Sexual Inadequacy: Bisexuality Comics!

If there is anything the dominant culture likes, it is putting people into static categories based on their gender or sexual preferences. Even as the larger population has grown more comfortable with the idea that people exist that are attracted to their own gender, there is still a lot of pushback against those who attempt to break out of the binary of desire. In this context, Kate Leth's "Bisexuality Comics" series is a much-needed primer. In the first comic Leth covers the basics of bisexuality and discusses the confusion it elicits from people who are new to the concept. In this second installment, she discusses the different reactions male and female bisexuals receive.

Comic is twelve white panels set into a light blue background, three panels in each row, four rows in all. The first panel reads Bisexuality Comics Part Two!, followed by a panel with the narrator standing the center saying - Hi Again! Where were we? - And a person off-panel responds - Something Gay - and that character replied - Right! In the next panel the top half of the panel states - Bizexuality, or at least the idea of it, has gotten bizarrely trendy. The bottom half of the panel has a image of a woman saying - I kissed a girl! - But I totally married a dude. - And we are to assume this woman is Katy Perry. Starting off the next row the top half of the panel states - The increasing acceptance of sexual experimentation is pretty cool - and the bottom half has a drawing of David Bowie with a glam rock thunderbolt across his face saying - But I did it first. A bar at the top of the next panel states - However, it has its downsides - and the bottom half depicts a woman proclaiming - I'm bisexual! - With a man next her countering - So's every girl when she's drunk though. He has an arrow correctly identifying him as a douche. The last panel of this row has the narrator stating - Not to mention the double standard. The first panel of the third row is split diagonally, with two women kissing on the left side with - Harmless! Hot! Fun! - Over them and the right side has two men kissing with - Gay! And gross?! - Below. The next panel begins - It seems like it's okay for a girl to have a fluid sexual identity - and below a man and a woman are holding hands, the woman states - Oh yeah, I've dated chicks - and her male companion replying - That's cool. The next panel starts - Guys, however, get different treatment. A male person states - Well, I kissed Josh that one time - to which the other person replies - You're a homo? - In a spiky, hostile little speech bubble. In the first panel of the last row, the narrator states - It would be great if everybody could just agree that folks like what they like - In the next panel the narrator states - But we're a long was from that yet - and - so in the meantime. The last panel of the comic depicts two people with different hairstyles and big valentines for eyes kissing and above them is written - Kiss people who make you happy and don't be a jerk!
(Of course, just because Katy Perry married a dude doesn't mean she isn't bi, but you can still see where Leth is going with this "bizarrely trendy" idea.)

The first panel of the third row is by far my favorite, contrasting the dominant culture's reaction to two forms of sexual attraction. From private conversations I've had with gay men in the past I know that some of them believe that this is evidence that same sex attraction is easier for women than men, but both reactions are harmful and disgusting. In the second, the sight or idea of two men being affectionate (or even sitting "unnaturally close to each other, effeminately rubbing elbows and exchanging doe-eyes") makes the viewer repulsed, angry, uncomfortable, or violent and leads to immediate policing by word or action. But in the first, a personal act of affection is being extruded through another person's fetish and commodified for that person's pleasure and consumption. Having a narrative forced onto your love life isn't fun or easy for anyone. Additionally, the same man declaring two women kissing is hot can become violent very quickly if his advances are met with anything less than enthusiasm.

In the latest installation Leth discusses the misconception that bisexuals cannot or do not enter into monogamous relationships and she does so without erasing polyamorous bisexuals or those in open relationships. I'm hoping the series continues, and I hope it educates a lot of people about what bisexuality is and isn't.

Previously: Sexual Inadequacy: SNL and K-Y, Sexual Inadequacy: By Blood or Marriage

Bitch Media publishes the award-winning quarterly magazine, Bitch:Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

16 comments have been made. Post a comment.

I hate the implication that

I hate the implication that it's "more acceptable" for women to be bisexual because there isn't the overt disgust or like you said, immediate threat of violence bisexual men experience more often. It seems to me, as a bi-dyke, that's because bisexual women aren't taken as seriously as bisexual men.

Agreed, but...

...to me, it's commonly the case even without the "bisexual" part. But what you say is true. Females who are cute and cuddly get to kiss everyone, like puppies who lick everything indiscriminately; females who are not adorable are invisible at best, inconvenient at worst. These seem to be our main options in the mainstream eye: house pet or ghost.

And yet I don't think it's always that what bisexual men do is more significant, it's that it bothers straight men, specifically, who are much more prone to violent reactions -- especially when other men challenge their sexual conditioning.

Bi Men Dating Strait Women

I think another problem that bisexual men encounter is dating women. Of course there is that threat of violence when they encounter strait men, but when they choose to pursue women they are often shot down because they seemingly do not fit in typical masculine heternormativity. For women, their bisexuality can be viewed by strait partners as part of a sexual fantasy or fetish, which in itself is again highly problematic, but I think bi men struggle more when it comes to gaining acceptance from female partners.

