Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting Bi: my thoughts

I just finished the second edition of Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World edited by Robyn Ochs and Sarah E. Rowley. It took me a little while to work my way through it because of mixed feelings, but I must say that it's an excellent book.

It's exactly what the title sounds like. The editors looked around to find bisexuals -- and those who do not identify as bi, but who are not monosexual -- from around the world to write on various topics related to our sexual orientations. This book is mostly a compilation of what others have contributed, with some notes and comments provided by the editors.

The book is four years old, but it presents what I suspect is a good snap shot of what bisexuality looks like in the world. It shows what being bi means to us, what we do about our orientation, and how we interact with the world. Since we are such a diverse group there is of course a lot of variety. Some who have always known, others who took some time to figure it out. Monogamous bis, those who are polyamorous, and also those who do outright cheat. Some who call themselves bisexual, others who don't label themselves. Some who have friends and family that are accepting, some who aren't so lucky. And of course, the chapter where bisexuals are defining what the word means has differing opinions.

If nothing else, this book shows the variety in the bi world. And that it's pretty pointless to make assumptions and stereotype people, since yeah some will fall into those stereotypes, but many others don't.

On a more personal note, I had to step away from the book for a little while. It was painful for me to read about those who take a while to figure out they're bi because of initially believing that bisexuality doesn't exist. It happens, and is inevitably going to be part of any work like this, but I found it unpleasant to read about. Probably because I've been there myself. I suspect that any bisexual will find parts that make them uncomfortable, though this isn't meant as a warning to avoid it.

I have to say, it's a good book. I especially have to recommend a small section at the end titled If You Think Your Child May Be Bisexual by Robert L. Barton. It looks excellent for anyone who has just found out that a loved one is bi, but is written to provide recommendations for how to parent a bisexual child. Barton points out some issues that bis often face and which parents should be aware of, he clarifies a few common misconceptions, and encourages both learning about bisexuality and communication with the child.

Although I would not suggest Getting Bi as the only book for someone who is learning about bisexuality, it is certainly a good option. And it provides many other resources to look into, from fiction and non-fiction books to organizations and websites.

Book cover

Sunday, December 1, 2013

LHoD Notes: various chapters

The story of Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. le Guin is interrupted by old legends/myths, and a couple of random (ok, not so random) other chapters that are thrown into the midst. Two of them I think I have a grip on how they're relevant, others not so much. I wanted to use this post to try to keep (or get) things straight.

These are just notes jotted down, don't read this thinking you'll get college essay quality writing. And I don't recommend reading it unless you're familiar with the novel.


Chapter 2: The Place Inside the Blizzard

Two brothers vow kemmering to each other (just like our Therem and his brother), but are ordered to separate when one becomes pregnant. The pregnant one, Hode, kills himself in despair, and the surviving one, Getheren, is exiled because he is seen as the cause of the suicide. 

(I had the impression that our Therem's brother, Arek, killed himself or died because of being ordered to separate after getting pregnant, and that Therem's exile -- self imposed? I don't know -- is because of this.) (Also, I had the impression that our Therem basically swore kemmering with Arek in some way, even though the words weren't actually spoken, despite that being completely forbidden between siblings.)

After realizing just how exiled he is, Getheren gives up his name and runs off into the blizzard, where he meets Hode and sees a tower. Hode can't say his name though, and Getheren's left hand had to be amputated due to frost bite.

(Therem has to take a false name, and goes onto the ice with Genly. When Genly mindspeaks with Therem, it's with Arek's voice. It's Therem who still can't say Genly's name correctly, though. Therem also see towers while inside the blizzard (265). Not sure how the left hand thing plays into it.)

Getheren escapes being inside the blizzard, is nursed back to health, and eventually takes back his name. Dies, and his land (which had been doing poorly after he cursed it) starts to prosper again.

(Therem had hid his name after returning to Karhide, then died a little after revealing himself to an old friend.)

It seems that Genly takes the place of Arek for Therem. I've been pondering that one for a few years, and I still don't know what to make of it.

And...just realized that I've written about this chapter before, here.

Chapter 4: The Nineteenth Day

A king demands to know when he'll die, is displeased with the answer. Let's just say that I'm still working out whether this relates to the plot and our characters, beyond showing us a little more of the Foretellers.

Chapter 7: The Question of Sex

Notes about sex and gender from those originally studying the people of Winter. Some insightful observations, some questions, and a couple assumptions I'd dispute.

Chapter 9: Estraven the Traiter

A dispute over land between Stok and Estre. Arek Estraven (his father: Sorve) gets into trouble on bad ice, and it's his blood enemy Therem Stokven who nurses him. They swear kemmering, but when Therem Stokven's friends come they kill Arek Estraven on sight.

Later Therem Stokven has a child who he names Therem, and takes the child to be raised in Estre. He doesn't identify himself, but does give the baby's name and says who fathered the child.

Young Therem is raised as heir, and when he's grown is half killed by some of his own people who don't like him very much. He seeks refuge in the place where his parents met, and meets Therem Stokven there. Stokven tends young Therem, and they swear peace between their lands.

After taking his grandfather's place, young Therem ends the feud by giving up part of the disputed land. "For this, and for the murder of his hearth-brothers, he was called Estraven the Traiter. Yet his name, Therem is still given to children of that domain" (129).

Now, to our Therem...

About the names. Of course, Our Therem and his kemmering's names were Therem and Arek, just like the two in this story. And our own Therem's son is named Sorve.

Not sure if our Therem and his Arek are supposed to be anything like the pair in the story, though their names do illustrate that those names have been kept in use in Estre. Our Therem certainly is like the younger Therem, though in, wanting to make peace over disputed land, even if it means giving up some of the disputed land. Also, both are called Estraven the Traiter. So, I guess our Therem is following in his ancestor's footsteps.

Chapter 12: On Time and Darkness

A chapter on Meshe. Relevant to religions in LHoD.

Chapter 17: An Orgota Creation Myth

Really have no idea what to make of this. The story is pre-Yomesh, and perhaps relevant to shifgrethor? In the final paragraph I have words relating to light and darkness underlined a lot.


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