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“How Very Dare You?” (How Hets Respond To Lesbians)

Amidst all of the general nonsense Dirt and I deal with on a daily basis, a recent recurrent theme I have noticed in many argumentative comments and tweets to us is:

HOW DARE WE?

How dare we speak about/as Lesbians?

How dare we say that any woman cannot magically “become a Lesbian”?

How dare we say that words like “Lesbian”, “Butch”, “Femme” etc. have actual meaning and should be used correctly?

How dare we imply that we are “experts” of any sort?

How dare we say that many are falsely calling themselves “Lesbian”?

How dare we challenge the currently in-vogue idea that everything is all about “identity”: the idea that if you simply “identify as” ________(fill in the blank: Lesbian; Butch; Femme; Hippopotamus; Whatever) you ARE ___________?

The list goes on and on and on, but I think you get the basic idea, which boils down to “How very dare you?”

I recently replied that there are about 3,468,576,823,845 STRAIGHT blogs, books, articles, TV shows, magazines, etc.; yet NOBODY ever comments such things to them: Who are YOU to talk about being straight? What would YOU know? What gives YOU the right to talk about straight people/relationships? How would YOU know about being straight? Who are YOU to say who is straight? Etc.

Nope, that never happens, and I will tell you why. Because nobody questions “straight”. First of all, straights are the HUGE majority. Secondly, straight is pretty…well…straightforward: Nobody has hijacked “straight” like “Lesbian” has been hijacked repeatedly. Nobody is falsely speaking for all straight people, implying that they are all perverts and weirdos or that it’s all “just a choice” or any other such idiocy.

Even when a Lesbian comes out later in life, she didn’t hijack straight out of privilege; in fact, it’s the opposite: she felt she had to pretend to be straight in order to please family, society, or church. She got hijacked BY straight.

Think about it: For a straight person to even question our right to speak out as/regarding Lesbians smacks of privilege.

Let me be clear: While straight people are always very welcome to read our blogs and to comment, and while we still sincerely hope that some straight people will be capable of seeing the light, Dirt and I are not writing for straight people. We hope that some straight people will understand, but we don’t actually expect them to.

Instead, we are writing to Lesbians. And we are writing as Lesbians.

We not only have the right to do so, we have the duty. 

Attention: straights and Straightbians: We DO dare.  And all your arguing, snarkiness, denial, rudeness, subtweeting, and straight privilege in the universe won’t stop us.

In summary: Suck it up, buttercup(s), because we’re not going away.

Buttercup

Image: Pixabay: CC0 Public Domain

Butches, Stripping, and Straightbians…Oh My

For a couple of days now, I have been in a series of heated debates regarding the question of whether Butches would ever be strippers. (Answer: Not just no, but HELL NO).

In response to my statement that the probability of a Butch stripping would be approximately a snowball’s chance in Hell, I received this flippant tweet, presumably to “prove” that Butches do strip:

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Problem is: The woman depicted here is most certainly NOT Butch, and most likely, she’s not even ANY sort of Lesbian either. This tweeter, along with a plethora of others, incorrectly assume that if any woman cuts her hair short and dons a suit (or any other so-called “male attire”) and simply makes the claim she is Butch, she is magically (POOF!) suddenly Butch.

But it doesn’t work that way. Not even close. Butches are born, not made.  Butch is NOT a performance, a costume, a political stance, or an act, and it is majorly offensive when people appropriate and misrepresent Lesbian lives.

A true Butch would NEVER strip. She would literally die first, and that is NOT an exaggeration.

What gives me the right to make such a broad claim, you ask? Because I am a Femme Lesbian. Because I am married to a Butch, and have known other Butches. Because I have been in the Lesbian community for many, many years now, and have seen so many dykes & Straightbians call themselves Butch when they clearly weren’t. Because I happen to have a lot more knowledge about this topic that most people.

(Yes, I said it, I mean it, and I don’t care if you mistakenly think that is arrogant, because, yes, I do, in fact, know more about this topic than most people).

Anyway, I won’t bore you with giving you a play-by-play of every argumentative hetsplaining tweet or every Straightbian arguing with Lesbians about OUR OWN LIVES. It would take a dissertation to just explain the last couple of days.

But let’s examine one striking example of the sort of ignorance and attitude real Lesbians have to put up with:

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Let’s examine this snippet. Seemingly out-of-the-blue, a relatively new “feminist” account with 14 followers at the time and a handful of tweets crawls out of some hole to randomly bust my chops?

