To Rob Haskel: regarding Cara Delevingne on Childhood, Love Life, and Modeling – Vogue


Dear Biphobe,

On June 19, 2015 and article by you, Rob Haskel, was published in Vogue.  This article was a profile of Cara Delevingne, and for the most part it was as much of a fluff piece as that would indicate.  But then near the end of the article you wrote two awful paragraphs.

First,

Cara says she felt confused by her sexuality as a child, and the possibility of being gay frightened her. “It took me a long time to accept the idea, until I first fell in love with a girl at 20 and recognized that I had to accept it,” she explains. “But I have erotic dreams only about men. I had one two nights ago where I went up to a guy in the back of a VW minivan, with a bunch of his friends around him, and pretty much jumped him.” Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct. “Women are what completely inspire me, and they have also been my downfall. I have only been hurt by women, my mother first of all.

I’ve bolded the most offensive parts here.  It is never a good thing to refer to someone’s current sexuality as “just a phase”, and only acceptable to refer to someone’s history when that’s the way they refer to it and they give you permission.  But I’d give you the benefit of the doubt with that given that you are only reporting her parents attitude, but then you confirm that you agree with them, or at least say the may be correct.  The one is you reporting on the elder Delevingne’s biphobia , the other is agreeing with them.  Just one more comment on this, do you realize how many 22 year old people can say  “Women are what completely inspire me, and they have also been my downfall.”?  Because that would be almost all straight men, lesbian women, and quite a few bisexuals of any gender.

On to the second offensive paragraph,

“The thing is,” she continues, “if I ever found a guy I could fall in love with, I’d want to marry him and have his children. And that scares me to death because I think I’m a whole bunch of crazy, and I always worry that a guy will walk away once he really, truly knows me.” When I suggest to Cara that to trust a man, she might have to revise an old and stubborn idea of hers—that women are perennially troubled and therefore only women will accept her—her smile says she concedes the point.

Before I say anymore to you, I’d like your permission to say a few words to her,

Ms. Delevingne,

It’s perfectly normal for someone in the early 20’s to think that they are “a whole bunch of crazy”, and that goes for everyone, men, women, and everything in between.  The key to making any relationship last is accepting the ways your partner is crazy, and in exchange, they accept your craziness.

Thank you, now back to you, Mr. Haskell.  Do I really have to say anything about you taking a smile as an agreement? I hope you can accept that a smile is not agreement.  As to the res, I really can’t tell if you are being biphobic (by assuming that she will and should end up with a man) or misogynistic (if she was currently dating a man, would you suggest how she could “trust a woman”?). It really is a bit of both isn’t it? The question is, are you one of the “bisexuality isn’t real” biphobes? or one of the “she’s just doing it for attention” biphobes?  I’ll try to answer so it doesn’t matter.  You are not there to give her advice, you are there to let Vogue’s readers know a bit about the person on the cover.  Just to let you know, you are not just giving unsolicited advice to the young lady you are profiling, you are giving unsolicited advice to every young bisexual women who reads your words.  And that is why I’m writing this open letter, I want to give advice to not only you, but to everyone who might think the same way you do about bisexuals.

Now, to my advice as to what you need to do now.  I think step one is obvious, as I’m sure you know, there is a petition asking Vogue to apologize, and that is a great idea.  You need to apologize, to Ms. Delevingne, to the bisexual community, and to St. Vincent (her girlfriend if you forgot).  If you really want to get a head start on being forgiven, you could actually sign the petition yourself.  That would do a lot to get people to accept that you are remorseful.  Then you can try to improve things, ask your editor if you can do a series of articles on prominent bisexual women, this would force you to learn more about bisexuals and project and image that you, and your magazine are trying to improve yourselves.

Or, you could continue on the path you are currently, and receive regular letters like this, until Vogue gets tired and lets you “find other opportunities”

Here’s hoping you make the right choice.

Troy

via Cara Delevingne on Childhood, Love Life, and Modeling – Vogue.

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Dear Dan Savage, about Episode 444 – Men of the cloth. | Savage Lovecast


Dear Biphobe,

You just can’t resist jumping up and down on landmines can you?  Which I find really strange here because you start this episode of your podcast talking about Bruce Jenner (this was before the Vanity Fair’s piece where she identifies as Caitlyn Jenner) and the issues of gender identity, pronouns, and orientation.  You handled that so well that it hit me really bad when you answered a question from a straight ally that he should “go crazy” and eat the “bi pussy”.  Then you tell him that he might even get laid, because there will be bisexual women there.

