Let me be clear about a few things: I believe that all people should be able to live in a way that feels authentic and healthy for them, providing they’re not hurting anyone (and I’m not talking about feelings, I’m talking about real, actual hurt). I believe that all human beings have the right to live in peace, to not be harmed or harassed for how they choose to spend their short tenure in this life. I believe firmly in choice. Human beings, on an individual level, have a right to their own autonomy. I also believe in the right to dissent. I believe that all people should be entitled to argue their point-of-view passionately, albeit civilly, without being shouted down, threatened or attacked.
That said, I do not believe that as individuals, moreover women, we ought to at any time eschew boundaries, abandon our principles, or stay silent in order to simply protect another’s feelings.
We have become a culture of “if it doesn’t feel good, ignore it.” We don’t like to engage in complex, weighty discourse because someone might feel uncomfortable. We don’t like to say “no” because someone might feel left out. And often, we don’t like to address reality because it may burst someone’s bubble of delusion, and leave them flailing in the murky waters of actuality.
In this climate of “feeling over fact” men often get a pass for making people uncomfortable, for saying “no,” or for calling out reality. The rules of the gender game inform us that when men do these things they are being “assertive,” “manly,” “acting on authority.” However, when women say “no,” when women name reality, when women make points that bruise tender feelings, we are seen, at best, as “unladylike” and, at worst, as monsters. Gender teaches us that women, by nature, are selfless, accommodating, and wholly malleable. When women are not these things, when women set boundaries, when women stand their ground, people flip the fuck out and try very hard to either a) demonize us or b) shout/threaten us into submission. This is nothing new at all.
In any case, today, I watched this exchange unfold on Twitter, where Lily Cade (a lesbian who makes pornography) explained that she would not shoot a sex scene with Drew Deveaux (a male who thinks he’s a lesbian and makes pornography) because she does not have sex with males. And then this happened:
That I’m not a “fan” of pornography (that’s putting it lightly), is beside the point. The point is that here – right fucking here in motherfucking print – is the ENTIRE PROBLEM I have with MtT’s who think they’re lesbians. This kind of exchange is NOT limited to the world of pornstars/pornographers. This kind of exchange is happening in lesbian communities EVERYWHERE. These conversations are taking place and lesbians are being called “transphobic bigots” for not wanting to suck dick. MtT’s who think they’re lesbians are behaving as though lesbian refusal to fuck them is indicative of some grand prejudice, some human rights violation. Someone call Amnesty International! Lesbians won’t have sex with males!
When you press a woman about “why” she is not interested in engaging sexually with someone – whether that “someone” is a man, a woman, or a man who thinks he’s a woman – you are an active participant in rape culture. When you declare a woman a “bigot” for choosing not to have sex with someone, you are an active participant in rape culture. When you claim a woman’s refusal to have sex with you “hurts you,” you are an active participant in rape culture.
Also, people who engage in these behaviors are male.
I’ve never noticed a pattern of straight women calling straight men names when the men won’t sleep with them. I’ve certainly never noticed a pattern of heterosexual women calling gay men “bigots” for not considering them as viable sexual partners. (And I’ve known PLENTY of straight women crushed out hopelessly on gay men.) Nor have I noticed a pattern of lesbians (the real kind) calling straight women “bigots” for preferring to sleep with men. (As ActualDykes nicely points out in the above exchange.)
This is male behavior. This is part of male entitlement. Males who think they’re lesbians can’t come right out and say, “lesbians must fuck me” (though this is, of course, what they mean), so they frame lesbian boundaries as a “phobia,” they frame lesbian existence as “bigotry.”
Yes I know (oh, how many times I’ve heard) some “queer women” date MtT’s. Fine. That’s great. But women who date males, even males in ladyface, are NOT lesbians. Heterosexual men, even those in ladyface, are NOT lesbians. How many fucking times do we have to go over this?
And now I’m going to get real.
Trigger Warning: Honesty.
What it comes down to is this: lesbians want nothing to do with heterosexual men who “feel like women.” We don’t want you in our spaces, and we definitely don’t want you in our beds. Many lesbians, because of their socialization as females, have politely allowed MtT’s to infiltrate their spaces. Many lesbians, because of their socialization as females, have lied through their fucking teeth when asked whether or not they’d consider dating MtT’s. Many lesbians have been all too nice (much to their own detriment), and spared your precious feelings, but I’m not interested in doing that anymore. Lesbians, real honest-to-god lesbians do not want males in our lesbian spaces, nor do we want males constantly sulking in our spaces, whimpering, “Why won’t you date trans women?” – dick or no dick, no matter; you’re male and we don’t fucking want you. How hard is that to understand?
Queer women may want to fuck you, and that’s fine. Enjoy. But “queer women” are not lesbians. Straight women are not lesbians. And once more, because it bears repeating, HETEROSEXUAL MALES ARE NOT LESBIANS.
Lay off the lesbians already. Don’t call us “bigots” for not being attracted to you. Don’t call us “bigots” for not “considering you” as sexual partners. I know your male socialization has convinced you otherwise, but we do not “owe it to you.” Lesbians are under absolutely no obligation to “reconsider the penis” or accept male bodied people as dating prospects. And this is not “denying your existence.” This is not “advocating violence against you.” This is just a little good old fashioned honesty that may hurt your feelings.
Christ, if every woman (or man for that matter) whose affections I rebuked accused me of “advocating violence against them” or “denying their existence” I’d feel like Mussolini. Conversely, if I accused every woman who rebuked my affections of “advocating violence against me” or “denying my existence,” I’d come off as a total fucking psychopath – and rightly so.
Bottom line: if someone doesn’t want to fuck you – whether you’re male, female or unicorn – that person is not a bigot. That person is not committing an act of violence. That person is not a “phobe” of any ilk. We are all entitled to our autonomy, even when it hurts other people’s feelings.