Maxine's Journal

Adventures of the Polka-Dotted One

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Defining My Terms: 1. Bisexuality
This will be the start in a short journal series defining the terms that are important to me. This one comes first, mainly because it was the first one I became aware of in myself. Also coincidentally a thread on the UK Poly mailing list today discussing bisexuality and its representation in the media reminded me of *why* I wanted to do this. The point of being open about what and who I am is to challenge stereotypes and misguided assumptions, and to reinforce positives instead of negatives.

So what is bisexuality? In the sense we're talking, the word means 'sexually attracted to both sexes' - To me this isn't entirely accurate as a description of my sexuality, because it's not a person's sex, or even their gender that I'm attracted to. In fact, in slightly over two and a half decades, I still entirely fail to comprehend how the shape of a person's genitalia could make the slightest difference to interpersonal relations. If I'm attracted to someone, my first thought is 'I want to connect with you and make you smile' and the 'how' of that comes much much later. Apparently though, I'm a freak - the majority of the population, be they gay or straight, seem to think that sex and gender are important.

I think you're all weird.

Admittedly I did grow up with the usual expectations, and up to my teenage years went along with the default assumption that I was going to be straight and date boys. After all, I *liked* boys. Some of them were my best friends, and some of them I found pretty attractive too.
I was about 15 when I realised what should probably have been obvious sooner - having already had crushes on girls, and spent my playground years playing football with the boys and offering the girls piggyback rides and demonstrating my weightlifting talents in an attempt to impress them (aged ten years old and lifting more than double my bodyweight in the form of multiple wriggling young ladies - how baby-dyke can you get?!). The boy I was head over heels in love with at the time decided to break off our 'relationship' before it went further than holding hands and kissing, because he had a crush on another girl. I was devastated at the time, but I also realised something else. I had a crush on the same girl. I *liked* girls, too.

This scared me a bit at the time. The overarching image of bisexual people in the media was, and apparently still is about self-destructive sluts who can't control themselves: indiscriminate people who prey on innocent younger folk and end up in bad situations (a la Rocky Horror, if you will), married men who are 'really' gay and cheating on their wives with boys, and drunken college girls 'experimenting' with their friends and growing up to be traditional housewives after they outgrow their 'phase'. None of these things were exactly me.
Thankfully, I was lucky enough to grow up with a critical brain that said 'if these aren't me, then I can make my own niche' and a lovely accepting set of geek friends who didn't care if I had a fetish for space aliens as long as I was happy. So I did. I made my own niche, and got myself a 'full set': a boyfriend and a girlfriend (and this was a long long time before I heard the word 'polyamory') and that all made sense. Sort of.
Eventually I grew up a bit further, and refined my taste in people and realised that what I really wanted wasn't boobs or bum, dick or pussy, but a real mental connection with another intelligent human being, or maybe a few. And it didn't matter what shape the body was beyond that it was looked after. That's all there is to it.

Except the negative stereotyping, that is. I don't get it - just because I don't choose my lovers based on whether they have 'innies' or 'outies' or anything in-between for that matter, does that make me indiscriminate? Of course not. In fact, if anything it makes me more discriminating. If I have a larger percentage of the population to choose from, why would I settle for less?
When I was living in the 'Goldfish Bowl' (a small village in the mediterranean, with rather old fashioned attitudes) my partner asked me to remain in the closet about practically everything, except about being bi - but in the event I closeted myself over that too, when the rumours started flying about me and anyone I ever *spoke* to of the opposite sex, and I realised that if it came out that I was - shock - into women too, then nobody was safe from the rumour mill. I realised that the stereotype would stop me from being friends with anyone in the area - because apparently, I couldn't be trusted to not have sex with them.
It was only after I left the Goldfish Bowl that I realised there was a flip-side to that. I don't *have* to be a double-agent in the war of the sexes. Being bi not only means that I have a wider range of potential partners, but also that I have a wider range of potential friends.
I'm not bound to seeing one gender only as potential mates, and the other as allies, but I get to look at each and every person I meet and say 'where does this person fit best in my life?' I'm not subject to the broken logic of 'bisexual chopped liver' (Thanks, Greta Christina!) - and I'm better equipped for dealing with situations where I meet someone I'm potentially interested in sexually, and they're off-limits for whatever reason, including the reason 'I just don't want to, actually' - I get more practice. And yes, I do have friends that I don't sleep with who *aren't* off-limits. I have straight male friends, I have bi female ones, I have lesbian friends. Whatever. Friends are friends.

This shirt slogan just about sums it up:

Bisexual, Poly, Kinky, Horny, And I'm STILL not sleeping with you.

And handily enough, that also lists the topics I intend to cover later in this series, in roughly the right order.

Watch this space!

  • 1

Nice post

Hi Maxine,

I'm the deputy editor of corkstudentnews, which is how I found your LJ. I like your clear, logical writing style. I might even dare to liken it to my own :-). I suppose I just want to add a "+1" to some of your opinions. I've always thought that bisexuals are the most sane of us. I also think that polyamoury is a much more natural arrangement than monamoury. In an evolutionary manner, if none other. It may seem very unromantic to put it that way, but at least that's an objective and unbiased way to look at it (unless you're a religious fundamentalist - then it probably seems biased).

However, I don't see any contradiction in referring to myself as a heterosexual. Think of it this way:
I have certain preferences in the people I am sexually attracted to. For example, I tend to prefer small, slim people.
By these preferences, I immediately disregard whole sections of the population as potential partners.
In the same manner, I tend to prefer people with a female body. Not that I'm putting a label on myself and THEN choosing a mate, I just find female bodies more aesthetically pleasing.
So I don't feel guilty about not going out with men. If I felt guilty about not going out with fat people, I probably should, though. Otherwise, I'd be inconsistent.

I'll have to read more of your stuff later. I liked this, and the poly one was excellent. Keep it up! Also, if you'd like to write for us, we'd be delighted, but I understand why you might not want to.

Mark O'Neill

This post resonated well with me. For me personally, gender is rather irrelevant & sexuality too. Until it comes to actual sex, but then as I have had very few sexual partners...

I liked this:
"real mental connection with another intelligent human being"
I strive for an honest intimacy in relationships.

I recall I had a female "tomboy" friend as a child. He mother would shout "act lady-like" as we tore out the door. Some hope! I just accepted her as she was and she me.

I followed links from tacit's LJ and found this entry. I love, love, love what you're saying. I've added you to my f-list because I want to keep reading what you have to say. I live a pretty mundane life - monogamous, married, with child - but I'm open-minded and curious and hope you won't mind if I hang around for a bit. :)

That's great, and welcome! :)

  • 1

Log in

No account? Create an account