Sherry from Portland, Oregon asks:
Do men treat women differently for having been with other women, even if she still likes a man’s attention? Why do men get so upset at a woman for being with other women? Is there anything wrong with this, and how do you feel about this? I feel more at ease with women then I do men, but I still like men—just not to sleep with. What goes on inside a man’s head that gets them jealous when they find out the one woman they want to be with has slept with another woman?
Greetings, Sherry. At the root of this enigma lies the forbidden garden of female sexuality in its most natural form. The themes of lesbianism as well as the fearful and fascinated male reaction to it, have long been a grand motif in western art. Contemplation of your question can take us to the icy depths of masculine opportunism and the archetypal realms of patriarchal terror. It’s a complicated journey, but undertaking it we’re bound to make some ripe and vital observations.
On the surface it would seem ironic that men should shy away from, or be offended by any woman’s lesbian tendencies. After all, doesn’t “two women making love” top the list of men’s all-time favorite pornographic fantasies? In almost every mainstream adult movie there will be at least one obligatory girl-on-girl scene. From strip clubs, to R rated films, the male fantasy of two chicks getting it on has been so ingrained as a perennial winner by popular culture that many straight women have decided they are suddenly very bi, willing to bed other women in order to be seen as ‘cool’ and ‘sexy’ by the men in their lives. And of course these men are only too happy to watch them do it. But you aren’t one of these pretenders. You’re a woman loving woman, through and through. And therein lies the problem. You see, men fetishize pretty little lesbian scenes because men are very often turned on by things they can direct, control and dominate. At the core of every lesbian fantasy a man has is the understanding that the two girls he’s watching are doing it FOR HIM. And that if he were to intrude on the scene, they’d turn their attention to him because it’s him they REALLY want. Real lesbians have no desire for him, or the ‘equipment’ he brings on the scene, and therefore real lesbians are something to be viewed with serious suspicion.
There are different archetypes enacted in lesbian encounters just as there are in heterosexual encounters, and your inquiry sent me back to Camille Paglia’s excellent observation of the Lesbian Vampire as illustrated in Coleridge’s romantic classic, “Christabel.” The archetype here is a powerful lesbian Goddess figure, a witch and seducer of maidens. She is also a poisoner of pious male authority; a usurper of linear and logical culture. She is female, but radiates a potent phallic form. She is woman with no need of man.
There are some species in nature which have dispensed with males entirely and are nonetheless quite successful in their bids for reproductive expansion. Our own scientific gurus are hard-pressed to explain why males exist in any species as there are much better and more efficient means of reproduction available. Somewhere, deep inside, men are aware they could become biologically expendable, which means anything that sexually excludes them speaks directly to an instinctive fear of chthonian dominance. This is not the realm of pony-tailed co-eds having pillow fights. This isn’t Katy Perry kissing a girl and liking it…
The mystery of lesbian sexuality is an ancient one, going back to the inner sanctum practices of matriarchal times. It is a thing set apart from men that needs neither their approval nor their blessing. At best it is a discomfort they would prefer to ignore. I’ve said it before, and no one likes to hear it, but the sad truth is straight men never ever enter into any sort of friendship with a woman unless there’s a chance that someday they’re going to get her into bed. Straight men are not complicated. As an honest-to-god lesbian who isn’t ever going to be a potential mate, you essentially have nothing to offer most straight men. Fortunately, there are always fellows of a more sophisticated nature who won’t find your sexual preferences intimidating, and won’t get too hung up on the fact that you cannot be seen as “prey.” These sorts might even find they’ve an affinity with you since you share a common interest in making love to beautiful women. So, don’t write off all straight men. Just be more selective in your choice of friends.
Do you have a question for Liam? Ask Liam your question now.