The opinions about stereotypes are all over the board. Some people think that stereotypes exist to keep us down, and some people think that stereotypes exist to make categorization easier. Personally, I feel that they can be used for your benefit or against it, depending on how they’re applied.
Certainly, lesbians have their fair share of stereotypes – some of them make no sense to us in the community because they were assigned by someone who didn’t understand. But how many of these things do you find yourself doing just because you feel like you should?
In order to be classified as a stereotypical move, it’s got to be something that you do because society and culture says you should. Obviously if any of these things are a genuine part of your personality and mannerisms, you shouldn’t stop doing them just for the sake of removing the stereotype – but if you’re not sure why you do them, why would you keep doing them?
Rule #1: Butch women need to be aggressive.
I’m not sure how this one came into play, but there’s no reason why a butch/stud woman needs to be identified by her anger and aggression. In many cases, this is a negative set of traits – so the addition of women who are only exhibiting these traits because society tells them they should, really need to stop. (Depending on the nature and extent of the aggression, professional counseling may be available to help curb an ongoing temper problem – if you think it’s something you need to pursue, it probably is.)
Rule #2: Femme women need to be helpless.
This is one of those things that, in many cases, may be just going along with the “traditional” gender roles that society assumes. I encourage everyone to be as powerful as they can be (without being aggressive; as stated previously, this is a different issue entirely). Of course, it’s possible that this isn’t a stereotype, but rather who you are – but knowledge is power, and helplessness is just an end to learning. Learn to be self-sufficient, learn to bring yourself up – don’t let anyone keep you down because of your label!
Rule #3: Lesbians must get attached quickly and move in together as soon as possible.
Okay, so attachment itself isn’t bad. But the nature of this stereotype is that we, as lesbians, become attached to someone before we even really know them – which isn’t really healthy. If you’re with a woman who treats you well and you want to move in together, great! But please, make sure you’ve done your proper research first – don’t just move forward with your relationship because you think it’s time. Wait until you’re actually ready.
Rule #4: Lesbians must decorate with rainbows and naked women – everywhere.
I love rainbows, don’t get me wrong. I even have a floor-length rainbow dress that I consider to be my gayest apparel. And of course, I love naked women (don’t we all?). But if your house “outs” you before a person even walks in the door, you might be going a little overboard. Try choosing a few statement pieces, scattered throughout your house. It’s one thing to be proud of your sexuality – it’s another thing entirely to lean on it for all your décor choices.
Rule #5: Lesbians should hit on straight girls so they know we’re willing to teach them.
Straight girls… What can I even say? Sometimes, we wonder if a woman is straight, because of the way she dresses, or the way she acts, or the way she flirts with us mercilessly. But is there really any difference between predatory lesbians and predatory straight men? Nope. She’s fair game if she comes onto you – but if you know she’s not interested, keep your distance.
Rule #6: Lesbian break-ups need to drag on for ages.
Maybe it’s the attachment thing, but chances are you’ve had at least one break-up that wasn’t over with nice and quick. (I had one girlfriend who I broke up with, multiple times, over the course of 4 years – yeah, it gets bad sometimes.) But the easiest way to get over a break-up is to stop living in it! If you’ve went your separate ways, go your separate ways. Resist the urge to get back together with someone who obviously hasn’t changed since four days ago.
Rule #7: Lesbians must pretend that bisexuals aren’t real, or that they’re really just confused.
It’s almost 2016, and we’ve covered a lot of ground in terms of equal rights for homosexuals – but bisexuals are still getting the short end of the stick. While it’s completely in your rights to prefer not to date a bisexual, it’s not really fair to single them out and discriminate against them. This is the exact thing that causes some bisexuals to have “mixed closets” (that is, call themselves a lesbian when dealing with lesbians, a bisexual when dealing with bisexuals, and a straight girl when dealing with straight people). If they are discriminated against in a community that’s supposed to be about inclusion, what message are we sending?
Rule #8: Shy lesbians must become intoxicated before making a move.
