March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month. It’s very possible you didn’t know that! Which is one of the reasons this designated month is so important. Bisexuals are without a doubt the least visible and considered “letter” within LGBTQ, and their specific issues are often even more ignored. This apathy towards bisexual lives contributes to a suite of health problems, including a higher rate of substance use and abuse, higher incidences of mental health issues, and even higher rates of cancer and heart problems. Bisexuals are more able than gays and lesbians to be in socially accepted relationships, but they face the same closeting pressure to suppress their sexual identity and deny a part of themselves. And thanks to heteronormativity, their heterosexual activity is used as an excuse to erase their bisexual identity. To that end, it’s crucial to raise awareness not simply of bisexual health, but of bisexuality itself.
Greetings, Dialecticbitches! Are you heteronormative? Find out with this FUN QUIZ!
All you have to do for each question is decide which picture shows a romantic relationship, and which shows a platonic one. Let’s go!
If you answered mostly B’s, congratulations, you are not heteronormative!
If you answered mostly A’s, congratulations, you ARE heteronormative! You may now take your job at the daily mail.
Don’t believe me? The following are captions from the daily mail’s gossip pages, judging the affection displayed by each of the pairings:
1) Pic A“Finally some couple time: Rob and Kristen catch up in the back of their chauffeur driven car”
1) Pic B“Kristen Stewart held hands with her live-in gal pal Alicia Cargile outside a bookstore in downtown Los Angeles last Saturday”
‘Live-in Gal Pals’? Who hold hands? Really?!
Okay, 2) Pic A“ PDA fest: lovebirds Kendall and Harry… getting very close, confirming they are far more than friends.”
Not exactly a ‘PDA fest’, though, is it. I think the term you were looking for is ‘hostage situation’ :P… to quote Harry’s sister
2) Pic B“Hug it out: The former X Factor star was also spotted giving a friend a hug while sporting his two-tone shorts”
umm… I wouldn’t really describe that as a hug. ‘Tender embrace’ is perhaps more accurate. Or even “PDA fest”, as you so wrongly attributed to the picture before. But potato tomato 😉
Moving on, 3) Pic A“Hush hush: Despite being pictured together, the reported couple are keeping their romance under the radar”
Oh, so apparently all you have to do to be considered a “romance” is get “pictured together”. So if that’s the case, you guys must think this next picture is the ROMANCE OF THE CENTURY…
3) Pic B“Cara appeared a bit concerned as she eyed her friend”
Her ‘FRIEND’! asdfghjkl;’!!1 When was the last time you TONGUED one of your friends?
4) Pic A“Short romance: Last August, Conor was seen spending time in Hyannis Port with then-girlfriend Taylor Swift”
Yeah, I bet it was a “short romance”, given that it looks like they can’t stand the sight of each other…
And 4) Pic B“Ladies who party: Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift showed off their close friendship during Harry Josh’s pre-Met Ball party in New York City on Saturday night”
You were very quick to get the words “close friendship” in there, weren’t you? Had to explain that one away verrrry quickly. I wonder why that is?
So why did I collate these picture captions? This is not meant as speculation on the sexuality of any of the above celebrities (although I deliberately chose them in particular as their sexualityis sort ofup in the air at the moment (although Cara is widely seen as bisexual, despite never having actually said those words). My intent is not to ‘out’ famous people, instead I want to talk about the mentality behind those picture captions and how in a broader sense they are indicative of the assumptions we all make.
Now you may have noticed that in each of the captions above, the main judgement criteria of the person writing them as to whether the people shown are “loved up” or “BFFs” comes down to one thing. GENDER. Rather than looking at the actual levels of affection displayed between the two (as in my opinion each of the same-sex pairings look more affectionate than the opposite-sex pairings), they automatically conclude that man + woman = banging; woman + woman = THEY’RE SUCH GOOD FRIENDS, RIIIGHT!1!
This is what is commonly referred to as heteronormativity.
So what is heteronormativity? Heteronormativity is assuming that everyone is straight, unless proven otherwise. It’s that people will view a man and a woman next to each other as obviously romantic, whereas if it’s two people of the same sex then it’s often rationalized as them just being friends.
As a point of reference, let’s look back at the sort of captions a (formerly) closeted person used to get before she came out…
“Cute couple: Ellen and Alexander were spotted arriving back at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday” (x)
YOU CAN JUST SEE THE LOVE THERE, CAN’T YOU?! 😛
The Daily Mail didn’t report on this picture, however the queer-girl website afterellen.com were quick to refer to this kiss as a “Clever publicity ploy”. It’s refreshing to see that not only can straight publications can make gendered assumptions about relationships, but now gay girls can do it too! YAY! 😦
Fortunately, queer celebrities are starting to fight back against this, and thus challenging all of us to question why we think in the narrow and constricting way that we do. For instance, rapper Angel Haze called out the media for referring to their girlfriend as a ‘friend’, saying “we fuck and friends don’t fuck”. Preach.
Hopefully, if celebrities keep challenging the double standard in the way that they are portrayed, and we can in turn become more aware of our own heteronormative assumptions, perhaps one day we will determine whether people are a couple based on the love and affection they show, rather than on their gender.
While I was at work the other day, a customer commented to their companion that I have several tattoos. This isn’t something particularly surprising to hear someone note, and I’m not bothered by it on its own merits. Still, there’s something disconcerting about the way a tattooed woman is treated, versus a tattooed man.
First, there is simply the fact that being “brazenly ogled” as my one friend put it is, in and of itself, a different experience for a woman than it is for a man. Women’s bodies are under constant scrutiny that men’s bodies aren’t forced to endure, and thus it gives the exaggerated scrutiny of visible ink a more sinister undertone. If an inch of tattoo peeks out from under our clothing, we’re subjected to judgments of how “unladylike” it is to have a tattoo in such a private area. Yet, this does not stop onlookers from…