Why I find the question of whether or not I am a lesbian offensive

Remember V, he of the sexting saga? (If you don’t, you can refresh your memory here and read about my friends’ mixed reactions here.) As expected, he was not delighted with that blog post. However, he tempered his apologies for having made me feel uncomfortable with reiterations that all his actions were motivated from a desire to get to know me, and what was he supposed to do when I wasn’t being forthcoming? #ThatIsTheWholePointYouMissedBuddy I expected him to unfriend me, but he didn’t. I didn’t much care either way, as I anticipated little to no further interaction with him. 

My anticipation proved incorrect. He occasionally likes my pictures, drunk messages me 1x per month, and has spoken of his continued desire to move to Montreal. I rarely respond to these gambits, until he messaged me this, following a Facebook status about Brown Socks’ bachelor party:

  

In case there is any doubt that V’s socially awkward comment is a one-off, let me disabuse y’all:

  • Dynamo, my darling Dynamo, periodically tells me how much he dislikes my short hair and why must I do that to myself, I am making myself look like a lesbian;
  • I once met an Emmy award-winning soap opera star. I did not fawn over him, which so piqued his vanity he asked me, “Are you sure you aren’t gay?”
  • My therapist, very respected in his field, once joked that if I was finding dating so hard, I should just give up and become a lesbian. He also asked me why I would call myself a feminist and cut myself “off from half the population.” These 2 comments so shocked me, I considered dropping him as a therapist. (Turns out that despite these narrow-minded comments he really is excellent at what he does and I need to learn to not judge people too harshly based on the words they say. Something I clearly struggle with.)

FINE. I have short hair, am a tall woman, weigh more than half my guy friends, am muscular, and enjoy sports that are traditionally male-dominated. Fine, I challenge (slightly) the feminine archetype. I still subscribe to many characteristics that are strongly associated with being feminine: I don’t own a single pair of business slacks – I only wear skirts and dresses at work, I wear makeup, heels and own an astonishing jewelry and purse collection and my favourite colour really is pink. I aspire to be an Amazon, an archetype which differs from the traditional feminine image in that an Amazon is powerful and fierce.  Fine, my physique, character and behaviour make me unusual. What is not fine is when men interpret my uniqueness and differences from their perception of the feminine norm as a valid indication that I am not heterosexual. What is even less fine how the term “lesbian” is used here to imply that I am less than fully female, as though BEING FULLY FEMALE MEANS BEING HETEROSEXUAL.

All of these examples use the word “lesbian” similarly to the expression “like a girl”. Just as Always’ masterful campaign showed “like a girl” is currently used as an insult, to imply a person’s actions are lesser and inferior to those of a manly ideal, the use of lesbian in all of these examples is used to imply I am less attractive, as though attractiveness to the male gender were the only barometer that existed. Being lesbian, or any sexual orientation, is not an indication of being less feminine or less female. It shouldn’t be a term used to insult heterosexual women, just like being straight shouldn’t be used to insult homosexuals.

I can have short hair, like boxing, be accepted by the boys at a bachelor party and still like the cock. Just like I can wear sexy, figure-hugging feminine dresses and fuck-me shoes and be a lesbian.

Men, just be aware that when you say these things, you reveal your own unflattering biases. 

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19 comments

  1. Great post. Enough already with other people saying what we we need to be to be women. I almost put my delicate little fist through the computer screen today when something popped up in my reader proclaiming ‘The completeness of womanhood is measured by ones capacity to bear offspring’. Like seriously WTF? I even clicked through in the hope it was going to be a rant about someone having told them that… but nope, it was intended without a trace of irony.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was seriously taken aback. However it was early on in our “relationship” so I decided to give him a chance. And I am glad I did, bc he really has helped me a lot. Even if he has some conservative, slightly ignorant biases.

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  2. Well I think it’s now established that V is a bit of a jerk (sorry). But your friend Dynamo does have a point: short hair is more likely among lesbians, so it does give off a bit of that vibe (not that it justifies jumping to conclusions, or even accusations)

    As to the feminist label, half of all guys (and nearly as many women) think feminists are short-haired, screechy, screamy and bitchy women who will always be unsatisfied, so your therapist had a point, though in my view if you have an easy filter to get rid of ignorant duds, it’s a great too that should be used 🙂
    Guys who know that feminists really just want true equality (which we’re getting closer to, but we aren’t nearly there yet, either) won’t mind the feminist label.

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    1. Short hair is not more likely among lesbians. Talk of an outdated correlation: hair length and sexual orientation.

      Nicole Kidman, Anne Hathaway, Nathalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence. All had short hair, all are (allegedly) heterosexual.

      Ellen Degeneres’ wife, Portia: long flowing locks.

      You are confirming my point. When guys perceive that a woman is not confirming to THEIR perception of the feminine norm (long flowing hair), they feel it is reasonable to question her sexual orientation.

      In this day and age, that is a pretty archaic attitude to embrace.

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  3. Yeah, after posting I wondered if I should’ve googled that to see if it was true (still haven’t), the point really being that it doesn’t matter, and that people shouldn’t question a person’s orientation just based on interaction not being what they expect.

    In this case, I think it’s a case of something (short hair on a woman) being (wrongly) interpreted as a “marker” for something completely unrelated.

    I know I’ve had girls wonder if I’m gay or bi, just based on my being a tad less caveman-like than many other guys (ie, I won’t say “nice tits”, I’ll think it and say a dress is flattering and add something about the color fitting with her eyes or shoes. Which leads to the same kind of reaction you’ve gotten, the other way around)

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