At the Borders of Queer Nation
< < Short spat || Bisexual voices > >

Ragged edges
Are you allowed to be half and half? Can a person be two hundred percent without being schizophrenic? (Mental disease was one of the explanations of bisexuality offered by the lesbians in Paula Rust's study (Rust 1995)). But if you're two things, can you be partially one and partially the other - because then you're not really either? That is, unless those two things are not necessarily two different things. But you make few friends for suggesting that. The "mixed" identity of the bisexual leads to distrust, and accusations of disloyalty and inauthenticity.
...bisexuals are oppressed and rendered invisible by both straight and queer culture. The amount of hostility and selective blindness triggered by bisexuality suggests to us that it poses a serious threat to our present conception of sexual identity. (Newitz and Sandell 1994)
One unwelcome thing that bisexuals throw into the stew of identity is the possibility of choice, since one of the key points lesbians and gays make (especially to people who want to 'cure' them) is that since it is what they are, they have no choice, and that has to be accepted. (An interesting exception is in lesbian feminism, addressed somewhat later) They can't 'choose' to be straight again, any more than they 'chose' to be gay. What is liberating for a bisexual, who may see it in the light of potential, self-determination, freedom, may be threatening for a gay person, whose authenticity (of 'really being' something, without a choice involved) is potentially being questioned. " this historical moment saying that homosexuality is a choice - even sometimes, for some people - is dangerous."(Whisman 1996:12) The idea of choice trivializes and denaturalizes homosexuality- it takes away some of its political force and also undercuts the ethnic model. (Whisman 1996:20-22)

There is also the problem of too much deconstruction, for the more thoughtful bisexuals who might follow this line of thinking, in an identity which is still part of a complex of identities which need to be validated and enforced.

Though this deconstruction {of categories on which contemporary oppressions are based} is crucial work for the long run, in the short run it is a mistake. ... Voters in Colorado, or homophobes with baseball bats, will not be persuaded by discussions of gender ambiguity; such talk will exascerbate their anxiety. Telling them that I am not "really" a lesbian is different from saying it to readers of Signs; what the second audience can understand as deconstruction becomes before the first audience simply a return to the closet. (Phelan 1994:150)
Identity, then, is not something evenly asserted across the board. The assertion of an identity is a political matter (now that's news!) which would be handled in different ways for different audiences.

< < Short spat || Bisexual voices > >

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