Happy Bi Week! Here’s a silver lining
BY KATIE CHAMBERS
Being bisexual is not easy. Dating cis-het men is also not easy. It’s easy to see the combination of the two as a nightmare crossover episode. It doesn’t have to be, and here’s why.
Bisexuality is an attraction to ALL genders. Even if they find themselves dating cis-het man after cis-het man, that’s just one of many gender identities a bi person is open to dating. In terms of the way a bi person looks at the world, then, cis-het men are not top of the tree.
I know what you’re thinking. Cis-het men are absolutely on top of every single tree, especially the romantic ones. They literally planted those trees! And you’re right. Social conventions and expectations of dating and marriage were built by, and for, cis-het men. If you’re a queer woman or non-binary person in a relationship with a cis-het man, there will be an inherent power imbalance.
But viewing cis-het men on a level playing field with other gender identities has more power over your mental state than you think. Leaning into bisexuality, I’ve found, has transformed the way I feel about my heterosexual relationships. It can make you feel like you’ve got a bit more power.
Devastatingly, nothing’s yet been invented that can destroy the male gaze. But bisexuality loosens its chokehold on your life a bit, and that’s something to be thankful for. Embracing your attraction to all genders allows male ideas of what’s sexy or cool to take up less space in your brain, and affect your behaviour less. It’s one of many perspectives, not The perspective. “What should I wear to get guys to like me?” or “Do I need to have watched The Godfather?” become questions you think about less. Surely that’s a win.
Queerness in general gives the male gaze, and all the patriarchal conventions of dating, a massive middle finger. But the special thing about being bi is you’re able to do all this without forfeiting relationships with cis-het men if you want them. Non-compulsory heterosexuality is a rare and beautiful thing. A cis-het man becomes an individual you might fancy flirting with, rather than a representative of a powerful group of people you’re meant to spend your life trying to impress. Choosing to date a man, rather than feeling like society has chosen a man for you, is amazing. And, one more time, for the people at the back, heterosexual relationships do NOT make you any less bisexual.
I also think being bi is actually helping me make better choices of cis-het men. (That sentence probably won’t age well.) Being attracted to all different forms of masculinity: masc women or masc non-binary people for example, helps you to spot traditional, toxic ideas of masculinity, and see those red flags earlier.
None of this is to say that being in a queer relationship with a cis-het man is not hard work. It’s also not the case that being bi frees you from being an object of the male gaze – god knows bi people are part of some of the worst patriarchal fantasies. But embracing bisexuality allows the way move through the world to be a little bit less dictated by men, even when you’re dating them. There’s a power and a freedom it gives you that I think is important to celebrate.
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