Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Hitting That

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  • nzlemming,

    That's a great article. And a good post by you. It took a while for me to understand my sexuality. Some gay friends were convinced I was gay, but I knew boobs still featured highly on my radar. Like Emily, I'm a serial monogamist (20 years with the same partner and counting), and I've kind of forgotten what the dating/mating game was like, but I was never very interested in it anyway. Like her, it's about the person, not the peripherals. Someone wise said to me "Sex is just friction. Know who you're rubbing against"

    ETA And I have no problem with anyone being a slut. It's a freaking spectrum after all. We can't all cluster in one place, it'll tip over and we'll fall off.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to nzlemming,

    It took a while for me to understand my sexuality.

    I was having this conversation with my civil union partner just a couple of days ago, and he was gob-smacked that it took me so long to work it out. Because I appear to have my shit fairly together, right? But yeah, I knew I wasn't a lesbian, because I was attracted to men. Therefore, despite the whole mmm boobies thing, I must be straight, because I wasn't aware of any other categories. I was 18 before I got that sorted - just in time to be accused of being a BUG.

    I really hope that it's easier for teenagers now than it was then, that there's much greater awareness of a continuum of sexuality.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I’d also argue that the stereotypes of bisexuals are damaging in and of themselves. We’re promiscuous, heartless, self-absorbed exhibitionists lacking in empathy and compassion. We’re sluts. We’re “over-sexed” – a phrase deliciously packed with social conditioning. We are, in short, the women of least value. If you’re the kind of man with jealousy issues who needs to control his partner, it’s not just men you have to keep away from your bisexual missus, it’s everyone. Seriously, the slag could be getting it on with anyone at all. Imagine the strain that places on your average rat-bastard.

    I think it boils down to a stereotype of bisexuals as fundamentally untrustworthy, which is a basically unforgiveable sin in relationships - of any sort. It's worse than a mere perception of promiscuity. It's possibly the most destructive sexual stereotype there is.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Gee, in reply to nzlemming,

    Like her, it's about the person, not the peripherals.

    Exactly.
    This was a great post Emma, and the article itself was pretty spot on. I've never heard other bis talk about the 'feeling like a traitor' thing, so it was kind of a breakthrough to hear it said out loud. I was lucky to work out my sexuality pretty early on in my teens, but I've spent a lot of time defending having a male spouse, so this article really spoke to me.
    But I'm blown away by the statistics. I hadn't expected that some of my own experiences could be attributed to my sexuality (I'm not saying they are) ... And the lost earning potential?! Makes me think twice about whether to be open in job applications in the future... But of course that's just taking the easy way out *again*, isn't it?

    I really hope that it's easier for teenagers now than it was then, that there's much greater awareness of a continuum of sexuality.

    I freaking hope so too.

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to nzlemming,

    ETA And I have no problem with anyone being a slut. It’s a freaking spectrum after all. We can’t all cluster in one place, it’ll tip over and we’ll fall off.

    I rather suspect that us asexuals are a necessary part of the continuum then. 8>)
    (I knew what I was by the time I was 15 - just didnt know the name for me - or if there were any others...that took until I was in my 50s.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Islander,

    I rather suspect that us asexuals are a necessary part of the continuum then. 8>)

    Absolutely. So much damage has been done to people by this stupid quasi-religious reluctance to talk about sex and to revile those who do. It one of the things that really makes me angry and a significant factor in why I gave up on religion in my teens.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Islander,

    I rather suspect that us asexuals are a necessary part of the continuum then. 8>)

    Absolutely. All we outliers benefit from acknowledgement of other outliers, right? (Also, morez 4 me LOL.)

    And the lost earning potential?! Makes me think twice about whether to be open in job applications in the future... But of course that's just taking the easy way out *again*, isn't it?

    "Passing" is another thing I'm oddly reluctant to talk about. Because just being able to pass is a form of privilege, right? Yet it's a decision to pretend to be something you're not (or at least to leave other people's assumptions unchecked) in order to make life easier.

