By WWN Intern Rachel Cohen
If you’re like me and you think that sleep is for people without internet access, you perhaps saw a tabloid-esque ‘news story’ about Miley Cyrus kissing Katy Perry at the former’s concert a week or so ago. While my interest in whom they both choose to kiss is relatively non-existent, this does remind me of an issue that is particularly bothersome to me. The phenomenon of straight girls ‘playing gay’ for attention is not something I will be fan-girling over. As an openly queer woman, I do not appreciate the use of my sexuality for a moment of attention. Though it may seem relatively harmless, behavior like this contributes to the incredibly prevalent fetishization of queer women.
To some it may seem as though the media is more accepting of queer women than of queer men, but I’d suggest that using female queerness as a sexual object for straight men is not a sign of acceptance but of commodification. Because my sexuality is so fetishized, when those who do not identify as such act out my sexuality for male attention (think straight girls making out at bars for free drinks) it reinforces the idea that queer female sexuality is a commodity for men. When I kiss my girlfriend it is not for the benefit of others, and using that sexuality for such purposes only encourages the fetishism I combat every day. I see this fetishization regularly, in advertising, in everyday encounters where my sexuality is revealed, and on TV.
Straight women acting out queerness for male attention is also harmful to me because it contributes to the myth that bisexual and other queer-but-not-lesbian women don’t really exist. The idea that our sexuality is a ploy for attention is commonplace and pervasive. It is honestly shocking how often I’ve heard people claim that my sexuality does not really exist, and that I just want attention. While I’m not going to get into a complicated explanation of my personal sexual orientation (that would take up a few more pages *le sigh*), let’s go ahead and say that personally I am somewhere between gay and straight, but certainly not at either end of the spectrum. When straight women act out queerness for the male eye, it supports the idea that sexual fluidity is just for male attention and not a true identity, which I assure you, it is.
In conclusion: Next time you’re at the bar and think you might be able to score a few drinks and some attention from the guys by making out with your friend, refrain. You are actively contributing to a culture that fetishizes and discounts my identity. Thanks.
For related but differing reading on the subject: The Fetishizing of Queer Sexuality. A Response.