Are you a miss-ogynist?
Are all lesbians and bi women inherently feminist, asks Roxy Bourdillon.
They nudged each other and sniggered, exchanging lecherous grins and making lingering eye contact with my cleavage. One of them murmured, "Great dress", as their lips twitched lasciviously. The others smirked like schoolboys, understanding what those words really meant; "Great rack". More shameless staring. More tit-tering. I half-expected the Benny Hill theme song to kick in.
Now there's nothing particularly shocking about this scene. As a woman, I've grown up in a society that persistently tells me my body is my worth and therefore fair game for strangers to comment on and consume with their eyes, regardless of how it makes me feel. I've been objectified more times than I've had whole tubes of Pringles for dinner, which is, on both counts, a shameful amount. I get catcalled on a daily basis - I'm not boasting, it's abuse. I sometimes daydream about starting a construction company where builders shout feminist affirmations at women: "Cor, look at her massive set - of original ideas and valid opinions!"
But the thing that was unsettling about this particular interaction was that the creepy, salivating oglers were not a gang of laddy, blokey, knobby men. I couldn't dismiss them as just another group of male chauvinist pigs interrupting my day to remind me of my position at the bottom of the patriarchal hierarchy. This time the metaphorical "phwoars" and "hubba hubbas" came from other lesbians and bi women. I had wrongly assumed I was in a safe space.
I've always felt empowered by my homosexuality, as if I had sapphic superpowers that let me live slightly under the patriarchal radar. Sure, I still have to put up with all that body image bullshit and the casual sexual harassment from complete strangers, but, daddy issues aside, at least I'm free from the hassle of craving men's approval. I often feel relieved that I'm not attracted to guys, not just because back hair is gross, but because I've witnessed so many of them treat women, including me, like pieces of meat.
But, hold up. If women are as capable of objectifying other women and so perpetuating the patriarchy as men are, maybe my gayness isn't quite as liberating as I first thought. Do feminism and lesbianism really go together like a jar of Nutella and a giant tablespoon, or are there lesbian and bi misogynists?
Read the rest of Roxy's article in the March issue of DIVA, available now at divadigital.co.uk.
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