Speaking of Women's Rights

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

We’re all so quick to label each other, aren’t we? There’s some innate need in us that feels satiated by neatly delineated categories of people. And when people step outside of our nicely drawn lines, we get our panties in a bunch and feel frustrated with those who dare to be different, rather than with our own need for simplicity.

Immediately after I started dating women there were plenty of folks prepared to give me the lowdown on my sexuality. I was told that since it seemed I had enjoyed relationships with men in the past, I must be bisexual; or I was dating women because my relationships with men had gone wrong; or sex wasn’t important to me; or it was the hip new thing to do. Then there was my personal favorite: “You’re just on your way to gay-town.” (did they mean Capitol Hill, I wonder?)

I was also told that there was no scientific evidence to support the existence of bisexuality which, much to my chagrin, affected how I felt about identifying as such. Since then I’ve had some time to grapple with my identity and finally decide that I don’t care to define myself as one thing or the other. I’m glad I was able to make peace with the notion of bisexuality before this (insert sarcastic tone here)“shocking” finding was announced earlier this week…

IT’S OK TO BE BISEXUAL NOW! Science says that you exist, bisexuals. Neat, huh? Now society will stop assuming that you’re indecisive, sex-crazed harlots, taking all the would-be suitors of both genders for yourselves. What I hate most about studies like this is that they play into another innate human characteristic: our need to belong. Scientists are all excited because they think they’ve given validation to those who identify as bisexual. I can only hope that this is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong; I agree that we all need affirmation. But does it have to come from a lab? Does a sexual impulse measured by a machine tell the story of who you are? And how do you decide for yourself where the line is between gay and bi, bi and lesbian, let alone their intersection with transgender.

Enter the letter Q. Though some may roll their eyes at the ever-increasing string of letters in the acronym of non-hetero orientations, I find the Q to be of the utmost importance. I realize that there are those who don’t identify with the term queer – or even find its use offensive – and that what I’m suggesting could also amount to trading one label for another. But in my community, I’ve found that it offers asylum for those who are trying to fit themselves into a letter that does not stand for them. Expanding the acronym to 5 letters (or 7…or 8…) gives all of us a place to be and something to confirm that we exist. Please do not try to tell me that it’s just too difficult to remember all of those letters. By saying this, you are showing that your boxes are more important than a person’s identity (and really, if remembering them is the most difficult thing in your life, I suppose you can count yourself lucky). And for the love of god, don’t let science dictate who you are, or who anybody else is for that matter.