Bisexuality: Thinking in Opposites

Nicola Moffat is a fourth year PhD candidate in the School of English, University College Cork. If she’s not glued to a screen, you’ll find Nicola stuck in a book or swearing over a pile of unmarked essays. Some of her favourite things are monsters; art; ranty conversations; her nasty cat, George; and going for walks with her other half and her spotty dog, Pepper. She blogs at Monsterivity

I’ve been thinking about sex this week.  A lot.  And that’s not just because it’s Valentine’s day and I’m supposed to be thinking carnally.  I’ve been thinking about the different ways we express ourselves sexually and how we impose limits on those expressions, depending on our views.  This week has also been a learning curve for me where I’ve had to face my own prejudices.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say that Bi doesn’t exist, that you have to be either hetero- or homosexual.  It’s been said, by the way, by people of varying sexualities, not just heteros.  This “either or” rhetoric smacks of something very familiar -you can either be a man or a woman, you can either work or have kids, you can be either emotional or rational . . . how many times have we found ourselves standing just here?

I think in some ways this is why I like being Bi: straddling (if you’ll excuse the pun) this perceived boundary between hetero- and homosexual means that, in some sense, bisexuals break that boundary down and expose the fiction of opposing sexualities.

The rhetoric of “either or” defines by creating oppositions and can therefore be considered a form of patriarchal discourse; in much the same way that patriarchy has defined opposites in men and women, white and black, reason and emotion (ad infinitum), the creation of a hetero/homo binary repeats this opposition, bringing with it the inequalities associated with these binaries.

Casting identities and practices into dichotomized pairs leaves no room for the fluidity of sexuality or creative identity practices, not to mention refusing the possibility of trans* identities and polyamorous relationships.

Can we give up returning to this place?  Can we move on now?

Bisexuality: Thinking in Opposites