How Patriarchy Affects Women In The LGBTQ Community

There is intersectionality in how patriarchy affects women in the LGBTQ community. Many queer women feel alienated by their own sexualities.

There is intersectionality in how patriarchy affects women in the LGBTQ community. Many queer women feel alienated by their own sexualities in society. Being in an all-girls’ school gave me an idea of what the world could be like without boys, and I can’t say I dislike it.

An all-girls’ school showed me what the world could be like without men

I had transferred from a co-ed to an all-girls’ school in the 6th grade. Initially lamenting the switch, I quickly became aware of how gender-separated spaces were at such a young age. There was a distinction between areas where girls and boys were restricted.

I used to be a dancer, singer, reader and all over-performer. However, the new girls’ school gave me free rein over all areas outside a select, feminine few. I flourished as a sports person, a drummer in the school marching band, securing a position up in the school cabinet, orating and presenting on the regular.

There was also the matter of love. I fell for a slew of close friends and acquaintances alike, and didn’t feel the absence of boys to be a dealbreaker. It didn’t come as a shock but seemed more natural to me than anything, young as I was.

Relationships with other women felt so natural, I saw I wasn’t alone

I always found myself having more intimate relationships with women, and I wasn’t alone.

Fellow students came out left, right and centre; open and proud. This changed very little even after I left school. I was surrounded more so by heterosexual-identifying women in college, but many still opened up about feeling romantically towards the same sex and wanting physical and emotional intimacy from them.

Many confessed how isolating being with men can feel. That there is a disconnect and sex feels like a race against time, like a rushed chore, skewed between two people with little mutual understanding. My organic response would be to just ask, “why don’t you just meet more women?”

The answer would boggle me.

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Some would cite the taboo nature of it all and the social consequences (which I do understand). Some cited wanting biological children in the future, and the girls who said things like I could kiss a girl but I wouldn’t date one (what the actual heck?).

Many women can experiment but would rather not commit to a homosexual relationship

I wouldn’t dare speak on anyone’s behalf, but I do believe heteronormativity has a huge role to play in this charade. In more secure, women-centric places such as my school, each girl felt more liberated, sexually, emotionally, academically and otherwise.

However, in the real world, it is fact that men systemically occupy the highest spot in each field and make a good chunk of the working force. In the midst of dating and the pressure to want your partner to be fully accepted as a future spouse by parents and families, it leaves little room for personal choice.

Indian society forces heteronormativity for social success

There’s a mental blockage with many women thinking they can “experiment” with women but not actually “be happy” with them.

We have been raised on Bollywood flicks where the knight in shining armour comes and rescues our damsel in distress. He whisks her away into sunset, marrying and impregnating her (eyeroll) to depict true social success and a secure, happy life.

This perception of happiness and not finding relationships between women ideal is due to the lack of real-life examples around us. There is the lack of media representation, even in pornography, most lesbian content caters to men. We rarely see female characters in films purely from a feminine perspective.

It’s no wonder that there is actually more content teaching women how to pleasure men than figure out how their own orgasm works.

Lesbian representation is discouraged everyday

Many women in same-sex relationships or sexual orientation are forced to conceal and/or downplay their queerness. This is done to avert negative attention from people around them, often from friends and family. There is inherent persecution in being a woman, adding queerness to that, many feel, would make for worse prospects in life.

This has limited us to the masculine view of the world. Sexualizing, objectifying, vilifying and feeling threatened by intimate or otherwise powerful relationships between women and powerful women all the same. Also note the usage of heteronormative slurs, assigning gendered roles to same-sex relationships plays a huge part in this mentality.

With corporate hesitant to draw ire from their majority audience and consumers, the LGBTQ community, specifically women and queer women, have been historically alienated from mass media.

What we can do to shed heteronormativity and embrace queerness

There is change trickling in slowly and the bucket is half full, I’d like to believe. There have been great strides in terms of LGBTQ representation in media as well as in the consumer market. In education, exposure as well as awareness, we are slowly growing more towards tolerance.

It starts with introspection and focusing on one’s personal needs and wants outside what society dictates. It is essential to work on our academic goals and thereby not be emotionally or physically reliant on any social hierarchies.

We have seen Indian women, often our own mothers, staying in soulless, broken marriages. All this for the sake of appearances, but it is time to claim the narrative.

When being faced with internal homophobia or forced heteronormativity, it is best to give yourself time and understand that gender and roles are boundless. Life is about to exploring oneself and being with those who love you, regardless of gender or sexuality.

I recommend exposing yourself to LGBTQ communities and content. This will help sensitize you while normalizing lifestyles that lie outside the norm. Queerness has existed as long as people have and is seen in nearly all species on Earth.

Final Thoughts

Most importantly, be brave and kind. Accept yourself as well as others with open arms. We only get one shot at life, and it would be hell to live it as anyone but you. Wish to wear an androgynous or non-gender presenting outfit? GO AHEAD. Want to deck your belonging out in pride flags, be you and do you.

See a cute girl who makes your heart flutter?

Be polite and ask her out. Come on! At worst, you’ll get rejected and at best, you get to steal her cool clothes, amazing perfume and skincare. Can’t say much for those men’s’ 10-in-1 shampoos. God, I rebuke the straights.

Image source: Still from the Film Badhai Do, edited on CanvaPro

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About the Author

Ria Tirkey

I am Ria from New Delhi. I'm a student of political science and law and I have a lot to say apparently. read more...

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