Posts Tagged ‘lesbians’

Bisexual Visibility Day

Posted: September 24, 2015 in About Me
Tags: , , , ,

bi pride flag

So yesterday was Bisexual Visibility Day/Celebrate Bisexuality Day. Seeing all the bi pride stuff on social media and hearing bi folks sharing there stories it got me thinking about my own identification. Background for those who don’t know already- I came out (to my friends) as bi my sophomore year of undergrad, and identified as bi for many years after that. Shortly after ending things with my first girlfriend though, which was just a bit over 2 years ago, I started questioning where I fell on the sexuality spectrum. It become more and more apparent that I clearly had a strong preference for women. Even before dating my ex-girlfriend, while I didn’t question my identification as bisexual I decided to stop dating men after a few dates with men where I found myself wishing I were on a date with a woman instead. So then I went through a phase of questioning exactly how much interest and attraction I have for men. A phase I’m not sure I’m really past yet.

What I know right now is that I prefer women, but I certainly have some attraction to men, but not enough to be interested in dating men in general. I could fall for a man I know in some other context, but since I so strongly prefer women, as a rule I do not date men.

Given that I’ve taken to identifying as queer, or gay, or a lesbian, but not bisexual anymore. These feel more accurate when considering that I am not interested in dating men. Yet, when talking about bisexuality it reminds me of how I feel torn between these different identities still. Falling between an even bisexuality and 100% gay, even as I fall closer to the gay side, I feel like in some ways I have one foot in each box. I only date woman which makes me feel pretty gay.

On the other hand, talking about the issues bisexual people, and in particular bisexual women, face, I feel a lot more solidarity there. Especially when it comes to the biphobia from lesbians. Which whether I call myself bisexual, gay, or a lesbian doesn’t matter that much, to many lesbians I am still tainted because I’ve slept with men. Even if identifying as a lesbian did give me a pass with some lesbians who find bisexual women untrustworthy and icky, those are not people I want to be around or associate with regardless. That feeling of exclusion because of not “picking a side”, or fitting neatly into prescribed boxes kind of makes me want to take up the bi label again, and wave a proud bi flag.

I have no conclusion to this, I still don’t know where I fall, but I figured I’d in these thoughts on bisexuality for awareness/visibility/whatever.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot recently about being single and my feelings about it.

Now just a quick disclaimer here- first off I am speaking about my own experiences, and that is really all I can speak on. Similarly, because I’m speaking from my own experiences, I’m throwing a bit together here that isn’t all directly defined by being single. Some of this is also specific to living alone, and living alone in a house- I could be single and still not have that experience. But that is part of my experience with being single.

1. I’m comfortable being single

As much as I sometimes want certain benefits of a relationship, I’m also very hesitant of getting involved in one- mainly because there are so many perks to being single! I was talking with someone about this and they suggested it’s normal to be afraid of getting serious when you’ve been hurt before… but that’s not how I feel. I’m not afraid, least of all of being hurt. There was a time when I was hesitant of dating for that reason, right after coming out of two back to back abusive relationships. But now? I’m not afraid to get close to people. I’m not afraid of having my heart broken. And honestly I’m not even afraid of the risk of abuse, because I know I can get out and I can survive any of it.

Damaged people are dangerous, they know they can survive.

Quite the opposite, I’m just not about to give up all the good things of being single quickly or without good reason. And I notice that after spending most of my adult life un-attached, I’m very comfortable in being single right now.

Now part of this is liking the perks of being single, especially living alone- things are my way, I don’t have to share, I don’t have to accommodate someone else, I don’t have to accommodate their schedule, or worry that my dirty clothes all over the house or general clutter will bother them. And I don’t get annoyed because someone moved my [insert thing] and now I can’t find it!

someecards says: “Yes, I’m single. And you’re gonna have to be pretty amazing to change that.”

