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at home with the movies

The OH and I saw Kissing Jessica Stein this evening. He thought it was OK, and I decided that there should be a new corollary to the Bechdel Test:

Movies about people who have romantic/sexual relationships with people of multiple sexes must use the B-word at least once.

The Q-word would also be fine...or really, any word or set of words that shows the slightest hint of acknowledging that bisexuality can be a lasting sexual identity and not a period of confusion or experimentation because you had a string of lousy luck with the gender you've been dating up until now.

KJS passes the Bechdel Test (a movie must have (a) two women who (b) talk to each other (c) about something other than a man) but fails the B-Word Corollary, to my great irritation.

A cute moment: After one scene, the OH paused the movie because I was looking puzzled. He asked what I was thinking about and I said, "I'm trying to remember if we've ever interrupted our reading to have sex." He said, "Why would we?!?!"

Comments

( 43 comments — Leave a comment )
loracs
Apr. 20th, 2006 09:50 am (UTC)
The B-Word is So Scary!
I agree with you, it is very irritating when they do everything to show/describe a bisexual person/relationship, but can not use the word.

I once had a lesbian at the fat swim come up to me (about 6 inches from my face) and say "I don't believe in bisexuals." I don't know what she expected me to do or say. I was so surprised. I don't remember what I said, probably not much. I wish I had said something like "I'm so glad my sexuality does not depend on your believing in it."

Or maybe I should have dramatically sweep my hand to my forehead, pretended to grow weak and say "Please, somebody help me and say 'I do believe in bisexuals, I do believe in bisexuals' before I fade away."
epi_lj
Apr. 20th, 2006 12:44 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
That's such a bizarre thing. I mean, there are bisexuals out there. How can one not believe in them? It's like not believing in broccoli.
jinian
Apr. 20th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
They think we're all in transition from one monosexuality to the other, never mind that it lasts a lifetime, or in denial of our true sexuality, coincidentally assumed to be the one that prefers them.
epi_lj
Apr. 20th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Someone should tell them that the "in transition" argument would be irrelevant even if it *were* true. I mean, that's like arguing that caterpillars don't exist -- they're just deluded butterflies.
vito_excalibur
Apr. 20th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Ding ding ding!

I tell people that childhood is just a phase, but that doesn't mean that children are really adults pretending to be short.
rmjwell
Apr. 20th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Kids: First-level humans. They get the CON bonus and most get the CHA bonus.

Adulthood: the application of experience points.
wordweaverlynn
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.
the_siobhan
Apr. 30th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
i used to encounter people who told me they didn't believe in witches. I would say, "That's OK. I don't believe in Presbyterians."
rmjwell
Apr. 20th, 2006 01:22 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Maybe she thought you would vbanish in a puff of smoke? Or your gender identity would?
ruth_lawrence
Apr. 20th, 2006 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
or maybe she wanted on of us th tread heavily on her foot?
redbird
Apr. 20th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
If someone tells me that they don't identify as bisexual despite being attracted to, and in some cases having sex with, people of more than one sex, that's their choice. It may well mean we're using different definitions.

If someone tells me they don't believe that I'm bisexual, that's rude at best. As rude as if I were to tell them that of course they're bi, even if they only have sex with women.
jenk
Apr. 20th, 2006 06:26 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
If someone tells me that they don't identify as bisexual despite being attracted to, and in some cases having sex with, people of more than one sex, that's their choice. It may well mean we're using different definitions.

Agreed.

A gent I know identifies as straight despite his occasional involvement with a friend of his. The gent figures he has been & is attracted to LOTS of women and only one man (so far), so "bi" would be false advertising.
rmjwell
Apr. 20th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Two of my girlfriends date each other; one describes herself as bisexual, the other doesn't.

