Thursday, 26 March 2009

Fools seldom differ...

Or is it great minds thinking alike? I was just about to post here a request to readers who ponder the nuances of sexual identity, when I find that a rather similar point has just been made over on Bisexual Index.

I was going to say:
Can you point me at or offer me a meaningful differentiation between pan and bi, that isn't just about noodling the linguistics of the "b" words? Better yet something that doesn't need to justify pan by holding it up it against a negative, warped interpretation of bi?

I've read plenty of explanations that set up the straw man of "two-ness" in "bi", which - as well as being at best a peculiar interpretation of the B word - never seem to follow through on the implications of homo- or hetero- sexuality. I'm sure it can't all be about people dodging the bullet of biphobia through inventing a new word...
When I notice that Bisexual Index have just added a new entry to their FAQ on what seems very much the same point:

Bisexual isn't about there being only "two sexes"

Some people get hung up on the 'bi' and protest that gender isn't binary. In traditional dictionaries:

  • Homosexual is defined as "attracted to the same sex"
  • Heterosexual is defined as "attracted to the opposite sex"

So why then dismiss bisexuality as being about "men and women" when the definitions of hetero- and homo- don't mention those? In this modern age with a wider understanding of gender some would re-state those as:

  • Homosexual means "attracted to people of broadly the same gender"
  • Heterosexual means "attracted to people of broadly a different gender"

In fact many people say there's more than two genders, but if two options are either "the same as me" or "different to me" then we think it's clear that "both" can refer to those two options rather than two perceived sexes.

Bisexuality isn't an attempt to pigeonhole gender, it's the freedom to feel attraction without blinkers!

Well, quite.

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