Lesbian Culture Has Had a Major Update
The Five Main Types Of Scene Lesbian
Recognize any of these…which one are you?
Fun Fact: Lesbians don’t grow on trees.
Now once you’re finished imagining that tree (I can give you a minute if you’d like?) my point is that (at least where I live) you can’t just wander down the road and bump in to lesbian ladies in abundance.
They just don’t seem to exist “in the wild.” But entering “The Scene” can be pretty daunting too, so what’s a girl to do? When I first came out I thought the hard part was over, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. And I was so confused!
The gay scene has so many sub-categories in most cities, and although I hate categorisation, stereotyping is very different. As a group of people who have inevitably struggled with their identity and sexuality, we definitely have a culture of sub-categories within LGBT culture, and this is true throughout the world. In general, when out and about, we tend to put on somewhat of a front, which can result in quite the mix of lesbians. (Again, I’ll give you a minute to have a think about that.)
Essentially, sometimes the person you’re trying to present to the world doesn’t quite translate, and there is no exception when it comes to the bisexual and lesbian community. So stereotyped subcultures tend to abound.
Personally, I get offended if I get called a lipstick lesbian, as I’ve been trying really hard not to look straight so that I can fit in with “My People,” but equally I don’t know if I could pick a category that I’d feel happy to be stuck in. I thought the term “Dyke” was offensive when I first entered gay-land, but apparently it’s the lady-lover’s “N Word.” Now I’m Out, I’m in, and it’s common to playfully call your friends dykes without being punched square in the face.
Now after much research within the lesbian scenes throughout the world (it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!) I’ve playfully narrowed it down to 5 main categories of lesbian that are found on most scenes, from Brighton to Barcelona, Cardiff to California and Stockholm to Sydney. So here they are, for your enjoyment—the 5 Main Types Of Scene Lesbian:
Now describing someone as a butch lesbian doesn’t mean they’re mannish, that’s a common misconception. They just have a slightly more swag about them and probably a knack for some sort of construction trade or technical computer skills.
They can nod in that way that makes you stare slightly longer than socially acceptable and have absolutely no fear of hot lesbian barmaids, who terrify me, personally.
I mean, who can order a drink from someone that beautiful without accidentally buying the whole bar a round? I spent a happy year dating someone my sister called a butch. She had short red hair, wore men’s clothing and played the guitar, and had me besotted. Butch Girls know how to kick back, and that’s a rare quality in a lesbian.
Now there’s no denying the attraction to this type of woman. Killer body, obviously. Thighs that define why you became a lesbian. The ability to kick your ass at anything from football to beer-pong.
Although usually on some sort of super-food diet, life is never dull when you’re dating an Athletic. One day you’re turning a game of bowling into a relationship-defining activity (God, let them win, or prepare for wrath and sulking) and the next you’re spending date night watching WNBA matches in the pub with expensive lager and cheap nuts
I’m a twin (Yes, also gay. No, we won’t be in your “movie”), therefore I have an in-built competitive edge myself, so I find dating athletes keeps me on my toes nicely. They’ll have you up early in the morning and tend to favor sharing showers, so there’s no point in pursuing one of these ladies if you’re shy.
The Athlete can be found on the dance-floor with sensible shoes and a bottle of beer, only to be approached if you have a decent knowledge of the Olympic line-up and at least one subscription to a sports magazine, preferably skiing or similar. Although watch out— they’re rarely single and are most likely dating another member of their hockey/baseball team.
Not to be confused with the Butch, the Boy-Babe is a delicate creature. Small features and masters of the “hair flick”, these girls can turn even the most confident lesbian into a cowering, needy mess.
Usually focused on their careers, you’ll spot these ladies on their laptops at coffee shops and multitasking on the underground. And while most lesbian couples hate being asked, “which one of you is the boy?” these girls are proud to admit to wearing the trousers. Or the grey, pinstriped trouser-suit, to be exact.
Please note: not all Boy-Babes have short hair. Sometimes it’s disguised as a choppy fringe or quirky layers. But it’s the “hair flick” that’s the key here. Come on... you all know what I’m talking about.
That “Oops, my hair got into my eyes so now I have to make your knees melt” sorta hair flick. I tried to master it myself once. I looked like I’d had a stroke and gave myself mild whiplash. Let’s never speak of it again.
To date a Boy-Babe, usually you’re happy to take a back seat and you use texting as your main form of communication. They’re addicted to Twitter, networking and can’t cook.
The idea of foundation and blusher is a foreign concept to them, they’ll sometimes use some tinted moisturiser and clear mascara at most. But damn, I’ve yet to meet one that doesn’t have perfect skin. Or doesn’t own a Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt.
I went on a date with a Boy-Babe once. She was skittish, difficult to engage with on a personal level and best left to those who read The Economist and know what a bit-coin is. Which I don’t. And never, ever will.
The Lipstick Lesbian
Ah, the Lipstick Lesbian. You can rarely spot them “in the wild” as they blend in so well. Contrary to popular belief, these girls aren’t all maxi-dresses and shiny jewellery, but more likely to wear impossibly well fitting skinny jeans and casual yet expensive tops.
Lipstick Lesbian is a misleading term, I mean who wears lipstick any more? But flavoured gloss is a must, and they probably follow high fashion or write a blog. And own a hair scarf thing, and actually know how to wear it.
Usually nonchalant and definitely high maintenance, dating a Lipstick Lesbian is a full time commitment. You’ll need to send flowers, remember your two-week anniversary and get along with their sisters.
Oh, and their friend’s opinion of you is of utmost importance, so be prepared to impress. Although this requires some skill... The Lipstick Lesbian is the most likely of any category to keep half their exes as friends, and the other half of their circle probably fancy them desperately.
Likely found on display in the most public part of the gay bar, attracting attention from gay men and women alike, these girls are always popular and never alone. If you choose to fall for one of these, be prepared to have some serious competition.
God help you if you fall for one of these. Considered top of the Lesbian Food-Chain, Alphas are terrifying, addictive and an incredibly rare breed. I was once in a lesbian bar in Barcelona when one of these walked in, and the whole place stood still. And she didn’t even seem to notice!
Tall, slim, with perfectly styled, short platinum blonde hair, she was wearing a loose, cap sleeved Metallica top and I don’t think she’d ever had to buy her own drink in her whole life.
Swanning through the crowd, her sharp jaw jutted out, piercing eyes ignoring everything but her iPhone, this example of an Alpha is typical. They’re unnervingly confident, impossible to talk to and can make a grown woman stutter just by looking through you.
They’re probably in some quirky niche job, effortlessly successful and only shop online, at vintage stores, or look like they’re sponsored by Abercrombie and Fitch.
I’m afraid that’s all the information I have on the Alpha Lesbian, as I’ve never actually spoken to one in real life. They actually make me hide behind my pint. Or my sister. They usually travel with one friend or even alone, and are rumoured to make a sport out of seducing straight women when bored. Although you can’t begrudge them that... The more of them turned, the better!
Is this how straight people feel all the time? I'm surprised they're even functioning.
I don’t know what lesbian culture looked like in the 2000s because I was busy cosplaying a heterosexual, but if you’d asked me to draw it, I might have done a woman with short hair, dungarees and Birkenstocks (I know, but bear with me).
As the years went on, maybe I would have quoted The Real L Word or shown you a photo of Ellen and Portia De Rossi, or flung you a copy of something by Sarah Waters.
There was obviously more – so much more – but you had to look for it, or at least I did. It didn't feel as though there were so many cultural hallmarks to cling onto. Lesbian culture wasn’t exactly mainstream.
Lesbian culture today, though, is something else entirely. Or, more specifically, lesbian culture in the past year or so has updated and expanded into something tangible, rather than only existing in niche factions. Lesbian culture today is Villanelle threatening Eve with a knife in her own home. It’s the glove from Carol. It’s the entire cast of Ocean’s 8 and their outfits.
