BCN 116 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 116, December 2012

Shared wisdom?

Tricky things, slogans. They can be read so many ways. So a little while ago, a big rambling thread on LiveJournal invited anyone to suggest slogans, and to offer constructive criticism and alternatives. Many thanks to everyone who joined in. Here is a somewhat condensed version of what people said.

“Love more than one gender?”
neutral: I’d suggest ‘fancy’ or similar, some people under the bi umbrella may be sexually bi but romantically into fewer genders

“Like Men? Like Women? Like Both?”
+ive: People have told me it “made them feel they were welcome” – bisexuality in their terms was liking men and women rather than men or women.
+ive: It’s simple, accessible to many people.
-ive: Implication that some parts of the bi community have been trying to challenge, that bisexuality is about only liking men and women. So perhaps add a * and a footnote “…yes we know gender is more complicated than that!”
-ive: The word “like” feels wrong – I like a lot of things I wouldn’t want to have sex with!

“Like men? Like women? Like people?”
+ive: The language is simple and more inclusive of genderqueer / other gendered people
+ive: Avoids using ‘both’ which might back up the ‘bisexual people need a boyfriend and a girlfriend all the time’ nonsense
-ive: I read this and this and don’t immediately associate it with sexuality.
-ive:I think “like both” is better inasmuch as this suggests men & women aren’t people!

“Combat invisi-bi-lity!”
-ive: Too subtle. If you want to reach out to the general populace slogans need to be almost literally hitting them over the head
-ive: better kept for inside ‘bi spaces’ & less suited to outreachy stuff.
neutral: works well for the name of a project (as with the old group ComBiNE) but isn’t very catchy on its own

“2-4-6-8! We’re not gay and we’re not straight!  3-5-7-9! Challenging unhelpful gender binaries and being free to form romantic and sexual attachments to people based on attraction not kyriarchal concepts is really fine!”
+ive: Yes… Possibly on a t-shirt rather than a postcard! …2468 bit on the front, 3579 on the back?
+ive: A great chant for quite long marches

“Love counts more than gender”
+ive: Goes down well at Prides
-ive: I know people for whom gender does matter and they don’t find love overrides it.  Bisexuality isn’t the same for all of us.
-ive: The word “gender” pushes it to sound a bit more academic and a bit less accessible

“It’s more about hearts than parts”
+ive: It rhymes, it’s simple and there’s no “middle class”-ness about it
-ive: It is a bit twee and cringe-causing
-ive: For some people, it is about parts!  Sometimes I wand a good solid bounce around the bedroom, and that is about parts really!

“Are you just attracted to people?”
+ive: I like this but in combination with bisexual or bi on the same flyer so it’s not too obscure
-ive: Might risk misunderstanding “people” to mean something other than adults!  “Like men, like women” type slogans avoid that.

“Bisexual? Bicurious? Bi Friendly? – it’s not just who you sleep with”
+ive: as a monogamous person it makes it less about sex cos I don’t have sex with people who aren’t my partner but that doesn’t make me any less bisexual.
-ive: I don’t like using the expression “sleep with” to mean sex.

“Bisexual? Bicurious? Bi Friendly? “
+ive: Good to get in the allies and those who are uncertain. Also some who are more likely to attend if they aren’t having to out themselves as bi-identified in the process

“You don’t have to be bi to drop by”
+ive: Slogans are meant to be naff – naffer the better!
+ive: Maybe as a tag line?

“Fancy men? fancy women? fancy both?”
+ive: to me bisexuality is about sex or the possibility of sex (even if only with oneself while thinking about the other people)
+ive: Again, with the * “we know gender is more complicated” footnote
-ive: Fancy has a bit of an echo of 12 year old girls saying “you fanceeeee him!”

“Bisexual? Bi-curious? Bi-furious?”
+ive: Drew people in – they knew the first two, wondered what the third was about.
+ive: What bisexuals are when people say we don’t exist
-ive: Can we have a leaflet to explain “bi-furious” for people?
+ive: Challenges “bis have it easier” and “bis are apolitical”.  You’re not taking bi invisibility lying down, you’re getting angry: GRRR!
-ive: It is a neologism / in-joke kind of thing
-ive: Furious isn’t really me. At all.

Some thoughts didn’t just relate to one slogan or another: they included:

“Slogans that focus on love may be looking for that to lend legitimacy in the face of accusations of bed-hopping and libertine lifestyles.  I think that’s ultimately limiting and painting ourselves into a corner.  It’s not just about sex, and for some people it isn’t at all.  But it can be, and that’s OK too.”

“One thing to think of. Who are we marketing to? Love Counts More Than Gender works well in LGBT spaces, does it work as well in mainstream presumed straight spaces?”

“What is workable for a BiFest or a pride stall may not be suitable at a BiCon or academic event.  Similarly slogans that sound more to do with attraction/ sexiness (like mentioning ‘parts’ or ‘fancying’) not suited to eg a Big Bi Fun Day or family event where the emphasis is moreon bisexuality as an identity not an activity”