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Ladies In Love
By Ghia Vitale
I read a remarkable article about how saying “I have a boyfriend” to deter unwanted sexual advances is counterproductive. The writer makes a good point of explaining why saying "I have a boyfriend" to ward off unwanted advances implies that you are “spoken for” as opposed to speaking for yourself. In the heat of rejecting strangers’ come-ons, I almost never contemplate the politics of what I’m saying. In that moment, I’m trying to diffuse the situation with a “whatever works” policy. I always thought of the "I have a boyfriend" excuse as a convenient half-truth since it’s not entirely false. An imposing stranger is hardly entitled to any answer, let alone a thoughtful and honest one, which would involve my elaborating upon my sexual orientation. And I admit it: I eventually started saying “I am a lesbian” after I learned the hard way that these abrasive guys mostly disregard what I now call the "girlfriend alibi."
If I tell the guy who won't leave me alone at a bar that I have a boyfriend and there are no men beside me, he’ll usually start talking about how “lucky” he is, how he isn’t there with me and doesn’t need to know, what kinds of food they'd like to eat out of my pants, etc. These lines are all pathetic attempts to convince me that I should choose this deluded crackerjack over my partner. Well, if the boyfriend alibi isn't that effective, the girlfriend alibi is even less effective. These strange men hardly ever accept that I’m with someone, let alone a female someone. But most of the time, an imaginary girlfriend simply doesn't work as well as an imaginary being that they imagine to have a penis. I have a feeling that if I were to tell these suitors about my girlfriend's penis, they would see me as more "weird" than "taken." They'd probably go on about how I haven't had "a real man" and why the live, in-the-flesh man in front of me is the perfect candidate to give me a taste of "authentic" man-meat. #cringecity Besides, to out my girlfriend would risk her life.
Imagine an unfamiliar person telling you that they're in a relationship. Now, try to imagine asking them if they have sex together. I visualized this scenario and laughed because it reminds me of how children ask if you kiss your spouse. Let's face it: These guys are not asking me questions like that because they think that I might be asexual or because they have some kind of respectful intention like that. It's a rule of society that's not as unwritten as you think because it is, in fact, explicit. When someone tells you that they have a significant other, it's usually a polite way of saying "no thanks." Until monogamy stops being the norm, it's going to stay that way.
Creepers, however, bulldoze over well-known refusals to satisfy their selfish desires. It has everything to do with them, nothing to do with me, and sure as hell has nothing to do with anything that you're doing the wrong way. This bulldozing demonstrates blatant disrespect for personal boundaries. That is a spectacular creepshow. Practically speaking, how am I supposed to know that that cretin at the bar doesn't have other predatory tendencies? I mean, when someone refuses to accept your refusal, they're inadvertently communicating that your personal desires mean nothing to them. I shouldn't have to grow a tougher skin when they can grow some decency. That's the thing about decency: it's common. Yes, I've been targeted by sexually predatory women, but most of the creepers have been men, many of whom became extra creepy when invalidating my lesbian relationships in favor of whatever kind of relationships that feed their own sexual fantasies.
See, when I first realized that I’m not as heterosexual as other people claim to be, gathering the nerve to come out was difficult. I was 12 years old when I told my same-aged male cousin while we were walking along an isolated shoreside. As I grew older, I realized how mature his response was in comparison to the responses that came from the rest of the world. He never told me that bisexuality wasn't a real orientation, that I was too young to know my sexual orientation, that I was "resorting” to women because I wasn’t conventionally attractive, that I'd become straight once I had sex with a guy, or try to slip me any of the endless drivel that I would encounter a couple of years later. Like me, many lesbians report not being taken seriously when they came out of the closet, presumably because their sexuality doesn't involve men.