Hmmmm…it seems likely that this is a familiar troll in a new disguise, but regardless of this person’s true identity, automatically jumping to a racial connotation when race was not even mentioned is an incredibly transparent attempt to derail the actual point (“Butches don’t strip…period.”) by implying I am somehow inexplicably being racist by talking about a Lesbian issue.

Obviously, that idiotic crap doesn’t work with me. “Stick to the topic or shut up” is my motto.

(And, no, there are not any Butches of any race stripping for a living, now or ever).

Moving on to the next ridiculous assertion from our wannabe know-it-all:

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Okay, so calling me a racist didn’t work, so what does this buffoon do now? Hmmm…Oh, I know, let’s bring RAPE into it! THAT always derails the discussion!

This “rape culture” statement is completely off-topic and makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, so, again, this is an obvious attempt to discredit what we are saying by twisting what we are actually saying to try to make it mean something completely unrecognizable.

This is actually a very common Straightbianfeministploy:

If you have no argument and/or simply don’t understand the topic, it’s time to bring up any of the following to try to derail the conversation:

  • Rape or Rape Culture
  • The Patriarchy
  • The “Trans Cult”
  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Any other “ism”
  • Discrimination
  • Violence Against Women
  • MRAs
  • Men in dresses “forcing”/”coercing” Lesbians to have sex with them (Not happening)

Well, those tactics may work with some people, but they are certainly not going to work with me or Dirt.

Again, the topic at hand was simple: Butch Lesbians and stripping. This topic has nothing to do with racism, rape, etc.

Back to the point: Do Butches strip?

And the final answer is: Butch Lesbians would never strip, regardless of race, age, audience, era, or circumstance.

The end.

“Straight” To The Point

Over the last several days, Dirt and I have been arguing with straight female “allies” on Twitter over the premise that Lesbians are different.

To make a long story short, not 1, not 2, not 3, but a whole coterie of straight females have tag-teamed us, alternating between telling us to “be nice to our allies“; completely dismissing us; twisting whatever we say; bringing up unrelated topics/issues to try to derail/confuse the discussion; making analogies that make absolutely no sense whatsoever; acting like we are saying something we are not, then being offended by their own incorrect assumptions; trying to make us seem mean/bad/rude/etc.; name-calling; subtweeting; and usually, finally blocking us. Just when one wave disappears into the horizon, a new wave appears. Rinse and repeat.

Here’s the thing: It takes an astonishing amount of straight privilege to argue with Lesbians about OUR OWN LIVES.

These straight women do not know what it is like to be a Lesbian; but much more importantly, their actions of arguing with us ad nauseum proves that they don’t CARE.

I don’t know what it is like to be a man, or a Black person, but you don’t see me telling men or Black people how they “should” feel or denying or arguing with what they say about THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES.

Yet, that is precisely what these straight women are doing. Instead of listening to what we are actually saying about our own Lesbian experience/lives, they are actively attempting to silence us, shame us, twist our words, deny our experiences, and discredit us.

Why? There are likely a number of reasons, depending on the person, including, but not limited to: ignorance, arrogance, straight privilege, fear, reacting with emotion instead of logic, faulty preconceived notions, wanting to keep the incorrect notion alive that “any woman can be a Lesbian”, comprehension difficulties, not wanting to listen, misdirected anger, etc.

Whatever the reason(s), their behavior is completely unacceptable. 

Whether or not people agree with us, Lesbians deserve the same respect and courtesy straight people expect (and routinely get).

People, especially those who purport to be “Lesbian allies, should actually BE allies by listening rather than talking; caring rather than dismissing; remaining open rather than blocking.

And if you fruitcakes cannot do that, you are NOT an ally.

AND you can kindly fuck off.

(Please also read Dirt’s post on the same topic, here).

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Image: Pixabay: varintorn: CC0 Public Domain

Black Mirror’s San Junipero: A Happily-Ever-After Lesbian Love Story…???

!!SPOILER ALERT!!

The 4th episode of the 3rd series of Black Mirror, “San Junipero” (and if you’re unfamiliar with Black Mirror, think Twilight Zone meets the technological age) has been much-ballyhooed as a triumph over the tired, homophobic “Bury Your Gays” trope.

And, in many ways, it indeed seems to be a happy ending. After all, the 2 lead female characters (Warning: Second, and final, spoiler alert!!) ~ after back-and-forth drama ~ do end up in virtual-reality eternity together, complete with a happy end-scene montage to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth”.

But…

There seems to always be a “but” when it comes to how Lesbian love is portrayed, and this particular portrayal has a big “but”:

Only one character (Yorkie) is a Lesbian; therefore, the relationship could never be mutual, happy, or true love. (And: Yorkie is a Lesbian whose family would not accept her, leading to tragedy…an all-to-familiar outcome for many Lesbians).

