"Oh, I never worry about sleeping with a girl after the first date!" I bitchily purred to my straight friends one hungover Sunday afternoon. "Lesbians don't slut shame each other the same way men do to women."
I had caught them exchanging worried glances after I'd revealed I had fucked a girl (who I REALLY liked) on the first date.
"Of course I'm wearing RED lipstick tonight!" I would roar to my friend Ruba, self-righteously adorning my lips in the brightest red lipstick I own. "Men might hate red lipstick, but women aren't threatened by the power of RED like those slimy fuckboys you have to deal with are."
I'm so lucky I don't have all these straight-girl issues, I would gleefully think to myself on the subway, while watching a smart, teenage girl dumb herself down for a cocky, wallet chain-wearing, greasy-faced teenage boy.
"Straight girl issues" always seemed to boil down to one thing: wanting to appear physically attractive to men while still maintaining a semblance of one's own identity.
I mean, I couldn't care less about appearing physically attractive to men, so I was free to live my life without the painful shackles of heteronormativity, right?
Oh, how horribly wrong I was, babe! To think that just because I fearlessly wear wild lipstick colors and have been known to have sex on the first date, that I suddenly didn't care how straight men saw me?
Of course I care how straight men see me. I'm a product of the same system as every other girl in America — a system founded on the damaging concept of the "male gaze" (the idea that everything in our culture is designed to attract straight men).
You know how, when you're watching a commercial, for — I don't know — cars or something, there is always some hot chick with big boobs selling the car? Or how a camera will linger on a young girl's ass in a movie for an extra 10 seconds, without it being important to the movie plot?
That's the male gaze, and it sends all women a message: We exist to please the eyes of straight men. We are not humans. We are objects of male desire.
And kittens, my sexuality has NOT served as a safe, protective layer to shield me from unfair patriarchal expectations of how women should look, feel or live their lives.
Therefore, I still have the some of the same core "issues" as my straight, female counterparts, and here are six of them:
I stifle my tits in uncomfortable bras, so they look nice to boy eyes.
Tits give anyone born into a female body some pretty loaded issues. Our society sets us up for tit issues from the moment our "tits" are nothing but two tiny mosquito bites poking out of our Hanes undershirts.
We hear our mothers talking about how their tits have "dropped" with age, we hear our older sisters bitch about how small their tits are and teen girls with big tits get branded as "sluts" just because they have big tits.
And once our bug bites sprout, we're taken to lingerie shops to buy "training bras" with little pink rosebuds in the middle.
Ever wonder what those training bras are even training us for? Are they training us to get used to being uncomfortable all the time? To get us used to restraining our breasts because they're unattractive unless they're perky and held up by steel wire, like the boobs men see in porn?
Our breasts are unattractive unless they're held up by steel wire, like the boobs men see in porn.
I'm always saying, "I can't wait to go home and take my BRA off!" But why do I put the damn thing on to begin with?!
Because I'm afraid my breasts will look saggy to men who are used to seeing fake porn boobs.
Saggy breasts also mean you're old. I'm afraid to become old because women aren't seen as beautiful when they get old, and I want to be seen as beautiful. (I mean, all the anti-aging products in women's magazines are enough to make you think aging is a terrifying, disastrous thing that WE MUST AVOID AT ALL COSTS.)
Plus, my hard nipples sans bra could "distract" bad men and cause them to do bad things, like catcall me or rape me.
Yes, the violent jump from "catcall" to "rape," seems like a lot, I know, but it's true! Any time a girl gets raped, harassed or touched inappropriately, everyone wants to know, "Was she wearing something provocative?"
I can't stop dating women like my father.
You know how they always say, "Women always go after men just like their father?" Well, I would always roll my eyes and think, "That's such a STRAIGHT GIRL issue. I can't relate. I don't even date men."
But then, it dawned on me: I might not be dating men like my father, but I've been dating women EXACTLY like my father since the moment I came out.
I'm always drawn to women who are hyper-organized, anal retentive, business-oriented, disciplined, enabling and over-the-top caring — all traits my father has!
And it makes sense! I've been observing my father as the lover of my idol (my mother) my entire life. If I'm trying to emulate my personal icon (my mother), naturally, I'm going to go after the same type of partner she did.
Also, because I'm look feminine, sometimes, I find myself playing into a traditionally feminine role in relationships. Oh, I'm a helpless kitten. Rescue me, you organized, tough lesbian!
When really, my femme style and my ability to take care of myself are two different things. I can wear a dress and have endlessly long, flirty eyelashes and still take care of myself.
But I've been taught that "traditionally masculine" qualities will keep me safe and protected. So I'm drawn to the masculine qualities in women that my father also possesses.
I apologize for existing.
A while back, I was dating a girl who couldn't help but notice how often I apologized. She would pull her big SUV so closely up to the curb, I wouldn't be able to open the car door.
"I'm SO sorry. I can't open the car door!" I would pathetically wail, as if it were my fault I physically couldn't open the door.
