There Is More Than One Way To Be A Lesbian

December 30, 2009 at 11:48 AM (Uncategorized) (, , )

This post is for the bisexual women (and the same discussion could apply to pansexual or any other non-lesbian women) who wonder why some lesbians want nothing to do with them.

Not all of us think you are lying cheaters. Not all of us are worried that you will leave us for men. Not all of us think that you are sexually confused or trying to dupe us into a threesome with some boyfriend we don’t know about yet.

On the other hand, there is more to being a lesbian for some of us than for others. Some of us think that you being a female is not enough.

Some of us are attracted to women who are only attracted to other women, attracted to a shared sexual orientation.

Some of us are attracted to women who expend as little energy as possible on men, especially something as energy-intensive as a romantic and/or sexual relationship.

Some of us think that being a lesbian is about more than an interest in the female sex – some of us are also lesbians in the sense of being wholly committed to women, and, in a world where men are our oppressors, that commitment to women may include a refusal to engage men on as many fronts as possible, including a vicarious engagement through your sexuality.

How, you might wonder, does a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a bisexual/pansexual/etc. woman force us to engage with men? If we welcome you into our lives, we also invite your attitudes into our lives. We invite someone who enjoys, has sought, or will seek, sex with men, despite the fact that sex with men is a major arena of patriarchal oppression. We invite someone who is willing to invite men into an intimate facet of her life, despite the fact that intimate involvement with men is one of the surest ways to become a victim of violence. We invite someone who remains optimistic that she can find a “good man,” optimistic about dating men in the face of all the date rapes, optimistic about an equal partnership with someone from the class that is raised to think of itself as superior from birth onward, optimistic about honest men in the face of a whole culture of lying and acting to get into women’s pants, willing to trust male strangers in a world where women cannot even trust their own fathers, brothers, and uncles to respect, honor and refrain from hurting them, because they are women.

We may roll those ideas around in our minds a bit, and that’s where the engagement with men (specifically, the bullshit they perpetrate in their romantic/sexual relationships with women) comes into play. Some of us have a little trouble respecting the perspective of someone who is so optimistic. Some of us just can’t understand how you can deal with men. Some of us just think you are crazy for doing so, given that you have a choice not to deal with them, and some of us just find your attractions to be…well, unattractive. We ponder this, we ponder that. How do you negotiate the power dynamics in your relationships with men? How do you go about trusting this guy or that guy, how do you keep yourself safe? Do you care if he’s a feminist? Do you behave differently depending on which sex you are in a relationship with? This stuff is important. If you are in our lives, you and your perspectives are important.

Does the need to entertain these thoughts arise with other lesbian women? Not so much. There’s the lack of those questions, the shared sexual orientation – the details may differ from lesbian to lesbian, but they add up. Sometimes, they add up to us wanting to stick with lesbians.



  1. kate said,

    i originally stopped dating bi women cos i found lesbian/lesbian sex heaps better/rewarding, then it was because i got fed up with the attempts to co-op me into the revolting threesome. but now you have given me heaps more in-depth reasons to think about.

    bi women often assume patriarchal entitlement to lesbian bodies, it is great to read something that refutes this assumption.

  2. Valerie M said,

    A very interesting and well-written post, thank you for sharing it.

  3. rainsinger said,

    Thank you 🙂

  4. redmegaera said,

    Great post. Thank you so much.

    Having constructed my identity as a lesbian through lesbian/feminist politics, I have difficulties reconciling my politics with bisexual women’s (characteristically sexual libertarian, non-feminst and often biologically essentialist) understanding of their sexuality. I also find the tacit assumption that bisexuality is superior to lesbianism insulting and kind of tiring.

    Nonetheless, like you the main reason I avoid intimate relationships with bisexual or pansexual women is their personal, political and cultural attachment to men- who, for the most part, I want nothing to do with. Also troubling to me is the idealisation of what I consider the most harmful (and oftentimes sexist) aspects of gay male culture- usually at the expense of celebrating lesbian culture(s) and communities. I love lesbians. The more women-identified the better.

