Is there a difference between lesbians who have slept with men and those who haven’t? Is being a “gold star” the only way to achieve true or “pure” lesbian identity?
Is there a difference between lesbians who have slept with men and those who haven’t? Is being a “gold star” the only way to achieve true or “pure” lesbian identity? Are gold stars more invested in and protective of their identities as lesbians than lesbians who have slept with or continue to sleep with guys?
These questions were posed in a recent blog at PlanetOut.com:
“As for lesbians who haven’t had sex with men, they sure do get mad at those of us who have. They take it as a slap in the face and act like we’re hurting the lesbian cause. This was a long time ago, but I remember one girl at a party arguing that she was more ‘pure’ than lesbians who had been ‘tainted’ by men. Yes, she used the words pure and tainted, and no, she wasn’t a member of the religious right. She was an Ivy League-educated lesbian living in Brooklyn, if I recall correctly.”
Far more interesting than the blog itself was the dialogue it prompted in the comments section. What began as a prickly discussion about the nature of queer identity quickly devolved into an ideological gang bang of gender and queer identity policing, and finally, bi-bashing. Some of the more choice quotes included:
“To some point I do agree that lesbian women and gay men who have had sexual relationships with the opposite sex are not true lesbians/gays…” “I think this whole, ‘well, I’m more emotionally connected to women, but I still like sex with men’ is just an attempt by women to not admit to themselves that they’re bisexual. Sexual orientation isn’t just who you are emotionally connected to: it also includes sexual desire and sexual behaviors. (Why does everyone seem to ignore the ‘sexual’ part of ‘sexual orientation’?) If only 1/3 of your attraction is homosexual, then maybe you’re not.” “There is totally a difference and I believe that being a lesbian means not sleeping with men period! I do feel offended when these women want to associate themselves with our community, we have fought too many prejudice to just let this go, I have heard arguments from the straight world that if people can just go from one to the other then being gay is a choice and for me and many that I know it was not a choice it is something we have always felt and these women make that argument harder to swallow. If you sleep with men, you enjoy it or do it to pass the time, then in my opinion you do not have the right to call yourself a lesbian!”
Most posters agreed that that if a woman had slept with men before coming out, that was “okay,” but that continuing to have and/or enjoy sex with men was 1) gross and 2) disqualified those women from “having the right” to call themselves lesbians. As much as the idea was bandied about that lesbians who sleep with men aren’t “protecting” their identity as lesbians, what appeared to really be going on here was that the folks taking it upon themselves to police what it means to be a lesbian seemed to be trying to protect their own identities as lesbians from folks whose particular brand of queer differed from theirs. It was the overwhelming anger of these folks against members of their own community that belies this; some of them actually posted threats of violence against “liars” and “fakes” who identify themselves as lesbians but don’t meet some sort of standard for lesbian “purity.” No joke.
“How dare your queerness look, taste or smell different than mine, you filthy mudblood scum!”
Where do these folks draw the line, I wonder? Does it matter what sex act a lesbian is performing with a man, or what kind of man he is? If a lezzie occasionally likes to get done by a guy missionary style or if she is wielding a strap-on and bending a bio-boy over, does any of that make her less queer? If a femme dyke is in a relationship with a transguy, does that automatically make her bi? What do you think? Is there a difference between lesbians who have slept with men and those who haven’t? Or between those who continue to sleep with men and those who don’t? Does it give you pause to see folks in our community taking it upon themselves to decide for others how we are and aren’t allowed to identify?