Look, we are all shy under the right circumstances. If you have to be drunk or high to make a move on something, that doesn’t come across as shy – it comes across as either an addiction or a lack of attraction. Get up the courage to approach a woman without compromising your mental clarity, so that you’ll actually be able to remember what was said. Who wants to be with someone who’s not going to remember it in the morning?
Rule #9: Lesbians must go “ghost” when they get a girlfriend.
I am so bad about this one personally. I have such a hard time keeping in touch with people, even when I’m single, but it’s definitely worse when I have a girlfriend. I actually used to set an alarm in my phone to remind me to send “good morning” texts to my besties. (Of course, then I got a girlfriend and deleted the alarm…) But it’s important to remember to keep balance. If anything goes sour with your new boo (which we hope doesn’t happen!), who’s going to be there to help you pick up the pieces? Well, your friends would, if you hadn’t ignored them for the whole relationship!
Rule #10: Lesbians must live, sleep, and breathe for sports.
If you like sports, that’s great! But if you just follow along with (or play) sports because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do as a lesbian, you’re missing the point. You should be an individual, and while you shouldn’t shun things just because they’re popular, you also shouldn’t follow the crowd without thinking for yourself. If you like sports, participate in sports – but if you don’t like sports, there’s really no reason to fake it.
Rule #11: Gold stars are better than everyone else.
I understand why some people have an aversion to women who have been with men before. But it’s important to realize that your aversion does not make you an elite breed. Most lesbians have been with a man before. Some of us take longer to come out than others. Some have family who expect certain things from us. Some of us even used to be attracted to men, or maybe we were questioning ourselves for awhile. Shunning a lesbian just because she hasn’t always followed your own rules of lesbianism is no different than if society shunned us as women because we don’t always act the most ladylike. It’s unfair, and it simply doesn’t hold up.
Rule #12: Lesbians must tell their coming-out story whenever they possibly can.
When you first come out, it can be exciting to share your coming out story. But the truth is that most people don’t care how you came out or what the reaction was. If someone asks, feel free to share – and if someone is questioning whether they should come out too, feel free to give them your experience. But to do it every chance you get makes you look like you’re vying for attention – and that’s not a reputation you want to have.
Rule #13: Lesbians must live in basketball/cargo shorts and tank tops.
I love my basketball shorts and my tank tops. For a long time, that’s all I wore when I wasn’t working. In fact, I still wear them on a fairly regular basis. But most of the time, I’m not going to go out like that – it’s just not practical in all settings. If it actually worked to identify me as a lesbian maybe I’d give it more of a chance, but you should wear what makes you comfortable. Don’t give into the idea of a “lesbian uniform” – it doesn’t work anyway.
Rule #14: Lesbians must love cats.
Cats are funny creatures. It’s hard to tell whether they love you or hate you, and often you’ll see signs of both with the same cat. But you don’t have to own a cat just because you’re gay. “Pussy” jokes aside, not everyone likes cats – and you shouldn’t force yourself to live with one (or five) if you really don’t like them. Pets are best when well cared for, and if you’re not happy with the idea of taking care of it, you shouldn’t have it in the first place.
Rule #15: Lesbians must hate men.
I am of the mindset that no one should hate anyone without a well-justified reason. You only need to justify the reason to yourself, but you should at least understand what it is. This applies to racism, sexism, classism, ableism… Pretty much any -ism you can think of. If you can’t actually justify it in a broad sense, you should consider breaking it down into components. For example, instead of “I hate men”, try “I hate men who won’t accept my sexuality”. Doesn’t that feel better?
I’m hoping that it’s fairly obvious that some of these rules are exaggerated; I can’t think of a single lesbian who actually “follows” every one of these things, nor would I want to. But if you find yourself following along with these things without understanding why you do, I urge you to explore the real reasons behind it – is it something that you actually agree with or just something you feel like you are obligated to do?
If you find it’s the latter, try to change your views on these things – consider the way you can be the best you, instead of the best “lesbian stereotype”. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, if any of these things actually is a part of who you are, by all means, don’t change yourself to avoid the stereotypes either! Just make sure you’re acting in your own best interest.