where everyone is bisexual and no one is bisexual
June 29, 2015 6:15 AM   Subscribe

As much as we wish it weren't so, the queer world still exists apart -- discrete, you might say -- from the straight world, and to be a bisexual woman on OKCupid is to travel back and forth between them, bicoastal, bilingual, bicultural, always apologizing to one on behalf of the other.
The Two Faces of Bisexual OKCupid, by Frankie Thomas at the Hairpin.
posted by Stacey (37 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite


 
The article was decent, although I'm left to wonder if there are woman who actually identify as bisexual on OKCupid if you look outside New York City.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:23 AM on June 29, 2015


Between the intense politicization of bi on the one hand and swingers on the other, I'm kinda glad that I don't date these days.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:40 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to date as an OKCupid-identified bisexual in a Midwestern small town. It's been a few years ago now, but it was always a pretty difficult exercise to write a profile that simultaneously educated and reduced unwanted messages (I was not a unicorn, I was not into polygamy, I was not into adultery) while still looking drama-free and positive and friendly. Eventually I just put a lot of energy into meeting people in real life and that worked out much better for me.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:16 AM on June 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


NYC bisexual woman here. I guess I'm an outlier. (Although, I also self identify as queer. I don't really care about the label.)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:31 AM on June 29, 2015


This is so accurate. I'm a bisexual (though I prefer "pansexual" tbh because I am the target demographic for this article) woman and I wrote "DO NOT MESSAGE ME IF YOU ARE A HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE LOOKING FOR A THREESOME" as the first line of my OK Cupid profile after a frustrating first week. Despite the warning, I got several messages from couples looking for a "very bi" woman every week, but at least it wasn't every other message after that.
posted by a hat out of hell at 7:34 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


I identified as bisexual on OKCupid and lived in Jersey. One bi woman messaged me and she was all the way in Texas. One lesbian messaged me from NYC, but the conversation was her leading me into identifying as lesbian because she didn't want to date a bi-chick, but I was too cute not to message and try. 😫
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:47 AM on June 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh my GOD FunkyHelix I've gotten that exact message, that one is also terrible.
posted by a hat out of hell at 7:51 AM on June 29, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seems a little uncool of the author to note that many of these humans identify as queer, not bisexual, and then refer to them as bisexual. Just let people do their thing yo. Maybe don't erase someone's identity and apply your own.
posted by TheClonusHorror at 7:57 AM on June 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


I spent a lot of my younger life in a weird position where my bisexuality both allowed me to coopt the male gaze AND use my sexuality to make myself appealing to men. I could objectify women with the best of them! I am totally into girls and I can make comments about her body -- look how cool I am! Not like other girls! Let me into your club! Oh and also if you let me into your club you can watch me make out with girls. If I use my female sexuality to service the male gaze, will you give me patriarchy points, please? (Perhaps it is unsurprising that the song with which I most identified when I was fourteen was Everything to Everyone by Everclear, in particular the line "I think you are blind to the fact that the hand you hold is the hand that holds you down". Patriarchy!).

It's really nice to be able to reflect about all this stuff and be at a point where there is a lot less shame associated with being attracted to people of the same sex. The recognition that female sexuality exists on its own and does not have to used to service the male gaze is awesome and I would have been a lot healthier emotionally when I was younger if I had really conceptualized that earlier. I also think that, much as I'd like the chance to fool around with attractive ladies, this whole thing makes me super, SUPER glad I am married. Jesus.

Hang in there, fellow bisexuals, and I'm sorry so many people are douches who think your sexuality is about them and not you.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:05 AM on June 29, 2015 [24 favorites]


In my 8 months of experience on OKC as a bi woman in NYC, I can remember about 3 women who messaged me who were not part of a couple looking for a threesome. 25% of the messages I received were from couples, and the rest were from men who usually got around to asking for threesomes.
posted by elvissa at 8:18 AM on June 29, 2015


Honestly, most "bi"-inclined women I know (including myself) initially started out as "bi" on OKCupid, got frustrated with terrible couples and terrible straight dudes, and eventually just switched to "gay" (even while occasionally still messaging men).

Still felt rather deceitful sometimes, though, and resulted in having to have the, actually-sometimes-I-date-men conversation, which as others have noted, can make some people who absolutely do not want to date anyone but lesbians angry. It's sortof lose-lose.

