Evan Rachel Wood and The Frisky's Belittling of Bisexual Women
Evan Rachel Wood, old soul alto of Across the Universe, ruthless Queen of True Blood, sister who wants a doll in High Lonesome—okay, I'm a fan; this could go on awhile—is officially post-closet now. While she's previously had coming-outs of sorts, the twenty-three-year-old actor broke it down for Esquire:
You date women?
"Yes," she says proudly, as if she was waiting to be asked.
Do you look for different things in men than in women?
"Yeah, I'm more kind of like the guy when it comes to girls. I'm the dominant one." It's with women, she says, that her inner North Carolina gentleman comes out: "I'm opening the doors, I'm buying dinner. Yeah, I'm romantic."
Hmm. As a feminist, I'm not thrilled by the assumption of stereotypical straight relationships, but, you know: good for her.
Unfortunately, in keeping with the depressing norms that creep up when famous ladies mention being queer, the haters are all over her, and not just in comment sections. Columnist and TV personality Zennie Abraham responded with a startlingly offensive piece for the San Francisco Chronicle's blog, and The Awl has already taken to using Wood's sexuality as a throwaway joke. The most revealing contribution in this corner of Doucheland, though, is The Frisky's "11 Famous Bisexual Babes" slideshow.
With a name like "Bisexual Babes," you know it's going to lean on objectification, but is it too much to ask that major "entertainment" sites not deal heavily in homophobic cliches? Along with Wood's photos and words from Esquire, the list presents itself with these inauspicious gems:
When almost everyone in Hollywood is bi, it seems silly not to jump on the woman-loving bandwagon! [...] We could have guessed [Wood]’d be up for anything. She did date Marilyn Manson after all.
Let's count the anti-bi tropes here. With the first sentence, we have a tacit accusation that women's sexualities are affectations to fit in or not seem "silly." (As for the link attached to "almost everyone," it's—surprise!—another Frisky slideshow very much like this one. It also begins with talk of a "bandwagon" and relies on Britney Spears' kiss with Madonna and speculation about Pink, who has been adamant about the fact that she is heterosexual but a big supporter of QUILTBAG rights.) Secondly, they equate bisexuality with being "up for anything;" in other words, promiscuous and not picky.
The flipside of the she-just-said-it-to-fit-in attack, she-just-said-it-for-attention, gets a workout both at The Frisky and elsewhere, so let's address that one right now. I am of the opinion that it is never okay to doubt a person's sexual self-identification. Regardless of how much you think you know people, be it from outside the TV or from the next apartment over, you do not understand their preferences better than they do, and rejection of their personally articulated identities is disrespect not only of their autonomy but of the myriad ways sexuality can manifest itself.
Sure, coming out as queer can draw attention toward a celebrity. It also can—nay, will—make millions of people hate hir. At the very least, I believe we all owe those willing to take that risk the benefit of the doubt.
Getting back to The Frisky's latest charmer, they had this to say about Ms. Gaga:
Lady Gaga said that her lady-loving scares off her boyfriends, “The fact that I’m into women, they’re all intimidated by it. It makes them uncomfortable. They’re like, ‘I don’t need to have a threesome. I’m happy with just you.’” Silly boys, it’s not all about them.
Terrific: more condescending, sarcastic use of the word "silly." Here, we have the assumption that bi women are greedy and unanimously non-monogamous, all in a flip seven-word sentence. It's tempting to stop here, but how many more ways can one piece be offensive, right?
Because there wasn’t enough going on in her life, Amy Winehouse is also a lover of lady parts, telling friends, “So what? [...] I don’t care what people think about me being bi—I do what feels good.” Yeah, we know that about you.
Oof. Reducing queer women to "lovers of lady parts" reinforces the tired judgment that we must be all sex, all the time. (Just like the it's-to-fit-in/it's-for-attention double whammy, the it's-about-sex/it's-about-feelings stereotypes for lesbian relationships have always baffled me.) "We know that about you" basically equates bisexuality with alcohol abuse, because both are totes unhealthy and gluttonous, right? (Wrong.)
How about Jenna Jameson?
Shocker, Jenna Jameson is bisexual. She’s been more than open about her lady-loving, saying off-camera she’s slept with 100 women and 30 men [...] Recently she claimed to be “totally hetero,” to which we responded, “lolz.”
So, why the shocked lolz? Because the words with which Jameson describes herself have changed? No, "silly," because she does porn and is therefore, in Friskyville, assumed to be overly sexual and without standards, and thus bisexual. Haven't we learned anything from the rest of this slideshow?
But where can the list go from here? What celeb does the media have more scorn for than Jameson?
Tila Tequila has spent her career trying really hard to make us believe she is, in fact, bisexual. [...] Whatever, Tequila.
I guess they only doubt straightness when it comes to sex workers.
They finish off by throwing in actor Drea de Matteo for the quote "I can’t say I’ve never been with a woman" and retorting that Margaret Cho "just had to one-up everyone" for saying she is "more than bi." In other words, female bisexuality is assumed to be inherently competitive... in addition to an affectation, a sex addiction, a selfish indulgence and, oh hell, I can't even keep track of all this wrongheaded judgment anymore.
Commenter thoughtcrime asks if this might not all be backhanded progress (or something):
I actually see poking fun at people to be indicative of equality. The Frisky snarks on het people all the time, too, and subjecting minorities to the same standards means that cultural taboos are lessening and minority groups are entering the same arenas as non-minorities.
Yeah, no. While gossip-laden sites can and do make fun of avowedly hetero celebrities, I've yet to see them singled out in a "Straight Babes" list that strategically doubts, condemns and rejects their sexual orientations. No equality here.
What a loaded list. Bravo, Frisky, for exposing so many angles of biphobic bullying!
Oh, wait. Is that not your intention?
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