It’s Rachel Weisz's spit. It’s Cara Delevingne's exes. It’s Janelle Monae's videos. It’s Chloë Sevigny brandishing an axe and walking slowly down the stairs in Lizzie. It’s cheekbones and vests and monochrome and slicked back hair.
It’s Blake Lively’s suits. It’s inviting your exes over for vegan food. It’s comparing Venus placements before you meet. It’s reenacting Duck Butter. It is obviously Cate Blanchett.
It can be neatly summed up via the "reimagined Coachella" tweet below from Jill Gutowitz, which was doing the rounds last week, and which includes references that might look random to Steve down the road, but have an invisible lesbian thread tying the whole thing together, just like Hideko was tied up in The Handmaiden.
Rachel Weisz's spit
Disobedience (2018) is a depressing, grey film that somehow makes north London look even more drab than it already is. There are, however, lesbians in it, one of whom is Rachel McAdams
(Regina George coming back as a repressed London lez is a brilliant and astonishing occurrence that nobody talks about enough), and the other is Rachel Weisz. Not much happens, apart from this one sex scene, in which Rachel spits into the other Rachel’s mouth and immediately becomes iconic.
In an exceptional piece for The Outline, published last spring, Mikaella Clements writes about lesbian culture and the ways in which it overlaps and diverges from that of gay men. She calls it "Dyke camp" and points to it as a burgeoning aesthetic movement in music, film and fashion. "Dyke camp overlaps with camp in some areas, certainly," she writes.
"But in others it is completely different; it has its own electric vision. If camp is the love of the unnatural, dyke camp is the love of the ultra-natural, of nature built up and reclaimed, of clothes that could be extensions of the body, of desire made obsessive, of lesbian gestures or mannerisms maximised by a thousand."
Clements goes on to explain that what makes "dyke camp" separate from straightforward lesbian eroticism – like, say, Madonna, Britney and Christina snogging on the VMA stage in 2003 – is that it is entirely devoid of the male gaze. "Dyke camp is explicitly dominated by women who know just how to touch and want other women," she points out.
"If straight women put on public displays of lesbianism for male attention, dyke camp takes private lesbian contact and makes it public – for other women. Dyke camp is less about having a hot body, and more about knowing how to use it."
That piece from Clements arrived in May last year, just as Janelle Monae had dropped Dirty Computer, two months after Hayley Kiyoko released her debut album and a handful of months after St Vincent's Masseduction. In the time since, we’ve seen the release of Killing Eve, Lizzie,
The Favourite, Disobedience, The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Rafiki. What all these things have in common is that they centre queer experiences for the female gaze specifically. Rachel Weisz marching towards
Olivia Colman in an 18th century trouser suit and choking her against the bedpost in The Favourite, for example, is a such a queer movement that, in the space of three seconds, it became an iconic moment for lesbian culture.
What I mean to say is that the sheer amount of high-tier lesbian action and storylines that have graced our screens, timelines and headphones over the past year has watered the gardens of a culture that needed it – just like all cultures do. Sure, lesbian iconography has existed long into the past (if you haven't seen the 1981 film Liquid Sky, or trawled through the archives of cult lez mag
On Our Backs then stop what you're doing immediately and do that), and it will exist long into the future. But arguably, until now, it has never been so mainstream, so accessible, so delivered with a wink and a nudge, rather than presented as niche, underground or almost shameful.
If Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart – two of the most well-known actresses of the 21st century – can have lesbian sex in a literal horse barn in a film that is projected onto cinema screens across the entire world, I'd say that things are looking up. Here's to 2019.
Meet the Women Rescuing Brighton’s Beaches – and Find Out How to do the Same
We talked to Oceans 8, the girl gang who have come together to fight for a more environmentally conscious Brighton
Brighton has always been known for its freewheeling yet eco-conscious culture. There’s the sizeable LGBTQ+ population, which feels palpable when you walk down the rainbow-lined city streets, pass the many gay bars and pubs or visit the city’s massive annual Pride event.
Then there are the student and artist populations, there in part due to the various universities and art schools, brilliant art galleries and year-round cultural calendar including Brighton Fringe.
Brighton is the only place in the UK to have ever voted in a Green Party MP – heroine of environmentalism Caroline Lucas, who has instilled a top-down eco-friendly ethos. For these reasons and more, plus its situation by the sea, for many hippy Brighton is Britain’s answer to San Francisco in America.
One person who agrees with this comparison is Melanie Rees. “I’ve lived in Brighton for 20 years and I once lived in San Francisco for 18 months. I think they both have a very dynamic energy. It feels safe and encouraging to try something new.”
Last year, Melanie did just that, setting up an organisation called Oceans 8, which is a supergroup of women who, like herself, work in environmentalism and are passionate about protecting the ocean.
“I saw the movie poster for the real Oceans 8, and read that it was this film about eight top female robbers with different skills, and I thought ‘hey, we’ve got our own version of that!’ – women who have spent many years encouraging recycling in the city, and finding cool ways to protect the ocean.”
One of the members of the Oceans 8 Brighton gang is Amy Gibson, who runs Pier2Pier, a beach clean that takes place monthly on the seafront and encourages anyone to come along and pick up plastic and other litter before it washes into the ocean and becomes a danger to marine life.
There’s even a silent disco for while you’re cleaning. Melanie, who runs the Green Centre, an environmental education project in Brighton, always shows up to the beach clean to give out up to date info about how to recycle, and another member of the group, marine environment consultant Atlanta Cook, comes along to teach people about marine conservation. Really,
Oceans 8 is about sharing information and expertise but their goal is to do whatever they can – small or big – to reduce the 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped into the ocean each year.
Three Things Straight People Don’t Understand About Lesbian Culture
“Heteronormativity” is an abstract concept with various definitions, but for gay people, it generally refers to most societies’ assumption that heterosexuality is the norm and that men and women should have binary, traditional gender roles.
Put bluntly; it’s why many people still ask of lesbian relationships, “Which one is the man?” And it’s why many straight people complain, “Why does she dress like a man?” as if pants and a tie were the exclusive domain of masculinity.
This heteronormative understanding of sexuality and gender is embedded in and woven into the fabric of state and social institutions in ways that are insidious and discriminatory.
Heteronormative societies not only privilege heterosexual relationships and both overtly or covertly discriminate against gay and lesbian couples (and single people), they are also deeply uncomfortable with any perceived blurring of gender lines or gender roles, to the extent that sexuality-based hate crimes largely stem from the victim’s perceived failure to fit into an “appropriate” gender presentation.
While straight people understand the concept of homophobia, most probably don’t understand the relationship between homophobia and heteronormativity.
That heteronormativity—in particular, society’s strict interpretation of gender expression—is often the root and homophobia a symptom, consider that Ellen DeGeneres may be successful wearing a vest and sneakers on TV, but a woman on the street wearing the same outfit may face discrimination. If that woman wore a dress and had long hair, however, she would receive different treatment even if both were known to be gay.
Gay and straight women alike are often punished by society and employers for not wearing makeup, dresses, or high heels, or for being outspoken because these things fall outside the desired gender presentation/roles for women.
As a result, straight women have a better understanding than straight men of how heteronormativism affects society’s treatment of individuals, but may not realize the extent to which it affects lesbians.
Straight men who fit society’s gender roles may have very little understanding at all of the heteronormative currents swirling around them. Until society is able to mo
ve away from a heteronormative model of conceptualizing relationships and gender expression, heteronormativity will continue to undercut lesbians socially and professionally at best, and put them at risk of assault at worst.
In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation.
There is a historical coincidence between capitalism, urbanism, and an extreme gender distinction, accompanied by a strict segregation between males and females. In a rural agricultural culture, both men and women labored year round, both genders contributed the the family’s prosperity and survival. The income came from the harvests, but once income came from wages in factories, gender inequality took on new dimension
Men were paid more than women, not necessarily because they did better jobs but because low wages for women and children incrusted profits for factory owners. New forms of wealth also impacted the middle class as well, giving the men enough income to support a wife who, in emulation of upper class women, did not earn an income.
