At this point, it’s as cliche as U-Hauling and flannel shirts. It’s a storyline on “Orange is the New Black,” the plot of a teen show on MTV, and the premise of millions of questions posted to advice forums across the internet. Whether predatory or pining, some lesbians live their love life like Sisyphus, doomed to spend eternity rolling a boulder uphill, only to watch it roll back down, and try again.
Female friendship, independent of sexuality, is intense. It’s a relationship with someone who celebrates you, supports you, and fosters growth without the mess that is dating and sex. In a society where platonic love is undervalued, it’s not a surprise when those lines get blurred and someone ends up falling in love with their straight best friend. We project that mentality on the relationships we see in the media. Karlie Kloss and Taylor Swift, Gayle and Oprah — we, as a whole, have a hard time celebrating deep platonic friendships, so romance becomes the only explanation and the next logical step. And then it gets messy. If you are gay, bisexual, or queer, you have probably ended up falling for a straight girl. It’s a lesbian rite-of-passage. Sometimes, it’s the beginning of long-term partnership, but more often than not, it usually ends in heartbreak on both sides, and even the end of a friendship.
And then there are the girls who go out of their way to chase after straight girls, trading in unrequited love for straight up lust. Somehow, despite being all female, certain elements of lesbian culture can be deeply rooted in traditional gender constructs. Straight women are seen as conquests and the girls that chase after them boast about it over Coors Light at The Cubbyhole. In a time where female empowerment is so important and so celebrated, it’s absurd to me that women can still objectify other women for their own sexual validation. As a lesbian, I’ve been on the receiving end of straight dudes telling me that they could turn me on a weekly basis. Everyone has. It’s creepy and uncomfortable and it’s the reason why, despite being out for over a decade, I’m still not comfortable being affectionate with my girlfriend in straight bars. No one wants to attract that kind of attention, so what does it mean for the queer community when we project that same mentality onto straight women?
It’s easy to understand the appeal. It’s great for the ego when you’re someone’s “exception to the rule” and we, as humans, are attracted to challenges like a moth to a flame. At the same time, is it really that fun to sleep with someone where attraction isn’t fully matched? And hasn’t every ’90s teenage rom-com taught us that there is nothing sexy about someone’s first time? Add in the “first time with a woman” thing and you’ll find your way to third base interrupted by a straight girl gushing about how weird it is that you have boobs. And to be clear, women are NOT blessed with a full-fledged knowledge of how to have sex with other women. You put anyone under that pressure for the first time and it’s like trying to watch someone navigate the New York City subway system with no map until you finally give up and Uber home.
A lot of these scenarios are born out of a vulnerability. If you’ve reached your mid-twenties, you’ve probably slept with someone that you didn’t mean to when you were feeling particularly raw. They’ve always been persistent and you’re a couple drinks in and your self-esteem could use a lift. But, to be that person, you’re treading the lines of consent and taking advantage of someone’s emotional vulnerability. If you were a straight male, that kind of behavior usually comes with a fedora.
I celebrate sexual fluidity. I identify as queer over identifying as a lesbian, even if Ryan Gosling couldn’t even get it. I don’t believe that there are hard and fast rules to sexuality, but people need time to marinate and figure themselves out. Sexuality is complicated and no one should be chased or manipulated based on theirs. More importantly, women aren’t conquests and should definitely not be seen as such in a community based on loving women.
By: Morgan Cohn