Lesbian Is Not a Bad Word

What do people think of when they hear the word ‘lesbian’? Straight men see us as a porn category. Straight women see us as predatory. In general, the term ‘lesbian’ is associated with a masculine woman with short hair that hates men. I want to address the connotations that the word ‘lesbian’ has and show that ‘lesbian’ is not a bad word!

First, let’s tackle the idea of ‘lesbian’ being a porn category. Lesbians constantly carry the stigma of sexualization. In today’s society, lesbians are seen as inherently sexual. Men see the lesbian sexuality as a type of porn. We constantly have straight men approaching us while we are with our significant others and asking us if they can watch. Many times we get asked if we want to be a straight couple’s third. It gets extremely uncomfortable to be constantly sexualized in our everyday lives! If it isn’t gross enough that complete strangers want to intrude into our sex lives, the fact that straight men are the ones sexualizing us is absolutely disgusting! The entire point of being a lesbian is that we are not available to men in any romantic or sexual capacity. Let’s be honest, lesbian porn is made for men and men only. The porn actors in lesbian films are rarely ever a correct depiction of a lesbian sexual relationship. The word ‘lesbian’ should not be inherently sexual.

Straight women, on the other hand, tend to see lebians as predatory, especially in middle and high school years. After a girl comes out as a lesbian, nothing in her life is ever the same again, or at least, that’s how it happened for me. I lost friends after coming out as a lesbian. My best friend was no longer a part of my life because it made her uncomfortable to be so close to me. I stopped getting invited to sleepovers. I got weird looks in the locker room. People assumed that now that I liked girls, I was a threat to them or that I would hit on them. Now, I don’t know the experiences of others, but I went to high school in a pretty rural area, where people didn’t come out all of the time. Once I came out, I sacrificed every interaction that I had ever known. I didn’t know who I’d lose or who would stay. I did have a few very good friends that stood by my side, but being constantly seen as predatory was not how I imagined high school. Do you know what it felt like to come out as a lesbian in high school? Alienating. It felt alienating. I had to learn how to do things alone and be comfortable with a small friend group because other girls thought I would try to make a move on them. We are not predatory.

And yes, some lesbians do fit the typical stereotype. I have short hair. I’m not particularly fond of men. I’m angry about a lot of things. I love cats. Many other lesbians don’t fit this stereotype! We are a diverse group of women with so much to offer. Some of us love wearing dresses, others prefer suits. Some of us are somewhere in between! Some of us are butch, some of us are femme, some of us don’t adhere to labels. We are your sisters, your neighbors, your teachers, your lawyers. We are everyday women walking down the street.

We are more than a porn category. We are not predatory. And we are not all the same. We are women who love women. The word ‘lesbian’ should not have sexual or predatory connotations. ‘Lesbian’ is not a bad word!