Life goes on.
vito_excalibur
Apr. 20th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
I have such love in my heart for you this morning now. :D
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Sounds like a come-on to me. "I'm going to make you into a lesbian, little girl!" Ew.
technomom
Apr. 20th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
I once told someone who "didn't believe in fibromyalgia" that I don't believe in assholes, either, yet they persist in their existence with no help from me.
micheinnz
Apr. 21st, 2006 08:16 am (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Woohoo! Mind if I borrow that for the next time someone tells me ADHD "doesn't exist"?
technomom
Apr. 21st, 2006 04:55 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Go for it :-)
micheinnz
Apr. 21st, 2006 07:17 pm (UTC)
Re: The B-Word is So Scary!
Excellent. Thank you!
epi_lj
Apr. 20th, 2006 12:48 pm (UTC)
I'm often torn about the usage of "the 'B' word" these days, because 99% of my brushes with it are with lesbians achieving inner peace by deciding that even though they sleep with both men and women, it's okay for them to still identify as lesbian.

It's a conflicted thing for me, because on an instinctual level I want to support people's ability to self-define, and I don't think that it's my position to challenge someone else's identity. At the same time, you only have to hear so many times people achieving calm by realizing that they don't have to be bisexual (although they rarely use the word) and expressing open revulsion at the idea of changing their self-identification to anything other than lesbian before you start feeling like the alternative (which happens to be my own identification) is somehow bad or dirty or something like that.
loracs
Apr. 20th, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC)
Yep, I have that same schism. Self identify is important. AND I know several lesbians who sleep with men and can't use the "b" word even as in "woman identified bisexual". JoAnn Loulan is rather famous (in my circle at least) as the very public lesbian, who says she loves her partner(a man), but refuses to use the "b" word and will ONLY identify as a lesbian. I wonder how he feels about this? I would feel a little "put in my place" by that kind of open, public pronouncement; and invisible. But then Joann has made her living in the lesbian community, so maybe this plays into it. She said if they every broke up she would only be involved with a woman.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC)
You know this of course but I'll add for the sake of others reading who might not know that part of the reason JoAnn Loulan does this is that she made her reputation on a book about lesbian sex that (at least in earlier editions, don't know about now) had scads of bisexual bashing in it.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
Said lesbians do this because there's a lot of prejudice against bisexuals in the lesbian community, and if you label as bisexual you get slapped with this prejudice. I can understand individuals choosing to label as lesbian because of this - I think the situation is a big shame and they "shouldn't" sidestep the issue like that (thereby contributing to it), but I'm not going to waste my energy feeling angry at the individuals. I'd rather spend my energy complaining about the media portrayals that support the prejudice and the invisibility (like the Bitch magazine thing I complained about a few months ago, and this movie).

I probably would try to avoid personally describing the sexual identity of such individuals with a single word, since if I used my word it would conflict with their chosen word.
(Deleted comment)
johnpalmer
Apr. 20th, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)
I've always made romantic love the deciding factor, because the ability to reach orgasm can be learned pretty easily if the proper stimulus is applied. Of course, this would cancel out people who never feel much in the way of romantic love, but still have long-term partners that make them happy... but then, it's my definition, and I don't apply it to anyone else unless it agrees with their own self-identification.

loracs
Apr. 20th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I'll paraphrase my partner dbubley here: I can have sex with a door knob, but it doesn't make me a door. And another friend of mine explains that "women make my toes curl, men don't."
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
johnpalmer
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:25 pm (UTC)
What's the point of a definition that doesn't communicate anything to anyone outside your own head?

Well, the entire set of terms creates some confusion, so I don't see any point to using them too prescriptively. I once told a friend about a guy who was married, semi-happily, learned that he had an identical twin brother who was gay, decided to experiment, and found that sex with men was so much more *real* that he wasn't going to stop. Her response seemed to indicate that she thought he was "straight, but didn't want to give up having sex with men"; not that he was bi, nor that he was actually gay, but had played straight well enough to be married (and, in fact, have children).

