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What’s In A Name: Or, Do All Lesbians Experience Some Form of Dysphoria?

When I was about 12 or 13, I decided I did not like my given name (Anna). To make matters worse, being from the U.S. South, I was called by both my first and middle names (Anna Lynn). (This phenomenon was prevalent at that time where I grew up; many of my female peers had double names like Ellie Jo or Mary Beth or Maggie Jean).

At the time, I wasn’t exactly able to articulate why I didn’t like my name. The best I could come up with was that it felt too “girly” somehow…it just didn’t feel right.

And that wasn’t the only thing going wrong for me at the time either. I was distressed with the changes in my body; specifically, I didn’t feel comfortable with my new curves, primarily because I felt I wasn’t running or swimming as fast as before. I felt awkward, off-kilter, out-of-sorts, and just plain wrong in ways that I couldn’t fully explain in words. And I still have trouble explaining it in words.

So I upped my exercise to minimize curves, while I secretly fantasized about finding a new name for myself. My parents had considered naming me Jodie after my father, and I steadfastly wished they had. Other contenders were my middle name (Lynn), Bennett (a distant family name and my current writing pseudonym), and Alex (because it seemed suitably androgynous).

I didn’t mention any of this angst to my parents. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. A lot of thought had gone into my name, and I had been named after a beloved relative, so I didn’t want to offend by admitting I was unhappy with my name.

So I kept my feelings to myself, something I was extraordinarily good at. Any feelings I had were sublimated through daily runs, bicycle riding, hiking, swimming, and tree climbing. My basketball coach always jokingly called me “Bo” anyway (teasing me as if I had a “bow leg”, referring to the knee “brace” I had to wear to run suicide drills), and even that felt more right than my real name. (Side note: It’s apparently no longer politically correct to call those exercises “suicide drills” because everybody is apparently such a tender, delicate, oh-so-precious little snowflake now. Oh, well, that is what they were called at the time so that’s what I’m going with. Sigh.).

My point is: As a young Lesbian, I felt uncomfortable in a way that I didn’t have words for (and I still struggle to explain, even now) about having a (so-called) “feminine” name, even though I am what I’ve seen referred to as a “feminine-presenting lesbian” (although, ironically, certainly not as “feminine” as many people seem to expect me to be — see my previous post, Not Femme Enough…?).

The nebulous feeling that I am struggling to articulate relates directly to what I was trying to describe in my previous post, Lesbians Are Different.

Ever since I was a child, I always had straight female friends as well as male friends, and I always knew I was different than both in fundamental ways.

While I never experienced what I would consider to be true or severe dysphoria, I did, and still do, feel significant discomfort and a certain cognitive dissonance when I have tried to “dress up” and act “feminine”.

After talking to many other Lesbians over the years, who universally reported similar feelings to varying degrees, I now believe that all Lesbians experience some form of dysphoria, ranging from mild to severe, which stems from being inherently different in a heterocentric world.

We will likely write on this topic later.

“Not Femme Enough”…?

This is a post I have been slowly working on, a little at a time, because I am finding it quite difficult to process and articulate this topic; also, recently, I have been focused on my beloved sick cat, Ari, so it’s been hard to focus more than a few minutes on anything else.

Before I start trying to explain today’s topic, I wanted to mention that I’ve written before about being a Femme Lesbian, and this post will continue with that topic.

If you are interested in reading those previous posts, which are directly related to this post and which provide some important background to this post, here are the links:

Deciphering Butch/Femme

Femme: Defining Ourselves

Femme: Fact Versus Fiction

Do Femmes Wear Lipstick?

Today’s post is about the rampant misconceptions and outright lies about Femmes, and how these misconceptions and lies are prevalent, even within the Lesbian community.

There is a huge gap between what people THINK Femmes are versus what we ACTUALLY are.

Many people incorrectly THINK Femme Lesbians:

  • are hyperfeminine;
  • are obsessed with makeup, clothes, hair, shoes, etc.
  • are overtly seductive and hypersexual
  • are helpless, dependent, clingy, needy, etc.
  • are dumb, flighty, stupid, etc.
  • are Stepford Wives
  • are uninformed, unfeminist, old-fashioned, etc.
  • are “mimicking heterosexuality”
  • are an “identity” that can be chosen by anybody
  • are “performing gender”
  • are “really Straightbians
  • are subservient to Butches
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Shoes People THINK I Wear: Image: Pixabay: Pexels: CC0

These stereotypes have been perpetuated by a huge number of sources, including, but not limited to, so-called Lesbian experts” who are neither Lesbian nor expert, by purported Femmes who are actually Straightbians, by allegedly  Lesbian magazines/media/blogs/etc. which are decidedly NOT Lesbian, and by websites/forums which falsely proclaim to be for Butch/Femme Lesbians, but instead are just hideous mockeries, chock-full of Straightbians mingling with a few lonely, confused dykes.