Now, I would think that most people, especially those in the LGBT movement, would know what’s wrong with this.  But just in case I’ll try to explain everything wrong here.

  1. You should have just stopped with “don’t eat the pussy, it’s not for you”.  That still wouldn’t have been great, as the only person who can tell you if a set of genitals is for you is the owner of said genitals.
  2. There is no such thing as “bi pussy”, there are bisexuals that have pussy’s, but by saying “bi pussy” you are contributing to the objectification of bisexual women.
  3. When you tell him that he “might even get laid” you’re perpetuating the myth that bisexual women are always sexually available to men.
  4. Bisexual women who do go to Pride events are not there looking for men.  From my experience most are not looking for any sexual partners, but if I’m wrong and there are women looking for some happy naked fun time then they are looking for it from other women, and not straight men.
  5. This straight ally didn’t even suggest that he was interested in sexual experiences at Pride, so there’s no reason for you to even bring it up.

So, what should you do now?  How can you fix this?

As I tell most people who accidentally say something biphobic, and I do believe that you didn’t intend to be biphobic here, the first step is to apologize.  Tell the bisexual women out there that you were wrong to indicate to a straight guy that it was okay to hit on them at a Pride event.  Matter of fact you should apologize to all women for leading some men into thinking they could meet women at Pride.  I understand that you thought you were being inclusive with your “bi pussy” comment, but this sort of objectification is one of the worst bits that bisexual women have to deal with.

I understand you are trying to improve, but until you start treating bisexuals as actual people, and not just genitals, you will not be forgiven by the bisexual community.  I continue to enjoy your column and podcast and agree with most of your advice.  Hopefully you’ll take my advice and we can mend fences.

Thank you,

Troy

via Episode 444 – Men of the cloth. | Savage Lovecast.

Dan Savage gets real close to giving a good answer, and then ruins it


Dear Biphobe,

Dan, in the March 25, 2015 edition of your “Savage Love” column you received the following question

I found this in an online sex ad: “Straight guy with an addiction to massive cocks in my ass.” This “straight guy” went on to mention his girlfriend. Can a person really identify as straight while wanting to be fucked by men? I understand that straight guys can like ass play too, but it’s not like he wants to be pegged by his girlfriend or use a dildo on himself. He’s straight-up (heh-heh) looking for hung dudes to fuck his ass.

Jaded And Wondering, Dude’s Really On Pussy?

Your response to JAWDROP comes really close to being perfect.  Though personally I would have started by asking why JAWDROP cared, but that’s really not important at this point.  Let’s talk about your response;

Can a person identify as straight while wanting to be fucked by men? Ha-ha-ha. Yes. I was pretending to be straight when I was 15, Pastor Ted “Meth and Man Ass” Haggard was pretending to be straight when he was 45, and Congressman Aaron Schock is still pretending to be straight.

Yes, there are many people that pretend to be straight while on the down low.  I will point out that Ted Haggard has actually came out as Bisexual, and as far as I know the claim that Congressman Schock is Gay really comes down to him posting some shirtless pictures online.  Under that argument Vladimir Putin is Gay.

As for the guy behind that online sex ad: He is most likely bisexual and rounding himself down to straight. There’s a much smaller chance he’s straight and it isn’t the massive cocks that turn him on, JAWDROP, but the boundary-shattering/identity-upending violation that being pounded by massive cocks represents. It could also be a “forced bi” thing, and he’s doing this to please a dominant girlfriend.

This is the part that comes close to perfect, you acknowledge that he might be Bisexual and you accept that there may be other reasons that a straight man might want to have sex with other men.  And then you have to ruin this with an aside;

Or—and this is a lot likelier than straight or forced bi—he’s a gay guy who pretends to be a straight guy online because the ruse attracts gay and bi guys turned on by the boundary-crossing/identity-upending violation that shoving their massive cocks up a straight guy’s ass represents.

You had to go there didn’t you?  You had to say that you think that he’s a Gay guy pretending to be straight.  You had to ruin your awesome response with this.  And, in my opinion anyway, it’s only the aside that ruins this.  Let’s read it again without the offending comment

Or he’s a gay guy who pretends to be a straight guy online

That would have been fine, the only way that could have been better is if you would have added a “or Bisexual” after “gay” there.  You made your point, you would have even made your biphobic fans happy because they would have read that as you saying that all men who have sex with men are Gay.  But you had to add in that you think it’s more likely that he’s lying to everyone.  Hopefully you understand why, given your history, that you might want to resist that urge in the future.

