Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interesting news links and I get a little ranty

I'd like to thank my friend, who shall remain nameless, for linking me to some interesting articles over the last week.

Take a Good Look, This Picture Might Soon be Banned

A Lot More to Learn than Where Babies Come From

Alas, I am still working on the post about safer sex...I keep getting sidetracked by other things that interest/enrage me.

For one thing, I've been reading an article about categorisation...and while I'm sure it's interesting and all that, when I read it I can't help but think of all the trouble sexual labels have caused. This is particularly true of the bisexual label...where a blanket label is given for all people who are attracted to both genders, regardless of the nuances of that attraction. What a lot of people don't seem to grasp is that it's a lot more complicated than the label would have you think. The label itself is almost a falsehood. For me, and my own experiences, even the concept of the binary gender is at best frustratingly inadequate and at worst insulting. And the only way there seems to be to combat it is with the judicious application of more labels. A taxonomy of human sexuality that restricts us further instead of opening us up to exploration and genuine understanding.

While I rail against the term "bisexual" because I find it too broad a term that misrepresents such a large portion of the population, I love the term "queer" because it represents and celebrates these same differences. I think it's in the pride.

Bisexuals are, by the wide-ranging applications of the term, a diaspora. While you might be only a little attracted to the same sex, you might also be only a little attracted to the opposite sex, but the term implies a degree of equality. Bisexuals are often seen as people who simply haven't made a choice yet, who haven't grown up and decided which team to bat for. People who take support from the queer community while accessing all the privileges of the straight community. They belong everywhere and are welcomed nowhere.

I remember talking with a male friends mother, and being told that he and I would make the perfect couple...but that I would have to stop being a bisexual, as "he wouldn't stand for that sort of thing". As though it was a life choice, and that I should grow up, switch it off and be sensible.

I have been told by family that my interactions with women make me a lesbian, despite my committed relationship to a charming young man. I have been told that my sexuality makes me an unfit role model for children. I have been told that I should be ashamed of myself. I have been told a lot of things, and most of them were distinctly unpleasant or carried with them some ignorantly offensive undertones.

And it all boils down to labels. I underwent a period of self-discovery when I was 17 and learning to live on my own. One of the things I discovered was how I felt about the same sex. Grasping for something to help me make sense of it all, I stumbled upon the label "Bisexual" and I brandished it as a shield to protect me. I held it up when the people I thought were friends distanced themselves from me, worried about what my new label might mean for them. Instead of doing what I wanted to, I adapted to other peoples impressions of this absurdly inadequate label. I liked girls, true. But I had only been with guys. Did that make me straight? I had only understood my sexuality up to that point as it related to men, and like most young women with low self-esteem, I all too easily allowed the male gaze to define me. I performed my sexuality instead of living it. I paraded it around for the men I cared for to play with...I used my sexuality as an asset, a feather in my peacocks tail. I performed the label and conformed to it, instead of using the label as a tool to describe me I used the label to hold me, to box me in and restrict me.

To this day I have not had a positive and healthy relationship with a woman, and in hindsight, I wish I had never heard the term bisexual.

I digress.

Back to my readings I fear, and soon the promised post.

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