If you’d have told me when I was fifteen that I would one day look back on being fifteen with nostalgia I would have laughed in your face.
When I was fifteen I was some awkward nerd with braces and acne and greasy hair. I didn’t have many friends and the majority of the friends I did have weren’t much cop (I know how that sounds, but just take my word, you’d agree. They WEREN’T much cop). I was already setting out my future lifestyle as a chronic underachiever. I had as-yet undiagnosed stuff going on with my brain. I wrote a diary–for hours and hours every night–in which I mostly just wrote about what a fat Toryboy in Latin had said that day which might, but probably didn’t, mean that he fancied me. I wrote letters to my future self as well–letters I’ll never read because in a fit of genius I had them sent to my hotmail address circa 2034. I listened to My Chemical Romance and Green Day. I didn’t really go out.
I was learning to play the guitar even though I mainly just liked the #aesthetic of being a Person Who Plays The Acoustic Guitar In A Trilby. Oh yeah. I was that douchebag. I wore waistcoats and quirky earrings and bow ties and watched a lot of Doctor Who and listened to songs from musicals.
And I wrote to a girl in Australia–paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs about my life. On Livejournal–I never was a myspace/bebo/facebook girl. I thought I could see some depth of soul in her eyes. She was four years older than me but she’d never been kissed. I imagined being her first. I’d kiss her really really well, I thought (despite never having kissed anyone either). Cringeingly, I think I actually asked her out, in spite of the 9000 mile distance and the fact that she was straight. Hey, we were all fifteen once.
I grew up in the age of the internet and rape jokes on primetime TV. I knew that you didn’t question sexist jokes if you didn’t want to become the joke yourself. If you don’t want violent language, you don’t question these things. Every guy you know, including the ones who seemed like nice guys, liked a page saying I’d Be Arrested For The Stuff I’d Do To Cheryl Cole. A girl won’t sleep with her boyfriend and the LADs say he should just force her. Men comment, hilariously “10/10 would rape”, make domestic violence jokes and kitchen jokes and you better not question the jokes–firstly because things turn ugly and secondly because again, every guy you know is doing this.
Every guy but two. So they’re the safest ones to be alone with, you reckon. You hear the other guys talking about girls, how lesbians only do it to turn guys on, how different women rank appearance-wise and which ones are a good lay. Better to pick your two alternative nerdy boys. One of them even identifies as a feminist. You won’t get that from any other guy. Gratitude. Show some gratitude. Fuck him.
In our school sex ed we got taught that the gay community caused AIDS through their irresponsibility and that it spread to straights through bisexuals. We got shown graphic pictures of STD’s and told that’s what happens to promiscuous people. We got told that girls who give it up too easily won’t get any love from men, because girls give sex to give love and guys give love to get sex.
“Lesbians only do it to turn guys on”.
I used to watch a lot of comedy–an attempt to squeeze laughs out of life I guess. Every TV show I watched used womanhood as an insult. Most of them had men being turned on by lesbians played for laughs. You could barely see a woman on television without a man commenting on her fuckability. People think I’m exaggerating, but seriously, watch some of that late 00’s channel 4 shite. I’m not wrong. You are constantly being assessed for fuckability. You are not allowed to leave your body alone. You can not deny a man sex when he wants it. A man who calls himself a feminist is a saint sent from heaven. You can’t expect a man to stay with you if you don’t give him sex. You can’t expect a man to respect you if you don’t take care of yourself, which means–make up, shave everything, keep on top of everything. Ten Years Younger on TV, women talking in hushed tones about how their friend doesn’t wear enough moisturiser. Judging the women in your own life because, don’t they know the rules?
Something I used to do with all this comedy and band stuff was read slashfiction. I’m not an extremely sexual person, I will say. It was more a sense of power than of arousal–but no, I won’t lie, I probably was aroused by it. I was objectifying men. I had never, ever seen anything from a female gaze perspective. Large amounts of the world around me had told me that women didn’t even experience sexual attraction, and faked it to be loved by men who would necessarily, never, ever love us and who could use our bodies whenever they wanted. Well I refused to play that role. I’d objectify them as much as I wanted. I didn’t think about women during all this, although I had the vague feeling that I could be attracted to women (we’ll come back to that in another post). I didn’t want to objectify women or hold power over women–I loved other women. I hated men.
This is why it makes me so angry to hear people talking about fetishising lesbians and gay men in the same breath. Straight privilege exists, but that’s not a manner in which it functions. You cannot put the whole lesbian-fetishising media and porn industry in the same category as a tiny little subculture of teenage fucking girls having a wank. Teenage girls that probably had to figure out for themselves that they’re even capable of doing that. NOTHING caters to the female gaze, even the straight female gaze–nothing. Even the things that claim to do so are doing it from a patriarchal perspective whereby the men are necessarily bigger stronger than their female admirers thus causing them to ~swoon. I don’t know any woman whose sexuality naturally works that way. Fucking what about those of us that liked our men weaker or equal to us? With emotions and backstories and shit? What about those of us that just wanted to fantasise about an EQUAL FUCKING RELATIONSHIP for a bit? Where they knew what to do with each others’ genitals and nobody was there to be used or judged? How fucking sad is it that it’s exciting to see a man expressing emotions that aren’t anger? How about when every fucking minute of the day you are objectified and just for once, just once, you want to objectify back?
Fact is I don’t give a shit about this idea that slash fangirls are just as evil as men who objectify lesbians. Cry more tbh. Male tears etc. and all those pop lib fem phrases. Even if those women DO have straight privilege over you (and they don’t all, necessarily), they’re not exerting it by having a fucking wank, in private, talking about it on their secret community or blog beyond which they will NEVER see their desires represented. They’re not going to feel you up without your consent. They’re not going to make millions of dollars by making porn about you. They’re not going to corrective-rape you. They’re fucking GIRLS and you are men.
Nothing overrides that.