Feminism | Posted by Sarah Caputo on 12/12/2012
Being Lesbian and Feminist
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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