Paradoxes in Gender Relations: [Post] Feminism and Bisexual Polyamory
In this chapter, I explore some paradoxes in contemporary sexual and gender relations. While conducting research into the discourses and politics around gay male and bisexual non-monogamous practices in the UK (Klesse, 2005; 2006a; 2006b; 2007b),1 I was struck by some statements by both bisexual men and women, who argued that sexism was not an issue which caused signifi cant problems in their non-monogamous everyday lives. Their narratives created an image of their bisexual, polyamorous or queer personal environments as fairly conscious of feminist egalitarian values. At times, they went as far to say that if gender was an issue in their nonmonogamous relationships at all, it would be that men’s non-monogamous practice would be even more scrutinized than women’s. This is in particular the case if non-monogamy causes a problem in their primary relationships with women. These narratives appear paradoxical since they are at odds with the classical feminist critique of the gendered ‘double standard’ of sexual morality. In this chapter, I suggest an interpretation that these narratives work through specifi c articulations of [post] feminist discourses. They are in tune with a feminist ethics of egalitarianism, but assume that the feminist critique has effectively altered (to some degree) practices and solidarities in certain subcultural spaces. At the same time, these narratives are not without contestation. Some research participants produced a more critical analysis of gender relations in bi/poly/queer circles. Among others, the [post] feminist point of view may be particularly attractive to some because it enables an idealized self-and partner-representation, draws a positive image of the bisexual community and helps to resolve problems specifi c to bisexual feminism.