Okay, I suppose this will be Korrasami post #2 before I even get into discussing the episode itself. But I’m seeing fights break out about lesbian vs. bi (and gods help me, vs. platonic straight ladies who just feel like going backpacking together).
Trust me, I understand why feeling represented matters. I also understand that bisexuality is often erased in popular media, both for men and women. Pansexuality is a shade of nuance beyond that, which is not often explicated satisfactorily or even talked about. That being said, it is very possible for people who identify as lesbians to have dated men in past. I didn’t kiss a girl until I was 20, because we’re conditioned to think that we’re attracted to the opposite gender only. Understanding your sexuality is a really complicated and at times messy experience, and it’s definitely taken me awhile to land where I have.
NOTE: What I’m about to say it’s what’s true for me, and how I feel comfortable thinking about sexuality. I’m not trying to force my views on others, or minimize the very real struggle of understanding labels and attraction.
It is my assertion that people aren’t attracted to demographics; we’re attracted to individuals. Some people happen to be attracted to individuals of the same gender, as some happen to be attracted to individuals who share their eye-color. The thing about “preferences” is that they’re flawed identifiers. Preferences are malleable, and rarely black-and-white. Can you imagine if we had to self-identify based on our tendency to eat chunky peanut butter over smooth? Sexual preference is even more complicated, because who on earth knows what attracts us to someone else. We can talk about “types,” but feeling that chemistry with another person is very specific to the individual relationship. So while we can perform statistical analyses to determine what our dating preference is in terms of gender, height, hair color, ethnicity, dexterity, political party, favorite book, or vocal range, I feel like these labels aren’t actually benefitting us.
Prepare yourself for my very personal story. When I was 20, I dated my first girl. Prior to that, I had been with two guys, one of whom was my boyfriend for nearly 4 years. Around 21, I came to assume that I was a “lesbian,” and chose to self-identify as that. Once that relationship ended, I dated women exclusively. In the past couple of years, however, there’s been a few guys that I found myself attracted to. I struggled to figure out what this meant, and I actually had to re-come-out to explain this to others. Since then, I’ve been inundated with questions about “where on the spectrum” I fell, or what gender I see myself ending up with. I actually lost friends both coming out as a lesbian, and then again when I said was willing to date a man.
Throughout this, I was struggling to find a label to explain my feelings to others. And then I realized, “why the hell am I doing this?” I feel like I should be able to date the people to whom I feel attraction without running analytics on their characteristics and what that means for my identity. The gender of the person I’m with doesn’t change me in any fundamental way, no more than their haircut does. So now when someone asks me my sexuality, I simply say “I have dated men, and I have dated women, but I’m attracted to individuals.”
*Whew* I hope that wasn’t too much…I’m not used to baring my soul on the internet. Let’s bring this back to Korrasami. If Korra and Asami were real people, it wouldn’t be up to us to label them. It would be up to them to decide which label (if any) is the most comfortable for them, to operate in the world. But given that they’re fictional characters, our labeling of them feels less problematic (and it should). Now, we can overanalyze and try and “figure this out,” noting that both dated Mako, Korra going as far as to say she loved him. Though like I said, I know women who date exclusively women that have had experience too, so it’s not always the best indicator. I suppose if we had Bryke come out and say “Korra’s bisexual,” we could take that as canon, and assume they’d know how their character chooses to identify. But to me, trying to peg them down is kind of like missing the forest for the trees.
What matters is that Korra and Asami are in love. That’s all that’s ever mattered here. It’s their relationship, built over 2 seasons, to this beautiful moment where the two are ready to step into the future together. Let’s not fight about labels, but just revel in the magic of it, and give Bryke a round of applause for “going there.”