In Defense of Barsexuals and Faux-Mos

Last weekend was Pink Training! Which was wonderful, because I got the chance to give a couple of awesome workshops (Bi Awareness and a bi space) and spend time with some of the fantasticest people in the country. It also meant that I got way too little sleep and DEFINITELY had no peace ‘n’ quiet to do some writing. Am still recovering. May always be still recovering. So here’s a repost, originally published in BoLT Magazine. Enjoy!

I have a confession to make. Despite appearances, and the very title of this article, I am guilty. I’ve done it, you see. I’ve made the snarky comments and given the disparaging looks alongside the rest. The targets of this behaviour? You know, ‘them’. Those expletive deleted straight girls who go around kissing each other to attract guys. Seriously, who do they think they are? They give the rest of us a bad name, right? Aren’t they pretty much the reason why some straight guys seem to think they have a right to elbow in on gay lady couples? Don’t you know how annoying that is? Jeez.

Yeah, I’m sorry.

All this time I’ve been blaming them and you know what? They are not the problem. They’re really, really not. If any of you readers here today are straight (or straightish) women who like to get drunk and kiss girls in bars? And if you think it’s fun that lots of straight/bi guys are into that? Awesome sauce. I wish you much fun and many margaritas.

See, here’s the thing. It’s easy to blame the barsexuals and faux-mos for homophobia and objectification of women. But, seriously? Homophobia and objectification of women are things that have been around a long time. They were there long before Katy Perry, before Madonna kissed Britney, before tAtU. They were even there before Ellen got dumped by whats-her-name who decided she’d been straight all along. They’ve been around since before the ice melted in the world’s first mojito, and nothing the drinker of that mojito did afterward is to blame for their existence.

When talking about straight girls who kiss girls, it’s easy to forget that they’re a lot like, you know, us. Us queer (or queerish!) types. We are all figuring out ways to navigate being women in a society that has some seriously messed-up ideas about female sexuality. Except that straight girls have to do it without one major superpower that queers get. You see, queer chicks and gay ladies have the option to do that navigating relatively free of the pressure to be sexy-to-men. We get to define ourselves, to desire as well as to be desired, and since we’ve gone to the trouble of coming out we might as well just own up to what we’re into, quit stressing about whether it’s socially acceptable, and bloody well have some fun with it. We’ve already been called dykes and queers – so what if someone thinks we’re slutty as well? We get to play with how to do gender and relationships, to write our own scripts in a way that’s really difficult for straight people. Trust me on this one. It’s harder for me when I’m involved with straight cis guys*, and I’m a queerass bi chick who’s been living in gayland all my adult life.

So while straight women get all that awesome straight privilege and can merrily skip down the aisle to have their love blessed by any religion, and legitimised by any state they choose, while their parents cry tears of happiness, those of us of a queerer persuasion do have an edge when it comes to exploring our sexualities**.

You know how annoying it is when straight guys go around assuming that queer chicks are all there for their amusement and gratification? When you’re off having a decidedly one-on-one night out with your ladyfriend and some guy comes up and grabs your ass? Or sits down right next to you and asks if he can join in? Isn’t it nice when you get the hell out of there, go home, close the door behind you and don’t have to deal with that anymore? Straight chicks don’t get to do that. For them, there isn’t that space to be romantic, and be sexual, without any sexist or misogynistic assumptions. Or any risk of male privilege raising its (often unwitting) head.

We live in a world steeped in sexism, in misogyny, in male privilege, and in heteronormative assumptions. In the male gaze. Is it therefore surprising that, in that world, a lot of women explore their desires within that context? And given misogyny, given sexism, given the ubiquity of the male gaze and heteronormativity, why the hell are we blaming the women for the actions of sexist men?

Men don’t take same-sex lady couples seriously because they don’t take women seriously. They think they can elbow into our time and our space because they’re used to thinking they can elbow into women’s time and space. They think all lesbians want is a man because we live in a culture that tells us, time and time again, that sexuality is about men and done to women.

At the end of the day, it’s nothing to do with the straight chicks kissing each other in the bar. They’re just women living in a heteronormative, patriarchal world and having a bit of fun within that context.

And hey, I know more than a couple of queer chicks who started figuring out their sexuality when they were straight chicks kissing other straight chicks in bars. If that doesn’t subvert the paradigms, I don’t know what does.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

* Because trans guys are way more likely to have had to have done a lot of script-writing and figuring-stuff-out of their own. Not because they’re less dudely. Because they’re not less dudely. Duh.

**Assuming, of course, that we live somewhere with a reasonable number of us.

In Defense of Barsexuals and Faux-Mos