MTV's Faking It Carelessly Reinforces Bisexual Stereotypes #NotFakingIt
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In its second season, MTV's hit show Faking It has presented bisexual tropes and biphobia without resolving it in the story line.
The issue is two fold. First, main character Amy has been painted as uncertain with her sexuality. On its face, this story line shouldn’t be problematic. It seems the writers are giving Amy space to figure out her sexuality. In actuality, it paints bisexual youth as unsure of their sexuality. It’s season two and we’ve seen Amy express feelings for both girls and guys without uttering the "B" word. She is left in the ambiguous-I-don’t-do-labels box that bisexual characters often get placed in à la Piper Chapman.
Second, the introduction of a male bisexual character, Wade, has espoused tropes and biphobia. Wade is attracted to both Shane and Karma and he simply can’t decide who he wants to date. If Wade was presented as a poly bisexual interested in having a polyamorous relationship it would be one thing. Unfortunately, that's not the case. He even seems interested in a threesome. The writers continue to paint him as sexually greedy.
(Note: There’s nothing wrong with threesomes. Just that bisexuals being prone to threesomes is a tired bisexual trope.)
Then the biphobia. The gay character, Shane, shares many instances of biphobia. Here are a few:
"He only thinks he likes her he's like a gay butterfly not yet sprung from its cocoon," Shane said. "He's stuck at 10% bi curious caterpillar caught in transition."
"The bi label is a step in the coming out process. It goes drunken hookup, curious, full-blown gay, Elton John."
While sometimes Shane's comments on bisexual people were challenged by his friends, Shane never has an "ah ha!" moment showing he is aware of his biphobia. This coupled with the ambiguously bisexual portrayal of Amy makes Faking It one big bisexual blunder.
Here's What We Want:
Faking It Writers should consult with bisexual organizations about their bisexual portrayals: Faking It has one of the best characterizations of an intersex character in media. The showrunners elicited help from GLAAD and Inter/Acts to get the story right. Some ugly things were said in the show about intersex individuals but the show turned it into a teaching moment for the audience. Faking It writer should ask GLAAD & leading bisexual organization BiNet USA to consult on their bisexual characterization.
Resolve Gay & Straight Character's Biphobia: Some ugly things were said in the show about intersex individuals but the show turned it into a teaching moment for the audience. The same needs to happen for their bisexual characters.
Say The 'B' Word: Characters that are exclusively attracted to one gender don't get put into "no labels" box. Only those who are on the bisexual spectrum get painted as unsure. This adds to the “bisexuals are uncertain” stereotypes that invalidate bisexuality. If Amy has attractions to both men and women, have her say the B word.
Here's Why It Matters:
Visibility Is Important: While LGBT characterization has grown overall, the same can't be said for bisexual characters. In GLAAD's yearly report, Where We Are On TV, bisexual characters trail behind gay, lesbian, and trans characterizations. When there are bisexual characters, they don't say the word bisexual. Bisexuals, especially bisexual youth, deserve to see themselves represented in media too.
Bisexual Youth Suffer From Bisexual Tropes & Biphobia: The Human Rights Campaign released “Supporting and Caring for Our Bisexual Youth” last year outlining the shocking disparities bisexual youth face.
“About a third of bisexual youth reported they have been harassed frequently or called names at school, and 56 percent said they didn’t have a supportive adult in their family,” the report notes. Many of the tropes and biphobic sayings shown on MTV's Faking It are exactly those bisexual youth hear in supportive environments. Faking It is set in a high school and is aimed at youth making it all the more important they get it right.
Here's What You Can Do:
Sign & Share This Petition: Spread it like wildfire.
Use Your Voice: Use Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr to voice your concerns with the show. Tag the Show and the show runners on their Twitter (both the show and the writers!), Facebook, and Tumblr. Use the hashtag #NotFakingIt and share the other criticisms you find on the hashtag.
Message GLAAD: GLAAD is the LGBT media watchdog. They have worked with Faking It in the past on their (fantastic) intersex storyline. Ask them to address the biphobia and bisexual tropes on Faking It (Their Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr).
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