Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution by Shiri Eisner- Intial review through Chapter 1
July 1, 2014 Leave a comment
Picked this one up on Amazon for all of 99 cents. By Shiri Eisner
Started reading it- It’s interesting. It opens with an explanation of the authors view of radical politics- taking things down to the root of the problem and attacking it there, with little to no regard for existing power structures- viewing them as the problem. I’m not sure I agree with the need to tear down the existing structures so completely, though I do think it was quite good to lay out the basis of where the author is coming from. This is a strongly political book, and the call for revolution is not simply a clever title or euphemism.
There was a long list of what Eisner’s preexisting biases and privileges are, which is good as well. Even if the book wasn’t explicitly political, sexual orientation is a politically charged topic in much of the world. Pre-existing biases on the part of the writer can be relevant, so it’s good this was discussed. I do think there were issues with the explanation of privilegs- she gave a terribly long list of all the privileges she has that she could think of at the time. But- there was little explanation of what privilege is. To be fair, a 101 level discussion of privilege every time it comes up isn’t necessarily required, but for a book random people might pick up without much background, at least a pointer to where the reader could get more information would have been helpful.
It goes on to a discussion of the history of bisexuality as a concept. Some interesting background, with a few interesting insights where they might have been on to something useful.
The next major part of the first chapter explains what bisexuality is. The standard “attracted to men and women” is quickly discarded- two more useful definitions are proposed.
The first- I don’t like. “Attracted to more than one gender”. This definition, while inclusive, is overbroad to the point of uselessness. It says very little about the people it is applied to- and if a label doesn’t, in some way, help you understand the thing it is applied to- what is the point?
The second I like quite a bit. “Attraction to genders similar to ones own, and different from ones own”. I like this one. It’s inclusive of non-binary gender identities, it’s close enough to the common meaning that there’s little risk of misunderstanding, and it tells you something about the people it is applied to. Eisner also points out that it encourages more questions about gender, what is similar, what is different. While less inclusive than the first, it carries information. And even if I bought Eisner’s thesis that the entire existing system needs to be torn down, to do that, you need to be able to interface with people in the system. The greater backwards compatibility of this definition can be quite useful.
There’s some coverage of bisexuality myths. Some interesting ideas. I’m still thinking about Eisner’s commentary regarding the “standard” bisexual response, vs the more radical response she seems to advocate.
I’ll review further sections as I read further. Overall, I agree with some, disagree with some, and am undecided on some. I’m keeping an open mind though- I’m ready to be convinced otherwise on all points.