?

Log in

No account? Create an account
There really is no hope for the human race communicating successfully, is there? - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
void where prohibited, except by law
sesquipedality
sesquipedality
There really is no hope for the human race communicating successfully, is there?
Following on from this week's Savage Love, I offer the following poll without commentary at this stage because I am genuinely curious as to what the consensus on this matter is. Discussion may follow in a later post.

Poll #1084828 F**king semantics

A woman who is exclusively attracted to women with the exception of their current (male) sexual partner is called a

lesbian
1(1.9%)
bisexual
34(64.2%)
mostly lesbian
10(18.9%)
some other thing (please comment)
7(13.2%)
lesbians killed my grandmother, you insensitive clod!
1(1.9%)
22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: November 7th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Somewhere on the wide spectrum of variation between absolutely heterosexual and absolutely homosexual occupied by the vast majority of the human race, though the evidence would suggest that she is closer to the homosexual end.

I've had a couple of unpleasant verbal maulings for referring to myself as bisexual in contexts where I'd been seen with three different partners of the normative-gender* for which I have a roughly 85% preference and none of the other normative-gender, so I sympathise with being annoyed by any of the options here.

*"Normative-gender" not defined in detail because this comment would be five times as long and still not get it right.
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: November 8th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I have in not dissimilar situations described myself as 'mostly lesbian', but I think there are various things going on here. I mean, there's what you choose to label yourself as to yourself, if you use a label; there's how you describe yourself to your friends and people who know you; there's describing yourself to strangers; and there's identifying with a (minority?) community.

IMO, people can describe themselves however they like, and if this woman feels that 'lesbian' includes her notwithstanding her husband, she can define it that way if she likes. But most other people, lesbians or not, would probably not understand it like that, and would say that she was bi. So I don't know if it's meaningful for her to descrbe herself as lesbian if she then has to say 'and this is what I mean by that word, which is different from what everyone else means...'

I can understand it if she were desperate to get involved in lesbian community, but to be frank she'd probably have trouble there whatever she called her relationship setup, no?
ewx From: ewx Date: November 8th, 2007 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)

IMO, people can describe themselves however they like

Of course. But there's a need to describe other people as well as to describe oneself; an important point of language is communication, after all, not merely to glue arbitrary strings of noises to people.

If someone routinely eats hamburgers nobody else is likely to describe them as a vegetarian even if they've managed to kid themselves, though you might avoid the question in conversation with them for the sake of the quiet life. This isn't an entirely hypothetical example, there do seem to be a number of self-described vegetarians who actually eat fish.

As to the question at hand I think there's plenty of room within the description of someone else as a lesbian (or a straight man, say) for them to experiment with sex with men. But if they're doing it on a regular basis, that description is going to become misleading.

Personally I think the self-described vegetarians who eat fish are just being silly and should choose a more sensible description. I've more sympathy in the case of sexualities, since they are a rather more fraught subject, and someone might much more reasonably find their life leading them to conclusions that look odd from the outside.

neophyte_13 From: neophyte_13 Date: November 8th, 2007 09:05 am (UTC) (Link)
pescetarians, those who eat fish... at least that's how most people I know that only eat fish and veggie stuff have described it.
ewx From: ewx Date: November 8th, 2007 09:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, there's plenty of sensible names for them, but not all of them use one of them.
From: vyvyan Date: November 8th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd probably refer to such a woman as bisexual in the absence of any other information. But if it turned out she identified as lesbian (or anything else) for whatever reason, I would refer to her as that.
keirf From: keirf Date: November 8th, 2007 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
A woman who is exclusively attracted to women with the exception of their current (male) sexual partner is called a woman who is exclusively attracted to women with the exception of their current (male) sexual partner.
bellinghman From: bellinghman Date: November 8th, 2007 05:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Until it turns out she's a woman who is exclusively attracted to women with the exception of their current (male) sexual partner and one other, a mildly famous actor who no-one else looks at twice.

