5

Bisexuality is a Queer Sin

I’ll make this short because, well, it gets heavily on my nerves – I’ve discovered, being a part of a queer group for a couple of years now, that being bisexual is a very, very problematic thing in gay and lesbian eyes.

For lesbians, bi girls are those who can run back to men and who will eventually choose men. I’ve mentioned before how Lovely got told repeatedly when she was getting together with me that my being bi means that I will eventually leave her for a man, and therefore there’s no profit in being with me.

Moreover, if you’re a bi woman in a queer group and you’re with a woman, you are functionally lesbian so that’s okay. You can talk about your bi-ness and everyone will make a big joke about it, but basically, it’s okay, you haven’t strayed. But if somehow you accidentally fall for a man and are in a relationship with him, suddenly it’s not funny anymore. A bi woman in a relationship with a man is straight (and dead) to lesbians.

What I’ve found more interesting recently is that bi men are also disregarded by gay men, but not for being traitors ore foreign agents. It’s more that gay men think men can’t actually be bi. Oh, you can get a gay man to say that, of course, men are bi and bisexuality exists, all that jazz; but in gossip or chat mode, when it comes up that a man says he’s bi, the answer goes something like: “Him? He’s a pakki khusri! He’s just saying he’s bi because, trust me, I’ve seen millions like him, he’s not just gay, he’s a bottom!”

There’s a such a deep investment in being gay or lesbian, and asserting that it’s a valid life, a natural orientation and all that, that bisexuality seems to challenge that deeply. And boy, that gets on my tits.

Because, yes, it’s easy to pass in a straight society if you’re bi. Yes, it makes it easy to live in society if you’re in a straight relationship. But, no, a bi person in a straight relationship is not straight suddenly! And to be bi in a straight society is like being any kind of queer in a straight society: you can’t talk about a large part of who you are, you have to be cautious, you have to be suppress yourself. Which is the universal queer condition in a heternormative world.

Real Queer is Queer that acknowledge that a heteronormative world is oppressive and terrible for all forms of queerness. Real Queer is Queer that loves outside of the heteronorm, regardless of orientation!

 

8

“Friend”

When Lovely and I first got together, or were in the process of getting together (as you know, this took some time), good friends of mine would ask, “Where’s your friend? How’s your friend?” and they would mean her. I would answer and we would proceed with our evening. Usually, I was under some sort of stress because of something going on with her family or I was frustrated and confused about whether or not I should be dating her (we broke up, like, 5 times in the first three months). Having her called my friend wasn’t too problematic.

At one point, though, I said to one particular person who was making a little light fun of me and us, “Lovely. Her name is Lovely.” And possibly I said this a little sharply because he stopped dead and said, “I know.” And I said, “Yeah, okay.”

Some of my friends also called variants of ‘whatsername’ at the beginning, and then asked for the fourteenth time what her name was. It’s a common Pakistani name and hard to forget, but okay. With him also I eventually enunciated: LOVE-LEE. And then he remembered forever after.

Again, it was  time of ambiguity, my ambiguity about the relationship, so while these were minor annoyances, I was okay.

But I’m finding that it is wretchedly common for people to use “friend” about someone they know is your partner/girlfriend. It betrays discomfort with ones sexuality and choices. So, for example, when I was getting this apartment, I told the landlord that my partner or my girlfriend (using both at several occasions) would be joining me a bit later, he would always say, “And when is your friend coming? Is your friend coming for sure?”

Is this an attempt at politeness? If I’ve used girlfriend and partner, are you confused that I’m talking about my female best friend or my business partner? Is it a subtle protest against your characterization of yourself as being in a homosexual union, suggesting, ‘Well, you can do what you want, of course, and I’ll take your money, drink with you, be your friend, but I’m not sure I condone this relationship of yours by calling it what you call it.’ Is it a misguided attempt to include all possible permutations of the relationship? Is it doubt about whether, when you heard both girlfriend and partner, when you knew that snogging and sex were involved in this relationship, when you know that one person left a marriage to be romantically with the other, you’re not sure yet what the acceptable term for the relationship is?

