Navigating Gay/Straight Female Friendship

In 2011, there is little doubt that a gay woman and a straight woman can be friends, but does that core difference in sexuality make theirs a friendship tougher to navigate? I decided to find out by conducting a Q&A session with my good friend, Lisa Marie Basile.

Queer girls: We all know that sometimes it’s not easy for us to relate to the rest of the world, but what about our friends? Depending on when we come out in life, our sexuality can factor greatly or hardly at all when it comes to making and keeping friends, particularly straight girl friends. Of course, the best of friends usually don’t bat an eyelash (or they’re even offering to be your maid of honor at your wedding before you’re even engaged, as my best friend has). But there can be a sense of otherness when you’re the gay half in a female friendship.

Gay Lady: Do you find it difficult to talk about relationship issues (mine or yours) with me?

Straight Lady: I don’t find it difficult to talk about relationship issues with a gay woman at all; though there might be some differences to a homosexual or heterosexual relationship—mainly, gender roles in play that are a whole different discussion (to which I am very sensitive). I don’t know if the human heart is so different when in love or lust. I believe that the struggles of any relationship: fear, trust, longevity, health, etc, are at the core of all relationships. Gender and sexuality can create new dimensions to existing problems (or positive elements) but I believe that my questions and issues can be understood by anyone that speaks my language, if they’re willing to listen. If there is no empathy, I believe there is sympathy, and I am not necessarily an idealist! I think you and I have uniquely experienced heartache and we’re able to talk about it—sexuality aside.

Gay Lady: Is it safe to openly talk about my sex life?

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Links for Sexy Feminists: Newt vs. Herman, the (Non-)Legacy of Marie Curie, and More …

The Nation wonders why Republicans prefer serial adulterer Newt Gingrich over alleged adulterer Herman Cain: Blogger JoAnn Wypijewski ponders how it wasn’t his crazy politics, but his supposed affair (which he denies), that did Cain in

Rookie‘s Tavi Gevinson reports from the TEDxWomen Conference: Which we tell you about just to celebrate a 15-year-old who self-identifies as a feminist and worships Gloria Steinem

Ms. celebrates the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie’s Nobel: By asking why we still have so few women in science

Author Georgia Pelligrini explains why she hunts: She writes in a thought-provoking Huffington Post piece about paying “the full karmic price” for food

Time celebrates marriage: Its “Top 10 Marriage Stories of the Year” list reviews everything from Will & Kate to the rise of the singleton

Sexy Feminists Read: ‘The Guy’s Guide to Feminism’

We’ve long advocated for including men in feminism, so it’s no surprise that we’re in love with Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel’s The Guy’s Guide to Feminism. (In fact, we think it’s the perfect stocking-stuffer for all the men in your life!) The authors — both among the most prominent pro-feminist men — offer their fellow men an A to Z guide for not only understanding the movement, but for appreciating how it benefits dudes as much as it does women. (See entries on: Birth Control, Dads, Friendship, Good Relationships, and, of course, Sex.) We chatted with Kimmel, a sociology professor at SUNY at Stony Brook and the author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, about why men should sign up for feminism, how to inject more equality into heterosexual relationships, and why so many men still feel threatened by powerful women.

Why do we need a book about feminism for men?

The thing with men is the question they ask is: What does this have to do with me? They think all feminists are unattractive lesbians who don’t like shaving. But I always thought: Sure, feminism is about protecting women, but it’s also about women claiming their own agency and being unapologetically sexy. Not to be scared of it, to own it. So Michael Kaufman, who is the founder of the White Ribbon Campaign in Canada, and I decided to write a book for guys that holds their hands and says, Don’t be scared. Not only don’t be scared, but there’s a lot here for you.

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The Best Feminist Holiday Gifts

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The holiday season is in full swing, but the gift buying has just begun. If the crowds on Black Friday weren't quite your style, we're here to help: Here, we present you with our first ever feminist holiday gift guide. The gifts on this list give you many different options; some contribute funds to a worthy cause, others are from small businesses run by women, and some gifts promote various feminist principles. But they all have one thing in common: they’re gifts you can feel good about giving. Let the shopping begin!
Have a feminist gifting option to add to our list? Tell us in the comments below!

Introduction to Queer Girl Fashion Part I: Androgny: Behold, Ambiguity

Getting my tomboy on in one of my favorite shirts ever.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. True, everyone’s got their ideal definition of what constitutes beautiful. (Not to mention, hot, sexy, and plain drop-dead gorgeous.) In the queer world, I’ve found variations spanning a wide spectrum, not unlike my straight counterparts. We girls who like girls just have a different set of categories: butch to soft-butch

to femme to lipstick to androgynous to hipster dyke to granola to tomboy and everything in between. (Supplementary glossary, anyone?) It’s partly what makes queer women so fascinating—there’s no one way to express yourself, including how you choose to dress.

