Let’s be real: Truth or Dare can be an exhilarating game. I personally am far too suspicious of my friends to ever pick dare, because who knows what those degenerates will make me do …
Regardless, there’s still something undeniably engaging about a game in which you, theoretically, get to uncover more of the honest truth about your friends and have some laughs while doing so. It’s not like I’m a very withholding person, so I have no problem at all picking truth every turn. Often, picking truth means talking about sex or related activities, and that’s super fine by me, until it … wasn’t.
See, I’m a bisexual woman (surprise!). I figure (hope) most of you have, at this point, heard and accepted the reality that, yes, bisexual people exist. That parenthetical “hope” is there because, unfortunately, bisexuals constitute a widely ignored, and widely derided, demographic. This comes down to a laundry list of reasons, including: assumptions that our sexuality is “just a phase,” that we will eventually “pick a side,” that being in a heterosexual relationship somehow makes us any less bi, etc.
I had been operating under the assumption that most of my friends at college had forgotten or just didn’t know about my sexuality, but they demonstrated their memory in a, frankly, discomfiting way during a game of Truth or Dare last Saturday night.
The rules governing a Truth, at least the way I play, are pretty straightforward: Ask one question, the person answers, and then move on to the next person. One question. One. It’s not like picking Truth gives everyone else permission to ask about your whole life story. Accordingly, I wasn’t expecting a volley of questions when my turn came and one of the boys asked if I had ever “hooked up” with another girl. I don’t have a problem answering that question, because it’s Truth or Dare, I picked Truth, and I know the rules. I do have a problem with the follow-ups to my answer: How many girls? What’s the ratio of guys to girls? Hooked up as in … ?
It never fails to surprise me how quickly situations can shift from fun to vaguely uncomfortable.
My girl friends, valiant as they are, quickly cut in, telling the boys that I didn’t need to answer more than one question.
And, the thing is, I agreed with them, but I answered anyway. Why? Well, something people often fail to mention when talking about bisexuals, especially female bisexuals, is that we are incredibly sexualized. Not only that: The sexualization and objectification of bisexuals is deeply embedded in our social framework. Unfortunately, I can think of very few times when I’ve come out as bi to someone and received a response other than “have you hooked up with any girls?” or some variant of that unnecessary question.
What would compel you to ask me that? Do you immediately ask straight people if they’ve been with anyone? I’m imagining that the answer is no, because:
Obviously, this Truth or Dare anecdote doesn’t suggest that all men are prone to this line of thought, nor that women are exempt, but this damaging cultural narrative is powerful enough that I was very uncomfortable but still felt like I had to answer these questions. Some undercurrent of thought I have been socialized to accept was telling me that doing anything other than going along with the game would be construed as “overly sensitive” or “exaggerative” and that I would do nothing but dampen the mood.
It’s absurd that we as a society have constructed an environment in which it’s natural for bisexuals to confront situations like this. Regardless of whether or not they are based on genuine curiosity, untimely questions about another person’s sexual experiences are invasive and reductive. I say reductive because these questions implicitly suggest that bisexuality is somehow less valid if a bisexual has only engaged in heterosexual contact.
There is a time and place for conversations regarding sexual and romantic history. Not only that, there is a respectful way to have these conversations, and I ask you to keep that in mind next time you think about asking someone about this history, whether they’re bisexual or not.