More Better Bi Blues

I wanted to share a comment along with my response, from my guest post on Diffuse 5:

Steph:

I don’t think the rejection of bisexual women by the “lesbian community” (not a monolith by the way) is as simple as lesbians not wanting to be left for a man. Of course it hurts to be left for a woman or a man, but I don’t think that’s what so-called “bi-phobia” is all about.

For me, a lesbian-feminist who admittedly has some prejudices about bi women, it’s about being left for heterosexual privilege, the comfort of passing and the likely better economic situation bi women find themselves in in relationships with men vs. two women together economically. I’ve actually heard a most of my bi women friends say it’s just so much easier to be with men for all those reasons (whether they are with men or not). And, it’s my feminist self just as much as my lesbian self that smells a privileging of identities here.

It is leaving the disrepute of lesbianism and embracing the respectability of the heterosexual norm (b/c unless you say otherwise, people are going to assume you are straight if you are dating a man) that makes the hairs on the necks of lesbians like me stand up when bisexual women start talking about how oppressed and misunderstood they are.

Me:

@Steph
Ah, just the kind of well articulated disagreement I was hoping for.

Before I address your points, I want you to do a mental exercise: the next time you, or your friends make a casual disparaging remark about Bi’s. Substitute the word Dyke. How does it feel when the hate is directed at you?

Maybe your comments about economics, respectability and privilege would be justified if I was attracted to the kind of “nice Jewish boy” my grandmother would have picked for me, but in my case I have not found much in the way of respectability or financial stability in my relationships with men.

I challenge the assumption that every heterosexual relationship comes with implicit comfort, privilege and financial gain.

Maybe that’s because everyone I seem to be attracted to is broke, (to be fair I’m poor too) and most of them are black. I was the sole breadwinner in the last serious “het” relationship I had, and believe me, straight interracial relationships carry a pretty heavy stigma as well! (Not to mention he was mentally and physically abusive–there goes comfort.)

I also come from a feminist background, and my mom was much more financially successful than my father, who stayed home with me when I was really young, so I always assumed that it was the woman’s role to be breadwinner, and have subconsciously tried to replicate that in my relationships to varying degrees of success.

It’s true that I found it easier to date men–but not for the reasons you give. Unlike women, they were just always around actively trying to get into my pants. On the other hand, for a long time I had no idea how to even get started with the women I was much more attracted to. (I’m still working on this one.)

You are correct that there is not one monolithic Lesbian community,and I apologize if I used that phrase as short hand, but a substantial number of Lesbians I’ve met are vocally Bi phobic. Calling myself a Lesbian rather than Bi has made a huge difference between making friends and getting the cold shoulder with a lot of women. (Believe me I’ve tried both.)

Maybe it is being a “poor me” to say: ‘when you say that nasty thing about Bi’s, you’re talking about me, and it hurts!’

But, well, it does. If you say a racist thing about me, (like how I’m white, so therefore rich, etc..) it hurts too. I don’t care that I am supposedly in some ‘privileged’ class, and therefore somehow have no room to complain. When people reject me based on things beyond my control; like my sexuality, race, gender, etc…it hurts.

I can only talk about what hurts me. This does not invalidate other people’s pain or struggle or oppression. Nor do other people’s struggles–even if they are much more difficult–invalidate mine.

 

Until next time! JA

1 Comment

  1. […] friend who unashamedly allows a rare candid glimpse into a bisexual woman’s journey. Still, the consistent  asides of attraction to Black men and women and the subsequent unconscious? stereotypical non-sequiturs about them have given me pause more […]


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