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April 5, 2001
In a recent column you mentioned that three lesbian friends had run off with men. "One... is married to a man," you wrote, "one is living with a man, and the third is a man." You observed that none of your gay male friends had run off with women, and asked, "What is it about being a dyke that's so easily shrugged off?"
Simply put, Dan, females first turn to lesbian sex and then to straight sex because it is evolutionarily advantageous. When a young adult female leaves her primary social group--her family and friends--to enter a new social group, it's a very stressful time. A sexual bond with an established female helps to integrate and assimilate an incoming female into her new social group. Of course, I'm not talking about humans. I'm talking about bonobos, also known as pygmy chimpanzees. Female bonobos are constantly having sex with one another. In addition to facilitating the introduction of new females, lesbian sex among bonobos seems to strengthen existing friendships among the females.
I think the same phenomena is at work among female human primates. When a young woman leaves her home for college or military service, developing a solid friendship with another woman can facilitate that move, and sex cements new friendships. Exclusively lesbian behavior, however, reduces breeding opportunities, so women will eventually turn to the kind of sex that results in babies. So women have lesbian sex first because of the social advantages, and then turn straight because of the breeding advantages. And evolution demands every advantage.
Darwin Is as Darwin Does
If evolution demands every advantage, then why am I still spilling my seed in my boyfriend's ass crack? I mean, I've been doing this a long time. Shouldn't I be itching for those breeding advantages by now, too?
I'm sorry, but dykes aren't chimps, and dykes don't have to run off with men in order to breed. The dyke bonobo who wants kids is stuck; she has to mate with a boy bonobo. Where else is she going to get a load of that hot bonobo spunk? But the dyke human female? There are sperm banks all over the country, and for the dyke who can't afford artificial insemination, well, there's no shortage of drunken guys in bars anxious to give the stuff away.
Women who find themselves attracted to other women usually end up rejecting everything "traditionally" feminine. When we first come out, we practically have to shave our heads in order to be "good" dykes. You certainly can't find men attractive, or think that lipstick is fun. My theory about why lesbians run off with men is that, once you've passed through that self-conscious period after coming out, you say to yourself, "Shit! I've been rejecting men and femininity all these years, but I don't really know what those things are!" So then, if you're like me, you grow your hair out, shave your legs, and become fascinated with men. And, if you're like most lesbians I know who aren't in long-term relationships with women, you start dating men.
If your theory were correct, Liza, lesbians would date men, satisfy their morbid curiosity (which shouldn't take long; men aren't that complicated), and quickly return to women. Indeed, one would expect het-curious lesbians to rush back to their girlfriends once they realized that most men (1) don't know where the clit is, and (2) don't think that's a problem. But the women I know who've shrugged off their lesbian identities date men, keep dating men, and some marry men.
Some--certainly not all--lesbians become gay because their experience with straight men is often unpleasant. I've had more than one lesbian tell me this. Once they actually do get to know a man who is not such a turd, they sometimes see things differently.
Not Like Other Men
If homosexuality is something a straight person retreats to after a few bad experiences with the opposite sex, then where are all the friggin' homos? I mean, men fuck over straight women every day. If your theory was sound, NLOM, most women would be lesbians by the time they were 30. Likewise, women fuck over straight men constantly. So why aren't most men gay? You know, not once has a straight guy sent me a letter that read, "Gee, I keep having unpleasant experiences with women. So tell me, Dan, where can I suck me some cock?"
To answer your riddle, "What is it about being a lesbian that's so easily shrugged off?" I had to consult Feminism for Dummies. Lesson one says that girls are taught their whole lives to put the good of the Group ahead of their own desires, while boys are taught that their desires are the Roots of Progress. And whether the Group is your family or co-workers, the Group is much happier and more comfortable with girls who are helping to fulfill boys' desires. Girls who do are rewarded for keeping the Group happy and comfortable, while girls who pursue their true, carpet-munching desires are punished by the Group, in big and small ways, for having the gall to do what they want to do even though it has nothing to do with boy desires or progress. Face it, Dan, there really aren't many incentive programs out there for us carpet-munchers. That is, besides the sheer joy of it.
Still Munching in Baltimore
From my personal experience with ex-lesbians, they weren't the kind of girls who cared what the Group thought. And while the Group tells boys to go for it and girls to look on adoringly, the Group also teaches little boys that we're supposed to wanna fuck girls. If we don't wanna fuck girls, the Group tells us to fake it. So tell me, SMIB, why is it the Group's juju works so well on out lesbians, who run off with men to please the Group, and yet has no impact on out gay men, who don't run off with women to please the Group?
I'm an ex-lesbian, so I thought I might as well share my experiences and theories with you. I'm pretty sure I had no sexuality at all before my mid-to-late teens. Then I identified as bi for a few years. At some point, I found that I was much more attracted to women and began identifying as a lesbian. For a few years, I really was uninterested in men. Then I rather suddenly fell completely in love with a guy. So I identify as bi again. Now for my wild theorizing: I think a lot of women are bisexual. Personally, my decision to identify as a lesbian was influenced by the sense that "lesbian" was a stronger political label than "bisexual." Yet I still had the potential to fall in love with a man, and that's what happened. Maybe this happens to other women, too.
Finally Settled on Bi
I think you're right, FSOB. And there's more I'd like to say, but... hey, we're out of space. Next week, we'll hear from one of my lesbian pals who ran off with a man and was... uh... a little surprised to see her private life being discussed in my column.