sexual orientation

Starting a Conversation on Bisexual Women and Mental Health

bisexual female symbolby Lola Davidson

Over the past few years several studies have shown that bisexual mental health issues are some of the most serious and overlooked health problems.

Bisexual women regularly deal with stigma and shaming from several different communities due to the intersection of biphobia and misogyny. Research shows that bisexuals have the highest risk of anxiety and depression, as well as the lowest level of social support out of any orientation group. I wanted to talk about why that is and how that ties in with the gender issues bisexual women deal with.

Something I’ve noticed that happens to both lesbian women and bisexual women is intense anger directed towards us for not entertaining the idea that our sexuality exists for men. There is still a lot of hypersexualization that happens to women when they’re with other women, and that hypersexualization can quickly turn even more violent when these women make it clear that they are not okay with their identity being seen as a fantasy. This violence can have a huge negative effect on women like bisexual women, who already receive a lot of social stigma for our orientation.

Bisexual women have the lowest overall mental health, which leads to loneliness and suicide attempts (in fact, 45% of bisexual women have considered or attempted suicide). The struggle of bisexual women has been marginalized for too long because of the way we are dehumanized as sex objects and because bisexuality is often delegitimized as a sexual orientation.

This also explains why severe issues of bisexual mental health are commonly overlooked. It becomes a vicious cycle, because the trivialization of these issues adds to the anxiety and depression which bisexual women face, and which women in general face after being told that their struggles are not legitimate struggles.

Being LGBT is tough and being a woman is tough, and being both can sometimes make you a constant target for scrutiny and harassment. I want this cycle to break and I think with March being Bisexual Health Awareness Month this is a great time to talk about how serious of an issue this is, and I truly believe that starting this discussion is the best way to start to end this stigma.

(bisexual female logo via Wikimedia Commons)

Posted on by Lola Davidson in Feminism, LGBT Leave a comment

On Jodie Foster: Let’s All Come Out About Our Discomfort with Coming Out:

fosterby Jessica Mason McFadden

When it comes to coming out, I’ve been there, done that, probably hundreds of times. To me, there’s nothing to it. I’m one of the least closeted people you will ever meet. My erotic identity is as much a part of my representative identity as is my name, age, hometown, or date of birth. If you meet me, you’ll meet it. Except I won’t call it “It” – I’ll give it a name.

Hi. I’m Jess. I’m twenty-eight, I live in the Midwestern United States, I am a graduate student, I am one of two mothers of two precious daughters, I’m a poet, and if I could I would carry a basil plant in my purse. Yep, I said two mothers. I’m a lesbian.

That’s right: sometimes I have to repeat myself or clarify the two-mothers detail. Does it always feel good and liberating to out myself on someone who isn’t expecting it? No, not always. Sometimes I get that twisted, bewildered expression in response. Or, worse, a total lack of comprehension. Most of the time, however, this beautiful part of myself slides out as naturally as would any other. Who doesn’t like sharing a joyful and important part of their lives with people they meet? I hear about other people’s spouses and kids all the time. I have the same inclination to spread the love.

And the thing is, most people have this inclination: to be oneself and share oneself freely. We’re born ready to be led by our inclinations as we form or take apart our identities. So what happens? Why do so many of us, whether we identify as asexual, bisexual, polyamorous, homoromantic or queer, experience discomfort and fear when it comes to sharing? Because so many of us are taught at a young age that we must fit in some small identity box or another in order to be accepted and loved. And who doesn’t want to be loved? But even more than that, who doesn’t want to be herself, to roam happily and freely and not have to fear ridicule, rejection or harm?

Everything I have shared here is what you already know – it calls upon the common sense within you. We just want to be ourselves, move at our own paces and be accepted. Simple enough, right?

Wrong.

Unfortunately, as humans, we’re far more complicated and far too contradictory for that. It seems, instead, that we’re more often than not conflicted, anxious or divided when it comes to, well, most anything. And in particular when it comes to human sexuality – orientation, identity, and choice. Heck, we’re so spread all over the place that we’re even opinionated and divided about the timing and manner in which someone, one single person, comes out of the closet. Since when did we ever judge a white, male heterosexual for the way in which he shared his heterosexuality? I don’t seem to recall any news coverage on that issue.

I do, however, know about social media news coverage on the issue of Jodie Foster’s Golden Globe moment of ??? Of what? Of Glory? Of Relief? Of WellIt’sTheHellAboutTime? I’m sure we can come up with several thousand labels for it.

Twitter and Facebook were loaded with opinions and responses. Even I chimed (no, Tweeted) in with a heartfelt but bogus public pat on the back for Ms. Foster. Like she needed my approval. Even if she did, the larger question is: why it was that I needed to give it to her? Read more

Posted on by Jessica Mason McFadden in Feminism, LGBT, Pop Culture Leave a comment

It’s the Genderbread Person!

Genderbread Person
It’s Pronounced Metrosexual came up with this awesome infographic that helps clarify some gender binary terminology. The cool thing about it is how it shows all these aspects are on continuums – it’s not one or the other. And as the creator, Sam, points out, it shows: “Gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation are independent of one another (i.e., they are not connected).” That means not everyone is stuck on one side of the chart or the other.

For a more detailed breakdown of the chart and the continuums Sam describes, visit the original post here.

-Jarrah

(h/t to A. Lynn of Nerdy Feminist

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism 6 Comments

Panel: On Cynthia Nixon and Choosing to be Gay

Cynthia Nixon

The other week Cynthia Nixon caused quite a stir when she told the New York Times:

“I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not. … Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate. I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive.”

Here’s what Gender Focus contributors had to say about the remarks and ensuing controversy:

Jessica:

I don’t think the idea of being gay as a choice hurts the gay rights movement. I find myself talking about gay rights pretty frequently, and even among people who are against homophobia and bigotry, I’ve heard people say things like “It’s not even like they have a choice about it!” I understand that is meant to be nice, but it could actually be understood as pretty condescending.

That line of thinking sounds to me like, if homosexuality were a choice, then it would be fine to discriminate against homosexuals, which is absurd. It also puts heterosexuality on a pedestal, with the idea that if they had a choice, obviously they would be straight, right? It’s not their fault they’re gay, they can’t help it! If they could, they’d be straight like us, poor things. Like it’s some sort of disability. I understand that not everyone feels this way, that many people never chose to be gay the same way I never chose to be straight. But if someone wants to choose to be gay, it shouldn’t matter. They are still be entitled to human rights. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, LGBT, Pop Culture 2 Comments