Monday, January 26, 2009

Las Dudosas

Iris Arcón
Bisexuality could have stopped the ban on same-sex marriage. I know, you’re all probably thinking, "What the hell are you talking about?" More open people, less Mormons, and fewer hateful people could have stopped the ban on same sex marriages. But isn’t bisexuality somewhat like that? It can be said that bisexuals are open to either a man or a woman, right? Some see it as confusion, while others see bisexuality as the place in between. A place where you have chosen not to choose. You are not on a "side" yet. Oh, that infamous "side." The side that changes you forever. Ni de aqui, ni de alla. Estás dudosa o dudoso. However, you choose to define bisexuality, I do believe that everyone should be bisexual. Bisexuality could help us understand sexuality in so many ways. More importantly, the hostility towards bisexuals that might exist out there, especially towards bisexual women, need not be necessary. Before I dig myself into a deeper grave with my fellow lesbians and gays (or anyone else reading this), hear me out first.
I’ll start off by painting a picture of the kinds of hostility that I have noticed in the "gay world." Ask most lesbians and gays in the bars of Los Angeles and they’ll tell you their thoughts on the fallacy of bisexuality. Many who identify as lesbians and gays do not believe there is such a thing.

Ask any straight woman or man however, and they’ll say that bisexuals do exist.

I have noticed a difference between the reaction to bisexuality that some gays and lesbians express. Tell most lesbians you meet that you are a bisexual woman, and you’ll get an immediate "look." A look of, "Then why the fuck are you wasting my time? There’s no such thing as bisexuality." It’s a look that says, "Well you’re either in or you’re not in. You cannot be both." As a woman trying to find a good woman where my options consist of the few gay clubs and a friend of a friend of a friend that knows a lesbian (that might be single), the search can be very frustrating. I understand that lesbians are looking for other women with whom they can have stable, loving relationships and that they do not want to be left for a man, but nobody wants to be left for anyone else, man or woman, right? Maybe it is the betrayal for another man that might make lesbians think twice about getting involved with bisexual women. I do not quite know. Whatever it is, I do believe the attitude is completely unnecessary.

In contrast, a bisexual man can tell a gay man that he is bisexual and the response will be completely different. The gay man will immediately say, "Oh, don’t worry hon’, you’ll be gay soon." The reaction to bisexual men versus bisexual women makes me rather upset. Why do men get to be bisexual with less judgment while women get "the look?" I have never come across a gay man who realized he was straight after all and then started dating women again. I have also never come across a bisexual man who did not turn out to be gay over time, but I would love to meet one though. That would be a great experience for men, and it would help us understand sexuality. Bisexuality in all men could help them understand what it is like to be part of an oppressed group, as well. If all of the men and women that had voted for the ban on sex-marriage had been bisexual, they would have understood us more. Could that have helped us keep same-sex marriages?

So, why is the reaction different for bisexual men and bisexual women? Why is society still harsher on women than on men? Even more importantly, why are lesbians and gays harsher on women than on men? Shouldn’t gays and lesbians know what it’s like to be in situations where there are all sorts of pressures from family, religion, and culture?

Homosexuality is completely different for men and women. Society has constructed our culture to believe that men are puñales upon any sort of contact with the same sex. Any sexual arousal that comes from being attracted to masculinity is considered well, gay. For them, it’s put quite plain and simple. Men cannot go back. They have already betrayed heterosexuality. When it really should not have been. That is why the reaction at bars is always, "You’ll be gay soon." That is also why it is easier for men to be gay. I am not saying this in terms of who gets harassed more (men or women) or who can get away with this or that more. That would be putting two oppressed groups in a competition over which one is more oppressed and it is certainly not what I want to do. I am referring to this in terms of the path to a "defined" sexuality, something that is more black and white. It is easier for gay men to identify as gay men because of what they should never ever do: enjoy sex with another man. It is not the same for women though. But why?

There are certain pressures that women experience, but men do not and they never will. If men grew up to be either gay or straight, they were always raised to be straight men. Gay men were raised to be heterosexual and to marry a woman. Men were raised to receive servitude from women and they were taught to be dominant and in charge. Yes, I acknowledge that there are also many abusive same-sex relationships, but gay men were still not raised like Latinas. I, as many other Latinas do, know exactly what it feels like to grow up a Catholic girl with the constant pressure to serve the men of the house. I know what it feels like to have been raised with the concept that "true love" and "the one" will only come from a man. I have had heterosexuality and traditions hammered into my head ever since I can remember. I am a woman: a bastion of my culture. My children will inherit my culture and in order to do so I had to understand that for women things are a certain way. I could never relate to it of course, because I never saw myself married to a man, let alone serving him. But that was how it was shaped for me, for us. Men never experienced this.

It is that quest to avoid continuous sexism that has made female sexuality more fluid. Gay men, being men, have never and will never have to flee sexism like women. That quest to be treated with respect, equality, and as wonderful, beautiful women that we are has been the reason for much judgment on behalf of many. And it should not.

A week ago, I met up with a friend of mine at a bar. We talked for hours about stuff going on, including the women in our lives. In college, like many other women, she came out of the closet to her friends as bisexual. She started her first long-term relationship with a woman about a year ago. It was a relationship that not only made her acknowledge her lesbianism, but unfortunately it also left her emotionally damaged. Even though it hasn’t been the relationship that she had wished it was, she knows she’s a lesbian.

"I met a guy the other day at the bar."

"A man?"

"Yeah. He’s so nice to me. Doesn’t treat me like shit. Makes me feel good again, you know?

That’s what I need right now."

"Yeah. I can tell. There’s a smile on your face now."

"I haven’t met women. And well, you know how hard it is to meet good women."

"Yeah. I know."

Many lesbians and gays might say that she doesn’t know what she wants, that she’s confused; how can she go back to a man? She needs to choose a side.

This all brings me back to Proposition 8. We all know what it feels like to be judged by our love for the same sex. We have all experienced it and many of us will continue to experience it. This is exactly what we are doing to our fellow bisexuals. Yes, some might turn out to be straight. Many will also be either gay or lesbians. Some will choose not to choose.

But, no matter what happens to them and what "side" they have chosen, they will all know what it feels like to be on our side. They have experienced it. They have walked in our shoes. The ones that have figured out that they are straight, know exactly what we go through every single day in society. They have stepped outside of their privilege bubble and they have lived as an oppressed group. That in itself means so much. Isn’t that sort of what we would like to get across to the entire nation in the first place? Don’t we want some sort of understanding from the heterosexual majority? Yet, we cannot give that understanding to bisexuals? How can we expect understanding when we cannot give it to each other in the first place? I believe that if everyone were bisexual, we wouldn’t have had a ban on same-sex marriage. If everyone could understand and experience what it is like to be a lesbian or gay, they would not have taken our right to marry away. Bisexuals, no matter what "side" they choose, are our allies.

So, lesbians, chill the fuck out with your "looks." Straight men and women, please become bisexual. Gay men, stay bisexual. And you bisexuals, just stay cool. ¶

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