Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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Category errors

I’m a bi man. Or rather, bisexual male is a category others use to describe me, or believe I fit into.

As my friends would expect of me, as soon as I knew that I fitted the category, I started testing its definition and parameters. I come from a generation where the idea that the categories we fitted into could be openly labeled by us (as gay, queer or bi) rather than by the criminal law or doctors was new and exciting.

The problem is that the categories conceal as  much as they reveal, and they encourage exclusive behaviour; you’re not bi if you aren’t having sex with men and women, or you’re not bi if…. The list is endless, but the result is that we become a list of categories whose intersections we hope will explain us to those we feel need to know about us. I’m a bi, dominant, sadistic libertarian socialist sounds like the worst lonely hearts advert ever but actually offers something of a suggestion of a way forward.

Ask people about their politics and they’ll often tell you about a category defined by the media; they’re Reagan Democrats or Blue Labour. The political compass often tells a different story. So why don’t we have a sexual compass, rather than a morass of confined and ill-defined spaces masquerading as categories?

Of course there would need to be a debate about the axes of any such compass but rather that than the exclusionary debates about who fits, or does not fit, each category.



One comment on “Category errors

  1. redpesto
    September 5, 2015

    I like the idea of a ‘sexual compass’, if only because the Kinsey scale is too linear, and the Klein Grid too complex to explain quickly. Perhaps one axis could be male/female and the other masculine/feminine, so it could cover, for example, a preference for butch women or femme men or similar qualities in both men and women (okay, this doesn’t account for dominant/submissive, but maybe a BDSM compass could cover that).


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This entry was posted on September 1, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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