I grew numb to the fact that so many straight people in my life had such stoic ideas about what lesbians do and don’t do.
“It’s so funny that people think LESBIANS, like actually scissor. People are so dumb it blows my mind,” Beatrix*, a freckle-faced, top-knot-sporting, 22-year-old sex and dating writer giggled to me in a group brainstorming session about five years ago.
At the time, I was working for a primarily heterosexual digital media company. And every single morning, at exactly 10:15 am, all the dating writers would huddle around a little table in the back of our loft-style office for a “brainstorming session” — which just consisted of us complaining about our hangovers and loudly gabbing about our sex lives. It was (mostly) a blast.
“Ugh. I know. That’s like, a gross porn thing,” Cleo*, a 26-year-old editor with long, shiny, blond hair that framed her pale face like two beautiful silk curtains, hissed in disapproval.
“You must have to deal with dumb straight people imagining you SCISSORING all the time, and it’s like, so objectifying!” Beatrix protectively wailed staring right at me.
I had round, oversized sunglasses strapped to my face because I can sometimes be an asshole like that.
“Uh, I hate to break it to you ladies, but I scissored last night." “And this morning,” I added, my voice cryptic and dark.
“You what?!" both girls cried in perfect unison, their pretty young faces twisting in terror (I’m telling you that place would’ve slain a reality show).
“I scissored last night with a girl I met on OKCupid. I had a one-night stand.”
One-night stands were the equivalent of having a new designer purse. They made you popular, and got you tons of praise.
“So you’re saying lesbians, like, do really scissor? How does that even work?” Beatrix bitchily crossed her arms, like she didn’t “believe” I actually “scissored.”
It got to a point where I didn’t even I respond. I just smiled vacantly, threw up in my mouth a little and carried on. It happened so often that I grew numb to the fact that so many straight people in my life had such stoic ideas about what lesbians do and don’t do.
“I’m not going to explain to you the ins and outs of scissoring right now, Beatrix. I’m hungover as fuck and haven’t even had a cup of coffee yet! Look: some lesbians scissor, some don’t scissor. Just like some of you in this room” — I gestured toward the diverse group of millennial girls ferociously typing on their laptops, the morning’s Adderall just kicking in — “say you like anal sex and some of you hate it.” I snapped my laptop closed. “DOES ANYONE HAVE AN ADVIL!” I screamed into the air. My brain felt swollen from all the shitty champagne I’d slugged back the night before.
“OK. Whatever.” Beatrix gazed into her cherry red manicure, still unconvinced about the alleged lesbian scissoring myth. “And Piper* keeps a bottle of Advil on her desk. Just take one.”
I sighed as I stomped over to Piper’s desk. I was getting really tired of being the token lesbian in everyone’s lives.
It was like every single day a straight person came up to me and coughed up some bizarre blanket statement that “defined” all of lesbian kind.
“You’re so lucky you don’t have to deal with being ghosted, Zara! Lesbians don’t ghost; you’re so lucky!”
It got to a point where I didn’t even I respond. I just smiled vacantly, threw up in my mouth a little and carried on. It happened so often that I grew numb to the fact that so many straight people in my life had such stoic ideas about what lesbians do and don’t do. I know the scissoring thing was mainly the girls wanting to protect me from being objectified by the patriarchy, which is kind of cute I guess, but also kind of annoying. (I won't let men jerking off to scissoring in porn, stop me from indulging in my favorite sex position!)
And if god-forbid I happened to challenge one of them and dared to break their delusional ideas of what lesbian culture was really like, they tended to have very alarming, emotional reactions.
“What do you MEAN SHE CHEATED ON YOU? A WOMAN WOULDN’T DO THAT TO ANOTHER WOMAN, OKAY, ZARA?," a curly-haired blonde once screamed at me in a bodega over a bagel, when I told her why I broke it off with an ex. She stared at me, her faded denim eyes seeping with desperation. "Please, I need to believe your kind doesn’t cheat" they silently pleaded.
