I was as curious about them as they were about lesbian sex
February 18, 2019 8:50 AM   Subscribe

There’s a new party on the scene, specifically catering to the straight-but-curious woman: Skirt Club, an international circuit of underground parties for “girls who play with girls.” Skirt Club promoters hired me, a queer woman and professional Dominatrix, to attend and bring my submissive, Chloe, who is also my girlfriend. I may be accustomed to doing straight-for-pay sex work, but I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to entertaining women with boyfriends. So, despite the lesbian sex show I was hired to put on for a bunch of straight (or perhaps closeted) women, I was determined to have a good time for myself.
posted by sciatrix (67 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite


 
Reading the article it seems like they specifically screened for straight women, not just women with boyfriends/husbands. Still, it feels weird to go through the entire account without a mention of bisexuality or pansexuality.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:38 AM on February 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


I was also wondering where bisexuals fit into Skirt Club. Not allowed, I guess?

Related: Shannon Keating on the recent revival (by straight artists) of the lesbian doppelganger trope.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:46 AM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


There was an awful lot of cultural complaining and "you're not doing this right" before getting to the final thumbs up.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:07 AM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


This article sums up so much of my experience and I feel really seen, even if only by the author and her partner and with the knowledge that the other women there will never, ever see me at all. I'd say the attitudes present are absolutely typical of my experience of dealing with swingers: a lot of cis straight people are looking to play without consequence, and it's fine that they want that, but when they want to bring me into that what it means is that I'm a person of no consequence, someone not worth having feelings about, someone to negotiate about rather than with. Someone who is just a toy, an experience, an activity.

It's made me deeply suspicious of any and all poly folks that I encounter, because this is my experience of polyamory: a deeply hierarchical and cisheterosexist setup where people want to tell themselves they are so, so liberated for fetishizing my sexuality while not caring at all about me as a person.

I wish every woman who is deeply invested in having and keeping straight privilege but "just wants to try it" would go to one of these parties and not treat folks like me as though we are a sexy amusement park ride.

I get where the author ends up approving of it, but for me this article is full of triggers.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:08 AM on February 18, 2019 [63 favorites]


There are a couple of points in the article where I was really curious whether the party-goers were intrigued by the author's relationship because it was a queer relationship, or a BDSM relationship, or just because it was a good relationship.
posted by allegedly at 10:17 AM on February 18, 2019 [15 favorites]


bile and syntax - Sapphic Musk's Go Str8 Back expresses this as well (which you may find triggering rather than encouraging).
posted by Vortisaur at 10:35 AM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


I think every single wlw regardless of kinsey placement has at some point in life experienced the male-female couple gaze/expectations/etc of being creepily objectified as a w who might l another w in the presence of a man. And whether or not that's your thing -- and I think it's 100% valid and okay to be a person whose relationship choice is to be the fully consented special guest star in someone else's relationship, or multiple someone else's relationships -- it is still an undeniable background radiation in your life. I don't think it's biphobic to state that this happens, that it adversely affects wlw no matter where on the LBP spectrum they fall, that society's frequent minimalization of wlw relationships as all potentially being for the titillation of men is an act of aggression against all wlw.

But yeah it's? Weird? That this reads like it came from a world where being bi hasn't been invented yet? Or is like. not valid. idk.

really tho the weirdest part is that she acknowledges being in a room full of women who are actually! having sex! with other women! right there! and is still calling it as a "straight woman's space" full of hetero pussy tourists. the way she harps on how the women identify themselves as straight despite what's going on is also like. ick. people are at different places in their journey on the big gay highway of life.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:41 AM on February 18, 2019 [57 favorites]


I'm a lesbian currently doing the online dating thing, and I just want to echo bile and syntax's thoughts. Okcupid has it set to where, instead of looking for any woman who also likes women, you can specifically look for other lesbians. Even then, I was met with profile after profile of shoulders-down, awkwardly taken selfies of heterosexual couples, listing themselves as "gay women". They never list themselves as men, which is just more proof that these people are especially targeting play with lesbians.

I feel like my orientation is constantly objectified, denied, and doubted. I have a hard time finding online community-earlier this week a popular "sapphic" facebook page decided to take a stance against lesbian-specific spaces. Can't say that I'm humored by the existence of these kinds of things, or the author's willingness to participate in them.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:41 AM on February 18, 2019 [10 favorites]


It's made me deeply suspicious of any and all poly folks that I encounter, because this is my experience of polyamory: a deeply hierarchical and cisheterosexist setup where people want to tell themselves they are so, so liberated for fetishizing my sexuality while not caring at all about me as a person.

I'm sorry if this is a derail, but can I just say that this matches my lived experience of polyamorous relationships exactly? Especially when you mix a little BDSM in there. I've got no beef with polyamory in theory (although it's probably not for me) but the actual poly households I've been to have made me feel super uncomfortable. I'm sure that doesn't describe every poly relationship, but it certainly describes the ones I've personally been exposed to.

Also, yeah… how is this not bisexuality? I mean I guess we can get into the weeds about exactly what Kinsey number you have to be to be considered straight, but at the point where you're seeking out and enacting same-gender sexual experiences, it feels weird not to acknowledge that bisexuality is a thing. You can be in a committed hetero relationship and be bi. You can be attracted most of the time to other genders, but occasionally to members of the same gender, and be bi.

I feel like a lot if discussions around sexuality would make a lot more sense if we could collectively accept that a whole lot of people are not exactly as straight as they claim they are, myself included. I consider myself "straight enough" that I don't feel like I'm denying myself by deciding to claim straightness instead of explaining my whole sexuality all the time, but it's not black-and-white. I've been attracted to men, I've had homosexual experiences. Am I trading some nuance in return for the convenience and privilege of a straight identity? Yeah, I am. I think a lot of people do that, people who are "close enough" to straight that they can go weeks or months without feeling that the label doesn't fit them quite right, but who are in fact at least a little but queer.

It would be good if we could acknowledge that more. Sexuality is more than just a few categories, more than just a spectrum even. It's a whole landscape, a whole n-dimensional hypersphere of possibility. Our cultural conversation around this stuff is still incredibly stunted, our vocabulary inadequate, our framing outdated and dishonest. We still, on the whole, just don't know how to talk about this stuff.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2019 [18 favorites]


Vortisaur, thank you for introducing me to my new favorite song!
posted by bile and syntax at 10:44 AM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Bi erasure is real.

These questions of who is being performed for, who is the star of the script, are going to be present in any kind of sex, and any kind of relationship. It's fucked up that you can't fuck without "what does a straight man think of this" coming into consideration, whether there are any in the room or no.