As men took a larger role in the business/industry based system, they became more powerful, but their behavior was more carefully regulated in a modern world that needed both fiscal and sexual discipline. Because men were given higher status in society and their behavior had more impact upon the social system, only male sexuality was regulated.
Lesbians were usually not recognized as such and were more often labeled as “spinsters” and pitied for their condition and did not come under legal control. Romantic friendships among women and “Boston Marriages” between women were tolerated, doubtless because such friendships provided women with emotional sustenance and such unions were good places for “old maids,”
or left-over women, to live out their lives. In fact, the nineteenth century was safer than other centuries for lesbians who, like gay men, had been put to death as late as in the seventeenth century. Lesbians were left out of gay liberation, which was mostly a male movement.
Lesbians had a prior commitment to women’s liberations but in the early years of the Women’s Movement, lesbians were marginalized in favor of heterosexual women in order to give the movement wider appeal to the masses.
The relationship between lesbians and feminism was turbulent and it took years for mainstream feminists to accept lesbians as part o their cause. Lesbians realized that gay men were part of the male patriarchy and were complicit in the subjugation of women.
It was a clear case of gender (male) trumping (lesbian) sexuality. Men, regardless of sexual preference, would bond with men and, even though lesbians had long identified with the gay culture and had allied themselves politically with male homosexuals, men, no matter what their sexual preferences, would not be supportive of women.
Lesbians had not suffered the persecution that gay men had. “Straight” men had high opinions of “femme” lesbians and had fantasies about a pair of such ladies making love. Therefore, lesbians were no threat to masculinity or to the family or to male dominance, and the lesbians who were “butch” exhibited all the appropriate attributes of the male bureaucratic personality: objective, logical and unexcitable.
Nevertheless, according to the late Jill Johnson, author of Lesbian Nation, “in the 1950s, there was no lesbian identity except a criminal one.”
Because male domination of women is in the interest of men, whatever their sexual preference, all men oppress women. Rich puts forward the influential concept of what she called “compulsory heterosexuality,” meaning that the entire social and economic system forced heterosexuality upon the population through laws and customs.
Homosexual behavior, everything from certain sex acts (among men) to mode of dress (for men), was outlawed and homosexuals were stigmatized and shamed. Heterosexuality, therefore, is not a personal preference or a religious dictate but a political institution that works to the disadvantage of all women. Here is where Rich connects the cause of the gays and lesbians with the feminist movement.
By denying women full equality, women’s lives are limited and their dependence upon men is increased. Rich’s position was an interesting one, considering that for over a decade, feminists had kept a distance from lesbians, fearing that feminism would be even more stigmatized.
But by the late seventies, stigmatization had already occurred (feminists hated men and didn’t shave their legs, etc.) and the feminist movement became more inclusive of homosexual women because they were sisters in inequality.
The legal and social inequality of (homosexuals) lesbians and women keeps straight men in power and maintains an imbalance of privileges through the political system. Heterosexuality is “naturalized,” that is, the culture insists that heterosexuality is the “norm” or is normal and that any deviation from the “natural” organization of male and female is “unnatural.”
By making lesbianism pathological, heterosexual masculinity is privileged. Lesbianism, then, is a resistance to the patriarchy, according to Rich, even though “lesbian” is a term used against women. (We continue to see this label applied to Hillary Clinton.) Lesbian theory in America was straightforward and practical and, in its way, reformist and assimilationist but every nation produced a different version of lesbian theory.
The legal and social inequality of (homosexuals) lesbians and women keeps straight men in power and maintains an imbalance of privileges through the political system. Heterosexuality is “naturalized,” that is, the culture insists that heterosexuality is the “norm” or is normal and that any deviation from the “natural” organization of male and female is “unnatural.”
By making lesbianism pathological, heterosexual masculinity is privileged. Lesbianism, then, is a resistance to the patriarchy, according to Rich, even though “lesbian” is a term used against women.
I(We continue to see this label applied to Hillary Clinton.) Lesbian theory in America was straightforward and practical and, in its way, reformist and assimilationist but every nation produced a different version of lesbian theory.
In France, a nation that was not open to extending equality to women, feminism was, by necessity, less practical or more theoretical. The late French feminist Monique Wittig, stated that lesbianism and the term “woman” is possible only in a sexist society that is ruled by rigid sex roles and is characterized by male supremacy. “
Woman” and “man” are imaginary formations created and constructed by the culture in order to create power positions. What Wittig and Rich are saying is that the “identity” of “women,” “men,” “gays,” and “lesbians” is not natural but a cultural fiction, and this position was a radical change from the way in which the concept of “identity” had been used during the Civil Rights Movement in America.
Ideas Many Have About The Community
Lesbians stereotypes: you use them, lesbians use them, we all use them. Stereotypes simplify our thinking about lots of things, including lesbianism, but sometimes create huge misunderstandings about our little lesbian world. I’d like to help you get smart about lesbians because we are currently very cool, and we are also here to stay. It’s my goal to blow up some lesbian stereotypes while at the same time affirming others.
Let’s start by talking about what lesbian stereotypes actually are. A lesbian stereotype is an pre-formed idea about lesbians and how we live our lives that is generally accepted as truth... but isn’t always true.
As lesbians, we use stereotypes all the time to figure out how to fit in with our little lesbian nation. For example, the “late-to-life” lesbian is moving from the culture of the straight world into lesbian life and culture. We can use stereotypes initially to learn how to fit in, but then we need to move past that and evolve into being our authentic and individual lesbian selves.
Ellen DeGeneres brought the lesbian nation out of the closet with her when she came out on national TV in 1997 during the fourth season of her show Ellen. Her very public coming out pushed lesbian stereotypes to the forefront in a new way, and her celebrity lifestyle still remains pertinent to this discussion today.
Ellen has helped elevate our “cool” factor, but not all lesbians are celebrities. We won’t all be invited to star on shows like “The L Word” or “Orange Is The New Black.” We want to be invited — even if it’s just to sit on the set — but we won’t be, and that’s OK.
We also won’t get to host the Oscars, or marry someone like Portia. That is really OK as well, because most of us don’t actually want to live “celesbian” lifestyles which represent one of our newer lesbian stereotypes. Most of us just want a normal lifestyle that allows us to marry, work, raise children, take care of the people we love, enjoy our lives — and not in fear.
So when it comes to lesbian stereotypes, what would Ellen say? She might start by saying that the word lesbian, unlike the word woman, does not have “man” in it. Therefore, it is simple to see that lesbians don’t feel a big need to have a man in our lives.
With that in mind, let’s start with lesbian stereotypes that are perpetuated and driven by men:
Men molested us as children and that turned us into lesbians.
Lesbians hate men.
In every lesbian couple, one has to be the man.
Lesbians just haven’t been with the right guy yet.
First off, statistically we know that a high percentage of women in the United States have been molested. This is terrible news, but it isn’t what “created” lesbians — and not all lesbians hate men. If we follow the logic of this to its conclusion, we would have many more lesbians in this country than straight women. Lesbians would, of course, love this but life doesn’t work that way.
Most lesbians adore many men, and in particular our dads, brothers, straight male friends and gay brothers. We don’t need to be men-haters to love women. Truthfully, the idea that the right guy and his penis will make us want to be with a guy is part of the “men in lesbian fantasyland” phenomenon, and it just isn’t happening. Sure, once in a while we lose one of our sisters to a guy, but that’s rare.
What stereotypes are next? Well, lesbian sex, of course!
Every lesbian uses strap-ons and dildos to take the place of men
No lesbians ever use strap-ons.
It’s not real sex if there’s no penis.
Every lesbian relationship has a butch and a femme, because someone has to be the man and someone has to be the woman
Lesbian bed death happens to all lesbian couples.
