Sunday School: On Negativity
I’m a bisexual ciswoman with limited experience on the same-sex end of the pool thanks to my profession and hobbies, despite the fact that I’m actually attracted to women more often than men. I want to date women, but I’ve experienced a nontrivial amount of negativity and erasure from lesbians, and that makes me nervous about trying to enter lesbian spaces.
While I know that anyone who categorically doesn’t like/trust bisexuals just plain isn’t an option, I’m more concerned about being respectful of the fact that I’ve had het privilege so I don’t inadvertently upset people who otherwise wouldn’t have a problem with the fact that I’m bi. Can you give me any advice on how not to make an ass of myself? –BiNervous
Here is the hard truth: that negativity you have experienced from lesbians is more often than not a defense mechanism. Biphobia doesn’t generally come about because gold-star ladies think they’re better than bi ladies or ladies who had a rougher time arriving at a lesbian identity. It comes from watching the ladies we like go home with dudes at the end of the night.
Obviously this isn’t universal. There are plenty of lesbians who wouldn’t even think about judging another lady because her penis threshold happens to be higher than 0, and plenty of others who can compartmentalize whatever misadventures they may have had in the interest of fairness and sexytimes. But for a lot of people, experience is the only teacher they’ve had when it comes to dating, and lesbians are pretty intimately familiar with fighting against heteronormative social conditioning. Even if you’ve never had it happen to you, personally, it seems self-evidently safer to limit your dating pool to women who are essentially guaranteed not to leave you for a dude.
I’m not saying it’s right or fair that we feel that way, because it’s pretty clearly both wrong and unfair. But feelings don’t care all that much about “fair.”
For my part, I spent a bunch of years calling myself bisexual and getting shit for it from women I was interested in, so I know how hurtful it is to be dismissed like that. Surprisingly enough, that doesn’t keep me from being depressed and hurt sometimes. I like to think I’m fairly good at keeping it in and not letting it color my social interactions, but you’d probably have to ask someone else to find out.
I don’t really have any meaningful advice for you, BiNervous. You want to own your privilege, and you want to be sensitive to other people’s feelings–that’s a really good start, and anyone who isn’t willing to give you credit for that is an asshole and certainly not someone you would want to date. If you have trouble finding romantic prospects who aren’t assholes among the lesbian community, you might think about connecting with other bi girls who are feeling the same frustrations you are.
As for the rest of you lady-loving ladies, maybe you can take this opportunity to reexamine how you interact with bisexual women. You may have a BiNervous in your life who would make an awesome girlfriend. Don’t let an irrational prejudice cheat you out of recognizing her when you see her.
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Featured image from flickr user marymactavish