Most of my lesbian friends have been approached by men in public whom, upon learning that they are lesbians, insisted that they only think so because they “haven’t been fucked the right way.” If my friends were lucky, their bosses threw the patron out, especially when the guys were saying stuff like, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll show you.” A lot of my gay guy friends have told me that some women try to "convert" them into the cult of heterosexuality based on their own compulsions as opposed to concern for expanding my friends' boundaries in a healthful, meaningful way. It's not nice to insist that someone isn't the sexuality that they're claiming to be. At least these women get side-eyed for being abrasive. Much like religion, it's impossible to "convert" someone to any sexuality unless there's some underlying curiosity or desire that's already there. When you "convert" someone with the use of force, it's being selfish and predatory. It's conversation at the sword. Remember that whole Inquisition thing where people had the choice between conversion or death? Just because we live to tell the tale doesn't mean that these actions are anything short of really damn creepy.
Then there’s that stunning awkwardness that ensues when the whackjobs aren’t pushy passersby on the streets, but fellow classmates or party-goers. One time, my friend and I were hanging out with a guy who seemed cool, but turned out to be an infamous on-campus creep.
He was getting all touchy-feely with my friend, a lesbian in a committed relationship. Eventually, the guy asked what her orientation was in so many words. She told him that she was a lesbian and she had a girlfriend.
“Oh? You mean, like, all the time?”
He continued to ignore her blatant disinterest with more nuanced questions:
“Well, have you ever been into a boy?”
“Do you ever think about having a threesome?”
“What kind of guys do you think are attractive?”
(Spoiler: She said, "I don't find men attractive.")
“Are you allowed to fool around with guys?”
Only on days with Y.
That night ended with, “WHY?!”
As far as guys like this are concerned, no dick = fair game. He kept trying to insert himself into her love life simply because there wasn’t another a dick in the picture. It's Schrödinger's dick.
Oh, and then there's the people who like to pretend that sexual and romantic intimacy between women doesn't count as homosexuality. Since you Fledglings are now aware of my non-heterosexual orientation, I'm sure that you can see why dating any kind of homophobe is a direct conflict of interests. Last year, I went on a pity date. (Before you hate me: I've learned my lesson.) We were in the guy's car and somehow, I unthinkingly brought up some matter involving homosexuality. I wasn't even trying to pick his brains or pull any kind of filtering maneuver; I just said something related to it. The interaction went something like this:
Him: I don't like gays. It's gross.
Me: *cue deliberate awkward silence* Um...Excuse me?
Him: I'm alright with them so long as I don't have to watch them. I don't mind being around them, but I don't want to see it. It grosses me out.
Me: Um, that's a huge problem.
Me: Because I'm bisexual and you just said that you don't like gay people and don't want to see them. Many of my loved ones are also gay so you'd be seeing plenty of that by being even remotely associated with me.
Him: Oh! No, I didn't mean that. I like it when girls get together and I'm alright with that. I just don't like seeing gay guys.
Me: It's one thing if you don't seek out gay porn, but it's totally different if you get skeeved out by being around openly gay couples being affectionate with one another. There's really no way that this could ever work out.
Him: But you're not gay.
Me: Um, I just told you that I'm bi. Homosexuality is a huge part of my life and identity.
No matter how many times I explained it, he still didn't get it. I didn't believe that I was actually talking to someone my age. At least he didn't start asking invasive questions about my sexual history with other women, turning our exchange into one-sided dirty talk. It really bothers me how many people start that crap up once they find out that I like women too. It's one thing if someone asks me questions because they're genuinely curious; it's another thing if they're forcing our exchange for one-sided masturbatory pleasure.
From what I've seen, my peers tend to be fairly cognizant and accepting of homosexuality, especially on Long Island. I just get really upset because it reminded me of all the times I've ever had to deal with people gay-bashing and the hypocrisy of what I've experienced. I take it really personally when anyone refuses to accept my relationship(s) with women as valid and worthy of the same respect that one might extend to my relationships with heterosexual men.
Lesbians are people, too. Lesbianism still "counts" as homosexuality. Our relationships as valid and worthy of respect. Once again, until monogamy stops being the norm, "I have a [partner of any gender because gender is irrelevant in this situation]" should be understood as rejection and general disinterest in the same way that the "boyfriend alibi" is understood as such.
#Real #Love #Sex #Relationships #Dating #Lesbians #Homosexuality #Feminism #Women #Womanhood #Equality
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