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06 February 2010 @ 10:34 pm
Representations of bisexuality in popular culture.  
Hello you lovely flexible, open minded people. Maybe you can help me come to terms with this a little bit?

I'm a bit ill and irrational at the moment and I don't want to be unnecessarily militant (yes there is now a voice in the back of my head going "oxymoron").

Basically, I was discussing Skins with my best friend (for the record, he identifies as gay) and how the suggestion that the lesbian/bi character Naomi is potentially going to kiss a boy in upcoming episodes.

Okay, so far so ridiculous to get annoyed about.

BUT. Here's the rub:
I can't remember the last time I saw a bisexual character in film or TV who didn't get into a relationship with the same sex, and then go on to cheat on them with the opposite sex.

Now, I can almost see where producers are coming from. You know, "we mustn't make it look like we think bisexual people are actually just gay" or whatever. But I am sick of this! I had a quick google (using "representations of bisexual women in popular culture" as my search term) and found this lovely little quote, happily enough just on the wikipedia page for bisexuality:

I like movies where bisexuals come out to each other together and fall in love, because these tend to be so few and far between; the most recent example would be 2002's lovely romantic comedy, Kissing Jessica Stein. Most movies with bi characters paint a stereotypical picture: the unlucky, unsuspecting, hetero or gay person falls for the bisexual bon vivant, and all hell breaks loose. The bi love interest is usually deceptive (Mulholland Drive), over-sexed (Sex Monster), unfaithful (High Art), and fickle (Three of Hearts), and might even be a serial killer, like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. In other words, the bisexual is always the cause of the conflict in the film.
—Amy Andre , American Sexuality Magazine


Please note that when I voiced my displeasure at this tendency to the best friend, he said "it's only tv", quickly followed by "well if you ask me it's bi now gay later". I have had to walk away from the conversation to calm down because, no matter how much I love him, that's offensive. Anyway, there's no such thing as "only tv" (as my dear friend Gemma pointed out) - this is all pervading.

I'm a bit sick of biphobia, and think it's about time that the word FLEXUAL came out to play and knocked everybody (and their labels and quaint ideas about what one label can make a whole load of different types of people act) off their feet.

Who's in?
Current Mood: angryangry
Polo Molo: Lesbian funslartibartfast on February 6th, 2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
Bisexual characters are treated SO BADLY in the media. Like how even in Buffy which is a pretty good show for that kind of stuff had Willow 'turn' gay even though she'd been in love and lust with guys before in her life. What? Does bisexuality not exist? I just don't get it.

And Torchwood. Ianto wasn't bisexual, he was straight and in love with a man. Okay, but, that's so fucking typical of the attitude to bisexuality, I don't know how to explain it. And Jack was seen as stereotypically promiscuous, though he'd definitely approve of the 'flexual' term I reckon. ;)

I just don't get why bisexuality has the connotations of promiscuity. Just because people fancy more than one gender DOES NOT MEAN they want to sleep with all of them at once.

So yes, FLEXUAL is the way to go. It has none of the bad connotations of bisexuality and anyway, bisexuality doesn't fit a lot of situations.

This is incoherent because I agree with you so hard I'm struggling to get the thoughts out in any order. XD
have i got something on my face?allmyshoes on February 6th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
One of the things about FLEXUAL I so enjoy is that it has a sort of laissez faire attitude attached to it. The lack of the word 'sex' removes the promiscuity part, and the 'flexible' element makes me think of "well, either way is okay but hang on a minute"... if that makes sense. lol

I just. ACK. I would just love love love to see any average tv/film character grow up, identify as bisexual, and be whoever the hell they were meant to be. It's like what we were saying when we came up with the idea for this group - why does someone have to be so identified by ONE LABEL?
Me and my sister (again, for the record, she's gay) have this running joke about labels. When she sees aesthetically attractive men she tells me "I wouldn't change my label for him but he gives good face."

My best friend continually lets me down with stuff like this, and I hate that. Because what am I meant to do? Totally lay into him? I love him to pieces and bless him he's more delicate than he'd ever let on. But, for example, when I got together with Becky, he literally and seriously asked me when I was going to come out to my parents as a lesbian.
I just.
My jaw hit the floor.
Fern Kali: Pink Catmissyfern on February 7th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
The only film i can think of that comes close would be Chasing Amy and it's a while since i've watched that.
Fern Kali: beemissyfern on February 8th, 2010 09:21 am (UTC)
Sorry, was shattered last night. There's a bit in it where she basically says she 'chose' to be bisexual, but then forgot and by peer pressure kinda deal ends up a lesbian. Apart from the chosing part, she's about as close to a bisexual in a pop film i can think of.

I did once see a british rom com in which a woman meets her true love on her wedding day. She's marrying a man she likes and lusts for and everything but eyes across the room to the girl who did the wedding flowers and it's love at first sight. It's a sweet rom com. The girl who showed it to me identifies as strictly gay, although in the time i've known her has dated as many men as women. The woman in the film came across has bisexual - she'd been in love with men before but this time she fell hard for a woman. I suspect the marrying a man bit was to demonstrate her bisexuality. Can't remember what it was called though.
have i got something on my face?allmyshoes on February 8th, 2010 11:06 am (UTC)
Imagine Me & You :)

I actually really enjoyed that film. Maybe I will treat myself to it on DVD and cheer myself up about all this.

I just think it's really sad that people can't feel totally comfortable "coming out" as bisexual because of the way other people are going to react to it. I know it's not just bisexuality, but ... there's been so much progress in what people laughably call "gay rights" and bisexuality just so often seems ... absent. ERASED. Even more so than lesbianism. People do not bat an eyelid when I talk about my girlfriend, or anything remotely sapphic, but then if I "switch" and start talking about attractive men, ex boyfriends, etc, many many people have found it really difficult to keep up.

And are probably thinking "whore". If my best friend's views are anything to go by.. :\
gunsofporn on November 7th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
I often find that when a same sex relationship ends, the bisexual character HAS to go to another same sex relationship instead of being able to entertain the thought of a opposite sex relationship, which then keeps them as strictly gay.

Like with Callie in Grey's Anatomy. She broke up with Hahn and in order to not offend lesbians she had to have another relationship with a girl that felt kind of forced. Same with Willow from Buffy (that someone mentioned earlier).

It seems as though lots of bisexual women characters stay in lesbian relationships instead of dating both organically to keep one group of fans happy while completely ignoring another group.