Bisexual Erasure – As Explained by Two Lesbians

So, I was watching this video, and I got to wondering, why couldn’t the main-video-woman get a bisexual woman to help explain bi erasure? I mean, we’re talking about the *erasure* of bisexual people, and somehow the best way to combat this is by… not showing any bisexual people? But, instead showing a lesbian who likes dating bisexual women? (Yeah, also, thanks for perpetuating the hypersexualization of the gender/sexual orientation combination with some of the lowest mental health statistics.)


But, annoying as this video is, it’s not really what I’m here to talk about. At least, not directly. You see, what this video is a prime example of is how *one group* talks about the problems people in *another* group have, without really providing any novel insight. Sometimes, I hear people of color complain about this – that they don’t need to be “saved” by white knights mansplaining racism. And, like – I sort of heard it, but when I saw this video, I began to understand a bit why they might find this shit hella annoying.

So, one of the obvious things, is people who are not in the specific discriminated against group can ONLY talk about the experiences they have HEARD about, while people in the discriminated group can actually talk about the EXPERIENCE. And, there’s nothing wrong with someone talking about second hand experiences, but in those cases it is important for the speaker to cite their sources. So, in these video, we got two  lesbians talking about bisexual erasure, but neither of them really know what it’s like – and, they never specifically reference any event that actually happened to a bisexual women. They only talk in the abstract.

It’s like coming to my house for Thanksgiving. My family is English, and we can go out and buy a turkey, and read up on “traditional” Thanksgiving recipes, but we kind of don’t fully get it. And, you can feel it. Same thing, these women don’t get it. “Of course true bisexuality exists” they say, while in the same breath casting doubt on it with “well, a lot of gay people use bisexuality as a stepping stone.” Sure, some gay people do that – but, they’re not bisexual. Many gay people identify as straight at some point in their lives, but when we’re talking about straight issues (like, say birth control or pregnancy) we don’t devote time to exploring why gay people sometimes identify as straight.

In the end, the entire video comes off as half-heartedly regurgitating platitudes about bisexuals. (Yeah, bisexual people are real! Bisexual erasure totally sucks!) There’s no real insight – what is it like to LIVE with bisexual erasure? How does this take a toll on your psyche, and how were you able to define your sexuality in spite of these shortcomings? What can you do do improve it? What can you do to be happy in a world that doesn’t see you?

The worst part, is it almost feels like these women don’t even *really* believe the dull, PC shit they’re saying. If you are really still mulling over “wow, bisexual’s really do exist,” chances are you’re not really as good a bisexual ally as you think you are. My girlfriend got pissed the other day, because her insurance company reaffirmed the importance of providing equal care to racial minorities (she’s Latina.) I didn’t get it at the time, but now I see, if an insurance company is still saying “we think hispanic people deserve just as good health care as white people!” as if it’s a statement that needs to be said, chances are they’re so behind the times it casts doubt on their ability to actually provide said equal health care.

Finally, I have to wonder, why did these lesbians even want to make this video? Warning: my answer to this question is totally not-pc.

I think these lesbians made this video to get some pussy. It’s not a coincidence that the lesbian who wanted to talk on bi issues fucks a lot of bi women. This video wasn’t really about lesbians trying to make space for bisexual women, it was about lesbians trying to make themselves look good by being knowledgeable on bi issues. It’s about lesbians trying to impress the type of women they are attracted to (bisexual ones, apparently) by going on you tube and spouting shit they think will make them seem appealing.

I don’t want to be a bitch – I’ve been there. My interest in issues of racial equality has jumped by about 1000% since I started dating my girlfriend. And, part of this is I desperately want to be accepted by people of color. I want to be liked, and loved. But this is MY need, and if I go into safe spaces for POC and start spouting whatever PC bullshit I think will get my ass liked, I am transforming a place for POC issues to be about my issues.

I think those lesbians are doing the same thing – they want to be liked, so they’re trying to be PC. But, by doing so, they made this video about THEM not about bisexuals. And so, in a misguided effort for acceptance, they perpetuate the same bisexual erasure they’re supposedly combatting.

Bisexual and Dating Same Sex

I gotta own something. Recently, I’ve been feeling – well – weird towards bisexuals who are in opposite sex relationships.

And, you know, I get it. I was in nearly exclusively opposite sex relationships for, like, 10 years. People questioned my bisexuality. It sucked. I felt invisible, embarrassed, not queer enough, etc.

In fact, there’s a whole list of things on this page if you want to go down that mental path:

And, I in no way want to invalidate the pain of these experiences. Again, I have been there, and I totally get it.

But, something also changed substantially when I started dating a woman. For me, dating a woman is different – very different – from dating a man. I had hooked up with women, had casually dated women, had one night stands with women (not that many, unfortunately,) had casual sex with women (not that often, unfortunately,) and had ongoing relationships with women while I was also involved with men.

All that was totally different from falling in love with a woman, and meeting someone who I could really see spending my life with.

To put it succinctly, the heterosexual fantasy vanished.

On some level, whenever I was dating men, in the back of my mind I expected “we’ll probably get married,” “we’ll probably have kids,” etc. And, there was a deep need at the bottom of this fantasy, a need that had nothing to do with kids and marriage, and everything to do with my own ego.

Sometimes, my girlfriend and I talk about having children. I told her that if she had a child, I could love it like my own, and she said she felt the same about any children I might have. What about an adopted child, we wondered, could we love that like our own? Again, we thought we could. But, we couldn’t take any of it for granted – there is no magical script that our lives can follow.

And, our love can’t stay insular the same way a straight couple’s love can. If we don’t have children, we will need to love other people instead of our children, and if we *do* have children, they will have roots from outside our family somewhere along the line, and fully loving them will be loving where they came from. For us, to be closed only to each other will never work.

