ruthless compassion (aroraborealis) wrote,
ruthless compassion

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A plea for new language

Herein, a plea:

Many years ago, the term "lesbian sheep" was coined to describe the difficulties of dating in the lesbian community in a world where women are socialized to be the passive recipients of romantic overtures:
"It's very difficult to look at the possibility of lesbiansheep," Perkins explained, "because if you are a female sheep,what you do to solicit sex is stand still. You don't mount. So,it's very rare that a female sheep would mount another femalesheep."
"Maybe there is a female sheep out there really wantinganother female," Perkins speculated, "but there's just no way forus to know it."

Okay, so that's a handy story-shorthand for a real challenge. Fine.

But I sometimes hear men describe themselves as lesbian sheep, and I beg you to stop. What you are, if you are a man who has a hard time making your interest known to a woman, is shy. Which, by the way, is a totally fine way to be and experience to have. I, too, have felt shy about making a move, and I can totally relate.

But the underlying logic to the lesbian sheep metaphor relates to gender socialization of passivity, not simply the experience of being shy. When I hear men describe themselves as "lesbian sheep", I hear them glossing over the larger context and dismissing the importance of gender in pre-mating rituals. It feels to me like appropriation that dismisses women's -- and especially lesbians' -- experiences in favor of a jokey way of saying you're shy.

Let me be clear: If you're a man who's described yourself as a lesbian sheep in my presence, I still like you! I don't think you're a bad person, and I'm pretty confident that the men in my community would never intentionally be dismissive of women's or lesbians' experiences or context. I wouldn't bother writing this post if I thought the issue was that you guys are jerks. I'm writing this because I think you are awesome people who, like all of us, are always learning and growing.

Yours in loving honesty,

PS - Men, please also stop describing yourselves as "a lesbian in a man's body". The term you are looking for is "heterosexual man". Kisses! -ab
Tags: people

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