Friday, March 24, 2006

Feminism Friday??? i know i wont get more than a B+ for this

Queer’ was a movement that came into existence to encompass all non-heteronormative sexualities. It reminded us that labels and categories can easily become part of oppression. But along the way has the ‘queer’ movement actually constructed an identity that is based on standards that must be met, excluding those who don’t meet these standards?

“I’m permanently troubled by identity categories, consider them to be invariable stumbling-blocks, and understand them, even promote them, as sites of necessary trouble.” -- Judith Butler

As I was talking to a friend of mine who is far from being homophobic and infact calls herself homophilliac, tells me that she doesn’t believe in bisexuality and that one cannot, in her opinion have the best of both worlds. I am of course just 23 and most people I know are of my age and most people I know who even know or think of homosexuality, thinks us bisexuals queerer of the lot. The common perception is that bisexuals are just confused and will probably make up mind one day. The other one is that they are unfaithful, and cannot commit to one partner or to that sex of the partner. I think they, bisexuals are as confused and adulterous as anybody else and not less neither more. Some people falsely believe that bisexuality is about swinging with other couples or singles of both genders. The truth is that bisexuality is about whom you are, not whom you are with. That aside, most bisexual people tend to be attracted to one gender more or less than the other. The degree of attraction towards one or the other can also change over time, even from week to week.

Queer politics questions the unity, stability and political utility of sexual and gender identities. It reminds us that labels and categories can easily become part of oppression. But the question that has been lurking in my mind since my own discovery of ‘queerness’ is: am I queer enough to be counted as a part of the movement. If I include myself in the we of a queer gathering, will I be asked to step away if I’d happened to be in a straight relationship right then?
We are told (making it personal, the we are the bisexual * women on campus right now) that there is only one politics, that of the queer. And politically we are gay. To make a point I will always use words like lesbian or gay and never bisexual, and while reciprocating the other will always say “you the lesbian……” because we let ourselves be encompassed in the mainstream gay politics, and we exist as a b in any lgbt.

I understand the reasons for that. In the process of building a movement, a campaign to claim human rights, there is a need to come together, feel togetherness, share a common ground, and, of course, a common dream. What is otherwise called solidarity. But what can also be called assimilation. Does the ‘queer’ identity subsume other identities under its all-encompassing weight? Is inclusivity a process of creating sameness? Well, not completely, though tendencies exist. The ‘queer’ identity does provide an opportunity for sexually marginalised groups, beyond the peripheries of the LGBT, to come onto the rights-claiming platform, get visibility.

But on a personal (and even in media) basis, I (we) am not taken seriously. This makes my position unstable, for having stepped out of the straight world, and identified myself as bisexual, it can be trifle scary and insulting to be dismissed and kept at the fringe of even this community. And in search of visibility I become twice or even thrice invisiblised.

For unlike what some people think bisexuals cannot be straight sometimes. I am not sometimes gay sometimes straight, I am always bi whether with a man or a women. Can I get married, have kids, build a family, and feel ‘queer’ at the same time?

Is it about believing in an identity, a position from where you challenge the oppressive nature of dominant heteronormativity? Can I be part of a ‘heterosexual’ relationship and claim to be ‘queer’?