Here is the truth about Femme Lesbians ~ we are:

  • REAL LESBIANS;
  • Born this way;
  • Equal partners in our relationships;
  • Independent, capable, strong, practical, etc.;
  • Typically outspoken;
  • Just being ourselves (Meaning: We are NOT mimicking heterosexuality, NOT performing gender, NOT playacting, etc.);
  • NOT obsessed with looks, makeup, hair, nails, clothes, shoes, etc.;
  • Dress appropriately for the task; function is important;
  • Can/do dress up if/when we choose to, but we don’t feel the need to impress the guy bagging our groceries;
  • NOT an “identity” which can just be adopted by anyone; because you either ARE a Femme Lesbian OR you are NOT…period.
Converse

Shoes I ACTUALLY Wear: Image: Pixabay: Wokandapix: CC0

So, you would assume that most actual Lesbians would be free of such misinformed assumptions, but sadly, this is rarely the case.

This widespread ignorance, even within the Lesbian community, results in real Femmes often feeling invisible. Sometimes, this invisibility presents itself in the form of being rejected and/or unrecognized by other Lesbians. At other times, paradoxically, this invisibility presents itself as being thought of as “not Femme enough” to some dykes who have issues of their own which leads them to partner with Straightbians.

Please see Dirt’s companion post, here, about some of the possible issues dykes might have which would lead them to partner with Straightbians. I won’t be covering that in this post.

Instead, I wanted to address the issue of my being perceived as “not Femme enough” by some dykes. This phenomenon has happened to me, although I didn’t fully understand it until recently. For instance, I was told repeatedly by 2 previous Butch partners that I was “too athletic”, and I was encouraged incessantly by both of them to dress more provocatively and to wear more makeup, etc. I didn’t EVER stop working out, nor did I change my appearance/clothes (because I am a particularly stubborn person, LOL!), but I will admit that such comments did bother me and make me feel criticized and unwanted. Interestingly, although not surprisingly, both of these Butches had only dated Straightbians before me, and both went back to dating Straightbians after we broke up. In other words, both of them were comparing me to Straightbians, and found me quite lacking in the hyper-femininity department. Both of them wanted another kind of woman (a Straightbian!) who would meet the male fantasy of a sexy, seductive woman —  which is so NOT me.

Another instance in which this scenario has affected me is when someone Dirt and I know online (from our blogs or Twitter or Facebook) wants to meet us in person. I always worry about what people’s reactions will be when I don’t meet their incorrect Straightbian/sexy/seductive/MALE-fantasy notions of what a Femme “should” be. Often, it feels that people are expecting me to show up looking/dressed like I plan to be on the cover of Vogue, but when they meet me, I am always dressed as I normally do (which certainly does NOT include high heels, skimpy dresses, or plunging necklines; instead, it usually includes shorts/pants, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes).

It is impossible not to feel that such people are somehow disappointed with me for not being the femme fatale of their imagination. (Not even remotely close!).

When I was younger, I was both puzzled and hurt by such situations. Now that I am older (and hopefully at least a little bit wiser), I finally realize that I am fine as I am; heck, I always was. I am proud to be a dyke. If anyone has the nerve to feel like I am doing it wrong, she is the one with the problem, not me.

Time For Another Pop Quiz: Logic 101

Attention: Straight Females:

Regarding the widespread myth that the only criteria for any female to “magically become a Lesbian” is to have sex with another female, let’s take a quick quiz to test the “logic” of this ridiculous (yet shockingly prevalent) theory:

1). If you have sex with a male, do you magically become a male?

2). If you have sex with someone of another race, do you magically become that race?

3). If you have sex with someone of another nationality, do you magically become that nationality?

4). If you have sex with someone who is (fill-in-the-blank: short, tall, young, old,  middle-aged, fat, thin, athletic, clumsy, disabled, non-disabled, etc.), do you magically become that attribute?

5). If you are a perverted, sicko, disgusting freak, and have sex with a sheep, do you magically become a sheep?

As anyone with an IQ higher than fruitcake will quickly ascertain, the CORRECT answer to ALL of the above questions is a definitive “NO”.

Now, let’s do one last question to test the “logic” of our central question:

6). If you have sex with another female, do you magically “become a Lesbian”?

And the answer to #6 is another quite hearty “NO”!

Think about it. Seriously, really THINK about it.

Forget all of the ridiculous radfem rhetoric you have read that supposedly “empowers” women (by encouraging them to be something that they are not — which is not actually very “empowering” after all, now is it?).

Forget all of the salacious soundbites (“Lesbian Murders Lover’s Husband!”; “Lesbian Vampires Kill 2 in Bloodbath!”).

