Posted in feminism

On Bi Erasure and Heterenormativity

I don’t usually pay much attention to celebrity gossip. It’s all around me though, through coworkers or supermarket checkouts, so I absorb it whether I want to or not. Based on the way my social media feeds blew up, I could not *not* know that Miley Cyrus had recently split from her husband of 1.5 years, Liam Hemsworth.

Miley Tweet

What I didn’t expect was the wave of homophobic and bi-phobic garbage that would soon follow. During a break the couple had taken in 2015, Cyrus publicly announced that she was pansexual and gender fluid, and openly dated a few women during that break. Not surprisingly, people had opinions about this one woman’s dating choices. Bi erasure has a long and storied history, and I really shouldn’t have been surprised that most heteronormative people are completely unable to move past the binary. Out came the accusation of being greedy and the inability to be monogamous, neither of which are ascribable to a sexual orientation.

From the excellent online magazine bitchmedia:

As news of the couple’s breakup churned through the news cycle, so did photos of Cyrus kissing another woman, Kaitlynn Carter. Straight people on social media were critical of their spending time together, saying that it seems wrong to go on a vacation and flaunt it in an ex’s face immediately after breaking up, and that Cyrus was being “slutty” and “inconsiderate.” On the other hand, queer women came out in droves to celebrate having Cyrus “back,” glad that she had left a man, and suggesting her relationship with Hemsworth had always been temporary—a youthful pit stop on the road to a more valid queerness.

Nope, no understanding of the bi experience here. You’d think in 2019 that the needle would have moved SLIGHTLY when it comes to bi acceptance, but you’d be wrong. I dealt with exactly the same thing when I came out as bisexual in 1991; very little has changed. Lesbians had little interest in dating me then, and now it’s so-called gold star lesbians who scoff at me. When dating men, I rarely dealt with anything more obnoxious than a guy who thought me being bisexual meant endless threesomes for him. But I was married to a cisgender man and I’m currently engaged to another one. I’ve been dealing with my self-imposed bi erasure for years.

bi-erasure

Because I’ve had more experiences with men, I’ve never felt queer enough to be comfortable in queer spaces. There’s no magic formula here or requirement that says Properly Bisexual = 50/50. Of all my bi/pan friends, I don’t think a single one of them would agree with that equation. But one’s relationship status does change their sexual orientation. Am I any less bisexual because I’m monogamous to a cisgender man? In that same vein, does a widow stop being heterosexual when she stops dating men? Of course not. So why do bi and pan people get all the hate?

Krsiten Stewart

As rough as it’s been for me (it hasn’t actually been that rough) it’s so much worse for men. If most people can’t handle the fluidity of a bisexual woman, they sure as hell freak out over bisexual men. A woman could have sex with dozens of women before marrying  a man, and she’ll be considered straight. But if a man sleeps with one man at anytime in his life, there’s always the suspicion that he’s secretly and always gay.

Freddie.png

I don’t have any good answers. I still haven’t fully dealt with my own bi erasure, so I’m not qualified to tell other people what to do. But I can start by treating myself more gently, and reminding myself that we all exist in a continuum. And rewatch this wonderfully heartfelt episode of Brooklyn 99 where Rosa Diaz c (played by the bisexual actress Stephanie Beatriz) comes out to her parents and the precinct.

Freddie

And here’s some good advice if anyone would like to learn how to be a better ally.

ede3ec38c8e70bb870a88491f877ab5f
Bell, Elly. “What Miley Cyrus’s Breakup Reveals about Queerphobia.” Bitch Media, 19
Aug. 2019, https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/miley-cyrus-breakup-bisexual-erasure?
fbclid=IwAR2RakJrdm8BgdIXdsSpFWeDeLkVC2H8KCkG4jqbW4q-248U7MTPeh7xN4E.

Posted in feminism

The Insidiousness of White Feminism

Some years ago, I used to frequent a message board that was targeted to newlywed women. While not everyone on this politics and current event-themed board was a newlywed, many of us recently-marrieds found our way there. I remember one specific thread that got a lot of responses; in it, Black women spoke of how they were always Black first, and female second. I remember feeling shocked by this reveal, and then immediately chagrined for never having thought about it before. Therein lies the core of white privilege: “never having to think about things” that don’t happen to you.

This was right around the same time that the movie Hidden Figures came out in theaters. In the opening scene, our three heroines (expertly portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and the incomparable Janelle Monae) experience car trouble and pull over on the side of the road. A cop stops by to question them and after they tell him they work for NASA, he eases up on his questioning.

It wasn’t until that moment in the theater, while remembering the message board conversation, that I realized how blinded I was by my own white feminism. When I saw the police car, my immediate thought was, “Oh good, it’s 1961, this chivalrous man will help out the ladies.”

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but that’s how limited my worldview was. I honestly thought I was ahead of the game because I knew about the Invisible Knapsack, I had dated plenty of non-white men and a few women (I know, I know!) and had never uttered the words “all lives matter.”

This is how white feminism creeps into our white women brains. Yes, it is exclusively the domain of white women. If a white man starts parroting this garbage, he’s just another fake feminist guy trying to get some. 

I still have a long way to go. I’ve done everything on this list at one point or another. Sometimes I think the things and have an immediate “Girl, wtf?” thought, but have the wherewithal to keep my mouth shut. When I think about complex issues, I try to consider them with a focus on intersectionality.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in feminism

“Finally Woken?”

I know it’s tacky to call yourself woke.

But there is a point when you do feel as though you’ve woken up and can actually see the world around you with clearer vision. Call it a red pill for progressive feminism. But waking up in my 40s means I can see a lot of garbage behavior in my 20s and 30s. And to think I was actually proud to be a pick-me girl at one time, although we didn’t call it that. I wore my “I’m not like other girls” like a badge of honor. Now I’m a little older, a bit wiser, and a little salty. This blog is a way to explore that saltiness. I want to talk about feminist counter narratives in popular culture, and with a highly intersectional bent. Because…

jessica-intersectional-feminism-sign-650x376
I don’t have time for white feminist bullshit.

In case you were curious…

This blog title is inspired by one of my favorite early-aughts artists, Jem. The song Finally Woken, is taken from her 2003 debut album of the same name: