Disclaimer: This may offend you. Tough shit. I am who I am, and the world is the way it is. This is me journaling in public, not me coddling you.
For the most part, heterosexuality squicks me. Not the fact that many people are in male-female relationships. Not the hand-holding or other earnest public expressions of affection. No, it’s the sexual part… and the socio-political part, which itself is tied up with the sexual part. (If you’re familiar with the term “compulsory heterosexuality”, you’ll get what I’m saying. If you’re not, please google it now.)
I don’t find the male form sexually alluring in the slightest, though because I do have eyes and a brain that functions I have the ability to perceive some men as looking better than others. And I don’t walk around every day feeling disgusted by the mere existence or presence of men. In fact, gay men can fuck with abandon in the next room over from me and I perceive it as just so much background noise, like the sound of a refrigerator kicking on. Neutral ambiance. But a man and a woman fucking? I’m ready to throw up. Instantly. It dredges up a plethora of intensely negative feelings rooted in a wide variety of things I’m trying to untangle through the process of writing this…
There are extremely strong connotations of rape that flame up. My brain perceives the sound of a man fucking a woman as a crime — as victimization/oppression in progress. Hearing it is physically painful and sickening, like watching a particularly brutal torture scene in a horror film. There’s also contempt (oodles of it)… the source of which is not totally clear to me, though I suspect part of it is contempt for the self-hatred that sometimes seems to ooze from the woman enacting heterosexual behavior, as well as contempt for the entitled, brutish, simplistic sexuality of the average straight male. There’s also an undercurrent of aesthetic unease, a cognitive dissonance that arises from being confronted with the asymmetry of straight sexuality (i.e. it’s deeply UGLY to me in and of itself).
These feelings have been a natural part of how I perceive the world since I was a small child. Unpacking them will not make them go away or transmute them into attraction. I’ve heard all of that before, thankyouverymuch. I have struggled with this for years: trying to force myself to be comfortable with straightness, simply because everyone and everything around me seems to be demanding it and flippantly casting aside my perspective as “oppressive” or “hateful”. It’s just not happening. And attacking me because of that fact seems to be as enlightened as right-wing homophobes who try to convince me that deep down inside there’s a straight woman in me waiting to be released through the power of Christ’s love or whatever bizarre pseudo-psychology they spew nowadays. The left-wing flipside of this seems to say that really, deep down inside, every female is bisexual. Which is equally offensive and marginalizing.
I am not bisexual. I am a lesbian. This word has a meaning that does not include the presence or embracing of penis in any way, shape, or form. It means I am a biological female who is solely romantically and sexually attracted to biological females. And heterosexuality is the norm of the society in which I live. It is a norm that is largely justified and fleshed out by the oppression of biological females as a class by biological males as a class. I don’t think I can ever be okay with that, even if I were able to magically erase the innate negative feelings I explained above.
The way this affects my personal life is manifold and typically frustrating if not outright agonizing. Everyone I have ever dated is bisexual, and none of them grasped where I’m coming from, or even seemed genuinely open to understanding it. I get brushed off as a stupid man-hater, “heterophobic” (a concept that is as bankrupt as “reverse racism”), close-minded, sexually frigid, boring, and/or a horrible bitch. All because I’m not comfortable with and do not validate their heterosexual impulses. As if that’s somehow my job.
An extension of this is the fact that over the past year and a half or so I have begun exploring notions of polyamory and relationship anarchy. Prior to this I was a fiercely monogamous, super-sappy, intense, stereotypical U-Haul dyke. Now I’ve accepted that if I’m going to have a relationship that has any chance of lasting, I might as well try to get used to the fact that whoever I’m with will also be fucking men. Obviously this entails a lot of problems, since men fucking women is largely inherently offensive to me. But oh well. Apparently being with a woman somehow is never enough even though they’re supposedly just as attracted to them as they are men. Or the fact that they’re attracted to men and women means they’re entitled to having both a man and a woman, regardless of anyone else’s feelings. Scratch that. Several men and one woman (me). That is, when being with a woman suits them. At the end of the day, my feelings as a lesbian don’t really matter because the dick always comes first and lesbianism is inconvenient for them.
You want to know what marginalization is? You want to feel the worst rejection ever? You want to know what it’s like to have everyone around you discount your very being (including and especially the people who claim to find you attractive)? You want to know isolation and a dearth of options? Try living as a lesbian in an extremely rural area. The very ground you walk on is made of a billion knives. And a trillion more are pointed at you and closing in, every time you slip up by beginning to believe that someone can really love you. Everything in this world is trying to kill us.
Dismiss this all as biphobia if it’s what you need in order to feel better about it. I know no one wants to empathize with lesbian perspectives. It’s uncomfortable and challenging and oh so foreign. It doesn’t fit into the postmodern, queer theory bullshit paradigm that’s so hip now. The fact is that there are more bisexual women than there are lesbians, so probably anyone I get romantically or sexually involved with is bound to be bisexual. I’m not biphobic. I don’t get involved with people I have no respect for. I don’t get involved with people I can’t love. I know bisexuality is real, and I know how it’s expressed is as varied as any other orientation. But experience has shown me that the type of bisexual woman that prefers women (or can at least really commit to one) is awfully rare. And heterosexual behavior is not going away. Nor is it obligated to simply because it makes me uncomfortable. I realize this. And while it’s true that the patriarchy would probably collapse practically overnight if all women opted for celibacy or lesbian behavior, the likelihood of that happening is nil.
So what do I do? How can I live in this situation and not be miserable? How can I not feel cast aside and lesser when someone I’m involved with is also involved with men? How can I not perceive it as a betrayal of women everywhere? As a massive slap in my face? A reversal of previously stated feminist values?
As an anarchist, I believe deeply in respecting individual autonomy. I will not deny anyone what they need in order to be fulfilled, as long as that fulfillment isn’t coming at someone else’s expense. Therein lies the problem. It always seems to come at my expense. And the expense of lesbians as a whole. Or can that all be written off as my jealousy and arrogance?
I don’t want to build a fence around anyone. I know I don’t have the right. But what they do outside the confines of one always seems to hurt me severely. Although if it was done with other women it would bother me not at all. Maybe it would all be OK if communication surrounding these things was fluid and frequent. That seems to be the consensus within the open relationship subculture. But what if that’s bullshit? What if, in this case, that just operates as a way to suppress criticism of compulsory heterosexuality? What if it’s just an excuse for the selfish and impulsive to run roughshod over other people’s feelings? To be irresponsible? To render lesbian experience invisible?
I don’t have the answers. I just have the pain. And I’m not sure what to do with it.
I am tired of being looked down on for calling out straight privilege for what it is. And of being told that who I am is unacceptable, my experience is wrong, and my feelings don’t matter because they’re unpopular.
And I want to be able to love (or even just have sex with) someone without it meaning I have to deal with any more of this shit. The simple, logical answer is to only involve myself with lesbians. Ha! Would that there were any here. Simple logic can’t hold a candle to reality. The reality is that I somehow have to desensitize myself to the inherently heteropatriarchal/lesbophobic attitudes of other women. It’s now essential for me to fully realize that I will always be secondary to any man, no matter how comparatively unattractive, uninteresting, and unintelligent he is.