Posts Tagged ‘bisexuality’

I read two blogposts this week which deal with the subject of depression and seeking help for mental health problems. They probably struck a particular chord with me as I am currently seeing a (very good) counsellor/therapist.

The first piece is by Reese Rants where she encouraged her readers to ‘turn off the negative soundtrack’ that often accompanies us when we are beset by anxiety and unhappiness. The second is by Sue George at her blog, Bisexuality and Beyond. She discusses recent research which suggests bisexual people suffer mental health problems in greater numbers than others, and don’t seek help enough.

Whilst I have substantive comments about both articles, there was one ‘superficial’ thing I couldn’t help but notice and explore first. Both bloggers illustrate their work with a photo of a young (white), naked, woman, sitting in a  crouching position looking sad!

This reminds me of that meme that went round the internet recently, where someone had found a set of stock photos of women laughing alone with salad.

There are a number of possible reasons why Lucy Reese and Sue George chose the images they did. They are both women and so probably identify more closely with pictures of women looking depressed. But in relation to Sue’s piece, I would argue that bisexual men suffer more prejudice and biphobia than women (because it is less acceptable for men to experiment with same sex sex than for women. They immediately get labelled as ‘gay’).  So some photos of (cute, naked?) men looking sad would be appropriate here.

But as a blogger myself, sometimes we just go for pictures we like. Pictures that we instinctively feel will enhance our words in an aesthetically pleasing way. And cute naked women certainly do that, I think the whole internetz would agree! Even when dealing with the most serious subjects, we have blog hits at the back of our minds. One woman even wrote a whole book based on this concept, called ‘Marketable Depression’!

I am also reminded here of Chumbawamba’s album, ‘Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records’. It was a stark reference to what I have since termed concern porn. When covering sensitive, difficult issues such as poverty or depression, the western media often can’t help but relish in the ‘voyeurism’ involved in looking at vulnerable people. There may be a tad of that in Sue and Lucy’s choice of imagery.

As something of an ‘aesthete’ and a ‘voyeur’ myself, whilst I do have a lot of problems with concern porn, I can’t help but wish people would choose better pictures to ‘concern’ over! How about this painting by Egon Schiele entitled ‘Kneeling Woman With Head Bent Forward’?

Or Van Gogh’s evocatively named ‘Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity)’?

You never know, paintings by accomplished artists might actually cheer some of us depressed readers up!

Maybe one of my ‘problems’ is that sometimes I treat mental health issues – my own and those of other people – in a flippant manner. I suspect my counsellor might call that a ‘coping mechanism’.

So this post is probably a window on my soul more than a proper criticism of the blogposts above.

However, beneath my facetious surface there lies some deep thought and struggle with issues of mental health and sexual identity.

When it came out earlier this year I criticised the Bisexuality Report that Sue refers to in her post. I was actually shocked that in 2012 bisexual people and academics were presenting bisexuality as somehow linked to mental illness! So under Sue’s post I made the following points:

‘I am not questioning the findings of the reports. But I am very unhappy with bi organisations promoting the idea that bisexual people suffer worse mental health than others.This is becausea) it falls into the ‘pathologising’ approach to sexuality that was so big in the 19th century when the ‘homosexual’ was presented as mentally ill.

b) it ignores how many people have same sex sex without ever recognising themselves as ‘bisexual’. What is their mental health like?

c) it makes out bisexuals to be a separate category distinct from gay, straight, trans, msms etc.
The thing I love most about bisexuality is it challenges the whole notion of fixed sexual identities

d) it is ‘depressing’! I am happy to campaign for better mental health services and access to services for bisexual people. But I am not happy to present bi people as prone to mental illness.

I myself do not identify as bi and I have had plenty of mental health problems in my life. But I dont have a ‘community’ to talk to. Not based on my sexual identity anyway.’

But please, if you think of me as providing a ‘negative soundtrack’ to the discussions on bisexuality and mental health, and if you want to respond to my points, don’t illustrate your response with a picture of a cute naked woman looking sad!

According to Dr Petra Boynton, academic and ‘sexologist’, a recent study about the elusive g-spot (in women) is rubbish. This rubbish research has been reported in the media as truth. So she has critiqued the media reporting, based on her own knowledge of sex research and how it gets communicated to the public.

So far so ok. But I actually found her, and other ‘experts” acounts of this ‘g-spot’ story to be a) lacking at a factual and contextual level, and b) politically-motivated from a feminist perspective (and these two issues are linked as I will demonstrate). But because they are the ‘sceptics’ casting a beady eye on dodgy research and dodgy journalism, nobody challenges them! In her blogpost about the story Petra wrote:

‘Any journalist worth their salt should always ask questions about a study they are reporting on’.

