Post Classifieds

Objectifying sexual orientation

By Imaani Cain
On February 18, 2014

I don't know how many times I've been around various male friends, most of whom, at some point of time, have found it necessary to tell me that they find any sort of "girl-on-girl" action attractive. This does not include actual lesbian relationships, or at least not including femme lesbians or bisexual women, who are very often viewed as not being "really" gay, but merely experimenting. Katy Perry's bubblegum pop song, "I Kissed a Girl" only served to add fuel to the fire; in order to titillate men, only a bit of faux-lesbianism needs to be practiced. This was, of course, done only under the influence and in view of other people.
Lesbian pornography serves only to perpetuate this. There, the girls cater to a particular brand of lesbianism-they are shaven clean, doe-eyed and utterly feminine. There are no butches or genderqueer people to speak of, at least there aren't in mainstream porn. The actresses are cisgender, without any ambiguity, and enthusiastically acting out their sexual desires for the benefit of a heterosexual male audience. It's painfully obvious that the entirety of it is catered to a male gaze. It even occurs in regular film. "Jennifer's Body" and "Blue is the Warmest Color" are both incredibly uncomfortable examples of exploiting queer women for a profit.
It puts women in an uncomfortable position as a whole. Female sexuality is seen as existing solely for male consumption, and protesting otherwise becomes indicative of being a sourpuss. Refusing to kiss another woman in front of an expectant crowd denounces one's possible queerness-you can't be queer because you won't kiss in front of men. The idea that one might be quietly queer, aware from spectatorship, is almost unfathomable. Women are encouraged only to be queer for an audience, for the sake of eager fetishization. On the other hand, gay men are expected to keep their relationship mum so that people don't become uncomfortable. It's a ridiculous standard to which no one benefits, except for straight men.
I remember a friend once asking me in high school about a couple of queer ladies I was friends with. "Which one's the guy?" he asked, to which I responded that the entire point was that no one was male in their partnership. "Someone's always the guy," he told me. This is very similar to male homosexual relationships. Comedian David Sedaris recounts in one of his memoirs that an acquaintance asked him who was the woman in his relationship. Lesbian sex is frequently dismissed as "fake" sex, that unless there is a penis jabbing into you, it isn't genuine or pleasurable at all. It's a bit sad if that's what is considered as proper sex these days, to be honest. It seems that a mass education is definitely required.

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