Monday, October 31, 2016
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
All About the Boy
Disclaimer: A free copy of the book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review
For a book addict like me, one who is compulsively inhaling books in any and all possible formats and all possible subjects, the opportunity to get books for free is incredible. For a wordsmith like me, who is almost as addicted to writing as to reading, (and very, very fond of having and delivering “opinions”) the chance to be able to review someone else’s work is a lot of fun too!
So, here I was with a copy of P A Friday’s All About the Boy, a collection of male-male kinky stories, free for review! Not having read anything else by the author, I didn’t know what to expect.
It is a collection of three stories, all centered around kink – specifically BDSM – between men. And, before I even tackle a single story, I must say I had a really positive experience with the language and the general writing style. The problem with romance novels, or erotic romances, or erotica, often is that the writer seems to think that a sufficiently “hot” story means that there is no need for much else. The writing is often pretty bad, and the language – whether the author’s or ghostwriting – makes me cringe and wince with bad grammar and usage and dozens of spelling mistakes per page.
P A Friday, I am glad to say was a pleasure to read. The usual cringe-worthy language and grammatical mistakes were absent, and there wasn’t even one wince per page!
The first story, -- kind of cute. Sure, it is kinky, but it is a nice sweet mix of gay for you, kinky for you, and “long time coming”. I usually like these stories of two people having known each other all their lives and someday something just clicks! The not entirely intentional and thought out exploration of kink on part of the characters is interesting, and well written. It is not easy to write conflict, internal or external, but Friday manages it just fine.
The second story I had a real problem with. The attempt at consensual non-consent that the story seemed to be moving towards became very firm dubious consent, and made me very uncomfortable. It could be just a personal issue, but I winced through the story and could barely make myself finish it. The language, grammar, etc, were fine but the whole concept just read too much like a consent violation and made me very uncomfortable.
The third story, honestly, I didn’t get at all. Was there a point? It felt like one of those inconclusive, formless, directionless arty short stories that raise my hackles even when they parade as “literary” work. Definitely not something I would want to read again, especially as light reading and for passing time in a pleasant way. It wasn’t as unpleasant as the second, sure, and didn’t leave as much of a bad taste in the mouth. But the violence came out of nowhere, and the story ended abruptly too!
Overall then, the writer has potential. Based on the language, style and the first story, I would probably pick up another book by the same author. But, unless that second book gave me more of the stuff of the first story here, and much less of the stuff of the other two, I can’t say I would become a follower.
Friday, October 14, 2016
What is Biphobia? Most people have heard of the term homophobia by now, even in larger society. Biphobia, like homophobia, is an irrational aversion toward bisexual people as individuals and bisexuality as a social group or identification. And, like hompophobia, biphobia causes a lot of pain, and is a source of much discrimination against bisexual people, based simply on negative stereotypes and irrational fear.
Given that the funding for research on issues that affect bisexual people is rare and inadequate, bisexuality is still a seriously misunderstood and highly marginalized sexual identity. This means that even in countries with legal and social support for LGBT people, coming out as bisexual not only opens you up to attack from society at large as well as the gay and lesbian community – but you have to deal with it with less legal and healthcare support.
On the other hand, what disturbingly limited research does exist shows a dismal picture. Research suggests that there is a higher risk of poor mental health among bisexual people when compared to heterosexual, and even gay, and lesbian people.
The one thing people seem to be unable to understand is that identity has nothing to do with a person’s sexual behavior. Just like being gay does not automatically mean being promiscuous and shallow, bisexuals, unlike the sexually insatiable image, vary vastly in their behavior. Being bisexual merely means that the person has the potential to be attracted to more than one gender/sex. It has nothing to do with their desire or capability to be monogamous in a relationship. Some bisexuals are monogamous, and some are not, just like the rest of humanity. And no, they do not lose their bisexuality and become either “gay” or “straight” depending on the gender of their current partner.
However, since bisexual people cannot be easily defined by their partners, they can become invisible within both the heterosexual and the homosexual frameworks. Very often bisexuals are dismissed, even within LGBT spaces, and told they are "confused" and must “choose." At best, many LGBT people claim to support and understand bisexuality only because they also identified "that way" in the past, before they arrived at their "real" lesbian/gay identity.
Some creepy people, both gay and straight, assume that bisexual people are eager to fulfill their sexual fantasies or curiosities, always ready for a threesome, for example. Most people just accuse bisexuals of being greedy, wanting to have endless sex with everyone. And almost everyone is suspicious of their ethics, assuming that bisexuals, given half a chance, will always choose an "opposite" gender/sex coupling for long term relationships to get the social benefits of a straight passing relationship.
With a little more awareness on the issues facing bisexuals as a sub-group within the LGBT community, biphobia is being recognised as a specific mental health and rights issue requiring targeted action. The 2014 Movement Advancement Project report and Rainbow Health Ontario have thrown up the following:
• The percentage of bisexual women struggling with PTSD is 26.6% compared with 6.6% of straight women.
• Bisexual men are 6.3 times more likely than straight men to consider suicide, while gay men are 4.1 times more likely.
• Bisexual people are less likely to come out to healthcare providers, employers, family, and friends than both gay and lesbian people.
• Bisexual people may experience higher rates of childhood sexual and physical abuse.
• Bisexual people have reported higher rates of substance abuse than gay and lesbian people.
• Bisexual people report higher rates of anxiety, depression, and mental illness than gay and lesbian people.
• Programs created to help bisexual people receive only 0.3% of funds given to gay and lesbian support programs.
The power of bisexual invisibility works to make bisexual people unseen, erased, and misunderstood. Popular representations are conspicuous by their absence even in a world of information technology where lesbian, gay, and even trans people are beginning to have some visibility. Media depictions of bisexual characters, where they exist usually paint the character as indecisive, promiscuous, and untrustworthy.
In most cases, a potentially bisexual character gets depicted as a gay or lesbian but confused or yet to come out. Celebrities who are self identified bisexuals or could be bisexual get slated as gay or straight depending on their current partners with headlines like “10 gay celebrities who once dated women”.
It is conditioned into straight as well as non straight people that being bisexual means that you are a slut, just trying to get all the attention, or just confused and going through a phase, if not an unethical moocher who is keeping their options open to fit in with society. To make matters worse, bisexual people absorb these stereotypes and become ashamed of their own identity, and suffer from guilt and mistrust towards themselves and others like them.
This rampant discrimination, demonization, and internalized biphobia prevents bisexual people from becoming a community, creating safe spaces, and constructing support systems to help them deal with their – often very lonely and misunderstood – lives.