Diary of a Crap Lesbian: Heteroflexible

BCN 85 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 85, Spring 2007

Raise your hand if you consider yourself a 50/50 bisexual. At a guess, I’d say that not more than a few of you are waving at me, while the rest look blankly and wonder why such a question is even vaguely important. A quick poll of those surrounding me right now reveals an 80/20, a 65/35 and one for whom this question is all too much and who leaves the room at speed.

There is a reason I ask and it is this – We’re out. Bisexuality is so yesterday, so passé. There’s a new label slowly emerging from the smoky haunts of the twenty-something set: heteroflexibility.

Heteroflexibilty is the newest permutation of sexual identity. It involves living a primarily heterosexual lifestyle while remaining open to sexual encounters, and occasionally indulging in sexual activity with members of the same sex. This term is, as far as I can tell, used exclusively to refer to women. I first came about it in Cosmopolitan magazine (‘Ah, yes’, says my girlfriend, ‘I’d forgotten about your dirty little Cosmo habit’, the implication being, I can only infer, that I deserve everything I get for buying into Cosmo Culture). The term has been cultivated by one Jen Sincero. Sincero is a musician who also writes on the subject of sex and relationships and tours workshops across the US.

It’s not just the concept but the word itself which arrests me. Isn’t it just another word for a concept we all know: bi-curiosity? Certainly the two phrases have an awful lot in common. Has it really become necessary to narrow definition so thoroughly that we swim in a sea of labels? How are we all supposed to keep up? Sincero says herself in 2005 bestseller The Straight Girls Guide to Sleeping With Chicks that ‘labels are indeed for cans and lazy authors […] trying to figure out what and why in order to catalogue it all is a big fat waste of time’. Quite.

The question that harps on my mind most here is this: what does this notion mean to me and my community? In search of an answer, I ask the internet.

The internet doesn’t like it. The religious right pours scorn on the
subject, as do scores of North American mothers in chatrooms and advice sites where those identifying as heteroflexible are likened to another group, the LUGs, or Lesbians Until Graduation. You don’t want to get me started on that one. Finding a positive view of heteroflexibility that’s not hidden among the LOLs and VBGs of a teenage girls’ blog is a difficult task, and one that, given the amount of time I don’t have, I’m not capable of.
I wonder if I’m jumping to conclusions with my immediate distaste for this craze. I firmly believe it has has a damaging effect on the already fragile reputation of bisexuality, helping help to perpetuate the myth that bisexuality doesn’t exist and that girls engage in it for solely for the titillation of men, with a view to settling down with a husband and 2.4 as soon as the right man has been bagged. These girls continue their search for Mr. Right; they deny any bisexual tendencies, but still they’re content to stop over on their quest with Ms Tonight. But when Mr. Right appears, his baby-oiled chest gleaming in the half-light, will Ms Tonight really be eschewed? That, I suppose, depends on exactly how flexible they are.

Whether she’s ultimately chasing a chiseled Adonis or chic geek, what is the problem with the heteroflexible female? Actually, I can’t think of many. I’m the first to argue that sexuality is flexible, and that each persons’ life choices are their own to make. Who among us here could say that we’ve never experimented? The road to ones sexual destiny is never-ending and full of diversions. Ones first kiss is as much of an experiment as anything deploying a bunsen burner. If ones sexual needs are being met, what does it matter by whom? Still it’s an effort not to describe this neologism as ‘getting pissed and snogging ones mates’. Reported variously as ‘straight but not narrow’ or ‘straight with a twist’ the emphasis is definitely on the hetero- element. While the word ‘homoflexible’ has been used it is done so rarely, and it’s not catching on. They’re still straight, they’re still heteronormative, but they wanna play.

What for the queer girl who attracts a thoroughly modern, oh-so hip hetroflexible? Is it fair that she should nurse her bruised ego and battered heart comforted little by the words, ‘it’s not you, it’s me’? Might it be difficult for her to understand that she is merely a distraction en route to the bridal store? At a guess I’d say yes, but then who doesn’t suffer the pain of break up, regardless of the sex, gender or preference of their partner?

I find myself now with more reason to distrust this phrase that I did before my initiation, but also with more reason to embrace it. I just can’t win.

For more on Jen Sincero, take a look at her website at www.jensincero.com, or blog, Living In Sin, at jensincero.typepad.com/living_in_sin/ . The Straight Girls Guide To Sleeping With Chicks is available from Amazon.co.uk.

If you have something to say on this matter, want me to cover a particular subject, or even if you want to know what my shoe size is, you can contact me at [email protected]

Answers on a postcard.
Libby

Bi Community News, BM Ribbit, London WC1N 3XX