Forget the punchlines of sitcoms, forget the “Lesbian kiss” between 2 straight characters, forget the “Lesbian” TV series written by Straightbians — forget forget forget forget.

Seriously, just forget it all, forget all of the complete nonsense ever perpetuated about “Lesbians”, forget it, if even for just a moment, and please just THINK. THINK. THINK.

Can you really change your innate orientation? Can you really become something you are not?

The answer is “NO”. Nobody can. Not me, not you, not anybody. We are what we are; and wherever we go, there we are.

Lesbians cannot “become straight”, and straight females cannot “become Lesbians”.

It’s really quite simple, folks:

Do whatever you want, love whoever you want.

But please don’t call yourself “Lesbian” unless you are, in fact, AN ACTUAL LESBIAN.

I have learned the hard way that appealing to any inherent sense of logic, decency, or fairness is a completely lost cause with Straightbians. Straightbians’ deep-seated pathology, their entitled privilege, their barely-under-the-surface desperation, their narcissistic egocentrism, always trumps any sort of ethical principles.

So, Straightbians, don’t do the right thing for me, nor for any other Lesbians, since you obviously don’t give a crap about us (if you did, you wouldn’t be appropriating our lives with your lies) — no, instead, tell the truth for yourself:

Here’s the thing: If you are a straight female who is claiming to be a “Lesbian”, you are not being brave, nor radical, nor feminist: instead, you are a coward and a liar. You can never be your true self by denying the truth about yourself. Straightbian lives are a fragile house of cards, build on the flimsy foundation of an outright lie that they are “Lesbians”. Telling the truth about who you really are is the first step of rebuilding a life based on authenticity rather than unethical lies. It’s way past time for Straightbians of all varieties to stop using “Lesbian” as a shield, as a camouflage, as a costume, as a suit of armor, as a money-maker, as an attention-grabber, as a ticket to internet fame, and as a vehicle for your anger.

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Time for a Pop Quiz!

Here’s a quick pop quiz to test basic reasoning skills.

Just answer “Yes” or “No” to each of the questions below:

1). Can a cat become a dog?

2). Can a pickle become a potato chip?

3). Can a horse become a cowboy?

4). Can chocolate become vanilla?

5). Can a tree become a rock?

6). Can a gay man or a lesbian become straight?

7). Can an Android become an iPhone?

8). Can a fork become a spoon?

9). Can a fish become a cow?

10). Can a heterosexual woman become a lesbian?

If you answered “No” to ALL of the questions on this quiz, congratulations! You are officially smarter than many people who have a Ph.D.!

If you answered “Yes” to ANY of the questions on this quiz, have fun living in La-La Land.

Are We The Only Lesbians In The World?

I wish we had a nickel every time someone made a dismissive, derisive, and untrue comment implying that Dirt, myself, and/or a specific friend of oursthink that we are the only Lesbians in the world” because of our outspokenness about Straightbians. We could all retire in comfort if only someone would pay us for even a small portion of the utter nonsense spread about us.

So, I thought I would do a post addressing this specific, nonsensical, and completely irrational (yet shockingly common!) comment.

Question: Do we think we are the only Lesbians in the world?

Answer: No.

Let’s all just take a minute to really think about this claim: If we actually did think that we were the only Lesbians, there would be absolutely no need to write to/for/about Lesbians. We would just talk amongst ourselves and save ourselves a bunch of time and trouble, now wouldn’t we? (Duh!).

This message has been brought to you on behalf of my ongoing “Just Say No To Saying Ignorant Crap on Twitter” campaign. You’re welcome.

The Official Straightbian Guide To Becoming A “Lesbian Expert” On Social Media

Attention: Straightbians! Have you ever thought how nice it would be to show the world your “Lesbian expertise”? Would you like to get your slice of the “Lesbian pie” and the attention and adoration of other Straightbians, “feminists”, “gender-critical” individuals, and all other straight people on social media? Hey, if you are lucky, and if you meet what heterosexual society deems as attractive, you too may get the opportunity to write for a popular “Lesbian magazine” or to be a contributor to a popular “Lesbian website”! Wouldn’t that be exciting? If this is everything you have ever dreamed of, never fear, you’ve come to the right place! This handy-dandy guide will take you from an obscure typical straight female to an internationally celebrated “Lesbian expert” quicker than you can spell Straightbian!

You may be wondering how to get started. Yes, it can indeed be a daunting prospect to create a fake persona based on a precarious balance of delusional self-deception and egocentric self-promotion, but hey! If many others do it every single day, you can too! Don’t let little problems like the truth or basic human decency deter you from your life goals! With just a little polishing of your “identity”, you will be ready to bask in your social media presence as a “Lesbian expert” in no time at all!