Lesbians want to have a threesome with your bi-girlfriend/boyfriend because we’ll have sex with any woman around. (Holy cow; people really believe this stuff?).
All right, are you ready? Here we go. Sex does not require intercourse or penetration by any means — whether you are straight or lesbian. Sex also doesn’t require an orgasm. Sex includes kissing, stroking, licking, touching and everything in between, and it can all be extremely enjoyable. I’ve experienced really wonderful sex with a woman that didn’t include an orgasm.
I’ve also had my lesbian world rocked by amazing orgasms that went on and on. That never happened when I was with a man. Never. Not once. Not even close. Oh, did I mention that I used to be married and have had my share of sex with men? It doesn’t begin to compare to sex with a woman.
So what’s real and what’s a myth? Well, lesbians do all of the “sex things” and lots more associated with lesbian stereotypes. Some lesbian couples are very butch/femme and love strap-ons and dildo play, but that’s not for all lesbian couples. It also isn’t required to be butch to enjoy sex toys. Lesbians of all kinds of persuasions enjoy them, and so do many straight women.
Lesbians experience more orgasms than heterosexual women. Lesbians enjoy more oral sex by a factor of 4. Statistically speaking, lesbian sex lasts a long, long time… and we love that! 39 percent of lesbians said sex lasted more than an hour, while only 15 percent of heterosexual woman agreed with this.
This study also showed that more women achieve orgasm with oral sex than any other means. Listen up boys: penetration does not get most women off. Many need oral sex to get to orgasm and that’s why lesbian sex rules the day. Whether we use a strap-on or not, lesbians are having a lot more great sex, more orgasms, more oral sex and longer-lasting sex.
While we’re on the topic of sex and male lesbian fantasyland, we don’t want to have sex with your girlfriend. We don’t want to watch our girlfriend having sex with your girlfriend while you watch us (ew). When you and your girlfriend walk into a lesbian bar acting like hustlers, no one wants to play your game. That’s your fantasy driven by too many porn movies and your desire to experiment and play.
What about Lesbian Bed Death? Bed death is real, but many think it’s just more interesting to talk about it from a lesbian perspective. However, I know many heterosexual couples that are experiencing bed death. It’s not uncommon but its existence is way overblown.
Lesbians all dress like men
All lesbians hate make-up, shaving, bras and dresses
All lesbians like camping
All butches have short hair and are overweight.
Lesbians are all into sports.
Now, this is a pretty solid list of lesbian stereotypes. Remember, we have stereotypes because, in part, they are true, but it is still just a part. How does this list break down? Well, I’ve never owned a Jeep or a Subaru.
I do own a Mazda Miata. It’s sporty, sexy and fun, fun, fun. It’s also a pretty good chick magnet. It’s not particularly sensible or practical, but it is just fun. I love that. I’ve got plenty of friends who own Subarus and Jeeps, so this lesbian stereotype holds some weight, but it’s not all-inclusive.
Lesbians can often take a more practical approach to life. Since we don’t have men to do the heavy lifting, we do tend to have more of a take-charge attitude than heterosexual women about some of our choices.
As a group, you’ll see more practical versus sexy clothing being worn. High femme clothing is often uncomfortable, impractical and you’re going to freeze your rear off in whatever it is. Then, of course, there are high heels or — even better — stilettos. Yes, come-hither shoes are very high femme or, lipstick lesbian, but those gals typically have a butch partner to do all the things they can’t take care of in those heels!
The rest of us need to be able to lift that bale and haul that barge. We go for sporty, practical, fun and easy. Lesbians do wear lingerie. We also wear make-up, bras and dresses. Almost every woman I have ever dated has worn these things! Some even wear high heels. I love a tall gal.
And we are not all into sports. I am not in the least. That being said, many lesbians enjoy both watching and playing them, and that’s great. Lots of straight women are into sports too, and sometimes those straight women confuse the queer girls who end up crushing on them. Hey, that’s life.
Okay. We are not recruiting straight women. Most dyed-in-the wool lesbians aren’t interested in dealing with the upheaval of a woman who is just coming out. It is really, really messy business to come out. It has to be done, but most of us are not out recruiting newbie lesbians. The toaster-oven payment plan created by Ellen is just not that great an incentive. Most of us only need one toaster anyway.
“The L Word” is representative of a sliver of lesbian life and lesbian couples. It showed a diversity of relationships; some butch/femme, some femme/femme, and some in between, but still, it has created more stereotypes for us that we did not need. Most women are not L Word lesbians. We are just like your sisters, wives and mothers — except lesbians.
There is some truth to the U-Haul thing I’m sorry to say and as the Gay Girl Dating Coach, I’m working hard to equip lesbians with the skills to say no to u-hauls and the women that use them.
As we become a more open society that is more accepting of alternatives to heterosexual love and relationships, hopefully this stereotype and really lousy relationship choice that still happens in our little lesbian world will go the way of the dodo bird.
Stereotypes are based on a grain of truth. We use them to make life easier for ourselves, but they limit how the general public views lesbians and the lives we lead. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, races and we live our lives in our own uniquely lesbian way. So instead of using lesbian stereotypes to box us up, get to know us. We are really special and very unique people. Just like you.
Why Do Butch Women Want to Act Like Men?
As a gay woman, here's a question I get asked a lot, "Why are butch women always acting like men?" Either that or, "Do butch women secretly want to be men?" The other biggie is, "Why would someone want to imitate a man when they were born a woman?"
What I've come to discover over the years is that in the lesbian community there is a lot of ignorance (and very often intolerance) in regards to those people who are interested in exploring the more masculine side of themselves.
I am not totally sure where all the ignorance and confusion comes from, but my guess is it stems from internalized homophobia—people who are concerned with how gays and lesbians look to the outside world. Not surprisingly, those very same people who have a problem with butch-looking women, also have a problem with the way flamboyant gay men are represented in the media.. But the truth is, these representations (whether they be male or female) are just part of the diversity of who we are as members of the LGBT community.. Here's something to consider. One of my best friends is a very butch-looking straight woman. She often gets mistaken for a lesbian, especially when she’s hanging out with me. She is very aware of how she presents herself to the world and how a lot of people perceive her. What she says is that her appearance has to do with being raised on a farm where overalls were the norm..
I think it is hugely important to acknowledge that we all have elements of masculine and feminine within us, no matter what our sexual orientation. Just like there is a Kinsey Scale of sexual orientation, which goes across a spectrum, there is a scale of gender expression.
It's my opinion that being butch, femme, or somewhere in between is an inborn trait, much like sexual orientation. Personally, I was a hardcore tomboy growing up and loved dressing like Annie Oakley, gun holster and all. I never liked wearing dresses or playing with dolls.
Even as I entered my teen years, instead of clothes shopping on a Saturday, I preferred to go horseback riding and spend my time afterward in the barn feeding the horses.
All of this behavior occurred long before I had any inkling of what being a lesbian was. I did not choose to be this way, it is simply who I was born to be.She could be right, but then again, her sister was raised on the same farm, and she is very feminine
One Size Does not fit All
Some butches love to work on cars, watch football, and undertake carpentry projects around the house. Others do not. Some femmes like to work on cars, watch football, and undertake carpentry projects around the house. All you have to do is turn on your TV and look at Ellen Degeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi to understand what I am talking about.
Ellen, Butch-looking to a fault, and Portia, the epitome of feminity—are both lesbians. So let's get it straight. Butches are women who just happen to feel comfortable expressing the masculine side of themselves.People who are born women and want to be men are called transsexuals.
Lesbians Make The BEST Parents
Two moms are better than one.
A recent study shows that kids raised by lesbian parents are not only as happy and well adjusted as heterosexual parents, but they also handle certain situations better, such as divorce. With these new findings, would lesbian moms make better parents? You could make a pretty compelling case for it. Here are five reasons that may well be true:
Their children are wanted.
It's not like lesbians generally get pregnant accidentally, or even without a great deal of forethought. The children of lesbians are wanted and prepared for. That counts for a lot, in terms of parenting commitment.