"Do you have a bathroom? I'm SO SORRY. I have to use it!" I would mumble, hanging my head in shame.
"My 120-pound body is taking up a tiny bit of space on your massive couch? I'm SO SORRY!" I would cry, curling my body into the tiniest ball possible.
"I'm breathing the same AIR as you?" my heart would skip a beat, and guilt would penetrate my blood. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for being ALIVE!"
"Um, do you know you apologize way too much?" the girl said to me one day. "You don't need to do that. You're fine."
And suddenly, I realized she's right! I'm incessantly apologizing for everything.
I've been taught by society that WOMEN shouldn't take up any space. I've been taught we should always put the comfort of others before our own AND blame ourselves when anyone feels slightly unhappy or inconvenienced.
Now, you might think this isn't a straight girl issue and that it's just a GIRL issue. However, I don't often observe many masculine-presenting lesbians over-apologizing. Women I've dated and women I'm friends with who are on the butch end of the spectrum don't seem to worry so much about taking up space.
And of course, masculinity, whether it's in a man or a woman, doesn't seem to involve saying sorry for existing.
I shame spiral after I express anger.
Ever since election night back in November 2016, I've been seething with anger. By the time inauguration day circled around, my blood was boiling at a level heat that it's never, ever reached before
I wrote an entire article about how angry I was and how other women should allow themselves to process their feelings of anger as well.
Like any girl on the internet who expresses an unpopular opinion, I was immediately met with death threats on Twitter from men and women alike.
They were angry at me for being so angry. One female on the Twitter-sphere even told me my anger was exactly what feminists had worked to "fight against" for decades.
I spiraled into a rabbit hole of darkness. I was at the Women's March, but I furiously texted my editor I knew was working that day. Luckily, she didn't get my text because cell phone service had been knocked out in DC that day.
A few hours later, after I calmed down a bit over a glass of wine (and they wonder why women drink), I asked myself, Why did I even care if I rumpled a few feathers? I've been called a slut, a bitch, a whore, an idiot, a bimbo, fat, anorexic, a dyke (I take that one as a compliment) and every other name in the book. Why was I so hurt by being called "angry"?
I realized I've been taught that women who are angry are ugly. We all know "angry feminists" is code for "ugly feminists."
As women, we're allowed to be hurt, we're allowed to be vulnerable and we're allowed to feel depressed, sad and in need of a man's help.
But angry? Oh, hell no.
Men, though, can be angry. When men get all riled up at the bar, they're just being "guys." You know how "guys can get," right?
At first, I wanted to apologize for being so harsh and angry, but that was only because I wanted to remain ATTRACTIVE and FEMININE.
And then, I thought, fuck this! The patriarchy is always trying to control how women feel. Of all feelings, anger is the one with a driving force behind it. Anger makes you take action.
And that's what they don't want.
I'm mad at myself for not being traditionally beautiful.
I'm not saying that I think I'm hideously ugly (most days). But I don't look like the girls I was manipulated into idolizing as a child.
You see the pretty, blonde girl with the blue eyes gets everything she wants on TV and in the movies — the social status, the shiny car, the scholarship and the attention of the hot boy.
I'm not the pretty blonde girl. I have wild, tangled black hair and alabaster white skin. My eyes are too large for my face.
When I was an actress, I never booked commercials because I wasn't "accessible." They told me I was too "exotic."
I even had a male casting director tell me to play down my exotic looks because women in America couldn't relate to my face. He showed me a picture of Blake Lively and said she was "leading lady" beautiful.
And instead of being pissed off at the dickhead casting director, who clearly was cursed with a frighteningly small, narrow concept of what beauty is, I beat myself up over this.
You see the pretty, blonde girl with the blue eyes get everything she wants on TV.
"Ugh, why don't you look like Blake Lively, you piece of shit?!" I would scream into the mirror, picking at my zits until they bled.
I would stop myself from wearing the exotic-looking clothes that flattered me because I wanted to look more like Blake Lively.
And you know what? I feel deeply sorry for anyone who can only see the beauty in a blonde girl with blue eyes.
I see beauty in blonde girls with blue eyes, but I see beauty in exotic girls with black hair, too. I see beauty in skinny, gay boys, transgender people, girly boys and boyish girls. I think the most beautiful people are drag queens.
Yet I still resent myself for not looking like Blake Lively because it's so engrained in my brain that girls like her define beauty. And if you think about it, the people defining beauty are a few asshole men in Hollywood who write the movies and cast the actors and actresses.
If so many other people can see beauty in so many places, why do we care about a few fuckboy producers from Beverly Hills?
So now I know. All of these issues are not just "straight girl" issues. These are girl issues.
And that's why it's so important, no matter where you fall on the gender spectrum, that we do everything we can to smash through this stifling glass ceiling and experience the view from the top.
We're deserving to see the beauty of the world from the tippy top, too. We all are.