Labels. Got to love them.
cleanskies From: cleanskies Date: November 8th, 2007 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)

British Bisexual Responds

Uuuuuh, whatever label she prefers? (With a lightly cocked eyebrow if you think she might be, ah, reaching.)
secretrebel From: secretrebel Date: November 8th, 2007 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Not So Bisexual Now

WSS.
simont From: simont Date: November 8th, 2007 06:24 am (UTC) (Link)
For me, the choice was between "bisexual" and "mostly lesbian", and the latter gives more information. "Bisexual" can cover any preference from mostly-men through half-and-half to mostly-women, but "mostly lesbian" gives a clear idea of which end she's at.

I wouldn't consider "bisexual" inaccurate if someone said it. Just less detailed.
lnr From: lnr Date: November 8th, 2007 06:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I vote this one!
undyingking From: undyingking Date: November 8th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
exclusively attracted to women with the exception of

If there an exception, it's not really exclusive, is it? Particularly as presumably it's quite a significant exception.
ar_gemlad From: ar_gemlad Date: November 8th, 2007 06:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Have answered 'bi' before reading the column. Have now read it and gone 'wft?' When did people need permission to label themselves something?! I might think she's bi, but the important thing is that she gets to decide for herself!

I'd personally say in that situation that instead of being lesbian or bi or whatever, she's in a relationship and therefore (at the moment - according to her) is not looking in any case.

(I'm aware of poly and open relationships - but she seems to not be in one atm)
1ngi From: 1ngi Date: November 8th, 2007 07:17 am (UTC) (Link)
is called whatever she bloody well wants to be known as. (I'm anti lables this month.)
1ngi From: 1ngi Date: November 8th, 2007 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
And then the hard-core lesbians would probably cough into their hands with a "bi now gay later".

She could be a lesbian who just happened to be in love with a man. This is the troub with having your sexuality defined by who you are with at the time.
anotherusedpage From: anotherusedpage Date: November 8th, 2007 08:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd probably say "[number] on the kinsey scale". In fact, I'd probably say '[number] from the (wrong end of the) kinsey scale' by mistake and get funny looks. *smile*
cov_cloud From: cov_cloud Date: November 8th, 2007 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
hmmm. I'd say bi, but then I would (if I was going to use a label) use that for myself I'm married (so there's my bias for you).

I would wonder whether it would make any difference if the husband actually identified as transgender etc ? Is biological gender the only deciding factor in sexuality for a 'technical' label or not hmmmm ?
the_whybird From: the_whybird Date: November 8th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Bisexual -- though that's only what I'd call her provided she didn't tell me she wanted to be called something else. People can call themselves whatever they damn well please. Someone wants to call herself a lesbian even though she doesn't sleep with women? That's her perogative, I'm not in any position to determine whether or not she's a real lesbian and neither is anyone else.

At the end of the day language is a discrete thing and one's sexuality is not* and so the chances of there being a word in English which compeltely accurately describes one's sexuality are minimal. The only option is to use words like "lesbian" and "bisexual" as first approximations and to quantify that at a later date (with things like "except I think blonde guys with no body hair are cute" or, as in this case "but mostly lesbian").

* (note spelling of "discrete". Mine is certainly not discreet, either, but that's another matter -- fnar.)
fractalgeek From: fractalgeek Date: November 8th, 2007 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
We had two friends who were actively bi, co-charing a gay and bi group as a couple and had a live-in female slave. She was, I think, monogamous cross-gender; I don't know what his boundaries were, and that's even before you started considering the trans-sexuals.

They married, had kids and then she became exclusively lesbian, so they divorced (apparently splitting the porn collection was harder than how to share the kids - and they at least first lived only a few streets apart); his professed orientation then became more "top" than "bi".

I call them "friends"
idleknight From: idleknight Date: November 9th, 2007 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd call her Claire

Is there a term for a bisexual woman who after being married to someone like me becomes a lesbian?

Just because you find one person of the gender attractive doesnt mean you won't find more people of the gender attractive ..
From: ex_lark_asc Date: November 9th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm in exactly that situation and I still consider myself the same way I always have: slap in the middle of the Kinsey scale. I happen to have all the man I want (heheh), which does not in the least little bit stop me being attracted to women, or wanting to act on that.
22 comments or Leave a comment