(Continued from part 1)
Cultural ideas mirrored and twisted my feelings, telling me that yes, of course, women are far more desirable and pleasant to gaze upon, and that it was perfectly normal and heterosexual to find them more appealing than men. Straight men tried (still try) to pornify and consume my sex life, even as they know it’s decidedly not for men. They’ve been so prolific in their efforts that “lesbian” porn doesn’t even try to appeal to gay women like me.
In the US, gay men on average figure out their sexuality years younger than gay women. And I think I know why. It’s because we tell boys from the get-go that their attraction means something. We also tell them, in homophobic fashion, that attraction to men is unnatural and unreasonable. I want to stress that this heterosexual set-up is cruel and harmful to all gay and bisexual people, but that the pervasive message “Women Are Hot, Men Are Not” plays out differently for gay men and women.
Gay men who find themselves liking men but not women are likely to recognize that they are different earlier, that they aren’t going with the social standard built around heterosexual male gaze. But as a gay woman, I found myself in agreement and disagreement with that heterosexual male gaze. I too think women are hot and men are not! But I’m not who the message is for.
The entire cultural concept around female beauty and male utility was designed to justify male conquest, while denying all women sexual agency and choice. If all men are sort of blah and you have to have one, does it really matter which? Male choice, even for relatively shallow reasons, is prioritized while women are encouraged to be practical, and marry that elderly billionaire in poor health (and then society hates us if we do).
Women are obliged to look beyond appearance and attraction to such an excessive degree, closeted lesbians assume all the straight women are equally unsatisfied. The sexual fulfillment of straight women is so ignored and undervalued, and the rates of women having orgasms with men are so low, that I couldn’t tell my lesbian dissatisfaction apart from their straight dissatisfaction.
A lot of LGBT people stress the importance of queer role models in television and movies. I absolutely think they are right, and that more representation could have helped me and countless other late-in-life gay people. But I don’t think it will be enough. I think so long as we hold onto Women Are Hot, Men Are Not the sexual gratification of women and femmes of all orientations will be treated as insignificant, and the orientations of gay and bisexual men and masculines will be treated as perverse. Let’s drop the heterosexual male gaze as the one true standard, okay?