  5. FeistyAmazon said,

    I like all kinds of Dykes, every kind…well, I do have my preferences, but at least I know another Dyke(whose out loud and proud) will completely understand my sexuality in a way a bisexual woman cannot. She will always be holding back on some level, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. If she is also sexual with men, I don’t want whatever beautiful Lesbian energy I share with her or put into her, to then go directly to men, or for her to talk about our most intimate experiences with some dude..then I feel psychically ripped off. I’ve had my share of bisexual women, and even though all the sexacts may be the same, the magic of those acts are not…cuz only another Dyke ‘gets’ me. She is willing to be in the trenches with me when push comes to shove. She’s not likely to flirt with a dude, or give a dude energy. A bisexual woman very likely would. Another Dyke knows what daily Dyke oppression is like, from hetero males, to straight women who fear us…a bisexual walks between the two worlds. She can marry her man, while still fucking women….for the most part, with few exceptions and few states, and some countries, we cannot, or even if we do, our marriages won’t be well recognized and heap us with the privileges heteros and even bisexuals take for granted. Also, she can go back into the hetero world with all it’s privileges and be legitimate, or seen as legitimate and keep her bisexuality on the ‘downlow’. Less than. Second fiddle. Us Dykes don’t have that luxury, no matter which corner of the Dyke communities we come from . We’re still pariahs. She can bail and go back to hetero privilege by taking up with a man, or even single expressing desire for a dude, when the going gets rough.

    So, yes, I agree with most of your reasoning, and I have my own, with my long experience as an out Dyke(29 years).
    -In Sisterhood,

  6. Sarah said,

    Interesting, well-written thoughts. Thank you.

  7. SheilaG said,

    I just can’t imagine ever having a relationship with a woman who wasn’t 100% committed to women. This 100% commitment is powerful, is steadfast, and also has great intellectual power. Bi-sexual women, in my opinion too willing to give men the benefit of the doubt, and really should date each other. They should not be wasting the time of lesbians.

  8. FeistyAmazon said,

    In that I agree SheilaG. Quit wasting our time, and accusing us of ‘biphobia’ because we don’t or won’t date them for all the reasons all of you have listed above. Let them also date the MTF’s, FTM’s and the rest of the queer and hetero world, and leave us Lesbians/Dykes ALONE! We KNOW the difference in energy with another bio-female Dyke, the mirror, the difference, celebrating both, and our womonly bodies, knowing that we both love and lust over the same thing, while enjoying each other’s bodies, we also appreciate each other’s minds and spirits. It’s not “It doesn’t matter what the bodies are like, it’s the soul behind it” or some such claptrap I constantly hear from bisexual/pansexua/queer women, it DOES INDEED matter to me! “No penis between us friends.” like Alixx Dobkin used to say! And all that goes with it…..

    Give me Dyke to Dyke anyday! It’s a spiritual thing for me, as well as sexual, in fact, to me the two are One..I worship the Sacred Female from the Sexual to the Spiritual, AND ON EVERY LEVEL INBETWEEN, emotional, mental, romantic, intellectual, psychic as well. Can a bisexual woman claim that? NOT! Only another Lesbian/Dyke can.
    -In Sisterhood,

    • shediogenes said,

      “It doesn’t matter what the bodies are like, it’s the soul behind it” Well sure, ok, but anyone who would put my soul on the same plane with a man’s, as if they were comparable, is just someone I can’t be intimate with

  9. Isabelle said,

    This is a fantastic post, thank you. 🙂

  10. m Andrea said,

    Oh most excellent, thank you very much. Shame most feminists always seem to ignore the concerns of lesbians, it likes the way most white feminists ignore the concerns of WOC.

  11. Leslie Kurr said,

    I also would say that bisexual womin’s insistence of man’s good nature is incredibly disrespectful to the womin who have suffered at his hands.

  12. yallahs said,

    this is actually disgusting

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