Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution Paperback – Jul 2 2013
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"Brilliant! I have been waiting twenty years for a book like this. It should be required reading for any person even considering entering the dialogue about where the 'B' fits in the LGBT world. Let the revolution begin." --Kyle Schickner, Bi Activist/Filmmaker "Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution ... is a groundbreaking exploration of bisexual politics by a revolutionary thinker." --Publishers Weekly "This is the most innovative and exciting book to be published on bisexuality in many years, and one which will move work in this area forward in many vital ways. Eisner weaves together bisexual theory and activism with related areas in a sophisticated and rigorous manner that enriches both the field of bisexuality and those that are drawn into dialogue with it. In particular, the explorations of racialization and the conversations between bisexual activism and the politics of global conflicts are highly original, thought-provoking, and important. Throughout the book Eisner challenges existing practices, such as biphobia and 'mythbusting' of bisexual stereotypes, and puts forward intriguing and valuable alternatives. The book will be helpful far beyond the bisexual movement itself and is a must-read for feminists, LBG&T workers, critical race and queer theorists and activists particularly." --Meg Barker, author of The Bisexuality Report "Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution is a brilliant and comprehensive look at where the bisexual movement has been, and where it should head in the future. Rather than merely denying or debunking the countless accusations and stereotypes that plague bisexuality (as many past writers have done), Shiri Eisner exposes the underlying assumptions and misconceptions about sex, gender, and sexuality that give rise to societal monosexism and biphobia. A must read, not only for those of us who fall under the bisexual umbrella, but for feminists, queer and trans activists, and anyone who is concerned with social justice." --Julia Serano, author of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity and Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive "Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution is a breath of fresh air. So much of sexual-political activism and writing these days seems to seek acceptance by mainstream society rather than profound change. Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution steps right outside of that. It is far and away the most significant analysis of bisexuality published this century." --Sue George, author of Women and Bisexuality and blogger at Bisexuality and Beyond "Shiri Eisner unpacks bisexuality and the bisexual experience, challenging 'monosexism' privilege in a refreshing, clear, unwavering voice. But, instead of the usual narratives of bi activism, Eisner brings us a global, "radical" vision, recognizing the seemingly endless battle for mere acknowledgement as whole people, while taking us further--toward a "bi revolution." Make no mistake: Shiri Eisner offers us more than a fresh voice for a new generation of bi activism; Eisner offers us all a call to action." --William E. Burleson, author of Bi America: Myths, Truths, and Struggles of an Invisible Community "Shiri Eisner has deftly woven a fresh, clear, subtle, and profound analysis of the revolutionary potential of bisexuality. I wholeheartedly recommend this passionate, engaging, and thought-provoking book to anyone who cares about the intersections of gender, sexuality, and social justice." --Jamie Heckert, PhD, co-editor of Anarchism & Sexuality: Ethics, Relationships and Power "What a joy! Hurrah, hurrah. Decades after we birthed our bi US anthology, Eisner's practical tips for organizers, brain food for theory-heads, and inspirational proposals offer a visionary trans-national approach that takes bi experiences and identities to new levels, depths, breadths. A volume for all of us, bi every name we call ourselves." --Loraine Hutchins, co-editor of Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out
About the Author
Shiri Eisner is a feminist bisexual and genderqueer activist, writer, and researcher who is considered a rising star of the international bisexual community and is quickly gaining reputation. After graduating with honors from Tel Aviv University, Eisner spoke internationally and facilitated workshops at both academic and activist conferences, focusing on bisexual politics, theory, and activism, as well as undertaking an in-depth exploration of current bisexual literature, representation, and research. She is currently pursuing her postgraduate studies while writing this book as the culmination of her reading and research thus far.
Eisner has extensive activist experience in the areas of feminism, LGBTQ, anti-war, and animal liberation. In the field of queer activism, she organized and participated in many events, including radical/alternative pride marches, demonstrations, and protest vigils. As a bisexual activist, she is the founder and head of the only bisexual organization in Israel today (and the second ever), Panorama Bi and Pansexual Feminist Community, a grassroots organization focusing on bisexual community building and activism. In many ways, Eisner is considered to be the founder of the Israeli bisexual movement, as virtually no such movement has existed prior to her founding of Panorama. As such, she is highly regarded by the LGBTQ community on a national (and international) level and is considered a world authority on bisexual issues.
Eisner's writing draws heavily on both her academic and her activist background, creating an accessible, political, and well-grounded writing style. Her writings, focusing on bisexuality, have been published internationally in both journalist, activist, and academic contexts. Her English-language blog, Radical Bi, is one of the most popular and well-known English-language blogs about bisexuality; it is referred to internationally on blogs like Bisexual, Pansexual and Queer Community (UnitedStates); BiUK (United Kingdom); La Radical Bi (Spain); and Bisexualitaet.org (Germany). Her Hebrew-language blog, Purple-Black, is highly popular as the only blog in Hebrew focusing on this topic.
Eisner lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. She regards Bi as an activist project, which she hopes will affect social change.
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First off, overall I would like to say that this is a definite must-read for not only every bisexual activist, but every bisexual, pansexual, monosexual, homosexual, heterosexual, genderqueer -- heck, everyone! The research Eisner has done for this book is clear from the beginning and the result is an incredible historical review of the bisexual movement from a whole host of perspectives and views, as well as clear ideas for revolutionizing it from here on out. With chapters on bisexuality, monosexism and biphobia, privilege, feminism, women and men, trans*, radicalization and what Eisner calls the "GGGG movement," or the Gay-Gay-Gay-Gay movement, readers are exposed to the major issues that have impacted bisexuals over the years and those that are affecting us today.
