We have all heard stories about how lesbians really are. The sentence beings -- You can't be a lesbian, you are too ... [fill in the blank]. Let's explore some of those stereotypes and assumptions, shall we?
Lesbians hate men.
I am sure there are lesbians out there who also happen to dislike men; I have just never met them. I have met a few heterosexual women who, even though they don't use the words I hate men, talk about men in a manner that certainly does not sound warm and friendly. Most of the lesbians I know enjoy men -- as friends, co-workers and relatives. I have met women who feel the need for womyn only space -- a place to get away from men. I do not think this qualifies them as official men-haters.
Lesbians want to be men.
Lesbians are quite happy being women. Quite different from a transgender individual who might desire to change their physical gender to match their emotional/psychological gender.
Lesbians look mannish
Some do, some do not. I know some very butch women who are heterosexual, and some very femme women who are lesbians. One has nothing to do with the other. Looking over a group of lesbians, it is often difficult to pin any particular label onto their appearance. Just like the general population, they all look different.
A lesbian just needs the right man to come along.
Using this fuzzy-logic; every woman just needs the right woman to come along to change her sexual orientation. When talking with my friends, few feel their orientation is really about sex. They express more of an enjoyment in the feel, touch and taste of a woman rather than a man. Most lesbians talk about emotional bonding and an almost spiritual connection. We all know this logic is slippery and silly, but it does persist.
Women become lesbians because they cannot get a man.
Personally, I have turned down a number of very serious proposals of marriage from men. Most of the lesbians I know experience a great deal of positive male attention. Lesbians who come out to themselves later in life generally leave husbands (and sadly their children - in bitter custody battles) behind. The statistics just do not support this fallacy.
Lesbians are castrating bitches.
Like the general population; most of the lesbians I know vary in personality. Some are strong, assertive women who are not going to fold simply to save a man's ego, or fall for some flirtatious story. I suspect when men learn to deal with women as equals, this fallacy will disappear along with the current discrimination we all face.
These are the most common, and oftentimes viciously traded misconceptions used against and about lesbians today. They are hurtful -- intended to be hurtful -- and usually are based in personal fears. Many men are afraid or uncertain in dealing with women as equals. Giving up their ace in the hole to win their way through flirtation, when all else fails.
There is a lot of baggage behind the words/labels of dyke and lesbian. This baggage causes many women to react out of fear of being labeled a lesbian -- and all the more terrifying to be labeled a dyke -- a word that takes on a certain amount of violence when used with a certain tone of voice.
Perhaps someday we shall all move beyond the pettiness and stop fearing the labels. I look forward to it.
Until next time...