re: monosexual privilege

*rubs temples*


This is one of those arguments that it feels pointless to engage in, but just to show where I stand here, I might as well state what I think about this.

Linguistically, if you’re going to use the societal privilege framework most closely associated with commentary on White supremacy (and originating within Critical Race Theory, if I’m not mistaken), I think you have an obligation to make sure that what you’re discussing is a distinct axis of oppression (i.e. race, gender, dis/ability) — but maybe that’s a discussion for another time.

On to these points:

1. “Monosexual privilege means no one will question the validity of your sexuality.”  …Uh.  No?  Gay people do get the validity of their sexuality questioned, all the time.  Where have you been?

2. “Monosexual privilege means you will always find positive media representations of you.”  Always?  Really?

3. “Monosexual privilege means, if you are cisgender and gay, you are less likely to suffer from serious health issues.” But the link given doesn’t say that.  It’s a report by Rice News on a study done at Rice consisting of survey data in which bisexual respondents were more likely to self-report “poor or fair” health, compared to gay respondents.  At least, that’s the part I assume that statement was referring to.  I looked up the study in question, and the original abstract says that gay respondents actually reported better health than heterosexual respondents, so unless we’re going to take this as evidence that gay people are privileged over straight people, I wouldn’t regard this as proof of anything.

4. The link for this statement leads to a 40+ document and I’m not reading all that.  This phrasing is raising questions for me, though.  Numbers three through five in this list qualify the definition of monosexual privilege with “if you are cisgender and gay” [notably, not “if you are cigender and monosexual,” which I assume has to have been intentional] — so does that mean monosexual trans people don’t have monosexual privilege?

5. The study linked this time is arguing that LGBTQ students are at greater risk than cishet students, with bisexual students facing the highest risk. I’m no statistician, but it looks like their stats would show transgender students are the least suicidal of all LGBTQ students (?), and I’m not sure how significant the gap between bisexual and gay students should be viewed as, especially in light of that.

Also, the claim in the Queereka post is “Monosexual privilege means, if you are cisgender and gay, you are less likely to attempt suicide than bisexuals” and not “less likely to attempt suicide than cisgender bisexuals,” so are we to take that to mean all bisexuals (including trans bisexuals) were the basis of comparison?  Seems like a case of failing to control for all variables, if so.

Anyway, that’s the extent of claims and evidence that Trav Memone gives me, before proceeding to this conclusion:

We live in a complex world where we both benefit and suffer from different power structures, and we need to recognize this. We all have parts to play in each other’s liberation, and that includes confronting our own privileges. It’s never comfortable, but part of bringing down social hierarchies is acknowledging how we’ve been contributing to these hierarchies.

This is something you’d say to a straight person about their being straight, not to a gay person about their being gay.

Fellow not-straight-nor-gay people, I need you to quit trying to apply this framework to explain any discrepancy in the way gay and bi people are regarded.  Different non-heterosexual demographics are going to be targeted by heterosexism in different ways, and that difference does not constitute what I understand to be a “privilege.”


13 responses to “re: monosexual privilege

  • Siggy

    Actually I highly recommend reading that 40+ page report, or at least skimming it. When I saw it years ago it was pretty eye-opening. It provides evidence not just for the lack of bisexual resources, but also their poorer health on most measures, including suicidality, as compared to gays & lesbians. Unfortunately the cisgender qualifier is probably necessary because they probably don’t have sufficient data on trans people.

  • luvtheheaven

    Yeah I read that article and noticed most of those flaws right away. Glaringly obvious and odd choices to base an argument off of.

  • epochryphal

    “privilege” is where this all gets hung up and is a derail imo. plus the vertical-vs-horizontal jumble.

    the force of monosexism is more important and the point which many many bi/non-mon folks have made very well.

    and biphobia, which is also p undeniably a thing – does it overlap with homophobia? sure. does it manifest in unique ways? yeah.

    i dislike attempts to debunk this entire concept based on analyzing some wording.

    and of *course* they don’t have any data on trans people, we only finally got a sizable survey in 2011 (new one this summer coming soon!). not that bi is often surveyed either, so for such beginning research to show such a great disparity is i think telling and constantly ignored

    mmmmm i’m trying to not be antagonistic i just, constantly see people misunderstand the purpose and eviscerate and ridicule the very idea of monosexism, which like, has been a concept since the ’90s, has been written about a great extent by actual bi/non-mon people, even academically — but the reactions are to some smalltime single isolated new and-not-well-cited post.

    and i think this all links very closely to and parallels the notion of allosexism/compulsory sexuality. i know we tend to favor the latter phrase but it doesn’t highlight ace struggles — and there’s no real correspondent for bi issues? compulsory monosexuality? meh.

    i’m v interested in your thoughts on this and hope i don’t come off as attacking or too harsh

    • Coyote

      Nah you’re good, you’re fine. I can get what you mean about how the “privilege”/terminology thing can derail the conversation — since it’s obvious that anti-bi sentiment/consequences are a real thing, but I associate “privilege” as a term with certain implications (ex. oppressor class benefiting from the oppressed class’ harm) that don’t perfectly translate over in the way I’ve come to expect, and I wish people would reserve that term for those situations, even if that’s kinda prescriptivist of me.