Even in media, wherever there is representation of lesbian or bisexual women, there are stereotypes and the flitting character of the bisexual woman who ‘plays for both teams’ becomes the butt of quite a few jokes, or just assumptions which just further damages her image. Take the case of ‘The L Word’, The L Word’s representation of bisexuality reflects popular and sometimes opposing ideas about bisexuality. One belief is that those who identify as bisexual are merely experimenting with their sexuality before they choose to identify as strictly heterosexual or homosexual, thus suggesting that a “bisexual” identity is at best a transitional identity, and at worst a false one.
The second is the belief that everyone has the potential to be attracted to people of either sex; in other words, everyone is at some level bisexual. This has been most clearly expressed by the character of Shane (Katherine Moennig), who stated in the second episode, “Sexuality is fluid, whether you’re gay or you’re straight or you’re bisexual, you just go with the flow.”
Third is the stereotype that bisexuals are sexually promiscuous or indecisive, with the added threat that a bisexual woman could, at any moment, leave her female lover for a man. While Alice is not promiscuous, she is framed by the other characters as indecisive. Dana's aggressive attempts to make Alice "choose" are reflective of how many lesbians see bisexuality, the fact that Alice’s main opportunities to discuss bisexuality occur in defensive situations mean that bisexuality is almost always cast in a negative light.
In addition, as the series has developed, Alice’s interest in dating men has declined while her interest in women—particularly Dana—has taken center stage; underscoring the first assumption that bisexuality is simply a transitional phase. Of course, many bisexual women enter into serious relationships with other women as Alice has with Dana, and there's nothing unrealistic about this. The problem is that none of the show's bisexual characters enter into serious relationships with men.
In The biographic film Frida Early on in the film, Frida asserts her difference and sexual liberation by having sex with her boyfriend in her parents’ home and posing for a family portrait in a full suit, dressed as a man. This is in 1920s Mexico--a conservative Catholic country, so it is unexpected to see her father (Roger Rees) dote on her shocking behavior, even going so far as to joke about her cross-dressing with “I always wanted a son.”
The film touches on the major points of her life, but it primarily focuses on her relationship with Diego. This is a little disappointing since she is so well known as a bisexual woman. The only scenes that show her with women are set in a very masculine erotic frame. The first involves winning a drinking game in order to dance with the stunning hostess and photographer, Tina Modotti (Ashley Judd), at a party. Frida subverts the macho posturing by taking the biggest drink uninvited, then performing a sensual tango with “the prize.” This scene is sexy because it is two beautiful women dancing together, but it also seems very superficial. One almost feels that the intended audience is the male viewer.
The second film moment capturing Frida’s intimate interaction with a woman is her revenge sex with a Parisienne singer in order to get even with Diego. Both scenes are thrown into the movie for titillation as opposed to taking a meaningful look at her relationships with women outside of the marriage to Diego. This is disappointing for a biographic film of her life since it minimizes her non-heterosexual relationships.
What we as ‘queer’ people need to challenge is not just dominant heteronormativity, but also our discomfort with difference. We cannot privilege ‘sexual orientation’ as the most significant sexual difference among us. Or else we are in danger of creating our own sexual ‘lower orders’.

Arunlekha Sengupta,
Roll no 513,
4th semester.


mizfit said...

anguish? is that what i smell here?

they say if there is hell,; it is here. right here on earth. i'm beginning to believe it.i'm a man now, a woman next, i'm straight now, queer the next minute. if this frustating feeling (not indeciveness,not confusion, since i know what i feel)is not hell, then what is?

FromHeart said...

Forget about the grade. U have forged urself in utterly unnecessary directions. Can I ask u smthing? The world is wrestling with awful problems and u cling on to a neurosis of identity.

I do believe that one must be in peace with himself to let the world remain at peace. Yet, you got 2 know that something that is supposed to dominate u has that power because u have given it. The world may be indifferent 2u but ur self is not.

Worry about things that have a wider concern. No Iraqi today will worry about his/her queerness; ur lucky 2b living in a favorable campus that promotes this thinking. Keep these thoughts as a private track; don’t allow them to preside over ur self and prevail ur finite thinking.

Where u feel that ur aloof and vulnerable to domination, its primarily u and partially the outside world that creates adverse conditions. Be one with the world. If u still believe that there’s gudness in this world, then I call myself world’s wellwisher.

uglygirl said...

From Heart: well its like this you see.
my 'problems' ARE the world to me.

"neurosis of identity"-- the course is called identtity and representtaion you know.

Thanks from dropping by, and making the effort to advice me, i really appreciate it.

serendipiduous said...

stop dictating terms...
stop presuming...
stop undermining other ppls concerns...
Stop calling me lucky because i m different and am not being persecuted for it...
stop stop stop...

uglygirl said...

thanks serendipidious.
for being able to emote where i could not but detach.

love ya.

serendipiduous said...

"No Iraqi today will worry about his/her queerness; ur lucky 2b living in a favorable campus that promotes this thinking."
its like saying we shouldnt concern ourselves with patriarchy because there are starving children in am i supposed to be fighting greater causes when i cant reconcile to my own identity without being stigmatised for it...i am sorry but one gets the feeling that u expect us to stop questioning things around us because they dont concern "you" who is being insular...

serendipiduous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
L>T said...

Very interersting post. It really has challenged my assumptions about bisexuality. I must confess, i see it (bisexuality) in such a conventional way, but, you must forgive us, it's not something us straight people think about much. We are still trying to understand the committed homosexuals sexuality.

Speaking of Frida, i have a print of one of her famous paintings in my dining room. She looks down on us as we eat dinner & visit around the table. Almost everyone that sees it for the first time makes a comment about it. Either they love it or hate it.

Sol said...

uglygirl ~ i think u are merely honest. with ur own feelings and the way u perceive the world around u.

ive met many many straight people who are incapable of faithfulness to their partner..this is just another way to make themselves feel good, by slandering people of different sexual orientation.

in fact, its not merely sexual, is it?? i mean, u feel real feelings for someone of the same gender..i think thats beautiful, not ugly and hate the way the religious zealots and other creeps hop on the bandwagon to limit ya'll to merely the sexual aspect of things.

rock on, girl!!!