BiMedia: June 2008

Maxine Frances presents our regular roundup

Another day, another movie star who hasn’t been in the news for an agonising ten minutes gets themselves a squeeze of their own gender (that was meant as a adjective, not an verb, but hey, it works either way).

We begin with ABC News’s latest insights into Lindsay Lohan, everyone’s favourite star-who-could-really- use-another-film-as-good-as-Mean-Girls. Apparently, if she comes out as bisexual, “It May Not Hurt Her Career.” I see. Didthe American public need reassurance that a woman most famous for taking roadtrips to Cocaine Heights isn’t harming her career by falling in love with a woman?  Of course, Li-Lo is no more of an ambassador for bisexual women than Paris Hilton is for heterosexual women. But, as we all know, heterosexuality is a spectrum that spans everyone from Lucy Pinder to Desmond Tutu, while those of any other sexual identity are only allowed one spokesperson each every couple of years.

Staying with America once more: AfterEllen.com has the glorious “Things I’ve Learnt From the L Word”    “Don’t worry if you are ‘bisexual’ , it will pass within a season or two and you’ll start mocking your ‘bisexual’ friends.”  My suggestion: “Despite this, your every new acquaintance is sexually-fluid and unable to resist you within seconds – from your snooty boss to the out-of-town nobody who you’ve just met in a cafe.” (I think that’s what they mean by “aspirational” drama, folks).
To the British soap corner, and I’m praising Hollyoaks again. More specifically, Hollyoaks actor Gerald McCarthy, who plays bisexual Kris Fisher, is backing
Stonewall’s Stamp Out Homophobia programme. Yes, bisexual, and yes, those are Stonewall’s words.

Finally: imagine you’re a news journalist:a press release lands on your desk about a
study looking at possible differences between the brains of men and women, in terms of emotional responses and visual and spatial perception. It says nothing conclusive in relation to sexual orientation.  What do you do? Report it as “Gay People Have Opposite Sex Brains” of course!

Diva Editor Jane Czyzselska responded with a breezy This Is Total Bollocks opinion piece for the Guardian’s Comment Is Free – cue snide suggestions from several commentees that she’d misinterpreted the purpose of the study and should stick to reviewing dildos and leave the sociobiology editorials to the New Scientist. But to her immense credit, she writes: “Where does this new research leave bisexuals? If gay men are hopeless navigators and straight men natural born Top Guns, are bisexual men only to be trusted with a map when they’re in a relationship with a woman? ” It’s nice to see gay press figureheads promoting bisexual visibility in national newspapers– even if they don’t manage it quite as often as you’d like in their own magazines.

My real point above, of course, is to highlight the continual misreporting of studies to support tired stereotypical ideas on sexuality and gender. With my extremely poor non-verbal abilities, I can’t tell you much about science behind this particular study (for that, visit Language Blog – http://tinyurl.com/6dmglu – which attempts to give a truer picture of its purpose and results). I can suggest that looking for concrete ‘reasons’ for sexual orientation, be it hard science or boarding schools, may have produced many misleading articles on the findings of health research.

The media have typically leapt onto this non-existent research finding as part of
their obsession with uncovering a scientific formula for sexuality, because it is much easier to believe that sexuality is rigidly fixed and happens as a definitive result of something (There may be correlations between a person’s sexual orientation and the presence of certain traits, but correlation, as any GCSE Maths student will tell you, does not determine cause).  Hold the front page! Groundbreaking “usage of eyes and ears” technology from my own “Scientific Institute” has revealed that people of different sexual orientations and gender identities have a wide range of skills, strengths, weaknesses and interests regardless of what, or whom, resides in their pants.

Meanwhile, “Surveys suggest” that very few intelligent research scientists would
actually dedicate themselves to researching the link between a woman’s driving capability and her sexual orientation, because very few intelligent human beings would believe this to be money well spent (although if it’s Lindsay Lohan you’re dating, you might well prefer being the designated driver if you value your life…)