As I sit here in my New York apartment—a city that is arguably an epicenter of fashion—I’m wearing plain blue jeans and a fitted black sweater. Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary. I’ve also got pierced ears and I’m wearing rings and a silver watch. To the casual observer, I’m just another chick with not terribly interesting fashion sense. But allow me to open my closet (and by extension, all queer women’s) to you. (And yes please go ahead and laugh at that ridiculously obvious pun—it’s too easy.)
Recently, a male friend and I have been sharing debates concerning the physical attributes of women—in other words, what makes a woman sexy. While we may argue over low-cut blouses versus button-down shirts (the latter being a favorite of mine), we can agree is that each woman’s style is as unique as the woman herself—which leads me to the fashion sense that gets my eyes wandering and my heart racing.I’ve got everything from a pinstripe suit to a very revealing little black dress in there—almost as many pieces of clothing as I have moods. On one day, I’ll wear Doc Martens and an army jacket I’ve had since I was fourteen. The next, purple tights and a crazy patchwork skirt. I see many shades of gray in the black and white of what constitutes so-called female beauty, partially because I’m gay. The point is it’s all awesome.

Androgyny: Behold, Ambiguity

I know some straight women out there are a bit puzzled by the term, “androgynous”—not only what constitutes androgynous-looking but what exactly the appeal is. Allow me to be your guide. These are some of the most beautiful women on the planet. It’s taken me years to articulate my gravitation toward the ambiguous, but now I know it’s the blending of genders, appearances, and even ideas that make androgyny, and therefore the clothing associated with it, sexy.


Putting on a sexy little black dress is easy--it's the shoes that kill.

To clarify, androgynous fashion, at least to me, is not simply a pretty girl wearing a man’s suit. She’s got to own the clothes. They’ve got to fit her perfectly—and not just in terms of size, but in terms of expression.

Take, for example, Jenny Shimizu. You may not recognize her name, but you’ll surely remember her from the infamous Calvin Klein CK One ads back in the mid-90s. I would venture that Shimizu was one of the first mainstream models to make androgyny, well, fashionable. Just think back to the cyclical nature of the ad, “we’re all one” and “a fragrance for a man or a woman.” The blurring of gender and sexual lines was what got everyone to sit up and take notice. Since then, it’s become more commonplace to see women in clothing that is not traditionally thought of as “feminine”—and not just on the runway or on a magazine cover.

I see it nearly every day on the streets of this colorful city. There’s a swagger to androgynous fashion. A boldness. A confidence, bordering on near-cockiness. (Most times, stepping quietly back over that edge.) A “I can carry my bag, drink a coffee, and still have the best upturned collar and sweep of hair across the face you’ve ever freaking seen” smile. A shimmering bow-tie paired with lace-up leather boots. It’s a dare. It’s a risk. It’s a cleverness to combine elements that most people would never imagine combining.

To be sure, not every woman can pull this look off. Like I’ve said, it’s not just about the clothes, it’s about the attitude. And after all, whether you’re gay or straight, isn’t that the ultimate turn-on?

Sexy Feminists Read: Jaclyn Friedman’s ‘What You Really Really Want’

Jaclyn Friedman gives us the book we didn’t know we desperately needed with What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety. In it, she walks us step-by-step through why most of us have no idea what we actually want in bed and offers clear, revealing exercises to help us finally figure it out. We talked to her about making our sex lives more feminist, the prevalence of porn, and the value of submission and rape fantasies.

Your book is really about knowing what we want. Why is that so important?

I consider it an act of political resistance. We live in a culture that uses women’s sexuality to keep us malleable. Everybody wants to run women’s sexuality for their own interests. But you don’t have to access the book from that point. It also just creates a more satisfying sexual life. It’s not accidental that we don’t know. When I was doing talks on college campuses for Yes Means Yes [the anthology she edited with Feministing's Jessica Valenti], I started hearing this question phrased differently: How do I know what I want to say yes to? Themore I thought about that question the more I realized, yes. That is our problem.

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‘Women for Cain’: Yes, That’s a Supposedly ‘Real’ Thing

UPDATE: Herman Cain has now dropped out of the presidential race.

The Herman Cain website just launched a “Women for Cain” section, which you know is for women because it has pretty purple script font and a ridiculous picture of four unnaturally happy females giving you the thumbs up from atop the page. It allows “women” the “opportunity” to post messages of “support” for Cain, which seems to come down to attacks on his accusers for being jealous single bitches. If this isn’t presidential — or, more to the point, another major piece of evidence for Rachel Maddow’s brilliant theory that Cain’s an Andy Kaufman-style performance artist — we don’t know what is.

Just, no:

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