Well here and at Graunwatch I am very diligent about asking questions! So here are a few questions for Dr Petra.

1) Why the arrogant feminist undercurrent?
Petra Boynton works in the ‘sex positive’ feminist arena of sex research. Her work is informed by and contributes to ‘feminist discourse’. Her critique of this g-spot study claims that it has ‘appropriated’ feminism for its own (what? Patriarchal?) ends. She writes:

‘Thirdly, appropriating a supposed feminist discourse the paper claims ‘The absence of the identification of the G-spot as an anatomic structure created considerable controversies and a biased interpretation of the scientific results worldwide, leading to a monolithic clitoral model of female sexual response. However, women have held the unwavering position that there are distict (sic) areas in the anterior vagina which are responsible for a sensation of great sexual pleasure’

We have been here before with researchers claiming there is a giant global Clitoral Conspiracy denying women information about vaginal pleasure and prioritizing the clit. In that research as with this one no empirical evidence is given to substantiate these claims. Which do not appear to fit with the mainstream media’s general obsession with vaginas. And most reputable sex educators and therapists who focus on people exploring what brings them pleasure rather than telling them what to enjoy. It remains the case that clitoral pleasure is vital to many women’s sexual experience – and it is disingenuous of practitioners to claim otherwise.’

Her fellow sexologist, AboutSexuality also picks up on this ‘faux feminism’ in the paper. He writes:

‘There’s nothing wrong with the slow and steady development of a body of knowledge. And in and of itself I’d like to say there’s nothing wrong with this paper. Only then I read the discussion. In it the author offers a framing for the “controversy” surrounding the g-spot. Have a read:

“The absence of the identification of the G-spot as an anatomic structure created considerable controversies and a biased interpretation of the scientific results worldwide, leading to a monolithic clitoral model of female sexual response. However, women have held the unwavering position that there are distinct areas in the anterior vagina which are responsible for a sensation of great sexual pleasure. “

So first, in case you missed it, what he’s describing, among other things, is the impact of the women’s movement on public discourse and personal experience of sexuality. When he says it it sounds a bit different. If I read this correctly his understanding of what’s happened is men and the media have been pushing some “monolithic clitoral model” while women have all along said that vaginal penetration is where it’s at.

It’s a great story. But it deserves a great big “What?!?” What monolithic clitoral model? Which unwavering women? I know that surgeons think they can do everything (and when they are operating on me I guess I’m grateful for their hubris), but maybe they should leave political, cultural, and historical analysis to folks with some context.

Again, there’s no reason this guy can’t cut up a body and make a case, but along with a handful of other white male researchers, it’s the undercurrent of aggression in the writing that gives me pause.’

So both experts here seem to be saying that surgeons should keep their scalpels out of politics and feminism and just do their jobs! This ignores the large, respected body of research in the History of Science discipline. Politics and culture cannot and should not be separated from scientific enquiry. In fact, I get the distinct impression that Boynton and co. are not so much annoyed that this study has a political agenda, but rather that it has the wrong one.

They are very quick to dismiss the idea that feminism may have led to an obsession with women’s orgasm via the clitoris, but they, lovers of evidence that they are, do not produce any evidence that this is not so. There is an assumption that ‘feminism is good’ and ‘sex-positive feminism is best’.  And AboutSexuality in particular is saying that this study is sexist against women because it, and most science, is run by ‘white men’. I am not so sure.

2) Whatabouttehmenz?
The study in question focuses on women (those women who have vaginas). Boynton is critical of the study’s interest in the vagina over the clitoris. But she does not acknowledge that there is also a large amount of dodgy sex science that focuses on men, and makes ridiculous claims about their (and their penises’) sexual responses. Petra justifies her bias towards women by saying:

‘Another approach might be to consider how this scenario would look if it were penises under the microscope. While there are undoubtedly distressing issues facing men around penis size and stamina the stereotype for men is they all experience pleasure from their dicks. If you talk to men you discover some get intense pleasure from testicle stimulation and are unable to orgasm without this. Some hate their balls touched. Some get a lot of pleasure if attention is paid to the shaft of the penis. Some find direct stimulation to the glans uncomfortable. Others experience more pleasure from anal stimulation.