The other character, Kelly, is a bored straight woman who was married for 49 years to a man. Early in the episode, Kelly vaguely alludes to some never-acted-upon same-sex attractions over the years of her heterosexual marriage:

“They were crushes…Never acted on any of it. Never did anything. I really was in love with him.

This fleeting reference to Kelly’s unrequited same-sex flirtations led some viewers to call her “queer” or “bisexual”…but the truth is, it is clear that Kelly is oriented toward males. She married and stayed with a man for decades; plus, only a week before she meets Yorkie in San Junipero, Kelly was f**king a random man for “fun”.

The creator/writer, Charlie Brooker, explains in a spoiler interview (in reference to the same-sex relationship which is central to this story):

“in terms of the writing of it, I tried not to think of that. It’s just two souls.”

The actress who played Kelly, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, chimes in with:

“And that’s sort of the beautiful thing about the characters—in relation to their sexuality—is it’s really not about that, it’s not an issue, it’s not a problem. Obviously they all have their own relationships, how they’ve come to be in San Junipero and their own histories, but I think it’s about human beings and love and souls. And it’s not about it being a problem. That wasn’t the focus of the story and I think that’s actually really refreshing.”

Of course, all of that sounds very accepting and liberal and oh-so-very-nice, doesn’t it?

But here’s the thing: That sort of “sexuality-is-fluid, it’s not about same-sex love, we’re all just people, it’s just two souls” rhetoric is completely dismissive and erasing of real Lesbians. Note that they cannot even say the word “Lesbian”; instead they both refer to us and our love as “that!

For Lesbians, our love is not just about “two sexless souls”; our orientation is not “fluid”; and furthermore, we deserve to BE the actual focus of a story.

But it’s not just the hetsplaining and (seemingly) benign ignorance of the creator/writer and the actress that  I had a problem with in this episode.

My MAIN problem is, as usual, the Lesbian was just expected to accept, even embrace, shoddy treatment from a Straightbian, as if we are somehow LUCKY to be graced by their presence.

I am referring to the scene that decisively showed Kelly’s true colors and her arrogant straight privilege: the scene in which she abusively slapped Yorkie in the face, then condescendingly lectured her:

You can’t begin to imagine. You can’t know the bond, the commitment, the boredom, the yearning, the laughter, the love of it. The fucking love.
You just cannot know! Everything we sacrificed.
The years I gave him. The years he gave me.
Did you think to ask? Did it occur to you to ask? We had a daughter. Alison.
Always difficult, always beautiful. Died at 39 years old, bless her heart.
And Richard and I, we felt that heartbreak as one.
You think you’re the only person ever suffered, go fuck yourself…I pitied you, and that’s the truth.I pitied you. Now you give me some sales pitch about how fucking peachy forever could be… You wanna spend forever somewhere nothing matters? End up like Wes? All those lost fucks at the Quagmire trying anything to feel something, go ahead. But I’m out. I’m gone.

(Gagging loudly).

Kelly obviously didn’t remember (or care) that she was the one who refused to talk about serious topics, opting on insisting on a “good time”, instead of forming a real connection. Kelly obviously thinks that Lesbian Yorkie couldn’t possibly fathom the “depth” of her heterosexual marriage. She admits she married Yorkie out of PITY…not love…or even friendship. Furthermore, Kelly is quick to dismiss and disparage the people in the Quagmire (a new-wave, punk-rock sort of “anything-goes” club) as “lost fucks” even though she herself visited there for recreational f**king! Hypocritical much, Kelly?

Many viewers discussed in reviews and in online discussions about how “touching” the above scene was, because they perceived it to show “depth” to Kelly’s character.

Um…no.

What this specific scene showed was NOT true “depth”…at all. Instead, what it showed was Kelly’s complete disrespect and disdain for someone who had been nothing but kind and loving toward her. It showed the writer’s casual and callous dismissal of Lesbian feelings in favor of the alleged fabled “bond” of a heterosexual union. It showed the underlying nastiness lurking below Kelly’s seemingly fun and free-spirited facade. It showed outright physical and emotional abuse. It showed Kelly’s true heterosexual orientation and straight privilege. It showed an utter lack of understanding of, and a complete lack of respect for, not only the Lesbian lover who Kelly purported to care about, but also for Lesbians in general. And there is absolutely zero acknowledgement of, or empathy for, the tragic and HOMOPHOBIC circumstances that ruined Yorkie’s life.

Instead of discussing the very real dilemma Kelly was facing in a way that would have shown respect for the woman she allegedly cared about, Kelly’s character was shown to lash out physically and verbally in a very mean-spirited, immature, unattractive, narcissistic, selfish, straight-privileged, and egocentric manner.

