To clarify, ‘dyke’ is a term that is used to refer to lesbians. It was initially used as a slur, for those women who did not conform to stereotypical femininity. Now the term has been reclaimed, to a point where it entails a sense of assertiveness and makes space for gender non-conforming womyn and AFABs (Assigned Female At Birth). One of many historical sources tell us that the term ‘dyke’ was originally derived from Queen Boudicca, a Celtic queen who took up arms who revolted against the Roman Empire in 67 A.D.
Coming back to the point at hand, “ally” or not, no one really cares about your comments about our sexual orientation. The very struggle for our personal, social, cultural, economic and political assertion lays emphasis on not needing validation from parties who have no idea what it is like being us. Being a supporter is no excuse to invade our lives. Which brings me to a list of statements and questions that fellow dykes and I need not be subject to:
1. “You’re into women? Haan, that’s okay yaar!” and “I accept you”
Did I ask you if it was okay or not? Shall I start commenting on how it’s “okay” for you to be straight? Also, who ARE you to accept us? Just because you are part of this MAGICAL process of biological reproduction, doesn’t justify your sense of entitlement in reaching out with a condescending hand of so-called “acceptance”.
2. “Why didn’t you tell us you’re gay?”
Do you run around specifying you’re straight? More importantly, do you feel the need to? Also, the term is lesbian/dyke, not “gay”. Anything remotely close to queerness cannot be bracketed under the term “gay”. I know it’s hard, even impossible to comprehend for you, but where I come from, men don’t make the world go round.
3. “So which one of you wears the pants in the relationship?”
This is the same as asking which one of us is “the man” in the relationship.I should acknowledge that the gender binary exists in some same-sex relationships, where people do adopt the roles of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in the relationship. But this is no excuse to typecast each and every one of us. So, I’ll specify: if I wanted a man, I’d be with a man. Similarly, if I am so desperately in need of “pants”, I’ll go to a store.
4. “How do you even have sex? Feel aati hai?”
We don’t see the world in simplistic binaries, where opposites begin and end with pairings such as: good-evil, man-woman, Cersei-Daenarys, (you get the picture now) etc. Also, Dear Heterosexual Harry, “feel” toh bahaut aati hai. Except you’re not invited and mind your own business.
5. “But what about marriage? And kids?”
Yes, how dare we deviants think about anything else, besides procreation, bed warming and cooking? I know it’s impossible for you to conceive of anything outside the traditional, patriarchal kinship structure, BUT, we’ll live.
6. “Haan, yeh jawani ka josh hai. Young people like to experiment, they’ll grow out of it eventually”
Define “grow out”. After I hit thirty, the unicorn and fairy dust in my body and mind will automatically vanish. They will pave the way for suddenly needing men, because according to this logic, lusting for men and maturity go hand-in-hand. Inversely proportional to common sense – something you so desperately need.
7. “Lesbian-ism and dyke-ing actually means a very deep bond of friendship between women.”
NOPE. We form romantic bonds and/or sleep with each other. We don’t need men for orgasms, or to have a significant other(s). When womyn or AFABs make friends with each other, do you know what we’ll call each other? FRIENDS.
8. “But I am normal, you aren’t.”
Yes, you OWN normalcy. You purchased it in an eBay auction. Now for us poor “abnormals”, jaake OLX pe bech de.
Special mentions (since you think our lives revolve around sex and sex only):
- “So what do you do with the boobs? Don’t they collide and like, hurt you?”
- “You guys do it like in porn?”
- “Which one of you wears the strap-on?”
- “Can I watch while you make sweet lady love?”
My dear allies, your “acceptance”, your sense of entitlement and your very existence are turning into my problems. These perceptions and stereotypes that revolve around me and people like me are constantly located in this process of either sexualising us constantly, or in a few cases desexualising us. Where this desperation to bracket us into your ideas of normalcy are concerned, we obviously don’t want it. We reclaimed the word “queer”, to assert ourselves in the political space. If that is not an indicator of our rejection of your patriarchal “normalcy”, I don’t know what is.
This post was first published in Feminism in India and has been republished here with permission
About the Author: Mahika Banerji is friends with half the dogs in the city, can make a career out of procrastinating and when people engage in body shaming, am quick to remind them that I eat patriarchy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.