Yet we do not suggest because men can and do experience pleasure from different areas in their genitals that there are specific spots that guarantee male orgasm or that men are somehow deficient if they do not experience say, a left testicle orgasm. We don’t scan, survey, or perform autopsies on penises to establish the most sensitive parts. Nor do we have self help books, courses or sex toys designed to coach men into experiencing orgasm through stimulation to specific areas of their genitals.

Indeed suggesting this usually results in people laughing. Why would we do this? But we do seem to feel the need to continue to make women’s bodies and sexual responses seem complex and difficult. Actually that’s not quite true. One journal and the media appear preoccupied with this. Most people are not that bothered and certainly most sex researchers are not.’

But once again she does not produce any evidence of sex advice/sex research about men to back up her points (except for one post by her, about penis size). We have to take her word for it.

I have recently been doing some research into Men’s Health Magazine, the most popular men’s magazine. It has a whole section entitled Your Penis. Now I have not read enough to know if it also gives information and advice about ‘Your Balls’ or ‘Your erogenous zones’ but I expect Petra has not even glanced at the site or the magazine at all. And as we know, feminism tends to ignore and/or demonise men. This critique is just another example of that in my view.

One person who has written a lot about men, sex, and sex research is [redacted]. Petra Boynton has told me that she first encountered [redacted] work ‘years ago’. But has she actually read it? He has told us a number of times how men are hooked up to penis ‘plesmographs’ to test their sexual response, and, often to find out if they are  gay, straight or lying. I recently heard a story about men asylum seekers fleeing homophobic regimes, being tested with these ‘peter meters’ to check they are ‘really gay’ and not lying about their orientation just to move country for the hell of it.

If I bring up how they ignore men’s experiences in their work, feminists often say to me ‘that’s different. You are complaining we are missing out something irrelevant to this particular issue. And if we talk about penguins one day, it doesn’t mean we can’t talk about otters another’. Well I think [redacted]s work on sex research into men IS relevant. And I don’t see Boynton et al actually talking about men’s experiences in any detail very often anyway. So there is a bit of contradiction here. Is it ‘sexist’ to focus on women, or is it ‘sexist’ to ignore men? And sexist against whom?

Boynton says ‘We don’t scan, survey, or perform autopsies on penises to establish the most sensitive parts.’ I don’t know if that is true. But even if it is, the fact that scientists DO ‘scan, survey and (probably) perform autopsies on penises’ for other reasons is worth noting.

3) whatabouttehasexualz?
This critique by Boynton and chums is very much written from a ‘sex positive’ point of view. It assumes we all (well women anyway) have sex, and want to gain pleasure from it. I have been looking into the growing phenomenon/identity of asexuality recently. And I have been finding that many people don’t, and/or can’t gain pleasure from sexual stimulation. I myself am currently ‘celibate’ by choice, so my interest in the ‘g-spot’ is minimal. (I suppose  I do self-pleasure but I think I know how to do that by now. I don’t really care what the science is!)

Boynton and colleagues also seem to assume that information about sex is good. But I know a number of people who do not believe sex education to be virtuous, whether it be from a religious or other perspective. My hero Foucault himself, questioned the inherent value of all this ‘discourse’ around sex and sexuality. He said it may have the potential to be oppressive. I agree.

4) Misandry Much?
Coming from a feminist position, and ignoring men’s experiences is one thing. But I found AboutSexuality ‘s piece on this g-spot study in particular, to veer into misandry. He wrote:

‘It reminds me a lot of those men’s groups that claim to be fighting for father’s rights when they really seem to be about eliminating mother’s rights. Some of those father’s are being discriminated against, for sure. And there may very well be an anatomical structure that can be called a g-spot. Why not. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Lots of fathers are actually trying to screw their exes out of spite. And even if there is some sac of purplish tissue on the superior surface of the dorsal perineal membrane, that doesn’t actually say much of anything about sexual pleasure (which is what ultimately this article and most of the others make claims about.’

This is incredibly emotive stuff, and I am not sure what father’s rights have to do with the g-spot anyway! He provides no evidence of fathers ‘trying to screw their exes’ it is merely his personal opinion. And Boynton does not pick up on this at all. She hails AboutSexuality ‘s critique as a good one. He is saying that this sex research is sexist against women, like many men are! Hmmm.

5) What No Comments?
Petra Boynton does not allow comments on her blog. She is very enthusiastic about people ‘sharing’ research and thoughts on twitter, but there is no way of responding to her blogposts, except, as I am doing, by blogging ourselves. This makes for a very one-sided conversation. And it feels very much as if she is our ‘teacher’ and we are her loyal pupils.