I must have been the only poly guy who wasn't angling for a threesome with two women. Allowing my partner to see other people gave me alone time, and I'd occasionally hook up (like once every five years).
posted by idiopath at 12:27 PM on February 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


It's made me deeply suspicious of any and all poly folks that I encounter, because this is my experience of polyamory: a deeply hierarchical and cisheterosexist setup where people want to tell themselves they are so, so liberated for fetishizing my sexuality while not caring at all about me as a person.

My own experience as a unicorn has made me deeply skeptical of how straight-identified people approach queer sexuality for recreation.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:36 PM on February 18, 2019 [15 favorites]


Bi erasure is real.

Sure is, but as the article states, most of the women there identify as straight so maybe we can do the metafilter-preferred thing and take people for their word? Objectification and, in this case, "kink"-ification of lesbian sexuality is also real and its okay if people here want to talk about that.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:54 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


The other bit that complicates gender-specific spaces is trans people. Some of the people in this group may well be straight or queer men in a few years.

I don't know how to enable transfeminine people, transmasculine people, and queer cis women to build and sustain the spaces we want. It's clear to me that we aren't there yet, that many people in those categories are dissatisfied with the environments available to them. In that context, this is depressing.
posted by bagel at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


How are you straight if you are seeking out and enacting sexual experiences with members of your own gender, though? Words mean things, right? How do we balance the need to let people define their own identities with the need to be able to understand what people are talking about?

I mean, as I mentioned above, I go through my days thinking of myself as straight but when it really comes down to it, when precision matters—like if you were going to write a magazine article about the more complicated corners of my sexuality, for instance—I'm not. Not quite. "Bi" doesn't feel like it fits me, "pansexual" might actually be a little closer but still not quite. "Straight" is closest, but it doesn't describe the full complexity of my sexuality either.

So, like, what am I? Am I supposed to go around calling myself "heteroflexible," which I've always thought sounds more like a proposition than a statement of identity? I don't think there's a one-word label that is actually accurate, but I don't think I'm the only one in this category.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:12 PM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


How are you straight if you are seeking out and enacting sexual experiences with members of your own gender, though?

I don't know how else to explain it to you, this is not genuine attraction, this is people objectifying lesbians (and women!) to such an insane degree that they have removed the person out of the equation, and see this as nothing more than a kink. It's fantasy, it's not real.

And like i'm getting really pissed off, tbh, about the conversation being diverted towards men and their feelings and experiences, or in your specific case asking women to stop talking their own experiences and re-frame them so that you, specifically, feel validated in your sexuality that you gain privilege from.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:04 PM on February 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


asking women to stop talking their own experiences and re-frame them so that you, specifically, feel validated in your sexuality that you gain privilege from

*squints* Whoa, that was not my reading. My reading was that Anticipation was asking about where people on the edges self-define: people who are Kinsey 1s or 5s, for example, or people who experience some kinds of attraction to people in particular gender categories but not others; how to negotiate this kind of straight-adjacent space in an ethical but also honest way.

I also wish there was a lot more acknowledgement of bisexuality in this piece, and I think its absence is a fair criticism. (And I think the absence of space for bi women in the conversation in both the "queer woman" and "straight woman" ways that we've broken women into is, uh, more than a little problematic.)

Desire and sexuality are more complex than identified orientation might indicate, right? And the question of who, precisely, is asking for your sexual orientation is also going to influence your answer. I have been known to cheerfully ID as ace, bi, lesbian, and even straight on forms, depending on context and how much I trust the person I'm talking to. I know a woman who identified privately as bi, was out in high school and dated several women, and upon entering college re-closeted herself and publicly identified herself as straight/didn't mention her ex to most of her friends, while still experiencing attraction to both women and men the whole time. She didn't want to deal with the reactions that her mostly straight social circle would have had to knowing she was bi. How do women like that fit into this conversation? How do women who are sexually attracted to other women but not necessarily romantically? What happens if you've chosen that path, especially if the real lesbians have rejected you once too often for not being into women enough, and then you look around you and realize you've trapped yourself into a corner and you'll never have access to that part of yourself again?

None of this means that some--let's call them WSW*--don't engage with WLW** in a wide range of ways that are obnoxious, painful, or predatory. And that shit is not okay. But I think that understanding who is partaking in that obnoxious and predatory behavior, and in predation-adjacent behavior that hits the same triggers, is part of actually resolving it. And I worry that the closing-circles response to that type of pain from WLW tends to exacerbate the problem by intensifying the fear of claiming a social WLW identity for some women, instead of making that transition from socially straight to socially-bi easier. Tie that to so much queer community and identification being tied to sex and visible partners, which shuts out bi/pan people from any community access and validation unless they are currently in at least one same-gender relationship, and I think there's hunger driving this kind of crappy behavior that isn't going to be fixed by being furious at the straight intruders.

*women who have sex with women, a nod to the more familiar MSM, denoting men who have sex with men without necessarily identifying any one way for a wide variety of reasons, some of which are transactional in nature and some of which are not

**women who love women, usually defined as women who set up romantic or committed relationships with other women, intended to prevent us from referring to such women as "lesbians" when not all women in that social position prefer to identify that way--including yours truly
posted by sciatrix at 2:22 PM on February 18, 2019 [22 favorites]


Sorry, I didn't realize I was taking over the discussion. I also kind of thought that the whole "have these people never heard the term 'bi?'" subthread meant that there was at least room to discuss whether this sort of thing says something about people's sexual orientations. Like, where does fetishization leave off and genuine attraction begin? There's not a bright line between the two, and I think even the participants don't necessarily always know exactly where they stand. I think that, as other commenters have alluded to, it's probably more complex and case-by-case than being just a matter of fetishization and objectification, although I have no trouble agreeing that there's a whole lot of it going on here and it's problematic as heck. I don't think my comments were really that far out of step with the rest of the thread?

But fine, not my space, got it, I'm out. Sorry to intrude.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:29 PM on February 18, 2019


Straightness isn't just a neutral sexual orientation, it's also a form of status. Not surprisingly, that's strongly tied with gender as well. Straight people can do recreational lesbian/gay sex as long as it's sandboxed in a way where straight and cis privilege is protected. Kink and swinging are two of the big mechanisms for doing that. In living history and cross-culturally gender-conformity has been another way to protect straight privilege from dissonance. Since they experience minimal dissonance, they have little reason to "come out" unless forced to.

IMNSHO they're entitled to that, but I recommend that out LGBT people stay the heck away or lower their expectations accordingly. Maybe you're the first step in a coming out process, but probably not.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:31 PM on February 18, 2019 [12 favorites]


It's also interesting to consider WSW as a functionally different category of people with different norms from MSM, given the different gendered responses to casual sex and existing relationships between both queer and straight men and women. A publicly-straight man who seeks casual sex with other men is just a Grindr account away from people who (in theory) want exactly that, and he is probably not particularly concerned with his safety in doing so, nor his estimation of how good that sex will be. A publicly-straight woman who is really looking for casual sex with another woman is likely to be cynical about the quality of sex with another person without, ah, giving it a test for; will habitually figure that relationships are the best way to get that sex without being at risk for slut shaming--even better if she involves a man! which is not necessarily the case for men--and will probably start hitting up dating apps for queer women. Men are expected to sneak their emotional attachments in with the casual sex; women, the casual sex is expected to follow along with at least a pretense of a romantic relationship and feelings coming along for the ride.

