A little background is that Cary writes an advice column and he attempted to answer a bisexual woman’s question a couple of weeks ago. She is engaged and loves her fiance but feels she has:
barely had any sexual experience with women (or anyone else for that matter)
Cary attempts to answer the question by first musing on how much better everything would be if plural marriages were legally sanctioned. I have to agree. Allowing citizens to marry all the people they love is a desirable outcome. However, he doesn’t present this as just a wonderful solution to this woman’s desires for more experience. Instead he presents poly, and poly marriages as the solution for the bisexual conundrum.
We are that confusing.
It isn’t surprising that his post came under heavy criticism (mostly for being completely clueless). It isn’t surprising that he felt the pressure to apologize. Obviously he said something wrong but he doesn’t know what he said wrong:
I want to be kind and I want to be fair and want to admit that I can make mistakes. I hurt some people and I am sorry. I erred in not speaking to enough bisexual people to understand the sensitivity of the issue. I got swept away in the pure logic of it. For that I am sorry.
If you are wondering what getting “swept up in the pure logic of it” means, you probably won’t be surprised. Cary falls for one of the most common misconceptions about bisexuality there is:
If you are bisexual, you cannot be fulfilled by just one person, right? Because one person cannot be two genders, right? *
or further explained in the “apology”:
I am for maximum human freedom under the law. If being lesbian means one wants the right to be partners with women, and being gay means one wants the right to be partners with men, what does being bisexual mean if not that one wants the right to be partners with both sexes? Does that mean just one at a time? Doesn’t that mean either serially or concurrently as one chooses? Is there an unspoken rule there that says not concurrently but only serially? I am just looking at the logic of it.*
I am the conformation of that stereotype. I am both bi and poly. A bi-slut or someone who wants her cake and eat it too. I give zero fucks what you call me because my personal confirmation of the stereotype doesn’t matter. In fact three years ago I wouldn’t have fit into this nice little heuristic that makes thinking about bisexuals a little easier (would fit neatly into a invisibling heuristic though).
What would you have called me then? Confusing probably.
I get it thinking about us, putting yourselves into our shoes, is hard work. I am here to make it a little easier for you. To give you, Cary and everyone else who finds this all too perplexing, some help.
Let’s say I am only attracted to women and we will specify cis or trans women. Let’s just say I harbor an affinity for redheads with green eyes, but I’ve dated, been turned on by, and loved women with red, blond, black and brunette hair and all manners of eye colors. Is it confusing at all that I have married someone with brunette hair and have absolutely zero interest in finding a red haired women to completely fulfill all my attractions?
What about you Cary? Are you attracted to tall and short people? Are you bisexual if the poles of sexuality are deemed to be “can have children” or “cannot have children.” Could you be attracted to both and never feel the need to have both?
For a long time I felt attraction to men and women. I have felt attraction to people who are trans, who are cis, who are non-binary. I have felt attraction to people of multiple body types, hair styles and colors, multiple races, speak different languages, have different cultural backgrounds than me.
For a long time I only loved one person. In the past couple years, that number has grown to two. Not because I needed one woman and one man to complete the set. Instead I found that I loved both enough to work for both.
This isn’t that hard.
*Cary does some conflating of gender and sex here and it is important to note that they are not the same thing. For my purposes, I think marriage rights should have protections for gender as well as sex and of course poly.
Edited to fix name mistake