This particular pupil is currently on the naughty step. Petra blocks me on twitter and has told me not to email her again (with information and opinion that I am unable to post in the comments on her blog).  I find her approach dictatorial and critiquing the critic does not go down well!

6) Why so selective?
Boynton has chosen this particular study and its media coverage to critique. We all have to choose our battles. But she rarely blogs these days, and she is very selective about what she gives attention to. I have found she is very pally with some ‘sex researchers’ who I find particularly unethical. But they pass the Petra Boynton test and their dodgy work goes unchallenged.

I found it interesting she picked up on some ‘politicking’ from the author of the study. She tells us:

‘I think I would feel less anxious making these criticisms if I had not read Improbable Research’s blog. They have been investigating Dr Ostrzenski and in particular I would draw your attention to him bringing a lawsuit against a peer reviewer he disagreed with. This is sobering stuff.’

Well yes. But politicking in the realm of sex research is par for the course. If you google ‘Simon Le Vay’ or ‘Michael Bailey’ you will see what I mean. And look at my case where I was ‘outed’ online by people who do not like my critique of their sexual politics. They have threatened ‘legal action’ against me. And I think Petra used my current ‘shaming’ as an excuse for blocking me and silencing my critiques of her work. That worked then!

[redacted]  has pointed out how men’s in particular voices are just erased from a lot of research and media coverage of the body and the ‘self’. His work is an amazing illumination of men, sex, identity, ‘self-love’. But he too is ignored by the feminist ‘sexology’ elite.

I said on twitter last night that I am a ‘META SCEPTIC’. I am fine with people criticising the media and science. I do it myself. But those people are not beyond critique themselves.

http://www.towleroad.com/2012/02/a-marine-comes-home.html

This photo has gone viral recently. It was first posted on a ‘Gay Marines’ FB page and has since been sent round the internet, with the tagline ‘Gay Marine Comes Home’.

You know me. I am an out and proud ‘homophile’. I am bordering on being a homo myself.  My blog archives are full of pictures of men in clinches, from the sacred to the profane. But when I saw this image I was caught short. I will admit it to you, Roland. I felt a bit queasy. And I think you will understand why.

The photograph is a graphic illustration of the end of DADT, the edict that kept gay, lesbian AND BISEXUAL army personnel from being open about their sexuality. In some ways, the military was, until very recently, the last bastion of ‘pre-gay’ times. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been the unspoken motto of men who have sex with men for eons. And now it is over.

But it is not just the repression of homosexuality that is over here. I fear some other things may be on their way out too. What about all those soldiers ‘acting gay’ on video? Will they be doing that so much, when their gay colleagues are on site? Or, a story you know intimately, those plucky GIS who went gay for pay a few years back. Would that happen when being gay in the army is normalised?

I know that you and your ‘accomplice’ in homo-anthropology Steven Zeeland, have had a range of feelings about the ‘coming home’ of gayness in the military. In Male Impersonators and Barrack Buddies, you both seemed to be opposed to DADT, even though you were nostalgic for a time when homosexuality was even more hidden than it was in the army in the 1990s. You of all people are aware of the complexities and contradictions here. And you, of all people, would be unlikely to begrudge a passionate embrace between a marine and his lover, especially if it is caught on camera.

But something is well and truly lost isn’t it?

Perhaps our only consolation is that in coming home, the gay identity is also quickening its own demise. You have predicted we are nearing the end of gay. Judging by the defensive reactions mainly gay men give to me when I even dare to critique their precious identity position, I am inclined to think you are right.

A Gay Marine Comes Home. We know it’s over, Roland.

It’s over.

P.s. I am going to be honest with you, one of the things that made me feel a bit ‘queasy’ was the gender dynamics of the photo. The marine, supposedly one of those macho masculine types, has a garland round his neck and is being lifted off the floor by his big strong civilian boyfriend (who he termes ‘the giant’ on his facebook page). But I am an old-fashioned girl.

The Marvellous Slope Show is back! Season Two of the story of superficial, homophobic lesbians Desiree and Ingrid kicks off with a poignant (but hilarious) episode called ‘Taking Space’

http://theslopeshow.com/2012/02/14/season-2-episode-1-taking-space/

This reminds me of the song: Space, by Pulp. The lyrics of the album version begin:

You said you wanted some space …
Well is this enough for you? …
This is what you’ve waited for …
No dust collecting in the corners …
No cups of tea that got cold before you drank them …
Tonight … travelling at the speed of thought …
We’re going to escape into the stars …

 

http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2012/01/30/Cynthia_Nixon_Being_Bisexual_Is_Not_a_Choice/

Cynthia Nixon, who I last week defended for stating her sexuality is her ‘choice’, has gone back on her word.