Which results in publicly-straight women who engage with publicly-queer women in this way sucking up a lot more time, resources, and emotional labor than the male version, because you wind up with people who want one thing (sex) pretending they want another (a dating relationship) because the consequences of asking for what they really want prevent them from openly communicating and connecting to people who actually want the same thing.

is there anything patriarchy can't make worse?
posted by sciatrix at 2:43 PM on February 18, 2019 [19 favorites]


There's a lot of biphobia. I know this. But I wish people could understand that a lot of lesbophobia is 1)assuming all lesbians are actually bi, or 2)assuming the experiences or voices of bi women count toward lesbian representation. I really just with people would listen, really listen, and believe lesbians about the experiences of lesbians.

What happens if you've chosen that path, especially if the real lesbians have rejected you once too often for not being into women enough, and then you look around you and realize you've trapped yourself into a corner and you'll never have access to that part of yourself again?
This is really coming across, to me, as some scary mean bulldyke straw man. Lesbians asserting their boundaries and refusing to participate in their objectification, or refusing to participate with "WSW" who are vehemently not "WLW", are not responsible for the hypothetical WSW's lack of access to sex with lesbians. No one is entitled to sex with lesbians.
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:57 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


This is really coming across, to me, as some scary mean bulldyke straw man

To me, as someone who is not bi, has no interest in men of any kind, and has nevertheless been subject to gatekeeping in many wlw spaces, it is an attempt to sketch out actual experiences and traumas I have had in those spaces. Even here, I'm actually trying to prevent myself from hackling at certain points in your framing--for example, the "conversation being diverted towards men" bit, when there was one bi-ish? questioning? man in the room and one comment expressing concern about trans people; I'm sure you're not doing this intentionally, but that hits a certain dog-whistle-like frequency that I'm sensitized to pick up on.

Let me put this bluntly: I avoid communities that are marketed as lesbian communities without deliberately signaling that they are also welcome to other communities of wlw, because I find that lesbian communities are often very bad at policing members and factions that are at home targeting and attacking other members of the queer community, particularly other kinds of wlw and trans people. My immediate associations for the term "lesbophobia" are very poor, based on my own personal experience with the kinds of discussions I see that word thrown out in, and based on the specifics of the conversations I have seen its accusations being thrown at.

I do not think anyone is entitled to sex with lesbians. I don't think anyone is entitled to sex with anyone. I do think that it would be good if there was a way for WSW who are interested in sex with women without actually engaging in the relationship parts of things honestly could find each other and leave the rest of us out of it, and I think that there is a certain messiness to the way that many people approach sexuality, affection, and attachment that makes it harder than you might think to divide up the "good" and the "bad" bisexual/heteroflexible/pansexual women. I am also particularly sensitive, because of my own history, to the shadow of exclusionists and gatekeepers in predominantly wlw spaces, which are often elided as lesbian spaces when it is convenient for the speaker and lampooned as "really straight" or "really men" when they are not.

I am hackling and worried and upset, FirstMateKate, because I am not sure if you are going to say something that hits long sore spots for me and double down on it if I ask for a pause and a stretch of empathy. I would like to relax and release that tension, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that. I understand why the behavior I'm describing and talking about is incredibly hurtful to many women and other queer people, and I've been trying to explicitly honor that in this space and make room for it and for the trauma that many women in this context have experienced. At the same time, I'm keeping a close look on my own traumatic fear responses from a different set of experiences, and trying very, very hard not to amp up the heat in the room.
posted by sciatrix at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2019 [15 favorites]


It's fantasy, it's not real.

it's weird and unpleasant that you categorically refuse to consider that any of these women could legitimately be wrestling with their understanding of their own sexuality.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:27 PM on February 18, 2019 [19 favorites]


(to add, and then I will take a break for a few hours:

I am sitting here and trembling because I feel like you are saying there are "good" wlw, who are basically honorary lesbians anyway, and "bad" wsw, who are evil straight people trying to horn in on our lesbian community, and because I don't know which you secretly lump someone like me under; a highly nasty way to put it, and yet a sentiment I have repeatedly seen people espouse with varying degrees of bald honesty. I have been deliberately quiet about my own specific identity except to say what it's not here, and part of that is because I have literal years of people deciding on which I count as depending on their own whims, and I can't deal with it. Lesbians are not the only queer women who suffer our own forms of trauma.)
posted by sciatrix at 3:30 PM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


It's also interesting to consider WSW as a functionally different category of people with different norms from MSM, given the different gendered responses to casual sex and existing relationships between both queer and straight men and women.

I'm a bisexual woman married to another bisexual woman. We're *theoretically* non-monogamous, but finding casual sex partners as a woman regardless of your sexual orientation is indeed a dangerous enterprise, and we often find it's not worth the trouble. I have really complicated feelings about things like Skirt Club and WSW (great designation!) who are unwilling to shoulder any burden they feel queerness brings them. What I appreciate is, when I think about sciatrix's observation that WSW tend to congregate at dating sites for WLW, that spaces like this could serve to divert women who want NSA sex with other women from queer spaces in which they are not welcome.

I mean, almost any app for women to hook up with each other is immediately infected with straight male trolls and catfish, so. What else is there?
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 3:31 PM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Fetlife I guess, but even there in explicitly bi spaces you'll find a woman who is looking for a woman 'to play with because daddy gave me permission'. Just no.

I really wish there was some way to meet women to have a consensual FWB relationship that isn't all about threesomes, male gazing, or gold stars.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:45 PM on February 18, 2019 [7 favorites]


It’s so offensive that anyone thinks a man’s permission is relevant to interactions between women, and yet this is what I’ve encountered so often. I’m going to be going back to internet dating myself in the near future and part of the reason I keep putting it off is the prospect of having to deal with this fetishizing crap. Part is also that I’m just so tired of being dumped for access to straight privilege and I’m just not up for dealing with that again.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2019 [6 favorites]


when there was one bi-ish? questioning? man in the room and one comment expressing concern about trans people; I'm sure you're not doing this intentionally, but that hits a certain dog-whistle-like frequency that I'm sensitized to pick up on.

It wasn't one man, it wasn't one comment. Several women in here are talking about their experiences being targeted and fetishized by straight women, and there seems to be a lot of "how can they be straight if they have a kink of using women as live sex dolls, hmm?" bile brought up their sour experiences in poly relationships, and a different man had to "well not me, of course! I'd never do that!" As a response.