    Being able to pass, of course, is what makes us the ninjas of the Gay Agenda. I've had bigots be all bigotty at me at the school gate because I was there picking up my kids and appeared to be in a straight relationship, and I could say, "Oh, really? Really? You can spot 'them'? Because hey guess what..."

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Heh, wife thought I was gay when she first met me.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to nzlemming,

    Heh, wife thought I was gay when she first met me.

    Ha, so that's like, what, reverse passing? Undertaking?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    who cares what it's called - if only it were a more attractive characteristic. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15762 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Emma Hart,

    To be fair, in my early thirties, just about given up on romance, directing my first full length play - I may have been over-dramatizing *just* a little...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to nzlemming,

    Absolutely. So much damage has been done to people by this stupid quasi-religious reluctance to talk about sex and to revile those who do. It one of the things that really makes me angry and a significant factor in why I gave up on religion in my teens.

    Me too. Although I then spent another quarter of a century learning about religions
    just in case I had missed the obvious (religions are human methods of social control) which had been my first reaction…
    Individual reactions to land/sea/ancestors/continuity/all other beings are…individual-

    I would add that I decided to be a public asexual person after remembering my extremely unpleasant experiences as an adolescent - and later- when I made very clear I wasnt interested in sex to various gropers/ cuddle-me's/would-be rapists.
    I figured, for any of the 1.5% adolescent asexuals out there here in ANZ, that there was some-one who'd made a sort of success of their life - and was proud of what they born as-

    cheers, all of us, on that continuum that includes the entire human race (and many other mammalian species as well.)

    KIA ORA!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Gee,

    Being able to pass, of course, is what makes us the ninjas of the Gay Agenda. I've had bigots be all bigotty at me at the school gate because I was there picking up my kids and appeared to be in a straight relationship, and I could say, "Oh, really? Really? You can spot 'them'? Because hey guess what..."

    I have to admit I enjoy the 'Oh really? Cos...' part of it a lot

    Canada, eh • Since May 2011 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    “Passing” is another thing I’m oddly reluctant to talk about. Because just being able to pass is a form of privilege, right?

    Yes it is, but so is being the self-appointed bouncer deciding who is is allowed into the fabulous GLBT club. Having spent way too much of my life being a very bad gay indeed (c.f. “you’re a BAD FEMINIST”, and the “Hori-er Than Thou” axis of irritation), it’s depressing being back at high school with the same old “cool kids” bullshit in a different box.

    Really, could someone please send me the GOOD GAY 2.0 operating manual because I'm almost forty and all I've got is this stupid fucking toaster oven.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11621 posts Report Reply

  • Phil fryer,

    Thanks Emily,Ive folowed all the leads, & I feel most western cultures & NZ its clear just being "different' stigmitises one !
    From the age of 16 i have always enjoyed multiple concurrent lovers, perhaps its libido,but I just really enjoy different minds & bodies, & I have been unwilling/unable
    to remain exclusive, apart from the time I raised preschoolers.
    I get disbelief & condemnation frequently, & have to resort to - Tell someone who cares what u think ! So I live alone & have "guests" !

    Laingholm • Since Mar 2011 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Emma Hart,

    just in time to be accused of being a BUG.

    That's not a BUG, it's a feature.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1037 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Phil fryer,

    Hey Phil. I think that's something bi people and poly people (and asexual people too) have in common: you can tell someone the plain truth about who you are and how you feel, and they won't believe you. You're going through a phase. One day you'll meet The Right Person, and settle down in a normal sexual monogamous relationship and get over this silly immature rubbish.

    Interestingly, one of our most persistently-viewed posts at The Lady Garden is the guest post on poly identity Max wrote for us. It might not be widely accepted, but people are certainly looking for this stuff.

