My Experience with Sexuality and why the Patriarchy is (partly) to blame for Bi Erasure.

 

 

I have always questioned my sexual identity. I remember being in primary school, ten years old and feeling awkward over having crushes on girls. I always thought that there must be something wrong with me and that I must be some sort of pervert. Coming into my teen years I continued having feelings for girls and became intimate with girls. I wanted to kiss girls and flirt with girls and have a girlfriend. By then I had grasped the understanding that being a lesbian was okay and that if that’s what I was I should be proud. The problem was, I am not a lesbian. I love men too. I ventured into a long-term relationship with a man and am still with him today, happily committed. So, what the fuck am I?

 

Is Bisexuality Real?

 

Bisexuality never crossed my mind as a possibility. To be honest, I never thought of it as a legitimate sexual orientation. I’m presumed to be straight as I present as quite femme and appear to be in a heterosexual relationship therefore that’s the label I always identified with. However, I’m not straight. Anytime somebody labels me as straight I get such a horrible feeling in my stomach as if someone has just punched me in the gut. Of course, that is nobody’s intention, I must be straight, it would be illogical to think otherwise, right? Because in the minds of most, one is either homosexual or heterosexual and there is no real in between.

 

Most of us see sexuality as a binary concept with no room for fluidity. That’s how I have perceived it for the longest time. This is down to bi-erasure and is the reasoning behind my own previous internalized bi-phobia.

 

oitnb

 

Bisexual Representation

 

Mainstream media has come a long way in the past few years in terms of queer representation. We see gay men represented in shows like Glee and Sense 8 with RuPaul’s Drag Race giving amazing representation to the drag community, often highlighting the contestants previous homophobic discrimination and contributing to Aids awareness.

 

Lesbians are well portrayed in shows like Girls or the L Word and everyone has seen Blue is the Warmest Colour, right? (If you haven’t get a grip and watch it now, it’s on Netflix).

 

The inclusion of a Transgender character in Orange is the New Black opened amazing conversations for those who would have never previously discussed Trans rights and Trans discrimination. However, I still believe more Trans representation is needed in mainstream media, but only if it’s done right (I’m looking at you Pretty Little Liars.)

 

But where is our bisexual representation? What about the B in LGBT? That’s not to say there haven’t been popular characters who have been attracted to both men and women (see Frank Underwood, Piper Chapman, Britney S. Pearse etc) but they are hardly ever, if ever, identified as bi. They’re just ‘experimenting’ or ‘they didn’t know they were gay.’ Piper is such a raging bi sexual, it’s pretty fucking obvious yet she is only ever seen as straight when with Larry and Gay when she’s with Alex. Why can’t she be a little bit both?

 

This just heightens the stigma that bi folks are all just closeted homosexuals. It takes away our agency and our legitimacy. It’s examples like this that hurt our argument for Bi inclusion.

 

frank

 

Bisexuality and Feminism

 

So, how is the patriarchy to blame for this you might ask. Is it just my corrupt little feminist brain blaming everything on men yet again? Hear me out.

 

When a man comes out as bisexual he is assumed to just be closeted. It is assumed that he is lying to himself and that he must only be attracted to men and that he should just admit it to himself and the world. When a bisexual woman comes out, she is only doing it to get attention – to impress men. She just wants to kiss girls in front of guys to turn them on and so that they find her more attractive. Either way, in both situations, all bi people must only like men. Sorry, what?!

 

Bi men are hardly ever portrayed in mainstream media, audiences usually only see bi women who are introduced in an overtly sexual manner to appeal to the male gaze. Not only is this alienating to male bisexuals, it also further fetishizes bisexual and gay women. The idea of a woman who wants to have sex with you as well as with other women is arousing but the thought of a man being attracted to you as well as his girlfriend is perverse.

 

It is the patriarchy that has ingrained in us all that bisexual women are more promiscuous than their gay and straight counterparts and that all bisexual women want to do is have threesomes. It contributes to the stereotype that bisexual women are more prone to cheat on you and that we can never be fully satisfied in a monogamous relationship.

 

bisexual-e1452713661563

 

Bi-Phobia in The Community

 

Bisexuals not only experience bi-phobia and bi erasure by the straight, white men of Hollywood but also within the LGBT community. We have been accused of simultaneously being closeted gay people taking advantage of straight privilege and also attention-seeking heterosexuals taking over queer spaces (gay bars, pride.) We are concurrently not gay enough and not straight enough. Our sexuality is illegitimized and invalidated.

 

Another argument within in the queer community against bisexuality is that the phrase itself suggests a binary in gender. The idea is that it limits our attraction to trans and non-binary people. For me at least, ‘bisexual’ works as an umbrella term for anything from bisexual, pan-sexual, bi romantic and everything in between.

 

My perception of my own bisexuality is that it means I am attracted to both people of my own gender and other genders. It means that I have the capacity and ability to fall in love with absolutely anybody no matter their gender identity, and that’s pretty fucking amazing.

 

Evan-rachel-wood_l

 

Visibility

 

On September 23rd each year, Bisexual Visibility Day is celebrated. Each year people come forward, mainly online to share their own experience with bi-erasure and express their queer pride. Even celebrities such as Evan Rachel Wood (my future wife btw) have spoken about their struggle for equality and acceptance and how bi-phobia can have a detrimental affect on our mental health. Wood tweeted, ‘I have battled with myself most of my life because I wasn’t gay or straight enough. I used to think I would never be happy.’ I remember reading this tweet back in 2015 and it hitting me like a tonne of bricks. That’s exactly how I felt. Influencers like Evan using their large platform to normalize the bisexual identity is what we need to battle misconceptions and inequality.

 

Studies have shown that almost 50% of people who identify as lesbian, gay or bi fall into the bi category yet we are so underrepresented. It’s important, especially for young people of any minority, to see themselves fairly represented in society. To show them that they are not a freak, they’re not alone and that being different is a good thing. Maybe if I had more bi imagery growing up, I mightn’t have hated myself and shamed myself for as long as I have. I mightn’t have gotten so frustrated with myself for not being able to ‘pick a side because I didn’t have too, both are great.

 

To know and accept this now and to live unapologetically as a result has been amazing. To live authentically is something that we must not take for granted. Bisexuality is real, it is valid, it is beautiful.

 

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Advertisements

13 Responses to “My Experience with Sexuality and why the Patriarchy is (partly) to blame for Bi Erasure.”

  1. DQ

    Great post! I agree with you, representation matters. Seeing someone you can identify with can help a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. Kenzie

    Great post, I agree – F bisexuals are a fetish for men, M bisexuals are obviously just not into women at all but afraid to fully commit (because they want to appear more manly than those girly gays). Why not both?

    As for bi representation in the media, I’m a long way behind on House and hoping that 13 will be a positive representation (please nobody tell me!). But once again, she’s female. I don’t really know of any male bisexual characters.

    Like

    Reply
  3. thewriteroute

    Really interesting piece of writing. I never considered that bi-sexuals would themselves find such prejudices within what is usually such an open and accepting community. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. Lorna Webster

    Bi-erasure is such a huge problem. Every woman on a show who goes from being in love with a man to dating women then only exclusively dates women and identifies as Gay. That’s not to say there aren’t women who ‘see the light’ and realise they were gay all along, but there’s a total lack of bi characters.

    Recently (despite it’s layer of cheese) I started watching Shadowhunters and was shocked to see a bisexual male character portrayed, there are very few bisexuals on TV and even less that identify as such. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: