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In this week’s Ask A Feminist, reader Jenny is looking for ways to challenge people who think her bisexuality is all about them…

yellow question mark chalked on a tarmac roadDear Laura,

I’d *love* some suggestions for both snappy comebacks and reasoned explanations of The Wrong for when people say “hurr hurr hurr lesbians can I watch”. I’m pretty sure I’m bi, but haven’t actually had a girlfriend. When I’ve mentioned this in the past, I’ve had the above response and been so full of “I can’t believe you said that” that my capacity for speech has shut down and I’ve been reduced to goldfish impressions and walking away.

Some of the people in question are still good friends of mine, on the grounds that when I *have* explained stuff to them they’ve listened, thought and changed, hence wanting something a bit more productive than “Only if I can watch you and RandomOtherMaleFriend”.

Thanks! I feel I should have sorted out all this sort of thing years ago…

– Jenny, Kitten Wrangler, Cambridge

Now this IS annoying. It does seem that for certain guys, usually the kind of men that keep a stack of Nuts and Zoo in the downstairs loo, “bisexual” is short for “will shag anything that moves, preferably all at once”. So why wouldn’t you want them to get involved?

For those times when you just don’t have the patience to get into exactly why this reaction is so full of wrong, I’d suggest throwing it back in his face with an expression of disgust and a quick one-liner:

“I may be bisexual, but I do have standards”

“Thanks, but you’d only ruin the fun”

*insert pun involving not being interested in dick here*

I’m sure Team F-Word can come up with more in comments. You can ladle on the disgusted sarcasm or keep it light, depending on how much you like the person. Playful banter tends to be a good way to make a serious point, because funny people gain respect and attention in social groups and, as I’m sure you’ll know, Angry Feminist does not go down well in non-feminist circles.

When it comes to really challenging their reaction (and it’s great that you have friends who are willing to listen and change), personally I’d tell them the following. Firstly, my sexuality is not about you. Women having sex with women is not about you; it’s not about men at all. The idea that women who are into each other must automatically want or be willing for a guy to get involved if they’re bisexual is sexist and homophobic. It implies that women cannot satisfy each other, that a man (read a penis) is required for women to really have fun, and that the straight portion of bisexuality is stronger and more important than the gay part. This is also the kind of thinking beneath the popular idea that bisexual women only kiss each other to get men’s attention (and more widely that women should kiss each other to get men’s attention, but that’s another issue…).

It’s also a rather disrespectful and condescending view of bisexuality – your sexuality – this idea that bisexuality is about being hypersexual, out of control, constantly up for it, that bisexual women are easy and undiscerning targets for horny dudes. We may have a bigger pool to choose from, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the same range of tastes and preferences as hetero- or homosexual people. Assuming that we’d be any more interested in adding another person to the mix (not that there’s anything wrong with three, four or moresomes!) is therefore presumptuous and rude: certainly not the kind of attitude you’d expect from a friend.

Hope that gives you some starting points; anyone else want to chip in?

Want to Ask A Feminist? Email laura[at]thefword.org.uk.