Ever since my partner, spouse, and all-around sweetie-pie, Dirt, wrote a post entitled “Lesbian Children Are Not Girls: How Hetero-Society Ignores Lesbians“, she has received lots of feedback both publicly and privately: positive feedback from Lesbians and argumentative comments from hetsplainers.
One hetsplaining commenter in particular persists in insisting that any differences between the sexes, and/or differences between Lesbians and heterosexual females, is simply a matter of “socialization” and “gender stereotyping”.
While socialization and stereotyping are indeed real, they are not solely responsible for, nor do they sufficiently explain, the differences between Lesbians and heterosexual females that Dirt is writing about.
The other tactic the hetsplainers like to use is the “exception to the rule” argument. They will completely ignore most the information presented and go straight to the argument that they and/or someone they know don’t fit into what Dirt is saying in one way or another.
It should go without saying (but it obviously has to be said anyway!), that, when speaking in generalities about any topic, of course, there will always be “exceptions to the rule”. These expected exceptions to the rule, however, do not disprove the rule, and using this tactic as an argument is simply a way to try to minimize or deny what someone is saying.
My point is that (as usual!) heterosexuals are responding to Lesbians by arguing, minimizing, and denying what we are saying (in this case, about our own existence!), rather than realizing that they do not know what the heck they are talking about, and therefore shutting up long enough to listen and learn.
When I wrote the guest post entitled “A Lesbian Psychologist Speaks Out“, I touched very briefly on this division between Lesbians and heterosexual females:
“Even though I am a so-called ‘feminine-presenting’ lesbian myself, there are still significant differences in how I process and approach the world in comparison to my heterosexual cohorts…
Because lesbians often don’t see others like ourselves in the world around us, we often feel we are different than other females.”
This difference is something that is difficult to fully understand, much less articulate clearly. However, despite struggling to put it into words, feeling “different” from an early age is something that every Lesbian I have ever spoken to (or read about) consistently reports.
I wanted to give a brief summary of a just a few of the ways in which I personally have perceived myself as “different” from my straight friends, acquaintances, and coworkers:
- I am/was neither flattered by, nor bothered by, males. (Note that I am not talking about stalkers, perverts, rapists, or otherwise abusive males…everybody should be bothered by them! Rather, I am referring to “regular” males encountered on an everyday basis ~ fellow students, coworkers, neighbors, etc.).
- I didn’t “lose myself” when adolescence hit, unlike my straight friends and fellow students (and most heterosexual adolescent girls!), who were suddenly (and overwhelmingly!) more interested in boys than in anything else. Grades, hobbies, interests, friends, family, pets, etc. are suddenly yesterday’s news for many straight female adolescents.
- Even though I was already aware that I was a Lesbian as an adolescent, I didn’t go “girl crazy” like my cohorts went “boy crazy”. Even when I met my first partner at age 17, I still made A’s in college, worked 2 jobs, volunteered, worked out, and still maintained my friendships and family relationships. My world didn’t simply stop to revolve around my romantic relationship; yet, time and time again, I have seen (otherwise intelligent) straight females seemingly sucked straight into a black hole
- As Dirt said in her post, “Lesbian children are not culturally groomed to have our bodies change (develop) for the purpose of pleasing other (teen/adult) Lesbians as/when we mature.” Most heterosexual parents are not even aware they are doing it, but girls are groomed and reinforced from a young age to welcome sexual maturity and the heterosexual assumption/privilege that goes along with it. Girls are reinforced for physically attractiveness (“You’re such a pretty girl! You’re going to break lots of boys’ hearts one day!” and similar comments). Therefore heterosexual girls are often proud of the new curves that appear in adolescence. In contrast, I was extremely uncomfortable about the changes in my body at adolescence, and made every effort to cover up (still do!). Instead of welcoming the sudden attention I got for my looks, I dreaded it. (Although I did not have true dysphoria myself, I can easily understand how many young Lesbians might mistake such acute bodily discomfort for dysphoria).
- Because I am not straight (therefore, I am an outsider), I could/can usually see clearly what’s going on (and what is going to happen) in my straight friends’ love lives, to the point where many have said I am “psychic”. Being on the outside allows me to view heterosexual relationships/culture/behavior with detachment, and makes me typically able to observe and understand male behavior more clearly than my straight female friends.
- I didn’t/don’t understand the hints, innuendos, and vague language often used by my straight female cohorts. I didn’t/don’t understand the desire to speak indirectly rather than simply stating what is wanted or needed. For example, if you want something specific for your birthday, why not just say so, rather than assuming your partner “should” magically know (and then being disappointed when you don’t get what you want)? I don’t understand it; I never will. But my straight friends say they find such directness “inappropriate” (or unimaginable!). (Note that I am not referring to “good/bad manners” here, but rather simply directness versus indirectness of communication).
- It wouldn’t have occurred to me to break plans with a friend because I suddenly got a date, yet doing so seems to be often both accepted and expected amongst straight female friends.
- As a child, adolescent, and adult, I have never completely “fit in” with straight people, male or female, although I get along well with both. I have personality characteristics that are considered to be “stereotypically female” as well as personality characteristics that are considered to be “stereotypically male”. It’s like I live in a middle world, which is separate from both, but also like both, in various ways. Thus, Dirt’s assertion that “Lesbians are not girls”.
- When I comment online, either anonymously or using a gender-neutral username, I am often accused of “mansplaining”. Straight females often seem to mistake directness for male behavior. No, it’s Lesbian behavior!
These are just a few examples. Of course, every Lesbian’s experience is unique, and I am not speaking for all (nor do I want to). (Similarly, every straight woman’s experience is unique as well, and, as I said above, of course, there are always exceptions).
I will say, though, that I have heard of numerous similar experiences in the stories of Lesbians. Enough to ascertain that there is indeed a definite pattern of difference between Lesbians and straight females. And all the hetsplainers in the universe cannot explain away this truth.