Sciatrix, I'm not sure how to respond to the rest of what you say, because there seems to be a lot of shoveling intentions and secret meanings onto what I'm saying, instead of just taking me for my word. I think that falls under operating in bad faith.

My immediate associations for the term "lesbophobia" are very poor, based on my own personal experience with the kinds of discussions I see that word thrown out in...
Well I gave you specific examples of the lesbophobia I'm talking about, so let's focus on that instead of things I didn't say.

because I am not sure if you are going to say something that hits long sore spots for me and double down on it if I ask for a pause and a stretch of empathy.
I feel like a lot of your comment is... really unfair, unfounded judge of my character. Idk, maybe it's too much to ask, but engaging someone by going "I really want to talk to you, I'm just so worried you're going to be a shit head" isn't the best way to do it.

Lesbians are not the only queer women who suffer our own forms of trauma.)

I never said they were, never insinuated they were, just asked people to understand that lesbians have lesbian-specific experiences. Validating one group doesn't invalidate the other. It's not pie, multiple realities exist. Part of the lesbophobia I tried to address was this kind of thinking, that a lesbian focusing on their own experiences and situations somehow takes away from a bi women's experiences. No, not everything has to include everyone.

I am sitting here and trembling because I feel like you are saying there are "good" wlw, who are basically honorary lesbians anyway...
I have made it very explicitly clear that I am talking about the lesbian experience because I am a lesbian, not because bi women don't exist. Again, expecting Lesbians to include other groups when talking about their own experiences is lesbophobic. I'm not stopping and bi women from coming in here and having a voice.

..and "bad" wsw, who are evil straight people trying to horn in on our lesbian community...
Those people do exist. There are straight women who engage in sex with women as a kink to arouse their boyfriends/husbands. I wish you would listen to the women in here saying this.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:26 PM on February 18, 2019 [14 favorites]


it's weird and unpleasant that you categorically refuse to consider that any of these women could legitimately be wrestling with their understanding of their own sexuality.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:27 PM on February 18

I find it weird and unpleasant that you and others in here categorically refuse to accept that there are straight women out there who prey on wlw.

Anyway, I'm not "categorically refusing", like I explicitly said above, we can speculate all we want, or we could take people at their word and talk about how straight women fuckbois are a real thing. Idk why youd be mad I'm choosing to do the latter. Unless, of course, you think it doesn't happen. To which I'd say to you, please believe me and other women in this thread
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:32 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


i am in fact a gay woman but thanks for deciding im invalid anyway
posted by poffin boffin at 5:40 PM on February 18, 2019 [10 favorites]


Mod note: Heya, understandable that this is hitting some buttons for folks, but this really needs to not lead to treating other people in the thread as proxies for bad stuff other people in the world have done. People can totally talk about their own experiences, but please try to not assign perspectives to other people in the thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:48 PM on February 18, 2019 [8 favorites]


Poffin boffin, I never even mentioned your sexuality? Or said you were "invalid". Wth is going on I feel like everyone is taking my words in the worst faith way possible.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:57 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


The article hit some weird buttons for me... I am femme and identify as pan, and have had my own issues with being seen as an invalid form in the queer club scene, among straights, and in the swingers world.

I would have loved to attend a meet up like this one, but the choice to hire lesbians to perform a sexual act is a bit weird, considering that the worker in the article isn't at all interested in being in this NSA, come as you are space.

To me, a lesbian that recoils in disgust from interacting with bi/queer/figuring it out people, is pretty much on par with gay men who scream with disgust about vaginas.... I respect your opinion and position, and as such, would NEVER knowingly share a sexually-charged environment with you. I also wouldn't hire you as a service-provider, for both my comfort and yours.

The fact that this woman chose to accept payment and willingly chose to be present to perform sexually-charged activities exclusively with her chosen partner at an event, yet is simultaneously denigrating the experiences and legitimacy of the attendees' own interests and actions is pretty gross. If I was a guest and knew how she felt about my presence, I would be horrified, embarrassed, and feel very vulnerable.

Her being indignant that bi/pan/queer femme-presenting woman watched her paid and staged sexual interaction with her partner and found it to be genuinely inspiring/arousing,... is just bizarre. She should have never taken the job.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 6:11 PM on February 18, 2019 [11 favorites]


Mod note: Couple of comments deleted. I think we're getting stuck in a loop of "I'm angry about what I think you secretly meant by this response to that other comment that was a reply to something else", where the likelihood of misinterpretation is increasingly high. Better if folks stick to talking about their own experiences and perspectives, and just take a break from the thread for a bit if that's needed.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:52 PM on February 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think, unfortunately, the word "lesbophobia" has been tainted. I remember on tumblr getting hate mail from people claiming I was a "lesbophobe" because I self identified as queer. People who would claim I was as bad as people running conversion camps for using the "q-slur". It's why I left. I'm only genderfluid and bi, it was ten times worse for trans women on tumblr. Lesbian trans women arguing for their rights were called "lesbophobes" all day because they dared to be women attracted to women. Unfortunately, specifically using the term "lesbophobia" over homophobia has become very strongly identified with TERFs. It's not fair- as I think real lesbophobia exists, but it's a term that can get peoples backs up, especially those of us who are BTQ.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:53 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


It's not that nobody thinks that there aren't straight women who are into NSA sex with a woman and fetishize lesbian sex (everyone here has been pretty good about prefacing their comments to say that this is an issue, even!), it's that none of us know exactly what the women that Natalie West is identifying as straight are thinking or even doing. You're claiming that these women have a kink about using women as sex dolls, but this seems to be based on nothing other than the fact that they attended a club and identify as a kinsey 2 or less. Read the comments on the article - there are plenty of women giving their own stories about why they might have visited those sorts of spaces in the past (not feeling 'gay enough' to qualify as anything as straight, being with a controlling dude but wanting to explore their sexuality, being pansexual but heteroromantic, ect).

The skirt club does seem like the best space that currently exists for them. I mean, it's not great, but it's not like lesbians are being tricked into going there. It's not that there aren't issues with fetishizing lesbian sex, but if it's going to happen, just let them make out with each other.

FirstmateKate, I'm going to ask you to clarify a few things, because I'm trying to figure out exactly if you meant to imply what you seem to be implying.

I feel like my orientation is constantly objectified, denied, and doubted. I have a hard time finding online community-earlier this week a popular "sapphic" facebook page decided to take a stance against lesbian-specific spaces.

Why do you think that you need to exclude non-lesbian WLW from your community spaces to avoid being objectified, denied, and doubted?

I know this. But I wish people could understand that a lot of lesbophobia is 1)assuming all lesbians are actually bi, or 2)assuming the experiences or voices of bi women count toward lesbian representation. I really just with people would listen, really listen, and believe lesbians about the experiences of lesbians.