      I’ve seen people get really harsh in reaction to the idea, too, to the point of seeing one of my own posts criticized for merely using the term “monosexual”… so yeah, not too set on standing with that crowd, either. Some of the vitriol kinda rubs me the wrong way. But I also don’t like to see people outright argue that lesbians and gay men don’t have to deal with their orientations being invalidated. That’s kinda the balance I want to strike, I guess.

      On the subject of ace-specific stuff — I don’t like “acephobia” because I’m :/ about the phobia suffix in general (for these kinds of concepts), and I’d been thinking about making a post for discussing an alternative. Compulsory sexuality is a good term but very…. broad, I agree.

      ummmm this reply of mine was kind of all over the place so apologies if I missed something.

      • luvtheheaven

        Coyote, you always raise good objections and I do agree that it’s important to not erase how bad gay and lesbian people have it when an author of an article/blog post is explaining their struggles as a bisexual, and they do deserve this call out.

        Also, I think there are a lot of valid reasons to hold onto the “oppressor class benefiting from the oppressed class’ harm” definition of privilege. It doesn’t feel prescriptivist… the term is loaded with importantly strong connotations for a reason and I feel all of these people are taking advantage of that definition when they use it in ways they shouldn’t.

        I don’t know.

      • elainexe

        For ace things, might acephobia and compulsory sexuality be seen as different things though? Compulsory sexuality pressures everyone to meet some minimum level of certain types of sexuality. Acephobia is…more specific, and might not always be tied to compulsory sexuality even if that’s one way people might be acephobic. Acephobic people could be prejudiced against asexuality/aces merely because of difference (as I believe was shown in one study (that I can’t find unfortunately), that a subset of people who were prejudiced against other non-heterosexualities correlated strongly with those who didn’t like asexuality), or because they don’t think our reasons for being the way we are are valid (such as, you can abstain from sex, but only for religious purposes). Compulsory sexuality doesn’t have to recognize asexuality at all. So I think the two terms are both useful to have around.

      • epochryphal

        Totally concur with everything you say here.

        I think the “marginalized? make a (privilege) list!” urge is very strong for many reasons, unfortunately. It seems simple and usefully-provocative…but yes, it becomes simplistic and hurtful.

        I think part of the derail also becomes about “no, you shouldn’t come up with a name for that because it’s *actually* just a subset of THIS {insert sweeping category like ‘genderism’ or ‘heterosexism’}”

        …like, naming something is interpreted as separatist, rather than intersectional. (See also the awful “which is the root, cissexism or transmisogyny?” war.)

        I also agree about -phobia but I’ve seen so many waves of resistance to it and pretty much never a good alternative? There were some very good blogs like “bigotry is not a phobia” and “mental illness is not bigotry” with some awesome posts, back in…2011.

        Basically I like -ism words. *tosses ‘monogamism’ into the pile with allosexism and monosexism* (begins wondering about different named -isms like audism and allism versus ableism, and gaps for other groups…)

        • Coyote

          -isms can be good, but I also wonder why we don’t see people applying the mis- prefix more often (copying off “misogyny”). Less recognizable, I guess? Still trying to think of a way to integrate it into a term for anti-ace stuff [misaceity… misonullism…].

  • elainexe

    I agree with epchryphal. And it’s similar to…arguing whether POCs or trans people have it worse. Of course non-heterosexual people have more in common with each other as categories than my two examples above, but there are challenges unique to non-monosexual people.

    • Coyote

      Uh… I dunno about that, but it does kinda remind me of some of the claims I see people make about how people with some kinds of mental illnesses have it easier than others (ex. depression/anxiety vs. psychosis).

  • luvtheheaven

    I agree with epochryphal too, and with elainexe. I think a lot of people weren’t trying to say “allosexual privelege” to say it’s a privelege to be gay and asexuals have it worse than all — supporters of the idea of the term “allosexual” just needed some way to explain “non-asexual people” in a broad, general term to explain things that are asexuality-specific that they don’t relate to or experience. It is good to be careful and only say “heterosexual” when that’s what you mean, but, sometimes a term like “allosexual” is useful (or zedsexual, or some equivalent term) and it has nothing to do with “privilege”. “Monosexual” similiarly is a useful term. To wrap it up with privilege is to add a bit too much baggage to it, and to play oppression Olympics, and to put all gays and lesbians on the defensive. When all the bisexual and pansexual (and polysexual?) and asexual people want to do is point out that people are often assumed monosexual so non-monosexual people have to explain more about themselves and deal with different issues. Whether they are worse issues or not isn’t really the most important question, most of the time.

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