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Owning the word

softfruit

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So often in talking about bisexuality I find people wanting to dodge "being labelled". Labels are, they explain, bad. Harmful. Restricting, people putting you in a metaphorical box.

I wonder what it's about really.

Cos when I came out as bi to my sister and she said "me too", labels were really useful.

When we talked about some of the problems we'd had being bi, other labels were really useful too - gay, straight, men, women...

When I found a bi group, having a word for it was very handy. Otherwise the poster would have had to be terribly waffly, like some kind of parlour game, a version of the yes-no game where you can never say "both" or "and".

I think frustrations with labels are often not about labels - which are just words, the very things that have made us such a hugely successful species - but about the things people think come along with the labels. Bisexuals are indecisive. Bisexuals are greedy. Bisexuals haven't properly come out yet and will pick a team later.

None of those things are actually about bisexuals. But you hear them enough and being labelled bisexual doesn't feel like a good idea.

Which is a shame, because as boxes to be put in, bisexual is just about the roomiest, least restricting box in the world. As wide as the seas. From "my head is almost only ever turned by women, but that one man every now and then" to "it's all about the genderqueers, but there was that one time with someone cis", from "lots of all sorts of people" to "only a couple of people ever, but I'm open to whatever might come along next".


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Great post. One commonly voiced objection is that the word bisexual enforces a gender binary. The best response I have heard to this is that the bi does refer to a twofold attraction, but not just men+women. Rather, a bisexual has the capacity to be attracted to people of the same gender as well as people of different genders.

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1 hour ago, ChemFem said:

Great post. One commonly voiced objection is that the word bisexual enforces a gender binary. The best response I have heard to this is that the bi does refer to a twofold attraction, but not just men+women. Rather, a bisexual has the capacity to be attracted to people of the same gender as well as people of different genders.

Thankyou!

The "bi" in bisexual means two like the "dec" in December means ten, but the people who make out that "bi is binary" rarely insist Christmas is on the 25th of the tenth!

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1 hour ago, softfruit said:

Thankyou!

The "bi" in bisexual means two like the "dec" in December means ten, but the people who make out that "bi is binary" rarely insist Christmas is on the 25th of the tenth!

Haha I shall have to remember that saying.

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