Do you think that 'having to deal with straight couples and/or straight women who think that you'd be into a NSA kinky encounter' is not a relevant experience that bi/pan women and lesbians share? Assuming that a person is bisexual and assuming that a person is totally cool with being used as a kinky sex doll aren't exactly the same thing.

I don't think people are coming out of nowhere and taking you in the worst possible way out of nowhere.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:56 PM on February 18, 2019 [4 favorites]


Why do you think that you need to exclude non-lesbian WLW from your community spaces to avoid being objectified, denied, and doubted?
I never said that. I was using "very popular bi woman says Lesbians don't benefit from Lesbian community" as an example of doubt. I find it very telling that you're framing it as "excluding other wlw from your community", when I mentioned the mere existence of Lesbian specific spaces. I'm not excluding anyone from the community.

Do you think that 'having to deal with straight couples and/or straight women who think that you'd be into a NSA kinky encounter' is not a relevant experience that bi/pan women and lesbians share?
No. Never said or implied this.

Assuming that a person is bisexual and assuming that a person is totally cool with being used as a kinky sex doll aren't exactly the same thing.
I never compared the two? I never even fucking said the second example, I specifically said "using Lesbians as live sex dolls doesn't make a straight woman not straight." These quotes did not come up in conversation as "things that only Lesbians face". The 2nd idea was said in direct response to "these women can't be straight they're making out with other women". And to be frank, you cherry picking the ideas out and propping them next to each other as if they came from the same argument is really low.


This is going to be the last thing I say in this thread, because apparently we're never going to see eye to eye. Especially not if people are saying my points aren't valid because I call it lesbophobia, and other people that are on the internet who aren't me use that word and you don't like them.

I stand by my point that a lot of the assumptions made about my intentions are based on lesbophobia, the assumption that all Lesbians are gatekeepers, transphobic, biphobic, etc., and not from my words that I've said here today.
I stand by my point that it's lesbophobic to say that Lesbian spaces are unnecessary. As a non-binary person I'm never questioned about the need for enby spaces that are separate from broader trans spaces, yet I am constantly questioned as a lesbian about my efforts to include other wlw.
It's lesbophobic and misogynistic to think that lesbophobia and homophobia are interchangeable. Our voices as women deserve their own space, and our voices as strictly sga people deserve space.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:35 PM on February 18, 2019 [5 favorites]


sga people

the term same-gender-attracted is used pretty heavily by the LDS to describe people they attempt to convert and is largely avoided by the larger queer community for that reason.

Especially not if people are saying my points aren't valid because I call it lesbophobia, and other people that are on the internet who aren't me use that word and you don't like them.

I didn't object to the other people who used that word because I didn't like them, I objected because they were sending me TERF-y violent hate mail.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:39 PM on February 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Hey, so, this thing of "you're using several possible TERF dogwhistle terms" -- obviously that can happen accidentally, but also understandable why it gets people's backs up. So: Don't be a TERF. If you're not a TERF, then it's useful to learn that those are terms to avoid. Now - I'm drawing a line here. Drop it about FirstMateKate's comments, this goes for FirstMateKate and others. Fine to talk about the article and the issues though.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:57 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


Other thing from the article.... the author was complaining that no one at the party brought their strap-on along.
I can think of a few reason why I wouldn't bring mine along...
#1: Some of the lesbians I've spent time with are thoroughly disgusted by dildos/faux penis/strap-ons, etc. There is no reason to assume that other lesbian/bi/pan/queer/trans women attending an women-only event are signing up to be penetrated, or even enjoy the surprise sight of penis in that context.
#2: Condoms, lubricant, subsequent cleanup and sterilization are doable, but a little bit onerous in an unknown environment.
#3: My gear is expensive, and I'm not just taking it out for trots with randoms, in an environment where it wouldn't necessarily be welcome. No thank you.
Just because one person would enjoy a strap-on presence, doesn't mean others consent to the presence (regardless of how enjoyable I think it would be for myself and my partner(s)).

As a dominatrix who presumably mostly works in lesbian spaces, I would expect the author to be more attuned to a given scene and its participants.

(I still don't get why she took the job when she states up front that she has a major "chip on her shoulder", and is walking in the door with a negative bias. To the author (if she is still following this piece 2 years later in 2019): If you don't want the work and don't respect the clients as they are, don't sign up for the work, period. It undermines the clients' experience and betrays your own integrity. Seriously stop, because you are not doing anyone any favours, including yourself.)
posted by NorthernAutumn at 9:45 PM on February 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


It does say in the title that she took the job because she was genuinely curious about these women. She was skeptical from the start but worked through he reservations to a grudging aknowlegement that there were good aspects to the deal.

I feel like the club would be super interesting to me in theory, as a straight-by-default but really questioning woman. What would put me off is her description of the people - mostly one body type, super-femme, everyone dressed to the nines, so performative, all this mutual complimenting.

It just sounds like an extension of the world under the male gaze. It sounds exhausting. If I were to explore my non-straight sexuality, I would hope to not have to perform my femininity and my sexuality in all the ways that are pleasing to men, you know? Not sure if I‘m expressing this well. Either way, for something theoretically speaking to my interests it sounds emphatically Not My Thing.

All this to say that I could very much relate to the author‘s skepticism.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:36 AM on February 19, 2019 [11 favorites]


It's so hard commenting on posts like this.

I'm a single bi woman. I've been bi since college. I was married to a man and have a son. All of this presents weird challenges in dating now.

I belong to several dating apps and the women that make 1st contact are often in a couple. Some are bi. Some are working out their sexuality and may become bisexual or just realize they have a kink for women on occasion. That's them and they're looking for what they want and that's fine.

But it does make me feel alone in wanting a one on one relationship with a woman.

A lot of women willing to be with women on the apps seem to be lesbians from my experience, and I don't have many reach out and when they do the contact 9 times out of 10 dissolved into slowly and sweetly being talked into declaring myself a lesbian, which I'm not. I mean, I don't want to be in a poly relationship, so I'm not sure why it matters that I'm still identifying as bisexual in a one on one relationship with a lesbian.

I joined a couple queer and lesbian meetup groups and Facebook groups. In both there are specific events that are labeled gay + lesbian, and when asked if open to the rest get questioned if the asker id's as either gay or lesbian. I attended a bowling outing set up for lesbians and was made to feel very unwelcome because I was bi.

I get women who I'd as lesbian don't want to be seen as a fetish and a trophy. No one should be made to feel like that. But I think lesbians out of all the lgbtqa+ tend to other the bi, trans, and queer and erase us from spaces the most because we don't perform homosexuality to a certain standard.

And I think bi, trans, and queer eraser is a big part of this article because the lesbians think there's too much straightness mixed in, and that's the definition of gatekeeping.

So... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 5:14 AM on February 19, 2019 [14 favorites]


I'm somewhere in the comments on that article yelling about bi erasure, and I saw this post and immediately went, "oh no, it's the Autostraddle article come back from the dead" because I still remember a few absolute shitshow days on Twitter trying to talk through some of these same issues when this article was first published. But I appreciated my friends' efforts to pick through a lot of really complex stuff then, and I appreciate it here now. Some of this is hard stuff to work through, hitting on so many landmines and personal pain points.
posted by Stacey at 6:25 AM on February 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


Mod note: One deleted. This topic is sufficiently fraught that a brand new account coming in hot making accusations at people in the thread isn't a viable way to participate. Fine to frame the same point as being about general cases and assuming people are trying to do the right thing.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:54 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've been on Metafilter for years, just under a new name today, and, to generalize, lesbians have the right to lesbian only spaces. They have to deal with straightness is most aspect of their lives and if they want some spaces with 0% straightness, they are entitled to that.

And the attitude, that I've seen in multiple places, that they are discriminating because they want some space to themselves is highly problematic. If non lesbian women who sleep with/love women want joint spaces with lesbians, those women can start the spaces themselves and invite lesbians to join instead of trying to force lesbian only spaces to be that.
posted by brandnewday989 at 8:09 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think the women who signed up for this event take a femme form, which isn't necessarily designed for the male gaze... it is how these women feel their prettiest, so they went with that. Femme-fashion is legit, as much as androgny and butch fashion is, but in my experience, femme-presenting people seem to be read as straight by others.... and then we don't get hit on because (perhaps understandably due to inherent risk) we don't LOOK queer.

I love me some flannel and tanks,and I love androgynous fashion, but that's not what I have personally reached for when going for a first outing with a woman one-on-one. I would guess that the women who signed up for skirt club (which seems to have had a lot of bi-focused, femme-friendly ads), might similarly feel their personal best in femme fashion.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 8:11 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Hi, totally not a sock puppet made to argue. Welcome to the thread. How are you today? Everything okay? Good, good.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 8:28 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


I've been on Metafilter for years, just under a new name today, and, to generalize, lesbians have the right to lesbian only spaces. They have to deal with straightness is most aspect of their lives and if they want some spaces with 0% straightness, they are entitled to that.

I'm an outsider to this conversation (a basically straight woman), reading out of interest because I'm hoping to learn something, so I don't have any substantive knowledge to add to the discussion. But I don't quite understand how this relates to the OP. That is, it's explicitly not about a lesbian-only space, it's about the reaction the lesbian writer had to Skirt Club, which she describes as, roughly, a space for straight women to have sex with other straight women (which seems problematic of her for the bi-erasure reasons everyone else was talking about above, but it's clear what she means).

Can you talk more about how that connects for you? Because it seems to relate to something that was noticeable but confusing to me about the OP: that the writer seems annoyed or offended by the existence of the space she's been hired to perform in. And... I can absolutely understand why a lesbian would be annoyed by mostly straight women who want to have sex with women in lesbian spaces in a way that's largely in service of their mostly straight sexuality, or would be annoyed by running into women like that on dating sites. I can't quite figure out why she's bothered by those same women segregating themselves in a space where they're unlikely to encounter or annoy actual lesbians (beyond the two professionals they hired to perform.) Does it just come down to her thinking "These people annoy me when they're in my spaces, so they still annoy me when I encounter them anywhere"? Or is there something more objectionable about that kind of space that I didn't understand?
posted by LizardBreath at 8:31 AM on February 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


I 100% support lesbians having lesbian-only spaces. I less support characterizing anything bisexual women do or feel as "straightness." Not cool. Please don't do that. Not a goddamn thing I ever do is straight. I am not less queer because I have touched a dick. (She typed, bisexually.)

I have experienced many times that spaces labeled as "lesbian" or "gay and lesbian" are in fact actually intended to also include people who are bi or pan or queer. And then the gay and lesbian folks will literally, out loud, in discussion with me, wonder why bi people don't show up - they must not actually want to be in queer community, or must not really count as queer, because they don't come to gay and lesbian events. Because we are such an afterthought that no one sees fit to include us in any of the labelling or descriptions, we're just supposed to understand that it's okay for us to be there. And then they stop even thinking about including us because, hey, we've shown we won't show up.

I'm unlikely to ever ask about that kind of clarification myself, because I think it's more important for lesbians or gay men or whoever to have the safer spaces they feel the need for, than for me to double-check that they really meant what they said they meant. But it's a thing that I've seen happen on the regular in a variety of spaces online and off, and I can certainly understand why someone hoping to find community might politely ask to be sure they understand the parameters of who's invited. It would be a very delicate ask to make and I don't trust myself to make it, but I can imagine why someone else might.
posted by Stacey at 8:31 AM on February 19, 2019 [13 favorites]


The article presents a situation where women interested in other women made a space to be together, without any rules about 0% straightness/100% straightness right from the get go.

This party was a space made by bisexual/queer/ wlw/wsw people from the get go, with an open invite to lesbians to join.

(Also, attendees marking a 2 on their Kinsey sheet isn't necessarily a true indicator of anything... that assumes that the attendees are answering honestly. People vary where they are in their head space on a given day/year, and whether or not they think the reader would be threatened by a different response, seeing as how the event is geared towards newer non-straight people)

From my reading, the author took paying work in this space, and is now judging the attendees on how legitimate their forms of self and sex acts are, to the point of debating whether or not they are all performing/just a bunch of fakes.
If that's the case, then the author should have refused the work opportunity, as it clearly doesn't align with her expectations/standards; and the attendees should not be knowingly/unknowingly observed with wry bemusement and judgement.

Just because the attendees aren't the author's cup of tea doesn't mean that the party and it's exchanges are not real and genuine to the attendees.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 8:32 AM on February 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


I would guess that the women who signed up for skirt club (which seems to have had a lot of bi-focused, femme-friendly ads), might similarly feel their personal best in femme fashion.

I do take your point - but I do question why almost everyone at this event is the kind of woman who feels their personal best looking like they stepped right out of a magazine. It seems to speak only to a women of a certain body type, for a start.

I‘m not sure what point I‘m making and not trying to argue or anything, but it just seems like it mirrors back the same beautiful people at me that I see every day in magazines, ads, tv-shows etc., all of which geared to a specific picture of femininity that I‘ve come to associate in its uniformity with the female ideal in patriarchy.

I absolutely appreciate individual women enjoying and excelling at the femme look, though, yay individual expression! I just have my doubts this was an event for women with different forms of individual expression.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:48 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


Oh, I have no doubt that the hosts are screening tightly for a certain look/body shape. Swingers do that constantly for their parties, and it is obnoxious - the hosts usually pick attendees that fit their own purview as "fuckable". Your point is well taken.

