This post, "There's Something in Me I Don't Like, So I'm Getting Rid of It; I Just Need to Work Out How," has been mooted (bruited?) around blogosphere lately. The topic is biphobia -- the fear or loathing of bisexuals -- in the gay community, and while I find that an interesting topic, what actually aroused my interest was the implicit assumption of the post (evident even in the title) that the only way to approach one's characters flaws is by a) detesting them, and b) endeavoring to ruthlessly expunge them. The post is full of the language of self-loathing
And to my own disgust...
...It was this visceral reaction that scared the crap out of me.
... I was ashamed of myself.
...I clamped down on my thoughts immediately, but they were still there.
...being aware of my internalised biphobia ... means I will speak up whenever I hear biphobic speech, because it's hateful. Period. But, aside from speaking up against such speech, and validating the queer/gay identities of bisexual women, what else can I do? I have this prejudice in me that I detest, and I need to work on it to get rid of it.
In defense of the author, she seems to genuinely be interested in people's suggestions for how she might rid herself of her prejudice, and opening up about a failing is, after all, a pretty good way to begin the growth process. But it still bothers me that beating up on oneself merely for having (sinful) thoughts is such a default position for so many people.
I mean, she hasn't, so far as I can tell, actually done anything dislike-worthy, much less detestation-worthy. She hasn't bashed any bi's. She hasn't even insulted any of them. She just gets annoyed once in a while with some cultural representation of bisexuality, or she vents to herself when yet another "bisexual" singer-songwriter (Ani, Dar, etc.) ends up marrying a man.
This kneejerk self-hatred is a problem not just because I happen to think that it's misguided morally (we're not bad because we think bad thoughts, but because we do bad things), but because I don't think it works most of the time. I think it just twists psyches and, at best (from the perspective of living harmoniously in a pluralist society), transforms the aggression so that it's no longer directed at a particular group but instead at one's self or at one's loved ones.
Or you get weird forms of acting out, like what one of the commenters to the post describes
I also have a prejudice I work to overcome - I have an unreasonable fear of and loathing for women of Asian descent. Seriously - a Filipino woman was the cause of much grief and almost the ruination of my life about 10 years ago, and I've never gotten over it. So, I joined an Asian American theater group here in town, and I do fundraising and costuming for their productions. It doesn't take it away or make it any better, but at least I feel that I contribute to the community in some way....This is all relevant, to the masculinist quest, because I take it as a given that sexism is an ingrained part of all of our psyches (men, women, gays, straights, bi's, transgenders, etc.), and I take it equally as a given that we're not capable of extinguishing such tendencies in ourselves. We are, however, capable of diminishing them, controlling them, and I think the way to that begins not with self-loathing but with a gentle kind of self-interrogation.