Saturday, November 13, 2004

"So when I like a new girl and someone says to me, 'Oh, but she's straight,' I never let that faze me."--Rachel Bussel, bisexual wishful thinker

Imagine an article in the downtown, left-wing weekly, the Village Voice, declaring that, deep down, many gay men have at least some curiosity about what sleeping with a woman might be like. Couldn't happen--it's assumed that gay men, by definition, don't want anything to do with women in that way, and that those who've experimented with women but who currently identify as gay did so in the past out of peer pressure. A paper like the Voice would never ask, say Michael Musto, to confess his secret desire for, say, Pamela Anderson.

But the Voice has nevertheless printed a piece in which Rachel Kramer Bussel declares: "deep down, many straight women have at least some curiosity about what sleeping with another woman might be like." And she's not talking about closeted lesbians or bisexuals, either, nor about those women who make out with other women to impress men, but about the many, many straight women who, according to Bussel, are also attracted to women. She wishes. I'm afraid that there are many, many straight women who, like gay men, are just plain uninterested in--bordering on revolted by--the idea of sex with another woman.

But the Voice, ever critical of heterocentric society, is endorsing an argument that suggests that straight women as such do not exist. This may well be the definition of PC absurdity: if the paper accepts that men exist who are 100% gay, why can it not accept that, more often than not, in liberal pockets of the US, a woman who claims to be straight is just that, and her refusal to "admit" to her homosexual urges has a whole lot to do with those urges not being there to begin with.

"Almost every 'straight' girl I know has at least made out with another woman; often they've done more, and most of them are far from ashamed or embarrassed about their same-sex dalliances," writes Bussel. There are certainly social settings where dalliances of all kinds are encouraged, so it's entirely possible that Bussel's friends have all dallied in every way imaginable, and I thus cannot take issue with her here. I take issue, though, with her suggestion that straight women are all just dying to be lesbians.

She claims that "straight women often walk away from their same-sex encounters feeling empowered on several levels." Empowered? Give me a break. Either a woman would walk away from such an encounter and realize that she is gay or bi, or she'd realize, ugh, that's really not her thing.

Bussel--a self-proclaimed bisexual--announcing that all straight women actually like other women is like me saying that Rufus Wainwright, deep down, is looking for a nice girl to settle down with. She writes: "So when I like a new girl and someone says to me, 'Oh, but she's straight,' I never let that faze me."

Using that logic, Rufus is mine.


Libby Pearson said...

You of all people should know that just because an opinion article gets printed in a publication, the publication does not endorse it. The publication only endorses the unsigned editorial. Maybe the Voice simply hasn't received an article on how a straight woman will never like anything but men.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


That's certainy true of newspapers that, in theory, are striving for objectivity, ones with news sections distinct from their opinion sections--the Maroon, the NYT, etc. But the Voice is all opinion, and, after reading it for years, I'd have to say the many opinions expressed by the many different writers in the Voice all tend to be pretty much in agreement with one another. I believe that the Voice would be unlikely to print something along those lines, because it would be inconsistant with the paper's overall message (though it would be consistant with its implcation that 100% gay men exist...).

Nick said...

hmm, I think the dimension that's missing is the social disapproval that's inherent in both of these issues.

fact is, straight woman are more comfortable simply trying something to see if they like it. there's not as much of a social stigma. men in the US are told from day one that "gay" is derogatory, so most never experiment.

the assumption goes that no one who wasn't pretty sure they didn't like men would actually take all that trouble and risk all the anxiety of coming out of the closet. although I'm sure there are some gay men who could countenance sex w/ women, I think that because of the unfortunate station of homosexuals in our society, most people who could do the latter would just never outwardly acknowledge their homosexual desires.

that make sense?

Rachel said...

Phoebe, I appreciate your thoughts and comments on my column. Just to clarify - I wasn't trying to say ALL straight women (not the use of "many" and "often"), but there are definitely some straight women who've explored (whether in thought or deed) being with other women, and that's what I was looking at. I wasn't trying to discount people being truly straight and identifying that way, but I do know a lot of women who are mostly straight/consider themselves straight who've had flings/affairs/more with women, which is what I was commenting on.