Village Aunties celebrate Bi Visibility Day

Today is Bi Visibility Day.

Bi Flag

Bi Flag

There has been a growing tendency for trans* and genderqueer activists to dis bisexuality as an identity that, they claim, reifies the binary in gender and sexuality. In simpler words, they think the “bi” in bisexuality reinforces people’s idea that there are only two genders and/or sexes, which is inherently oppressive and/or transphobic. The following linked post gives a decent breakdown of how these ideas came about, and offers a rebuttal, from Radical Bi, and does a much better job than I ever could. Please read it first if you feel like taking issue with this post: http://radicalbi.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/words-binary-and-biphobia-or-why-bi-is-binary-but-ftm-is-not/.

Defining your identity

I have been an out bisexual for my whole adult life (and in my teens too), and spent a good number of years doing bi activism and grassroots, unfunded peer support work. I am also a feminist cis woman who will fight to my dying breath to include and support and stand up for trans* folk, genderqueer folk, sex workers, and those subject to racism, ableism, and all manner of other oppression and abuse, in everything I do.

I am 47 years old, and I have seen generation after generation of activists find new Really Good Reasons to make bisexual identity invalid and/or invisible. Yet I spent years supporting, validating and listening to all kinds of bisexuals (some life-long, some at a stopping point to and from other identities) who found it the right identity to express their sexuality, and who found the bi community a welcoming and supportive place.

I have been shouted down and shamed and ignored and tokenised by prominent and not-so-prominent gay and lesbian activists and organisations (*cough*Stonewall*cough*) enough times to burn me out several times over, and I have lived through the suicides and breakdowns of several fellow bisexuals. I will not be taking any shit from a new generation of queer activists.

I can say that of all the communities and groups I’ve ever been involved with, the bi community and its events have always been the most inclusive and self-reflective by a long long way. At Bi Glasgow and subsequent groups Bi Edinburgh and Bi Scotland, we used to work very closely with trans* community groups and there was a lot of cross-over in meetings and cons and other groups. Of course, no community or group is perfect on these counts and the above-linked post by Bi Radical teases some of this out with a bit more nuance.

I am now a bi-dyke as I have been in a same sex relationship for 7 years and will not step away from being lesbian-identified; I am in solidarity with lesbians and other women who love women; we bear a huge brunt of misogyny and homophobia – when I was young in the 80s, “bi-dyke” was a thing, we even had badges. I am not making any of this up (see the Bi Radical Tumblr for all kinds of radical bi stuff). I am also happy to identify as queer when it serves solidarity. But come at my bi comrades and I will be answering back!

And, ooh, look, Stavvers has done a post too :-)

On Defeating the Kyriarchy (post 3/3)

Consciousness raising is critical to any attempts to overcome kyriarchical thinking, but it needs re-envisaged. Traditional consciousness raising of the type which became popular during second wave feminism concentrated on examining the oppressions to which the recessive group were subject highlighting to other members of the group their oppression. It is for the radical to examine their own oppressive practices and behaviours. As a member of a privileged group – whatever that privilege may be in any particular circumstances – it can be both an enlightening and humbling experience to examine the oppression which you perpetuate. Developing an oppositional consciousness, allying ourselves with the oppressed and encouraging others to do likewise is a more productive strategy than consistently fighting the other from a position of weakness.
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On Defeating the Kyriarchy (post 2/3)

Within each of the identity based oppressions there are a number of different strategies used to attempt to overcome them.  At its most fundamental is consciousness raising, alerting members of the oppressed community imbibed with the its values to the ways in which it oppresses them to encourage them to challenge and fight against it.   Conciousness raising is a critical issue and one which should not be underestimated.  From birth we are shaped by the society in which we are born into.  That society is not universally experienced, a Black child born to Black lesbian parents in a Black dominated suburb will experience the kyriarchy differently from a white child born to a married couple in the same community, never the less the dominant values, transmitted through mass media, legal governance and state ideological apparatuses operate directly on the sense of self, while interactions with others, also subject to the same social effects and each with individual experiences of their own identity, their immediate environmental identity and the identity of their social community.
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On Defeating the Kyriarchy (post 1/3)

Kyriachy is a term coined in 1992 by Fliorenza and adopted by many third wave feminists as a more encompassing view of power and privilege than the concept of patriarchy, which dominated the analysis of most second wave feminists.  Understanding the concerns of, in particular, women of colour, third wave feminists have attempted to go beyond the narrow “ranking of the oppressions” which caused so many difficulties towards the end of the second wave, causing division and resentment within feminist ranks.

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