My introduction to C-spot magazine was this article-http://www.c-spotmagazine.com/main/?p=1110, On Loving Women, by Irin Piperin. And I can assure you that the sexual undertones (and overtones) of the article indicates that I will be soon sharing links for some of my favorite literary erotica- because sometimes the pen is mightier than the video camera. But ANYWAYS, this article is about sex, but also something a lot deeper.
Irin Piperin speaks to the interesting assumptions about the gender and power dynamics in lesbian relationships, which I find at once frustrating and highly intriguing. Irin, now and open lesbian, writes of a conversation with a college friend:
“I don’t like women,” I said, taking a swig of beer. “I think that they’re silly and loud and generally obnoxious. They’re irrational and oversensitive and generally ridiculous. The thought of joining a sorority actually makes me itch all over.”
“But you are a woman,” he replied. “Do you hate yourself?”
“No,” I laughed. “But I feel like I’m a lot different than most others. And the women I do like all say they hate women, too.”
Irin frames being female in a very precarious way at the beginning of this article: she has a set idea of what women are like and her concept of femininity falls only into this one narrow category. Therefore, because she is not traditionally feminine, she alienates herself from the title female. And that’s just silly on a number of levels.
But it brings up an important point. As I ranted about in an earlier post, we tend to view the world in dichotomies (however flawed they may be): rich/poor, straight/gay, black/white, and in this case…Butch/femme.
So much of the way popular culture looks at lesbianism is through this dichotomous butch-femme lens. Butch lesbians wear flannel and crop their hair- they are masculine, strong, Amazonian, powerful. Femme lesbians are soft; they have long flowing hair and apply ruby-red lipstick. They are beautiful and little else. But in the age of Ellen DeGeneres and self-proclaimed “chapstick lesbian” label, this dichotomy is becoming less and less relevant.
That’s because people, just like Irin Piperin, are realizing that there are more shades of lesbian than the butch-femme dichotomy showcases. Irin writes: “The women who turn me on are the opposite of everything that I once considered feminine but they are women in the strongest sense.” These are women who fall in between
the lines of her dichotomy- who have long, sexy hair and strong, tan muscles; who are self-assured and lustful but also
compassionate and soft.
Point being, not all lesbians play rugby or eschew bras and shaving, nor do they all play folk music in their hippy skirts.
This is just the same as saying that not all women wear mini-skirts or like high heels. This should be self-evident. Lesbians are just like every woman- varied, strong, curious, and unique. They can be muscled and Amazonian, but still
sensitive and tender. They fall not only within and around the butch-femme dichotomy, but encompass characteristics of each side simultaneously without compromising their own individual identity.
Irin sums up beautifully:
“I have realized that what I disliked about women was really just what I disliked about a kind of
person. I’m not sure anymore that there is some static definition of femininity. To say that I don’t like women is to demonstrate an unmerited gender prejudice. The same is true if one claims not to like men. One cannot presuppose an identity onto someone based on sex or gender.”
EXACTLY. So if sex/gender does not presuppose a personality or identity, then where does that leave us? Oh yeah, as
individuals, fighting for an expression of self beyond the labels we ascribe to our sexual practices, our genitals, our ethnicity, and our eating habits (queer, female, Russian-Italian, and pollo-vegetarian if anyone cares…).
So guys, girls, lesbians, bisexuals, genderqueer, allies, undefined, and all or none of the above, my challenge is this: describe yourself and how you are more than a dichotomy.
Here’s me: I am the strong, confident daughter of a bodybuilder with a propensity for muscle, but none of the drive. I have loved men and women, but I feel more fiercely feminine around women and more masculine with male partners. I refuse to be traditionally dominated or to traditionally dominate, so my sexual conception of self swings like a
pendulum depending on my partner. I wear chapstick and eyeliner, but no mascara. I like vests with no shirts under them. I waitress to pay the bills, but I am will to do a lot of other things far less acceptable for the enjoyment of it as
well as the money. I am not ashamed of my body or its inherent beauty. I smile a lot.
Ok, your turn. Affirm yourselves.