Their children learn tolerance, open-mindedness and gender-parity early.
Kids who are raised in lesbian households are exposed right away to the idea that all families don't look the same, that people sometimes make judgments that aren't right and unfair, and that tasks and behaviors sometimes thought to be gender-specific or gender-determined often are not.
Their children may learn early to stand up for what is right.
Although it may be hard to see a bright side of children being teased for having families that are "different," it may help them learn to take a stand for what they believe in and what they know to be true and just.
Their marriages were hard-won.
Let's face it, many of us straight parents take marriage — and the benefits that it can provide — for granted. Gay couples have worked hard for the right to marry. Though research shows that heterosexual and same-sex marriages don't fundamentally differ in terms of commitment and satisfaction, I would contend that having two parents who are keenly aware of the benefits of marriage, and commitment can only work to a family's benefit.
They can share the worry and mom-guilt equally.
I can't speak for you, but in my household, although my husband and I share parenting duties pretty equally, I carry darn near 100 percent of the worry and guilt load. It's me, the mother, who bolts upright in the middle of the night in a fit of panic for forgetting the school field trip or afterschool registration or birthday-party RSVP, while my husband blissfully sleeps through the night.
Imagine waking up in the middle of the night and finding your fellow mom also awake and concerned, and taking action. Yeah, see what my baseball-mom friend meant?
The evidence about female homosexuality in the ancient Greek world is limited, it being hardly mentioned in extant Greek literature Most surviving sources from the classical period come from Athens, and they are without exception written by men. At least among these Athenian men, the discussion and depiction of female homosexual activity seems to have been taboo Kenneth
Dover suggests that, due to the role played by the phallus in ancient Greek men's conceptions of sexuality, female homosexual love was not conceivable as a category to the authors of our surviving sources.
Nonetheless, there are a few references to female homosexuality in ancient Greek literature.
Two poets from the archaic period, Sappho and Alcman, have been interpreted as writing about female homosexual desire. Alcman wrote hymns known as partheneia,[note 1] which discuss attraction between young women. Though it is ambiguous, historians have considered the attraction in question to be erotic or sexual.At roughly the same time, Sappho's poems discuss her love for both men and women.
For instance, in Sappho's Ode to Aphrodite, the poet asks Aphrodite for aid in wooing another woman. It is noticeable that the fragment describes Sappho both giving to and receiving from the same partner, in contrast with the rigid active/passive partner dichotomy observed in Greek male homosexual relationships Only one fragment of Sappho's poetry, Sappho , contains a clear mention of female homosexual acts
In classical Athens, the idea of homosexual women is briefly mentioned in the Speech of Aristophanes in Plato's SymposiumLater references to female homosexuality in Greek literature include an epigram by Asclepiades, which describes two women who reject Aphrodite's "rules" but instead do "other things which are not seemly".
Dover comments on the "striking" hostility shown in the epigram to female homosexuality, contrasting it with Asclepiades' willingness to discuss his own homosexual desire in other works, suggesting that this apparent male anxiety about female homosexuality in ancient Greece is the reason for our paucity of sources discussing it.
In Greek mythology, the story of Callisto has been interpreted as implying that Artemis and Callisto were lovers.The myth of the Amazons has also been interpreted as referring to female homosexual activities.
Female-female relationships or sexual activities were occasionally depicted on Greek art. An early example of this is a plate from archaic Thera, which appears to show two women courting.An Attic red figure vase in the collection of the Tarquinia National Museum in Italy shows a kneeling woman fingering the genitals of another woman, in a rare example of sexual activities between women being explicitly portrayed in Greek art
Sappho is the most often mentioned example of an ancient Greek woman who may have actually engaged in female homosexual practices. Her sexuality has been debated by historians, with some such as Denys Page arguing that she was attracted to women, while others, such as Eva Stigers, arguing that the descriptions of love between women in Sappho's writings are not evidence for her own sexuality.
Some historians have gone so far as to argue that Sappho's circle were involved in female homosexuality as a kind of initiation ritual. The earliest evidence of Sappho's reputation for homosexual desire comes from the Hellenistic period, with a fragment of a biography found in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri which mentions that Sappho is criticised for being "gynaikerastria"
Similarly, some find evidence in Plutarch that Spartan women engaged in homosexual activities, though Plutarch wrote many centuries after classical Greece. In Plutarch's biography of Lycurgus of Sparta, part of his Parallel Lives, the author claims that older Spartan women formed relationships with girls that were similar to the erastes/eromenos relationships that were common between older and younger male Greeks
Sarah Pomeroy believes that Plutarch's depiction of homosexual relationships between Spartan women is plausible. For instance, she argues, in the girls' choirs that performed the partheneia of Alcman, homosexual relationships between the girls would have "flourished"
In medieval Europe, the Christian Church took a stricter view of same-sex relations between women. Penitentials, developed by Celtic monks in Ireland, were unofficial guidebooks which became popular, especially in the British Isles.
These books listed crimes and the penances that must be done for them. For example, "...he who commits the male crime of the Sodomites shall do penance for four years". The several versions of the Paenitentiale Theodori, attributed to Theodore of Tarsus, who became archbishop of Canterbury in the 7th century, make special references to lesbianism.
The Paenitentiale states, "If a woman practices vice with a woman she shall do penance for three years" Penitentials soon spread from the British Isles to mainland Europe. The authors of most medieval penitentials either did not explicitly discuss lesbian activities at all, or treated them as a less serious sin than male homosexuality
The Old French legal treatise Li livres de jostice et de plet (c. 1260) is the earliest reference to legal punishment for lesbianism akin to that for male homosexuality. It prescribed dismemberment on the first two offences and death by burning for the third: a near exact parallel to the penalty for a man, although what "dismemberment" could mean for a medieval woman is unknown.
In Spain, Italy, and the Holy Roman Empire, sodomy between women was included in acts considered unnatural and punishable by burning to death, although few instances are recorded of this taking place.[citation needeIn the Holy Roman Empire under Charles V, a law on sexual offences specifically prohibits sex acts between women
There exist records of about a dozen women in the medieval period who were involved in lesbian sex, as defined by Judith Bennett as same-sex genital contact. All of these women are known through their involvement with the courts, and were imprisoned or executed. An early example of a woman executed for homosexual acts occurred in 1477, when a girl in Speier, Germany, was drowned.
Not all women were so harshly punished, though. In the early fifteenth century, a Frenchwoman, Laurence, wife of Colin Poitevin, was imprisoned for her affair with another woman, Jehanne. She pleaded for clemency on the grounds that Jehanne had been the instigator and she regretted her sins, and was freed to return home after six months imprisonment. A later example, from Pescia in Italy, involved an abbess,
Sister Benedetta Carlini, who was documented in inquests between 1619 and 1623 as having committed grave offences including a passionately erotic love affair with another nun when possessed by a Divine male spirit named "Splenditello". She was declared the victim of a "diabolical obsession" and placed in the convent's prison for the last 35 years of her life
In the medieval Arab world, lesbianism[note was considered to be caused by heat generated in a woman's labia, which could be alleviated by friction against another woman's genitalia. Medieval Arabic medical texts considered lesbianism to be inborn: for instance, Masawaiyh wrote that a girl became a lesbian if her nurse ate specific foods, such as celery and rocket.
The earliest story about lesbianism in Arabic literature comes from the Encyclopedia of Pleasure, and tells the story of the love between a Christian and an Arab woman, and we know from the Fihrist, a tenth-century catalogue of works in Arabic, of writings about twelve other lesbian couples which have not survived.
For women to be mesollelot [women rubbing genitals against each other] with one another is forbidden, as this is the practice of Egypt, which we were warned against: "Like the practice of the land of Egypt ... you shall not do" (Leviticus 18:3). The Sages said [in the midrash of Sifra Aharei Mot 8:8–9], "What did they do? A man married a man, and a woman married a woman, and a woman married two men."
