Yes, It's True! Lesbians Exist: Delegitimization and Mental Health
LESBIANS, HETERONORMATIVITY, AND CONFLICT
Lesbians can often find themselves in positions where men consistently pursue them despite established precedents that they are not interested in men at all, ridiculed as teases to men since they may attract them, but they have no interest in them whatsoever. And this is where lies the fundamental problem that many lesbians face: heteronormativity (the presumption that everyone is straight since it is the only normal expression of sexuality).
Often times, their sexuality is often questioned and invalidated by others, such as how they simply haven’t found the right man for them yet. In contrast, gay men usually don’t face this problem, and are invalidated more so on their masculinity rather than their sexuality as people actually believe them when discussing their sexual attraction (however it is often confused to be a choice).
And within this comparison between gay men and lesbians, one can see the power dynamic between men and women, where women are usually just objectified to fit a certain role to please a man, making it hard to believe that they have no attraction to men at all.
The situation that lesbians find themselves in often leads to many afflictions to their mental health. They feel pressured to immediately enter a superficial box to identify themselves as (femme, alpha, butch, etc), along with being stereotyped unfairly by many (especially heterosexual men) as being experimental, hateful, or even as masculine. Lesbians thus feel restricted many times to explore their complexity, as they are consistently reduced to fit a role someone has assigned them. This may lead to many developing a lost sense of control and self esteem issues.
Dating culture (or the absence of it) is also detrimental to lesbians and their mental health. The dissipation of lesbian spaces in our contemporary era has contributed to many lesbians feeling isolated from their community as they lack the ability to establish relationships and connections with other lesbians.
This is believed to contribute to toxic relationship behavior, as it has been found that lesbians may rush into relationships more often than others due to believing that there may not be a lot of options. This may explain why 44% of lesbians reported intimate partner violence compared to 35% of heterosexual women and 26% of gay men [CDC], as conflicts are more likely to arise if relationships are rushed into.
POPULAR CULTURE, LESBIANS, AND THE CHANGING CURRENT
Many shows have featured lesbian characters who have explicitly stated they were lesbian. However, despite this assertion, many people still often claim them to be bisexual and continually hope for the lesbian character to enter the relationship with one of the male characters in the show.
meri | 81@sapphicdevonne : lesbians exist. women who don't like men exist. women who like other women are valid. stop being lesbophobic. cheryl blossom is lesbian. robin from stranger things is lesbian. santana from glee is lesbian. elena alvarez from odaat is lesbian. stop trying to ship them with men!!!
Often times people want lesbians to explain why they aren’t attracted to men. And this is where I want to bring up a recent photo of Kelley O’Hara, kissing her girlfriend after winning the 2019 World Cup.
Never before has it been discussed that Kelley O’Hara had a girlfriend, or anything about her sexuality for that matter. We still don’t know if she’s bisexual or lesbian, and that’s perfectly fine because that is only important to her.
The best way to empower oneself is to reclaim the intimate parts of one’s life from others, as it only applies to oneself. And for lesbians, they should no longer need to explain why they like women and not men, rather they should simply live their life as they deserve to: with ease and privacy.
AYANA AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
We at AYANA acknowledge the complexity and multidimensionality that is found within the lesbian community which entails many different life experiences and requires a deeper analysis of one to understand their mental health issues. We believe that a therapist which matches one’s background allows one to truly understand the full extent of one’s traumas and underlying causes to their issues, as they are able to empathize naturally and intimately discuss the issues at hand. In other words, lesbians deserve to be understood just like everybody else.