The LGBTQ movement has always been about equality, equal rights, and being treated and handled like our heterosexual counterparts. Our community has worked so hard to be included, not excluded or put into a box and we have done so in the fight for LGBTQ equality. However, there is still so much work left to do, and it starts with checking our view points, standards, and biases as members in the very community that we have worked so hard to bring to the forefront.
In order to check ourselves and figure out what we can do from within to help progress our community, we must examine our mindset and the ways in which our behaviors as QPOC perpetuate the very stereotypes and boxes that society has always forced upon us.
Soule’s new podcast “Working Tidal” is a multi segmented podcast with the first segment being dedicated to the Black lesbian community with the intent of starting positive conversations about specific aspects of QPOC life, love, and dating.
One aspect of QPOC life, love, and dating, (most specifically lesbian life, love, and dating), that is a constant factor in the way we relate to and treat each other is masculinity. In the first episode of the podcast, my partner and I talk about masculinity. Masculinity is something that has been dictated and taught to us through the scope of heteronormative society and norms and has permeated the LGBT community so much so that it often goes unrecognized or unchecked. Let’s discuss two of the most common ways that heteronormative standards of masculinity are present in the lesbian community.
Presentation and mannerisms
In the lesbian community, masculine presenting women often times get the short end of the stick. In terms of presentation, masculine presenting women receive less leeway and less flexibility with the ability to be fluid. Fluid with their presentation, and fluid with who they choose to date. Lesbian women who present in a way that is masculine, are often chastised if they express or present any form of femininity such as painting their nails, wearing a dress, skirt, or heels, or wearing makeup. And the negative comments and judging comes from US to our own, based off of what we’ve been conditioned to believe is “normal” or acceptable.
Masculine presenting lesbians who present in a way that is more fluid are some times looked at as being “confused,” lacking self awareness, or being inauthentic just because they choose to express both the feminine and masculine in their presentation.
But who is to say what is right and what is wrong? who is to say what is masculine and what is feminine.
Why do we believe them?
The jury is still out on that one, but there is a lot of unlearning that needs to happen from within our community in order for us to truly be accepted and understood by the cis gender population.
Because of this, there are many masculine presenting lesbians who become self conscious about their style of dress, or tweek the way that they show up in the world in order to avoid confrontation or to be seen as attractive to feminine presenting lesbians.
In preparing for Working Tidal’s lesbian segment, we surveyed Black lesbians and asked them to match certain characteristics with either the term “Feminine” or “Masculine.” (the results we received were collected from 58% masculine presenting, 33% feminine presenting, and 8% choosing not to identify). In doing this, we wanted to get a feel for the deep seeded biases that lesbians have when it comes to being masculine and feminine.
The survey results showed that a high percentage attributed the words considerate 81%, expressive 81%, reliable 90%, domestic 90%, and friendly 90% as “Feminine” characteristics and protective 91%, provider 91%, leader 83%, and confrontational 75% as “Masculine” characteristics.
These characteristics and the way that we attribute each to being feminine or masculine can play a huge factor in the way we chose to present, and can also dictate our behaviors and expectations within our relationships. These perceived characteristics, and the biases they create, are ways of thought that have attached to our psyche from our patriarchal, white male dominated society. We must recognize where are biases and perceptions stand, and how to unlearn them.
Soule’s podcast Working Tidal delves into this topic of masculinity, and breaks down the layers of many other topics that affect the Black lesbian community.
Listen, comment, and share your thoughts! We have to keep these conversations going.
Cover photo: Pintrest