Adam and Eve and Carol and Bob and Alice ?
I love hearing and reading positive things about bisexuality and seeing positive images of bisexual, pansexual, and fluid sexuality people. Sheela Lambert's coverage of the recent MTV Video Music Awards is a zany bi-lapalooza or pan-apalooza, if you will, of current pop idols--exploding on everyone's TV screen across the nation.
Positive acknowledgment of fluid sexuality and positive images of bold bi, pan, and queer people act as a salve upon the soul, a vital counteractive medication to the negative, shallow, and exploitative representation of fluid sexuality that goes for daily fare in mainstream culture.
But there's a moment when positivity goes overboard into meaningless, inaccurate, and unthinking bi chauvinism. It's in this territory that we smell a strong whiff of desperation, a longing and grasping for anything that will prop up us, to help us to feel good about ourselves. Clinging to bi chauvinism is always defensive. While understandable, in reaction to the continuous stream of negative bisexual imagery--or worse, bisexual erasure--eventually it cannot fill the emptiness we feel inside, when longing for true and fully human reflections of ourselves.
Imagine my surprise when I came across this article today, written by a straight woman, assessing bisexuality as the most mature of all sexual orientations. Now, there's a real ego-stroker! This kind of press I could wallow in all day.
Still, the assertions she makes about bisexuality are a false ideal, not because the usual derogatory press about us is the true reality. No, her positions are ill-conceived because they miss the mark altogether.
"So how does all of this relate to . . . why bisexuality is the most mature orientation? To put it as controversially as possible, the rest of us only care about what is or is not hanging between your legs. What you have going on down there ultimately determines how we interact with you, whether we are conscious of that or not. From the bisexual view, you are a person. You are beautiful or you are ugly. You are mean or you are nice. In other words, you are evaluated first as a person, not as the possessor of a penis or a pudendum, and really, can't we all agree that it's just a bit more mature to look at a person and not what's in their pants?"
I'm ready and willing to discuss in extensive detail all the non-physical attributes that can possibly evoke an erotic response. For one, I find a devastating wit and great sense of humor to be very sexy. Make me laugh and make me think--you've practically got me into bed right there. Daring and audacity also turn me on.
But could I ever say that physicality has nothing to do with my attraction toward people? All that I could really say for certain is that I enjoy a greater range of physical attributes and/or what's "hangin' out between the legs" is not a primary consideration, either as a point of attraction or as a deterrent to attraction.
I certainly enjoy viewing other people's representation of their gender as a mark of individual expression. But it's important for me to note that I learned to appreciate gender-as-self-expression from years of being exposed to queer culture. Before then, I unthinkingly ascribed to the mainstream heteronormative* view that gender was something that you are stamped with from birth and stayed with you to the grave.
My personal experience hardly defines fluid sexuality. But I can't subscribe to the suggestion that the monosexually-oriented only care for "what's hangin' out between the legs" and care nothing at all for any personal attributes in a partner. No lesbian only wants a woman for her vagina and will take any vagina that will come along, regardless of who it's attached to. This kind of talk about homosexuality and heterosexuality is dehumanizing and can't be supported.
"I am NOT trying to say that people who do identify as having a bisexual orientation are inherently more mature than the rest of us or that they have thought in these terms."
Quite right--maturity is as maturity does. Once upon a time, I believed that bisexuality was the more evolved sexuality--but, then, I needed to believe that because I was without a community and I felt desperately alone. Time and healing and finding acceptance from people across all sexual and gender identities gave me the strength to no longer put bisexuality on a pedestal above other orientations in order to bolster my own fragile self-esteem.
I will state for the record that there are challenges to achieving a level of maturity about fluid sexuality that straight--and perhaps even lesbian and gay--people may not face. This is a culture that will not assist someone with fluid sexuality to understand and manage their sexuality appropriately. No, this culture cultivates ignorance and fear about human sexuality. It does not reward frankness and honesty; it creates an environment where sometimes one must hide or lie in order to survive. Try being mature in that kind of crazy-making environment.
Every LGBTQ person in this society has to fight for their self-understanding and self-knowledge. Bisexuals, pansexuals, queer-identified, and no-labels fluid sexuality people will meet just as many obstacles, if not more, to the self-acceptance and self-love that makes mature choices and behavior a regular feature of daily life. One will encounter the obstacle of some people never considering you mature, no matter what you do.
Bisexuals specifically face the stereotype that we are always in a state of immaturity--going through a phase, being trendy, trying to be (adolescently) cool--with others claiming an expertise on our sexuality while our own credibility is constantly denied. Others claim to know us better than we know ourselves. Among lesbians and gay men, one can receive the treatment that you haven't "graduated" to full-on (read: mature) lesbian and gay status. You can get stuck in "Remedial Queer Class" or sat at the kiddy table.
And by all means, it must be pointed out that one aspect of heteroprivilege is that heterosexuality is always (mis)represented as the "mature" sexual orientation, regardless of the perpetual bad behavior of individual heterosexuals. That's hetero-chauvinism, which largely goes unchallenged.
As for LGBTQ people together addressing their shared oppressions, I'm not convinced that the mature approach is always the best one. Sometimes ranting and upsetting the status quo is precisely what is needed. And it feels good.
Finally, I can't not address these assertions in the article:
" . . . Jesus was bisexual in the sense that he was a lover of people as they were . . . if we are striving to be Christlike, we should strive to be bisexual."
Without going into the whole agape vs. eros thing (does agape always have to be versus eros?), Jesus hasn't been physically with us for a long time. Like Shakespeare, we can make all kinds of claims about Jesus. He was really bisexual, he was really black, he was really a woman, he was really Irish . . . the claims we could make about Shakespeare or Jesus are practically endless.
This rather falls in line with one commenter's statement: "I think in a Utopian society, everyone would be bisexual." Really? That would be Utopia? Would replacing homophobia and compulsory heterosexuality with compulsory bisexuality and monosexual-phobia be the fulfillment of an ideal society or a City On the Hill or whatever-the-fuck?
Plus, could you imagine Sunday school? "Be bisexual just like Jesus, everybody!" I think I may barf. The bisexual is ready to barf at a bisexual Jesus. That's got to tell you something.
Keep in mind that Western Civilization has already seen historical periods in which bisexuality or fluid sexuality in the course of a lifetime was the convention. Remember Ancient Greece and Rome? Those cultures were also fiercely patriarchal, imperialistic, and slavery was the backbone of their economies. Kinda like America at its beginnings, without the Christianity. I don't want to return to the bad old days of either civilization.
If there's a point to be made about human sexuality it's this: human sexuality is diverse; fluid sexuality is part of some people's make-up; homoeroticism--from fantasy all the way to desire and behavior--is part of the human condition. But what makes for a more just society?
Human beings will always be passionate, but what encourages more just, compassionate and considerate conduct toward each other, whether we're having sex with each other or not? Endorsing or coercing pure heterosexuality is definitely not the answer.
*I thought I wouldn't be able to get through a post like this without using a word like "heteronormative." With your forebearance, it means those punitive legal, social, and familial rules that compel us to conform to hegemonic, heterosexual standards for identity.