But there is a deeper level to being comfortable being single as well- I’m comfortable with myself! I’ve seen friends who just can’t be single. They get antsy and uncomfortable spending mere weeks without a significant other. The result being they jump into relationships not because they found someone who they are so into they really want to be with them, but because they just really want to be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. Most people I’ve observed who do this, seem to be rather uncomfortable with themselves alone. Being alone with yourself can lead to some deep reflection on who you are. If that makes you uncomfortable you either have to make some serious changes in yourself… or you just try to avoid being alone with yourself long enough for that to kick in. The latter can be a lot easier! There is also an issue with social acceptance and this ties in with being comfortable with yourself though! I’ve had friends who told me they couldn’t stand being single just because they felt left out among coupled friends, or felt like they were judged for being single. There is this idea people have that being single means you “can’t get someone”. People tend to view being single as something forced on a person rather than something they would choose. This often is not the case, but if your single, you are going to come up against this stereotype. Are you comfortable enough in who you are to not give a damn what people think of you for being single?

By being single for so long, I feel like I’ve had to deal with a lot of these things, and so many more. I have grown and I am a better person for it.

2. I’ve learned I’m capable and I can handle myself

A big motivation for me writing this is actually just the mundane things about living alone that I’ve learned to deal with, or you could say even overcome.

For example, today I removed a dead bird from my backyard, all by myself! That may sound silly, but I’m pretty proud of myself for that!

Now, this was after getting some advice from my family who pointed out the common sense solution- use a shovel! I was a bit horrified thinking I needed to get a glove or plastic baggy and pick it up with my hand. We all have our strengths and weaknesses- I’m learning one of my weaknesses is that I sometimes I overlook the simple, commonsense solutions to basic problems. No shame in admitting I’m not perfect!

But this got me thinking about all the things I’ve had to do myself because- it’s just me! I also think most people could benefit from living alone a least for awhile for these reasons.

It’s funny to me, because there was a time I thought I couldn’t live alone! I thought I would always need roommates at least.This was due largely to a fairly serious phobia of bugs- all bugs. I could not deal with them. I could not kill them because that required getting too close to them.

It’s gotten a lot better over the years, and that is due a lot to simple necessity. I had to get used to it/figure out solutions that work for me (I still can’t get close enough to most bugs to kill them by squishing them with something, I  have to use raid that I can spray from a distance. But I keep home and garden raid on hand now so I can handle it my own way!)

Now, I’m also thankful that I was eased into living alone in a house, because I would not have managed going from living with my family to having my own house well. But rather I went from living with family to a dorm with a roommate and a hall full of other students and an RA. Then I tried that again the next year with a different roommate and ended up with a sociopathic, homophobic rooommate who did everything she could to make my live miserable every second of the day because she was upset at having a “gothic dyke like [me]” for a roommate (and this was actually before I was out!)

That was the push that made me brave living alone. I switched dorm rooms for the rest of that year and had a totally nice roommate, but still I decided to move offcampus and live by myself in a studio apartment the next year. Which gave me plenty of living alone experience, though I never had to deal with outdoor things.

Now I rent a house I live in just me and my cat. Which comes with so many more challenges than an apartment. I have to do yardwork- and venture outside and deal with all the  bugs in the process.

Yet ironically despite my general hatred of being outside with bugs, I like mowing the lawn and don’t mind most of the yard work. Which I’m thankful to learn about myself, I know I can handle things that I do not like- like disposing of the dead bird, or having to kill spiders myself. I also learned that I prefer certain chores that I would have thought I hated, and ones that are generally considered men’s work. I’ve had guy friends over who make comments about doing things like mowing the lawn for me or whatever and I’m just like… why? Yeah I’m a woman, but I can handle it! I live alone, who do you think usually does it?

So I’m glad to know that I can be self-sufficient. And again, I think that’s a big benefit to take with me when I do get into a relationship.

