Controversy surrounding 'bi lesbians'?

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BishoneninBloom
not a newbie
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2020 1:25 pm
Age: 18
Awesomeness Quotient: I draw a lot of fan art and people seem to like it
Primary language: English
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Sexual identity and orientation: Genderfluid, probably. Trying out 'pan'
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Controversy surrounding 'bi lesbians'?

Unread post by BishoneninBloom »

Sorry if the subject name feels a little clickbait-y, but this is coming from a place of confusion above all else
I'm hoping this doesn't across as bringing needless drama to a fairly calm message board

So, as of a few months ago/a year-ish
I started seeing the term 'bi lesbian' popping up around online spaces
The key part here is that I never saw anyone who personally used it/used it as a headcanon for a character (this is a common activity in the spaces I spend time in)
it was just a kind of buzz that bi-lesbians were being talked about and :shock: there was 'drama' :roll:

The main issue I have is that I have no idea what the term means?
Like
I think labels are supposed to serve the user, so I don't get how it became such a big controversy?
Normally I'm not too interested in such things (especially as a great deal of it happens on twitter, for which I neither have an account nor want to as the whole place is just an annoying argument generator)

but more recently its drifted over into parts of my internet space
Like, around the start of June there was a lot of people sharing the patreon for the lady who designed the most popular lesbian flag at the moment (the flag that goes two orange stripes, white, two pink stripes) and she was being shared as the 'inclusive flag' since she has no issue with trans lesbians, ace people ect
and one line that stuck with me was to the affect of "she doesn't agree with bi lesbians but that's good" with no further elaboration

And this week, my art was part of a little trans themed art week on tumblr (so basically I just used a specific tag and then it was reblogged as part of a blog that existed as a showcase)
the only rules for this art week was stuff like it has to be trans-centric, nothing pornographic/violent, nothing discriminatory... and no supporters of M-spec gay/lesbians????

(M-spec as in multispec, so like bi/pan/attracted to more than one gender ect)
Without more context it just makes me think of that one scene from one of the Austin Powers sequels where Austin's dad is like "I only hate 2 things: Intolerance and the Dutch"

And that's what keeps getting me:
A lot of the anti-bi lesbian crowd are otherwise inclusive people?
So is bi lesbian some kind of dog whistle for something bad? or is it just an unpopular label?
In which case does anyone know how it got to be so controversial???
Is anyone here m-spec gay/lesbian? What does that label mean to you? I hope this didn't come across as accusatory or upsetting...
Carly
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 63
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Primary language: English
Preferred pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: Bisexual
Location: American Midwest

Re: Controversy surrounding 'bi lesbians'?

Unread post by Carly »

Hey BishoneninBloom! Up top I wanted to say that I felt you explained your confusion and curiosity well and I don't think you were disrespectful in any way. I'm glad you're comfortable asking questions on Scarleteen - remember we're here to not only help answer questions, but also moderate discussion of topics.

In the interest of honesty, I will say that the term "bi lesbian" is new to me personally and had to do a little research on the identity and the controversy. From what I understand, a "bi lesbian" is someone who identifies as both a lesbian and a bisexual. This source is a wiki, which isn't always a strong source of information, but it gives a description of this experience that I found helpful in my learning:
This term can be used by women who use the split attraction model and are bisexual and homoromantic (lesbian) or someone who experiences lesbian tertiary attraction. They have sexual attraction to two or more genders but are only romantically attracted to women. They may find themselves sexually attracted to men, but could never picture themselves in a relationship with one, putting more emphasis on their attraction to women, though this varies from person to person. Additionally, the term can apply to women and other non-men who are bisexual and prioritize their attraction to women/non-men or have a strong preference for women/non-men, or for people who are reclaiming the historical definition of lesbian alongside identifying as bisexual.
From what I gathered, some communities have an issue with this term because they feel it can invalidate certain identities, cause mis-gendering, blur lines between defined sexualities, and allow for some blurred boundaries in spaces dedicated for lesbians. This, of course, is a very short summary of some arguments I found, which you can take a look at here and here. Both posters agree that there are "better" terms to describe the experience some refer to as bi lesbianism, like "sapphic." It sounds like the communities you're in/interact with believe that supporting m-spec gays and lesbians is a "dog whistle" for not valuing the same things the community does. Sometimes having folks in a community or space that do not have the same values can cause harm or make others feel unsafe, which is why otherwise inclusive spaces or communities may choose to exclude someone.

I'm hoping that this answers some of your preliminary questions about this topic. I wouldn't be surprised if someone amongst our staff, volunteers, or users has more information or thoughts on this, and I'm hoping they chime in if they feel up to it.

PS. I loved your Austin Powers 3 reference :D
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