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Dear Ms Carnivore,

It has recently come to my attention that women are more interesting, in a libidinous sense, than I had previously given them credit for. In between exercising my newfound perving interests and nursing truly hopeless crushes, I took time to inform my parental units that girlfriends, hypothetically speaking, are as much a possibility for their daughter as boyfriends. My mother, in tones of woe, replied that she thought so. My father, with resignation, informed me that he thought that’s what they could expect when they sent me off to a women’s college. (Subsequently we had an awkward family moment, and that was it for the Coming Out Crisis, happily.)

However, while exchanging a Christmas telephone call with my best friend, he felt the need to ask me (‘don’t cross, I am your best friend, and I have to ask’), where exactly I stood on the matter of ladies. Once I had set him straight, he informed me that that was perfectly ok, and he thinks it’s a phase all university-going women go through at some point.

Now, my brother’s friends had warned him of something similar when I first went away to Women’s College (and by ‘warn’ I mean sniggered in both anticipation and derision). And now I wonder: why is it that so many people think education, in women, leads inevitably to lesbianism or variants thereupon? As a right-thinking bisexual yourself, you will no doubt answer, first, that this is because female homoerotics are a very smart option. However, none of the people I have just mentioned are given to thinking well of homoerotics, in general, and all of them delivered this ultimatum in varying degress of dismissiveness, derision and disapproval.

I am inclined to blame some form of heteropatriarchal prejudice. Being young and untutored in the ways of hetero-patriarchy blaming, I find myself at a loss as to how to proceed. I submit my dilemma to your superior analytical wisdom.

Sincerely,

ineptshieldmaid
http://ineptshieldmaid.livejournal.com

Dear ineptshieldmaid,

Firstly, congratulations on Coming Out, and may you have joyous Sapphic relations. As you say, I am also a queer, and I unhesitatingly recommend the inclination to all.

Secondly, congratulations on obtaining the full set of Collect-’em-All Garden Variety Queerphobe Action Figures. With a Worrying Mother, Mildly Disappointed Father, Dismissive Friend, and Horny Acquaintances, you could sell the entire troupe on eBay for a substantial amount of money, as long as you don’t take them out of the box.  As you’ve noticed, they each come with a unique and indispensable opinion on your personal sexual orientation, and a common belief that their thoughts on the matter are of an importance level approximately equal to matters of crucial national security.

It is true that, as a woman who happens to have lived at a tertiary education institution, your bisexual orientation was almost inevitably going to be chalked up to spending years in close quarters with hot young thangs. Why this stereotype persists, I’m not sure; possibly it is assumed that young female college students are susceptible to some kind of Boob Overdose, like a deer caught in headlights, whereby once a critical number of breasts have been viewed, the young woman in question is henceforth fixated. More likely, the Lesbian Until Graduation stereotype, or LUG, exists as a means of removing legitimacy from bisexual and lesbian orientations and relationships. As you can see, it functions differently according to the proclivity of the invoker; some dismiss it as Just a Phase, some question whether bisexuality can be classified as a “real” sexual orientation if one “picked it up” during college or university, and some, like your brother’s friends, frame it in terms of its titillation value.

The common denominator among all these reactions is that your sexual preference is being assigned a value by people who think they know you better than you do. Rather than taking your coming out at face value, and being supportive and non-judgemental, your bisexuality is being critiqued against the normative benchmark of heterosexuality. It must, therefore, be assigned a cause and a duration, which you have already been kindly gifted; the next step is for someone to suggest a cure, which can generally be found in the common utterance, “You just haven’t found the right man yet”, or, if you’re really lucky, “Here’s the brochure for a church program I thought you might be interested in.”

Thus, your perfectly normal sexuality has suddenly become a mysterious tropical disease. You will probably find a favoured way of coping with these bizarre attitudes to healthy human behaviour; some popular courses of action are Not Talking About It, Slow And Gentle Re-Education, and Outright Provocation. I personally recommend the latter; after a few weeks of randomly uttering, “Cor! Look at the tits on her!” around your parents, they will probably learn to leave the topic well alone unless they are also willing to engage in some healthy, family-bonding objectification.

Lots of Love,

Eleanor Carnivore

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