Though I do have to hand it to you, you ended it just right

Only way to know for sure: Ask him yourself. No guarantee you’ll get a straight answer, of course, but only he knows for sure what’s up with him.

Yes, the only person who can tell you what label they are comfortable with is that person.  And does anything else really matter, unless it affects you personally (and it really doesn’t affect JAWDROP either way) you should assume people are telling the truth.

So, you gave a response to someone that started well, ended good, and had 11 words in the middle that shouldn’t have been there.

I’ll give you a B- grade on this one, big improvement for the days where you would have never even used the word “Bisexual”, or only used it to claim that it’s only a stepping stone to being Gay, but you still have a lot of room for more improvement.


To Hat, of Adventures in Gay


Dear Biphobe,

You recently sent out a tweet,

Now, this is usually the type of casual biphobia and I’ll just send a message telling you to what I think of it and move on.  But then you went on to try to excuse it.  First you tried “it was a joke”, a brave, but stupid move that most bigots try at some point.  Even at this point I wasn’t going to write this letter, then I saw this,

allow me to puntificate

adventures in gay is rooted almost entirely in sexuality and humor, two of the three most subjective aspects of human existence (the third being morality).
I wake every morning and try to make everyone around me laugh but I understand, that by nature of comedy, this isn’t always going to be the case.

I have seen the good firsthand that can come from laughter. When two individuals or sides are arguing, get them both laughing and a resolve will materialize much quicker. When we laugh we begin to realize how trivial the things we argue about are. That is how I approach my life, I refuse to take myself or my sexuality seriously and I encourage others to do the same. If I was worried about offending others, I wouldn’t be able to live an openly gay life.

I’m fortunate enough to work in animation, a community so diverse, welcoming and kind, that we are able to joke about things of all natures (religion, orientation, race) because quite frankly they aren’t issues to us. I genuinely wish everyone has an opportunity to experience living in such an environment.

Oh and also… it was a pun (I guarantee if you were hanging out with your friends and one of them said that, you would laugh). Lighten up people. Life is much easier when you laugh.

Love Hatthew

There’s quite a bit here that is questionable, like you think that jokes about other’s race or beliefs are funny, but that’s something others will have to deal with.  This letter is intended to explain to you why many Bisexuals found your “joke” offensive and give suggestions to move forward.  But here in this defense of your tweet you start by admitting that humor is subjective then by the end you are telling us that we would laugh at it if our friends had said it.   I hope that I don’t have to explain why both those statements can’t be true.  If humor is subjective there’s no way to guarantee that there is any joke every one would laugh at, and vice versa. I know the latter is not true in my case.  If a friend of mine, even if they were Bisexual, called me an “onmi-whore” I would tell them that I didn’t find that funny, indeed I found it offensive.  Thing is, most of my friends would apologize and we would move on.  I do wonder how you react when you hear someone use the term “gay” to mean “lame”, I’m sure most of them would say to lighten up if you told them to stop.

Just in case you’ve missed it, the reason we found your original offensive is that one of the biggest criticisms of Bisexuality is that many think we are more promiscuous than monosexuals.  By calling Bisexuals whores, and omni-whores at that, you’re perpetuating the myth that Bisexuals will have sex with anyone, which isn’t even true of the sex workers that I’m guessing would also be offended by your words. (Any sex worker rights activist out there want to tell me otherwise?)

One more thing for me to bring up before getting to my suggestions on moving forward, in your various back and forth posts you say  “I guess the two relationships I’ve had with bi guys don’t amount to anything…”.  I’m always surprised how often this comes up, just because you had sex with someone doesn’t give you the right to say anything you want about them.  No matter how many people of color you know it’s not okay to use the “N word”, no matter how many women you know it’s not okay to use misogynistic language, and no matter how many Bisexuals you know it’s not okay to use biphobic terms.  And in each of these cases you should listen to member of the group if they tell you what you said was offensive.

Now on to my suggestions on how to move forward.

  1. Apologize, and try to make if a real apology.  Remember there’s a difference between “I’m sorry I offended you” (acceptable) and “I’m sorry you were offended” (not so much)
  2. Don’t respond to anyone posting anything about it.  Much of this happened on Tumblr, which tends to have an odd memory.  It either forgets things in a few days or pulls things up from months back, if you try to defend yourself all you’ll do is bring it into everyone’s memory and we’ll have to do it all again.
  3. Stick to making jokes about groups you belong to.

When I first saw your comics I really enjoyed them, and have found much of your work on YouTube also very funny, I’m hoping you listen to my suggestions and I can get back to laughing with you rather than having you laugh at us.

Thank you for listening,

Troy