When I was in school, I used to write blogs about how I wasn’t a lot of things. Like how I wasn’t a cat-lover because I was a feminist (I just was), and I didn’t burn my bra because I was a feminist, and how having short hair didn’t mean I was a lesbian *spoiler alert*. So now I’m going to un-write them: I am a queer bra-burning vegan feminist, whose armpit hair is longer than the hair on the sides of her head. And I really like cats. Really, really.
I fit a lot of lesbian stereotypes. I fit a lot of feminist stereotypes. I fit a lot of lesbian feminist stereotypes. And even though the bra-burning claim *might* have been a lie (bras are expensive!), everything else is true, and I’m proud that it is.
I know I talk a lot on here about when I was younger. But... when I as younger, I actively tried to reject stereotypes in a bid to claim not all feminists. I was so caught up in convincing people that feminist stereotypes weren’t the true picture, that I didn’t stop to think what was wrong with these stereotypes in the first place. So what if feminists burnt bras, practiced witchcraft, destroyed capitalism and were all lesbians? So what if women were cat lovers, or hummus-eating hairy hippies, or even political lesbians? None of these things are inherently bad. Feminism being associated with these things isn’t bad. It’s the fact that these things have such negative connotations that is bad.
When I was younger, I tried so hard to denounce feminist stereotypes, that I actively rejected many things that I felt would box me into a stereotype. The biggest of these stereotypes was the lesbian thing. I’d heard people call me a lesbian too many times, I’d heard the word faggot too many times. There are actual blogs from when I was like 15 years old, where I actively say just because I’m a feminist, doesn’t mean I’m a lesbian. It’s internalised homophobia to the max – even after I could claim short hair, and hairy legs, and vegetarianism, and anti-capitalism, and gender fluidity, and androgyny, I still couldn’t claim lesbian.
And maybe it’s because I was asexual at the time, and confused because I didn’t know what that was, and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t sexually attracted to anyone, of any gender. But I spent most of my teen years trying to prove (to other people, and to myself) that I was attracted to boys… and most importantly, that I wasn’t, in any way, attracted to girls.
I was right that being feminist doesn’t automatically make you a lesbian… but so what if it did? And what if feminism made me a lesbian? What if when I began to feel sexually attracted to people of all genders, I made a decision to only date women. Because it was easier for me, because men can be triggering, because I am so much more emotionally attracted to female-identifying people? So what?
Patriarchy hates the idea of women choosing to be gay, because patriarchy believes that women should be sexually subservient and available to men, always. That’s why lesbianism is such an enemy of patriarchy in the first place. I’m choosing my words carefully… I’m not saying that all women should be queer to overcome patriarchy. I’m saying that if a woman ever does actively choose to only date women, this isn’t un-feminist. After all, it’s a woman’s choice to decide what she wants to do with her own body, and a woman’s right to make her own sexual choices. These are the underlying principles of feminism. It’s every woman’s choice.
I made bad choices before, and I’ll make them again. I made choices to reject labels for the sake of rejecting labels. I made the choice to add more homophobia to this world by doing everything in my power to convince people I wasn’t gay. I have nothing against gay people, I would say, I’m just not gay.
But I am gay. And I'm also hairy. And I also really love my cat, Coco, who sleeps at the end of my bed, and was begrudging when I turned vegan, and who occasionally pees on my things. I love her more than I love most people. And I love hummus, and I have short hair, and I'm also mentally quite unwell. So I'll claim the crazy cat lady trope. And the butch lesbian thing. And the hairy feminist thing. And if that makes me a living, breathing feminist lesbian stereotype, I couldn’t care less.