“If you’re dating a woman who looks like a man, then why don’t you just date men?” We femmes hear this question far too often. Granted, most of the time we get this question it is just some jerk trying to get under our skin, but as unbelievable as it may sound, there are still some people who look us in the eye and ask because they truly wonder.
The simplest, most tongue-in-cheek answer is easily summed up in two words: no vaginas. However, the people who ask this question seem to have forgotten what the word “lesbian” means, so I am going to go a little further. I acknowledge that there are many different relationship and gender dynamics, but I can only speak based on my own personal attraction. Though I wouldn’t say my girlfriend “looks like a man,” she has short hair, wears flannel, and definitely has a rough and tumble way about her that makes it pretty hard to imagine her in a dress.
The moment someone asks why I don’t just date men, they are telling me that they have no understanding or appreciation of what it means to be a woman. This may be a man whose idea of women has been restricted to what he sees in beer commercials, or it may even be a woman who has not taken the time to acknowledge all the incredible sides of her own femininity. People with these questions are saying that their idea of a woman is based solely on physical appearance and the mannerisms of June Cleaver.
There are so many complexities to being a woman and so many complexities to loving one. Women are deep and mystical creatures full of twists and turns and subtle beauty. We go from playing football in the mud to shopping at the mall, from writing poetry in our rooms to moshing at a death metal concert, from publically crying to pushing down all emotions and closing ourselves off to the world. We have endless versions of our true selves.
On top of that, women can connect with each other on the deepest of levels. Whether we are best friends in middle school or long-term intimate lovers, women can open themselves up to their core and dig until they find yours. On top of all that, women can love like no one else in the world.
By saying that because my girlfriend has short hair I should be open to dating men, these people are saying that they have forgotten about all these other parts of loving a woman. By saying that because I like my girlfriend’s tomboy characteristics I would be happier with a “real man,” they’re saying that every guy whose girlfriend plays sports and doesn’t like shopping secretly wants to be with a guy.
If we put traditional ideas of masculine and feminine on two ends of a spectrum, most of us fall somewhere in between. It is society, the media, and the idea of “traditional roles” that put men on one side and women on the other. My spectrum does not have men. I am a lesbian, and being attracted to the more “masculine” end of the spectrum does not change that. At its core, when someone asks the question, “If you’re dating a woman who looks like a man, then why don’t you just date men?” what they’re really saying is, “You’re dating a woman and she does not fall within my limited mold. It makes me uncomfortable and so does your sexuality. Date a man.”