For years I’ve made fun of her. From everything for her skinny arms to her goofy habits. She made fun of me right back –it was a part of being best friends in middle school. She’s still one of my closest friends, which gives me the license to continue to make fun of her.
Krishna Goparaju is a student at the University of Missouri Kansas City studying medicine. She’s brilliant. She recently told me a story about a high school experience that I’m excited to share.
Krishna was sitting in her high school history class minding her own business. However, when a debate started she decided to jump right in. Not wanting to take a strong opinion on either side of the discussion, she raised her hand and said “I go both ways.”
In India, this would have meant that she supported both sides of the discussion. It was a diplomatic statement that she had hoped would sooth a lot of angry minds.
When her class erupted in laughter, Krishna was baffled. She sunk into her chair and focused on the empty piece of paper in front of her. It was only much later that a classmate took pity on Krishna and explained to her that the sentence she had blurted in class insinuated that she was bisexual.
This phrase is used commonly throughout the world. In many Asian cultures, going both ways means that the individual is supportive and not wanting confrontation. However, just miles away, Western nations used it as a discreet way of explaining that an individual likes to have sex with both men and women.
One way or another, we’re all familiar with the term. It’s even appeared in popular media. In the Megan Fox movie where she gobbles down people in slutty clothing and pretends to be a good actress – I believe it’s called Jennifer’s Body – she uses the phrase “I go both ways” to insinuate that she kills both men and women.
Urban dictionary only provides two definitions for “going both ways.” Both have sexual innuendos. However, I think it’s important to always be aware that language is malleable. We change it based on tradition, dialect, and trend.
Although Krishna may have suffered a slightly embarrassing moment, especially in her fragile teenage state, I hope that her friends eventually get the exposure to enough dialects and languages that they understand- language changes and we have to change with it.