Saturday, July 7, 2012

On Bisexual Women and Super

I've got to stop making promises I can't keep. Every time I swear I'm going to rededicate myself to using this blog regularly, I disappear again for weeks on end. I won't promise yet again that I'm working on it, because…well, I've done that a few times before, haven't I?

I'm here today, though, and wanted to talk about this insanely flattering review of Super that came to my attention a few weeks ago. My first reaction was to dance in a circle like a lunatic, because everyone loves being told they've done good work. If I weren't a bit of an attention whore, I would be content to write my books and then stick them in a drawer; to paraphrase Rachel Berry, "I'm like Tinker Bell. Without applause, I'll die." Seriously, Dear Reviewer, you made my day.

And then my second reaction hit me, which was to strangely feel a little guilty, because what I do in Super and its sequel, Fire With Fire really isn't all that special, or at least shouldn't be. I'm bisexual myself, and part of the first flashing spark that led to the Super series was my annoyance at the lack of bisexual characters in media. (Or at least the ones who are treated rightly--which doesn’t mean exactly to my tastes and specifications, either, lest you fear.) Bisexual women are in a very strange place with regard to their representation in media. We have more exposure than other queer folks, but the focus always seems to be about how we can titillate men. Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it--but made sure we all knew she was going back to her boyfriend. Likewise, while there have been pretty big strides towards more acceptance of queer folk in books who are written to be characters rather than lust objects, the queer character in question is almost always a gay guy. (You want to get on my bad side and stay there? Use "GLBT" rather than "LGBT". Every single person I've ever encountered who does that has made sure that I knew abundantly well, as a woman, and a bi woman at that, where my place in the hierarchy actually was.) Lesbians and bisexual women are few and far between.

So when I decided to write Super, it was very important to me that I treat Ophelia fairly, perhaps in the way I wished I had been. She's bisexual, and it doesn't mean that she just hasn't made up her mind. She's bisexual, and it doesn't mean that she can't be faithful or that monogamy is weird to her. I went 'round and 'round with myself on the amount of tension to write between Marcus--Ophelia--Naomi, because all three of them are members of marginalized groups, and thus--I worried. About doing right by them, since there are still so few characters that break the mold out there. Which brings me back to the embarrassment factor: I don't think I'm doing anything special with Ophelia, I think I'm being honest. She doesn't get treated differently from any other character. (Oh, poor little J, because sex didn't fit in Super, she doesn't get to get laid for…awhile.) So I love the reviews and reviewers who praise me for doing right by Ophelia and Naomi (and I'm not pissing on y'all's shoes, oh, God, no, I would cuddle you to my bosom if that wouldn't be weird), but I also think that I wouldn't be as special if queer women in media being treated matter-of-factly weren't so unique. It's an odd place. I don't know what to say to mitigate it--it's always easier to complain about the gap than to fill it--other than to encourage people to break the mold, and praise everything good about their works straight to the high heavens.

I'm not going to make any hard or fast rules about when my next post will be, since that just seems to be tempting fate, but I do have a list of potential blogging topics that I'm working on. Cabbages, kings, why infomercials insist on making the very people they want to buy their products look like functional morons. See you then.

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