Monday, September 29, 2014

Defining Bisexuality (Again)

Bisexuality Visibility Day was last week, but us bis celebrated all week. Along the way I got into arguments about how this weird word should be defined. There are sort of two camps on this:

1) Attraction to men and women. This is a very binary definition, and I'm still unclear whether this is supposed to exclude anyone who isn't cisgendered.

2) Attraction to your own gender and other genders.

Both definitions are used by bisexuals, and although I favor the second (maybe because it's what describes me) I consider both to qualify one as bi. After all, many bisexuals experience our sexual orientation differently, and some are only attracted to two genders while others are attracted to any and all. In defining bisexuality we may as well acknowledge that either of these definitions can fit a bi person, and I tend to be happiest when one acknowledges this while explaining what we are.

My arguments in the last week were the result of finding that seemingly most of the people on a particular queer Facebook page I'd taken a liking to were saying that the first definition is the absolutely correct one, so I commented a couple times saying that the second one is perfectly acceptable as well and should not be forgotten. I saw a few others trying to clear this up as well on that page.

It seemed that no one who insisted on "bi = two = men and women" was willing to listen, and they disregarded the few of us pointing out that many bisexuals do in fact use the second definition. After being told by one fellow bisexual that I should rethink what I call myself, and someone else (maybe also bi?) suggested that I should call myself pansexual or polysexual, I admit to bursting into tears.

I was upset because being part of the bi community, even being a fairly inactive member of it, has brought me a lot of comfort. It can be comforting to know that there's a place I belong because I was born into it, and that no one can take that away from me. So, to be told that I don't belong...let's just say that it had me messaging my boyfriend something along the lines of "This hurts so much that I wish I were straight."

This arguing about the correct definition to the point of telling someone they aren't really bi needs to stop. I don't want to make this all about me, because it isn't, but I'm describing my own experiences because that's all I can do. I know I can't be the only bisexual who has cried over this, and who has wished (briefly in my case) to be monosexual so that I could just avoid the whole argument. I've also realized that I'm glad I never questioned my sexual orientation as a teen, instead always insisting to myself that I was straight, because that means I didn't have to handle this drama then.

When anyone is wishing or thinking these things, we've got a problem. (Yes, I'm aware that I was probably part of the problem in the past.) But it's a problem that can be fixed through people being willing to listen to each other, and being willing to educate themselves on things such as the history of this weird word.

Once my sobbing finally died down I turned to Google to double check how bisexual websites define the word so I could reassure myself that, yes, I do belong in this community. I'll share what I found soon, plus some more, but for now I'd like to share what Robyn Ochs says in her book Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.
"Every new idea I grappled with changed my definition of bisexuality. I have a new working definition: I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge in myself the potential to be attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree. I expect that this definition will change yet again, as I continue to learn."
This is a word whose definition isn't simple, and as Ochs points out its definition can change. Heck, it may even mean something different in fifty years. In the meantime it's my hope that people will learn to be more accepting of the fact that there is more than one definition for bisexual, and can think more about our similarities rather than our differences. Maybe we can focus on the fact that we are all attracted to more than one gender, and then talk about more important things like bi visibility.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Writing Novels

Over the years I've made various attempts at writing novels. When I recently retrieved my books from storage (remember I put much of my stuff in storage when I moved back in with my parents a couple years ago?) I discovered that I had placed my previous attempts at writing my own novels along with those boxes. Or, I at least had tidbits of each writing project. A couple of them were written on previous computers that I shared with my mom, I think, but I at least found outlines or notes on them with my books.

Ospella

I don't know how I came up with this name, though I suspect that it had something to do with my obsession with ospreys at the time. Ospella was majorly inspired by the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, complete with an abbey (or fortress?) named Ospella that was home to woodland creatures who had to fend off an unbelievable bad guy named Barblood. I may have been a little too inspired by Redwall, even having a hare who was obsessed with eating, and I called the youngsters dibbuns.