After a huge amount of hostility and pressure from gay activists and gay media outlets I might add.

Her revised statement reads as follows:

“My recent comments in The New York Times were about me and my personal story of being gay. I believe we all have different ways we came to the gay community and we can’t and shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into one cultural narrative which can be uninclusive and disempowering. However, to the extent that anyone wishes to interpret my words in a strictly legal context I would like to clarify:

“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship.

“As I said in the Times and will say again here, I do, however, believe that most members of our community — as well as the majority of heterosexuals — cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships because, unlike me, they are only attracted to one sex.

“Our community is not a monolith, thank goodness, any more than America itself is. I look forward to and will continue to work toward the day when America recognizes all of us as full and equal citizens.”

Whilst I am gutted to say the least she felt the need to revert to the popular and pernicious ‘born this way’ stance, I do have some sympathy for the Sex in The City actress.

The current atmosphere amongst gay rights groups means that bisexual people are treated as if they are either gay, straight or lying. In comparison to the pure states of Gayness and Lesbianism, bisexuality is treated as the poor, and unwelcome relation.

Note Nixon used the word ‘legal’ in her statement above. She may have actually been avoiding legal action here, I wouldn’t put it past some gayist organisations to try and make out that claiming sexuality is a choice is against the law. She also is an actress, and theatre and Hollywood I expect are pretty conservative when it comes to sexuality. She may have been advised to couch her feelings in safer terms to avoid being penalised in her acting career.

The UK Daily Mail joined in the gloating about her change of tack, saying that bisexuality is a fact. Well, yes. But it is a fact we do have some agency over in our lives. Who we have sex with is still up to us as individuals.

The Advocate online magazine illustrated their update with a photo of Nixon bald, when she had cancer treatment. I can’t help but feel they were aiming to humiliate her just a little.

I still defend Cynthia Nixon but I am deeply saddened that she felt she had to go against her own instincts about her own sexuality to please the gay establishment.

A recent New York Times interview with Sex In The City star Cynthia Nixon, has caused a bit of a furore amongst mainly American gays. I first read about the story in Queerty, which is itself a VERY gay website. But I appreciated them running  it, and quoting Nixon at length and opening up the discussion to the commenters below the line.

Other publications/individuals have not been so generous, and have railed at Ms Nixon for what? For having the audacity to suggest she has some agency in her sex life and her love life? How very dare she!

One of the main criticisms from Teh Gays about Nixon’s statement is that she is playing into the hands of the religious right in America who claim homosexuality is unnatural, against God, and a sinful ‘choice’. One supergay article suggests:

‘she needs to learn how to choose her words better, because she just fell into a right-wing trap, willingly.  When the religious right says it’s a choice, they mean you quite literally choose your sexual orientation, you can change it at will, and that’s bull.’

http://gay.americablog.com/2012/01/dear-cynthix-nixon-hurting-your-own.html

Another gayist piece states quite baldly:

‘ the issue here is not the legitimacy or source of an individual’s sexuality. It’s a question of strategy. ‘

http://www.readability.com/articles/lfxvzpqn

This concept of ‘strategy’ relates to a theoretical term called strategic essentialism.

‘The term was coined by the Indian literary critic and theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. It refers to a strategy that nationalities, ethnic groups or minority groups can use to present themselves. While strong differences may exist between members of these groups, and amongst themselves they engage in continuous debates, it is sometimes advantageous for them to temporarily ‘essentialize’ themselves and bring forward their group identity in a simplified way to achieve certain goals.’

I oppose ‘strategic essentialism’ because I think it fails in its own goal of uniting ‘oppressed’ groups who have a common ‘enemy’ or oppressor. It serves to privilege (yes I can use that word too) one group’s identity and needs over other, less powerful ones.

In the case of the backlash against Cynthia Nixon, it is clear to me that (usually white middle class and often male) gays are outraged that their worldview and their sense of self, and how they were born this way, is not being prioritised. If sexuality is, to some degree, a choice, as Cynthia says it is for her, (note she is not generalising about other people), then gays lose some of their ‘victim status’ as these poor, beleagured people who are forced to live under the shadow of the heterosexual dominant group.