And instead of handing Kelly her ass on a platter as she should have done, the Lesbian character, Yorkie, ends up apologizing, as if she had anything whatsoever to apologize for.

Furthermore, despite Kelly offering no apology to Yorkie (nor did any scenes afterward indicate any real soul-searching on the part of Kelly), the audience is magically supposed to believe that Kelly suddenly decides to show up in San Junipero for a happily-ever-after eternity with Yorkie and we are supposed buy into the concept that Yorkie should be happy to get Kelly back.

The sad truth is that Kelly would be f**king a man within a month, and Yorkie would get her Lesbian heart broken.

This is not the happy ending Lesbians deserve. Instead, San Junipero turns out to be just another slap in the face. 

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#PicsArt #FreeToEdit

Social Media: The New Playground For Pyros-When Gaslighting Goes Viral

 

Have you ever had a friend, partner, family member, coworker, or even an acquaintance do/say something stunningly mean, but when confronted about it, the person suddenly completely denies, minimizes, redirects, distracts, deletes the evidence, calls you a liar, tries to make you feel like you are “crazy”, and/or otherwise attempts to invalidate your perfectly legitimate outrage?

If so, welcome to the dark, twisted, manipulative, maddening, bizarre world of gaslighting.

The effects of being gaslighted can range the gamut from simple, but utter, puzzlement if it is a unexpected situation by a Twitter acquaintance all the way to devastating, destabilizing self-doubt if it is done on an ongoing basis by a loved one.

The term gaslighting was named for the 1944 Ingrid Bergman/Charles Boyer movie, Gaslight, in which a diabolical man manipulates his wife into doubting her own sanity.

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The term now is used to refer to an insiduous form of psychological manipulation in which the gaslighter attempts to confuse and disorient by twisting facts and clouding reality.

As evidenced by the movie, gaslighters have been around since the “good old days”, but now social media has exponentially increased their visibility and reach, allowing gaslighting to even happen on a hit-and-run basis from internet acquaintances.

Gaslighting examples might include:

**Your partner makes a derogatory comment about you while you are present. When you confront her about it, she denies that it ever happened, says you misunderstood, says you are always “too sensitive”, and/or blames you for the situation. As a result, you begin to doubt your own perception, and you may even end up apologizing when there is nothing to apologize for.

**You can never do anything right, according to your mother. She belittles your weight, your hair, your clothes, your books, your choice of career or partner, even the color of your shoes. When you tell her how a specific demeaning comment makes you feel, she denies ever saying anything of the sort (even though you heard her say it yourself). She starts crying, saying that you are ungrateful and selfish and always “misunderstand”.  You end up feeling guilty that you could have possibly blamed your poor little old mother and vow to keep your mouth shut next time.

**A Twitter acquaintance suddenly attacks you (or an ally)…seemingly out-of-the-blue. Horrid name-calling and complete rudeness ensues from the gaslighter. When confronted, however, the gaslighter vehemently (and very treacly-sweetly) denies ever saying anything nasty at all, and, in the meantime, the gaslighter has deleted all of the offending tweets. The gaslighter then garners sympathy from unwitting outsiders (who never saw the offending deleted tweets) by saying: 1). that you are inexplicably lying about her; 2). that she would never-ever-EVER do such a thing, because she is such a nice person and everyone should know that; and 3). that she often deletes her tweets (although you can’t help but notice that she did not delete any of her tweets…except for the ones in which she looks bad).

**Your best friend flirts in an obvious and inappropriate manner with your partner. When you confront her about it, she says that you imagined it, that you are always so unreasonable and possessive, and that you are always so insecure and needy. You end up apologizing for the “misunderstanding” because, after all, you tell yourself, friends are forever. Right? (Then why do you feel like you just got run over by a Mack truck)?

This kind of dynamic can play out in endless scenarios; the above examples are just a few of the possibilities.

Regardless of the players or the topic, however, the underlying factors are always the same and involve some or all of the following:

1). The gaslighter will not take responsibility for her own actions nor admit any fault.

2). Instead of taking responsibility for her own actions, the gaslighter manipulates the gaslightee and the situation in order to destabilize the gaslightee’s sense of reality and to twist the facts.

3). Gaslighting techniques might include (but are not limited to) denying, minimizing, lying, insulting, demeaning, destroying evidence, twisting facts, bringing others in for support, and/or manipulating people, the situation, and/or the physical environment to support their contorted version of events.

