"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Monday, May 20, 2013


Rachel Kramer Bussel's Best Sex Writing 2013 is a particularly strong member of the pretty solid series where folks write about sex.  This edition has some of my favorite folks writing about sex (Patrick Califia, Melissa Gira Grant, and Madison Young!), but the piece I thought readers of this blog might be most interested in is Seth Fischer's Notes from a Unicorn, a memoir piece about being a bi-identified man.

Fischer's piece runs the gamut from sweetly comic to heartrendingly tragic.  He covers the traditional responses that bi-folks have to deal with upon coming out ("I don't believe in that! You're just not ready to come out as gay yet!"), and shows with personal experiences just how much harm such responses cause:

A year later, I sat at my desk with a knife, poking at my wrist. I had an impossible crush on a boy. Frank Martin and I were on the same basketball team. His locker was two over from mine, and I couldn’t help it—I was twelve or thirteen years old. I had twenty boners a day. It’s just the way it was—so when he changed, I kept sneaking a peek because I just wanted to see, because I could smell him, and it was amazing, and was it too much to smell and see?
And he caught me looking. But when he caught me, he wouldn’t look right back at me. Instead, he looked at the locker in front of him, and said, quiet enough so no one would hear, “I don’t give a fuck if you’re gay. I know it’s not your fault, but you better not fucking look at me like that ever again.”
I decided that day that I would choose to grow the part of me that liked women and kill the part that liked men. I poked at little parts of my wrist until they turned bright red, then I pulled the blade up and watched my skin turn back to its normal color, and then I pressed down again harder. But I couldn’t make myself do it hard enough, because I couldn’t stand blood, because I was too afraid to die right then. I tried to spell out words with the little red dots but they disappeared too quickly. I tried to spell out Frank. I tried to spell out tired. I took out a pack of stolen Kools and snuck outside and smoked cigarette after cigarette after cigarette.
Like several bi- or queer-identified folks that I know, Fischer even tried to convince himself that he was gay, since so many people kept telling him that was the only real possibility. Really, this article is worth the price of the book. 

What does this have to do with feminism?  I think that at least some of the difficulties that are thrust upon bi folks in general, and bi men in particular, are directly related to outdated notions of sex and gender norms.  (Of course, a lot of people reject "bi" as embracing traditional gender norms, and opt for a "queer" identification instead.)  And some feminisms are clearly pointing out that these sex and gender norms are often bogus, and aren't seen to be as malleable as they, in fact, are. 

 Fischer's heartfelt stories sadly show that both gay-identified folks and straight-identified folks are buying in to some of the traditional sex and gender roles when they reject the idea outright that anybody could be bi-identified. Stories of our actual lives are so powerful--how could anybody read this piece and still say "I don't believe in that" when someone they know comes out as bi?

Full disclosure:  I was asked by Cleis Press if I would consider promoting this book. I am totally happy to, since I was reading it anyway, and would have likely put something up about it in any case!

Some linky goodness:
Find the book at Cleis Press:

Rachel's personal website 

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