This funny and nicely drawn/articulated comic strip sums up what Mark Simpson has been arguing for a while:
‘I’m not entirely convinced that male bisexuality has become ‘cool’, not least because most of the bisexual guys I meet are still terrified anyone will find out – and I still can’t name off the top of my head a single out male bisexual celeb in the UK (aside from my friend the novelist Jake Arnott -he is rather exceptional). Whereas almost any female star under the age of 40 has to pretend to be bi-crazed or else risk that Nuts/FHM cover.’
Now I totally agree that ‘homo-anxiety’ amongst men and about men (as the cartoon shows, women are homo-anxious on behalf of men too) is much much stronger than any anxiety over women’s bisexuality. The myth that men’s sexuality is fixed and women’s is ‘fluid’ that continues to be perpetuated, is an example of, and a justification for this anxiety. BUT I still believe that bisexual women who are open about their sexuality have a hard time especially in ‘respectable’ society. I also think in a related point, that women’s promiscuity is more problematic than men’s in general. So whilst I agree with the cartoon, and Mark Simpson, I also have a few reservations about their version of how we differentiate between men and women’s bisexuality.
Also, notwithstanding the fact women are judged if they are promiscuous, women’s sexuality is still seen as less interesting and important than men’s, and that is why women’s bisexuality seems more ‘acceptable’. Not because women are liberated and men aren’t. It just isn’t so worthy of comment. I haven’t even kissed a girl. And that doesn’t even seem worthy of comment to me.
In some ways, people’s issues with bisexuality, I believe, go back to their issues with ‘perversion’ in the old fashioned sense, and with non-reproductive sex acts as discussed by Freud and later Foucault. One thing I love about bisexuality, and the one way I might be prepared to describe myself as ‘bisexual’ (even though I have never kissed a girl) is the way it cannot be so easily ‘appropriated’ into a ‘heteronormative’ model of sexuality. Some gay men and lesbians do everything they can to squeeze their queerness to fit the hetero hole. Bisexual people can’t. They are just not normal. I like to celebrate things we do and enjoy watching others doing, that show our sexuality to be ‘perverse’. Rather than emphasising the gender identity of those we do things with, or those we watch doing things.
So I may not have kissed a girl, but I have had anal sex, and I have sucked cock, and I have worn a collar and lead, and I have tried piss play, and I have been spanked, and I have been suspended, and hog tied, and I have looked at images of men fisting each other (though I haven’t ever been fisted. I’d like to say, and not be lying, that I was fisted by a girl and I liked it) and I have seen pictures of women eat each other’s cunts. Is this ‘bisexuality’? Is it ‘polymorphous perversity?’ I don’t know.
I go with S Zeeland on this one: ‘Behaviour is an unreliable basis for sexual categories. Desire is immeasurable. Sexual identity is a joke’.