Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Controversial Statement: Bisexual is the New Asian

Holy bawls, Internet, between the weekend's historical romp, prep work for this week's post, and just general stuff I gotta do, I have been unusually busy. Hopefully though, that won't last and I can soon go back to lazing about like I don't have a care in the world.

Speaking about last Saturday's video, briefly, the response to it was overwhelmingly positive, both from people who know me and therefore are required to say nice things and people who do not and are not, so that's great. Honestly, there were several things that made me worry about it to the point of almost not posting it and of those, I will be fixing and refining many for next week's video, but on the whole, I'm glad everyone liked it as well as they did. I've decided that until the series concludes, I'm going to post the remainder of the videos on the blog like I did last time, but don't worry, I've got at least one or two more Super Special Saturday Bonus Posts planned besides, though they might still become Thursday posts. Still haven't figured out how I'm going to do that yet.

This picture is totally out of context and has no inherent connection to what's been written, but look, I needed something before the jump cut and why don't YOU try to think of some "Thursday" jokes.

Before we begin, let me just share with you some things from around the net I've seen this week.

First of all, did anyone else notice that it was kind of a rape-heavy week? Maybe that's just because I read the Escapist, but I mean first of all there's that Sandusky business, then there's this article and this video, both of which cover the concept and how its handled both in gamer culture and at large and then finally I hear about TVTropes removing all rape-based articles and references because it was getting them in trouble with Google.

I'd advise everyone to watch that video by the way; Jim Sterling is generally a pretty crass, sometimes even puerile presenter, but he does a lot to treat the topic with what is, for him, some rather startling frankness, fairness, and even gentleness. As for the's a good read, it really is, and the anonymous writer went through a huge struggle to put his story out there but I will say this; if you're someone who struggles with that sort of thing, I'd say maybe skip it. It's kind of intense.

Relative weight of the topic aside, it's good to see this much good dialogue being made about what is such a sticky subject. Abuse of the word and misuse of the topic has been pervasive in gamer culture since online gaming was a thing and it's nice to hear that we might finally be growing out of that.

In less depressing (and much tastier) news, Kraft's Oreos decided to celebrate Pride Day by posting this picture:
And, as these sorts of displays go, was immediately met by both raucous approval and threats of boycotting. Frankly, I don't know where you, specifically, lie on the issue, but I think the real tragedy here is that you cannot actually buy that cookie anywhere. That's like what? Septupplestuffed? That sounds goddamn delicious. They could sell those to me individually wrapped for all I care, let's do it.
In all seriousness though, Kraft has stuck to their guns on this one, despite the threats of not buying delicious cookies anymore and that's great. I think it's because Kraft knows who the real losers will be (The people without cookies).

Oh, also, one more thing::

Prince Stark; Irohman.
That is all.

Controversial Statement: Bisexual is the New Asian

So this week's topic might confuse some people, and that's perfectly understandable. Let me explain; the genesis of this article comes from two conversations I had at various points. The first one was about how Asians, as a broad ethnicity, were by and large one of the last ethnic groups it was generally considered "Okay" to use stereotypes to make fun of. We decided this was probably for a few reasons; partly because there was never a huge Asian civil rights movement, it just sort of piggy-backed off all the others, partly because not all of these stereotypes are inherently negative, and partly because there's a pretty good number of Asians who actively reinforce those stereotypes, either directly or indirectly. Regardless of the reasoning though, it's a common thought that Asians are good at math, obsessive over grades, can play either piano or some other instrument to near-perfection, and all have heavily-accented, overbearing parents who probably have a really hard time with their 'r's

Whether or not you believe these things, the Internet clearly does.
Some time later, I was having a completely different conversation with another friend, the topic being discussing her struggles with bisexuality. Note, not her struggles with her own bisexuality; she was very comfortable with that and pretty happy with the whole deal. What we were talking about were other people's struggles with her bisexuality. She had dealt with all kinds of misunderstanding, misinformation, and even brash accusations from both sides of the "Gay people are evil/pretty nifty" line.

You see, of the four groups the LBGT represents (More recently the LBGTQ, but I refuse to call it that on the grounds that if your acronym is more than four letters long and doesn't spell something out, then it has failed as an acronym), Lesbians, Bisexuals, Gays, and Transgendered, three of those groups are relatively easy to define. Lesbians only do women, Gays only do men, who Transgendered people do is up in the air, but the general idea is that they're not happy with whatever diddlybit they were born with. People get all of that. Even the people who hate these people get most of that. Bisexuality though? It's just one, big jungle of grey area. 

As she described the various problems she'd had, It dawned on me that a lot of these encounters and confrontations stemmed from many of the same reasons that Asian racism still gets by; It's never had its own big movement, not all of the stereotypes are inherently negative, and certain members of the community keep these stereotypes going. All that in mind; I have to wonder what it must be like to be a bisexual Asian.

Well that's going on my list of "Things that are accidentally pornography"
Let's take those three things on, one at a time. The first one's simple enough; lack of publicity.

