Feminism | Posted by Sarah Caputo on 12/12/2012

Being Lesbian and Feminist

Am I objectifying her or am I just curious?

I am a proud lesbian and a proud feminist. I am able to say both of these things now, but it took me about as long to admit I’m a feminist as it did for me to admit that I’m gay.

I, like many other gay and straight girls, was afraid of calling myself a feminist because of the stigmas of sexuality that surround it. I was so afraid that everyone could tell I was gay and since I was not ready to admit it, I certainly was not going to do anything that led people to that conclusion (even if that assumption itself is ignorant). For years I had feminist values and acted like a feminist but refused to use the title, which seems to be pretty common amongst many young women today. I thought the hard part would be admitting these titles to people, but I found that even once I did come out as both a feminist and a lesbian, it is much tougher to be a lesbian and a feminist than people may believe.

See, back when I was closeted I would not allow myself to look at women in a sexual way. I mean, I saw beautiful women everywhere, and I was very attracted to them, but I managed to manipulate that attraction to keep my anxiety about my sexuality at bay. Once I finally admitted I was gay, I finally allowed myself to explore my sexuality, which, for me, meant watching the L Word, reading up on being gay and looking at sexy ladies to find out what I found sexy. I personally found that I was most comfortable with was looking at pictures of actress from magazines like Maxim or GQ. I would look up celebrities I thought were sexy and I would enjoy the pictures I found, but I would always find myself later being really upset that these talented actress, who are also incredibly gorgeous, were posing for magazines as sex symbols, rather than in fully clothed non “sexy” spreads that were meant to accompany articles that celebrated their abilities. I felt this way even though I had just looked up these actresses because I thought they were sexy. Part of me hates that these gifted women are being objectified, but at the same time, I was appreciating them for that very reason.

My dilemma is that as a gay woman, I love women. But in loving women sexually, it can often mean loving them for reasons that are not the most feminist. I often wonder how much looking at those images is healthy sexual curiosity and how much is actual objectification and how I can be true to my feminist identity while exploring my sexuality.

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  • Paula @ at 6:05 pm, December 12th, 2012

    Each one of us has our own problem to face. Yours, I think, is pretty complicated but sounds cool and hmmm interesting. I have more friends who are gay (man) than gay woman. Haven’t been this exposed to the thoughts and the possible problems that people like you encounter. But, I still wish you to be enlightened in your every endeavor.

  • Jay @ at 7:48 pm, December 12th, 2012

    I really understand how you feel. I have that same issue all the time.

  • Dakota Harrell @ at 3:53 pm, December 15th, 2012

    fem·i·nism – the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

    1. Nowhere in this blog does Ms. Caputo compare how we treat women and how we treat men in our society. This causes some confusion about where exactly her title as a, “feminist,” stems from.

    2. I agree with her however, that women should not be objectified. In the reading of the Japanese Court Journals, it was shown that women who lived the domestic life were in fact, basically slaves. They were given a position in the household and were expected to carry out that duty, as well as obeying their husband. This practice puts a stigma on women of that time period, one where men have total control over women. This can be related to what Caputo was saying, in that today’s women aren’t, “slaves,” of their position, but slaves of their beauty and the way society portrays how a woman, “should,” look.

  • Ziggy @ at 1:57 am, December 17th, 2012

    Hi, I am here to nominate you for a Liebster Award! I was recently nominated myself, and as such it is my duty to pass along my nomination to eleven other bloggers I admire. You can find more information below on the post where I completed my nomination post. Cheers!


  • Marissa Humphrey @ at 6:48 pm, December 17th, 2012

    I agree with Dakota’s response. In the Japanese Court Journals the women were treated as household slaves and now a days women are objectified to the public in different ways which relates the two together just as Dakota states.

  • Zoe @ at 5:33 pm, May 13th, 2013

    I know how you feel and have felt the same when looking at pictures of women online, like I am in a sense betraying the feminist side of me by finding naked pictures of women attractive.

  • Carrie @ at 9:15 pm, July 8th, 2014

    It is great that you think about these things. I am a feminist femme lesbian (recently had the epiphany I’m not bisexual) and I have the same dilemma, on top of people not believing I’m gay because I’m feminine. The line between objectification and aesthetic admiration is confusing.

    To me, the difference is if the person you are admiring feels degraded, uncomfortable or because of you, then that become objectification. There is a serious problem with how women are portrayed in media and Hollywood. For example, all the shows like True Blood and Game of Thrones where pretty much the only full-frontal nudity is female. That is something that Hollywood is doing though, and it sucks, but your thoughts are deeper than that.

    I’m going to cite an example from my own life. I am told I am attractive and I have been the object of public harassment by men for YEARS. Wolf whistles, honking, having my butt touched in bars, and creepy leers/comments from strange men. THIS is objectification. Conversely, some men will pay sincere compliments or simply look and smile rather than ogle. I am not bothered by them thinking I am attractive in this case because it is not intrusive or threatening/degrading.

    So what I’m saying is you can appreciate beauty without coming off as sexist or objectifying.

    You are bound to find beautiful people in your life and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging it politely or in your own privacy over the internet. Plus you know a woman’s value is more far than skin deep.

    Love away!

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