I really liked this article. It's easy to pounce on the cliches of any literary trend, and many examples of articles doing so, and well, are cited in the article itself. But I think this one very clearly ties together some threads on why, despite allegedly being amidst a banquet of sexually frank writing, a lot of it leaves me cold and unimpressed! Two things, mainly, I feel like I want to elaborate on from the observations there:

The constructed anecdote the article starts with is fairly illustrative of the first, and basically interchangeable with many many representations of sex in a lot of recently-viral "millennial" works. The idea of erotic desire is kind of absent in any representation of wanting or pursuing sex; it's towards some other end, always, ultimately, somehow "bad" for you, whether *gasp* kinky, emotionally abusive (less horrifying, of course) or just some sort of political or ethical compromise (practically inevitable). Further, the characters themselves and the logic of the entire novelistic worlds they inhabit are so under-developed that any alternatives are simply not addressed or discarded outright as delusional.

With any other meaning to sexuality and desire in general shut down, a text can only really be functionally conservative, regardless of how gonzo reefer madness etc it goes with showing repetitive depictions of bad, alienated sex. Erotic desire is never enriching or motivating or interesting on its own... well, to look at that too closely may be lending your ear to the Devil. And I feel like this spreads to the kind of constipated relationship a lot of these texts have with depicting desire despite, in back of book blurb anyways, being about it... In place of any type of desire or motivation, many characters tend to talk like they have some sort of self-help blight in place of thoughts and herd like lemmings towards practically identical "bad objects" (enough Ann Summers high street masochism! I thought you all hated 50 Shades!) regardless because them actually wanting something specific wouldn't play out in such a pat way.

But there's the other interesting, especially to me, pattern the essay identifies: that the protagonists of these stories are, well, much more often bisexual women than would emerge from like, a random sampling of the population, or even women. They're usually what I call "notatively bisexual," not just or even specifically in that any non-heteronormative desires are, well, surely happening just off camera, but that the whole of their desire is always extremely unconvincing in the first place.

Meshing with the sexual conservatism of the first point, they're almost all relatively aimless in articulating their desires for their life in general, and the central sexual desire is for some fairly standard masculine/dominant men with few other traits of note. It's almost like the desire is for the subjection of "bad" sex more than the person. And the strict gender conformity of both female protagonist and male object of desire maintains the pervasive and ridiculous myth of some sort of intractable difference between men and women.

It's hard for me to relate to, even as I'm being, demographically, represented. The understanding of bisexuality here seems to be gender conformity both ways, drawn towards men as the domineering masculine and, to a lesser extent women as the safer feminine same, obviously with less glorious frisson because us girls just hang out and braid each other's hair or whatever. Like, where are the girl boyfriends? The cads, horndogs, and losers? The ones who tend to freak other women out a bit? And where are all the other types of men there are, from pathetic to gentle to anything in between depending on how you're looking at them? Where are the people, basically?

To me, realizing my bisexuality was not just expanding my sense of possible relationships to also include an alternate script for women, but to question that there is or should be a difference in the first place, and beyond that, to become aware of how desire and pleasure is threaded throughout my life, not just something a singular, or varied, mechanical sex act can dispense to me followed by an appropriate bit of contrition. Even before I had fully figured this out, in the pits of my most cringe-inducing-in-hindsight heterosexual adventureism, I loved and felt intensely... I'm glad it happened to me and I know exactly why it did, because I wanted it, and while I may have been hurt by how it played out in the end, I never felt "bad" about it.

Contrasted with this, it's easy to see why the Bisexual Woman as a current cultural archetype is not even just a tropey character that becomes an inadequate, cliche representation... on an even baser level than that, she's less a flat character, and more just a narrative tool: bi women show up here so often because we are a special type of pervert, who, even more than straight women, are not just "up for anything" generally, but more specifically are expected to enjoy basically anything a man could do to us (this is the underlying feeling of pretty much any bisexuality "discourse," by the way). This conveniently dodges having to develop a bi character's interiority, work out anything particular or interesting about her desires, and also gives her a heightened degree of sexual abjection, perfect if you're looking to write stories that can only circle around a fundamentally negative, scaremongering, and conservative perspective on sexual desire.

Well, I refuse to be such a tool. lol. I try not to have my moves dictated by my cultural, political, aesthetic, etc., enemies, but a lot of how I decide to depict sex, erotic desire, and desire in general in my own work is a response to this... Of course I hope it's also coherent in itself too. There are plentiful great touchstones for alternatives, just off the top of my head, from things I've re/read this year: Jenny Hval's prurient fascination with piss and mushrooms, Chris Kraus' sex "lacking gender polarity" and like "a bear having sex with a raccoon," any of the many many Devil's Threesomes in Pynchon's body of work, the way 1982, Janine is all one long, heart-wrenching genderweird wank dream, the entire Domino Club, and on and on.

But this is not mainstream stuff; or if it is, not the angle from which that stuff tends to be framed (Sidenote: Pynchon is fun! And sexy! And hilarious!). I feel like it's pretty clear why the style of work I'm complaining about is hegemonic, even as it attempts to masquerade as "transgressive," it's simply by people who have incorporated themselves into a professional and artistic environment where insecurity and conformity are more motivating factors than one's own pleasure. I guess fear and distrust of pleasure is a broad political problem due to the general omnifuck of capitalism, or whatever, but what's the point of simply reporting it, the same way, over and over, besides piano recital applause? If anyone is putting serious thought into making culture, and we tend to consider novelists pretty high on that scale, can't you hope for some... likeee... imagination?

..... Ok ok. Finally, a brief point III... Well, maybe I'm not flexible or creative enough, but how is one both spread eagled and on their knees at the same time?