Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: You People and Your Quaint Little Categories

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  • steven crawford,

    multiple axes

    Thats the bugger. I have a different picture of spectrum in my minds eye now.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2777 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Graphing sexuality is also complicated by the fact that drive in particular, and any other axis you can name to some extent, are subject to change with time, circumstance and experience.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Graphing sexuality is also complicated by the fact that drive in particular, and any other axis you can name to some extent, are subject to change with time, circumstance and experience.

    Like, perhaps, the very singular "sexologist, physician, and social reformer" Havelock_Ellis.

    "In November 1891, at the age of 32, and still a virgin, Ellis married the English writer and proponent of women's rights, Edith Lees (none of his four sisters ever married). From the beginning, their marriage was unconventional; Edith Ellis was openly lesbian, and at the end of the honeymoon, Ellis went back to his bachelor rooms in Paddington, while she lived at Fellowship House. Their 'open marriage' was the central subject in Ellis's autobiography, My Life."

    "According to Ellis in My Life, his friends were much amused at his being considered an expert on sex, what with the fact that he suffered from impotence until the age of 60, when he discovered that he was able to become aroused by the sight of a woman urinating."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3597 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    multiple axes

    Thats the bugger. I have a different picture of spectrum in my minds eye now.

    Me too - cutting-edge research into the sexuality spectrum reveals, in image and supporting text, more axes than you can shake a stick at, and more diversity than plain vanilla axes that's for sure.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 850 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Speaking of multiple axes, Telecom offer the arseterix. Keall gets in a couple of cunning subheads.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    I'll put my hand up as being a Kinsey-5 lesbian who is predominantly attracted to women who range from Kinsey 3 - 5. "Gold star" lesbians (who have never had sex with men - I dislike the term, but eh, handy shorthand, especially with the illuminating nuance of sanctimoniousness) do not float my boat at all.

    Don't ask me why. My first g/f was bi and I imprinted? Or the fact 100% lesbians can have a fear/disdain of men thing going on that I'm dubious about (not to say all or even most 100% lesbians feel that way, but some do, as do some of us elsewhere on the spectrum, including plenty of het women...)

    (One day I'll write a paragraph without parentheses.)

    I tend to go with multiple axes as well - the gay/straight one (or should that be the "preferred gender object" one?), the kink/vanilla one, the asexual/lotsa-sexual one, the gender self-presentation one, the monogamous/polyamorous one, there's even the pansexual/monosexual one. And so on.

    Anyway, it certainly wasn't Kinsey who said that there weren't any people at the extremes of his continuum. He found plenty who'd never had an inkling of attraction for the opposite sex or the reverse. Personally, I think if there is a continuum, it's just logical to expect at least a few people to be fairly hard-wired in one way or another, even if we can leave aside societal pressure. We haven't got to that "no-one gives a shit" utopia yet.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 496 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And just for a bit of light relief, who would have guessed that among its many other sins the Twilight franchise will turn your daughters into fag hags! You have been warmed...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I find the rarity of bisexuals quite bizarre. I can't believe it's entirely because of stigma because surely credible surveys about sexuality are confidential. Seems odd to me that the majority of people choose one sex or the other.

    It doesn't seem odd that the biggest group are hetero...that kind of makes sense. But it's really odd that homosexuals outnumber bisexuals so much. Perhaps it's just that I understand homosexuality less than I understand bisexuality that such a thing would even seem odd.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8675 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    @BenWilson - Do you have stats for confidential surveys showing that there are far fewer bisexuals than homosexuals? What are the numbers? Could it be that some bisexuals just don't advertise the fact that they are bi?

    Seems to me that if you're gay and you're out it's possible that you've been on quite a journey to get there - and once there, you might just feel that both the journey and the destination are something to be proud of, and worth telling people about. One's sexual preference can become a political statement if you've had to fight to be accepted for who you are, especially in places like the US where the Fundy Right traditionally uses the hot-button topics of God, Gays and Guns to stir up the masses. Plus if you want a partner in this hetero world you have to let people know that your preference is for those of the same gender as yourself...

    It's not quite the same when you're bi. In my experience (and I'm only speaking for myself) being bi can be far less politically-charged than being gay - if you want it to be.

    If you're bisexual, you can quietly go about your business and still find opposite-sex partners without having to advertise yourself as being "different" to what many people will assume you to be. Potential same-sex partners can either be admired from a distance but never requited, or you can wait until someone of the same gender decides they fancy you, and then you can decide if you fancy them.

    In other words it's quite possible to be a "stealth bi" and still get your rocks off from time to time - you don't necessarily have to either fight to be accepted for who you are, or shout it from the rooftops in order to get laid :)

    I think this is why some of my lesbian friends disapproved of bisexuals, and of lesbians who sleep with bisexuals. They saw being bi as being "on the fence" - as being too cowardly to go all-out and "just admit it and become a lesbian like you know you really are...". They saw bisexuals taking their women without having to go through all the social stigma/trauma/hassle/disapproval that some of them went through when they came out as lesbians.

    It's an interesting position to be in. You can choose to tell no-one, or a few select people, or the entire world - and you can still find loving relationships, whichever you choose to do. There will always be some people who disapprove - and for bisexuals this disapproval can come from both sides of the hetero/homo divide - but in my experience the vast majority of people have no problem with my sexuality at all - if indeed they even know about it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 330 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    I am obliged to briefly threadjack to recommend anyone who wants their fantasy to come with awesome gay characters to check out S M Stirling's work of the last decade or so, in particular the Nantucket trilogy. Mainstream fantasy + lead lesbian romance = WIN.