Well... what *is* this guy? I don't know... I don't have enough information. And I don't see where it becomes all that important to classify him.

But I have an internal definition because

1) it makes sense to me, and
2) I think too many people view sexual orientation as a matter of pure hedonism, and I know that it's not that.

I'll use it in discussions, and use it to explain why I think gay folks should be allowed to marry, and I believe it's true in an important way.

But it does have some ambiguity, so I won't push it on anyone who doesn't like it.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC)
And I don't see where it becomes all that important to classify him.

Right, but "straight, but doesn't want to give up sex with men" bothers me because of the current moral totalitarianism (to use rmjwell's phrase that's supported on the back of the idea that gay sex is an evil temptation to everybody and therefore runs the risk of destroying community infrastructure.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC)
For me the determining factor was figuring out that I was fairly regularly feeling romantic love for women. I frequently felt sexual attraction to women too, but because of all the sex-oriented ads in women's magazines, I thought everyone felt that. (Turns out that is not true, either.)

I mostly don't care what individuals call their own sexual identity. I do care about media portrayals of this type leaving out the word bisexual or queer entirely.
jenk
Apr. 20th, 2006 06:28 pm (UTC)
I frequently felt sexual attraction to women too, but because of all the sex-oriented ads in women's magazines, I thought everyone felt that.

Me too!
(Deleted comment)
keryx
Apr. 20th, 2006 02:01 pm (UTC)
I remember thinking the exact same thing about that movie - like, maybe her image of her sexuality isn't that she's bi, queer, whatever... shouldn't someone at least mention it at some point?
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC)
Ding ding ding ding ding!
keryx
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, but then I realized - the story is told from a pretty revisionist lesbian vs. straight perspective on the world. So it's not just the main characters who think that way; the makers of the story were thinking that way, too.

I suspect that it simply didn't occur to them to consider the notion of sexuality as non-polar.
firecat
Apr. 20th, 2006 07:50 pm (UTC)
I find it difficult to believe that sophisticated filmmakers who studied at Yale and such have never heard of the concept of bisexuality.

They claimed in the "making of" documentary that they didn't want the film to be political. (Which annoyed me, since by making it "not political" it is political, but whatever.)

In the movie, there is a scene where one of Helen's gay friends is chiding her for being involved with a woman when she had been interested in men before. He makes an oblique comment about how sexual identity is always fixed at birth. I seem to recall all she can manage in response is "why does it matter?"

But you know, I forgot - they do use a B-word once in the movie. The same gay friend urges her to start her personal ad with "Friendship or more" in order to "attract all the bi-curious straight chicks."
keryx
Apr. 20th, 2006 07:56 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean to say that the idea of bisexuality had never occurred to them, just that the story itself is so simplistic in its treatment of sexuality and gender that I wouldn't expect them to muster subtlety.
ex_serenejo
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to think of anything we *haven't* interrupted to have sex.
johnpalmer
Apr. 20th, 2006 07:03 pm (UTC)
The obvious question is "What about sex? Have you ever interrupted *that* to have sex?"

But there are ways to answer "yes" to that, and some of those are actually kinda-sensible, so it can ruin the joke.
ex_serenejo
Apr. 20th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
:-)
tedesson
Apr. 20th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC)
The B-word is almost always missing in action.

Example from _Slap Shot_ (a funny movie that's smarter about sex and hockey than I ever suspected, which I saw for the first time a couple of weeks ago).

A man and a woman are naked in bed. She's telling him the story of how she came to leave her husband for another woman. He's listening with interest and compassion and acceptance. When she'd done talking they go back to making out.

The B-word is noticably absent.

lysana
Apr. 21st, 2006 03:26 am (UTC)
I'd tell you which movie I saw recently that missed the Bechdel Law but hit the B-Word Corollary, but it spoils the punchline of the final scene. Suffice it to say I was duly impressed with Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. It even managed a poly moment.
( 43 comments — Leave a comment )

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