Ms. Magazine
MS.CELLANEOUS
-What?
-Just the Facts
-Word: Bi
-Women to Watch
Diary of a Slam Poet
National Poetry Slam champion and outspoken feminist shares a year of her life on the road. By Alix Olson
AD SAVVY
In these two articles, we explore some of the ways ads affect us.

Hooked on Advertising
Cultural critic Jean Kilbourne takes on ads offers new insight into the not-so-obvious messages lurking behind the luster. By Clea Simon

Consuming Passions
Today's advertising execs and their big- business clients are betting that consumers will buy products made by companies that support social causes. Are the ads just talk, or is there substance behind the slogans? By Dan Bischoff

Book Reviews
On the Ms. bookshelf
Saturday's Child by Robin Morgan
The Crimson Edge: Older Women Writing (Volume Two) by Sondra Zeidenstein
Gun Women by Mary Zeiss Stange and Carol K. Oyster

Her Way by Paula Kamen
Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks
Black, White and Jewish by Rebecca Walker
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

EDITOR'S PAGE
by Marcia Ann Gillespie

YOUR HEALTH:
-The Latest on Tamoxifen
-Healthnotes

NEWS:
-In Poland, Feminism Is the News
-The Right's Stealth Tactics
-Gloria Steinem's Wedding Day
- Newsmaker: Aloisea Inyumba
- What Will Mexico's New Government Mean for Women?
- Opinion: Blaming the Messenger
- Clippings

UPPITY WOMEN:
Elouise Cobell Takes on the Feds

FIRST PERSON:
Aunt Jemima in the Mirror

TECHNO.FEM:
What's a Hacktivist?

SHE SAYS:
The Body Shop's Anita Roddick

ARTS:
Shirin Neshat Sees Beyond the Veil

COLUMNS
by Daisy Hernandez, Patricia Smith, and Gloria Steinem

NO COMMENT

SEX AND POWER:
Is the feminist movement stuck in mid-revolution? According to this well-known lawyer and activist the answer is yes. Now it's time to move on and harness our power.

 
 
 
 
 
 
You've probably heard of me: I'm a fence-sitter, almost a lesbian but not gay enough, almost straight but with a few kinky predilections; I'm incurably promiscuous, I'm just going through a phase, I'm cashing in on "bisexual chic," I'm clinging to heterosexual privilege, I'm just trying to gain access to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, I'm a perfect Kinsey 3, I'm a switch-hitter with twice the prospects, I'll fuck anything that moves.
It's not unusual to find myself marching under the banner of not when I'm really trying to explain what is. Bisexuality—having sexual desire for people of the same and opposite gender -inspires a whole swag of misrepresentations that need to be swept aside before a clear vision of "bi" can be evoked.

My own thinking about bi identity began not with the sudden discovery that I was bi (I'd known that ever since I was a little girl), but with the heart-sick realization in my mid-twenties that I had virtually no public identity. Anywhere I lived, I was invariably labeled either hetero or homosexual, depending on the length of my hair. There was no dialect at my disposal-no codes or imagery that said bi. How could I render myself visible?

Finding no bisexual hotline in the phone book, I called the local lesbian line in a state of distress. The woman at the other end met me with hostility as soon as the B word was spoken--No, we cannot help you.

The locus of bisexuality has always been something of a riddle. Alfred Kinsey placed it along a 0-6 continuum, with heterosexuality at one end and homosexuality at the other. Many observers since-both straight and queer-have made similar assessments, depicting it as a sort of intermediate stance. But bisexuality is the potential for absolute inclusion. It beckons us outside dichotomies like homo/hetero and suggests that a person's sexuality can be an ever-shifting narrative-a fluid yet whole identity that defies the limits of a continuum. My desires overlap with Kinsey 6's and 0's, but for me this indicates something beyond rather than between. Between is not an identity.

Some in lesbian and gay communities accuse bisexuals of messing with category definitions. In the parlance of the seventies-feminism is theory, lesbianism is practice-bisexuality suggests betrayal, sleeping with the enemy. Still others believe that bi people won't be there at the end of the day-that a bisexual woman will eventually leave her female partner for a man, rendering pain as she goes. For many, it's easier to maintain that bi identity is not valid.

This denial and fear dishes up a more poignant hurt than dismissal by the straight world, coming as it does from people who are intimate with the pain of invisibility. Bi people find themselves doubly negated, and often relegated to the status of mere lover instead of partner. The result can be an extraordinary loneliness.

But our struggle for visibility and parity in a largely straight world suggests we are the natural allies of lesbians, gays, transgendered folk, and other identities: the widely divergent population that is queer. It is important that bisexuals have a place at the queer table.

Bisexuality is a relative newcomer to the world of identity politics, so while I'm still dreaming up a handy set of signals that will establish visibility, I've decided to just blurt it out whenever conversation (or my editor) offers the chance. In the meantime, I know that from where I stand, sexually attractive is a head thrown back in laughter, a pair of legs that wear boots like they mean it, the ability to cook a great Thai laksa, a penchant for driving too fast in old cars, muscles, a deeply asleep face, compassionate and razor-sharp intelligence, scars, a lopsided smile, kindness.

EJ Patrick is an Australian writer.