Oh, and to throw in a little bit related to the actual theme of this blog- lifting helps with this stuff too! Makes being a single, self-sufficient woman a lot easier. Today I was doing yardwork and hauled my bag of yard waste to the alley and filled it as much as I could with leaves and branches my neighbors keeping throwing on my part of the alley. So then I tried to drag the bag back to my house, but it was too heavy it didn’t really want to easily slide across the uneven grass. So I said fuck it, and just picked it up and carried back to my house. I’ll need to repeat the when I take it out to the curb for pickup. Certainly makes things easier when you don’t need assistance in lifting or moving the heavy stuff- just saying 🙂

I also suck at making lists- this should probably have more than 2 listed items…. oh well.

For some reason there is something… or somethings… about me some people just really hate. I mean, I never expect to be everyone’s cup of tea. But honestly I am surprised at times the amount of obsessive hate I get directed at me. Particularly the obsessive part. Like the folks who obviously disagree with me and clearly straight up do not like me, yet still apparently read everything I write here and on other websites- and check all my workouts I post online. I mean, I have a blog specifically identified as being about feminism, I expect the random nasty comments. That some people really get so obsessed though that they don’t just say “haha fattie!!!!” (<- real comments I get often) and move on but keep following all my activities across various websites- that was a bit unexpected.

But I guess I should have expected, I’m fat, I’m a woman, and I’m queer a dyke, several characteristics that mean a lot of people are very bothered by my mere existence on the internet. I actually try not to venture too far away from certain safe internet spaces usually (my facebook that is limited to those I have friended, and a few forums that restrict membership and are heavily moderated against hateful or harassing comments). Though I’ve branched out recently. Though I still won’t go on reddit. But I have this blog, and another, I use twitter now and then, and I started posting on instagram a lot and even made my account public, and I’m active on this fitness website called fitocracy.

The latter being the primary source of most issues I run into.

None of this should surprise me. I stayed out of #gamergate and mostly out of #shirtgate but I read about both and I know women who actively posted bout them. I know about the rape threats and misogynistic comments that followed those who did. I know about the doxing and many women who had the harassment go beyond the internet resulting in being stalked and threatened IRL. Women who no longer could feel safe in their own homes all for speaking out on the internet against sexism and in support of other women.

Misogyny on the internet isn’t news to me. But I stayed largely uninvolved in both of those precisely because I have limited energy to deal with bullshit. I have more than enough stress in my life already, and I do research that revolves around violence against women- when I want to relax and get away from that, I don’t want to get away from it by reading a bunch of rape threats.

And it shouldn’t surprise me running into so many issues on a fitness based website, it should be no surprise that a number of men who are interested in lifting feel the need to fuel that interest with misogyny and homophobia. Because it’s all about proving one’s masculinity which apparently means tearing down women and gay men.

And even though this is titled “haters gonna hate”, I wish I could sit here and say that it hasn’t changed anything for me and I just ignore it. I do my best to, but sometimes, it doesn’t work. I’ve deleted a number of workouts after just downright mean comments (not advice, just mean for the sake of being mean.)  I’ve started not tracking a lot of workouts online- not for the reasons I hear others use about just not caring about points anymore, or because they track other places instead, no- for me when I choose not to track something online it’s because I just don’t want to deal with comments from folks about how they are laughing at my workout.

I want to connect and talk to folks who have a similar interest and I want to celebrate progress, but I can’t do that without also opening myself up to all number of rude comments there, and here, and probably soon enough other places as well as a small set of people follow me around from site to site.

Part of my inspiration for this is when I see folks say this doesn’t happen, they don’t see it. Well, you wouldn’t if it’s not directed at you. Many of these exchanges have not happened in the open. I’ve deleted them on other sites, on this site comments need to be approved so if I delete it without approving it no one except me knows it happens. And so that’s part of why I’m writing this. To acknowledge that this happens, even though if you looked through comments here or elsewhere you would find no evidence of it.

And a big part of my inspiration in writing this is just how exhausted I am with it. I’m exhausted at having to put my guard up if I venture over to certain sites. I have to prepare for the backlash if I do something as radical as suggest that folks should maybe not use homophobic slurs. And it’s just fucking exhausting and there are so many times I just want to delete all my accounts, block everyone, and hide from the whole world because of this. Usually I get over that. I get some rest, get my strength back up, but the mental armor back on, and venture back out to deal with it all again. But god damn it blogging, tracking workouts online, and wanting to talk to other people about lifting should have to feel like that.

