There are biological factors that propagate and allow pattern recognition and correlation inherently in humans. This allowed us to survive and adapt, from hunter gathers to modern Homo sapiens of today. Labels and the ability to identify patterns were and still are a survival skill. This latent human “software” that at one point in time kept us alive and therefore was passed down through DNA has a bit of “mal ware” so to speak in that an insidious issue has been given free reign and an opportunity to flourish. In the lesbian community labels are a by-product of an evolutionary element necessary for survival as well as a reflationary reactionary attempt to assimilate in a heterosexual world.
One can get lost attempting to break down all the different lesbian labels, each coming with their own set of expectations and dress code. Furthermore, each category can be broken down and have several sub-categories that are only separated by an individual’s affinity for certain sexual acts or a certain regions lexicon. I can recall being younger and trying to find which category I best fit in, because that was how I thought you navigate the lesbian landscape. First find a tribe and then act accordingly and then Bam! You’d be living your best lesbian life or, so I thought. To my dismay I never felt like I belonged in any tribe as I grew older I realized it was to my benefit that I didn’t identify with the mainstream group narrative.
Wanting to be in the group or the inclination to identify with a group isn’t always negative. The LGBT scene is a grouping in itself that allows millions of people to live their truth and down play the relevance of others. It becomes problematic when certain groups become stuck in a sort of parody of itself. Many women who are more masculine presenting and who identify as “Studs” can receive ridicule if they choose to be in a relationship with another masculine presenting woman. They are viewed as not authentic or in an even more puzzling scenario, even gayer than they already are for simply enjoying another woman. Another issue is the ranking of lesbians based on their past sexual history. If you’ve never been with a man you’re at the apex of lesbianism and receive a gold star and from there you have silver or bronze where the more men you’ve been with the lower your rank.
As we move forward in this cultural shift, the dialog should change, and more individuals will feel comfortable in their own skin as opposed to looking for a group or sub-group to identify with. The lesbian community is one that already has issues with acceptance and respect from the mainstream. I’m optimistic that soon the majority of lesbians will realize that a label within an already marginalized group is an ineffective way to gain traction and is also counterproductive and destructive. It’s inherent in humans to correlate and look for patterns as a survival instinct. Having the perspective to look at the group as a spectrum and not a collection of monoliths will bring the community strength and push human evolution forward.
By: Amber Logan