genderqueer.

Boys are different from girls, they said.  Fundamentally different, they’d persist. Boys don’t have long hair. Boys don’t like pink. Boys don’t cry and boys are tough. Girls like playing with dolls. Girls do poorly at math and enjoy frilly things.

Boys.  I studied them. I developed obsessions with male classmates with the utter desire to someday become all that they were. I would play make believe with my siblings in which I’d only be satisfied if I took on a male role.  I connected with boys in a way I never could with girls, and never quite understood why. I would wear suspenders as a tween and feel like a boss because they would make it look like I had no chest. When I started to develop, I would wrap myself in a bandage, not realizing that was a trope practiced all too often in the trans community. I would do this until my gender identity was challenged.

“You are so flat,” my very influential peers would say, prompting me to ask my mother to buy me my first training bra.

And then I discovered the internet. I learned about the term transgender. I looked at hundreds upon hundreds of befores and afters, FtMs. Top surgeries, bottom surgeries, hormones. I would read and read until my eyes would blur from my families’ bright Dell desktop screen, and I’d sink in my chair, feeling the emptiness grow inside of me. It was as if the more I searched for myself, the more lost I got. Because I couldn’t avoid my feelings; I didn’t feel fully male.

I didn’t know any trans people in my anti-queer, southern town, and definitely wasn’t going to be the first. So what did I do? I conformed. Like the scared child that I was, I began to present myself as outrageously feminine, so no one would suspect anything strange. It was as if I thought people could see through me, and wanted to give them no reason to use thier x-ray vision to spot my insecurities…or my weirdness.

I fell into a bout of shame, hating my natural femininity because I’d used a false, hyper-femininity as a wall to hide behind for so long. Oh, what a person will do to fit in.

I wanted no more shame, so I turned to the bottomless internet once again, searching for a reason to love myself. I studied femininity and the power of it all. I learned that being feminine does not equate weakness. There is strength in the power of women. In femininity, there is beauty; not the skin deep kind but the unconditional kind.  Through countless articles and books, and studying empowered feminist women like Betty Dobson and bell hooks, I learned to love my female body, and now I don’t want to lose it.

So here I am, yin and yang. Masculine and feminine. I wear my hair long but learned to walk from male role models growing up. The color pink still makes me smile, but I feel like a lie when wearing a dress. I still bind and wear clothes from the men or boys section, and prefer to hide my curves (the little bit that I have anyway). Not because I want to look male, but because it is how I feel most comfortable.

I call myself a boi, a budding term used in the lesbian and queer community, and truly believe if energies were gendered, I would be just that. I have little to no desire to have surgery or take hormones, though I like it when you call me “he.” I don’t mind “she” or “they” because I am that, too. All of the above, please. Sometimes I feel completely male, and wish on those days I had an attractive male body to wear. But most days I feel like both. I know it is confusing. I even confuse myself sometimes, but that’s simply how I feel. I don’t feel masculine enough to be male, nor am I feminine enough to be female. I love and accept my female body, though I ask you to not suspect that makes me a “woman.”

Through my journey, I find that in terms of gender identity, you are what you say you are. A man that wears makeup and has double D’s is still a man if he tells you so. It takes no more criteria than that. What it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman are social constructs, and though the masses follow these standards, you don’t have to. I don’t have to. I prefer to say I am in between genders, masculine of center, and as I feel, I am.

I spoke recently to a dear friend that had a challenging question for me;

“Why don’t you just ignore gender? Why don’t you just be who you are and not worry about what that makes you, be it male, female or otherwise?”

I sat there, stumped and silent, too caught off guard to admit my annoyance. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but this anger boiled inside me. I slowly felt the tingle as my senses returned and I blurted out,

“Because nobody wants to be an outsider!”

I certainly didn’t think before I spoke, but couldn’t ignore the truth behind my words. Nobody wants to be an outsider. No one wants to feel like they belong nowhere. So many queer and trans people walk through their lives never feeling fully human, as if there is something alien about us that no one will ever understand. That is why we search for acceptance. That is why we challenge the gender binary and tell you to call us Zir. We’re fighting for our visibility, because we don’t like feeling invisible. We are not transsexual, we are sometimes not even transgender, but we’re definitely all over the gender spectrum, as a gender “binary”  is all but an illusion.

I’ve wanted to talk about this for a while now, but due to the fear of officially coming out as a genderfuck, I’ve avoided it. But as you see with this whole rant, I don’t care who knows anymore. I am tired of hiding in the binary and this is my way of connecting with all you gender queer and trans folk out there that are not interested in going all the way, on either side of the gender binary. We are the in betweeners, and we’re proud. Finally.