First, if you aren’t already posing as “a Lesbian”, you will have to “come out as a Lesbian”, but that is no problem at all! But before we jump the tiny hurdle of “coming out”, you will need to decide on the type of “Lesbian” you want to be:

Type A: The Sexy Straightbian: To be this type of Straightbian, all you need to do is to be fluent in the straight-male-fantasy-of-“Lesbian”. Pouty lips? Check! Smoky eyes? Check! Stilettos? Check! Pretty girlfriend? Check! A willingness to take sexy pics of yourself in various revealing poses, such as the ever-popular “doggie skyscraper“, while calling it “Lesbian”? Check check CHECK!

Type B: The Sexless Straightbian: Hate men? Check! #YesAllMen? Check! “Eschew” makeup? Check! Love the work of Sheila Jeffreys? Check! Ready to Smash The Patriarchy? Check check CHECK!

Now that you have selected your type, be sure to build upon it!

If you have selected Type A, feel free to embellish with all the accoutrements of your sexy persona. Take that pole dancing class! Buy a velvet sofa! Visit Victoria’s Secret and splurge on some hot lingerie! Wax those pubes! You’re worth it!

If you have selected Type B, go even deeper into character. Shave one side of your head! Buy some Doc Martens! Rip those Levi’s! Read some Andrea Dworkin! “Eschew” shaving! Call yourself “Butch”! Why not? The “Lesbian” world is your oyster, so get ready to suck it dry!

The deeper you go into your “Lesbian” character, the more you can profit, so go for it! Give it Hell, ladies! Meryl Streep herself couldn’t sell it like you can! Believe in yourself!

Okay, now that your Straightbian persona is sorted, now you can move on to “coming out”! How? Simple! Just say “I’m a Lesbian”! Other Straightbians, “feminists”, “gender-critical” individuals, and all other straight people will automatically believe you! Boom! Done!

Now, proceed to bombard social media with your “Lesbian life”. Aggressively follow and support other Straightbians ad nauseum. Building a “Lesbian community” is essential to your success as a Straightbian! Make sure to include numerous pics of yourself with another female, because that will be “proof-positive” of your “identity” as a “Lesbian”!

Take some time to review your social media friends’ tweets/posts/pics/hashtags/videos/etc. and proceed to copy them enthusiastically! Don’t worry that you don’t know what you are talking about! Nobody will notice, since they are all saying the same thing! Groupthink is your best friend! Rinse and repeat until “Lesbian” fame and fortune are yours!

No guide would be complete without a few words of caution. Beware of real Lesbians who may try to rain on your Straightbian parade. Current estimates of the number of these Lesbian “bullies” range from “a couple” to “a mob”. Regardless, should you encounter one of these annoying naysayers, simply repeatedly claim that you ARE a “Lesbian” BECAUSE YOU SAY SO. If necessary, make numerous sock-puppet accounts to support yourself in your own arguments! Call upon your Straightbian “sisters” to jump in and support you too! There is strength in numbers, and rest assured that Straightbians will always way outnumber real Lesbians! Don’t worry that you have no idea what it really means to be a Lesbian! Remain firm in your conviction that it is your right…indeed, it is your privilege…to claim “lesbianism” for yourself! When an argument with a real Lesbian gets heated, always be sure to mention “rape culture”, “racism”, “sexism”, “The Patriarchy”, and/or “misogyny”! That always works to derail a conversation! Don’t worry that what you are saying is completely irrelevant to the discussion! Most importantly, always make sure to call your Lesbian opponents “male” and to insult their appearance! All that is important in these senseless battles is for you to emerge with your “Lesbian” “identity” fully intact amongst your target group.

In summary, with just a few simple steps, you too will be well on your way to firmly establishing your Straightbian social media empire as a “Lesbian expert”. Go you! Feel good about yourself as you bask in the fragile glory of internet presence. Your past days of ennui and angst are but a distant memory. You are the very Straightbian image of “Lesbian” personified now…let’s hear you roar!

Choice Or Not?

Let’s all play a little game.

Which ONE of the following is NOT A CHOICE?

  • Clothing
  • Hairstyle
  • Shoes
  • Tattoos
  • Piercings
  • Political affiliation
  • What to eat for dinner
  • Shaving
  • Watching TV
  • Becoming a vegan
  • Painting your toenails
  • Using deodorant
  • Drinking tequila
  • Giving up sugar
  • Smoking
  • Attending church
  • Having sex (Note: meaning: consensual sex between willing adults, of course!)
  • Straight females “eschewing” relationships with males
  • Being a Lesbian

For anyone who chose “Being a Lesbian” as the ONLY item which is NOT A CHOICE: Ding ding ding! You won the game! Hooray! Woo-hoo! Good for you!

For everyone else, please go find another blog that will tell you the lies you want to hear.