And it’s on a totally different topic but I am somewhat reminded of this article I read recently about Lena Chen’s experience blogging about sex. There are a number of parallels, plus it’s a great piece and worth reading so I’ll take any excuse to link to it.

I was hanging out with a friend once, and we were driving somewhere in my car with my music playing when a song I like started- Emotional Girl by Terri Clark. It’s a song that came out when I was 9 and I’ve been listening to it ever since then. My friend starts telling me how he can’t believe I would like this song. I’m confused, he’s hear enough of my music he should know by now that I like country music. That’s not it. He explains that this song supposedly represents everything I disagree with because I get upset at sexist stereotypes and this song is saying they are true.

Except not. I’ve listened to this song a lot. No where in the song does she says “women just more emotional than men!” or “women can’t control their emotions!” She sings about herself being emotional, and the artist happens to be a woman (or “girl” in the lyrics of the song). This led to an argument about whether or not it “proves” a stereotype for an individual to meet it, which he claimed it did- I still find interesting considering how many stereotypes he would be “proving” under that logic.

But I’m reminded of this conversation from time to time because while most people would never say they think a single individual displaying a characteristic means that proves a stereotype of all people like them in some way will have that characteristic, people still are inclined to take such things as evidence that their stereotype is accurate.

And this is one of the problems with stereotypes- making people in certain groups feel like everything they do has to be defined by that stereotype by way of disproving it.

You tell me women are just too emotional compared to men, and now I’m apparently under some obligation to never show emotion to prove your stereotype is wrong and show that I am worthy of being treated equally. And suddenly an entire group of people are not allowed varying personalities and characteristics because if even a few fit the stereotype for the whole group that is taken as proof the stereotype is accurate.

I’m writing about this because in a lot of ways it took some work to say “so what if I fit your stereotype?” For a long time I did feel like I had to behave in certain ways so I wouldn’t be considered a stereotype. But the thing is, the problem with stereotypes is the stereotype, not me being whoever I am.

And who I am sometimes fits certain stereotypes and sometimes it doesn’t. I wrote recently about musing about fitting the stereotype of the man-hating, lesbian feminist in combat boots, and the thing about that stereotype is there was a time when I did feel like I had to counter that stereotype personally and would be afraid of fitting it. Of course I still don’t fit the stereotype perfectly- usually the stereotype also includes “hairy legged” and I do shave. But, that’s kind of how individuals work.

Some stereotypes about women don’t fit me at all, some do. Some stereotypes about lesbians fits me, some don’t. Et cetera. And that’s fine.

There is nothing wrong with being an emotional person, so why should I be bothered if I fit that stereotype? There is nothing wrong with being a lesbian or wearing combat boots, so why be bothered if I fit those stereotypes?

Also fitting one part of a stereotype does not mean all the things people think about that are accurate.  See for example: fat lesbians do not prove the stereotype that lesbians are just gay because we are too fat and ugly to get a man. Being a fat lesbian doesn’t even prove that lesbians are as a group always fat (even if most of us are, your stereotype still sucks because it doesn’t ft all lesbians) and it certainly doesn’t prove all the extrapolation beyond that about the supposed meaning of our bodies and sexuality.

The problem is with people who make and operate under stereotypes about whole groups of people, not me for being who  I am instead of always trying to be the exact opposite of every stereotype that could maybe be applied to me.

I just posted on my facebook about being amused that I’ve pretty much become the stereotypical man-hating, lesbian feminist who wears combat boots.

And I was thinking more about this, and how I wear combat boots all the time these days- but but often with dresses and such. So being femme even though I wear combat boots I don’t look like the stereotype of a lesbian.

Which then got me thinking about being fat, which is often a stereotypical lesbian trait. The awesome Lea Delaria had some asshole comment on her twitter I think it was about how she was a walking stereotype being a fat, butch lesbian.

