I have lost count of the numerous times I have gone out with my girlfriend in public and we have experienced harassment. As a couple, it has been completely normalized to hold hands in public or exhibit some form of PDA. However, by “normalized,” I mean conveying affection to a significant other is okay only between heterosexual couples.
We have grown up and live in a heteronormative world, so the second two girls kiss or show affection towards one another it is instantly fetishized and everyone wants to either stare or join.
As a bisexual woman, I have been with both male and female. Since the start of dating my girlfriend, I immediately picked up on how people treated us different from when I was with a man. I used to feel so excited to go out to The Square, but it has become such an uncomfortable place for me now that I am in a same-sex female relationship.
Men often gawk at us walking by, whistle at us or yell out that we should “make out for them;” all of this similar to how animals are treated as entertainment in a zoo.
This is an incredibly uneasy situation, especially with how prevalent the problem is in San Marcos and the fact it feels inescapable. However, after months of experiencing constant harassment from men, I realized relationships similar to my own encounter the same ordeals; the fact of the matter is more often than not, men believe women exist for them and their pleasure, particularly same-sex female relationships. Now, I am speaking very generally, as I know this is not all men. This is just my experience.
Living in a millennial world where acceptance has become a focal point, I never thought what my girlfriend and I currently go through on a daily basis is something that actually happens—until I lived it.
With Texas State hosting such a high number of LGBTQIA+ students, I can only imagine how many other lesbian or bisexual couples experience similar harassment brought on mainly by straight men.
I find it so disappointing that statistics regarding sexual harassment and abuse are skewed on campus in order to present the school as safer. What is more disheartening is how female couples are consistently harassed and the issue is not talked about nearly as often as it should be.
On numerous occasions, I have been told to “maybe not kiss in public” or go dancing at clubs that have proven to be safe spaces. First, there are limited gay clubs in the area. So unless I wanted to drive to Austin anytime I choose to go out—which I don’t—there are not many options in San Marcos.
Additionally, I should never feel so uncomfortable at a spot that I avoid the place if I’m out with my girlfriend. My outings should not be limited because I’m gay. Second, I have yet to understand the continual victim-blaming; there is no reason I should have to watch my actions with my partner any more than a straight couple would.
I truly believe the root of the problem is how people, i.e. men, are raised to think women and everything we do is for their desires and pleasures.
Lesbians are often seen as a challenge for men to “convert.” My girlfriend has told me how many men actually think they can change her sexual orientation because she has not had sex with them yet, so she must be missing out on something. These men truly believe women identify as lesbians or bisexuals because they have not “had good D” yet.
This may come as a surprise to the men who grew up being told the world belonged to them, but women are allowed to form relationships with each other without male involvement. It is time for men to acknowledge the inherent privileges they were gifted and hold one another accountable for these forms of harassment against women.
Stop sexualizing and objectifying same-sex female relationships. I am not dating a woman because I’ve yet to have great sex with a man, nor am I dating her for men to ogle us on the street and call our relationship hot.
In fact, walking to class past the construction in LBJ, my girlfriend and I have this unspoken rule to keep to ourselves because the harassment from male workers has become so prevalent; we feel the need to disconnect out of fear of being approached.
Female relationships are not for the benefit of male consumption. We are over it and tired of it. All I ask is for the same treatment any straight couple receives, as it should be a right rather than a privilege.
– Bayley Bogus is a journalism senior