Monday, November 5, 2007

But what does it all MEAN?

After reading this post on Finally a Feminist 101 Blog, about the relationship between lesbianism and feminism, I began to think about a certain scenario that I have seen/experienced.

Picture this: Guy approaches girl (or group of girls) in a social setting. Guy makes his move. Girl or (group of girls) rejects guy. Guy says, "What are you, a (bunch of) lesbian(s)?!"

Having been on the receiving end of this insult (which is how I'm going to refer to it, since that is what the speaker intends, even though I don't feel that being identified as lesbian is insulting), I've done a little bit of thinking about what the speaker intends to convey. I've come up with a few different things.

(1) It is a warning. It says, either find me attractive or risk being categorizes as sexual unavailable/attractive (which is how the speaker sees lesbians). This would only an be effective threat in a setting/society that values women based on their sexual availability/attractiveness to men. It's also a little strange considering that the guy has already let on that he finds the woman/women he is hitting on to be desirable.

(2) In the same vein, it is some sort of bizarre reverse psychology. The guy is hoping that upon hearing the above threat, the girl will go out of her way to prove that she is straight, namely, by responding positively to his come ons.

(3) It is the only explanation that the guy can grasp for why he would be rejected. As in, if you reject me, then you must be rejecting all of men everywhere...and if this is the case, man, how fragile can an ego be?

(4) It is a very strange rejection in return (kind of like number 1). The equivalent of a kid's "fine, I don't like you either." (Although this could also be achieved through any kind of name calling so I don't think it really explains why the guy chooses "lesbian".)

(5) The guy decides that if he can't actually have the woman/women he has hit on, he is going to appropriate her through the common male fantasy of girl on girl action (this one works better when it's a group of girls rejecting the guy).

What do you think it is? Why do you think "lesbian" or "dyke" are still used as insults? Do you think it's different when they are used in a sexualized context?

1 comment:

drh said...

I haven't come across that in awhile (although maybe I will again now that my hair is short short)...and I've never experienced it said straight to my face, rather its been something yelled from a passing car, when I couldn't offer any response (so not in the context of a pick up, but then again, I rarely get picked up!).

I see it as indicative of a fragility of the male ego--and men are in their own way victims of certain norms that dictate the definition of masculinity. Women who do not find men attractive, or historically, chose not to marry and live alone or in "friendship" with other women are a threat to the natural order of things--the family unit, reproduction, etc.

I have to confess that I actually used the "we're lesbians" angle to get out of a somewhat uncomfortable situation when I was studying abroad in college. My friend and I were being pestered by a friendly but drunk and intoxicated guy who wanted to know if we had husbands/boyfriends, etc., and he just wouldn't leave us be so I told him we were lesbians. He was like "really!? lesbians?" and dropped it. The cultural context at the time worked in our favor because homosexuality was something that wasn't really discussed and was viewed as novel by people and we were lucky that this guy didn't become aggressive about it.