I don't think I had thought this one out very well since I don't know how it was supposed to end, aside from glorious victory for Ospella, and I only have about fifty handwritten pages of it.

Vanessa and Her Rats

A teenage girl finds baby wild rats who were orphaned, and decides to raise them by hand. Her friends help, and (completely unrealistically) they grow up to be great pets. (In reality, even hand raised they'll be too wild to be good pets if the parents were wild. But I didn't know this at the time.) Let's just say that I was extremely enthusiastic about my pet rats at the time. I was also really excited about Girl Scouts and decided to have the girls earn a Girl Scout badge during the book.

I think that I only have an outline for this one, and was writing it on a computer whose whereabouts I've lost track of. I figure it's around somewhere...

NaNoWriMo

Once upon a time a friend persuaded me to try writing a book for National Novel Writing Month. I have just a few notes on this one. It consists of two countries with new tension between them, a guy who's a bard/poet, and a lady mage who's also a warrior (and vegetarian...I was vegetarian at the time). They bring about peace somehow, and there's a dragon who helps at times. I also wanted a bit of romance, which I recall my family teasing me or giving me a hard time about, but I was trying to stretch myself. I don't think that writing romance would be easy for me.

I had no clue where I was going with this, it crashed and burned pretty quickly, and I'm not sure where the computer I was writing it on is. This was really my last proper attempt at a novel before this summer at a novel, and it was at least five years ago.

World building notes

I guess this doesn't quite count as a novel since I was just world building, but a novel was (is?) the ultimate goal. And I don't know, the NaNoWriMo thing may have been placed in it...? I have a notebook with twenty-five pages of notes about this world, and it's influenced some by Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea cycle. In particular the First Language and the dragons are similar to what you'll see in her Earthsea books.

My first entry in this notebook is dated 12/12/2004, the second to last is dated 9/29/2005, and the most recent is 9/3/2014.

Those Who Passed On

Summer classes may have fallen apart for me due to the anxiety problems (it was impossible to handle school for a while and I still don't know how to get completely back to normal), but my genre writing class got me started on writing what will be my first completed novel. Let's just say that it's urban fantasy influenced mildly by the horror genre. Oh, and there's a small but ancient dragon living with the heroine. Because I like dragons, and because everyone needs a dragon who perches on top of a cat tree and argues about whether you should have pizza or rare steak for dinner.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Strange Idea

A few months ago I discovered that one of my fellow students was about to go into surgery for something that could be cancer. (Turns out it wasn't.) It was something she'd been discussing with doctors for some time, but she was pretty private about it until just before the surgery when she would finally get a definite answer.

I never questioned her decision to keep things private for so long, and was amazed to see her apologize on Facebook today for not telling everyone sooner. Apparently some people disapproved of her decision to keep things private for so long and made their displeasure known.

Let me be clear: how someone deals with a medical crises should be about the person having the crises, not those around them. If someone needs support or just wants to be open about things, then telling everyone is awesome. If they need to deal with it privately and only tell one or two close friends or just their family in confidence, then that's also fine. But ultimately, it's about what's best for the one going through the health scare, not what others around them want for themselves.

I guess this bothers me because it reminds me of something that happened to me when I was in my late teens. I'm pretty sure I'd told my friends that I was seeing a doctor to help me manage my ADHD, but I hadn't told them that I was trying a new medication. The first they heard of it was when I asked them "Hey, um, have I seemed depressed and withdrawn in the last month? I have? Uh, I guess it's my new medication...which I will be coming off of immediately. Thanks." By that point I couldn't even keep track of all the meds I'd been on over the years, so why bother mentioning one more medication? I mean, do I need to share every time the doctor gives me cough medicine?

My two closest friends didn't see it that way and were upset that I hadn't told them about the new medication. So not only did I have to deal with the stupid medication making me depressed, I also had to defend myself to my friends when I needed their support.

Think about that. If someone you know has just told you that they're having health problems they need your support, not your criticism. The best thing you can do is ask how you can help them. I hope this idea isn't nearly as strange as it seems to be to some.