Truthfully, I am grateful for it because I would never want my love to be constrained only to my own family, but this type of open love is not something you see in romance novels. It’s something you have to figure out, and it’s something I didn’t figure out in my straight relationships. Some straight people get there, but many of them don’t, and for the same reason many bisexuals in opposite sex relationships don’t get there either.

I remember dating on OK Cupid, and a woman contacted me because she and her husband were looking for a bisexual woman to “pull into their marriage.” (There’s a term for this in the poly community, it’s called “unicorn hunting“.) I did not like her request because it reinforced the “straight” couple tendency to pull all their love inward and to stay closed. And sure, some gay couples mimic this closed-ness as much as they can – perhaps lesbian couples find anonymous sperm donors, or whatever – but at some point a gay couple *has* to turn to the outside for help, either in starting their family, or in getting support as they age if they have no family. And, I think this need for help is both humbling and humanizing. Many straight couples do as well, of course, but not all.

And, it’s this closed-ness, this objectifying-ness that I feel weird about. Truthfully, I was like that myself for a while. I wanted to hook up with women to prove something about myself, to “be” someone. But, as long as the bisexual community is focused on these experiences of not being “queer enough,” the more they really making it about ego and not love. If you look at the gay community and say, “I wish I was more a part of that,” I understand how you feel, but it’s also not the way forward.

If you are willing to be honest about your feelings with every type of person you meet, if you are willing to connect with all sorts of different people romantically and otherwise, you will begin to see all sorts of things about yourself and your loved ones, things you may never have expected. You don’t have to be dating someone of the same gender to get there, but you do have to get over yourself.

Bisexual Performance – or – Girls Who Pretend to be Bisexual

Nothing is better than a good, fake bisexual roasting. Fucking straight female attention seekers, co-opting queerness to enhance their heteronormative sex appeal. We should have a pussy eating entrance exam for bi women! With judges – make me one! Amirite?

(Hint: I am not right)

Do you remember that song, I Kissed a Girl by Katie Perry? (Yeah, I know it’s been a while.) It’s about… a girl, kissing another girl – and liking it! But, you know – it was sanitized. No one was eye-deep in pussy, Perry had a boyfriend, and it was just an experiment (a “naughty” one at that.) And some queers cried “appropriation” and I get it, but, on another level it actually reminded me of my very early experiences with women from a time when, well, we just assumed everyone was straight.

Many of my first experiences with girls were essentially bisexual performances for men, and before you cry “hetronormative appropriation of queer culture” you should know I was 12. Or 13, but young anyway. I didn’t know myself, I didn’t know my sexuality, and I certainly had no idea how it related to other people or the queer community as a whole. It didn’t stop me being attracted to women when men weren’t around. It didn’t stop me casually dating women in my 20s. It didn’t stop me from eventually falling in love the woman I now call my girlfriend. But, yeah, when I was young I used to kiss girls to turn men on. It’s not PC, but it’s true.

Most of the criticism for this phenomenon falls to the girls themselves – like from this bisexual woman who doesn’t want to think of herself as one of those bisexuals (aka, a bisexual performing straight woman.) One of the most common questions I got when coming out as bisexual was was I a “real” bisexual (aka, how much pussy have you eaten?) starting from when I was outed at 13. I went from being a fairly nerdy, anonymous middle school girl to someone who was immediately hypersexualized, and I did not have the emotional maturity to deal with it.

On a related note, check out this graph:


It’s from a study that documents the higher rate of sexual abuse among bisexual women than among any other sexual orientation (see here.) In this study, 46% of bisexual women had experienced a rape (as opposed to 13% of lesbians, and 15% of straight women.) You can also see most of these rapes were happening during the ages of 11-17 (at every other age, straight women are more likely to be raped.) Bisexual women are vulnerable to being raped right around the age they are likely to be discovering their sexuality and coming out. This is also the age we tend to see a lot of “fake” bisexuals, who are forced to absorb a lot of cultural expectations about their sexuality.

I don’t want to read too much into this study, since the sample size of bisexual women was small, but it fits with my own experience. At the time when I was most vulnerable, I was also exposed to a blast of criticism and doubt about my sexuality, as well as a blast of hypersexualization. And, I *was* attracted to men, I *did* want to impress them, and I didn’t fully understand the negative repercussions of bisexual performance. By the time I was in high school, I’d figured it out and avoided it, but I also had a heavy feminist influence in my life. I can understand it would take some women a little longer to come to sort through this mess, especially since many bisexual women lack support from their queer community (I feel uncomfortable attending events for “lesbians” because I have been explicitly un-included before. This is an annoyance at 29, but probably has much sharper repercussions at 19 – “sharper” repercussions being sexual abuse because the only people you can find to support you also hypersexualize you.)

There is a much deeper message, however, to all of this that I – and probably many other bisexual women – have absorbed. And, that message is “your sexuality is not determined by how you feel, but rather how others judge you to be.” I have often felt the obligation to *prove* my bisexuality, even to people who were supposed to accept me. For instance, I used to see a gay therapist who specialized in issues of sexuality. He once, explicitly, asked me if I was really bisexual or if I was just attached to the identity. I was so shaken by his question that for about a month I identified as straight, but felt so sad I eventually decided I’d rather be a happy “fake” bisexual than a sad “real” straight person. But, if I’d kept that identity, I would never have fallen in love with my girlfriend. My life would have been less in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

Perhaps a deeper question is, why do we resent these young, “fake” bisexual women? Unfortunately, I’m too drunk and it’s too late to answer that question. Another day, perhaps.