There are innumerable bits of pop cultural flotsam that I would happily expunge from our collective lexicon.
If I never hear “think[ing] outside the box” again, it will be too soon. “Incentivize” sets my teeth on edge. It’s a good bet that any word or phrase that found life as an advertising gimmick or “SNL” catchphrase is one I’d happily delete.
Onto our vernacular ash heap I would gladly toss “bi-curious.”
Let me be clear here. I am not, and have never been, bisexual or “bi-curious” or “fluid” or whatever else it’s being called these days. I am and always have been totally, 100% gay. *casually gestures toward ‘Perfect Six!’ certificate from the Kinsey Institute* Gay as a treeful of hummingbirds, to borrow the Better Half’s phrase. On a personal level, I don’t really grok bisexuality any more than plain old heterosexuality. So it ain’t me that I’m talking about.
In fact, for a great while I was part of what I perceive to be a majority of gay guys who had low-level disdain for guys who would identify as bi. I basically thought they were gay guys who were kidding themselves. I now regret having held this attitude, which was as prejudiced by my own experience as any homophobia directed against people like me by heterosexuals. Where do I get off telling someone else that they don’t have legitimate sexual attraction to both genders, even if I can’t quite wrap my own head around it? Hell, there are even studies that supposedly confirm a bisexual orientation, and who am I to argue with Science?
In a nutshell, I was wrong.
Thus it was with irritation that I read this headline and subheader over at Slate:
The World’s Oldest Pornography
It’s at least 3,000 years old, and it’s bi-curious.
Let’s just skip over the question-begging in the headline about whether all depictions of human sexuality (apparently ritual, in this case) count as porn, and look at the irritating “bi-curious” descriptor.
The article is all about some ancient petroglyphs, which depict several sexual acts between men, women and men of somewhat ambiguous sexuality. There seems to be a shamanic nature to what is shown. Not being an archeologist or anthropologist, I have little to say about the cultural significance of any of it. I will, however, note that nowhere in the article is there any evidence of curiosity on the part of the participants. Using “bi-curious” as a descriptor is juvenile and silly.
If I were bisexual, I suspect I would find it deeply irritating to have it regularly implied that my sexuality was tentative or exploratory. I’m not Dan Savage, so I don’t really have much desire to launch into a lengthy disquisition on the subject. I’ve no doubt that there are plenty of guys who are genuinely curious or more bisexual than they’d like to admit or what have you, and so “bi-curious” might do as well as anything else as a way of describing themselves.
But for men and women who self-describe as confidently bisexual, we who are not should give them the same respect as we (hopefully) give the unalloyed straights and gays. They know who they are, and don’t need us undermining their statements about themselves with our own thinly-veiled skepticism. Let’s talk about it like grown-ups, and leave the Craigslist-speak where it belongs.