    Oh yeah! Seriously good stuff.
    Mercedes Lackey might be a good gateway if you want introduce kids to this...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Me too - cutting-edge research into the sexuality spectrum reveals, in image and supporting text, more axes than you can shake a stick at, and more diversity than plain vanilla axes that's for sure.

    Yes Chris, but those axes have no kinks in them. These do.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2777 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Wise words, webweaver.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I am obliged to briefly threadjack to recommend anyone who wants their fantasy to come with awesome gay characters to check out S M Stirling's work of the last decade or so, in particular the Nantucket trilogy. Mainstream fantasy + lead lesbian romance = WIN.

    Meanwhile, the enlightened Americans have to go save the poor ignorant natives from their own worse natures and the un-enlightened (and downright fucking evil) Americans who exploit them -- the ex-Stasi agent who becomes the head of Walker's own secret police, the psychotic Asian woman who becomes the high priestess of a death cult... Stirling might be down with the gays, but someone really need to take a good hard look at casual racism as a fantasy trope.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    But it's really odd that homosexuals outnumber bisexuals so much.

    They don't.

    Demographics of sexual orientation

    he largest and most thorough survey in Australia to date was conducted by telephone interview with 19,307 respondents between the ages of 16 and 59 in 2001/2002. The study found that 97.4% of men identified as heterosexual, 1.6% as gay and 0.9% as bisexual. For women 97.7% identified as heterosexual, 0.8% as lesbian and 1.4% as bisexual. Nevertheless, 8.6% of men and 15.1% of women reported either feelings of attraction to the same gender or some sexual experience with the same gender. Half the men and two thirds of the women who had same-sex sexual experience regarded themselves as heterosexual rather than homosexual.

    There are a lot of different surveys on that page, and it also points out all the ghastly problems with trying to get good data in this area. Consistently, though, you see male homosexuals outnumbering male bis, but female bis outnumbering lesbians.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Yes, bisexuals can Pass if they want to. But only by denying part of themselves. I went through my teens not knowing what I was. People seem very ready to see bisexuality as 'best of both worlds', whereas on the 'quite a journey', it's more like not fitting in anywhere. I desperately hope it's easier for bisexuals going through that now than it was for me - I only knew two boxes existed. (The difficulties I had were, I think, a combination of both time period and geographical location. I'm thinking it's still easier to be an out LGBT person in Auckland than in Cambridge.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4371 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I went through my teens not knowing what I was.

    Didn't we all?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2777 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I think this is why some of my lesbian friends disapproved of bisexuals, and of lesbians who sleep with bisexuals. They saw being bi as being "on the fence" - as being too cowardly to go all-out and "just admit it and become a lesbian like you know you really are...". They saw bisexuals taking their women without having to go through all the social stigma/trauma/hassle/disapproval that some of them went through when they came out as lesbians.

    Webweaver: I'm sure you're right, but I'm also (speaking for myself) thoroughly over the whole "how do you know you don't like girls, if you've never tried it" line. Not least because, to be, there's a really offensive -- if unconscious -- subtext to the question. Just because I've never had sexual intercourse with a woman doesn't mean I'm either misogynistic, gynophobic or have Mummy issues. Ditto for the poisonous idea that lesbians are man-haters who want to symbolically castrate Daddy.

    I've gotten to a place where I can say: "OK, this is part of your process of unpicking a lot of learned bullshit and odds are that you're not trying to be a arse-hat." But there's still a little bit of be that gets... offended and doesn't feel that its MY responsibility to educate YOU.

    Of course, that's not the fault of bisexuals -- who get the whole 'chosen lifestyle' trash thrown in their faces too. But who said the gayz and lezzers aren't as capable of misdirected irritation as everyone else? :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I desperately hope it's easier for bisexuals going through that now than it was for me - I only knew two boxes existed.

    With your ability to articulate your own experience, and that you do, I am with out doubt that the edge has been taken off of it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2777 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    "But love is blind, isn't it?"

    It may be blind, but it feels and smells, and I'm afraid I'm unrepentently heterosexual. I love several males, but they're not interesting as lovers.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    It may be blind, but it feels and smells, and I'm afraid I'm unrepentently heterosexual. I love several males, but they're not interesting as lovers.

    To be back on topic :), doesn't that say a lot about the paucity of our language? I have relationships with women and straight men of enormous emotional intimacy. Love and affection and friendship and loyalty and intimacy and so much other shit that I don't even have the words to begin to describe doesn't have to flow from rubbing your genitals together.

    Perhaps it helps that I separate the human race into three: Shits, Bores and Good People. And as far as the Good People are concerned, where we end up is good enough for me -- and it seldom results in hanging off the headboard. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Telecom offer the arseterix.

    That, to me, looks like the kind of scribble you do to get your pen working. You know, when the 'Net goes down, the phones don't work and you have resort to writing letters.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4947 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    Well said, Craig. For most of us words can only go so far.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 193 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    That, to me, looks like the kind of scribble you do to get your pen working.

    That, looks awfully like a big corporate tyrant stealing my stuff. I made that scribble mark. But you think I'm going to hire a lawyer:)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2777 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    But you think I'm going to hire a lawyer:)

    Not when you can draw a perfectly good one.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3597 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I was considering drawing plans for constructing one of there big robots that you drive from in the head. And then faxing those blue prints to them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2777 posts Report Reply

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