One of the comments that I found most troubling was this one:

It seems to be suggesting that bisexual people ‘choose’ their sexuality but gay people don’t! Apart from this not even beginning to make sense at a ‘scientific’ level – how are bisexual people ‘made’ so that they have the ability to make choices and gays are not? – it is politically quite worrying. I think what it is really saying is that bisexual people are ‘liars’. If sexuality is innate then people who ‘choose’ to go against their ‘natural’ sexual orientation, be it straight or gay, are a) lying and b) oppressing the people who stay in their ‘natural’ boxes by making sexuality look like less of a destiny.

One of the comments by Nixon that stood out for me was this:

‘I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive. I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I’ve been out with.’

http://www.readability.com/articles/lfxvzpqn

My ex was/is bisexual. Though he rarely used that word to describe himself. Sometimes he took the Freudian label and called himself ‘polymorphously perverse’. And sometimes I have worried, since we broke up, that he might have ‘gone gay’. This has filled me with a sense of loss and rejection, because if he is now ‘gay’ then what does that say about our relationship that occurred (with some hiccups) over a period of over ten years?

I expect my ex doesn’t identify as gay, now. He was more Anti Gay than even the author of the book of that title. He taught me, long before I had heard of Steven Zeeland, that ‘sexual identity is a joke’.

But it’s not a very funny one. And I think people’s reactions to Cynthia’s open discussion about her own sexuality, are a sign of how we still haven’t reached ‘the end of sexuality’. Maybe one day, eh?

_______________________

 

Talking of bisexual men, and their erasure in our culture, which we were, here we go again.

http://lawandsexuality.blogspot.com/2011/09/gay-blood-ban-to-be-further-repealed.html

Law and Sexuality is a brilliant blog by Chris, who writes on a wide range of subjects around sexuality, society and the law. I have an enormous amount of respect for him. But sometimes I pull him up on his use of the term ‘Gay’ as a catch-all phrase which in reality can mean anything from gay men, to LGBTQ people, to ‘lame’.

Today was no exception when I noticed Chris reporting on the Liberal Democrat Conference discussions about the ‘Gay Blood Ban’. Chris wrote:

‘Interesting piece on Pink News this evening reporting on a vote at the Liberal Democrat Conference, taking the recent gay blood ban repeal further.  Pink News reports that earlier this month, ministers announced that the lifetime ban would be scrapped and gay and bisexual men would be permitted to donate blood if they abstain from sex for 12 months.  According to Pink News, members at the party’s conference in Birmingham agreed that the new 12-month deferral period is “a ban by any other name”. Read the full story here.’

So the blood ban does not just affect gay men, but gay and bisexual men. Indeed, I expect it is aimed at any men who have sex with men. So the label ‘gay’ not only erases bisexual men from discourse, it also serves to maybe enable men who have sex with men, but do not identify as ‘gay’, or even ‘bisexual’, to give blood when they may be engaging in risky sex, but not actually acknowledging it. The term ‘men who have sex with men’ is well established amongst health organisations, for the very reason that it allows men to acknowledge their behaviour without having to give themselves a sexual identity label.

I think Pink News and other gay rights organisations are using this issue as yet another example of how ‘gays’ are discriminated against, without actually thinking about the wider social and health issues in the case.

Which, in my view, is Gay.

 

UPDATE

This comment from Impeus (see below the line) suggests that the Blood Donor org. is using ‘men who have sex with men’ and it is everyone else referring to ‘gay’ men:

‘I believe the wording in the current questions asked of potential blood donors is specifically inclusive, asking if you are a man who has had sex with another man, or if you are a woman who has had sex with a man who may have had sex with another man. It’s the media and other commentators (including myself if I’m honest) calling it gay blood, not the, um, blood people, whatever they are called!’

 

Bisexuality in The Shadows

Posted: September 20, 2011 in bisexuality
Tags: ,

Last night Tom Robinson, the man who sang ‘Sing if you’re glad to be gay’, way back when, discussed bisexuality on Radio Four UK. He is now married with children, but I am glad he has not presented his story as one where a man went through a ‘gay phase’ before settling down with a woman. Tom is bisexual and proud. As the programme shows, this is not as easy as you may think in the world of Gay Rights and Gay Marriage campaigns. Because gay people are just as ‘biphobic’ as straights if not more.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b014pw7d

Over at Rabbit White HQ we have also been having a discussion about bisexuality, and why it is harder for men to be openly bi than women.

http://rachelrabbitwhite.com/whats-up-with-the-bisexual-double-standard/

‘What is going on with this double-standard of the ubiquitous girl-girl kiss and the bi guy seen as a barely existent depressing weirdo? And, with a rise in awareness around male bisexuality– are we seeing this change?’ – asked Rachel.

