For many of these women, the reading experience begins from a place of seething rage. Take Sara Marcus’ initial impression of Jack Kerouac: “I remember putting On the Road down the first time a woman was mentioned. I was just like: ‘Fuck. You.’ I was probably 15 or 16. And over the coming years I realized that it was this canonical work, so I tried to return to it, but every time I was just like, ‘Fuck you.’” Tortorici had a similarly visceral reaction to Charles Bukowski: “I will never forget reading Bukowski’s Post Office and feeling so horrible, the way that the narrator describes the thickness of ugly women’s legs. I think it was the first time I felt like a book that I was trying to identify with rejected me. Though I did absorb it, and of course it made me hate my body or whatever.” Emily Witt turned to masculine texts to access a sexual language that was absent from books about women, but found herself turned off by their take: “many of the great classic coming-of-age novels about the female experience don’t openly discuss sex,” she says in No Regrets. “I read the ones by men instead, until I was like, ‘I cannot read another passage about masturbation. I can’t. It was like a pile of Kleenex.”
This isn’t just about the books. When young women read the hyper-masculine literary canon—what Emily Gould calls the “midcentury misogynists,” staffed with the likes of Roth, Mailer, and Miller—their discomfort is punctuated by the knowledge that their male peers are reading these books, identifying with them, and acting out their perspectives and narratives. These writers are celebrated by the society that we live in, even the one who stabbed his wife. In No Regrets, Elif Bautman talks about reading Henry Miller for the first time because she had a “serious crush” on a guy who said his were “the best books ever,” and that guy’s real-life recommendation exacerbated her distaste for the fictional. When she read Miller, “I felt so alienated by the books, and then thinking about this guy, and it was so hot and summertime … I just wanted to kill myself. … He compared women to soup.”
“There is just something about “I have lost the ability to can” that can’t be captured by “this is so great, it’s driving me crazy” or any variation thereof. Internet language does this all the time. Sometimes “AODEHwhddhwdwebw” is far more eloquent than saying “I’m so overtaken with emotion, I can barely type so I smashed the keyboard with my forehead.” The phrase “right in the feels” may, in fact, express more than “wow, [insert name of most popular BBC show of the day] made me so sad that I felt the pain as one would a physical blow.”
That’s when you know something interesting is happening linguistically. When the new grammatical structures and phrases express something that conventional language simply cannot. Sure, this new grammar-bending, punctuation-erasing, verb-into-noun-turning, key-board-smashing linguistic convention doesn’t dominate the whole Internet. While it is mostly Tumblr that generates this language, let’s remember that there are only virtual borders on the Internet. Users of one social media platform are likely to be users of several and they take the language with them across Internet borders. So language generated on Tumblr is is now becoming Facebook and Twitter language and influencing language everywhere from Buzzfeed to Autostraddle.”—
“I swear to god I will lose my mind if I hear the “sex sells” fallacy one more time. Sex does not sell. If sex sold, we would see penises where we see boobs. Naked men would be on everything that naked women are on. Sex isn’t what they’re selling you. They’re selling you an impossible, pornographically fueled misogynistic idea of the perfect woman.”—
However it originated, though, the usage of “because-noun” (and of “because-adjective” and “because-gerund”) is one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language. It conveys focus (linguist Gretchen McCulloch: “It means something like ‘I’m so busy being totally absorbed by X that I don’t need to explain further, and you should know about this because it’s a completely valid incredibly important thing to be doing’”). It conveys brevity (Carey: “It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone” “It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone”).
But it also conveys a certain universality. When I say, for example, “The talks broke down because politics,” I’m not just describing a circumstance. I’m also describing a category. I’m making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I’m offering an explanation and rolling my eyes — and I’m able to do it with one little word. Because variety. Because Internet. Because language.
Biphobia manifests in a number of different ways in the LGBTQ community, where getting into a heterosexual relationship is a form of betrayal. My last girlfriend was an oddity and a curiosity amongst my friends, as if I were the gay best friend she just happened to be dating, and her friends assumed we were dating for the threesomes. Such stigmas and misconceptions around bisexuality are so rampant that I don’t often disclose my sexuality to the partners I date. If I feel comfortable “coming out” to them, sometimes it’s a non-issue, as if I were telling them I had blue eyes. However, it’s more often than not a dealbreaker. A guy I was dating once told me that he “could never date a bi guy,” because he felt like he could never be enough for him. A bi guy would always want something more.
I’ve also heard that bisexuality is a “hippie new age affectation” and a “cheat,” as if you only have to come out halfway — but bisexuals will have to continue coming out for the rest of their lives. They will have to repeatedly explain themselves, which can be exhausting when you have to deal with prejudice both outside your community and from the people you expect to support you. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time that Gaga will have to remind us that she’s bisexual, fighting for her place in the spectrum. Lady Gaga belongs in the LGBTQ community, waving a flag alongside the rest of us. It’s biphobia that needs to be erased.