Being a feminine presenting lesbian woman comes with its challenges. Cat calling, assumptions about our sexuality based off appearance, toxic masculinity and misogyny from straight men, and sometimes even masculine presenting lesbians. For better or for worse, these issues play a major part in the way that we move through the world and carry ourselves within relationships. Along with these challenges though, come a certain set of privileges. Privileges that grant us immunity and give us passes in situations because we are feminine presenting. By no means am I saying these things to stir the pot or cause controversy, but rather to point out some of the ways that feminine presenting women get away with different behaviors as oppose to our more masculine presenting counterparts and partners. As someone who is always quick to point out toxic masculinity and hold masculine presenting lesbians and cis gender, straight men accountable for their actions in perpetuating misogynistic, heteronormative standards, it is also important for me to realize the biases that I benefit from.
For instance, as a feminine presenting lesbian woman, it is acceptable for me to see a woman I like, walk up to her, and touch her, even if she is a stranger to me. This touch does not have to be sexual, it can be something as simple as touching a masculine presenting woman on the small of her back as I approach, or grabbing her hand sensually. Although this is not something that I do personally (because I am not a fan of folks touching me) because I am a feminine presenting woman, initiating physical contact with another woman is more easily accepted, I am able to do this without thinking about or even considering how my touch can affect or trigger someone. For masculine presenting women, walking up to a woman she does not know and touching her, may be received with discomfort and even an attitude. This privilege that we have, in my opinion, is due to the fact that our sexuality as feminine presenting women or the presentation of our sexuality is synonymous with sensuality whereas any demonstration of sexuality from a masculine presenting woman is often perceived as brash and lustful. The way that feminine women can approach and interact with others in a more aggressive way and without asking permission is more socially acceptable then those who are masculine presenting.
Another privilege we have as feminine presenting lesbian women concerning physical touch is in regard to fighting/arguing. In my experience, feminine presenting women often times get a pass when caught hitting their partner if the partner is a masculine presenting woman. Although I do not claim this as the norm, this is definitely a privilege we have because in the eyes of heterosexuals, the way a woman presents also represents her physical strength and automatically puts the masculine presenting woman in the position of a heterosexual man when it comes to altercations. Because of this bias assumption, we as feminine women, can get away with hitting way more often than a masculine presenting woman can. Even when it comes to arguing, it is more socially acceptable for feminine presenting women to yell, argue, and let their anger and emotions out because women are perceived to be such emotional beings. Masculine presenting women however, are expected to be tough, not cry, and grin and bear it, just as expected from straight men. That right there, is privilege.
It is sometimes a very hard pill to swallow when you are confronted with your privilege. Many times, it is hard to acknowledge because we move through the world unaware of how we are perceived or how our actions play a part in our relationships with others. There is no formula of behaviors or cut and dry solution to dealing with the ways that our presentation as lesbian women affect the way we interact with others or how they interact with us, but one thing for sure is that we feminine women have to take it upon ourselves to take a step back and check ourselves from time to time. Check our behaviors and check our privilege, because it does exist.