4). The end result is typically the gaslightee feeling guilty, bad, confused, self-doubting, and/or unsettled. The gaslightee often questions herself and her perceptions of events. The gaslightee will often end up apologizing, even when she did nothing wrong. The gaslightee’s feelings after such an incident are somewhat akin to a bad hangover, although much more long-lasting and damaging.

5). Often, others who are naive to gaslighting tactics will jump on the bandwagon in support of the gaslighter, rather than understanding that they are only pawns in an intricate game of deception. Some may be intentionally brought into the situation by the gaslighter, for the dual purposes of gaining support as well as to further make the gaslightee doubt her own perceptions.

6). Gaslighters are typically charming and well-liked by acquaintances and the general public who have not had the misfortune of being their target, yet. They are usually articulate and friendly to strangers/acquaintances, which also helps them succeed in looking credible and gaining support, contributing further to the gaslightee questioning herself.

So, what can you do when faced with gaslighting? Here are a few suggestions:

1). Read The Gaslight Effect by Robin Stern, Ph.D. (and read it immediately if you are in a romantic relationship where gaslighting is happening). Dr. Stern’s book thoroughly covers the topic and gives many practical and insightful suggestions. As Dr. Stern says here in regard to the gaslight effect in long-term relationships:

“Gaslighting is the systematic attempt by one person to erode another’s reality, by telling them that what they are experiencing isn’t so – and, the gradual giving up on the part of the other person. Gaslighting takes two – one person who needs to be in control to maintain his sense of self, and the other, who needs the relationship to maintain her sense of self and is willing to acquiesce. The Gaslight Effect happens when you find yourself second guessing your own reality, confused and uncertain of what you think, because you have allowed another to define reality and tell you what you think — and who you are. Gaslighting can be maddening in the early stages and soul destroying when it fully takes hold.”

2). Trust your own intuition and observations. If you have seen something with your own eyes or heard it with your own ears, and someone is telling you that you are wrong, realize that you are not the “crazy” one in this situation.

3). State your truth, then disengage from the gaslighter as quickly as possible. You aren’t going to “win” a battle with a gaslighter, because she will never admit she is wrong nor acknowledge your legitimate concerns. Stick up for yourself, assertively but briefly, then move on.

4). Be aware of this behavior, so you will know how to recognize it quickly in the future and act before becoming close to a gaslighter.

5). If you see this behavior in someone you do not HAVE to interact with, avoid that person at all costs, no matter how “sweet” and “friendly” she may seem. A good analogy is a cobra in a bunny suit; the bunny suit looks fluffy and happy and safe, but make no mistake, the cobra inside is coiled and waiting to strike.

6). If you see the behavior in someone who you do currently still have to interact with, stay on guard. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of well-being.

7). Keep a private journal in a safe place, and/or talk to a trusted friend or therapist, in order to maintain your own sense of reality and self-esteem. Write down exactly what happens, as specifically and in as much details as possible. Refer back to your notes frequently. Look for patterns of behavior.

8). If the altercation occurs via email, letter, or online, consider keeping physical evidence of the event ~ for your own sense of reality ~ not as a way to argue or engage with the gaslighter. (Keep the email or letter, or screencap the nastiness if it happens on social media, and email yourself a copy).

9). Minimize your contact with the gaslighter, and keep interactions neutral whenever possible.

10). Consider your part in the interactions. As Dr. Stern says, it takes two to engage in the dance of gaslighting. If there are ways you can protect yourself or change the outcome of feeling disempowered, do so.

11). Seek mental health or legal or other professional advice if needed (please see **Notes**, below).

12). Above all, take care of yourself and don’t let anyone’s manipulations crush your sense of self or confuse your sense of reality.

In summary, I wanted to bring up a well-known Maya Angelou quote:

“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

When you see serious gaslighting behavior, please don’t just write it off as “a fluke” or excuse it by saying “She was just having a bad day”.

Of course, everyone can be grumpy and say things we don’t mean, but the critical difference to consider is that most people are capable of analyzing our own actions, taking responsibility, respecting the other person’s feelings, apologizing when necessary, and learning important lessons when altercations happen.

Note that a gaslighter does none of these healthy behaviors, but rather, a gaslighter makes the situation even worse by engaging in the gaslighting behaviors listed above.

You cannot get blood from a turnip, and you cannot get reason nor empathy from a gaslighter.

So, when a gaslighter shows you who she is…please believe her…the first time.

**Notes**:

1). I am using “she” for this post for simplicity’s sake, but please note that gaslighters and gaslightees can either be male or female.

2). As always, please be aware of this standard disclaimer: Nothing I write is ever intended to be professional advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for the advice of a professional. Please take appropriate precautions, and always seek professional help regarding any/all mental health issues/needs.