Even though this practice is forbidden, one is not lashed [as for a Torah prohibition] on account of it, since there is no specific prohibition against it, and there is no real intercourse. Therefore,is not forbidden to the priesthood because of harlotry, and a woman is not prohibited to her husband by this, since it is not harlotry.
But it is appropriate to administer to them lashings of rebellion [i.e., those given for violation of rabbinic prohibitions], since they did something forbidden. And a man should be strict with his wife in this matter, and should prevent women known to do this from coming to her or from her going to them.
Early Modern period
In early modern England, female homosexual behaviour became increasingly culturally visible. Some historians, such as Traub, have argued that this led to increasing cultural sanctions against lesbian behaviours. For instance, in 1709 Delariviere Manley published
The New Atlantis, attacking lesbian activities.[3 However, others, such as Friedli and Faderman have played down the cultural opposition to female homosexuality, pointing out that it was better tolerated than male homosexual activities.
Additionally, despite the social stigma, English courts did not prosecute homosexual activities between women, and lesbianism was largely ignored by the law in England. For instance, Mary Hamilton (the "Female Husband", as Henry Fielding's account of the case had it), while she was whipped for fraud, does not seem to have been considered to have committed any sex crimes by either the courts or the press at the time.
On the other hand, Terry Castle contends that English law in the eighteenth century ignored female homosexual activity not out of indifference, but out of male fears about acknowledging and reifying lesbianism.
The literature of the time attempted to rationalise some women's lesbian activities, commonly searching for visible indications of sapphic tendencies. In The New Atlantis, for instance, the "real" lesbians are depicted as being masculine.However, Craft-Fairchild argues that Manley – along with Cleland in Fanny Hill – failed to establish a coherent narrative of lesbians as anatomically distinct from other women, while Fielding in
The Female Husband instead focuses on the corruption of Hamilton's mind as leading to her homosexual acts and cross-dressing.This difficulty in establishing a narrative framework to fit female homosexuality into was acknowledged by Jonathan Swift in his writing for the Tatler in 1711, where he describes a woman having her virginity tested by a lion.
Despite the onlookers' failure to see anything unusual about the woman, the lion identified her as "no true Virgin".At t same time, writings which were positive, or potentially positive, about female homosexuality, drew on the languages both of female same-sex friendship, and of heterosexual romance, as there were at the time no widespread cultural motifs of homosexuality.
Only among the less respectable members of society does it seem that there was anything like a lesbian subculture. For instance, there was probably a lesbian subculture amongst dancers and prostitutes in eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Paris, and in eighteenth-century Amsterdam.
Laws against lesbianism were suggested but usually not created or enforced in early American history. In 1636, John Cotton proposed a law for Massachusetts Bay making sex between two women (or two men) a capital offense, but the law was not enacted It would have read, "
Unnatural filthiness, to be punished with death, whether sodomy, which is carnal fellowship of man with man, or woman with woman, or buggery, which is carnal fellowship of man or woman with beasts or fowls."In 1655, the Connecticut Colony passed a law against sodomy between women (as well as between men), but nothing came of this either. In 1779,
Thomas Jefferson proposed a law stating that, "Whosoever shall be guilty of rape, polygamy, or sodomy with man or woman shall be punished, if a man, by castration, if a woman, by cutting thro' the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch diameter at the least", but this did not become law either. However, in 1649 in Plymouth Colony, Sarah White Norman and Mary Vincent Hammon were prosecuted for "lewd behavior with each other upon a bed"; their trial documents are the only known record of sex between female
English colonists in North America in the 17th century.Hammon was only admonished, perhaps because she was younger than sixteen, but in 1650 Norman was convicted and required to acknowledge publicly her "unchaste behavior" with Hammon, as well as warned against future offenses This is the only prosecution for female homosexual activities in United States history.
Close intimate relationships were common among women in the mid-19th century. This was attributed to strict gender roles that led women to expand their social circle to other women for emotional support.
These relationships were expected to form close between women with similar socioeconomic status. Since there was not defined language in regards to lesbianism at the time, these relationships were seen to be homosocial. Though women developed very close emotional relationships with one another, marriage to men was still the norm.
Yet there is evidence of possible sexual relationships to develop beyond an emotional level. Documents from two African-American women use terms describing practices known as "bosom sex." While these women practice heterosexuality with their husbands, it is still believed their relationship was romantic and sexual.
Late 19th century and early 20th century saw the flourish of "Boston marriages" in New England. The term describes romantic friendship between two women, living together and without any financial support by men. Many lasting romantic friendships began at women's colleges. This kind of relationship actually predates New England's custom, there being examples of this in the United Kingdom and continental Europe since the 18th century.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries also saw an increase in lesbian visibility in France, both in the public sphere and in representations of lesbians in art and literature. Fin de siecle society in Paris included bars, restaurants and cafes frequented and owned by lesbians, such as Le Hanneton and le Rat Mort, Private salons, like the one hosted by the American expatriate Nathalie Barney, drew lesbian and bisexual artists and writers of the era,
including Romaine Brooks, Renee Vivien, Colette, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, and Radclyffe Hall. One of Barney's lovers, the courtesan Liane de Pougy, published a best-selling novel based on their romance called l'Idylle Saphique (1901)
Many of the more visible lesbians and bisexual women were entertainers and actresses. Some, like the writer Colette and her lover Mathilde de Morny, performed lesbian theatrical scenes in cabarets that drew outrage and censorship.
Descriptions of lesbian salons, cafes and restaurants were included in tourist guides and journalism of the era, as well as mention of houses of prostitution that were uniquely for lesbians. Toulouse Lautrec created paintings of many of the lesbians he met, some of whom frequented or worked at the famed Moulin Rouge.
Later 20th and early 21st centuries (1969-present)
The Stonewall Riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community,[note 4] including lesbians, against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States
Political lesbianism originated in the late 1960s among second wave radical feminists as a way to fight sexism and compulsory heterosexuality. Sheila Jeffreys, a lesbian, helped to develop the concept when she co-wrote "Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism"  with the Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group
They argued that women should abandon support of heterosexuality and stop sleeping with men, encouraging women to rid men "from your beds and your heads." While the main idea of political lesbianism is to be separate from men, this does not necessarily mean that political lesbians have to sleep with women; some choose to be celibate or identify as asexual.
The Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group definition of a political lesbian is "a woman identified woman who does not fuck men". They proclaimed men the enemy and women who were in relationships with them collaborators and complicit in their own oppression.
Heterosexual behavior was seen as the basic unit of the patriarchy's political structure, with lesbians who reject heterosexual behavior therefore disrupting the established political system. Lesbian women who have identified themselves as "political lesbians" include Ti-Grace Atkinson, Julie Bindel, Charlotte Bunch, Yvonne Rainer, and Sheila Jeffreys.
Lesbian feminism, which was most influential from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s (primarily in North America and Western Europe), encourages women to direct their energies toward other women rather than men, and often advocates lesbianism as the logical result of feminism. Some key thinkers and activists in lesbian feminism are Charlotte Bunch,
Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Marilyn Frye, Mary Daly, Sheila Jeffreys and Monique Wittig (although the latter is more commonly associated with the emergence of queer theory). As with Gay Liberation, the lesbian feminism understanding of the lesbian potential in all women was at odds with the minority-rights framework of the Gay Rights movement.
Many women of the Gay Liberation movement felt frustrated at the domination of the movement by men and formed separate organisations; some who felt gender differences between men and women could not be resolved developed "lesbian separatism", influenced by writings such as Jill Johnston's 1973 book Lesbian Nation.
Disagreements between different political philosophies were, at times, extremely heated, and became known as the lesbian sex wars, clashing in particular over views on sadomasochism, prostitution and transsexuality.
