Taking Back the Bi – reflections on a post

Aoife O’Riordan has written one of the best things I’ve ever read about being bisexual and the political importance of the word. Go read it – it’s a must.

My own reactions to the post are:

1/ That I don’t associate myself with the words queer and pan, and haven’t encountered much of those communities at all and thus haven’t seen the hatred against the term bisexual from that angle.

2/ That I’ve not exclusively attributed the meaning “falling for both men and women exclusively”, where men and women are assumed to be cis, to the term bisexual. My knowledge of trans* issues, while far from perfect and complete, ’cause yes, I’ve fucked up around this before, has grown alongside my feminism and my bisexual identity. So I see no reason why the label bisexual would exclude falling for a trans* or genderqueer person, assuming the person concerned has recognised and begun to deal with their transphobia.

3/ Regarding the phrase “I don’t see gender” – yes it’s highly obnoxious. Aoife compares it to saying “I don’t see race”. That’s a phrase I’ve only ever seen used online but from the context I assume it’s really common state-side from people that think they’re being progressive. I’ve read it instinctively as “I *refuse* to acknowledge that I certainly carry racist ideas and stereotypes in my head and act accordingly”. You don’t get to exist in our (UK/USA/White European-derived) societies without carrying racist stereotypes and ideas. It makes me uncomfortable every time I realise I’ve just run into another racist stereotype in my mind, but there it is. You don’t make it go away by pretending it’s not happening. Instead, you note it and challenge it and do your best to act as if you thought otherwise. I also strongly encourage reading about subconscious stereotypes and stereotype threat – learning about these things opened my eyes.

3.2/

“the idea that physical attraction is somehow less valid than, or exclusive of, attraction to someone as a person is the height of sex-shaming. There is nothing shallow or meaningless about being physically attracted to people. And being physically attracted to someone doesn’t mean for a second that you can’t fancy the hell out of their brains as well.”

Gold. Pure gold. Continue reading

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The SM Dykes Conference 2013

My mate Jupiter bullied me into going essentially. Up to about a year and a half ago I was quite involved in the BDSM public scene. I had folks I played with at events and my two girlies, Jupiter and Freyja, whom I still play with privately. Then I moved cities and fell into a relationship with my current partner. Suddenly, what with Jiu Jitsu and general life things, I had a lot less time and inclination to be out on the scene. I went to a few munches in the new place but didn’t really click with the different groups, and I drifted away. Jupiter insisted that the SM Dykes Conference would be amazing, as it was for her the last couple of years, and she needed the moral support to cope with facing an ex, so I went.

And actually, it was pretty good.

I went to five different workshops over the two days with topics on ways of using words for effect, different play styles, and flogging with emotion. There was an excellent speed-meeting event that led to lots of great conversations. Ooo, and there were two hands-on sessions, a rope workshop and a latex hoods drop-in, that I really enjoyed. Sessions I didn’t get to go to that I wish I had included a boot/shoe fetish one, a discussion on feminism and kink and a discussion about penises and cocks from a trans* and dom(me) point of view.

The event was open to women and people with links to the female community, so there were genderqueer people, transmen, transwomen, people in transition, people who want to transition but cannot yet for whatever reason and those who are only out in certain situations. It was a crash-course for me in pronoun usage, and it was an eye-opener for me for the kinds of difficulties trans* people face. The best thing though was seeing and hearing the joy and confidence they gained from being in a safe space, where they can be exactly who they are, without fear. Continue reading

Doing vs Being – Labelling Identity

I said I wanted to talk about kinky things, so to get us started here’s another comment-turned-full-length-post that I wrote a long time ago, edited and updated for you all. The starting point was a post by Cliff titled ‘What am I?‘ that was all about labels and descriptors and how we can get ourselves all tangled up in the labels we and others apply to ourselves, to the exclusion of what actually is.

Labels are helpful when they act as signposts to help us find others in similar situations and they ease conversations when the people involved use the same meanings. But, when people have differing meanings, and when they, for ease of thought, think and act as if the label is the whole reality of the person it’s applied to, problems arise. It’s a habit we readily apply to others and it’s also easy to do to ourselves. We get wrapped up in the shorthand description and start measuring everything we are by it. We worry about how x behaviour makes us less y, and we worry that because we do m that makes us n, and when n conflicts with y we get really stressed out, because what does that make us? An example from my own life: I discovered I liked Industrial music but I also still loved listening to pop, so did that make me less Goth? Would I be goth-enough for the in-crowd to accept me? Was I still Goth if I didn’t own a pair of New Rocks and didn’t have permanent synthetic dreads because of work? Worry, worry, stress, stress.

How many identities do you have?

How many identities do you have?

What we are great at ignoring is that it is possible for different identities to co-exist in the same person. The things we think define us do not make us. It is possible to be different things to different people in different situations and yet maintain internal integrity. If the labels aren’t making life easier, bin them! They are descriptors, not reality. The boxes people put us in are not the sole extent of our identities, and just because coming to terms with those identities and building a coherent self out of them is bloody hard work, doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Continue reading