I don’t find many things strange (I have a high threshold for strange), but I do find it weird that I’ve come across so many straight people who are compelled to adamantly INSIST that lesbians don’t do certain things.
And it’s more than just scissoring, cheating, and ghosting babes. Here are four more bizarre things I’ve heard straight people vehemently claim we don’t do or have:
“Lesbians don’t have long fingernails.”
“Well, she’s definitely NOT really gay because her fingernails are long,” my wildly heterosexual friend Chrissy* proclaimed one hung-over Saturday morning while watching an episode of “The Real L Word.” She was referring to the character “Sada” a raven-haired lipstick lesbian who happened to be sporting long, pointy Lana Del Rey nails.
I mean look, I can understand (though I think it's a little simplistic) where this rumor comes from. I also know from rather unfortunate personal experience that long nails can really scratch up your vagina and don’t (at least in my case) lend themselves to fingering, but listen up kittens: I PROMISE you a person's nail length has nothing to do with her (or his) sexuality. It’s still very possible to give a woman an orgasm when your fingernails are long (you just need a flexible finger). I went through a Lana Del Rey pointy nail phase about six years ago, and I still made the girl I was sleeping with cum, regularly.
However, I did eventually trim those fierce talons, because I do like to ~penetrate~ with my fingers. But I was still the gayest gay on the block when I had my long nails. I mean, I didn’t magically turn straight the moment the nail tech adhered acrylics to my fingernails. Can you imagine if it worked like that? Disapproving Christian mothers across the globe would be sending their lesbian daughters to the nail salon in droves! It would probably put conversion therapy out of business, am-I-right?
“Real lesbians don’t use strap-ons.”
My mother hates it when I swear, but seriously — fuck off with this one. I’m the queerest girl on the planet (No, really I’m the gayest person you’ll ever meet in your life. I smoke rainbow cigarettes and play “Closer To Fine” by the Indigo Girls on repeat all day long.) and I have a very active strap-on life.
“But like, why would you use a strap-on when you could have a real dick!?” a fratty looking boy in salmon-colored pants once roared to me at a nauseatingly heterosexual wedding in Nantucket several years ago.
“Why are you wearing pants the color of lox?” I snorted as I swigged back my Champagne and strutted away, my heels making holes in the perfectly manicured lawn.
I didn’t even want to indulge him. If you don’t understand that a dildo is NOT the same thing as a dick, I seriously have no words. You’re just a dumb-dumb, baby. I mean for Christ’s sake, my dildo is petal pink, it’s shimmery like a beautiful diamond, it’s paired with a classy vegan leather harness and is attached to a lanky woman with breasts and sea-foam colored eyes. It’s NOT veiny and fleshy, and it doesn’t have balls (gag), and, most importantly, it’s not attached to a boy body.
“Lesbians don’t spend money.”
“Why don’t we have a lesbian party every month at the gay bar!” I squealed to my club-promoter gay-boy friend Luke* a few years ago. I was living in a small town on the Gulf coast of Florida (don’t ask) where there was only ONE gay bar and it was always teeming with boys. “There are so many lesbians in this town; they would love it! I’ll help you promote it!” I jovially sing-songed, grabbing Luke by his delicate shoulders.
Luke took a sip of his Diet Red Bull. “Um, babe that’s like, a great idea but it’s not going to happen.”
“Why?” I demanded.
“Look, babe, I love you, and I love the lesbians, but you don’t spend money. Sorry!”
“I don’t spend money?!” I flung my $2000 vintage Chanel clutch in his face. “My fucking La Perla underwear cost more than your whole H&M outfit, babe.”
I don’t know what vile entity decided that lesbians don’t spend money, but it’s sexist, homophobic and simply untrue. I’ve repeatedly been advised not to pitch lesbian-themed projects to producers because they’ll never buy a lesbian-themed project because they don’t think they’re profitable.
Advertisers notoriously don’t advertise on lesbian websites because they have bird-sized brains and believe that it’s a waste of money (even when said lesbian sites often garner MUCH HIGHER traffic and have a LONGER TIME ON PAGE than the flailing, identity-less mainstream digital media outlets).
I don’t know what it boils down to. I don’t know if the masses think because there is no investment banker-wanker dude involved in lesbian relationships we surely can’t afford nice things. I don’t know if they think we’re all freegans who dumpster dive for nourishment and scoff at fashion. I don’t how this rumor kicked-off when every dyke I know likes to go out for dinner, loves to travel, and enjoys nice drinks in nice bars from time to time. Despite the fact that my girlfriend and I both deal with the gender pay gap, we still are just as lavish as our heterosexual counterparts (probably more so, because I’m alarmingly materialistic).
I mean have you even ever been to Cherry Grove on Fire Island? Cherry Grove is where New York lesbians summer and trust me — you can’t get a bottle of rosé on that island for under $25. Yet, we all dutifully ferry it out there every other weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day and bleed money. Boats full of all kinds of lesbians arrive on the dock, packed to the gills hourly.
So who are you calling cheap now, babe?
“Lesbians don’t have to deal with toxic masculinity.”
Now, this is a delicate, highly sensitive subject matter, one that is worthy of its own article, but I’m going to go there today anyway. Because it’s a dismal Thursday and it’s raining, and I’m in no mood for bullshit. I just spent $35 on ice-cream. I’m in the brutal throes of menstruation, and I’m bleeding all over the couch. Lez get real.
Sadly, some lesbians who are more uh, “feminine presenting” are treated differently by other lesbians who are, more uh, “masculine presenting.”
“Wow, I can’t believe you’re like really smart!” a girl once said to me on a first date.
“Why are you surprised?” I asked, knowing exactly what was coming as it’s happened to me an endless amount of times in my decade-long stint in lez land.
“I don’t know; you’re just like SO PRETTY! And into fashion. I honestly almost didn’t even swipe for you because I thought you would be a fake bitch! Like an ‘actress’ without a job, you know what I’m saying?!” she cackled slugging back her Pabst blue ribbon.
(Straight girls, close your eyes and imagine a dude saying this to you on a date! You would be outraged, right? What a sexist pig!)
The girl was definitely on the “butch” end of the style spectrum and sat across from me wearing a flannel (No, really, she was wearing a flannel. I’m not trying to perpetuate stereotypes; it’s just honest storytelling.) and tattered black jeans. Her face was free of makeup.
I dug into my purse and fished for my lipstick. “So you’re surprised that a girl can wear lipstick and still use her lips for speaking?” I asked as I applied a fresh coat of coral lipstick on my lips.
“Well, it’s just that most girls who dress like you—“ she gestured to my floral cut-out dress — “aren’t that smart.”
And that my sweet, innocent, kittens is a prime example of “toxic masculinity.” In this case, a more masculine presenting girl was unable to wrap her brain around the fact that a very femme creature like me, has a functioning brain. She was associating my femininity with stupidity, which is a very toxic thing to do if you ask me.
Now, not all masculine-presenting lesbians are like this. In fact, most lesbians are not at all like this! But I would be lying through my freshly Juvederm-injected lips if I said this dynamic doesn’t exist at all in my community.
Trust me: people always assume that my girlfriend Meghan is smarter than I am because she wears shiny leather pants and button down shirts every single day and I’m just the blithering idiot in the slutty crop top and the ridiculous platform holographic seashell sandals.
And Meghan and I both know that isn’t true. We both know that contrary to popular, sexist, belief, I’m actually the genius in this relationship.
So there you have it. There are some prime examples of what I’ve been told LESBIANS DON’T DO by heterosexual creatures. Now, now, don’t worry; I’m not hetero-hating, baby! I'm just living my truth. And sadly, not all of those truths are pretty. Which sucks — because I like pretty things (which ironically, I've also been told lesbians don't care for).