Career, relationship, own home and children - these are
the pressures many heterosexual women are expected to juggle
successfully. But, as lesbians become increasingly equal to them,
have they simply inherited their societal expectations? And does
having it all mean doing it all?
Twenty years ago, society's expectations for gay women were
pretty one-dimensional: you were a feminist whose life was about
gender politics, the cause and career advancement, not children,
marriage and families. Now, in 2011, it's a whole different ball
Increasingly, young lesbians are prone to the very demands their
straight sisters have battled for years - raising children,
pleasing partners and building careers. Civil partnerships, changes
in the law and wider social acceptance has helped cause this silent
changing of the tide. Now, that silence has been broken with the
sound of newborns, boardroom banter and wedding bells. Often at the
First coined by Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, the
concept of "having it all" has been both a blessing and a curse.
But rarely has it affected lesbians. Admittedly, they didn't always
have the same dilemma: white weddings with 2.4 children were rarely
of equal concern to gay and straight women.
Now, however, us dykes are being confronted with lifestyle
variables which, a decade ago, didn't apply. And many of us are
unprepared for it.
When we conducted an online poll about this topic earlier this
month, a third of DIVA readers admitted that they feel a need to
"have it all". Interestingly, this pressure comes at a time when
gay women are forming - and then dissolving - more civil
partnerships than their male counterparts. According to the Office
of National Statistics, 3,266 women tied the knot in the UK, last
year. Out of the 509 dissolutions which followed, 306 were lesbian
But why is this? Is the expectation (and thus pressure) to have it
all greater for women? This is something DIVA reader Alice*, 40,
has asked herself. For years she was adamant about not wanting
children - until, she says, she suddenly heard her biological clock
ticking at the age of 35.
"I didn't want a child at all... in fact, I was opposed to it,"
she tells us. "Then the noose started getting tighter and,
suddenly, I really thought I wanted a child - I was slightly
obsessed with it. So much so that it was making me miserable."
After researching her options and not finding all of them
unsuitable, she consciously decided to stop thinking about it -
something Alice describes as "taking a year off". Miraculously, she
says the pressure and desire gradually slipped away.
Read the rest of this news feature in the September
issue of DIVA on sale 4 August.