Extra! Extra! The words “boi” and “genderqueer” appeared recently in O Magazine, and (as far as we know), there have been no reports of brains in middle America short-circuiting. This, my friends, is a good sign. The article in question is “Why Women Are Leaving Men for Other Women.”
Although increased visibility for queer women in mainstream publications is a good thing, I will admit that a few things in the article bothered me.
First, same-sex relationships were treated like a new and trendy phenomenon. (That tired line again?) Second, the headline implies that all queer women have abandoned men for women. And third, the article reinforces the stereotype that all “true” lesbians are butch or masculine and that women who exhibit traditionally feminine qualities are attracted to lesbians, because lesbians exhibit masculine qualities. I will address these gripes in turn.
Gripe #1: “Lesbianism is trendy.”
Same-sex lovin’ between gals is “a new kind of sisterly love” and fashionable? Fashionable? Like skinny jeans and keffiyehs worn as scarves? I guess if a couple of famous redheads decide to date women, then dating women must be fashionable.
Thank you, famous redheads, for making people like me new, bright, shiny and cool.
Will heterosexuality make a comeback in 2010? I better take note of that so I can put a few guys on my dating short list so I can be in the “in” crowd and get into Bungalow 8.
Gripe #2: Women become queer when they abandon men.
Female sexuality cannot be reduced to an Almond Joy/Mounds commercial: “Sometimes you feel like a nut — sometimes you don’t.” There are plenty of queer women out there who never felt an attraction to men. They kissed a girl, and they liked it. And there was never any boyfriend to speak of.
Gripe #3: All lesbians are masculine.
This is my personal pet peeve.
Repeat after me and write this on the blackboard 100 times: Not all lesbians are masculine or butch. Furthermore, you can wear skirts, dresses and makeup and still be attracted to women who wear skirts, dresses and makeup. Not all lesbians buck gender norms, and those who do not buck gender norms are just as gay as those who do. Gender identity/expression and sexual orientation are not always intertwined.
This is the preacher. Choir, are you listening? (Furthermore, members of the choir, can you send this memo to the general public, because the ’90s are over, and I’m tired of preaching.)
Still, it is a good sign that a publication that has been traditionally marketed to straight audiences touched upon sexual orientation and gender. I will take well-intentioned articles on sexuality and gender that slightly miss the mark over no visibility at all. What are your thoughts?