Give Up Men? But Why?


images (1)When Huffington Post published a blog by Kylie Barton entitled “Calling Bisexual Women: Give Up Men!”, bisexual twitter exploded. Tweet after tweet came in, calling out the blog’s author for internalised biophobia, hierarchical thinking, and logical fallacy after logical fallacy. In a community where gay men and women frequently posit that their relationships outrank ours on the scale of queer, here was a bi woman doing it too. 

Buckle in, because it’s going to get bumpy.

This entire response can be summed up in one word: No. However, that wouldn’t make a very good article, so I shall continue.
I won’t stop dating men, just as I won’t stop dating women, and I won’t stop dating nonbinary people. I won’t have anyone else policing my romantic or sexual life, regardless of their sexuality. I don’t fuck with biphobic respectability politics from within our outside of the LGBT+ community, and if we’re now living in a world where telling other people how to think and feel is acceptable, neither should anyone else.

The HuffPo has published an article that attempts to call out compulsory heterosexuality, but without ever actually using those words, and this is where it falls on its face. Assuring bi, pan and queer women that dating and loving other women in the face of compulsory heterosexuality is good and natural and fine would have been a perfectly serviceable article, but Barton didn’t stop there. She continues , in this awkwardly-written train, to imply that bi women in relationships with men are in ‘heterosexual’ relationships. But, many bisexuals know, relationships in which one partner is male and the other is female do not a heterosexual partnership make.

Is a male/female relationship in which one or both are openly, happily, radically queer any less queer than a gay assimilationist relationship which adheres to the social scripts set by heterosexual partnership? No. Should anyone feel pressured to conduct any of their relationships to a standard dictated by anyone else? Categorically not. So why does Barton go on to urge Bi women to “not give up and settle for a man – a woman is worth the wait and the painstaking search.”

And, in that instance, what happens to bi women who aren’t attracted to men? Or aren’t attracted to women, for that matter? Unlike Barton’s cissexist definition of bisexuality, where she insists that “being bi is about being interested in the person, no matter what is or isn’t dangling between their legs”, the majority of bi people define bisexuality as “attraction to multiple, but not necessarily all genders.” Multiple doesn’t always mean “men and women” or “all, regardless of sex/gender”, sometimes it means “men and some nonbinary genders”, sometimes it means “women and all nonbinary genders” and sometimes it even means “multiple nonbinary genders but neither binary gender.”

Plus – defining one’s sexuality on the genitals of potential partners is massively transphobic. We don’t call straight women who are attracted to pre-op or non-op trans men lesbians, do we? No, they’re still straight, because trans men are men (and trans women are women, and nonbinary people are nonbinary).

The idea that relationships with one gender are inherently more satisfying than another ultimately comes from a place of combined cissexism and internalised biphobia.

The idea that relationships with one gender are inherently more satisfying than another ultimately comes from a place of combined cissexism and internalised biphobia. There are no inherent differences between genders – as trans and nonbinary people have attempted to explain to cis people time and time again. We gender social roles and certain behaviours, sure, but people who don’t subscribe to those scripts are no less the gender(s) they identify with. I could date a man who wears dresses and makeup every day and is emotionally honest, and kind, and sweet, and as long as he identifies as a man? Guess what? He’s a fucking man, regardless of his genitals or the gender roles he fills.

Everything else that’s wrong with this article aside, put simply, one can’t complain about bi erasure in one breath and use the next to chastise bi women for dating men. Frankly, I feel significantly safer emotionally and physically as a bi agender (but often read as female) person with a bi man than I do with any of the numerous biphobic lesbians and non-bi queer women out there. Political lesbianism is a fine personal choice, but to attempt to dictate other people’s relationships to them is an oppressive and biphobic act. Even if you’re bi, if you’re going to come at other bi people with that shit? Fuck off, because we don’t want you.

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Eloise Nicholson

Eloise Nicholson is an agender bisexual activist, musician, visual artist, and writer. They live in Norwich, England with 3 cats and a long-suffering Netflix subscription, where they spend a lot of time plotting the downfall of white-supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy.
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3 Responses to Give Up Men? But Why?

  • Trish says:

    This article rocks. Thank you!

  • Becky says:

    This is something which has clearly been blown way out of context. Most of you have taken a blog post of one person’s personal experience and projected it as a personal attack on yourselves, which quite frankly is ridiculous and self centred. It is a blog, not a news article, not scientific fact and not aimed at marginalising, generalising or targeting anyone. Maybe let’s look at the bigger picture here and accept the fact that this is one person’s opinion and experience, which is not saying that the way anyone else chooses to live their life is wrong and merely encourages anyone who has had the same or similar personal experience to not be afraid to go after what they want. I don’t think targeting the author to make her feel bad about her opinion is necessary or fair. To disagree with it is completely fine, but to seek to personally attack is not.

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      Libby Baxter-Williams says:

      You seem to think we’re only allowed to disagree if we keep it to ourselves. You also seem to think that a disagreement is automatically a personal attack. It is not.

      If you want to write about personal experiences, the trick is to frame them as such, and not use sentences such as “I am urging all bi women, to not give up and settle for a man”.

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