While I could easily write a series of articles based on Bi, I have instead chosen some specific quotes that truly spoke to me to comment on; we begin with, "our political struggle needs to reflect the interests of everyone, address everyone's needs, and endeavor to attain resources for and empower people of all groups -- not just the ones who fit a certain palatable standard." Eisner continues: "A very long list of people is being thrown overboard in the effort to `fight biphobia.' In this way, the rebuttal in fact imposes biphobic normative standards on the bisexual community itself, drawing a line between `good' and `bad' bisexuals." And further on: "It seems that in order to receive mainstream approval and acceptance, bi communities adopt and repeat the same mainstream values that are normally used against them."
These quotes truly jumped out when I read them because of the fact that, in my own writing and in the Bi the Bi column I have co-written for The Huffington Post, I believe I am at fault for trying to make greater society accept bisexuals by assuring that I am a monogamous bisexual, for instance, attempting to counter the stereotype that bisexuals cannot be monogamous. Eisner is spot on here -- some bisexuals are monogamous and some aren't, and that is okay, that is beautiful. We cannot hope to move forward in bisexual activism by scapegoating anyone. I will be sure to check myself in this area in my own writing and speaking engagements from here on out, and I thank Eisner for calling this aspect out. I hope others will do the same.
Perhaps one of the most important points for bisexual activism is that we cannot continue to neglect specifically bisexual causes in order to assimilate into the "GGGG movement." We have put a lot of force behind repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the fight for marriage equality, for example, which do impact bisexuals -- but perhaps not as much as issues of health disparity, homelessness and domestic violence. Eisner writes:
"People with more urgent needs than marriage are neglected from the resources and activist efforts of the GGGG movement. GGGG organizations spend many millions of dollars on the struggle for marriage, while organizations addressing the issues of queer and trans homelessness [sic] youth, HIV+ queers, queer and trans people of color, queers in poverty, queer and trans survivors of violence, and many others suffer from a constant lack of money and resources."
And when bisexuals are affected by these issues to a greater extent than lesbians and gay men, it truly makes you take a step back to reassess where our time and money is going -- as well as why we are trying to assimilate to begin with.
There are definitely some radical points of view Eisner poses that may not be for everyone; but regardless, the messages within Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution are important and ever so relevant. We must actively build up a varied bisexual community that is welcoming to all gender identities, races, ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, etc. so that bisexuals no longer have to, in Eisner's words, "[come] to terms with our identities in, and through, communities where we are strangers."
There is no attempt to be hip, to be titillating, to drop a wink and say something shocking because it's expected. No, this book is deadly serious. It's important, truthful, unflinching, and sincere.
I do not agree with all of Eisner's ideas (just the great majority of them) -- and I also don't think that this book is completely exhaustive. By nature, it could not be. Scholars will be spending the next generation filling in the gaps. But this is the book that the bisexual community has needed for years. Finally, a book for us, by us, about us; a book liberally sprinkled with trigger warnings so that it is accessible to everyone; a book that looks at bisexuality and the bisexual movement through the lens of bisexuality rather than trying to figure out how we fit into Gay or Straight.
When you read this book your perspective on the world will change, even if you are already knowledgeable about bisexuality.
No collection of queer nonfiction or queer theory can be considered complete enough to be even remotely useful if it doesn't have this book in it.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge. However, I will be buying multiple copies, because this is one of those books that you will have to lend out and give to other people and to organizations who need it in their libraries.
This book is fantastic. It came for me at exactly the right time in my life just as I was ready to step out of the closet, and contextualized much of my personal feelings and struggles. It's helped me on my own path toward reclaiming bisexuality. I can interface with my own sexuality and community on more than a superficial level. It gave me the tools to combat the oppression of and inside my community.
More valuable were its discussions of biphobia and how to combat common stereotypes and myths without falling into exclusionary language, as well as looking at the root of biphobia and why bisexuality threatens monosexism. An entire chapter on so-called passing privilege was especially helpful, given the criticism non-monosexuals often get from monosexual-identified people. The concept of bisexuality as subversive never occurred to me, but seems so natural now. After all, who better to break down borders than those who pass between them? She situates bisexuality both within the straight world and the LGBTQ+ community, expanding on the unique problems of navigating both, and her deconstruction of biphobia experienced differently by men, women, trans*, and genderqueer/nonbinary people is particularly useful.
Eisner is well aware of her own privileges when she writes, as well as the backgrounds of her audience. The book contains concise definitions of terminology and trigger warnings to make it accessible to people of all backgrounds. She prefaces sections and ideas so that her intent comes across clear.
The scope of this book is enormous and I sincerely hope it inspires Eisner or other bi activists to expound on many of its ideas in greater depth.
This is the book on bisexuality I didn't know I needed until I had it.
This book opened my eyes about the bi/trans experience, bisexuality and men, and the parallels between bisexuality and racialization. I was interested in Eisner's assertion that bisexuality is a minority-world (Western-world) construct; I would have liked more development on that point.
I disagreed with her extremely negative views on the marriage equality movement and our involvement in it. My state, New Mexico, is just beginning to get marriage equality county by county, and over the past two weeks I've attended six jubilant same-sex weddings. It melts the most cynical heart to see two women in their 80s who have been together 51 years get married at the end of their lives. I think queers are changing the institution from the inside, rather than conforming to it. Few of us are naïve enough to think marriage will solve all our problems as individuals or as a community.
But this book wouldn't be a radical manifesto if every reader could agree with every point. I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in queer politics and gender politics, regardless of how they self-identify. I'm hoping to get a book study group started in my town, which at this point has one vocal bisexual that I know of--me!
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