Bisexuals do not have a gender. In fact, we may be the only group on the planet without one. But even saying that is as much as claiming that we are, in fact, a gender of non-genders. Such is the Catch 22 that Rebecca Reilly-Cooper is referring to in her article Gender is Not a Spectrum. Rebecca is a political philosopher at the University of Warwick in the UK. She is currently working on a book about sex, gender and identity. She refers to the concept of gender as:
“ It used to be a basic, fundamental feminist idea that while sex referred to what is biological, and so perhaps in some sense ‘natural’, gender referred to what is socially constructed….Gender refers to the externally imposed set of norms that prescribe and proscribe desirable behaviour to individuals in accordance with morally arbitrary characteristics…. From birth, most female people are raised to be passive, submissive, weak and nurturing, while most male people are raised to be active, dominant, strong and aggressive.… We are all educated and inculcated into one of two roles, long before we are able to express our beliefs about our innate gender identity.”
We political people in the LGBTQ movements have hijacked the concept of gender for political reasons. We claim there are more genders than just ‘woman’ or ‘man’ to choose from. We have invented a whole new range of gender identities from “genderqueer” or “non-binary” to “two spirited” and beyond. Rebecca goes on to say that there is no end of the possibility of variances in the concept of gender. She refers to this as a spectrum:
“If gender is a spectrum, that means it’s a continuum between two extremes, and everyone is located somewhere along that continuum.…. In reality, everybody is non-binary. We all actively participate in some gender norms, passively acquiesce with others, and positively rail against others …, enabling the non-binary person to claim to be both misunderstood and politically oppressed by the binary cisgender people…... ”
So why the gender? It has and still does serve an important role, both within the group and individually. As a community, gays and lesbians had to overcome the harsh societal and religious judgement that led to abhorrent practices like imprisonment, frontal lobotomies and brutal forced conversions. We needed a political voice. As individuals we were oppressed and confused, often due to our upbringing and the pressures of our society to be “normal”. We needed an identity that we could hold onto as a crutch until we could sort everything out and feel that we belonged somewhere with someone on this god forsaken lonely planet. But perhaps it is now time to move on.
Within the bisexual community there are so many variances that we could not possibly provide a definition of bisexual gender that would include all of us. The characteristics are not about gender but merely about personality. This includes our sexual tastes and preferences, but it also includes our value systems and our nonsexual behaviors. All the so-called gender issues can be captured by the broad definition of personality. We are all different and that is exactly the way it should be.
As bisexuals I believe it is in our best interest to eliminate the concept of gender altogether. We are not political. We do not need special considerations. We do not need a bisexual gender label. We are biologically men or women and we have two sexual preferences. Personally I like to think of it as “making love” with a woman and “having sex” with a man. That makes us bisexuals and forget the gender stuff. What we do need is understanding of ourselves and some supports in overcoming the mental issues related to our sexual preferences. I believe that would be easier to do if we concentrate on our personal issues rather than the martyrdom of gender because of our sexuality. If we eliminate the concept of gender, there is no viable purpose for grouping ourselves together according to our personalities or our personal issues.
Some parting advice from Rebecca:
“One of the first steps to liberating people from the cage that is gender is to challenge established gender norms, and to play with and explore your gender expression and presentation….The solution is not to reify gender by insisting on ever more gender categories … The solution is to abolish gender altogether. We do not need gender. We would be better off without it….The solution to an oppressive system that puts people into pink and blue boxes is not to create more and more boxes that are any colour but blue or pink. The solution is to tear down the boxes altogether.”
As bisexuals we should only seek to model the fact that we are more than what our society currently views as men, or women, or queer (I hate that word). Personally, I just want to be viewed as a loving and caring human being with a meaningful and rich life. Rebecca is right. It is time to forget all the social and political issues and just learn to play. Let’s enjoy sex in whatever way turns us on, forget about gender, and just be happy human beings.
Please Note: I am referring strictly to bisexuality. There is a much stronger case for gender for gays, lesbians and transsexuals, both personally and as a community.
 Reilly-Cooper, Rebecca. Gender is Not a Spectrum. https://aeon.co/essays/the-idea-that-gender-is-a-spectrum-is-a-new-gender-prison?utm_source=Aeon+Newsletter&utm_campaign=3b10c4d7b4-Weekly_Newsletter_1_July_20167_1_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_411a82e59d-3b10c4d7b4-68637497
3 thoughts on “Bisexuality – Sex not Gender”
I find this concept of gender and how it relates to bisexuality to be incredibly interesting.
It is isn’t it. I have come full circle on this issue during the past five years.
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Well, I do enjoy reading what you write.