The Gay Right's movement's been through various forms in America since around the 1970's and it's just about always been about that; Gay Rights, here meaning strictly homosexual. This isn't to imply that that's necessarily a bad thing; it most certainly isn't, but that's definitely been the main, if not sometimes the only focus. Since the beginning of this movement, bisexuality's generally been considered just another form of gay and while that isn't untrue (Approximately half true, give or take) it's also not quite on the mark. While it is true that many Gay and Lesbian people use bisexuality as a stepping stone to being completely out as who they are, plenty of people just stay there, because that is where they belong. Bisexuality is definitely its own thing, hence it getting its own letter in the LBGT. 

I have never, in all my years, seen a Bisexual rally, that is, a rally that is just about Bisexuality. It would seem weird, wouldn't it? Part of it does seem to be because there are simply bigger fish to fry right now. Maybe we'll see one in a decade or two after the homosexuality question has been settled and the fab four have parted ways after sharing "good job" handshakes all around, but as of now, I have never seen one, heard of one happening, nor know of any plans for one. 

Bottom line; part of the reason there's so much misinformation about Bisexuality is that right now, they can't really afford to have their own voice yet. Right now, everyone's fighting for the right to have an alternative sexuality period, so it's perfectly understandable right now if maybe there's a bit of confusion about one of the less-disputed factors involved. Hopefully, that will right itself with time. Hopefully.

But enough of that nonsense, the next two points are much more interesting.

The next one, for instance, is that not all stereotypes or misinformation are inherently negative. Now, I use those words "Not inherently negetive" and I really should explain them, because I really don't mean "Not harmful or misleading" if that were the case, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. Really, the devil's in the details; just like you could call someone who excels in math, plays an instrument, and obsesses over grades "Driven for success" you could also call them "A no-life loser with all the wrong priorities" and neither of them are any good because, true or not, they don't betray any details about the person in question.

One of the more popular thoughts I hear discussed is that Bisexuals are more sexually open. This openness covers sexual acceptance, sharing of sexual experiences, and just generally more up for sex. The shorthand descriptions of this range from "Experienced" to "Kinky" to "Whore" but the idea is always the same; bisexuals just generally are more casual about sex than most people. 

The thought is based on the idea that to discover your sexuality, you must have sex which is a pretty sound line of thinking, but almost completely unfounded. Yes, some people might discover their alternate preferences via experimentation but from everything I've ever heard; most people just sort of know and it's really just a matter of accepting it. I have known not just one, but multiple people who are legitimately and wholly bisexual, but haven't even lost their virginity. When I try to broach the subject, they clam up just like everyone else who's too shy to talk about their sex life. As I said, the line of thinking is sound, but it neglects to consider that these people live in the same country with the same social morays and stigmas as everyone else and that just like a wholly straight person knows that they're attracted to the opposite gender without needing to experiment, a bisexual person can know who they are without needing to seek out "practice."

The other, possibly the biggest, thing I hear a lot is the idea that anyone who identifies as bisexual is attracted to both genders equally, in a 50/50 split. I totally understand where this came from; we've got a hard enough time trying to understand that there might be a middle ground between the two extremes of Gay and Straight, lord help us try to wrap our puny minds around there being different degrees of that middle ground. Thankfully, I have a chart.

All Glory be to the chart! May it deliver unto us our data efficiently and attractively! Forever and ever, Amen.
What you see here, is what's called a "Kinsey Scale" or really "The Kinsey Scale" because I know of no other Kinseies who have made scales. What the Kinsey scale is, essentially, is a very simple self-reference graph for varying flavors of sexual preference. You'll notice there's only one number with a perfect 50/50 split, and that's three. My friend I was talking about earlier falls around a 4 or so, with strong preferences for other women, but also enough preference for men to still be very happily married to one and many many many other Bisexuals will fall on either side of 3 as their tastes provide. Perfect 3's exist, of course they do, the purpose of this exercise isn't to try to prove they don't, it's to try and illustrate that they're not the only thing out there. Most Bisexuals will tell you while they might have strong attractions to both genders, they really only see themselves settling down with one or the other. 

A brief aside about this before we move on; I get asked occasionally how someone can test where they, themselves, might fall on this magical Kinsey scale and the only real answer is "Ask yourself how attracted you are to boobs/no boobs, as your gender specifies" The Kinsey scale isn't a scientific grade that can be handed out based on research and questionnaires, it's really more of a self-reference for people who are struggling to put their preferences into words. That way, instead of spending forever to try to find the most eloquent way to say "I'm into dudes, but don't see my relationships with them ever being really serious" you can just say "I'm about a 2.5" and then all of the sudden, everyone's on the same page and you've got a solid conceptual foundation to build off of. Everyone wins!

I'm going to take a moment to clear up some other miscellaneous Bisexual myths I've accrued over the last couple years, partly because it needs to be done, partly because it feeds into the next point, and partly because I was explicitly instructed to use my position as a prominent blogger to bring some of these to light.

"Prominent Blogger" Yep. That's me. Totally.
--Being Bisexual doesn't mean that a person can't commit to being gay, that's like saying liking PB&J's and ham means you just can't commit to ham.

