I was extremely dismayed, but not surprised, to read yet another bigoted and vitriolic article from Julie Bindel. Apparently dismissing and demeaning trans* folks is not enough for her, she feels the need to belittle and devalue the experiences – indeed the very existences – of bisexual women.
Bindel claims that lesbian politics and feminism are one and the same – and whilst lesbians are present throughout feminist history, and vice versa, it is both inaccurate and insulting to exclude bisexual and heterosexual women, as well as women who do not define their sexuality and/or gender from the feminist movement.
I think it’s completely accurate to blame the patriarchy for the fact that bisexuality, particularly in women, is seen as a phase, or a tantalising experiment to please a male partner. What Bindel does, however, is blame bisexual people – and those who engage in “bisexual behaviour” for the existence of this perception. Perhaps she needs to dust off her “Feminism 101” manual: women who consent to have sex with another consenting adult, of any gender or sexuality have every right to do so, and no one should tell them otherwise.
Bindel writes, “Lesbians having heterosexual sex are seen as transgressive, when in fact they are simply reverting to a traditional way of being a woman. For a straight woman, having a girlfriend on the side is almost like having the latest Prada handbag”. These statements (which are, incidentally, not backed up by anything remotely resembling fact) are incredibly reductive. A traditional way of being a woman? If Bindel is referring to the existence of women prior to the advent of sexual liberation, I think she’s missing the point. Before women had any grasp on what sexual liberation could or should look like, they had very little choice as to how, when and why they had sex of any kind. Now, if a lesbian chooses to have heterosexual sex, that’s her own damn business as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Bindel, in her typically transphobic style, reduces sexual acts to gendered performance, completely discounting trans* bodies and behaviours.
As for this idea that straight women reduce their girlfriends to trendy accessories, generalising isn’t going to help anyone here – Bindel not only discounts the sexual autonomy and choices of “straight” women, she completely denies their right to shift their sexuality and behaviour and instead lumps all straight women together as lying, shallow hussies. It’s exceptionally lazy journalism as well as being wildly unfair.
It is a real shame that Bindel is such a relentless bigot – not only because she has a significant platform in the feminist and LGBT media, but because in this article specifically (I’m not going to tackle her entire journalistic canon) she almost manages to make some sensible points. For instance, when she writes, “I personally feel that straight women are missing out on the best sex on the planet, but that is their choice”, I almost want to applaud. “Yes Julie!” I want to cry out. Yes, because she is stating her personal opinion without denying women the right to choose what kind of sex they want to have.
It’s a shame that the elation I feel when I read that sentence is so utterly crushed by her crass assumption that bisexual women who sleep with men are halting feminist progress and undermining sexual politics. I’ll say it again: sexual politics connotes the choice about who we sleep with – who, when and why. It is not in any way undermined by the genitalia or gender identity of the person (or people) who are lucky enough to have their world rocked by an awesome person (or people). However, because Bindel seems completely unable to grasp this, I would suggest that for the foreseeable future, you take the advice of my friend Lauren: “If lesbian women have an ounce of sexual politics, they will stop sleeping with Julie Bindel”. Couldn’t agree more.
At the beginning of her “article” Bindel asks, “what makes some of us uncomfortable with bisexual women?” I can answer that for you Julie: bigotry. Some people (including me) are bisexual. Get over it.