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3.21.2011

Book Review: Dare To Try Bisexuality

Dare to Try Bisexuality
by Peter Des Esseintes
9780897935234

I was never really a reader of nonfiction. Especially how-to nonfiction. Perhaps this is because I come from the school of thought that sees everything as fiction: memory is based on perspective and open to intrepretation, so-called hard facts are always debatable, there is never just one way to do anything.

A degree in sociology and everything is like this.

Even issues like sex and sexuality is perfectly debatable and no truth can be claimed. (Read, for example Anne Fausto-Sterling, or Foucault, or Butler).

When I received this book in the mail, it was with skeptism. While the cover was cute--the entire series has the same type of illustration, playful pictures of people with wide-eyed expressions of curiousity--the title in itself asks readers to assume so many things. To command the reader to "Dare" to "try" a sexuality in itself assumes that bisexuality is not an identity but rather an action that one does.

Indeed, in many of the interviews, the subjects agree that it is something done. A man in one of the chapters, for example,claims he's not really bisexual, he's just attracted to dick. While this may be true for the individual, one has to ask if this is at all a good representation of bisexuality. Do the example present really represent anything worth observing at all? Does the explanations make any sense?While the idea of such fluidity teeters towards postmodern identities, Essenites falls into the usual traps of identity politics.

In his defense, the book is (to an extent) well researched for its length (just under 100 pages). He quickly summarizes Freud, Kraft-Ebbing, Kinsey. The book in itself encourages readers to explore sexuality as something positive and good for one's overall health. Yet it takes a complex issue of identity and doesn't explore it far enough.

The book is quite straight-laced (at least for a queer guy like myself) and set in quite a conservative framework.

Freud's theories are strong here, as the author ponders over what "causes" homosexuality and bisexuality ("Whether man or woman, your mother is your first love), or as he lays claims that women's bisexuality is especially interesting because it's natural (he doesn't go far enough to analyze patriarchy), while at the same, he says men are not necessarily bisexual, they are just hypersexual.

The overall effect is a mini-instruction manual that is ill-informed and not to be taken seriously. This in itself can be seen in the translation of the text, as it instructs on how to give a blowjob:
"...take it deeper and deeper and deeper. When the thing begins to grow too big for your virginial jaw, switch to an even, cruisng rhythmn that's a little faster."
how to find other bisexuals:
"Sometimes you find them in the woods. The woods are swarming with bisexuals."
among other general sex tips:
"Either way, a finger in the anus is always pleasant."
This is no Dr. Ruth. At best, this a great way to get stares on the metro.

(Thanks to Hunter House for providing me this book for review!)

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