--Similarly, the fact that Bisexuality exists and covers a broad range of preferences doesn't mean that everyone is Bisexual. There really is such a thing as wholly Straight and wholly Gay because dammit, some people just cannot stand ham.

--Being Bisexual doesn't mean necessarily being more open to threesomes, the general stigmas concerning threesomes and group sex are pretty much the same over straight, bisexual, and homosexual communities, just that people who are into that have found more acceptance in groups that are already all about social and sexual acceptance. The same thing goes for various kinds of kinky or taboo sex. Also porn isn't real. Get over it.

--Bisexuality does not render monogamy impossible. This is one of my favorites, actually. It demonstrates a clear inability to consider bisexuality in the same way one might consider their own sexuality and also betrays a common misunderstanding about Bisexuality, conceptually. To be bisexual isn't to desire and require both genders, but to be open to both genders to varying degrees. For anyone struggling with that, let me put it this way; when a man and woman marry, is monogamy impossible because there are other men and women that either partner finds attractive? 

--Bisexuality does exist. This one was almost like four separate bullet points until I realized they were all different versions of the same one. I've heard that girls only pretend to be bisexual to turn guys on (more on that later) that bisexuality is, entirely, just a stepping stone towards homosexuality, or that it's just a phase some people, especially girls, go through. All of these things are not necessarily untrue, but don't come close to representing anything other than a minority of self-identified Bisexual. Once I even heard that it's impossible for a guy to be bisexual, but girls are totally okay somehow. That last one's hilarious to me, because it falls so deeply in line with the notion that it's far more acceptable (read, "hot") for a girl to be bisexual than a guy. This is the kind of idea that came from the same demographic that brought us "It's only gay if you kiss" and "No homo"

Namely, the demographics with no sense of "Overcompensation"
Then finally, there's the third point, "There are people who, either directly or indirectly, keep these stereotypes and misconceptions going"

The instances of this happening fall, primarily, into two groups. The first group is made of actual Bisexual people who, due to whatever reason, be it preference or happenstance, do something that confirms one of the preconceived notions, thus starts the nasty cycle of "Nuh uh! I knew a Bisexual person once and they totally did that!" which is, of course, flawed reasoning. As I touched on both with the list of miscellanea and the degrees of variability, the groups surrounding and interweaving with Bisexuality are too varied to judge any but a very small number of them by the actions of one or two. Make no mistake, there are people who defy these myths and fit right in with the misconceptions; there are bisexuals who love threesomes, who sleep with everyone, who actually cannot keep together a monogamous relationship, but then again, the same could be said for sections of any other social group, you just notice it more because it's confirming a preconceived notion.

The second group are those who are actually not bisexual, but keep up or encourage the stereotypes to suit their personal needs. The most known of these is the girl who pretends to be Bisexual just to impress a guy she's interested in. My very same friend actually encountered this firsthand once, having gone out on a very cold, awkward date with a girl who claimed to be a switch hitter that ended in a reluctant cheek kiss and then hearing her uncomfortable dinner be retold as a hot, girl-on-girl, kissathon later to an intently interested male suitor. I can only imagine what happened when the guy she was trying to impress decided to try to bring another girl in on the action. The people who do this; annoying at best, infuriating at worst; not only rely on but actively encourage the growth of the very same misconceptions that bisexuals have to push against. That is, to put it in colloquial terms, not cool, bro. 

There's also the person using Bisexuality as a stepping stone on to wherever they're going, sexually. I can't really fault anyone for doing that; it can be a hard thing to do and any step to make it easier can't be maligned too much, but it's a thing that happens and it's a thing that confuses people and that makes it worth mentioning.

Then of course there's porn. Lesbianism now becoming somewhat of a no-go, there's been a mild rise in "Bisexual" porn which, after much exhaustive research, I can confirm is pretty much the same thing, just with Bisexual in the title. While I can't really fault porn for its purpose, its necessary attraction to buzzwords definitely always has unintended side effects and I'd say that so far they're doing a pretty good job wreaking as much havoc on Bisexuals as they've done on Lesbians; enforcing all the taboos and stereotypes because, I'll admit it right here; that shit's hot. I think there's an entirely different discussion about exactly why it's hot, which we won't have here because this is already a very long post, but more or less it boils down to it being essentially taboo and, therefore, sexy. We're weird like that.

Look, I'm going to cinch this up because I'm running close to my word budget for the week and last time I ran out, I had to mime my way through a presentation, but it all comes down to this; Bisexuality is like schizophrenia. Not in the sense that it makes you hear voices, but in the sense that there is no one kind of schizophrenia. Maybe I should have called this article "Bisexual is the new Schizophrenia" but frankly, I'd rather have a bunch of math nerds angry at me than schizos, so there's that.

Special thanks to my half-forgotten frenemies and anonymous friends, both of whom helped tremendously with research over the course of several years about about two composite weeks, respectively. 

And now I leave you with a video of some Ugandans explaining exactly how one practices gay sex.

Thank you, Goodnight.

1 comment:

  1. Bisexuals are also kindof isolated because of all of the confusion surrounding the sexual preference, and due to the fact, like you said, that everybody has a different version of it.

    Good article, Tom.