Bambie proves a different kind of ‘Vision



Well, maybe she didn’t win the Eurovision with Doomsday Blue, coming a creditable sixth, but Bambie Thug came first in other ways. In the contest staged in Malmo Sweden where anything went as an attention grabber, like underpants and a flesh coloured cod piece (Finland’s Window95 Man’s No Rules’), it’s hard to come up with anything that stands out.

Bambie may have been the first out of the 41 countries represented to appear with antlers formed from hair. (Some of us would rather it has been 40 participants without participation of Israel given the country’s genocide waged on Palestinians and the fact that Russia was barred last year over its war against Ukraine) .

Bambie was the first to appear as a witch, performing a spell-binding number in Ouija-pop. Using the Ogham alphabet to write an anti-Israeli protest (erased after the EBU spotted a reference to it on social media) was certainly a first.

Bambie can claim another first, as the first contestant for Ireland to come out and identify as non-binary. Swiss winner Nemo with his song about self-discovery, The Code, identified as non-binary too. Should we cheer for that? I think so. We can certainly cheer Bambie for breaking the recent hex on Ireland, where our entries failed to make it to the finals eight times in the last 10 years, despite the fact we have won the contest seven times and made the final 45 times previously.

But, perhaps, it was easier for Irish contestants back in the day when all you had to do, as Johnny Logan remarked recently, was stand there and sing. Maybe it’s time to drop the word song from the contest and just go with the title Eurovision, because song has become an also-ran in the whole hyper-reality of spectacle, where costumes, choreography, lighting and special effects dominate every performance.

Only a handful of contestants, including Serbia and Estonia, performed the kind of numbers that you could sing along with.

Back to non-binary, which in case you wondered, means those who identify with more than one gender, are gender fluid, gender queer, have fluctuating gender identity and feel that they are different from the gender identity they were assigned at birth. It’s about gender which is social construct, as opposed to sex which is biologically determined and where there are only two sexes.

What it doesn’t mean is self-declaring to be a sex other than the one you were born with and among other things demanding access to women’s safe places and to compete in women’s sports as a biological male.

Gender stereotyping can be limiting, as in girls don’t study science or boys don’t cry. We have been chipping away at the rules around gender stereotypes for centuries, especially on the female side, where in the long march to equality it’s easy to forget that in the past women couldn’t vote or go to university.

Non-binary seems appropriate too in a Eurovision dedicated to celebrating diversity, without sexism, racism, ableism, body shaming or any of the other discriminatory prejudices and isms. Gender stereotyping, which dictates the way you are supposed to behave, can be critical for teens and 20ss forming their identities.

When teens are on the way to discovering who they want to be, maybe gender stereotyping can be more limiting for boys these days. As a girl being a tomboy is okay but as a boy getting labelled as a cissy isn’t, yet there shouldn’t be anything wrong with being artistic or not into sport should there?

One aspect of declaring as non-binary that I could do without is the use of that awkward pronoun ‘they’ which obliges me to write ungrammatical things like “they was”.

We are all on a continuum in relation to our varied expressions of gender, if the idea is to gain acceptance for difference why should there be a signifier to draw attention to that difference?

As Bambie said: “I would say that I do not fit into the roles of either gender or what society deems me to be. Do I feel like either of those roles? Some days more than others, some days not at all. I think the gender journey is always in flux. Personally, I just feel like Bambie.”

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