Lesbian stereotypes: You use them. Lesbians use them. We all use them. Stereotypes simplify our thinking about lots of things, including lesbianism, but they sometimes create huge misunderstandings about our little lesbian world.
I’d like to help you get smart about lesbians, because we are very cool. We’re also here to stay.
A lesbian stereotype is a pre-formed idea about lesbians and how we live our lives that is generally accepted as truth … but isn’t always true.
As lesbians, we use stereotypes all the time to figure out how to fit in with our little lesbian nation. We use stereotypes initially to learn how to fit in, but then we need to move past that and evolve into being our authentic and individual lesbian selves.
Ellen DeGeneres brought the lesbian nation out of the closet with her when she came out on national TV in 1997 during the fourth season of her show, Ellen. Her very public coming out pushed lesbian stereotypes to the forefront in a new way, and her celebrity lifestyle still remains pertinent to this discussion today.
Ellen has helped elevate our “cool” factor, but not all lesbians are celebrities. We won’t all be invited to star on shows like The L Word or Orange Is The New Black. We want to be invited — even if it’s just to sit on the set — but we won’t be, and that’s OK. Most of us just want a normal lifestyle that allows us to marry, work, raise children, take care of the people we love and enjoy our lives — and not in fear.
So when it comes to lesbian stereotypes, what would Ellen say?
She might start by saying that the word “lesbian,” unlike the word “woman,” does not have “man” in it. Therefore, it is simple to see that lesbians don’t feel a big need to have a man in our lives.
With that in mind, let’s start with lesbian stereotypes that are perpetuated and driven by men:
1. Men molested us as children, and that turned us into lesbians.
2. Lesbians hate men.
3. In every lesbian couple, one has to be the man.
4. Lesbians just haven’t been with the right guy yet.
First off, statistically, we know that a high percentage of women in the United States have been molested. This is terrible news, but it isn’t what “created” lesbians — and not all lesbians hate men. If we follow the logic of this to its conclusion, we would have many more lesbians in this country than straight women.
Lesbians would, of course, love this but life doesn’t work that way.
Most lesbians adore many men, and in particular our dads, brothers, straight male friends and gay brothers. We don’t need to be men-haters to love women.
Truthfully, the idea that the right guy and his penis will make us want to be with a guy is part of the “men in lesbian fantasyland” phenomenon, and it just isn’t happening. Sure, once in a while, we lose one of our sisters to a guy, but that’s rare.
What stereotypes are next? Well, lesbian sex, of course!
5. Every lesbian uses strap-ons and dildos to take the place of men.
6. No lesbians ever use strap-ons.
7. It’s not real sex if there’s no penis.
8. Every lesbian relationship has a butch and a femme, because someone has to be the man, and someone has to be the woman.
9. Lesbian Bed Death happens to all lesbian couples.
10. Lesbians want to have a threesome with your bi-girlfriend/boyfriend, because we’ll have sex with any woman around.
Alright, are you ready? Here we go.
Sex does not require intercourse or penetration by any means — whether you are straight or lesbian. Sex also doesn’t require an orgasm. Sex includes kissing, stroking, licking, touching and everything in between, and it can all be extremely enjoyable.
I’ve experienced really wonderful sex with a woman that didn’t include an orgasm. I’ve also had my lesbian world rocked by amazing orgasms that went on and on. That never happened when I was with a man. Never. Not once. Not even close. Oh, did I mention that I used to be married and have had my share of sex with men? It doesn’t begin to compare to sex with a woman.
So, what’s real and what’s a myth?
Well, lesbians do all of the “sex things” and lots more associated with lesbian stereotypes. Some lesbian couples are very butch/femme and love strap-ons and dildo play, but that’s not for all lesbian couples. It also isn’t required to be butch to enjoy sex toys. Lesbians of all kinds of persuasions enjoy them, and so do many straight women.
Now, let me blow your mind with some data from the National Health and Social Life Survey comparing lesbian and heterosexual women’s sexual experiences. Hold on boys, it’s bad news for you!
Lesbians experience more orgasms than heterosexual women. Lesbians enjoy more oral sex by a factor of 4. Statistically speaking, lesbian sex lasts a long, long time … and we love that! Thirty-nine percent of lesbians said sex lasted more than an hour, while only 15 percent of heterosexual woman agreed with this.
