Saturday, 16 June 2012

The existential crisis of bisexuality: do we exist at all?

There is a great tradition in the British left which can best be encapsulated by the word 'splitter'. This refers to the tendency for any given left-of-centre political grouping to split along ideological lines into two groups, which split into four groups, which split into eight groups, and so on and so on ad nauseam until each group is entirely politically pure and agrees on absolutely everything because it is composed of only one person. (Cf. the Judean People's Front.)

I like to think that this intra-group self-criticism is borne of the fact that we are in this because we want to do the right thing, and it's hard to agree on exactly what the right thing is - whereas the right have less to fight about, because they're in it to get power. But then I am something of an idealist.

So I try not to spend too much of my time and energy in castigating other feminists for not being feminist enough, or doing feminism wrong, because we're all doing our best. We're all on the same team.

Julie Bindel, however, might in some narrow, limited way fall under the category of 'feminist', but by god she is not on my fucking team.

Apparently "bisexuality is being promoted to lesbians as the latest fashionable trend". Gee, I wish I'd got the memo; I didn't realise me and my equal-ops fancying-people policy were the height of fashion! "This has," apparently,  "resulted in lesbian politics, namely feminism, being passed over for sexual hedonism, where the only thing that matters is sexual pleasure and desire". Because we all know that there is nothing political or revolutionary about pleasure and desire; politics can't possibly be fun, and if your liberation involves any amount of joy, you're doing it wrong. 

Bindel cites research which "found that a substantial number of bisexuals prefer to hang out with lesbians instead of other bisexual women" and that  "[s]ome bisexual women actually doubt whether bisexual women exist at all." Given that the research is not available online, I can't comment on its veracity, but I can criticise Bindel for presenting these findings with zero context! What questions elicited these answers? What percentage is "a substantial number", let alone "some"? How did the researchers take into account the comparatively tiny size and low visibility of the bisexual 'scene'?

She then outlines her views on making a political choice to be a lesbian - which, hey, is her prerogative, and all power to her if she's having the sex she wants with people she fancies. But it sure would be nice if she could accord me the same courtesy. Surprisingly, she doesn't: apparently if I had "an ounce of sexual politics, [I] would stop sleeping with men".

Because nothing says 'liberation' like not having satisfying, consensual sex with people you're attracted to!

Given the amount of time I spend thinking, talking, and writing about gender and feminism and sexuality and reproductive justice - as everyone around me can attest; typical conversations start with lines like "HEY I've been thinking about the virgin/whore dichotomy!" - I do find it unendingly hilarious that there is someone in the world who can take one look at my sexy choices and conclude from this slim evidence that I have not "an ounce of sexual politics". But then I guess I am a product of this "post-modern, queer-focused world" (LOLZ) which is trying to move away from the idea that who you have sex with defines who you are.


Anyway: I am adopting "if you had an ounce of sexual politics" as my new catchphrase.

IF YOU HAD AN OUNCE OF SEXUAL POLITICS, you would agree with everything I say!
IF YOU HAD AN OUNCE OF SEXUAL POLITICS, you would donate to the Abortion Support Network immediately!
IF YOU HAD AN OUNCE OF SEXUAL POLITICS, you would go and make me a cup of tea post haste!
IF YOU HAD AN OUNCE OF SEXUAL POLITICS, you would leave other people's sexuality the fuck alone and also stop being such a transphobic bigot-machine!

Yeah. Take that.


  1. " Surprisingly, she doesn't: apparently if I had "an ounce of sexual politics, [I] would stop sleeping with men"."

    Well, apparently I don't have an ounce of sexual politics, I have at least a pound, because my sexual politics are too weighty to float off helter-skelter after anybody's ridiculous and selfish and logic-bankrupt assertion that I should follow her ill-conceived and bi-phobe-splaining attempt to curtail my sexual agency in pursuit of what she pretends is my own empowerment.

  2. Late to this, but I did write up the research bit: