I know at least one bisexual woman (who for the longest time I assumed was straight) who absolutely hates the idea that I would describe her like that. There’s a bit in The L Word where Melissa Etheridge describes herself as labelfree and the entirity of the main cast roll their eyes. (At that point shes being grifted by Tonya so… ahem… The L Word memories aside…)
I hated having to use labels, I think it’s a pretty common queer, or at least lesbian leaning experience, to hate having to put yourself in a box. And yet, in order to explain ourselves we need words and to desperately hope that the listener to whom we’re using those words is aware of what baggage they’re putting on those terms and what we’re trying to imply by using them.
What do my labels mean to me? That’s the prompt for today. They mean shorthand that I can use to express who I am.
I am a queer woman.
Meaning I am a member of a welcoming community who provide me respite from the relentless heteronorimativity of the straight world. Meaning that I am part of a sisterhood of connection to other women.
I am a bisexual cis-woman.
Meaning I like women and I like men sexually. I’ve learnt that my attraction to enbies isn’t fair on them as usually it’s when I’m perceiving them as one of my preferred genders. Describing myself as a cis-woman is my way of giving support to my trans-sisters. If I describe myself as cis, I feel like that means that I’m saying that trans women are just women with a different path to mine.
I’m poly and kinky.
So, I do not like to say that ‘I am poly’ in the same way that I say that I’m bisexual. Being poly just doesn’t seem like as intrinsic a part of me as liking guys and girls does. I think if I’d ended up on some other life path then maybe I could even be in a monogamous relationship. I don’t know, maybe I’m fooling myself there. But yeah, poly is the relationship I’m in not exactly who I am.
Kinky though, I have a distinct preference for kinky sex. I don’t think it’s exactly who I am, though who knows maybe submissive is exactly who I am, it’s definitely more than just a preference though. I can have vanilla sex and it be reasonably satisfying, which is good really because chronic fatigue really screws up the libido, especially if the type of sex you’re hoping to have has any sort of preparatory element to it. However, generally speaking, satisfying sex needs to be at least a bit on the kinky side.
I think that’s most of the labels I use for me, at least without getting into excruciating, granular detail.