This study also showed that more women achieve orgasm with oral sex than any other means. Listen up boys: penetration does not get most women off. Many need oral sex to get to orgasm, and that’s why lesbian sex rules the day.
Whether we use a strap-on or not, lesbians are having a lot more great sex, more orgasms, more oral sex and longer-lasting sex.
While we’re on the topic of sex and male lesbian fantasyland, we don’t want to have sex with your girlfriend. We don’t want to watch our girlfriend having sex with your girlfriend while you watch us (ew). When you and your girlfriend walk into a lesbian bar acting like hustlers, no one wants to play your game. That’s your fantasy driven by too many porn movies and your desire to experiment and play.
What about Lesbian Bed Death? Bed death is real, but many think it’s just more interesting to talk about it from a lesbian perspective. However, I know many heterosexual couples that are experiencing bed death. It’s not uncommon, but its existence is way overblown.
Next! Moving onto more mundane lesbian stereotypes, including our fashion sense and how we spend our free time.
11. Pretty women can’t possibly be lesbian.
12. Lesbians all dress like men.
13. Lesbians don’t wear lingerie.
14. Femme lesbians are pretending to be lesbian.
15. All butches have short hair and are overweight.
16. All lesbians hate make-up, shaving, bras and dresses.
17. All lesbians like camping.
18. Lesbians drive SUVs like Subaru Outbacks and Jeep Wranglers.
19. Lesbians are all into sports.
Now, this is a pretty solid list of lesbian stereotypes — how does it break down?
Well, I’ve never owned a Jeep or a Subaru. I do own a Mazda Miata. It’s sporty, sexy and fun, fun, fun. It’s also a pretty good chick magnet. I’ve got plenty of friends who own Subarus and Jeep. So, this lesbian stereotype holds some weight, but it’s not all-inclusive.
Lesbians can often take a more practical approach to life. Since we don’t have men to do the heavy lifting, we do tend to have more of a take-charge attitude than heterosexual women about some of our choices.
As a group, you’ll see more practical versus sexy clothing being worn. High femme clothing is often uncomfortable, impractical and you’re going to freeze your rear off in whatever it is. Then, of course, there are high heels or — even better — stilettos. Yes, come-hither shoes are very high femme or, lipstick lesbian, but those gals typically have a butch partner to do all the things they can’t take care of in those heels! The rest of us need to be able to lift that bale and haul that barge. We go for sporty, practical, fun and easy.
Lesbians do wear lingerie. We also wear make-up, bras and dresses. Almost every woman I have ever dated has worn these things! Some even wear high heels. I love a tall gal.
And we are not all into sports. I am not in the least. That being said, many lesbians enjoy both watching and playing them, and that’s great. Lots of straight women are into sports, too, and sometimes, those straight women confuse the queer girls who end up crushing on them. Hey, that’s life.
Finally there are the insanity-inducing stereotypes that absolutely need to be kicked to the curb.
20. The L Word television show is a real-world depiction of lesbian life.
21. Lesbians try to “recruit” straight women.
22. Lesbians are no fun, angry, rude and insensitive.
23. Lesbians are all crazy and will stalk you and ruin your life.
24. Lesbians were all tomboys as children.
25. It’s just a phase.
OK. We are not recruiting straight women. Most dyed-in-the wool lesbians aren’t interested in dealing with the upheaval of a woman who is just coming out. It is really, really messy business to come out. It has to be done, but most of us are not out recruiting newbie lesbians.
The L Word is representative of a sliver of lesbian life and lesbian couples. It showed a diversity of relationships; some butch/femme, some femme/femme, and some in between, but still, it has created more stereotypes for us that we did not need. Most women are not L Word lesbians. We are just like your sisters, wives and mothers — except lesbians.
Stereotypes are based on a grain of truth.
We use them to make life easier for ourselves, but they limit how the general public views lesbians and the lives we lead. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors, races and we live our lives in our own uniquely lesbian way. So, instead of using lesbian stereotypes to box us up, get to know us. We are really special and very unique people. Just like you.