Google the word “lesbian.”
Chances are, within the first few results, you will stumble upon pornography.
Spoiler alert. Those aren’t real lesbians. Their long, sharp, acrylic nails are a dead giveaway. And no, scissoring is not real.
Like the pornography directed by straight men for straight men conveys, society pushes this idea that lesbians are overtly sexual and promiscuous.
When two women are portrayed in a relationship in the media, it somehow becomes wildly pornographic, no matter how domestic or fully clothed the two women are. The act of simply being together is just pornographic.
One of the best examples of this that I can think of is Halsey’s music video for her first single, “Ghost.” She released two versions. (Halsey is bisexual, in case you were wondering.)
The first version features the songstress in a relationship with a woman.
The second version features the songstress in a relationship with a man.
The feedback to these two videos was wildly different. People were fine with the video where Halsey was depicted in a borderline abusive relationship with a man. What outraged people was the video where Halsey has a good time laughing and cuddling with a woman. Both videos have some sexual content, but the heterosexual version has quite a bit more sexual content.
Despite this fact, there was an unbelievable amount of backlash at the sapphic version of the video.
People declared the video, “PORNOGRAPHIC.” “CONTROVERSIAL.” “NSFW.” “RACY.” The list goes on.
This change in labels literally came because Halsey changed the gender of her romantic interest.
At most, Halsey’s music video with a female lead would have a PG-13 rating. But since lesbians are so often sexualized in media portrayals, the media assumed this lesbian portrayal would be overly sexual.
In TV shows and in movies, lesbian characters seem only to be defined by who they have sex with. Lesbian characters are seldom written for actual lesbians to relate to and are generally not accurate depictions of lesbians at all.
This misrepresentation of lesbians has real world consequences.
When I walk down the street holding hands with my beautiful girlfriend, people look at us like we disgust them. Sometimes, they look away. Is our beauty too much to handle?
Sometimes, they don’t look away. They keep the ugly look of disdain on their face. Once, we were sitting in Panera Bread laughing and talking. This middle aged woman glared at us from her booth the whole time. I bet she didn’t enjoy her panini.
We get dirty looks a lot. We also get rude and uncalled for remarks from people. Mostly straight men. I think they forget we can hear their idiotic and immature speech. Yes, I am aware of our First Amendment Rights. No, that freedom of speech does not make their words okay.
In a world where queer people get shot in their OWN fucking night club. Where conversion therapy is still allowed. Where LGBTQ+ youth have the highest risk of being suicidal. Where you can lose a job because of who you love. Where families disown their children for being anything other than cisgender or heterosexual. Being gay is brave.
Being a lesbian is so brave, but the media treats us like sex objects.
And if we aren’t treated as sex objects, we are defined only by the terms of our sexuality. It is as if there is no substance to a lesbian other than the fact that she has sex with women. Lesbians are entire people with personalities and hobbies and interests that are in no way related to our sexuality.
Yes, I am a lesbian with a wonderful girlfriend I love a lot. But I also create art. I make my own music. I dance wildly to music others have made. I collect vinyl. I dye my hair purple. I wear what I want to wear. I do a lot of things, y’all.
I have a whole entire personality. Imagine that! I’m multifaceted just like everyone else.
Honestly, the same can be said for any group that people try to label. Labels are not an entire identity. An arbitrary label is no way to make a judgment on anyone’s character or who they are as person. At the end of the day, people are people.
When everyone’s flesh decays, all that is left is a skeleton. You can’t tell if a skeleton was a lesbian or straight woman. You just know that skeleton was once a person.
Don’t think of the label. Think of the skeleton.
P.S. This blog post mentions sex quite a bit. If you are having sex with a partner, do what makes you happiest and always practice safe sex!
P.P.S. I also feel that it is important to note there are people who say incredibly sweet things to my girlfriend and me. Not everyone is a jerk!