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September 8, 2008 | by  | in Features |
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I Kissed a Girl

As a totally out lesbian woman, I experience homophobia in various forms on a regular basis. However, as I was saying to a friend recently, the thing that really fucks me off more than a vicious, scathing utterance of “dyke” from some ignorant bigot is when other, non-queer non-women, often heterosexual males, (though not necessarily always) try to reap some kind of benefit from my sexual orientation.

For example, a couple of months ago my girlfriend and I were walking hand in hand through the quad and a guy walking past us said “Yeah, good work ladies, you’re gorgeous!” I personally am offended by such an assertion, because it communicates to me that my sexuality – my love for my girlfriend – is approved only because we are acceptable to the criteria of the Beauty Myth.

We both present ourselves as quite ‘girly’, no shaved heads or facial piercings here (at the moment), and this seems to lead straight males to presume that we’re keen to play the passive Eve to their dominant, predatory Adam. Well, you know what boys, Eve’s leaving you for Jezebel, and she’s never returning to your stifling Garden of Eden. They’re going to the land of gentiles to raise a family of six cats, all named after famous feminist authors.

Another example is when, for some stupid reason, I find myself at a place like Maya – it is incredible how many times drunken men continue to shamelessly hit on me, even after I say “Look, buddy, you’re barking up the entirely wrong tree. I’m so gay I can barely walk,” To me, the continuation of flirtation after this point is extremely disrespectful, as it is a slight upon my choice (because of my sexual orientation) to not sleep with men. I believe that this is fueled largely by a male sense of entitlement to female sexuality. Don’t worry too much – it’s a result of a couple of millennia worth of patriarchal indoctrination, and it is possible to get over it with education and a refusal to remain ignorant.

In reference to this case, imagine if a gay man hit on a straight man. To straight men, if the gay guy continued to flirt with the straight guy after he had made it clear that he was heterosexual, it would be seen as inappropriate and quite disrespectful to the straight guy’s identity as a heterosexual. Yet, as we know, this kind of behaviour can even be called upon in the ‘justice’ system under the defence of provocation. What bullshit. Why is it okay for straight men to own their sexuality so much that they can use it as a defence against murder, and yet lesbians (and certainly straight women also) have the sexuality regularly pulled out from under their feet?

My sexuality is mine. Mine mine mine mine mine! I love women because I love women. My sexuality is not a dedication to getting heterosexual males off. I don’t want them to accept that I sleep with women because they approve – because their approval is based upon the fact that they feel they can gain something from it (lesbianism) – and therefore from me.

The discourse of “girl-on-girl/hot lesbians” derives from a patriarchal struggle with the concept that lesbians are women who are attracted exclusively to women. It is a denial of this exclusivity, and perpetuates the myth that female sexuality is passive and that are intrinsically designed for men’s enjoyment and fulfilment of desire.

I feel I must point out that this is not a sexnegative point of view I make. I would be the very first one to say that queer women’s sex lives can be incredibly hot, but I don’t want my sexuality to be viewed as open for exploitation by straight men. Nor do I deny that sexuality is fluid. I am comfortable entertaining the idea that it is possible one day I may develop a penchant for penis (if you will). But that does not mean that a woman’s self-identification as a lesbian and her decision to exclusively sleep with other women is any less valid, or that it should be considered a phase that we’re gonna get over once we have a really good lay, or whatever. What I’m advocating here is RESPECT. Aretha said it, and I’m saying it again.

This is why I disagree with the assertions made in last week’s Women’s Column about the song ‘I Kissed a Girl’ by Katy Perry. I feel that far from being “defiant in owning that she enjoyed it”, the lyrics of this song illustrate a submission by women to the omnipotence of men’s assumed virility. It is merely a case of lipstick lesbianism – a blatant attempt to turn men on for commercial gain. It’s disgustingly submissive, in my opinion. “I kissed a girl just to try it/ Hope my boyfriend don’t mind it”? Fuck your boyfriend, Katy Perry, and fuck your fauxmo exploits.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Katy Perry sucks says:

    Not to mention that her other song “You’re so gay [and you don’t even like boys]” is particularly offensive to gay men.

  2. The Spirit of New Zealand Feminism says:

    Also the other song “If I was a guy, I would have an erection about you, sugar cheeks” and “Hey, I’m a woman, but I like your tits”. I found those offensive, yet slightly arousing. I think the worst was “I hate men, but I’ll sit on their pork swords and jiggle, just ‘cos they got the money”. Totally demeaning.

  3. Shitkicker McGee says:

    Super article Freya

  4. you rock my world Freya. Seriously.