On Heteronormativity, Sexism, et al.

I'm so glad you're addressing these issues with rad comics! Bisexuality is far from being understood let alone respected. The objectification of bisexual women (or experimenting women) violates our dignity and freedom to love. The repulsion and violence that bisexual men (or experimenting men) face is also violating.
The contrast is interesting. A sexist society that objectifies women, and demands strict behaviour from men to maintain their acceptance as male/masculine, is a society that allows this double standard for bisexual people to exist. The double standard is harmful for everyone.

agreed! contrasting

agreed! contrasting acceptance resp. reactions from wider (read straight) society and the socalled lgbt community may also turn out interesting results regarding double standards. without wanting to speculate too much, I (bi woman) was recently seriously asked by a lesbian woman whether I didn't think that I was really just a lesbian in denial or transition... my vehemently denying this while (quite unsuccessfully) trying to introduce at least some very basic notions of queerness, fluid identities and sexualities into the conversation was met by what I could only interpret as pitying/knowing nod and smile...

Line two, Panel one ...

Hi there!

There is SO much that I agree with here, and I'd love to write a long boring essay talking about it point by point, but ...

Who is that person in line two, panel one? The bad guy from the "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" video was the first to explore bisexual experimentation? 0_o

-- Craig

I thought it was David Bowie?

I thought it was David Bowie? :3

It is David Bowie! This was

It is David Bowie! This was one of the first comics I drew and I wasn't very good yet. :)

I got it right away, don't

I got it right away, don't worry! :D

The other thing that I've

The other thing that I've come across repeatedly is the notion that bisexual guys are "really" gay, and that bisexual women are "really" straight. It's as though any brush with same-sex attraction/romance/sexuality is enough to brand a man gay, but any brush with opposite-sex involvement is enough to brand a woman "just going through a phase". I've known lesbians who, when told that so-and-so identified as bisexual but ended up married to a man, dismissed the person in question as "not really queer". While I think there's a certain amount of legitimate resentment of those who claim the membership without fully paying the dues (she's married to her husband wherever she is, but my wife and I get to play the "married... married... married... legal strangers!" game as we cross the border from Canada back into the U.S., for example), I don't really feel like denigrating people for how queer they are or are not really helps anyone.

Mostly I think that the fundamental questions about anyone's sexual orientation should be: 1) Am I attracted to this person? 2) Is this person attracted to me? 3) Is either of us going to do anything about it? If the answer to any of these questions is "no", then it's kind of not relevant to you, and you should relax and live and let live.

"there is still a lot of

"there is still a lot of pushback against those who attempt to break out of the binary of desire." Wow, really? Did i just come across a legit deconstruction of the gender binary on bitch? this is great!
...
...
yeah, nope.

Awesome

Thanks for sharing this comic! Such a great resource :D Just got sad about the comic that said that terms like pansexuality, and queer make it harder :(

Great post on this topic.

Great post on this topic. Will definitely come back to read more posts. purchase annuities

Love this

I love that comic! Kudos for posting it. This is the first blog comment I have ever left, so exciting! For starters where can I find the first part? On a more serious note, i really like the way this comic uses humor to emphasis something that I find is so real. I don't know if any of you others are college female students but I am, and i can't tell you how many times I have gone out to a party and been begged to make up with one of my girlfriends. I've even been offered money to do so! But you better believe no one goes around asking to guys to make out, it’s just "not right". I think because of this alone, i would say that it is easier for girls to be bisexual (I know someone already wrote this, I'm agreeing and reiterating). For a man to be bisexual is a lot harder (i think) because you have a constant battle on both sides. When trying to date men, you might me to masculine or to feminine depending on what they are looking for if they are gay or straight; and with women you could run the same risks of being too feminine for a girl that's looking for a "tough guy". It’s like a lose lose. For women that are bisexual it's "hot" to a lot of guys and men are much quicker to accept a girl that has hooked up with a couple of her girlfriends. For a girl to kiss a girl its cute and for a guy to kiss a guy, its always gay, and that's not fair to my homeboys that just wanna have fun and kiss whoever they wanna (as long as its okay with the receiver).

Hello! I totally agree with

Hello! I totally agree with this comics! I am a girl and I am bisexual and I've been having these feeling for representatives of both sexes since I was a teenager. Now I'm 20 something and they are not gone. I am not in relations right now so I am talking only about sex appeal. However I think if I meet a right person one day I will stick to her or him without restricting myself that it should be a guy only. I'll just follow my heart and my feelings.

I could not agree with you

I could not agree with you any more!! It's so funny and interesting. I hate bisexual activities, but others may like...