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How the Hyper-Sexualization of Queer Women is Unhealthy for Teens

It’s a common myth that lesbians and queer women are generally more accepted in society than gay or queer men. It’s easy to feel like queer women face less homophobia than men because of the threat on masculinity debate surrounding gay men. In fact, hate crime statistics released by the FBI in 2015 show 1,263 reported hate crimes were due to sexual-orientation bias. Out of those 1,263, 62.2 percent were reported to be victims of crimes motivated by anti-gay bias and only 13.5 percent were reported to have been victims of anti-lesbian bias.

Although hate crimes and violence towards queer women are less frequent compared to hate crimes targeted towards gay men, there’s an undercurrent within the equation: Queer women are more sexualized by the majority of society, specifically men and the media. This in itself is an entire separate problem.

Queer women aren’t represented in media enough, and when they finally are they’re almost always sexualized if not being used as queer bait. The reason behind it is simple: sex sells, and it’s no secret that everything is most often marketed towards the average straight male.

There’s the entire thing that lesbian porn is one hundred percent marketed to men which it is, I mean seriously, one inch acrylic nails? Come on. —  withlesbian’ being the number one searched term on Pornhub in 2016. Some men argue the reason they prefer it and find it more attractive is because there’s not a penis in the scene and twice as many women to look at, while some just simply find girls making out to be hot.

There’s also this unspoken fascination with lesbian intercourse where it seems nobody really grasps the concept of how it could work. Most people automatically connect sex with penetration and penetration to penises, so in the event that there’s not a penis included then there’s essentially no sex happening. Therefore resulting in the widely claimed: “lesbian sex isn’t real sex.”

This leads men to the oh-so-famous “she won’t be gay tomorrow,” argument. Yes this happens, and it happens quite often. A majority of men are under the impression that lesbians are just either going through the “college girl experimental phase,” they’re just wild and that they need to get themselves a freak like that. They actually think it makes sense that if they keep trying to pull us hard enough we won’t be gay come tomorrow.

A majority of these men reduce queer women to their sexuality and objectify them, much like they do with women in general. They see a lesbian couple and automatically think the couple is interested in a threesome when that’s almost never the case. Some men even go as far to break out the creepy “well, will you let me watch?” question.

Not to fail to mention that whenever a queer woman rejects sex from a preying straight male it can lead to the bombarding of: “maybe you just need to find the right man,” “how do you know if you’ve never been with a guy?” “well maybe if you slept with me I could change your mind.” I’ve dabbled in the world of penis once upon a time and can assure you that I’m still gay. Still, men like Milo Yiannopoulos will even go as far to believe lesbians aren’t even real.

In extreme cases this mindset could even lead to forms of corrective rape, or when one is raped in attempt to try and change their sexuality. Though corrective rape is largely practiced in places like South Africa, India, Zimbabwe and Brazil, lesbians in America suffer rape from someone with the same underlying intentions.

Even worse, when queer women are properly represented in media it’s always the stereotype of the being feminine, white and thin. This could lead young people into thinking they’re not the perfect attractive lesbian since they don’t fall into these categories. Since the entertainment industry is dominated by white men they are the ones coming up and perpetuating this stereotype into media. So once again, men dictate what’s attractive and what isn’t even lesbians.

Straight women parading around their lesbophobia aren’t excluded from this either, we see you. Some straight girls are just as objectifying towards lesbians whether they’re aware of it or not. They kiss their friends for fun to make jokes about being a lesbian to be sexy, sometimes using it as a ploy to attract a guy. Except, the second they’re around an actual queer woman it’s like they’ve met the plague on legs and in the flesh. It turns from #les-be-honest into “omg I changed in the same room as her,” and “she’s probably been secretly into me this entire time and pretending to be straight to get close to me.”

The bottom line is being queer isn’t about who you’re having sex with, it’s about who you love. Reducing queer women to their sexuality just reduces us to the action of sex and takes away from showcasing the emotional intimacy that two women have the ability to share. It’s all about love and emotional connection yet society is so set on reducing it to sex and portraying us as objects used for men’s pleasure.

Now let’s get to why this is unhealthy and potentially damaging for our young baby gays and questioning queer women.

When you’re in a place of questioning, especially during the vulnerable and highly impressionable early teenage years, it’s important to have positive influences around you and representations in media you can relate to. Seeing lesbians being sexualized left and right when you’re in those vulnerable years can put an obligation feeling on their shoulders where young girls could feel obligated to perform sexual acts quicker because that’s what’s expected of them.

Personally when I went through my questioning phase my friends around me made me feel as though liking girls was just a normal girl thing. I was told “that’s how all girl best friends act around each other.” When I started really questioning if I was gay or not, it always felt like being sexually attracted to a female was normal, but an emotional connection wasn’t and that’s what psyched me out the most.

Another thing I had problems with was representation in the media of queer women is always two sides: the socially favored femme and the socially shamed butch. It’s always positive and negative stereotypes. There’s always the extreme sides of the scale that are masculine and feminine, but people neglect to represent the entire spectrum that lies in between.

When you’re in that impressionable time, you tend to pinpoint yourself to one of them because knowing you fit in somewhere makes the entire, ‘Hey, I’m Gay!’ process easier. This leads to young teens trying to become something they’re not because they’re under the impression that’s what they’re supposed to be in order to be validated.

This is why representation of queer women in the media is important for young questioning women, because they’re easily influenced, desperately searching for acceptance and searching for validations of their feelings. It’s also unhealthy for the media to hollow out queer women relationships because young teens won’t be exposed to the emotional side of relationships.

We can’t expect a change overnight but the media is slowly showcasing more accurate representations of queer women and their relationships without sexualizing them while avoiding stereotypes. Slowly. So slowly. Too slowly, but slowly. As for the majority men, nobody really knows what they’re doing.

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