One of my favourite comments from below the line at Rachel’s blog was:

‘But here’s a reason why bisexuality isn’t that open and it has nothing to do with 2 men fornicating. Heterosexual anal play. It is known enough that a man can receive great pleasure and stimulation from anal play but if a heterosexual man receives anal play from even the most beautiful woman in the world, many men would feel that is “gay.” Just the act of of having something stuck up your ass by a woman can be considered a “gay” activity. I think that stigma needs to be overcome before bisexuality among men can be considered accepting.’

I would add that I think the taboos around hetero men ‘taking it’ are actually a lot to do with two men fornicating. It is a representation of homo-sex and so difficult for men to accept (and women). And, even some gay men find it hard to ‘take it’ -  once again, this suggests what quite a lot of us have been saying for a while now- the ass really is, the final frontier.

As ever, Mark Simpson is the man with his finger on the throbbing pulse of  men’s bi-curiosity. And, on the reasons for its erasure in our culture.

http://nattysoltesz.com/

Natty Soltesz writes erotic stories about men. He writes particularly evocatively about what happens when ‘straight’ men allow themselves to express homo-desire. His latest book is called ‘Str8 but curious’ and this is how it begins:

‘I’ve had my share of straight guys. Maybe I’ve had my fill.

I bagged the majority during my college years, that magical time when sexual identity is as addled and messy as a frat boy after his third keg stand. One straight drunk buddy made out with me at a party then invited me to his bedroom to trade blowjobs. Another got so horny looking at straight porn he whacked me off and let me return the favor.

And I’ve had others since then. Dalliances in secluded park paths and in the backrooms of adult bookstores, those playgrounds of the minivan-and-wedding-band set. Hookups with masc, discreet Internet-personals advertisers who need to be fucked quick before the gf gets home.’

But according to some ‘sexologist’ ‘scientists’, accounts like Natty’s are not to be trusted, because bisexual men don’t exist.  Except of course they do. And now, even the scientists have had to admit it. As MS, who also knows a thing or two about ‘male bi-curiousness’ has written:

‘Those kinky penile plethysmograph fetishists at Northwestern University just can’t get enough cock.

Dr JM Bailey and his chums have been strapping a fresh batch of penises into their sex-lie detector machines again, showing them porn and feverishly twiddling their knobs. But this time – hold the front page! – their ‘scientific’ findings very kindly allow men who like cock and pussy to actually exist’.

Which might not in the real world seem such a major finding – but it is a major flip flop for this outfit. Six years ago, using the same cranky equipment, they claimed they had demonstrated that male bisexuality didn’t exist. That their data suggested that bisexual men were in fact ‘really’ homosexual.

A ‘finding’ that was trumpeted around the world. Because of course it told people, straight and gay, what they wanted to hear, and what common sense tells them to be the case. Gays have always wanted bisexual men to join their team. While straights don’t want the dirty dogs on theirs. However liberal they might be. Especially in the devoutly monosexual USA. ‘Straight, gay or lying?’ was the infamous, shameful headline in the New York Times which greeted the 2005 paper from Bailey ‘proving’ male bisexuality doesn’t exist.

Just as all women are ‘really bisexual’, no men really are. Since virility is directly related to a man’s ability to perform compulsory heterosexuality, any man who is aroused by cock can’t be virile. He is, by definition, emasculated. Impotent. A fag. Or ‘gay’ if you’re liberal. No wonder the vast majority of men attracted to other men don’t advertise the fact.

All this despite of course the way hardcore ‘straight’ porn watched by most men when they’re not strapped to a plethysmograph in Northwestern University features pussies AND cock. Usually lots and lots of ENORMOUS cocks – and a sorely-tested pussy or two. By way of contrast, I’d point out that I’ve never seen a single pussy in gay porn. (Except once in the art-house porn of Bruce La Bruce – who was anyway only doing it to wind up The Gays.)

In my own private ‘researches’ I’ve come across – and over – scores of straight/bi-curious/bisexual men who want to re-enact the straight hardcore porn they’ve been watching. With them as the ‘greedy slut’. They tell me they decided that it looked like a LOT of fun. And besides, they thought they could do a better job. (Probably correctly, since the ‘slut’ fantasy of straight porn is of course a largely male construction.)

But Bailey’s yen to strap penises into sex-lie detectors is of course much more respectable than my private perving.’

