Monday, September 8, 2008

Start of a Bicurious Friendship

One of Gray Lady's comments on her blog got me thinking about the similarities between bisexuality and asexuality. It had crossed my mind before, but I thought it was time for a fuller exploration. To me, asexuality and bisexuality are like two sides of the same coin, and I think we have more in common with bisexuals than with any other orientation. If some people are sexually attracted to either gender, it would only make sense that others are attracted to niether. We have a nice yin/yang thing going on. I would also venture to say that we have MORE in common with bisexuals than not. Sexual desire is only one thing, and I've come up with 5 ways that we are similar. I know there are more, but let's start off:
  1. Invisibility. You can't tell if someone is bi or ace by looking at them. And if one of us is with a similarly-gendered partner, the first assumption will probably be that we're gay.
  2. Visibility. When was the last time you saw an openly bisexual character in a movie or TV show? Or even read about one in a book? The only one I can think of, off the top of my head, was Peter Sarsgaard's character in "Kinsey". (After reading the Wikipedia entry on bisexuality, I'm reminded of the show "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila"'s still a pretty sad selection.)
  3. Relationships. Since many aces date sexual folk, we both contend with the issue of often dating people with different orientations than ours. If I dated a man, for instance, everyone would see me as straight-- but I'd still be queer as ever.
  4. Organizing. Nicole Kristal, author of The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe, learned that "organizing bisexuals was similar to herding cats". Are bisexual-themed events frequent or even in existence in your area?
  5. Stereotypes. Although a few people think everyone's a little bisexual, many seem to tell you that bisexuality is just a phase, or an easier way to accept being gay. I even heard someone say once, "Bi now, gay later!". The awfulness of the pun aside, there seems to be that same old idea: "Your orientation doesn't really exist". And that's something all aces are familar with.
And here's a bonus:
  1. I think we have important messages to share. Bisexuality seems to say that love isn't sharply delineated over gender, and that people can have a greater freedom over whom they love. And asexuality seeks to inform people, for one, that we can have meaningful relationships without sex. If our culture caught on to both of these views, our world might very well be a nicer, more relaxed and open place to relate to others.
I wonder what kind of success we'd have partnering with the bisexual community. Would they take as little convincing as I do on how similar we really are? I'm not sure how bisexuals have tried to organize, but maybe looking into that could be instructive for aces. Hey, they got into the "GLBT", so they must be doing something right! (Although it is, of course, debatable what good being part of the acronym has done Bs or Ts...)


ACH said...

One thing that stands out to me is if bisexuals were to recognize asexuals, they would need to change some of their language. Many groups feel the need to come up with an out-group term. For asexuals, the outgroup is "sexuals" or "sexual people." For bisexuals, the out-group term is monosexuals, which assumes that asexuals don't exist. (I'm not really sure how to come up with a term to refer to people sexually interested in one or fewer genders.)

From what I know about people who are bi, another similarity between them and asexuals is that it seem that it is common for them to distinguish between different types of attraction. Some bisexuals may have no gender preference for some types of attraction, but do have a gender preference for others.

Gemma said...

Have you ever seen the "Doctor Who" spinoff "Torchwood"? Half the characters in it are bisexual. Definitely two at least, possibly a third or fourth that I can remember off the top of my head.
I also seem to remember that a couple of episodes of "Sex and the City" focused on bisexuality.
I think bisexuals definitely have a head start on visibility.

Joanna Leigh said...

I really do agree with you. As a bisexual person, one of the most frustrating things (besides the invisibility you've mentioned,) is the lack of "positive" ambassadors to society or even role models. Even though there is obviously a long way to go, Gay and Lesbian culture is becoming more and more accepted I think largely in part to movies and TV shows like Will and Grace, The L Word, Queer as Folk, etc. (Though obviously some would argue these arent accurate or positive representations.)But who does the bisexual community have? Tila Tequila? Great...

And the Asexual community has even fewer!

Ily said...

Interesting, I'd never heard the term monosexual (wikipedia says it's "someone who is sexually attracted to one sex (or gender) only". Wouldn't we be zerosexuals, then? The article also says that the term is used "to denote everyone other than bisexuals/pansexuals (with the exception of asexuals, who are not sexually attracted to any gender)."
(I really think it's cool that someone added asexual references to the definitions of orientations!) But I know that allying with any group is hard, because they're composed of so many individuals who have vastly differing views. Unlike, say, a political party, there is no official bisexual or asexual stance. Thanks for sharing another similarity-- I didn't know that, either. If you can believe it, I've met even fewer avowed bisexuals than asexuals-- probably no more than 2 or 3 in my life, compared to the countless gay people I've met.

Ily said...

Thanks Gemma & Joanna...I've never seen "Torchwood", I'm not even up on Dr. Who yet! And come to think of it, Alice in the L-Word was bisexual, although I feel like she might have decided she was actually a lesbian later (does anyone remember?).

Noskcaj Llahsram said...

I'm happy someone said this, I've thought this for a long time.
Before I considered myself asexual, I described myself as "bisexual, equal attraction to both sexes, just none in my case"

Kay said...

And there are intersex people too - whose gender is not traditionally male or female or who have attributes somewhere in between. Maybe we should have a new acronym for us gender role transgressive people? Maybe BLIAGT? GLIBTA?

In New Zealand a soap on TV2 has featured a story thread about Gerald who is asexual. There is even an asexual support group featuring too!

Joanna Leigh said...

im pretty sure alice from the L word identifies as a lesbian now. (and they all made a lot of fun of her when she was "bi".) poor alice!

Ily said...

I know, poor Alice indeed (although she was really bitchy to Max! What's up wizzat?)...there must be quite a lot of peer pressure to ID as lesbian in that community, since pretty much everyone else does!

Superquail said...

The Torchwood characters seem to me to be bisexual largely to satisfy the slashers. Basically they want an excuse to get every character in bed with every other character.

A friend of mine who came out as bisexual told me that her mother was initially very concerned that she would not be able to be monogamous, which is apparently a common stereotype.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I definitely think we have more in common with bisexuals than not, and also there is a certain amount of overlap between the two communities, since a lot of aces seem to think gender doesn't matter so much either, and identify themselves as bisexual for a while until they realize they're not sexual. I myself am (of course) part of that overlap, but due to bisexual organization being like herding cats, and because it just wasn't that much of a issue for me at the time I was identifying as such (which, actually, may be part of the reason it's so hard to organize), I don't have much experience in bisexual communities, and they tend to be pretty low-key in GLBT (GLbt?) groups. I do think it would be interesting to explore the experiences we have in common with bisexuals, though, and I hope we will eventually get to the point in our visibility where we can have some interesting discussions with them!

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