Issue 6: Bi Any Means Necessary 💋

On Promising Young Woman & why revenge is hardly enough.

Hello my loves! Great 2 c u again! Welcome to February—holy sh*t, the U.S. has been quarantined for almost a full year! Also, it’s Black History Month! Here’s five Black creators you should follow right now:

  • @adultsdrink — mind-blowing makeup looks on the feed, next level memes on the story

  • @iamjarijones — billboard model & also just an absolute light

  • @flex.mami — possibly the most creative person on my feed (I’m also obsessed with her brand so if you wanna get me a gift, that’s the spot)

  • @smashfizzle — brilliant writer whose memoir is highly anticipated (not just by me, but very much by me)

  • @justsydbw — hilarious queer comedian with a must-watch IG live cooking show

I also want to discuss mental health—specifically, the poor quality of my own right now! For months, my partner has been telling me I’ve been taking on too much (holding a 9-5 while launching this newsletter & writing a book & running an Instagram, through an election season, a coup, and a pandemic). Yet I’ve continually insisted that I could do it all.

And technically, I wasn’t lying—I have been able to do it all. But not without neglecting basically everything, aside from these three careers. I’ve neglected my relationship, for one. My self-care, for another. And so much else that has impacted the quality of my work across the board.

I’ve always had a tendency to overextend myself, and for the most part, I saw this as a good quality—it made me feel like a valuable, productive member of society. This week, I confronted the fact that my “work ethic” has taken an immense toll on me—I realized it when Reddit revealed Capitalism’s thin veneer, when my partner held me accountable in a real way (and I didn’t shut down that conversation out of shame), and when my therapist determined I was approaching a breaking point of medical significance.

For me, keeping busy has always been a coping mechanism, and I’m starting to unpack why. Maybe it’s given me a sense of purpose? A way to disassociate? A little bit of both? All I know is that I need to spend the next month processing the ways my self-worth is enmeshed with capitalism, productivity, and “accomplishment” (for more background on this, watch my #FallApartFebruary live with queer facilitator & coach @ariviews).

This also comes with a big change, one so significant that it deserves a new font:

I won’t be running my Instagram for the rest of February!

That’s right—this month I’m gonna put my phone DOWN (which, as we discussed last week, is v hard for me). But I won’t leave you starved for content—in fact, quite the opposite: Four incredible creators are gonna takeover my account, each coming at you for one week. Stay tuned to IG to find out who they are and see what they create! 💫 (Pls don’t spam the creators doing takeovers unless it’s with money, praise, or new followers. 💛)

Hopefully I’ll return to you with more clarity, presence, and focus. Tbh, the only reason this newsletter is still happening today is because I’d already finished most of it (been keeping an iPhone note with thoughts on Promising Young Woman bc I can’t get it out of my head).

I did say that this Issue would also include thoughts on bisexual confusion, but guess what? I don’t have the bandwidth to deliver original thoughts on that right now! And that’s okay.

But I promise—come March 1, we’re gonna be BATHING in confusion. And it’s gonna be great.

Nine Things I Loved About Promising Young Woman (and One Thing I Didn’t)

NOTE: This is a polarizing movie. For the most part, I adored it & I’m going to tell you why. If you’ve watched, great! If you haven’t, please be aware that both the movie and this commentary contain several references to sexual assault, violence, and men in a general sense.

Also, the text below contains lots of spoilers! Read at yr own risk. 💘

The Things I Loved:

  1. The Accuracy

    I put a content warning above for obvious reasons, but also because of experience—the first thirty minutes of this movie triggered the shit out of me.

    Having watched the trailer didn’t stop me from covering my eyes and trying to see the screen through my fingers. The initial scene especially felt so real, to the point that I often felt like I was having an out-of-body experience and looking back at my own life. I shouted, “wake the FUCK UP,” and though it seemed to be directed at Cassie, I’m sure I was really shouting to myself.

  2. The “Nice Guys”

    Seth Cohen? McLovin? Bo Burnham? These are the “nice guys”—the ones we’re supposed to like. Tbh I can’t figure out what to think about Schmidt’s casting—it worked, since I immediately registered this character as “ASSHOLE,” but Schmidt himself is a douchebag with a heart of gold (though maybe that’s an assumption I should unpack).

    After getting over my own flashbacks, it was SO satisfying to watch each man (plus Connie Britton & Allison Brie) fall for Cassie's tricks. In each case, their privilege serves as their fatal flaw—it’s both the reason they assume they can get away with anything, and the reason they ultimately can’t.

  3. The Accountability Ideas

    One of my favorite moments in the whole film was when Cassie confronts Al’s lawyer. Of all the people she follows up with, this lawyer seems to be the only one who has actually reflected on his wrongdoings. When he gets on his knees and cries, he isn’t just making a show of it—he’s literally processing his pain.

    By contrasting this lawyer moment with the other vignettes, writer/producer/director Emerald Fennel brilliantly explores the difference between apologizing and taking accountability. Almost everyone casually throws out an “I’m sorry,” but only the lawyer demonstrates that he has invested time and space to confronting his own complicity. As a result, Cassie forgives him, and she does so in a conversation that feels like a layman’s accountability process (if you’re unfamiliar, accountability processes are one component of proposed non-carceral solutions to prisons/police).

