Reply to an Ask: Moffat, Bisexuality, Visibility, Intentionality
Tumblr is being a butt and not letting me publish the answer to an anon response to my post on Moffat hating Bisexuals. So I am going to do it like this. Here is the Anon:
you dont need to be visibly seen with a woman and a man to be bisexual, a character is bisexual if the person who made the character says they are, just like someone is bisexual if they SAY they are, not whether other people have observed them acting like their own personal definition of what being bisexual means. Im a woman who has only ever had relationships with women, doesnt make me any less bisexual just because i dont fit societies expectations of it.
And here is my long response to you, Anon:
You are confusing visibility with identity, and television with reality. Of course River Song, if she were a real person, could be bisexual and only have relationships with men. I am bisexual and really don’t have much relationships to speak of to prove it.
But, she is not a real person. She is a character on television, whose sexuality has NEVER been brought up. Saying she “fancies the whole crew” doesn’t count as bringing it up. “Fancies” is 1) one of those words that could be read multiple ways, 2) makes her sound like a flirt, not actually someone who is into people 3) is about, if anything, crushes, not romantic or sexual relations.
Torchwood has an actual conversation about Ianto’s sexuality. He says he’s not gay, only gay for Jack. This is an identity. Because the show actually deals with this, and shows him in both a straight and gay (with Jack) relationship, I would say this is a kind of visibility.
Saying behind the scenes that River is Bi is a cop-out. She’s not. Not unless you deal with that in the show. She is not VISIBLY bisexual, it does not put bisexuality on screen, unless it is IN THE SHOW. Saying “my brother and his husband” does. A woman talking about her wife, does. A woman talking about herself as a boy, does.
I am not saying that a real person cannot identify as bi without having relationships with both sexes. If that were true, I would not be bi/pan. For all I know, the actress thinks of River Song as bi. But that doesn’t make the CHARACTER bisexual, because the character is composed only of what is present in the works they are part of. Jack Harkness is the sum of all of Jack Harknesses canonical appearances. Those make him bisexual/omnisexual. River, as the total of hers, is straight. Flirty, and straight. If she even SAID she was bisexual, I would give it to you. But she doesn’t.
If you want to bring it to a question of intentionality, you can look at it that way. Perhaps, maybe, possibily, Moffat intended, as the writer, for her to be bisexual. Does that make her bisexual? If you believe that, you have to believe that Sherlock is straight, that Watson is straight, that any subtext explicitly denied as intentional is not there. (while we are talking about Moffat.)
Matt Smith, during season 5, said the Doctor was asexual and would never get with River. Oops. Where does that fall? Is he ace and she’s an acceptation? Or do we look at evidence and say the Doctor is straight? Can we call Amy straight? She has never SAID so. We’ve SEEN her with a bunch of dudes and no ladies, but Moffat has never commented on her sexuality explicitly.
See why intentionally is a bit complicated? Most academic theorists about this stuff will tell you that intentionality is bunk. That once a form of media is out there, intentionally doesn’t matter worth a damn. This is especially popular in queer studies. I actually hold a more moderate view, that says intentionality is INTERESTING, and should be considered, but not taken as a be all and end all.