opinion

Pride, with Prejudice: When Biphobia Creeps into Same Gender Relationships

14993627065_484af81058_zWe mainly think about biphobia in terms of harm to bisexual-identified people, but in reality it can affect anyone. Holly Matthies examines one of the more insidious ways it can manifest.

For me, Pride means minding the stalls for the political party I belong to and the local bisexual support/social group Biphoria. I love it: you’re away from the worst of the overwhelming crowds, and people come over if they’re at all interested in your stall and ignore you if they’re not. It’s nice to feel helpful: to hand out stickers and flyers, answer questions, let people know what we do.

It didn’t take long after I first started doing this at Pride (in Manchester, though I’ve since been to various ones across the northwest), in 2009 or so, to start expecting that something unpleasant would happen when I sat down behind a trestle-table full of purple bisexual literature… Continue reading

Well intentioned, but unworkable: the NUS and cross-dressing

Genderqueer_pride_flagMuch has been said in the last few days about the NUS banning crossdressing from UK campuses. This is of course a massive overstatement. The offending resolution, passed at the NUS Women’s conference 2015, merely states that the conference should “issue a statement condemning cross-dressing as a mode of fancy dress”.

Reactions to the resolution have been largely negative (I had to go to a place no one should ever have to go – page six of Google’s search results – to find a blog post in favour of it) and a good  portion of that has been of the oh-won’t-someone-think-of-the-poor-straight-cis-men variety, which is just, y’know, *eyeroll*.

Here is the offending article in full. You can read a .pdf of the document here.

 con believes

The intent of the resolution is to decrease transphobia, but as the saying goes, intent is not magic, and the wording here is far from perfect. You do not have to search for long to find a slew of evidence supporting the assertion (noted under the heading ‘conference believes’) that trans and non-binary people are routinely denigrated in popular culture. This is categorically something we should work to end. Should cisgender men dress as women or, worse, ape hurtful and harmful trans* stereotypes with the sole intention of mockery? Obviously not. It’s tasteless, unoriginal verging on boring and it contributes to a culture of misogyny, trans- and whorephobia. It’s emphatically a good idea to ask people to consider their motivations when they cross-dress for entertainment. Likewise, it’s a good idea to promote sensitivity towards gender difference and acknowledge how our actions might contribute to a culture of transphobia and misogyny. But should we legislate against it? Well… no. Or at least, not like this.
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Activating our Bi-dar: a future for the bisexual community

Radar

Most of us are familiar with the term gaydar.  It is the ‘intuitive’ ability to assess if someone is not straight.  But then, there you have it.  It implies that you can only be gay or straight.  What about all of us bisexuals?  What happens to us when someone erroneously assumes we are straight or gay?  As Shiri Eisner points out in Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution: “Since our bisexuality is not ‘known’ to have any visual markers, we are routinely accused of fraudulence, perceived as invisible, and forced to deal with others’ doubts regarding our identities and our oppression.”

The terms ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ present a simplified and more palatable understanding of how the world works.  In fact, the Western, minority world has a long-standing affinity for binaries – so much so that binarist ways of thinking and acting go unquestioned.  Anthropologists have a term for this: ‘Doxa’ – the stuff that goes without saying.  Good /bad; male/female; child/adult; life/death; straight/gay: are all binarist, seldom questioned, ways of making sense of the world.  Anything in between, that doesn’t fall neatly into one or the other category, is feared and sometimes reviled.

As part of our Judeo-Christian heritage, we tend to divide everything into rigid categories of good and bad so often, we don’t give it much critical thought.  For example, the male/female binary is left unquestioned, and it is assumed to be natural and inherent.  Any person who falls outside that binary is a social outcast.  Puberty, is another example of a liminal state of existence between childhood and adulthood, and as such is often scorned.  Teenagers are depicted in Western culture as individuals who are caught between childhood and adulthood and are therefore unstable and dangerous.  Those stages between life and death are rejected as unnatural and even repulsive because they defy our strict separation between those categories: life and death.  States of being like depression and chronic illness that are between being fully alive and dead, are considered to be something to avoid at all costs.
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Janis Hetherington SPECIAL: "WTF, Dolce & Gabbana?"

syringesJanis Hetherington was the first UK woman in an openly same-sex couple to be artificially inseminated. Unsurprisingly, she saw fit to have a few words about the Dolce & Gabbana debacle…

So I’m sat here surrounded by voluminous column inches about sproglets. Not your any common or garden sprogs but those requiring a lickle bit of nuture against nature as I do each spring in my greenhouse. Selective breeding so to speak. Making sure my pelargoniums do not conspire with my super-white geraniums and breed a puce variety that will alarm my bedding scheme.

All very acceptable at Chelsea Flower Show and especially amongst the giant veg brigade spiking each others entries with unspeakable wraths come the late Summer shows BUT we are talking about humankind here and selective breeding as we all know is the strict realm of toffs and warlords. So wot’s up DOC? Well Doc is indeed guilty of test tube conspiracy. Oh! What does go on in those breeding dishes that gobble up our defective genes?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh Genes? Well actually jeans or rather non jeans. Do Dolce & Gabbana possess or progress 501s? Of course it is the other genes they’ve made pronouncement about and upset poor old Elton and Martina (those icons of all things mildly or even vermillion pinky) to such an extent that boycotts and burnings at the stake are threatened throughout pinkdom and even faghaggerydom.
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