“No real man will take her seriously,” my cousin remarked about Lori Harvey one night on Instagram. Lori Harvey, socialite, and daughter of talk show host Steve Harvey, is a gorgeous woman who dates openly and can have any man she wants. She was born into wealth and had a famous father. She clearly is capable of taking care of herself, and apparently had the men she dates sign NDAs to maintain what she takes care of. It’s the type of dating that’s commonplace for straight men but practically barred from straight women.
“I don’t date men, so what y’all do doesn’t matter to me anymore,” I thought after hearing that statement. I was in no mood to argue feminist points with someone who it’ll go one ear and out the other. A rush of relief washed over me at that moment. I don’t have to care anymore. Whatever it was that they said, didn’t matter to me.
And then it clicked.
Between this conversation and one I had with my sister over Thanksgiving Break, it finally hit me how far outside of straight dating culture I truly am due to my being a lesbian. For a long time on this blog, I have spoken about my experiences of being freshly out of the closet. All of the observations were there to find my footing in the community. Now that the newness of my queerness is going away, I want to look back at what the first 26 years of my life looked like when it comes to dating as a straight-passing bisexual woman.
The thing is that straight dating is that there is a lot of performing, especially when it comes to gender. Could you be a good woman? Could you be a good man? How big is the ring? How long did you make him wait to sleep with you? What dress did you wear? Make sure you don’t do anything that would scare him. A real man has a good woman.
This is bullshit of course. We all know it too.
We’ve heard complaints from men and women about it. Even though inflation is kicking everyone’s asses right now, we’re still asking if it’s okay to go 50/50 on dates and if coffee dates are normal. People are still playing by the rules of straightness.
The most insidious thing about straightness is that even though you know it’s bullshit, we have to capitulate to it. Like you’d have to close the wage gap, reform tax law, reform and restore reproductive rights, reform the justice system, and dismantle structural racism, classism, ableism, and patriarchy to have true freedom from it.
Or, you know, be gay.
Now that I am as free from that system as I can be (because it still has its effects even in queer spaces), I want to make a series of essays on the subject of straightness. The straights are not okay, and here’s why.