But I’m fat and femme. And these often feel like contradicting points to me. Even though they are not at all. But if you were to say “fat lesbian” I think most people would be more likely to picture someone who looks like Lea Delaria than Mary Lambert.

Speaking of which, how adorable are they! *swoon*

On the other hand I follow a lesbian page on facebook that primarily talks about femme visibility. It’s cool, but I notice a lot of the time there is stuff I just can’t relate to, because “femme” ends up being used to mean “conventionally attractive”, but the two are not necessarily the same thing. I’m femme. I’m attractive in my own way, but I’m not conventionally attractive. And the biggest part of that is because I’m fat.

#fatfemmeproblems

I’m just going to leave this there because I’ve been drinking and I’m not sure how to nicely conclude my rambling thoughts on this.

So apparently there was a study which found that among the lesbians sampled 75% were overweight or obese.

I first heard of this when I saw this article on my facebook feed about what is wrong with the statistic. The woman who wrote that article mainly takes issue with the fact that the sample size for lesbians was 87 compared to a sample size of 5,460 straight women.

I read this awhile back, and it made me uncomfortable, but I often like to stop and sit on those kinds of thoughts and feelings for awhile so I give myself time to think through why. But my thought at the time and my thought now remains- so what if it is true?

Putting aside whether the statistic is good or accurate, I’m more concerned with why we care one way or the other.

The author of this article is concerned that this statistic will be accepted as fact, will morph into countless memes and jokes used to mock lesbians and “delegitimize our sexuality”.

But it seems to me- as a fat lesbian- that the underlying issue to that is that it’s considered mock worthy to be a fat lesbian.

Ferndale Pride with Extra Lesbian Sticker

Fat Lesbian! … Fat extra lesbian? … or Extra Fat Lesbian?

Side note: I took 3 selfies at ferndale pride with 3 stickers- extra queer, extra gay, and extra lesbian (all 3 being terms I identify with), and of course it’s the extra lesbian one, which was most relevant to this post, that I like the least. Oh well. 

And why should this statistic “delegitimize our sexuality”? Being fat does not make my sexual orientation any less legitimate.

The author of the article explains further: “the publicity around this ’75 percent of lesbians are fat’ statistic on social media is at present exacerbating the stereotype that ‘lesbians are just a bunch of ugly, lazy, misguided women with low self-esteem who can’t get a husband because they’re fat and don’t wear make-up, and therefore they’re terrible people and don’t deserve to be taken seriously!'”

And here is where I get deeply uncomfortable with this. Because my sexual orientation is not a response to low self-esteem nor an inability to get a husband. Being fat doesn’t mean I have low self-esteem and it sure as fuck does not mean I can’t get a man. I get hit on by men with some frequency. Whether or not those are men I’d actually date even if I was dating men is another issue. But if I were really desperate for a man, I could get one. But I’m not. 1. I’m single and not desperate for a relationship period. I have no interest in being with someone just for the sake of not being single and proving to society that I found someone who found me attractive. 2. More on point here, I don’t want to date men. I am attracted to women. My attraction to women is not a back up, substitute for men. And my weight does not make that any less so.

The stereotype that “lesbians are just a bunch of ugly, lazy, misguided women with low self-esteem who can’t get a husband because they’re fat and don’t wear make-up” is a problematic one. It’s a problematic one for fat lesbians too. It’s still problematic even if 75% of lesbians are overweight or obese. Because fat lesbians are not lesbians because we are too fat to get a man. Being fat and a lesbian does not make this stereotype true. Just like lesbian women who don’t wear makeup don’t make this stereotype true. If 75% of lesbian don’t wear makeup this stereotype would still be a heaping pile of bullshit.

So given that fat lesbians are still not lesbians due to an inability to get a man, given many men find fat women attractive, and that the reasons fat women are lesbians are pretty much the same as the reasons thin women are lesbians- what would it matter if 75% of lesbians are fat?

And I leave you with: Extra Fat Lesbian in Rainbow Fishnets

And I leave you with: Extra Fat Lesbian in Rainbow Fishnets