The Queer Issue
LEARNING TO USE words like femme and dyke and queer to describe myself has been a process, a long one. It began when I was 16 and had a super-sexy dream about Julia Roberts. She, somehow, had a dick and was fucking me, missionary style. I woke up all warm and squirmy, called my best friend and asked, "Do you think I'm gay?" It turns out I am, if that's what you call someone with a burning desire (yes, still) to strap a dildo on Julia and show her a good time.
Since the days of my teenage wet dreams, I've learned that it's the "girls" who work a transgender look that are more apt to whip their dick out of a bottom drawer and dishevel gender the way Julia did in my dreams. The be-dicked girls I adore are far more Brandon Teena than Julia Roberts, and conveniently s/he's usually on the prowl for girls who look like me: girly girls who look straight, but aren't. Still, I sometimes wonder about my attraction to butch. Could it be that butch/femme is simply where the action is for girls like me? Perhaps it's just a strategy: I am femme. Julia Roberts isn't wearing a dildo. She probably won't be any time soon. I do need to get laid. Maybe my attraction to butch was subconsciously cultivated due to the fact that pretty girls don't usually don strap-ons. But what if they did? As gender-fuck queers become more acceptable by popular cultural standards--see Hilary Swank's Oscar for Boys Don't Cry--the "dyke" things we do to identify ourselves to each other are becoming more mainstream. Our very identities often rest on our choice of clothing, hairstyle, or favorite sex toy, and our style is hipper than it used to be. But we do not engage in cultural customs and adorn ourselves with cultural relics that are considered "dyke" because we each independently discovered that we prefer these things. We do them because we want to find each other. And with our signifiers being co-opted by the Gap and marketed on the pages of Seventeen, straight girls are starting to look a little queer. Everywhere you look you can see the dyke-straight line blurring: het-sex symbol Sharon Stone making out with Ellen DeGeneres in If These Walls Could Talk 2; strong, capable, tough-ass and seemingly dyke women falling for silly muscle-bound boys in Girlfight. Have you seen Milla Jovovich pimping drugstore mascara the catch phrase "straight is boring?" Julia herself wooed Hugh Grant in a power-dyke suit last year in Notting Hill. Divisions between straight and queer are becoming increasingly distorted, and may soon be obsolete. As straight girls adopt dyke styles--our styles are, after all, easier to pull off and way more comfortable--will they also be more likely to do the kinds of things that dykes do?
Whether or not we can expect a new and improved strapping Julia, one thing is for sure: In the queer-assimilated future of America, straight girls as we now know them won't exist. Instead, they will look like us, talk like us, be like us. It's both terrifying and exhilarating. The world we've created for ourselves will suddenly feel uncomfortable and exposed, and we'll be left wondering who among us invites our advances. The answer: anyone. I'm not saying that girls and boys won't be hooking up; they will. Their desires will simply not define them, or us.
Assimilation demands that we not assume that powerful, capable women are or should be queer. Instead, it demands that we assume nothing.