How about the one I use, asshole?

That is what I am annoyed about today.

5

You Trendy Lez, You

Lately, I’ve been reading online about feminism (particularly radical feminism) and its enthusiasm for women as superior beings. Way back when I learned about radical feminism, about 10 years ago, I learned about it being body-focused, body-centered, the liberation of the body. I read some Andrea Dworkin talking about penetration as a violent act and read it as a kind of drama piece, a monologue or something, rather than a treatise on the reality of human relationships. That’s not what she intended, probably, but who cares, I can read things how I like. The rest of radical feminism I read as being a woman-centred look at the universe. And I was certainly on board with that.

It occurs to me that I possibly missed some key texts in radical feminism. Otherwise, it would have hit me earlier that there’s a strong separatist trend in radical feminism, a desire to get these male buggers out of our hairs for good and just be women-on-women action all the time.

Speaking as a bisexual woman, I would like to say, ein minuten bitte.

First, the obvious: my dad’s a man, my best friend’s a man, my other best friend’s a man, my academic mentor is a man. My mom is married to a man, whom she loves and without whom she would be very unhappy. My mom, additionally, does not like sex with women and would not survive in a lezzie world. These are just some of the people I care about who would fall victim to a radical feminist holocaust of men. (Remember, please: I’m referring to a separatist strand of radical feminism, not all radical feminism everywhere for all time. Untwist knickers now.)

Second and quoting Philomela:

But…surely part of feminism is upholding women’s rights to have relationships with whoever they want, It also makes me think that many heterosexual feminists have no idea how power struggles and infighting play out in lesbian communities and relationships. It seems some heterosexual women don’t know that lots of lesbians are not feminists, that lots of lesbians perceive themselves and express themselves through certain sorts of masculinities, (in fact almost all of the women that make me go ooohh her! do  this)  that are often  seen as the antithesis of radical feminism.

When I was in university, it was possible to be a BUG – Bi Until Graduation – and I was lumped in with the BUG category because a) bi women are untrustworthy in their allegiance to queerness and b) I was Pakistani so for sure I’d go back in the closet when I went home (which I did, for a while, and I don’t apologize to anyone but myself for it). And if you were feeling BUGish, you would feel guilty about desiring men, doubt your own ability to stay the course of your beliefs as well as your feelings and belief yourself to be easily swayed by the cool factor. I thought I’d been easily swayed by the cool factor and that’s why my insides were turning to jelly at the sight, sound, smell, suhbat of certain women. This would not happen once I was out of this hellish den of hellish sinful sodomitic hell!

Quite.

Reading Philomela reminded me of all this just now. Of the sheer stupidity of thinking that bisexuality is a changeable state of being. Talk about self-oppression! “I am bi and with a man therefore I must be the enemy.” Meanwhile, straight women are going about saying they would be lesbian for the wo-man cause if only they could get up the guts to actually desire women. I know girls. Pussy smells funny. And you’d miss that lovely cock taste so much.

Being Bi is really fucking hard. It takes ages for your partner to feel secure that you’re not going to leave them for a different gender, that you’re not desiring the other parts in your sex life. And then there’s people constantly asking you, “Are you sure you are into men? Are you sure you’re into women? Are you sure? It doesn’t seem lke it, sometimes, that’s all. You’re not really the type.”

Kiss my ass. No bi person needs to feel guilty for desiring someone. There’s no superiority in partnering with a woman over a man. Love is love. Love may be political, but politics doesn’t dictate who you love; who you love explains your politics to you. Shows you your power and your privilege.

Asshattery. Making people feel like they’re not fighting the good fight because there’s a friendly penis in the vicinity. People are NICE. Some people are MEN. Get the fuck over it.

4

Why is everybody such a fucking victim?

The blogosphere is stupid place. It encourages stupidity. It did so way back when it wasn’t a blogosphere, but just a bunch of bulletin boards and chat rooms. It did so when all we had was listserves to wank on. But now, stupid has proliferated into a kind of art form.