The Lesbian Avengers began in New York City in 1992 as "a direct action group focused on issues vital to lesbian survival and visibility." Dozens of other chapters quickly emerged worldwide, a few expanding their mission to include questions of gender, race, and class. Newsweek reporter Eloise Salholz, covering the 1993 LGBT March on Washington
believed the Lesbian Avengers were so popular because they were founded at a moment when lesbians were increasingly tired of working on issues, like AIDS and abortion, while their own problems went unsolved. Most importantly, lesbians were frustrated with invisibility in society at large, and invisibility and misogyny in the LGBT community.
The secret language of lesbian love
Over a period of a few months, the BBC spoke to dozens of young lesbians in a country where homosexuality is illegal. They told us about their day-to-day lives and how they use secret memes to connect with each other on social media platforms and chat apps.
We have substituted those images with that of a violet for the purpose of this report. The violet does not belong to the group in Burundi or - to the best of our knowledge - any other LGBT+ groups in East Africa or the Great Lakes. The peak of the midday sun has passed.
It’s mild enough to kick a ball around, not oppressive enough to feel faint in the heat.
It’s a great day to meet friends in the park. The women are in high spirits, chatting animatedly, playfully sketching patterns on each other using body paint, and sharing a picnic.
They meet once a month, in different places. Sometimes in public but mostly behind closed doors. Most of them are wearing jeans and T-shirts in various colours, patterns and styles. The T-shirts are important because printed on each one is a discreet, matching symbol. It’s an in-joke – a sign of their identity and independence. Something only they understand.
This could be a group of friends in any park, in any country.
But this is Burundi, where being who they are is against the law.
The women, who are all in their 20s and early 30s, haven’t known each other long.
“We’d be in so much trouble if people know who we are,” Nella says.
They could be fined or imprisoned. But there is also the danger that people within their own communities may turn on them.
The gender-identity movement undermines lesbians
Pippa Fleming is an African-American lesbian performance artist, writer and spiritual practitioner. She has dedicated her life to chronicling and preserving the art, culture and achievements of black lesbians. She fears that a war is being waged against female-to-female love and that lesbian identity is fighting for its life.
There’s an African proverb that states: “If you don’t know where you come from, how do you know where you are going?” Some of the most powerful black people known for their political analysis, social commentary, activism and legacy during the civil-rights, gay-rights and feminist movements were black lesbians. Oops! Did I just say “lesbian”, that dirty seven-letter word that has the GBTQI community scrambling to apologise for or afraid to associate itself with?
Lesbianism is as ancient as the cosmos, yet it is a threat to patriarchy because it does not centre males, nor does it seek male wisdom, power or validation. Instead of finding solace within our community against the threat of misogyny and homophobia, lesbian identity is being written out.
When black lesbians attempt to navigate pop culture’s “gender-identity matrix”, searching for their kindred’s place in history, they often come up empty-handed. What matrix, you ask? It’s that maze that has people running around in circles, as they attempt to reconcile new language and theories forced upon them by the elites in education and the corporatocracy, like “cisgender”, which means you were cool with the sex you were born in, or that biology is irrelevant and has no connection to one’s concept of self.
Whether it be in feminist studies, gender studies or the history of gay pride, black lesbians often go without their names or sexual orientation being mentioned. The trend towards claiming that “all sexuality is fluid” and to brand everyone and everything queer and transgender, means black lesbians are rendered invisible.
A queer identity embraces sexual and intimate relationships with males, females, and intersex people who identify as transgender, gender-queer, trans masculine or gay, just to name a few. My, we are a diverse crowd.
In this current wave of “free to me” gender politics, any man with a penis can claim to be a female and expect entrance into female-segregated spaces, such as locker rooms, sports teams or colleges, without question. But don’t twist it; the generosity does not flow in both directions. Just ask the women who crashed the party at the male lido in Hampstead Heath in London in May:
they were promptly escorted out by the police. Lesbian identity is now being dubbed as exclusionary or transphobic. You’re damn right it’s exclusive: lesbians have a right to say no to the phallus, no matter how it’s concealed or revealed. Imagine if white folks ran around claiming they were black or demanded access to our affinity spaces. They would be called deluded racist fools!
Shush, I hear the snickering. Who’s this tired-ass dyke that nobody wants to hear from? And why hasn’t she dropped any names? I like luring in my audience with provocative statements and short-circuiting any thought process that may prevent critical thinking.
Do the names Stormé DeLarverie, Audre Lorde or Angela Davis, ring that black gay history bell? The more important question, especially for those claiming to be the “down”, Black Panther activist type is this. Why don’t you know the roles they played? Without their dauntless activism and allyship, none of us would have the vocabulary of resistance or a notion of what’s required to create tangible alliances and an empowered LGBTQI community.
Let me drop a few herstorical truths.
Stormé DeLarverie, born in 1920: drag king entertainer, MC and bouncer. What made her a trailblazer? During the Harlem Renaissance she was the only black butch lesbian to emcee and perform in The Jewel Box Revue, North America’s first racially integrated drag review. Most infamous moment: she was the dyke who threw the first punch at a police officer during the Stonewall riot in New York in 1969.
“It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil-rights disobedience—it wasn’t no damn riot,” she said. Audre Lorde, born in 1934: author, poet, librarian and academician. What made her a maverick? She focused the discussion on differences, as well as the complexities of a black lesbian identity that included internalised racism and homophobia.
“Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference—those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are black, who are older—know that survival is not an academic skill,” she said. “It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
Angela Davis, born in 1944: prison abolitionist, academic and author. What makes her a saint? She survived incarceration for legally acquiring firearms that were discharged in a courtroom takeover in 1970, where four people were killed. She is also the co-founder of Critical Resistance, an organisation dedicated to abolishing the prison-industrial complex. “
As a Black woman, my politics and political affiliation are bound up with and flow from participation in my people’s struggle for liberation, and with the fight of oppressed people all over the world against American imperialism,” she said.
Stormé, Audre and Angela were born during the Jim Crow era of segregation in America. A time when war was declared against the black female body and she was considered chattel. Undaunted by the collective trauma of the era, these three women found their voices and created a legacy of activism, with receipts.
These three black females also came from generations for which “queer” was merely an epithet, not a community of folks who see themselves as having partners of any sex or gender identification. They claimed a lesbian identity because they unapologetically knew who they were.
The GBTQI community has used the genius, bravery and intelligence of these black lesbians to strengthen and fortify the modern gender-identity movement—without mentioning their lesbianism. That’s like asking the question, “what’s in peanut butter?” and failing to mention peanuts as the main ingredient!
The erasure of the black female’s intelligence and contributions to American history ain’t nothing new. Remember the movie “Hidden Figures”? You can bet your history teacher didn’t mention or know that black women were crucial to the white man landing on the Moon.
Come on, people, it’s time to have a “Come to Jesus” moment, where we tell the truth and shame the devil. If you aren’t hip to the historical racism, sexism and homophobia that the black American lesbian has faced and continues to battle, try picking up a book like “This Bridge Called My Back”, “Sister Outsider” or “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism” and you’ll get the picture.
Patriarchy and sex-based oppression are real, and they remain the driving force behind the invisibility of black lesbians. The gender-identity movement’s attempt to rebrand the lesbian as queer, and the pronouncement that “anyone can be a lesbian”, are nothing short of erasure.
And this is not happenstance. The educational establishment was the lead car when it came shaking up women’s studies and replaced it with gender studies. That damn radical feminism was a thorn in the side of patriarchy and they needed some heavy-duty tweezers to pull it out.
All those trickle-down theories of gender trumping sex strike like lighting and folks are charged by the idea that they can identify however they please, even if it means co-opting lesbian identity. We don’t call a cat a dog simply because both have four legs. Nope, we easily appreciate their differences and know dogs have owners and cats have staff.