I'm not dating anymore, but I am really glad they have changed the options. And I'm cautiously hopeful that it will make navigating sexuality in online dating just a little bit easier for some folks.
posted by likeatoaster at 8:29 AM on June 29, 2015 [7 favorites]


oh god i was so glad when i realized i could join the queer club and stop thinking about this stuff

this article makes my chest tight

i need to dump my boyfriend and get like nine poly anarcha-queer activist nbfriends to atone for identifying with it
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


Conversely, when I last used OKC, I started as "straight", then flipped the switch to "bi", immediately got hit with what must have been about 1/20th of the torrent of terrible messages from dudes women usually get, and turned it off right quick. Never did figure that one out.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:44 AM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you're bi and you're letting straight people "see" your profile on okc that's got to be AWFUL. Check that box, yo.

Plenty of the girl-but-also-there-a-secret-dude couple profiles are listed as not-straight, so you still get threesome messages, but I feel like men are just this horrible thing that happens to you on accident and then you fall in love and eww. They're everywhere. They're not something you should go out of your way to give access to yourself on a website. YMMV, obviously.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:46 AM on June 29, 2015 [31 favorites]


let's go to the moon so we can blow up the earth!
posted by poffin boffin at 9:15 AM on June 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have been seeing the #savethebisexuals tag flitting around the past few days, and am glad we are finally recognized as an endangered species.
posted by mittens at 10:37 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not an endangered species, mittens, just rare like unicorns. Obviously.
posted by epanalepsis at 11:30 AM on June 29, 2015 [3 favorites]


oh god i was so glad when i realized i could join the queer club and stop thinking about this stuff

Does it really work that way, though? Do you actually get to stop? This is a serious question, BTW. My cishetmale assumption would have been "no, because changing the label doesn't change the thing you apply it to."
posted by lodurr at 11:34 AM on June 29, 2015


isn't OKCupid the site that gave us the excellent phrase: "I don't want to see or be seen by straight people"?
posted by Eideteker at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2015 [9 favorites]


That's going to be my new meditation mantra.
posted by mittens at 11:53 AM on June 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


I thought OkCupid changed their gender/sexuality options. Maybe it's still not active on mobile? I distinctly remember setting my profile to "queer" and "gender non-conforming woman" several months ago.
posted by picklenickle at 12:15 PM on June 29, 2015


yeah… I finally updated my profile to show myself as demisexual (whoo!), but it was highly non-obvious. And that was in my browser.
posted by Eideteker at 12:27 PM on June 29, 2015


I think this article is confusing "how you like to do it" with "who you like to do it with".
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:11 PM on June 29, 2015


I thought OkCupid changed their gender/sexuality options. Maybe it's still not active on mobile?

The change is there on my app (iOS), I noticed it yesterday when I nuked my old profile and created a new one. If you're setting up a new profile there's a button for more orientation options than the basics, and if you already have a profile you should be able to access the new options by clicking your own Orientation option on your profile details.
posted by palomar at 1:18 PM on June 29, 2015


Will all y'all who keep getting messages from people looking for threesomes send them my way? I even actively identify as poly (which is likely my mistake) and all I get is 'I has a big cock' messages. And 0 hits from women, sigh.
posted by joycehealy at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wasn't a big fan of this article. But I think one of the issues it raises is whether we still have a community with the fragmentation of bi/pan/poly identity, and whether having one is desirable.

(Which to grind my own axe, I think the Kinsey/Klein idea of classifying or quantifying sexuality has been falsified and can't be fixed by adding still more dimensions or divisions.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:41 PM on June 29, 2015


Seriously though, what the heck is with couples never wanting to do the two-dude threesome? Will I have to systematically exhaust all possible combinations of my hesitant male friends?
posted by Mooseli at 2:25 PM on June 29, 2015 [8 favorites]


whether we still have a community with the fragmentation of bi/pan/poly identity, and whether having one is desirable

As long as you can still get killed for being attracted to the wrong gender, or bullied into killing yourself, or sent into lifelong depression, then yeah, it's desirable to seek community, right? Am I wrong about that? They're sniffing out something bad and wrong with us, they're applying an identity, and it certainly feels like something ought to be done with that identity.

How to even talk about it, without using these clunky quantification words? What could you possibly replace them with? Is it my own lack of imagination, that I can't think of a different language to use for it?
posted by mittens at 3:01 PM on June 29, 2015


I also get OKC expanded gender/orientation menus in iOS.

