It’s not uncommon for people to come out as gay after being in heterosexual relationships. But when the gay/straight binary is so enforced, these storylines become a media trope that disregards bisexuality. Because Drew is now partnered with a man, he must be gay–no one mentions the idea that Drew could be bisexual. When closeted people only have the option of coming out as gay, as opposed to bi or queer, we perpetuate two harmful tropes: that there are only two sexual orientations, and that the gender of your partner determines your sexual identity.
submission from cuddlywares:
wrt the post about River’s sexuality - true, as River’s life and identity revolve around the doctor, her bisexuality is irrelevant to the show. But as Moffat admits when he says he has no interest in contributing to bi-visibility, he’s using bisexuality as shorthand for ‘sexy sassy coquettish character’, just as he uses lesbianism as shorthand for ‘sexy character’ in the case of Irene Adler (and probably Jenny/Vastra).
Just as Moffat tends to fall into a “men are characters, women are women” style of writing, he writes heterosexual people as characters and gay/bisexual people as stereotypical versions of gay/bisexual people with little variation. Check out how similar Captain Jack and River Song are.
And imo not only is this lazy writing but it’s deeply skeevy that even when Moffat does acknowledge that GSM people exist, he does not portray them as complete, varied characters in the way that he does for straight male characters.
I’m writing this in a Submit because it was a tad too long to fit in the ask. It may be a bit disjointed, so if you post it, please feel free to edit it / respond as you see fit.
I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, the idea of River’s character / River’s bisexuality / etc.
1. Moffat says she’s bisexual, but we don’t see any evidence of it in the show.
2. Moffat says he’s not working towards creating bisexual identity (might be the wrong phrase, what I mean is that tweet from him in response to someone else, from around when he outed her as bi)
3. You can be bisexual without flip-flopping between sexes (i.e. River’s just being with the Doctor doesn’t invalidate her bisexuality)
So I suppose my point or question sort of is - does her sexuality matter? Is it really that important that a bisexual character “fly the bisexual flag,” so to speak? River to me is one of the strongest characters in the show, I feel. You’ve said on multiple occasions that Moffat’s general portrayal of bisexuals as “having too much fun” is offensive, so here’s a bisexual character who’s in a committed relationship. And wouldn’t it be the same if she was outed as bisexual outside the context of the show but was only seen in a relationship with a female?
I suppose my general question is: How important /is/ River’s sexuality to the show in general? We’ve seen that the arc of her story is centered around the Doctor, and doesn’t it make sense then that she’s seen with him?
-Again, sorry if this is jumbled, and I’m sorry if I misunderstood anything you were trying to say before in regards to her character!
Of course, all these points are sort of valid, and everyone is allowed to think whatever they want about the character of River and how she is portrayed. But to me, it’s a matter of having had enough. And I think we’ve covered all of this before, but I will repeat it: River Song as the “flirtatious unreliable bisexual woman” is a trope that is being repeated again and again and again and again and again and again. It’s perfectly fine to have problems with it. No, River’s sexuality isn’t important to she show at large, but when bisexual people have such a hard time to get any visibility in the media at all, it’s really damn annoying when pretty much the little visibility there is turns out to be exactly the same and harmful stereotypes that gives people the completely wrong idea of bisexual people. Go on, give me one example of a bisexual ever who hasn’t been promiscuous, cheating or unreliable. Those characteristics on their own do not always have to be negative, sure, a lot of people are like one or several of those things, but when that’s the ONLY kind of bisexual we see in the media, it gets old pretty quickly.
“We’ve seen that the arc of her story is centered around the Doctor, and doesn’t it make sense then that she’s seen with him?”
This is another thing that we have a problem with and have covered in several posts, the fact that her whole storyline and identity ended up revolving completely around the Doctor is pretty awful. She started out as a cool and independent character, but in the end her whole storyline has been twisted to just revolve around one single man. The fact that her plot revolves around the Doctor is not an argument for only showing her showing any affection or attraction towards the “opposite” sex, it only makes it even more problematic.
Moffat has a history of displaying very little understanding for any sexuality that isn’t heterosexuality, so it’s not a surprise that he keeps getting it wrong. What is frustrating and enraging is when he completely refuses to listen to people who are part of the sexual minorities he insist on including. It’s not difficult getting it right. But he seems more interesting in enforcing harmful stereotypes and using people’s sexualities for cheap laughs and punchlines.
And don’t worry about your post being jumbled, I’m pretty jumbled myself.
I read your post ‘Sherlock Women and Feminism: Irene Adler’, and I agree almost 100%. I’ve already ranted about it myself, so I won’t go into that here, but I’d just like to bring up one thing: River Song’s bisexuality. It shouldn’t /have/ to be stated. Sure, the only person we’ve seen her interact with ~sexually~ is the Doctor, a man [so far] but that hardly…invalidates her bisexuality. I’m biromantic, but have only dated men because where I live is not conducive to same-sex relationships. But that doesn’t mean I’m not actually bi. And, I mean, I doubt you meant to say that in your post, but it did come across that way. And I’m by no means excusing Moffat. I’m just…well, just because one chooses to have relationships with one person doesn’t mean that they weren’t [or can’t be] attracted to others.
submitted by lillianabigailsturm
First of all, I would like to extend an apology for any misunderstandings brought about by that post. In no way were we attempting to invalidate anyone’s sexual identity. And really, our problem with Moffat’s claims that River is bisexual come from his representation of bisexuality and his characterization of River as a whole more than anything else.
On Twitter and on his series Coupling, Moffat presents bisexuality in a way that fetishizes those who identify as bi, and relies heavily on the stereotype that bisexual individuals are too busy having sex to do anything else (or at least that’s how I read, “We don’t acknowledge you on television cos you’re having FAR TOO MUCH FUN. You probably don’t even watch because you’re so BUSY.”)
Also, for the most part I would agree that River’s bisexual identity doesn’t have to be stated for her to be bi. However, River’s character doesn’t work towards queer or bi visibility, and that’s where we take issue. To quote Hallor’s post about Moffat and the twitter mess that occurred surrounding River’s sexual identity, “The problem is that if people need to be told that River is bi to understand it, she clearly isn’t contributing to bisexual visibility. On the whole it’s a prime example of word of god/gay, where a character’s sexuality is announced outside the context of the show. So far I’ve not seen a single queer character of his where their sexuality isn’t used as the punchline to a joke.” [x]
We aren’t trying to say that somebody must be shown participating in relationships with people of different genders in order to identify as bisexual. Our point is that River’s sexuality seems to come as an afterthought, rather than as an important part of her character development.
Bisexuality in Doctor Who and the Queerbaiting Antics of Steven Moffat:
Let’s talk about sex.
Specifically bisexuality. Okay, so there’s more to sexuality than just mashing genitalia together—and what genitalia—which may come as a surprise to you if you’ve just graduated from the Steven Moffat School of Sexxyyyy Ed.
In which I write metaphors involving pizza about problematic writing
This post contains criticism of Steven Moffat, both his writing and his personal views as expressed on his Twitter. I’m putting it under a cut because I don’t want to inflict my views on people who aren’t interested in them. If you disagree with me and read on anyway, it’s a free interweb, but on your own head be it.
TW: Biphobia; monosexism; unchecked straight, monosexual, and male privilege; privilege denial; bisexual stereotypes; gendered stereotypes; gender essentialism; sexism; references to sexual harassment
Spoilers for Coupling