There’s a reason for every one of those letters in the LGBTQI acronym. Each group fought tirelessly to be recognised as vital members of a community that is expanding. As activists and allies, it is our responsibility to educate each generation about the torchbearers that preceded them and to name their unique identities. By taking the time to name who we are and our contributions to society, we have a chance of finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The idea that trans men are “lesbians in denial” is demeaning and wrong
Recently a journalist, Donna Minkowitz, wrote an important article in Village Voice, a New York newspaper, making a noteworthy apology. Back in the 1990s Ms Minkowitz had written a long article for the same newspaper about Brandon Teena—the inspiration for the film “Boys Don’t Cry” (pictured, above).
The article was based on the premise that this young trans man, who was raped and murdered because he was trans, was in reality a lesbian in denial.
Trans people are as diverse as the non-trans population, writes Charlie Kiss, a political activist
Ms Minkowitz now sees that her perspective distorted her reporting and in doing so grossly misrepresented what happened and Teena’s identity. She fell into the common misconception that trans men are “really women” who don’t like their bodies and have been indoctrinated into a hatred of womanhood. As a trans man who struggled for 18 years trying to be a lesbian, I am grateful for the apology.
I know I could not have tried harder or longer to be a true lesbian. Ironically, because I had never had sex with a man, I was sometimes regarded as the “gold standard” by other lesbians, even looked up to. But deep down, painfully, I desired a man’s body more than anything. I continually visualised having a man’s body. I tried not to. It made me deeply ashamed. And it was confusing because I, like most lesbians, considered men’s bodies unattractive.
I was also a strong feminist and had swallowed the myth that trans people conformed to stereotypes and lived in strict gender roles. The reality is that trans people are as diverse, and conforming or non-conforming to gender roles, as the non-trans population. We really are not special.
But the insurmountable difficulty caused by my having a female body was that sex was hugely problematic. It eventually dawned on me that sexuality, and sensuality, permeate every aspect of our lives. I felt uncomfortable being perceived as a woman, not only by straight men, but also by other lesbians—by everyone, in fact. It felt strange having a woman’s body; as if it wasn’t really mine.
This was in spite of all the affirmation of women’s beauty around me. In my thoughts, my mind would always present me to myself as a man. I was hugely influenced by lesbian separatism—I lived as a teenager for over a year at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, set up in 1981, outside a nuclear missile base in southern England. I spent my life around women.
I still think the world would be a far better place if more women were involved in decision-making at all levels. But I gradually came to realise that I could support feminism while being true to myself and finally doing what would make me happy and comfortable. So, why do so many people think trans men are “lesbians in denial”? I think that when people see older trans men like me, it might seem to them as if a part of the lesbian scene had decided to transition and become men.
But that’s simply because when we were younger, trans men were unheard of. Instead transsexuals, as we were called then, were thought of as being only male to female, in the media and in general public discourse at least until the mid-1990s, when the first British FTM (female-to-male) support group was set up in London.
Nowadays, trans men can work out much earlier that they are trans men, rather than trying to conform to a woman’s lifestyle, whether lesbian or heterosexual. From my experience as a long-time attender and former chair of FTM London, a peer-support group for trans men, at least a third of trans men, probably more, were attracted to men before they transitioned.
So they were seen as “heterosexual” and didn’t have anything to do with the lesbian scene. Some people’s sexuality changes after transitioning, and there are many trans people who consider that they did not even have a sexuality as such until they transitioned. The belief that trans men are lesbians in denial also betrays a stereotypical view of lesbians.
No, lesbians do not all wear boots and have short hair. The overwhelming majority of lesbians are not in fact masculine-presenting. The notion of a trans man being “really a lesbian” is not supported by the facts.
First, it is much harder to present as female and come out as a trans girl in secondary school, than it is to present as male and come out as a trans boy. Most trans women I know endured hell at school for not being masculine enough. They were bullied and often suffered physical violence. The UN reports that students (gay bisexual or trans) who fail to conform to masculine norms are more likely to experience physical violence.
Second, a rebalancing is under way because now, at last, trans men are getting some visibility in the media. That makes it easier for people to imagine this as their future; to envision possibilities and establish if they would be happier if they transitioned to male. I also think it is very likely that the male-to-female ratio will balance out evenly during the next few years, as is now the case for pre-12-year-olds and post-18-year-olds.
Being trans is not easy, because of other people’s prejudice and hatred. But for me and for the vast majority of trans people, transitioning is infinitely preferable to remaining as we are. Regret after surgery is incredibly low.
A recent extensive survey puts it as low as 0.3% for trans men and 0.6% for trans women. And there is an abundance of research demonstrating that if you are trans, the opportunity to transition vastly improves your mental health and well-being.
Do Butch Women Like to Be Touched Sexually?
I've never been with a woman who didn't like to touch and be touched. I recently saw a woman dressed in a "man's suit" and she looked good. I'm not used to seeing that here. If I see her again, I want to say hello. But I wasn't sure if all butch women had bedroom restrictions...I'm not exactly a femme lesbian, so maybe a butch lesbian wouldn't be interested in me anyway.
The simple and easy answer is there is more than one kind of butch lesbian. Hell the person you saw in the bar may not even identify as butch. You really can't judge a book by it's cover.
For some being a butch has to do with how they are in bed. For others it is more how they present themselves to the world or how they feel on the inside. You might look at someone as say, "She's butch" based on how she looks, but she might not identify that way at all.
Some butches are very into the butch/femme dichotomy and are only attracted to other femmes. Others only like to date other butches. Some don't have a preference one way or another.
So I can understand why you would be confused. So instead of making a snap judgment of someone based on her looks, why don't you go introduce yourself and get to know her better.
How to Signal You Are a Femme Lesbian
Tips for Being an Out Feminine Lesbian
If you are just out and you want to signal who you are, that might not come entirely naturally. You might be wondering how a femme lesbian gets noticed and lets other lesbians—butches, femmes, and those in between—know that she is also a lesbian.
How to Signal Your Status
Belinda Carroll, who is a comedian and a femme lesbian, says,
"The way I do it is to get onstage and announce I'm a single lesbian who has a lipstick addiction."
Carroll continues: “I wrote a piece for the "Persistence" anthology about this exact thing. Femme invisibility is a common topic among femmes. How do you let queers know you're queer when you look more Donna Reed than Pat Califia? My solution has been to wear obviously gay accouterments; political pins, buttons, and the like."
Also, if you are in conversation with another lesbian, you can mention a gay organization you are involved with. Get involved and volunteer with gay organizations. It's cumbersome for femmes because often they don't register on the radar, but you can do it.
You can also just wink at that girl who strikes your fancy. It sends the same message no matter who sends it to whom.Find a place where lesbians go. That way, you've got at least a 70 percent chance that the chick you want to talk to will actually be into girls (the other 30 percent are likely straight allies or bi-curious). This might limit your social scene, but it's the most fail-proof.
If you're a conversation with an obvious lesbian, casually mention an ex-girlfriend. Important note: You can't say "an old girlfriend of mine ..." because straight girls call their friends "girlfriends," and no butch girl will take you for a lesbian if you say this.
You have to use the term "ex-girlfriend" to spell it out as clearly as you can.
Wearing clothing with an unmistakable political message, like a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) shirt, is a good way to announce your sexual preference without saying anything. However, there is a huge flaw with this choice, and that is this: HRC, along with every other LGBT clothing maker, doesn't make clothes for femmes, so it makes it a tough sartorial choice.
Fashion or femme signal is the question. Here's an easy way to let other lesbians know you're a lesbian: Wake up in the morning, dress, and act as you normally would, in all your sexy, confident, high-heeled glory, and let that be that.
Without a doubt, the butch girl in the room will find a way to talk to someone you're with and eventually say, "Your friend is hot." At that point, your friend can fill the butch in, and you've done nothing but stand nearby and radiate sensual goodness.
Make Eye Contact
Often the best way to tell another lesbian is by eye contact. Lesbians make eye contact in public in a different way than straight women do. Even if there is not a romantic interest, there is a way that lesbians look each other in the eye, a way that subtly says, “I see you,” that is different than how straight women look at each other.
M I Ro
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