You hear many women say it. At parties when they are a bit tipsy, after a bad break-up, or just at a casual lunch with friends. “I wish I could be attracted to women.” “If I could be a lesbian, I would be.” A few years ago my response to these women would have been this: Yes, lesbianism is the way forward, women will treat you better then men. You will be more appreciated, better taken care of. You can fall in love with a woman; you just have to keep an open mind.
Seeing what I have at university, experiencing getting harassed at clubs, getting hit in the face with sexism, and not to mention the lad culture that seems to glorify objectifying women, you would think it would have only strengthened the feelings I had before. That it would have further made me want to encourage these women who were my friends to seek women as partners, instead of these “lads” university life had to offer. Yet, as I grew older, the opposite happened.
No longer was I willing to try to live in a world where gay relationships were somehow better, or different, from straight ones. Just as men could treat women badly, so could other women. There was no world in which all men were idiots and all women would treat other women with respect. To my shock and disappointment sexism isn’t always perpetuated by men, it can also come from insecure women, women who wish to seem masculine and are overcompensating by putting down other women. I wasn’t far from being that woman myself. That insecure baby butch who thought if I was just more like the men my straight friends went for then maybe, just maybe one of them could fall for me. Maybe they could forget I was the “wrong gender”, that I was incomplete.
Yet I grew to realise that was not someone I wanted to be. I didn’t want to have to constantly prove myself to others. I didn’t want to have to change or seem tougher and stronger to deserve love. And that was a hard thing to come to grips with. The realization that everything that society had told you about what kind of a person you need to be to impress women, was wrong. That everything you thought you were supposed to do was leading you in the wrong direction. To a state of mind where you had to be an aggressor, a pursuer instead of a listener and supporter.
Even though it broke my heart to see these women hurt I could not honestly tell them that looking elsewhere would necessarily fulfil their hopes. To see them wander through life looking for something they deserved, but may never find because of the way the men in our society are brought up, was scary. I feared they might never get the love and respect they deserved. To say women could offer it would have been easy, but not true.
Because despite all they may have experienced so far, I believe they do know this, there are some wonderful men out there. Men who are caring, kind, sensitive and loving. I have been privileged enough to meet some of these men during my life. Still my friends often say they have a hard time telling which of the guys they meet are truly nice and which ones are after something else. And for them I have no advice to give, apart from the knowledge that the nice guys are out there, and if you have a hard time finding them, then try to keep an open mind and maybe just look for nice people for a change. You never know who might open the door to a new experience.
As for the men, I can only wish that they have the courage to be themselves and believe in kindness and respecting those you love. To break away from the pressure to be a certain way, to compare yourself to the wrong standards. I am no longer worried about being the strongest, the toughest, the best protector, the most skilled or the best drinker. I just try to be the person who treats their partner, and the people around me, the best I can.