My favourite stupid of the moment is the stupidity in using the term “safe space.” I learned it when I was in college, in my women’s studies classes, and I learned pretty much simultaneously that there is no such thing as “safe” space. There might be “safer” spaces, where you specify what constitutes your personal safety and can agree on that with a bunch of other people, without threatening them over some issue of safety that you haven’t discussed already because of your own privilege and blindness.

If this logic is not easily followable, it’s because I wrote it wrong. Suffice it to say that some contexts are safer for some people than other contexts; and when people are in the minority, then they will seek out similarly disenfranchised people, hang out together and feel relatively safe.

Well and good. But when feminists decide not to feel safe at the drop of a hat because someone else on another blog has said something disagreeable – I don’t know where to put my head.

So, two things that are pissing me off lately:

1. “I’m such a fucking victim and so in danger all the time because I have a cunt and the world is so unfriendly to cunts that, even though I spend all my time with other cunts, I’m in constant danger from the cuntless and the cunt-appropriator and the traitor cunts.” Fuck that shit. I don’t know what’s so  radical about only engaging the choir (she says as she refuses to invite her own non-choir to this post… sheepishness ensues). I don’t know what’s so radical about fighting with other people who are fighting for female power. I just don’t get it. What happened to engaging patriarchal discourse? Oh. This.

Shit, I linked it. Now I’m in trouble.

2. “You can speak here ’cause I say so and you’re annoying me and lalalala I’m putting finger in ears now, I can’t here you, OH SAY CAN YOU SEEEEE!”

On the one hand, I absolutely agree. It’s a blog. It’s owned by a person. It is not a public forum, it’s a private forum publicly available. The blogger has every right to throw whoever she wants off the blog.

On the other hand, it’s so ridiculous to start a controversial conversation, get a fuckload of negative feedback that argues with you, some of which is downright rude and obnoxious, and after a while, just delete the lot because you didn’t like how it went. The blogger is, I must point out, within her rights. But it’s just so… ridiculous.

I get the impulse. I’ve had some comments on here that really made me feel like shit. But people think like that. People have horrible opinions – of women, of queers, of sex-positive feminists, of feminists against prostitution and sex-work, of transgender folk, of bisexual folk. People are horrible.

But surely the purpose of blogging publicly is to reduce the horribleness of people, one’s own and other people’s? I mean, what’s a feminist intervention if you’re in a safe space all the damn time?

There’s a bunch of examples I could link, but I’m lazy and I’d rather spend the time weeding through the reference literature for my thesis than trawl through the web re-looking at things that pissed me off.

Yeah, I’m just that pussy.

8

Ex-Gays

…can fuck off. I say this with all the love and compassion I can muster in my little queer heart. Ex-gays can fuck off.

I have no problem with ex-gay folks who are just, you know, not gay anymore, for whatever reason. I have no problem (okay, no huge problem) with religious folks who decide that since the Qur’an does not condone homosexuality, they must live celibate or straight lives. It upsets me, I think it’s foolish in a very this-world-is-going-to-suck-for-you-and-those-around-you sense. But to everyone their own religion and their own sexual preferences – who the hell am I?

BUT! – Those folks who think that since they are no ex-gay, have found the light, the rainbow, the pot, the gold, the whatever, they must come over to my world/life/blog/mobile phone/dinner party and tell me all the fuck about it? Those people can fuck off and take my dildo with them for assistance. Proselytizing about the merits of celibacy in the eyes of God, about how homosexuality is a test like so many tests Allah gives us (other tests you can pass, dumbass!) and about how, particularly, you are ruining your family and friends by being gay – these are things that I have no time for, no room for, no empathy for (and I’m full of fuckin empathy) and many bad bad words for.

I don’t go around proselytizing queerness or saying that everyone should be gay or that everyone should be lesbian except the men, who should be shot. I don’t exhort you kindly, dear reader, to see how lovely it is to lick pussy, just try it one time, you’ll like it, it’s like peaches. I don’t talk about how het sex and male penetration of a woman is a violation, inherently violent and oppressive, and you should realize every time you fuck your husband, girlie, that you’re bringing the sisterhood down.

