Authored by: Shiri Eisner
* Trigger warning: explicit discussion of sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Imagine a 14-year-old girl, just beginning her 9th grade. Her classmates know that she’s bisexual – she’s told them about it, assuming that (like her) everyone else is also accepting. But when she walks the hallways of her school, she often hears the word “lesbo” thrown at her. When she’s in class, there isn’t a day that goes by without at least one boy asking her to sleep with him. She’s a virgin, and so are they, so she laughs in their faces and tells them to fuck off. But the ceaseless comments, demeaning and objectifying, dig at her flesh.
Imagine a 16-year-old girl, who’s just had her first kiss. The guy she kissed, 19 years old, soon after begins to date a friend of hers, also bisexual. One day, they both show up at her house – going on a day’s trip, he says, and names a nearby national park. But instead of driving to the park, he stops at an isolated spot near a railway, assuming that since our 16-year-old is bisexual, she’d be eager and willing to have a threesome. She’s not, so he forces her.
Imagine a 20-year-old woman, openly bisexual. She participates in an ‘alternative’ community, one in which sexuality is considered awesome rather than shameful, and bisexuality is considered the norm rather than the outcast. Throughout her stay in this community, she’s slowly becoming aware of the fact that only women are allowed to be bisexual – and they’re not only allowed, but are expected – and are not only expected, but encouraged – and not only encouraged, but pressurized – but they also must comply with certain, unspoken rules. A woman must be bisexual, but she must only be bisexual for display. She should also be conventionally sexy and appealing to the boys, otherwise it’s just no fun, is it? When our 20-year-old kisses other women in their parties, there’s always a man watching (often more than one). Sometimes they try to join them – sometimes by asking, more often by touching. Refusal is frowned upon.
Imagine a 25-year-old bi woman, a University student, starting to make her way in life. She has a group of friends and lovers whom she deeply loves and cares for. One day she throws a party in her house, bringing one of her lovers, a beautiful man not far from her age, to sleep over. During the party, her best friend, a woman, gets drunk and stumbles over to our 25-year-old’s bedroom where her male lover is sleeping. When our 25-year-old wants to go to sleep, her friend refuses to get out of bed and sexually assaults her instead (bi women are always into threesomes, right?). The male lover thinks it’s hot.
When I’m asked to explain the recent statistics published by the US government, stating that nearly 50% of bisexual women have been raped, and that 75% of us have been sexually assaulted, I’m surprised that people don’t already know the answer.
Author bio: Shiri Eisner is a feminist bisexual and genderqueer activist, writer and researcher from Israel/Occupied Palestine. She’s the author of Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution (coming out now in the US).