Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lesbian for a Year - some questions.

I've been thinking about Lesbian For A Year by Brooke Hemphill, a memoir of a straight woman who, frustrated by the single life, decided to forego men and date women for a year. I haven’t read the whole thing; this article by the author describes the basis for the book and how "Ultimately, dating women made me a better straight person."

All I seem to have here is questions:

What if a lesbian got fed up of women (it happens) and decided to date men for a year?  Would this be a marketable memoir? What would the backlash look like? Would we expect straight men to be more or less insulted to find themselves portrayed as romantic and sexual guinea pigs?

Many gay men and lesbians have spent a year or ten pretending to be straight; dating people of other genders, occasionally even marrying them. Is anyone interested in gay perspectives on the straight life and if not, why not? 

Could a woman hope to become “a better lesbian” by dating a few men? Can we only become better people by occupying marginalised spaces? If so, what hope for self-improvement among marginalised people?

Why is it that the word bisexual seems entirely unavailable to some people who experience romantic and sexual attraction or relationships with both men and women*?  Folks should be free to use whatever labels they like, but outside of single-sex environments, is it common for straight women to enjoy sex  or having romantic relationships with women? What makes a straight person straight?  

Imagine that a straight guy wrote a book, “Gay man for a year.”  He was fed up with women, finding them too demanding or fussy or whatever the stereotype may be. Then one morning after a night on the town, he wakes up in bed with a man, and decides to give gayness a go. Observing the behaviour of other men in romantic relationships, he realises something about himself before returning to the pursuit of lady-love.

Yeah, imagine that.

Why am I so certain that such a book would never happen? Why do I suspect that if a man conducted such an experiment, he might be anxious to keep it a secret from his friends, and from any future girlfriends?

Sexuality is weird and wonderful. The way our culture frames sexuality is plain weird.

C N Lester has some suggestions for alternative books they would rather read

* I assume most bisexual people are attracted to members of various genders of which men and women are but two, but in this case, it's about men and women.


Sparky said...

That book did happen - a straight guy spent a year pretending to be gay and wrote a book about it. Though the straight guy focused more on how he was able to "tell our stories" overcome his bigotry: his book was explaining what it's like to be gay - then he became very huffy when gay people suggested a straight guy shouldn't write a book about what it's like to be gay

Animisha Singh said...

I tried writing a story about a woman objectifying a man at a bar. It didn't seem like a big deal, but I somehow got scared of what the readers (especially women) would think of me, and the kind of backlash i would get.
How do you deal with this situation? Where does your bravery come from?

Anonymous said...

Vera Brittain, in one of her letters to her brother (who was gay) makes the point that both of them seemed to be attracted first to a character and personality, and the actual sex of the person was unimportant compared to these. Makes sense to me as a bisexual.