But that bit of hostility/exclusivity is on the shoulders of the hosts/company, not the attendees who have no way of seeing the other guests in advance (who are probably also wondering about the lack of diversity, as I would be).
posted by NorthernAutumn at 8:55 AM on February 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


For the record, I'm a bi woman who agrees that the boundaries of specifically lesbian-only events should be respected.

However, I am cringing hard at "0% straightness." If we need to shorthand this, can we find another phrase and stop repeating this one, please? Stating it this way brings up awfully unpleasant associations with the "just make your mind up already" trope of bisexuality. I'm not some percentage of straight versus some percentage of gay.
posted by desuetude at 8:57 AM on February 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


Okay, just...

and if they want some spaces with 0% straightness

If a person is bisexual or pansexual or queer, they are NOT STRAIGHT. There is no straightness there.

People that identify as straight are straight.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 8:58 AM on February 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


Hi 80 Cats in a Dog Suit. I'm not a sock puppet. I've been on and off, but always reading, Metafilter since it was first opened to 5 dollar signups. I joined up again today because the comments in this thread had some attitudes toward lesbians that I disagree with and I want to post to counter to that.

LizardBreath, But I don't quite understand how this relates to the OP.
It doesn't. It relates to the comments in this thread.

I can't quite figure out why she's bothered by those same women segregating themselves in a space where they're unlikely to encounter or annoy actual lesbians (beyond the two professionals they hired to perform.)
FYI, I'm bisexual not lesbian. But the idea of the space doesn't annoy me. I think it's a great idea actually for 'straight' women who want to have sex with women to have their own space. I think the woman who wrote the article was more annoyed by the party hiring lesbians to do a sex show for straight women. Because that is just really close to the homophobic view that a lot of straight people have that lesbian sex is just for titillation.

I 100% support lesbians having lesbian-only spaces. I less support characterizing anything bisexual women do or feel as "straightness." Not cool. Please don't do that.
Sorry, Stacey. I'm a bisexual woman myself, but I was riffing of Cats in a Dog Suit sentence about how 'lesbians think there is too much straightness mixed in'.

But it's a thing that I've seen happen on the regular in a variety of spaces online and off, and I can certainly understand why someone hoping to find community might politely ask to be sure they understand the parameters of who's invited.
So here's my thing. There is nothing wrong with asking, but I think that if you ask and the answer is no, then don't go. I don't go. It sucks sometimes, but I try to respect peoples spaces.

Also, my way bigger thing is that I don't understand why bisexual women who have a experienced the issues you mentioned in your comment don't start their own spaces. If not knowing if you are going to be welcome or not actually being welcomed is a huge problem for the some of the bisexual women's community, then why can't they start their own space so they know they will be welcomed. As a bisexual woman, I don't care, but for the bisexual women who do, why can't they start their own spaces, just like gay men and lesbians did, instead of complaining about lesbian spaces.

It's like gay men have gay men only spaces, lesbians have lesbian only spaces, the Skirt Club seems to have been started by straight women and that's there own space, so I really, truly don't understand why bisexual women can't start their own spaces. And if they want lesbians to come, invite them.
posted by brandnewday989 at 9:08 AM on February 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here's a bit more about the Skirt Club founder, and her perspectives... might answer some of the questions in this thread.
Inside Skirt Club, the Secret, Worldwide Sex Party for Bisexual Women - Cosmopolitan

"Five years ago, Skirt Club’s founder, Genevieve LeJeune, was working as a branding consultant in London and going to sex parties with her then-boyfriend. He was interested in having threesomes; she was hoping to explore her bisexuality. It didn’t take long for her to notice how limiting those parties could be.

“Almost every time I met a bi woman there, it was her boyfriend edging her on to do something for him to watch or indulge in,” LeJeune says. “I thought, How do you really explore your sexuality if you’re constantly performing for someone else?” LeJeune began to imagine a different kind of environment: A safe, judgment-free space where women could act out their desires on their own terms, away from the male gaze."
...

Inside the Sex Party That Lets Straight Women Be Gay for a Night - Rolling Stone

"Skirt Club is open to all women, but “very few” Skirt Club members are lesbians according to founder Genevieve LeJeune, who identifies as predominantly heterosexual, though definitely interested in sleeping with women – a two on the Kinsey Scale, if you will. LeJeune says that based on information that women give Skirt Club when they sign up, most partygoers have the same sexual inclinations as her, or are more heterosexual.

LeJeune, who speaks four languages and is a certified yoga and pilates instructor, created Skirt Club in London in 2013 after taking a sharp left turn from her corporate career. She worked as a journalist and producer at Bloomberg TV in London, and in international markets as a branding consultant. She asked that her privacy be respected – LeJeune is not her real name, though she posts photos of herself at Skirt Club events, and out with her husband on her Instagram page.


“It’s taken me a lot of courage to… put my face on the front of the company that says, ‘Being bi is OK,'” she says.
Skirt Club doesn’t screen out lesbians, but it does screen. Before attending a party, women must join its network by uploading a full-length photo, disclosing their profession and offering proof they’re between the ages of 21 and 49.
LeJeune says the company accepts “the high majority” of applicants, while remaining “focused on building a femme membership of career driven women.” But she wouldn’t give more details about why some women weren’t allowed in. (....)

LeJeune sees herself inhabiting the huge gray area between straight and gay. “I started this club for people like me,” LeJeune tells Rolling Stone. “I’m not looking for a relationship with a woman, I’m looking for something less tangible.”
LeJeune says that when she was looking to experiment with her sexuality, she couldn’t find a space where she felt comfortable. She didn’t want to go to lesbian parties because she worried women there might be looking for a relationship, while she was not. She concedes that she may have been wrong, but she felt too intimidated to find out. So, she started her own event.

“I’m not a gay woman ,” she says. “I’ve come from the only place I know, which is my own. I’m targeting the bi-curious woman who has a boyfriend and wants to try this for the first time.”

posted by NorthernAutumn at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


(Seems like a lot of the issues in the original article stem from the author's fundamental mis-reading of the space and its participants as "straight", when there are clearly no "straight" women in attendance.)

I really don't love that it's a corporatized bi space, where the corporation/host is vetting the guest list for appearances, but that's what happens when the company/host is trying to establish a "standard" for future marketability; same goes for swinger spaces, and any other people-run (hetero-swinger/gay/lesbian) spaces that do not want to engage the too-femme looking/too-old looking/too-gay looking/too-broke looking/too-queer looking/too-trans looking people.
Obnoxious, but hey, it just encourages everyone else to start a more inclusive space!
posted by NorthernAutumn at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2019


Not only does my area not have lesbian-only spaces that I know of, we have almost no LGBT groups that aren't primarily gay men, and they're overwhelmingly trans or trans-and-allies organizations. I would like to see more spaces exist that center other people, and I would like to support people who want to make spaces for themselves and not me.