    Survivors often refuse to entertain the idea of this kind of accountability—instead we assume that being able to “lock up” someone up is justice. To have true accountability acknowledged onscreen gives us a blueprint for how to bring it into our own lives.

  4. The Complexity of Revenge

    Fennel told Vulture, "we don’t talk…very much [about the fact that] revenge and vengeance aren’t good things." This is a r*pe revenge movie, but the revenge doesn’t go the way we expect. Instead, it’s more complex, and forces us to ask what the ideal ending would be.

    For example: If the tables were turned and Cassie killed Al instead, what then? She probably would’ve gone to jail. But would the catharsis of killing him have healed her? Probably not.

    This raises many seemingly impossible questions: What does justice for survivors look like? What do we with r*pists? Where do we send them? How do we make them pay while making ourselves feel better in the process?

  5. The Genre-Fuckery

    This point mostly refers to something stylistic I appreciated, but I love that this movie shifted from experimental short to romcom to revenge porn to tragedy and back to comedy again.

    Personally, I found the romcom phase most infuriating because I really thought they were gonna take it there and make this movie a #NotAllMen thing. Thank you to Emerald Fennel for not writing it that way, and to every Hollywood person who fought to ensure that didn't shift during production!

  6. The Complex Femininity

    I’ve been thinking a lot about femmephobia recently, and wondering why we as a society fear femininity. For me, everything about this film asks that question—the costumes, the makeup, the color story.

    Another quote from Fennel in that Vulture interview: "Just because you love Britney Spears doesn’t mean you couldn’t cut someone’s face off. Just because you wear pink doesn’t mean you’re not filled with murderous rage. So I wanted to make something that’s quite familiar until it wasn’t anymore, and fun until it wasn’t anymore, you know?"

  7. The SW Narrative Script Flip

    Promising Young Woman’s ending plays into a common trope: stripper murdered at the bachelor party. But, as one of my fave critics Emily VanDerWerff writes, this was self-aware and likely intentional:

    “I would be very surprised if Promising Young Woman wasn’t reverse-engineered, just a little bit, from “What does the story of the stripper who dies at the bachelor party look like if it’s told from the stripper’s point of view?” By forcibly reminding us of whose story this would normally be — namely Al and Joe’s — Promising Young Woman needles the audience just a bit to reconsider all the nameless women’s corpses we’ve seen in other films and TV shows, the ones that kick off a story about the men in their vague proximity, sometimes the men who actually killed those women.”

  8. The Honesty of that Ending

    At first I hated the fact that Cassie was killed. It felt so unsatisfying to me—for whatever reason, I thought I should be able to demand satisfaction, even knowing that satisfaction was hardly the norm for situations like this.

    But then I read this Variety interview with Fennel, and a point she made struck me deeply: Women don’t typically pursue violence because it doesn’t typically end well. She mentioned that she didn’t intend to write this ending—it was just simply the most honest way to end it. And, unfortunately, she’s right.

  9. The Truth in Fiction

    I’m not here to assume anyone’s motivations, but do want to present a fact: Carey Mulligan used to date renown abuser Shia LaBeouf. In that sense, starring in this movie could’ve, for Carey, served as a Cassie quest all its own. But that’s for her to know and us to speculate on. 💘

The Thing I Didn’t Love:

  • The cops in the final scene! Smh.

    Police are not a productive or just solution, and based on the film’s general restorative justice/accountability vibe, I def thought Promising Young Woman was aware of this. But when the “authorities” showed up at that final wedding (accompanied by Cassie’s posthumous winky face), we were clearly supposed to think justice had finally been served. But…wasn’t the entire rest of the film a reminder that institutional power can’t be trusted? This movie has been critiqued for its cynicism, but I’d actually say that, after this moment, it wasn’t cynical enough.

Follow This Bisexual: Gabrielle Alexa

Gabrielle Alexa Noel (@gabalexa) is a content creator whose work knows no bounds—she’s constantly sharing sex-positive TikToks, polyamory tips, and A+ memes in her stories.

Her book, How To Live With The Internet And Not Let It Ruin Your Life comes out on March 23, and even just based on the title, I cannot WAIT to read. ❤️

5 Links U Should Click 👅💦

  1. This collection of moments in Black History from the New York Times

  2. Legacy Russell’s intro to Glitch Feminism, a concept I can’t stop thinking about

  3. A helpful read on the Gamestop sitch and meme stocks in general (not to be confused with the Meme Economy)

  4. “The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship” — I miss my acquaintances 😞

  5. A deep dive into the classist realities of vaccine access, including luxury travel services that will FLY members to remote locations to get their shots 🤮

Thanks for reading this special edition of The Bi MonthlyI love you and I’m so grateful you’re here!

Also, at the risk of sounding desperate: One of my goals for 2021 is to get this newsletter list to 20k, and to do that I need your help! Please consider becoming a subscriber today if you’re not one already. Enter your email below or forward this issue to a friend <3