I’m 21, living in Wellington New Zealand, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m actually a lesbian. So… how does one go about lesbianing? I’ve told my friends about my lesbianonic intentions, and honestly everyone gives like zero fucks and is like “grrrl, go get that pussy,” but how do I actually embark on that? I want to bone someone who looks like they could be in Haim, or like Jemima Kirke and/or Krysten Ritter. Personally I’m average build with big boobs, I suppose I’m “medium girly,” and I mostly dress like a hipster librarian, but when I go out I take the Joan Holloway vintage dress route. I don’t know any lesbians to give me a lesbian makeover, à la Slutever on Vice, and subsequently don’t know where to start. Help! Vaj Confusion
First of all, congratulations! Right now is such a glamorous time to be a lesbo. Your style sounds amazing and I certainly don’t think you need a makeover. I know on the “Grey Area” episode of my VICE show I got a lez makeover, because I wanted to look more gay to increase my chances of getting with a femme lesbian. I think often, when we think of lesbian couples, we think of them having a “masculine”/feminine dynamic, the same way that straight couples do–aka you have the more girly partner, and then you have the more tomboyish or androgynous or butch partner. But this, of course, is not always true. The lesbian writer Amy Coopes had something great to say about this, in an article she published debunking “urban legends about dykes.” I’ll share what she said with you:
MYTH: ONE OF YOU IS ‘THE MAN’
Unable to process anything outside of the ‘me Tarzan, you Jane’ gender binary, many straight folks (and some queers too, mind) find it hard to comprehend a relationship that doesn’t have a masculine-feminine dynamic. I’m not talking about Judith Butler’s gender-as-performance or butch-femme roleplay – I mean the flat-out misapprehension that a legitimate relationship has to have someone in a male role. If I had a dollar for every person who, usually in drunken conspiratorial tones, asked me who was ‘the man’ in my relationship I’d be wealthy enough to pay La Butler to accompany me to parties and bitchslap some sense into people. Gender is not innate, it’s fluid, and it shifts from relationship to relationship and even within the same relationship over time. When people (usually dudes) ask who the man is, they are either wondering who takes charge or, more often, they’re wondering what you do under the covers. Memo guys: it’s none of your business.
However… I will say that in my own personal experience with girl-on-girl hook ups, and from having hung out in lesbian scenes in NYC and London, I’ve found that style and appearance does play a role, in a different and perhaps more significant way than it does in heterosexual hook-ups. Now, I’m going to try to explain that in a way that avoids making any offensive blanket statements, but I understand that I’m about to step onto treacherous ground, mined with stereotypes…
First, I’ll give you a personal example: In my current relationship, I do feel like “the girl”–aka I wear dresses and makeup and order salads at restaurants and cry about my feelings. And my girlfriend, who’s an androgynous/tomboy type, definitely likes to be “the boy” in a lot of ways, for example she wears mens clothing and boxers, she pulls out chairs for me and stuff (for realz!) and when we have sex she’s dominant, she penetrates me far more often than I do her, and when we occasionally decide to use a strap-on she’s the one who wears it. This, of course, is just my own personal relationship experience, and is in no way “the right way” or “the only way” do things in a lez couple, but I’m trying to illustrate that our dynamic, or one similar to ours, is fairly common in lesbian couples. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy all the girly things about my girlfriend (obviously, or I’d just be dating a dude). I love her boobs and going down on her, and the fact that we can go bra shopping together, and that we can share yeast infection medication and lots of other sexy romantic stuff like that. But I also do enjoy that within our relationship I still get to play a very feminine role.
I’ll give you another example: I have a female friend here in New York who’s into girls, and she looks very feminine, and she’s constantly complaining that she finds it hard to get the types of girls she likes. She says that in New York the butch/femme dynamic prevails, making her an anomaly. She’s always saying, “Do I seriously have to put on a fucking denim vest and wash off my lipstick in order to get a bombshell to fuck me?!” And for a while she actually tried it–the whole denim vest and no lipstick thing–but eventually she was like, “Eww, I fucking hate denim vests, fuck this, I’m moving to LA.”
Apparently, so I’ve heard through the lesbian grapevine, Los Angeles is a magical place where all the lesbians are lipstick lesbians and love it, and girly-girls bone girly-girls all day long. Considering that I don’t even know what the lesbian scene is like in Wellington, I may have just gone off on an irrelevant tangent, sorry! However, I do find the dynamic of lesbian relationships to be interesting, and it’s something I’ve wanted to write about on this blog for a while. And you did ask me a question about style. And so now I have something else to say about style, because I do think your style will affect your new gay dating life in yet another way, different to the one I already mentioned. OK, so:
You are a lesbian who effectively dresses like a “straight girl.” When you are out in the world, the average passerby or person you meet in a bar will most likely process you as a straight women, because you dress femininely, and because that’s just how our hetero-normative world functions. However, that means that other lesbians–feminine or otherwise–may not know you’re a lesbian, and therefore may be less likely to hit on you. Historically, this is why people of various subcultures have chosen to dress in a way that clearly labels them as such–it’s a way of advertising to other people within that subculture, “Hey, look at me, I’m like you!” There’s a reason leather daddies where leather and why a lot of lesbians have short hair, and why girls who wanna get boned go out wearing vagina-length skirts–the way we dress is a way of advertising who we are and what we want to the rest of the world, and every time we get dressed we are selling ourselves. (I talked about this once before in an article for Vogue if you want to check that out.)
Basically, you’re a lot like me. We’re both the type of girl who wants to fuck other girls, but who isn’t manifesting that desire physically, through our style, in the most obvious way. And what that means is that we have to be a little bit more aggressive about that desire in other ways. For example, you should definitely start hanging out at lesbian and gay bars and events. That is certainly the easiest first step. And when you’re there, you should be assertive–be the one to start conversations, dance with people, give sexy eyes, whatever. Because remember, even if you’re at a gay night, if you’re in a dress and makeup, people might just think you’re a fag hag. But don’t fret, you can flirt your way out of that one! And why not join OKCupid or another dating site as a lesbian? No harm or shame in that. And also, don’t be afraid of hitting on straight girls, because they can be turned very easily :)
Oh, and if you’re asking me how to hit on or actually have sex with girls, well… that’s a whole other story. But the advantage here is that you are a girl. Treat other girls how you would want to be treated–be sweet, charming and complimentary. Girl-on-girl sex is weird (but also very exciting) because it can be done in like a million different ways, but discovering that, and finding out what works for you and your parter, is a huge part of the fun, so I’ll let you handle that bit on your own.