Bye-Bye to Questioning Bi

Originally posted at The Opinioness of the World.

Okay, it’s time to do a little myth-busting: bisexuality is NOT a myth.  In an interview with Esquire Magazine a few weeks ago, actor Evan Rachel Wood shared that she’s bisexual and dates both women and men.  As a response to her revelation, The Frisky posted a titillating slideshow of Wood and other “bisexual babes” declaring: “When almost everyone in Hollywood is bi, it seems silly not to jump on the woman-loving bandwagon!” Omg, shoot me now. Thankfully, Bitch Magazine’s blog blasted the celeb gossip/relationship site for “belittling bisexual women.”

First of all, who fucking cares who’s bisexual and who isn’t?! And since when did being attracted to both women and men become some hip fad like sporting a Louis Vuitton handbag or drinking PBR ironically?! Gays and lesbians face enormous discrimination in our society. Not to enter the Oppression Olympics here, but bisexual women and men (as well as trans women and men and gender non-conforming individuals) face additional hurdles.

Many straight individuals, as well as some gays and lesbians, doubt the existence of bisexuality, treating it as a myth (despite evidence to the contrary). People also claim it’s indicative of someone who’s confused or greedy. Newsflash, being bisexual doesn’t automatically mean you are sexually promiscuous. Another assumption is that women only claim to be bisexual so as to turn men on. Yep, I forgot…our world only revolves around men and what they want. Our patriarchal society continually tells women that they need a man; that their lives aren’t whole or fulfilled without one. But christ, not everything women do is to ensure the gaze or attention of men.

Gender and sexuality are far more fluid than many people realize or admit; a panorama of gender orientations and sexual identities exist. Deb Jannerson at Bitch Magazine asserts:

“The flipside of the she-just-said-it-to-fit-in attack, she-just-said-it-for-attention, gets a workout both at The Frisky and elsewhere, so let’s address that one right now. I am of the opinion that it is never okay to doubt a person’s sexual self-identification. Regardless of how much you think you know people, be it from outside the TV or from the next apartment over, you do not understand their preferences better than they do, and rejection of their personally articulated identities is disrespect not only of their autonomy but of the myriad ways sexuality can manifest itself.”

Nicole at Feministing’s Community Blog also writes an astute post about “biskepticality:”

“The notion that female bisexuality must be, perhaps with a few exceptions, a bid for attention is, I feel, in many ways similar to part of the psychology behind slut-shaming; that women’s sexuality is based on the need for validation rather than actual desire. That if a woman is sexually uninhibited with men or other women, she is pathetic and desperate for going to such lengths just to get heterosexual men to look her way; she clearly has self-esteem issues, doesn’t respect herself. Guess what: women have sexual as well as emotional needs, and women may find satisfaction thereof with or without the presence, involvement, or approval of a man.”

The media continually erases bisexuality, often portraying it as something only drunk college girls dabble in. In one of the supposedly most gay-friendly shows on TV, when Blaine (who’s gay) kissed Rachel and with Brittany and Santana’s sexual relationship, Glee possessed the perfect opportunity (twice) to showcase bisexuality or explore sexual experimentation. But in both cases, Blaine rapidly realized he was gay and Santana quickly (yet reluctantly) declared she was a lesbian. In the critically-acclaimed film The Kids Are All Right, a lesbian couple’s loving and tender relationship gets invaded…by a man. Despite a female character sleeping with both women and men, the film never once explores the possibility of bisexuality. While it’s rare to see someone in films and on TV who’s lesbian or gay, it’s even rarer to see someone who’s bisexual (or transgender).

As someone who’s not straight and is attracted to both men and women, it pisses me off when I read or hear comments dismissing bisexuality or objectifying bisexual women. No one has the right to tell anyone who they are or aren’t attracted to; you can’t mandate desire. People need to get over their prudish, hetereonormative notions of what constitutes sex and relationships. We’ve gotta stop questioning and invalidating people’s identities. And for godsakes, please stop telling other people what they should and shouldn’t feel in the bedroom. I applaud Wood for declaring her sexual orientation. I wish more people embraced the diverse range of people’s identities and choices instead of “shoulding” all over the place.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

The Opinioness is a feminist vegan blogger, freelance writer and activist. She founded "The Opinioness of the World" in 2010, a blog on gender equality and living cruelty-free. The Opinioness is also a Bitch Flicks Contributor where she reviews film and television series from a feminist lens. Her work has also been published in or appeared at Arts & Opinion, Fem2pt0, Italianieuropei, Open Letters Monthly and A Safe World for Women. She earned her B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology from UMass Amherst and a Graduate Certificate in Women and Politics and Public Policy from UMass Boston. The Opinioness lives in Boston but dreams of moving to NYC.

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