This article is Ancient (archive 2011)

5 Ways Society is “Hard On” Pansexual Women

1. Nobody knows what “pansexual” means.

There is almost no research on bisexuality, and absolutely no research on pansexuality, so any discussion of the latter will, unfortunately, largely center on research based on the former.  Still, I’m going to tell you why the phrase is worth it anyway. We can make a fairly decent argument that the term bisexuality implies a gender binary, which restricts your sexuality to only cisgendered men and women. In reality, there is a whole beautiful range of gender expression (which I highly recommend reading about–you can start with the link to gender binary above). I’m open to sexual/romantic relationships with people whose company I enjoy, and their genitals don’t have to match their gender expression for this to be true. Yet, despite having access more accurate description that can help create a safer space for everybody, language like “bisexual” (which rarely means bisexual) persists?

2. People will tell you that it’s not true.

When you describe your sexuality, some people will accept your explanation without protest. Others, however, will tell you that you’re being ridiculous, that you are bisexual and no amount of nuance or inclusiveness could better describe you or your preferences, and some will tell you that bisexuality is a lie. One incredulous woman said, “At least you’re not a man. Men really can’t be bisexual, but I can sort of believe you.” The number of people who will try to convince you that you’re really only attracted to cisgendered men or women (or just interested in breasts, or attention, making it up to be more appealing to men regardless of how long you’ve been in a committed relationship) is astonishing, particularly given how seldom the sexuality conversation occurs, because…

3. You can pass for heterosexual (and feel like a traitor).

It’s not just heterosexual people who will try and convince you that you’re lying. Some homosexual people who fancy themselves the arbiters of sexuality will declare with all authority that you’re just “trying to be interesting” or “really just gay and trying to get by”. (One of these days I’m just going to respond with, “Oh, am I? Thank you for clearing that up.”) Still, their allegations sting when you date straight male after straight male after straight male. Statistically, it’s bound to happen: the pool of people attracted to me and willing to express interest is overwhelmingly populated by straight men. I shouldn’t have to feel like traitor for conforming as much to statistical probability as sexual norms, but, when no one believes you, it’s easy to feel like your “living a lie.”

4. “The media” thinks you’re a sexy sexy sex monster.

While it makes no difference to me, I’ve had male partners tell me that they aren’t threatened by the prospect of me dating other women, just other men. I assume this is because “while kissing another girl might provide a fun, frivolous diversion, at the end of the day, a bisexual woman still likes men.” The bisexualities of Megan Fox and Lindsey Lohan’s don’t threaten anyone’s understanding of sexuality, and, if they might, we can alleviate any confusion by just calling them “gay” or “gay men”, like Lady Gaga. I guess when women kiss, it is “all for the bro with a boner who’s watching,” because what’s a woman’s sexuality if a man or manly woman isn’t there to enjoy it? Further, people will take your sexuality to mean that you are attracted to everyone all the time, particularly them.  After all, if your sexuality is there for their enjoyment, you must be also.

5. You still can’t escape objectification.

People seem to “understand” women’s desire to sleep with other women because “we can all agree, regardless of party affiliation, that women are simply easier on the eyes. No?” No.

Imagine, for a moment, that we lived in a culture that objectified men to the extent that it objectifies women now. Imagine how many discussions we would have about towers and bottles as penises, flasks coffins, cups, even books as male torsos, as an indication that the male form was just aesthetically pleasingand, perhaps, deserving of objectification, “appreciation” of the body divorced from the human being. (I’m appreciative of bodies in general, but I most often hear the “appreciation” argument launched in defense of inappropriate leering.)

When women touch each other (or sometimes just talk in predominantly male spaces) it becomes something to be observed, the spectacle of aesthetically pleasing bodies interacting, rather than respected as a conversation or an intimate moment. And that’s how pansexuality sucks: even if people can get past the suspicion that you are just “performing” for male entertainment, once you “come out,” all your personal interactions, with males or females, become sexual, become performances for male entertainment.