Simpson is evidently taking a stand for the value of experience when it comes to our knowledge and understanding of sex/ualities. Something that scientists seem to have very little idea about. I guess they have spent too much time wiring themselves up to kinky machines to get out much.  Of course, social science has taken note of and recorded people’s experiences.  Though I do think there has recently been a backwards shift in social science and the world at large, in favour of ‘science’ and ‘statistics’ when examining people’s sexual identities. Dan Savage for example, rates Bailey’s penis research, because it is ‘scientific’ and it shores up all Savage’s own prejudices and I might even say hatred of bisexuality, because bisexuals won’t join his big gay ‘team’?

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/08/16/9534403-case-closed-bisexual-men-exist

But Mark Simpson does not just have valuable personal experience of ‘bi-curious’ men, some of which he has written about beautifully in various contexts and books. He also is to my eyes, the leading contemporary  ‘social scientist’  in the study of masculinity and men’s sexual identities. His research is evidence-based, including detailed media-analysis that any academic should be proud of and should respect. That his work isn’t respected, once again, says more about the state of ‘academia’, and also about people’s anxieties around the fact that men of all orientations like cock, than it does about the ‘rigour’ of Simpson’s methodology.

Remember, the inimitable Freud, too, has been dismissed as ‘unscientific’ and not ‘rigorous’. Freud!!

I remain,  an ardent Simpsonista.

And Bailey and his Bitches can  suck my bi-furious dick.

The Savage Truth

Posted: October 24, 2010 in Identity
Tags: ,

My obsession with the horror that is Dan Savage has taken me to reading some very boring and very stupid articles, and the comments that go with them, ‘under the line’.

To sum up Dan’s philosophy on sexuality: ‘Gay is good. Gay is natural. Straight is tolerable. Christians are evil. Homophobia comes from Christian Straight people. I have a big cock. Suck it.’

But the real bile and hatred in Dan’s heart is reserved for bisexual people. Somehow they just don’t fit in his  world at all. Throughout his columns he presents bisexual men in particular, as immoral, sluttish, corrupting of innocent monogamous gay men, fickle, and well perverted.

In his Savage Love advice column Dan takes an email from a reader:

‘I am a gay man, and my closest friend, who I have no strong romantic feelings for, is bisexual. He is engaged to this cool girl. She knows that he is bisexual, and that he gets “frustrated” if he is intimate with only one sex for a long period of time. She is not into threesomes apparently, and obviously doesn’t want him running around fucking whoever he wants—which is what he is used to. But she is willing to work something out, where he would be able to fuck guys on the side. So they asked me to be my male friend’s “release”, meaning someone he can go to for sex throughout their marriage.’

I can’t be sure but this scenario sounds very unlikely to me. A gay man who is best friends with a bisexual man and who is asked by his best mate to be his lifetime fuck buddy? Would you ask your best friend to do that?

Whether or not Savage made this up, he shows his lack of respect for bisexual people in his response:

‘Let me be clear: I’m not making any general generalizations about bisexuals generally here. I’m talking about this bi guy and this bi guy only.

If this bi guy—this one and only bi guy—is used to doing whoever he wants whenever he wants, HGF, I doubt he’ll be satisfied with just one guy on the side, even if that guy is someone as sexy and amazing as you. So this plan seems unworkable to me over the long run as he’s used to a certain amount of variety in his sex life. He’s unlikely to be satisfied with just you for many of the same reasons he’s unlikely to be satisfied with just her.’

Of course Dan is generalising about bisexual men, by saying this bisexual man will not be satisfied with ‘just one guy on the side’, and will not be satisfied with a monogamous marriage either, because he is bisexual.

He ends by saying:  ‘you’ll most likely be the first in a long string of fuckbuddies…’ suggesting this gay man’s best friend will be the one to end their sexual relationship if they have one, because being bisexual, he is fickle and sluttish.

This comment from one of the column’s readers, which went unchallenged by Dan or anyone else, sums up the Savage view on bisexuality:

‘The word for people for whom being gay is a choice is “bisexual”

You see? Gay is natural and good. Straight is natural and tolerable. ‘Bisexual’ is unnatural, and wrong. Wrong because it throws into question the whole idea that ‘gay’ is natural. If we are born a certain way, if our sexuality is down to genes and fate, why would people be bisexual? What genes would make us neither one thing nor the other? Certainly not good wholesome gay genes. And certainly not boring, but useful heterosexual genes.

Within this binary way of thinking, ‘bisexuality’ is just as much a problem as trans identity, and we know Dan has a problem with that too.

Dan Savage Is Annoying. He is also a bigot. I don’t like him one bit.