A Really Hot October was one of my favorite chapters to write and edit because of a few reasons. First, it’s really sweet. Second, it shows that Terry brings something to the relationship. And third, we really get to watch Alexis work.
We’ve just come out of Bisexual Visibility Month, and one of the things that doesn’t get talked about often enough when it comes to bisexual people is how invisible we become when we’re next to someone who is assumed to be our partner. For example, I, a fairly female presenting person with a short haircut and a loud voice, may be assumed to be a dyke lesbian if standing next to a fem person who is assumed to be my partner. Alternatively, I may be assumed to be a heterosexual babe with alternative tastes if standing next to a male presenting person.
Without explicitly stating my orientation I have never been identified as bisexual at first glance.
Much as I haven’t been identified as a grad student at first glance or an industry professional at first glance.
Or an abuse victim at first glance.
There are a lot of things that are invisible about people. Such as the fact that bisexual women are more susceptible to intimate partner abuse than lesbian and heterosexual women. Two separate studies in the US and the UK showed similar results. Further reading about the US studies can be found here and here. And further reading about the UK study can be found here.
Because of things like this—and my own struggles to find a partner that I felt truly supported me as much as I supported them—Chapter 9 is about showing how Terry helps Alexis flourish outside of just giving her a really fancy internship and giving a great pep talk. He walks the walk when he puts her in the booth and has her direct herself. This is a romance where the tension doesn’t come from some lesson the male lead needs to learn and the female lead loves him to enlightenment. I’m exhausted from teaching boyfriends how to be decent people in high school. It’s part of why I don’t usually date men anymore; I’m looking for a partner who’s an asset, not a student who’s a burden. My partner should support and recharge me, just as I should do for them. If both people aren’t getting that out of their relationship, then I honestly don’t know why they continue to have it.
Which is why I’d like to address some of the typical male-partner behaviors I’ve experienced first hand, and how Chapter 9 goes about throwing them out the window as things that Terry would ever do.
Too often I see women in relationships with men where they are not valued, or where they are taking on the majority of the mental labor. The artist Emma has a comic about the mental load and how it is carried almost entirely by women that you can read for free here with the second more in-depth part here. She also has a sassy follow-up for dudes who want to try and take their part of the mental load, but don’t know how. I wanted to show that Terry was not the sort of man who didn’t carry his fair share of the load. I wanted to show that he carries it with Alexis.
On top of the normal sexism that may come from being a woman in a relationship with a man, there’s the fetishization of bisexuality. In this article a woman explains how her university boyfriend would often express his desire for threesomes after seeing pictures of her with her female friends, even though she had expressly said she had no interest in such a thing. Maybe you’ve even heard the word that some bisexuals who enjoy threesomes use to identify themselves: unicorn.
While there’s nothing wrong with identifying as a unicorn, there are those out there who go hunting for them with the same lustful gusto and poor intentions as medieval huntsmen. There’s also the idea that if someone is attracted to people of all genders that they couldn’t possibly not want sex with whoever would like to force it upon them. Or that bisexuals crave being with partners of other genders than the one they’re with. Just all sorts of harmful brewhaha that isn’t true and leads to the abuse of bi and pan people.
Meanwhile, Terry controls himself. There’s obvious sexual tension between him and Alexis—and they get some really good kisses in during this chapter too—but each time it isn’t what she’s asked for or might impact her ability to work, he steps back and reins himself in. It’s about respect and consent with him. In fact, her identity as a bisexual woman hasn’t come up, even though Terry’s known about it since Chapter 4 when he discovered her food blog—where Alexis definitely talked about food and media and her views due to her identity. (If you want a sample of what that was like, you can read my actual real life food blog from when I was studying abroad in Japan here)
This story is about recovery and a man who’s worth dating. Someone who’s willing to take responsibility for himself, who’s considerate enough to take up his part of the mental load, who isn’t going to fetishize a person for part of their identity. Someone who will support his partner in her career aspirations. Someone who will ally himself with his partner’s talents. And someone who takes the word “partner” seriously.
I hope you enjoyed Alexis and Terry’s hot October. I hope many bisexuals out there are getting to have the same wonderful experience. ❤