That said, I'm not going to act in solidarity with transmisogyny, and I perceive the people who have strongest feelings about inclusion as disproportionately likely to participate in leadership and volunteering.

I feel like conflict on the question of who is included in subgroup-specific LGBT groups is already very bad, because of decades of policing and gatekeeping and infighting. Further, it's made worse by individuals' experiences of their LGBT communities being so unlike each other that someone can read as incredibly hostile without any expectation that that's how they sound. (Comments upthread are an example, but I have a bunch of others, especially from people crossing generational lines.)
posted by bagel at 9:42 AM on February 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


A lot of women willing to be with women on the apps seem to be lesbians from my experience, and I don't have many reach out and when they do the contact 9 times out of 10 dissolved into slowly and sweetly being talked into declaring myself a lesbian, which I'm not. I mean, I don't want to be in a poly relationship, so I'm not sure why it matters that I'm still identifying as bisexual in a one on one relationship with a lesbian.

I can explain this. What people want in this situation is an assurance that you're committed to being part of the community and that you're not going to panic and dump her for a man because losing access to that privilege is too much, as it is for so many people. Identifying as a lesbian isn't a guarantee (ask me how I know!), but it's... kind of a shorthand, I guess. I know a lot of lesbians who won't date bi women, and I have a lot of complicated feelings about that ranging between that I'm about a kinsey 5, and most of the women who get fussy about this are not gold star either and that there are bi women out there who really prefer women and are invested in being out and creating change, but at the same time - getting dumped because you come with pre-installed social stigma rather than straight privilege really, really sucks. It's the height of not mattering as a person, and getting dismissed as a mere experiment. It's awful, and if you haven't had it happen to you then you don't get how awful it is, and especially when it happens over and over and over.

As far as lesbians being "less welcoming", I'd say that lesbians are under more pressure to do a ton of emotional labor for other people, including performing our sexuality for them. I've had a lot of deeply closeted bi women get upset at me for expecting mutual aid from them rather than just baking them cookies, offering a printout of bi resources, and endless reassurances that their deathgrip on straight privilege is just oh so queer, just like my experience as a dyke, when we have literally zero in common. And then if I don't do that, I'm the one who's a bad person, because people who have straight privilege also get the privilege of being seen as reasonable.
And then I get people screaming at me about how I'm biphobic for not wanting to do a bunch of emotional labor for someone who will never reciprocate and is deeply invested in being treated like she's better than I am, and no acknowledgment of the complexities of my own life and identity. Men don't get hit with being unwelcoming, or even with legit criticisms about sexism in queer spaces, because men just aren't expected to do the same level of emotional labor and are not expected to perform their sexuality for others the ways that women are.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:37 AM on February 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I think these conversations are so tangled and difficult because there are multiple oppressive dynamics at work within and beyond the QUILTBAG communities. And they're all real and sometimes overlap and sometimes don't. Like, it's totally real and valid that bi women experience bi erasure and get the message that they're not queer enough and that's shitty and oppressive and it's also totally real and valid that lesbian women experience fetishization and being treated as an object or experiment and that's shitty and oppressive too. And it gets even more complex because, since oppression is traumatizing and often denied or downplayed, lots of folks end up being hyperaware of these potential dynamics. So even if someone's argument for lesbian space is actually totally bi aware and respectful, bi women can legit experience that argument as a trigger which like biologically reminds them of past oppressive experiences. And even if a pan woman and a bi man who are holding hands with each other are totally lesbian aware and respectful, someone else witnessing that moment might experience it as a painful reminder of heteronormativity, which can also be a trauma trigger.

I don't think there's any easy solution to this tangle and, for me, it feels a bit better just to acknowledge the complexity of what's true.
posted by overglow at 1:59 PM on February 19, 2019 [11 favorites]


most of the women who get fussy about this are not gold star either and that there are bi women out there who really prefer women and are invested in being out and creating change, but at the same time - getting dumped because you come with pre-installed social stigma rather than straight privilege really, really sucks. It's the height of not mattering as a person, and getting dismissed as a mere experiment. It's awful, and if you haven't had it happen to you then you don't get how awful it is, and especially when it happens over and over and over

I HAVE been dismissed as an experiment multiple times, it sucks, and that's why I am not interested in dating closeted women. I still take exception to this being characterized as a problem with bisexuals, rather than a problem with shitty disingenuous selfish girlfriends.

Also, I don't have to prefer women to be invested in being out and creating change, I can sit right here at a Kinsey 3 (or even a 2!) and do that just fine. (I have nothing polite to say about "gold star," having seen it flung around in pretty gross ways. Talk about privilege, there are plenty of lesbians who have always known they were lesbians who nevertheless had sex with a man at some point. Conservative upbringings, peer pressure, rape. Too bad they lost that gold star status tho.)
posted by desuetude at 2:44 PM on February 19, 2019 [12 favorites]


“focused on building a femme membership of career driven women.”

Oh, barf. I mean, this looks very much like code for women clinging onto straight privilege of "don't worry, you won't meet that kind of queer woman. Everyone here is still totally desirable to men!"
posted by praemunire at 9:04 PM on February 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


I thought it was mostly code for "no poor people."
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:53 AM on February 20, 2019 [8 favorites]


Yes, but a particular kind of desirability is expensive to maintain.

I'm a straight woman who's not terribly "curious," so I'm not the target market for this--but if I were, boy that would put me off. If I want to be judged by those standards, I can just go to the bar.
posted by praemunire at 7:44 AM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I respect LeJeune for starting a space for the kind of activity she wanted to engage in (because she was right, ime, women who want to have sex with a woman and go back to their boyfriends would not be welcome in lesbian spaces) but her standards on the type of bi-curious women allowed in could use some work. There is the femme insistence. And then the age cutoff. Ugh. Let women decide for themselves if they want to sleep with an older woman.
posted by brandnewday989 at 9:34 AM on February 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


but her standards on the type of bi-curious women allowed in could use some work.

This whole event is about creating a space for a very particular fantasy, and that fantasy is not at all about being inclusive. I'm not defending this in any way, just saying that I don't think the event planners care about the feelings of the women they reject, or whether there are other events for those women, or about anything besides how to create their little fantasy world. I'm betting they'd have screened even more strictly for body types if they'd had more applicants. They're not exactly passing out fliers for queer solidarity actions.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:37 AM on February 20, 2019 [3 favorites]


being straight is so inevitably tied up in privilege that some people will identify as straight even if their only romantic and sexual relationship is with a person of the same sex.

Of course I'm reminded that sexual identities, whether straight or not, are imperfect abstractions around desires, performances and practices.
posted by gryftir at 3:47 PM on February 20, 2019


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