    I'm beginning to think I should be writing a book on sexual identity for teenagers. Here are some labels, these are all real things people are, you might find the label handy as support while you grow, and most importantly, it's not just you.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Excellent idea!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1701 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to nzlemming,

    Like her, it's about the person, not the peripherals.

    I wonder about that. I've known some bisexual people who say the same, that they're attracted to the whole person rather than to physical attributes, and if they fall in love then the gender of the beloved doesn't matter. But might that not be closer to demisexuality (not experiencing sexual attraction until forming a strong emotional connection with someone) than bisexuality?

    Which sounds like quibbling about labelling, but it does seem that there are other people who are attracted to both genders, not because they're blind to sexual differences, but because they can find both sets of physical attributes sexy. In other words, it's not that "it's not about the peripherals": they like ALL the peripherals.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1037 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Tom Beard,

    I've known some bisexual people who say the same, that they're attracted to the whole person rather than to physical attributes, and if they fall in love then the gender of the beloved doesn't matter.

    The gender of the person doesn't matter much to me. But that doesn't mean physical attributes don't. Hair colour, for instance, seems to be more important to me than gender presentation. I have a strong male and female "type" and they're both brunette. Smart, witty, verbally-dexterous, and with an air of... um... Captain of the Canadian Women's Curling Team.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Hair colour, for instance, seems to be more important to me than gender presentation. I have a strong male and female "type" and they're both brunette.

    Which reminds me of another stereotype of bisexuals: that if you're attracted to both sexes, then you'll be incapable of monogamy because you need one of each, right? Which means that because I'm attracted to women of all hair colours, I need to have one blonde, one redhead and one brunette, right?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1037 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Tom Beard,

    women of all hair colours, I need to have one blonde, one redhead and one brunette, right?

    So, what've you got against the hair-colours black, grey or white? 8>)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Tom Beard,

    if you're attracted to both sexes, then you'll be incapable of monogamy because you need one of each, right?

    I did have someone, very genuinely and earnestly, ask me this: if, being bisexual and in a relationship with a man, I missed having sex with women. Because that's different, right? So how I could I really ever be satisfied when I'd always be missing something?

    But it's always different. Sex is different with different people, and indeed different with the same people. Person. Whatever.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4286 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Beard, in reply to Islander,

    So, what've you got against the hair-colours black, grey or white?

    I include black hair in the general category "brunette", and my longest relationship was with someone with grey/white hair, though usually dyed blonde.

    On reflection, one hot auburn would go a long, long way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1037 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Emma Hart,

    that's something bi people and poly people and asexual people have in common: you can tell someone the plain truth about who you are and how you feel, and they won't believe you

    I get this a lot. Not just on sexuality. Most people operate on the basis that everyone else is just like them. When faced with contradictions to that I get everything from denial through to emphatic assertions of the original "everyone is like this". Which is tricky when we have very different worldviews (from, say, being on different parts of the autism spectrum, or from different minority cultures).

    I wonder how some of this affects the deeper behaviour and beliefs. Not the "I value diversity" way, but the gut-level expectations that people operate with. I know at a gut level that most people are not like me and I have to expect them to do unexpected things. I mean inexplicable, in the "they can't explain it, they just know" sense. So when I meet people I expect them not to be like me.

    Which leads to the careful bridging of gaps, and probing expectations because I don't have the same expectations of behaviour. Which makes a lot of the explicitly negotiating boundaries etc necessary for me to have relationships at all, so by the time I got into bipolykink relationships it was pretty second nature. In the limited "if you can't do it with me we can't be in a relationship" sense, rather than the "I will drive this", because I suck at driving it or teaching it (experience talking).

    Also, what is it with this conversational pattern:
    "how do you feel about X"
    "I feel Y"
    "No you don't, you feel Z"
    There's the explicit acknowledgement that they've heard what I said and processed it enough to see that it doesn't match their expectations. But then straight into talking over.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

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