Hasn't helped, though. If I use the "cloak of invisibility to hets" option, many of the trans guys I might enjoy meeting can't see me. If I *don't" use cloaking powers, then the firehose deluge of unwanted messaging begins. While I'm grateful to mostly be spared "Unicorn wanna get down" messages, the sheer volume of reporting to moderation all the "fugly mannish b*tch" messages kinda ruins the sexy mindset for me. Then I select invisibility and the queer/genderqueer category again, and I get grief from femmes (including transwomen), for NOT saying I'm a butch lesbo online while also not seeking feminine queers such as themselves. Sigh. Heteregendernormativity is turn-off for me, OK?

So I have SEO'd my profiles to the max, lied about my age, and hope ppl do keyword searches. I certainly am keyword searching for the people. Hey butch queers and transguys who like the manly babes - write to me!
posted by Dreidl at 3:13 PM on June 29, 2015


mittens: How to even talk about it, without using these clunky quantification words? What could you possibly replace them with? Is it my own lack of imagination, that I can't think of a different language to use for it?

Qualitative description. If we can have a few dozen words for love, and a few dozen words for hate, we can have a half-dozen words to describe attraction to multiple genders without creating arbitrary taxonomic boundaries based on Victorian misconceptions.

Which is how "straight" and "gay" work in practice. It's only bisexuality that seems to inspire people to get pedantic about their Greco-Latin roots.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:26 PM on June 29, 2015


Or to use a simile, describing bi/pan/polysexuality in terms of numbers is rather like defining nationality in terms of latitude and longitude, or religions on a ranked scale from animism to monotheism.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:40 PM on June 29, 2015


I liked the article, and saw a lot of people I know in the descriptions. Labels are hard, and dating is hard, and making things work with a clunky web interface isn't any easier.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:08 PM on June 29, 2015


Plenty of the girl-but-also-there-a-secret-dude couple profiles are listed as not-straight, so you still get threesome messages, but I feel like men are just this horrible thing that happens to you on accident and then you fall in love and eww. They're everywhere. They're not something you should go out of your way to give access to yourself on a website. YMMV, obviously.

This is the best thing I've read all day.
posted by book 'em dano at 8:27 PM on June 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


What do you call that odd feeling when so many of your favorite people show up in the same thread? I'm starting with presque vu and working myself into a pun from there.


This is the best thing I've read all day.
posted by book 'em dano at 8:27 PM on June 29
[+] [!]

OMG yes.
posted by susiswimmer at 9:07 PM on June 29, 2015


I like the bisexuality meaning my gender and not my gender.
posted by gryftir at 1:18 AM on June 30, 2015


Conversations with married straight female friends, passim:

"You're bi?"
"Er, yes"
"But... your partner's a woman!"
"Er, yes."
"A straight woman!!!"
"As it happens, yes."
"How does that even work?"
"Errr... well, when you're in a relationship, you normally sort of pick one person."
"Aren't you, y'know, tempted to, um... with other men?"
"Aren't you?"
"That's different!"
"Hm. If you say so."

Conversations with married female bi friends, passim:

"Cor, look at that!"
"Yowsa! I would."
"I so would."
Etc.

(Much better)

Online dating with the bi- flag up seriously doesn't work, or at least it didn't back when. I imagine it's easier to internalise what it's like to be attracted to just one gender when you too are attracted to just one gender than it is to imagine what it's like to inhabit a psyche that's pansexual, where it's easier to impose one's preconceptions. It's taken a long time to get as far as queerdom has got in breaking down preconceptions, after all, and gays are a thousand times more visible than bis.

Real-life dating, where you can do it the old fashioned way by just recognising mutual attraction and going with it, avoids all that. There is no bi-dar (or if there is, I don't have it). And if you actually do find people attractive qua people, rather than filtered by that aspect of their physical configuration, the whole bi- thing doesn't matter until you're in deep enough to be discussing mutual sexual histories and working out whether long-term compatibility is on the cards. It matters to the extent that you want/need to make it matter, on all sides, but at least you're people to each other by that point, not a set of attributes.

There have been times when it's been a complete clusterfuck (ahem), but for what aspect of sexuality is that never true? It's simply easier, and often perfectly fulfilling and compatible with emotional health, to wear one's bi-ness lightly, even invisibly, and allow it to inform, rather than define, your relationships. I think that's a good thing, although perhaps that's being selfish.

Slapping a flag up rather stymies that. Until concepts move on, and I think that'll take a while yet, I can't see that changing, and I can't see a work-around. I think that's a small price to pay for living in this particular world.
posted by Devonian at 4:24 AM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've talked to tastyhat a bit about that "I don't want to be seen by straight people" cloak. As a bi identifying guy, I have found it less than helpful, since the annoying messages I get don't come from straight bros, but from gay bros. So, it doesn't help much.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:24 PM on June 30, 2015


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