Definitions: Dictionary and Media versus Real Life

In the ongoing debate of what and who gets to define bisexual I see way to many would be definers (never actually bi themselves) trot out 2 supposedly final authorities on the subject, the almighty dictionary and media portrayal.
They rush to what ever dictionary is handy look up the word and then point and basically say “nyaa so THERE the dictionary says it means
Look up a word in a dictionary from the 1800’s.I bet it says bisexual means the same thing as intersex.Maybe it has something about plants in it.Go look up something in a different language then english.I bet the definition when translated is slightly different! So changes over time and place reflect something that these dictionary thumpers fail or are afraid to acknowledge which is that language changes over time. Treating dictionary definitions like they are some sort of infallible writing of god also fails to recognize the power dynamics at play in the creation of a dictionary.Dictionaries do not fall out of the sky and into the bottom drawer of your desk or magically appear online.They are written by people.People who like every one else are products of their time,culture and privilage in this world.Generally those making dictionaries are white,well educated cis males.Mirroring the power dynamics of society at large.They are not going to go out of their way to go find and talk to real live bisexuals.Heck,they had a big fanfare over simply adding “google” into ONE dictionary. Why would they bother with something as complicated and let’s face it, controversial as sexuality?
Another thing I encounter often is the ” but popular media!!” Argument.It goes like this ” bi’s in the media are: only attracted to men and women/cheaters/evil/part werewolf ” So therefore that is either true or the only thing that matters bwcause that is how “the public” sees it.This has been used in everything from denying the legitimacy of trans* bisexuals to reasons shy money should not go to bi orgs.
In popular media archeologist’s are like Indians Jones or Daniel Jackson from Star Gate.They run around get into fights,save the world or often almost end it.Nobody argues that we should cut funding for archeology programs. Media depicts things WRONG. This happens more often then it gets things RIGHT. So it is a sad last ditch attempt to trot that out.

If you want to define something to do with identities go see my other post on how to do so and put down that dictionary.We both know you really only use it to keep the coffee table even.


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