I just finished Shiri Eisner’s Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution and, I must say, I am geared up and ready to make change! Looking back over the book now, I realize I have highlighted almost every single page in this non-fiction call-to-action and will have quite the challenge to synthesize my thoughts into a digestible review. Nevertheless, here we go…
First off, overall I would like to say that this is a definite must-read for not only every bisexual activist, but every bisexual, pansexual, monosexual, homosexual, heterosexual, genderqueer — heck, everyone! The research Eisner has done for this book is clear from the beginning and the result is an incredible historical review of the bisexual movement from a whole host of perspectives and views, as well as clear ideas for revolutionizing it from here on out. With chapters on bisexuality, monosexism and biphobia, privilege, feminism, women and men, trans*, radicalization and what Eisner calls the “GGGG movement,” or the Gay-Gay-Gay-Gay movement, readers are exposed to the major issues that have impacted bisexuals over the years and those that are affecting us today.
While I could easily write a series of articles based on Bi, I have instead chosen some specific quotes that truly spoke to me to comment on; we begin with, “our political struggle needs to reflect the interests of everyone, address everyone’s needs, and endeavor to attain resources for and empower people of all groups — not just the ones who fit a certain palatable standard.” Eisner continues: “A very long list of people is being thrown overboard in the effort to ‘fight biphobia.’ In this way, the rebuttal in fact imposes biphobic normative standards on the bisexual community itself, drawing a line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bisexuals.” And further on: “It seems that in order to receive mainstream approval and acceptance, bi communities adopt and repeat the same mainstream values that are normally used against them.”
These quotes truly jumped out when I read them because of the fact that, in my own writing and in the Bi the Bi column I have co-written for The Huffington Post, I believe I am at fault for trying to make greater society accept bisexuals by assuring that I am a monogamous bisexual, for instance, attempting to counter the stereotype that bisexuals cannot be monogamous. Eisner is spot on here — some bisexuals are monogamous and some aren’t, and that is okay, that is beautiful. We cannot hope to move forward in bisexual activism by scapegoating anyone. I will be sure to check myself in this area in my own writing and speaking engagements from here on out, and I thank Eisner for calling this aspect out. I hope others will do the same.
Perhaps one of the most important points for bisexual activism is that we cannot continue to neglect specifically bisexual causes in order to assimilate into the “GGGG movement.” We have put a lot of force behind repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the fight for marriage equality, for example, which do impact bisexuals — but perhaps not as much as issues of health disparity, homelessness and domestic violence. Eisner writes:
“People with more urgent needs than marriage are neglected from the resources and activist efforts of the GGGG movement. GGGG organizations spend many millions of dollars on the struggle for marriage, while organizations addressing the issues of queer and trans homelessness [sic] youth, HIV+ queers, queer and trans people of color, queers in poverty, queer and trans survivors of violence, and many others suffer from a constant lack of money and resources.”
And when bisexuals are affected by these issues to a greater extent than lesbians and gay men, it truly makes you take a step back to reassess where our time and money is going — as well as why we are trying to assimilate to begin with.
There are definitely some radical points of view Eisner poses that may not be for everyone; but regardless, the messages within Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution are important and ever so relevant. We must actively build up a varied bisexual community that is welcoming to all gender identities, races, ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, etc. so that bisexuals no longer have to, in Eisner’s words, “[come] to terms with our identities in, and through, communities where we are strangers.”
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars