9 lesbian myths, debunked

Breaking down the common misconceptions people have about lesbians.

By Ariel Schrag
9 lesbian myths, debunked

I’m out for breakfast with my extended family. Our group is large, and lots of conversations are going on. Somehow, the topic turns to lesbians. An aunty sitting a few seats away loudly asks: “Ariel, how many lesbians are there in the world?”

I say: “334,263,984.” Just kidding. Actually, I answer, “Uh, I don’t know.” And feel awkward. And like I have a giant LED board across my chest that screams Lesbian!

This perfectly demonstrates the first big misconception about lesbians, which is…

Lesbians know everything about lesbians.

How many of us there are, how we have sex, if we were born that way – I can answer only for myself. You’ll have to talk to the other 334,263,983 to get their story. That said, I will now proceed to speak for all lesbians as I debunk some other myths.

Lesbians are vegetarians.

A familiar scene: I’m at a dinner party, and the host has prepared some delicious roast-chicken dish. He or she then turns to me and says, “Oh! And Ariel, we made something vegetarian too.” (I’m not vegetarian.) Because, I suppose, if a woman doesn’t want to put a penis in her mouth, all other meat must be off-limits as well?

Lesbians love cat.

Here we have some crossover with a stereotype about spinsters, who, like lesbians, don’t have men in their lives, a void they supposedly fill with animals called pussy. Cats are fine and all, but frankly, most lesbians I know are obsessed
with pit bulls.

Lesbians hate men.

The people who consistently complain about men are straight women. Lesbians don’t care. If we want to be friends with a man, we will. Unlike straight women, we have no needs that can be met only by men. In general, people hate others if they need something from them that they’re not getting. (I will also add that not all lesbians share men’s assumed love of sport. I suck at and know nothing at all about sports.)

In a lesbian relationship, one woman is “the man”.

Recently my girlfriend, Charlotte, and I hung out with a good, old friend of hers. Charlotte said, “We’re gonna see a movie later.” Her friend responded by asking: “In a lesbian relationship, does someone take on the role of ‘the man’?” Neither Charlotte nor I appear especially masculine. But somehow, a lot of people believe that unless it’s been established which woman takes on that crucial role of “the man”, the relationship can’t function. But what does “the man” even mean? Is it the person on top during sex? The one who insists on doing the driving? The one who more often pays? I can think of plenty of straight relationships in which the woman claims all these roles.

All lesbians love – and are good at – oral sex.

They don’t and aren’t. I’m not knocking oral sex; it’s great stuff. But some lesbians simply don’t care for it. This myth brings us to that all-consuming question: How do lesbians have sex? I love that people don’t know the answer to this. It makes the sex I have seem so exciting! Not like that biology-textbook, farm-animals-mating kind of sex straight people have. It is elusive, mysterious lesbian sex! Well, you will just have to keep on guessing how it works… OK, fine. I’ll tell you how we do it. You know the body parts that women have? Try putting them together in every way possible. There’s a fair amount of trial and error involved. We have no more information than you do.

It’s easier to be in a lesbian relationship than in a straight one, because women understand each other.

Dead wrong. No relationship is ever easy. But while we’re on the subject of stereotypes, try putting two routinely moody, passive-aggressive individuals together as a couple. I’d take the straightforward, just-wants-consistent-sex guy any day. And to address an even more offensive myth: no, lesbians are not lesbians because they can’t “snag a man”. Some people will see a lesbian they deem to be unattractive and believe she’s too ugly or masculine for a man to want her. Or they’ll see a beautiful lesbian and think that she has been wronged by a man, and that’s the reason she’s switched teams. Nope, not the case. It doesn’t work that way at all.

Butch lesbians want to be men.

There’s no other way for me to put this but to say: butch, masculine women do not want to be men. A woman who identifies as a man and takes steps to transition into one is called a “trans man”. Totally different thing. But butch women want to be exactly what they are: butch women. And, yes, many women (and some men) find masculine women very attractive.

Lesbians identify as lesbians.

Like many lesbians, I’m not crazy about the word lesbian. It’s so clinical sounding. Gay is quick and to the point, but I can’t get over that it also means “light-hearted and carefree”. Queer is popular but comes with a political edge. And what qualifies someone as a lesbian anyway? Do you need to have sex only with women? Only date females? Why are we so set on labels? It’s a dumb endeavour. Those are my words of lesbian wisdom. Now I need to get back to feeding my rescue cat its vegan meal, then watch some sports.