Queer Women =/= Straight Men

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Sexuality
Tags: , , ,

I’ve come across this idea many times that women who attracted to women should in some way or another follow the same “rules” or norms as straight men. I mean, afterall, we are both attracted to women, so shouldn’t matters related to that be the same?

Except, not really. Just because I’m also attracted to women doesn’t make me the same as a straight man, and trying to explain why is a little hard because it feels obvious- I’m not straight and I’m not a man. Obviously the two experiences will be different.

One example I’m reminded of is something that has come up a few times with some straight men friends of mine. I have a few small pinup images in my living room. I love old fashion pinups! Seems sort of natural to me to put some up in my home. Some straight men friends find this weird. And maybe it is. I don’t know, I’m often weird!

But I find their reasoning weird. The reasoning given is usually “even men don’t hang up pictures of naked women on their walls!” (Straight being implied there.) And all I can think is ‘… ok. I’m not a man.’ Well, that and the fact that most pinup images are not of naked women and the ones I have that are naked are not full frontal or anything.

This is an example of one I have where the woman is naked:

The way they say it though you’d think it was hardcore porn or something.

Now I’m not trying to imply that it’s normal for queer women to decorate their homes with pinup art. I’m just saying, I find it really weird the implication in these statements that as a queer woman I should be behaving like a straight man. As if it makes any kind of sense to tell me that men don’t do X in order to imply I should not do X, when I am not a man.

This is just one example, but I’ve come across this idea before. This idea that queer women are just like straight men or should behave just like straight men because we are all attracted to women.

But it just doesn’t work that way. And seems to be an extension of the idea of straight men as the default. Straight men are the default and so it’s the default way of acting if you are attracted to women, so anyone who attracted to women should act like straight men.

It reminds me too of something I read, though I can’t remember where, that made a comparison about how a club or event requiring kink wear might turn away a straight man in a business suit, but a lesbian in one could be considered “kinky” to get in. Because a straight man in a business suit is normal, whereas a woman in one is breaking gender norms.

It all kind of comes back to basics, as a queer woman, I am neither straight, nor a man.  And that means something! It means something to my experiences. My experiences with sexuality and relationships are not those of a straight person, they are of a queer person in a heteronormative society. Similarly, I’m not a man and my experiences in the world are not going to be those of a man, but of a woman in a sexist society.

And sometimes, the ways those things differentiate my experiences from those of straight men are obvious. I’ve spent a lot of time around straight men who talk in very degrading terms about women they’ve had sex with, want to have sex with, and don’t want to have sex with. I feel no comradery in this talk just because I also sleep with women. Because I’m a woman. That means I am subject to and always at risk of being subject to this type of degrading commentary. Because as a woman, sexism hurts me in a way it does not hurt straight men.

I’m also reminded of something I saw just today- starting with Jenny Trout’s awesome piece on wearing a bikini which then lead me to her blog post about her feelings and responses to that piece, all of which is awesome in many ways, but on topic here I am reminded of her pointing out a man who responded to the piece simply with “no thanks”. Not uncommon. Because straight men are taught to view women’s value based on whether or not they want to fuck us. It doesn’t really matter if we would want to fuck them, they are still taught in our society that it matters if they don’t deem us fuckable. Society does not teach queer women that our attraction is so almighty as to determine other people’s worth. In fact, queer attractions are usually not considered or represented at all. Further as a woman, queer or straight, I’m still subjected to the other side of men thinking my worth is based on their assessment of my sexual attractiveness.

So while straight men and queer women are both attracted to women, the experiences are vastly different.

Now, how exactly that translates over to my love for pinups, I’m not sure. I just know that it doesn’t make any sense to assume that the norms of straight men apply to me as a queer woman.

 

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