  5. Jeeves says:

    I am a homosexaul male. I have comments to make about the song “Ur[sic] so gay”. Principally, I have no problem with it. It’s not derogatory towards gays. Certianly it equates the metrosexual (query emo) former boyfriend with a gay. But its playful.

    In a way, this sort of casual homophobia is empowerring to gays as a sign that we’re not taboo – we’re like gingas or other groups who we can mock, but without any real venom. Frankly I would hate to live in a world where no one is allowed to say anything that isn’t affirmatively pro-gay. How boring and bland.

    Part of equality is stereotyping. All groups get stereotyped. There is a fine line between negative stereotyping and the kind of stereotyping that is par for the course in polite society, but I don’t think Katy Perry crosses the line.

  6. Freya says:

    No, Conrad, you rock my world. Srsly.

    Jeeves, to me, the problem with the song is that it affirms the concept that women’s sexuality – especially that which involves girl-on-girl, is something that is submissive to men’s sexuality. The perpetuation of this stereotype is fueled by the patriarchal sense of entitlement to women, their bodies – and their sexuality. In my capacity as a woman, I disagree with that entirely, because it offends my sense of self determination and independence.

    In my capacity as a lesbian, I find this can affect the lives of women like me in an incredibly negative way also. Hence I disagree with popular culture that fuels the discourse of ‘only lesbians for the boys’, because it is a disrespectful attempt to ‘take’ our sexuality from us for heterosexual male benefit.

    And quite frankly, I have nothing to give heterosexual males – ESPECIALLY not my sexuality.

    I don’t think there is any kind of stereotyping that is positive. It inevitably has a negative effect, as it marginalises individuals and suppresses diversity. Fuck that.

  7. Jeeves says:

    Hello again,
    I suppose I accept generally that a lot of heterosexual girl-on-girl action is submissive to men’s sexuality. But this isn’t neessarily the case. A carefree straight chick can just be like “fuck this, I wanna pash a girl and I don’t give a damn”. She’s not doing that because she wants to impress boys, she’s doing it because she wants to. That’s how I interpret Katy Perry.

    Also, I don’t think stereotyping can ever be good. However I think if its not overdone it can be neutral and have no tangible effect on diversity.

  8. annemjw says:

    Yay Freya! I’m utterly with you on this one, and with Conrad in you rocking my world.

  9. lesbocrat says:

    Wtf, casual homophobic statements are just that. Homophobic. They shouldnt be used in any kind of discourse, let alone some naive preconception of homosexual ‘identity’.

    Excuse me, I but dont want to reclaim the word “faggot” its the homosexual equivalent of “nigger”. I want it relagated to the bigoted backwaters of history, where it fucking belongs.

    And cmon, dont be so arrogant as to assume that mocks and barbs against minorities (particularly gingers) are “without venom”. Fuck that. They all are, thats why they are derisive. Cant we, as a community, evolve past this kind of self deprecating bullshit, and come into our own as secure, safe, and proud individuals without feeling the need to pre-empt heteronormative homophobia? I think we can. To think otherwise is stifling.

    So you’d hate to live in a world where everyone is not pro-gay? Isnt that just the same as saying you’d hate to live in a world that doesn’t include at least some form of homophobia? Thats fucked. We dont NEED homophobia to react against. We are better than that. Dont bring us all down to your level. Its offensive.

    Motherfucker.

  10. Freya says:

    annemjw, are you single? wanna date?

    jokes, bro, jokes.

  11. Freya says:

    well, sorta.

  12. Jeeves says:

    Several points lesbocrat:
    I agree that the term “faggot” is the equivalent of “nigger” and should be consigned to the rubbish bins of history. Where did I or Katy Perry say otherwise? Have you never said something to a friend that is on its face derogatory, but not meant it to be a put down. I certainly have and I doubt I know anyone who hasn’t. But “faggot” is probably not one of those words.

    Second, you ask “Isnt that just the same as saying you’d hate to live in a world that doesn’t include at least some form of homophobia?” Presumably you mean this as rhetorical question. Regardless, the answer is no, not being affirmatively “pro-gay” is different to being “anti-gay”. If you can’t get past a homophobes vs gays mentatility that’s your problem, but there are plenty of people out there who fit into neither camp.

    Do I think that people should be able to “come into our own as secure, safe, and proud individuals without feeling the need to pre-empt heteronormative homophobia?” well…yes. But does Katy Perry’s song really do that? Or are you just using it to fit to your preconceived notions of heteronormative homophobia that you learnt in Gender studies 101?

  13. anika moa's new girlfriend says:

    hah! it is homophobes vs. gays! we must destroy!

    i hope you’re not confusing this for heterosexuals vs. gays, that’s a different kettle of muff.

  14. Ausbo says:

    Jeeves, your comments are awesome. I agree completely.

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