Live your own damn life, and fuck off of mine.

This has been a reaction to several people saying shit, people privately directing me to ex-gay blogs recently and a general knowledge of gaymuslims dot org, which I don’t link to because they don’t bloody deserve a hat-tip. Got a crow-bar and a mean temper, though…

Okay, not really. I’m really short. I can’t take anyone. Bye.

7

Bisexuality Blues

My girlfriend, from far across the land, asked me yesterday if I thought that femme women in Pakistan were lesbian for a transitory time before marrying a guy and turning straight again.

Now, the thing is that I’m PMSing big time. So I’m mildly homicidal. And, to be honest, I don’t like anyone when I’m in that mood. So I was having a great deal of trouble communicating civilly as it is when this question was flung at me and I got sort of pissed about it.

But what was difficult about the question for me was this:

  1. women who are femme are less devoted to their queerness
  2. women who are bi are less devoted to their queerness (perhaps a leap there, but I’m a bi chick pmsing)
  3. she’s not femme!
  4. it’s a choice based on anything besides surviving to live a tolerable, abuse-free life.

One of my best friends, when I was lamenting about this to him, asked me if that wasn’t an old chestnut – the thing about bisexuality and copping out being linked so closely together. But I’ve never experienced it as something that is dying a natural death. It’s always been fairly live in my life – either as a form of self-loathing or as something that comes from outside and usually as a combination thereof. It doesn’t matter where you are; it’s lesbian or bust, at least in your philosophy.

So I finally decided to fuck that shit. And I did so with my usual sudden righteous indignation. I haven’t really unleashed it anywhere (and I don’t call this unleashing because I’m not using enough of the word ‘fuck’ for it to qualify) but it’s coming. Because a lot of things become easy for a lot of queer people and easy is good. Easy is better than misery, torment and a recurring desire to kill yourself. And there is no ease in bi-ness: just because you could fuck a man doesn’t mean there is a man out there you want to fuck and, if there is, it doesn’t mean you stop wanting to fuck women and, when you do, that desire and consequent action is no less deviant. As my Chasing Amy lifestyle will attest, it’s a barrel of angry monkeys on acid instead.

6

Fishbowl Syndrome

A while ago, an American documentary person came to town and started asking my gay male friends for interviews. At first, one of my closest friends decided to meet up with him, thinking it might be a good hookup. The contact he’d got the name from had suggested some such. When he called this American man, he found out that in fact he wanted to learn about gays in Pakistan, the oppression, the heartbreak, the Islamic culture and how, HOW are you coping?

My friend got really pissed off. I mean really pissed off. Now, he’s easy to confuse and discourse analysis may sound like an exotic sexual position to him. But he knows his shit. And he knows when someone is trying to exploit him. So, while I never met the American myself or spoke to him, I trust my friend’s general assessment, albeit with the tiniest pinch of salt.

Apparently this man arrived and derided not just this gay friend I’m talking about, but another man as well, for not being activist enough. They aren’t in the liberation struggle, they just get laid or sit around, and why aren’t they doing more for the queer cause and by the way, can you answer on camera?

What’s the point? Why do people go off to some other country and find out what the natives are like? I’m all for anthropology, but why do assholes get involved in it? My friend’s major complaint was that this man was going to make some documentary out of all this and sell it to the west as a picture of Pakistani oppression and Pakistani perversion, rolled into one. And I can’t blame him. I mean, why would I want to broadcast to the world that we live in a dictatorial country which is extremely Westophobic and Westophilic at the same time, and so has a terrible relationship with sex and sexuality, and therefore is a bit of a freak show?

It’s not that that isn’t true. It’s sort of true. But what a ridiculous approach to it. “Look, they’re such religious freaks, but check out all the ass fucks and girl-on-girl action that goes on in those tish tosh private homes!” Fuck you.

I want to tell a story, too. But if it’s “our” story and we’ve defined “us” with some consideration for reality and the option of leaving the “us” whenever, then “we” set the fucking terms.