Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Fever Crumb and Bisexual Representation

I've been going through quotes that I might do paintings for and I stumbled upon this:

"We must find you a new boyfriend, Wavey had kept telling her, but what if a girlfriend was what Fever needed? She felt as if she had opened the door to a room she had never noticed in a house where she'd lived all her life"

And it's so perfect I needed to share.

Scrivenor's Moon is maybe the last book of the Fever Crumb series although I have all of my digits crossed for another one because REASONS which shall be briefly covered in this post. The series is a prequel for his Mortal Engines Quartet (or Hungry City Chronicles, or The Predator Cities...can we please settle on one because it's difficult enough finding other fans of the series online, let alone when you don't know which title to use! And I am in desperate need of more Philip Reeve fans in my life) which are an absolutely fantastic YA steampunky dystopian type series with traction cities (Cities that move and eat other cities, SO COOL) that I am about to reread again soon. I cannot sing the praises of Reeve enough, everything that I've read by him has been utterly brilliant. His characters are interesting and complex and flawed but still wonderful and I just really love his work. I'm extremely excited to reread these books again and shall definitely do a post about them once I have!

I won't lie though, a solid 70% of my motivation to reread the series is so that I can revisit Fever Crumb because I can say with absolute certainty that I did not appreciate her enough on my first read through. CANONICALLY BISEXUAL FEMALE SCIENTIST AS YOUR PROTAGONIST WHOSE STORYLINE IS NOT GEARED AROUND HER SEXUALITY BUT ALSO PRESENTS SAID SEXUALITY IN A POSITIVE NON-BI-SHAMING WAY OH MY GOD I CANNOT EVEN HANDLE IT. Let's go back and reread that sentence and all freak out together over how amazing that all is.

I've just started watching Orange Is The New Black (I know, I'm only a year or so behind the rest of the world...) which I'm really enjoying, but people keep saying things like "used to be a lesbian" to describe Piper and every time they do I get a little stab of annoyance deep within my very soul. I'm only five episodes in but I already want to shake them all and be like "BISEXUALITY IS A THING THAT EXISTS GUYS". You don't just yoyo between being straight and being a lesbian. There are multiple options between the two and although I am all for people defining and labelling themselves however they want to, it would be really awesome if there was at least a discussion about these other options rather than them just being completely erased. I just find it super weird that bisexuality has this strange stigma attached to it where it's somehow viewed as not a valid sexuality, that you should "just pick one" or that it's just a halfway house to a more "solid" and "valid" identity. (side note - it's perfectly valid to be confused and to change how you ID and you might ID as bi and then later change your mind and that's SUPER OKAY, you define you, figure yourself out in your own time, etc etc. I'm all for that. But that shouldn't be used as a stereotype to invalidate other people's identities) There are loads of much better written things on the way in which bisexuality is represented in the media (e.g. hypersexualised or just completely erased) so I will curb my rant here and actually get back to the point of this post.

Essentially, I crave bisexual characters. I mean, it's natural. Whilst fiction can be an escape, you want to see yourself represented. Since figuring out my own sexuality I've made much more of a concious effort to explore LGBTQ+ fiction and I'm really enjoying it but I've also found myself noticing the erasure of bisexuality a lot more which simultaneously saddens and enrages me. Which is why I'm so excited to reread this series! Just on a technical note, although Fever's sexuality is never explicitly labelled in the book I did do a whole bunch of googling to try and make sure I wasn't mislabelling her, and all of the internet sources say she's confirmed as being bi so I assume it has the blessing of Philip Reeve. My memory is definitely a little fuzzy as it's been a while since I read them but I like that Fever's feelings are never portrayed as being invalid or anything. Falling for Cluny doesn't negate the feelings she had for Arlo, both are portrayed as valid and just part of her character progression. I find myself hesitant to write anything more about the portrayal in case my reread proves me to be wrong, but I will definitely write a follow up post once I've finished!

For now, I just want to take another moment to appreciate the quote. When I write these blogs I tend to forget that other people can actually read them and I delve quite a lot into my own personal life and experiences and this post is no different! So sue me, this is my blog, imma write what I want! But this quotation really resonated with me because it puts into words how I felt when I realised I was bi. I joke about it a bit with my friends because I just find it kind of funny how completely oblivious I was. I look back on crushes that I had on girls and find it hilarious that I just didn't identify that that's what was happening. I was just like "oh this girl is just the prettiest most amazing girl in school, she's so beautiful, I wish she was my friend!", except no I didn't I totally fancied her I'm just an idiot. But my epiphany moment was quite similar to what Fever describes in that quote. I had some silly throwaway thought (something along the lines of, "oh that doesn't apply to me because I'm straight") and then cue giant epiphany (aka "hang on a second, wait a moment, oh shit no I'm not") and sudden re-evaluation of everything I've ever thought about myself. I was in the middle of a gigantic life crisis anyway, but there was definitely an aspect of "how could I not have noticed this thing about me, and if it's taken me this long to recognise that, what else have I missed?" It took me a while to be comfortable using the word bisexual to describe myself, mostly because I was so intensely confused about everything in my life that it took me time to actually sift through that confusion and put a name to it all. But I really identify with it now and have very strong opinions on the need for positive bisexual representation in media so it does make me super happy that one of my favourite authors and favourite book series features a bi character that is so awesome and interesting. 

If anyone has recommendations of other media that has good bisexual representation I would love to hear them! Plus if you're reading this and are a Philip Reeve fan please introduce yourself to me because I need you in my life!


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