What makes sexual fluidity any different than bisexuality?
This a question I stumbled upon a few days ago and it seems relatively new and thought provoking (at least to me), but with the findings and theories of psychoanalysis experts such as Freud and Kinsey, I find myself wondering why this debate hasn't dominated our culture's sexual orientation "scene" over the past two or three decades. While doing research, I came upon a new term that has made its way into pop culture: hasbian. I learned that this term is usually used in a derogatory way, and in its most basic form, the word describes a woman who, at one point or another, identified as a lesbian and then in her later years "realized" she was straight (also simply described as a former lesbian) (Bendix). Women who have gone through this experience are usually publicly ostracized for their decision--especially in Hollywood today. Fellow blogger, Trish Bendix, uses the actor Anne Heche (shown left) to illustrate this concept. Heche infamously dated Ellen DeGeneres in the 1990s and after they broke up, she realized she was not gay, in fact, she ended up marrying a man a few years later. The given link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG4Hi01Kpfw&feature=related) shows Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres on the Red Carpet in 1999. The video shows the two as a couple, however the comments on the video itself are noticeably overflowing with harsh comments generated towards Heche and her decision to "become straight"; therefore, furthering the notion that society, including the every day commenters on YouTube, feel this overwhelming need to place people in categories.
The term hasbian, and the derogatory way in which is is used to define a woman who "can't make up her mind," leaves us to ultimately agree with what Kinsey, Freud, Mead, DiFranco, and Millet had to say about bisexuality. Jennifer Baumgardener, the author of What is Bisexuality?, an openly bisexual woman, goes on to discover what and how bisexuality came to be, as indicated by the title. She includes summaries of the many different theories made by multiple forerunners in the study of psychoanalysis. All of the previously mentioned theorists ultimately agreed that bisexuality is a natural thing for humans to experience; however, because we as people live in a "straight world", we applaud those who can slap a heterosexual label on themselves. (Baumgardener). I for one can conclude and argue that the ultimate prize we give to those who are "correctly labeled" themselves is acceptance.
The term "hasbian" makes this universal theory described by all these theorists, in one way or another, almost inarguable. It is a label for someone who experiences this sexual fluidity, or bisexuality (Gasp! Another label!). Our society is addicted to labeling human beings despite the fact that a majority of psychoanalysts, even today, would argue sexuality is indeed fluid and doesn't need a label.
I feel this post would lack any arguably due credit if I didn't mention the "Bisexual Queen of the Big Screen", Angelina Jolie. Jolie is notorious for her rendezvous with members of the same sex. She has infamously said the following on her own sexual preference:
"I love women and men equally and I see people and love as love" (Belge).
In an interview with Jane Magazine, Jolie once again stated how she felt about her sexuality and attraction to women after the readers voted Jolie as the female actor to "most likely make their knees weak":
"They're right to think that about me, because I'm the person most likely to sleep with my female fans. I genuinely love other women. And I think they know that" (Belge).
We all know Angelina Jolie did not end up in a civil union with another woman. Notably, she ripped Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston (blah, blah, blah) and lived happily ever after with her Hollywood bohunk and their six children. Therefore, critiques everywhere ask "if it was necessary for Jolie to label herself as bisexual" (Belge). Was she, like Heche, simply experiencing a moment of sexual fluidity? Again, are they the same?
Now, if you're like me, I think you too will find it sort of comical that in our extremely hetero-normative world, the writers of Jane Magazine posed a question that would even allude to the fact that these females readers felt an "attraction" to a member of the same sex. This question acts as the perfect introduction to another point in supporting this labeling fanaticism our society is finding ourselves in. In Envy, A Love Story written by Anna Mills, we as readers find ourselves in the ever-so-popular debate on the relationships between women. Is partaking in homosexual sex the line in which we cross in order to be labeled as bisexual? Hollywood's images of half-naked women--who are they aimed at? Is a woman considered bisexual if she feels a desire to be that woman? Are those pictures simply an "unconscious way for women to desire women?" (Mills). This question is still up for debate in our society today. Many argue that Jolie was simply confused and felt a basic attraction to women because they were beautiful and pleasing to the eye. She stated herself that with her life as it is now, she has "no room" for bisexuality in her life (Bendix). Was she really sexually attracted to them or did she just admire their appearance and company? Did she want to be with them, or be with them?
My universal answer to these questions: who cares? These two women are just the tip of the iceberg that is our society's fascination and obsession with labeling people--especially in regards to their sexual orientation. If, as proclaimed by Freud, Kinsey, Mead, etc., sexuality is fluid and likely to alternate from time-to-time in a person's life, why must we find a need to give ourselves a defining sexuality? Can't we just accept that very few people in this world are born 100% straight? Does the term bisexual even need to exist? I believe that these women act as the perfect example of our sexuality fluctuating. People change and with that, I believe it is possible for their sexual preference to change, as well. Hollywood, the epicenter of almost every social happening that takes place, is the breeding ground for people in the public eye, such as celebrities, and with that fame comes the label. The label that is sexual orientation. Are these even necessary?
In the end, I pose this question to you all once again: What makes sexual fluidity any different than bisexuality?
1. Angelina Jolie: Bisexual Actresses by Kathy Belge.
2. Going with the Flow: Sexual Fluidity, Bisexuals, Lesbians, and "Hasbians" in Popular Culture by Trish Bendix.
3. What is Bisexuality? by Jennifer Baumgardener.
4. Envy, A Love Story by Anna Mills.