by

Threesomes with lesbians (Or: bisexual panic)

Society’s got a big problem. With bisexuality.

And all things queer, for that matter. Yet bisexuality, with its problematic relationship to binary categories like ‘straight’ and ‘gay’, gets contorted in all sorts of ways by a heteronormative culture.

Let’s start with women, and bisexual erasure.

Female bisexuality, women desiring/having sexual experiences with other women, is OK. At least, that’s the message we get from the media. But something ain’t right.

We get a very specific type of bisexual woman thrown at us. Bodies hypersexualised by virtue of their bisexuality – see this list, with pouts, lip-biting and tongues galore.

This type of media production – oh so prevalent – doesn’t celebrate bisexuality on its own terms. It’s centered around an implied male viewer – and implies that it’s all a seductive performance, a kinky pandering to male desire.

This blog sums up the situation nicely:

Female bisexuality is thus co-opted into the hegemonic male gaze, which in turn produces female bisexuality on its own (patriarchal, phallocentric) terms.

Big surprise there, media world. You’re denying female-female desire as a reality. And, as if lifted from the ‘classic’ straight guy’s lesbian porn/threesome fantasy, it’s implied that these women have the prospect of sex with a man later. So it’s all fine! They’ll be redeemed from their cheeky deviation from the norm.

Phew.

I don’t even know where to start on the systemic erasure of ‘problematic’ bodies from these two-dimensional portrayals. Those austere beauty standards strike again – what about the curious lack of trans, disabled, non-normative women in these replays of fetishized bisexuality? No surprises, again. But the multi-layered invisibility here is deeply depressing.

When it comes to men, though, the situation shifts.

Homophobia takes a new turn: bisexual panic.

Firstly, there’s the endlessly parroted denial that bisexuality in men actually exists. The ‘bi now, gay later’ trope gets coughed up again and again. A convenient reading of bisexuality as a mere stepping stone on the way to gay (see more in this surprising article – on The Telegraph website, of all places.)

Yet another depressing symptom of the monosexism that riddles society – the assumption that all individuals are exclusively oriented towards one gender/sexual identity.

Why this intolerance of male bisexuality? Why can’t society just deal?

Male bisexuality skews society’s reading of individuals because it makes the spectrum nature of all sexuality really fucking obvious. Although all sexual individuals inhabit a unique space – and fluctuate – on this spectrum of desire, male bisexuality can read as inhabiting both the sacrosanct category of straight masculinity and, at the other end of the scale, irrevocably queer gay identities.

The holy centre-of-the-universe-ness of the male gaze rears its ugly head. That tiresome phallocentricism of our sexual culture can’t reconcile a man that goes both ways. It simply can’t handle the combination of seemingly-straight with the ultimate compromising of the masculine form: penetration.

Because a man who’s had sex with another man stops being a man, it seems. And it’s somehow more fine for that individual to be consigned to a safe, monosexual category like ‘gay’. But that epitome of straight-acting, you know, doing ‘straight’ things like desiring the opposite sex, is just too dangerous. Too subversive – too queer. So it’s denied – and, like female bisexuality, it conveniently disappears. 

Except, of course, for those who experience bisexuality as an identity, it’s not going anywhere. And those stereotypes and convenient silences in the media, in the opinions of our peers, in public life – they touch us intimately.

Society may have come a long way – but faced with our radical queer identities, there’s a lot of work to do.

Advertisements

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