Woman crush – Is it homophobic for straight women to say woman crush?
Up to now month, on three separate events, I’ve overheard straight women in my workplace speaking very loudly about their ‘woman crush’. As they spoke about recognizing a feminine celeb crush on the road, and listed which women they’d fancy in our constructing “in the event that they have been lesbians”, I almost projectiled my contact lenses proper out on this planet’s hardest eye-roll. Not solely was I genuinely shook that individuals nonetheless use the time period, however as a bisexual particular person in a same-sex relationship I used to be a bit miffed by their flippant use of it.
However then I remembered that earlier than I used to be correctly ‘out’ at work, I used to say stuff like that on a regular basis. I might merrily announce to anybody who’d pay attention that my fantasy threesome concerned Kristen Stewart and Harry Types (punching, a lot?!) Trying again, it is clear I used to be subconsciously utilizing the ‘woman crush’ invisibility cloak to gauge my colleague’s reactions – to see if it was protected to be trustworthy about who I used to be. It was a means of testing the water in an undeniably nonetheless very homophobic and heteronormative world.
Cosmopolitan Magnificence Author Kate Pasola, aka my bisexual sounding board, has been by way of the very same thought course of. She’s open about her sexuality outdoors of labor, however few folks in her skilled sphere are conscious of her attraction to women. “I prefer to throw curveballs typically by saying sure feminine celebs are scorching (Kate McKinnon, lol). However then straight folks go, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve a ‘woman crush’ on her too.’ And I then quit and move as hetero once more cos I CBA to get into it.”
Savana Ogburn / Refinery29 for Getty Photos
So is it truly legit for a straight lady to consult with somebody as their ‘woman crush’? Can them doing so truly hurt LGBTQ+ women and invalidate their very actual sights? Or does the ‘woman crush’ phenomenon permit anybody questioning their sexuality to work it out in their very own time?
The place ‘woman crush’ got here from
‘Woman crush’ is mostly used to by straight women to explain their appreciation of or (platonic) obsession with one other lady. The time period was used loads in trend circles again within the earlier 2000s as a means of claiming, “I like her aesthetic and normal vibe.” It turned such a traditional a part of our language that there was even a Woman Crush Colouring E book which Marie Claire – who mentioned they have been “obsessed” with the idea – devoted a whole article to.
“It’s the girl equal of ‘no homo'”
Definitions of the time period began popping up all over the place. “Typically, you possibly can’t assist however be drawn to qualities or traits in different women, whether or not they’re qualities you need or not,” The Frisky wrote in 2010. “A ‘woman crush’ is on no account a bodily or sexual attraction. It is half jealousy, half admiration.”
Why is ‘woman crush’ problematic?
Regardless of the place you learn an evaluation of what woman crush means, all definitions include one clear qualifier: A ‘woman crush’ is while you admire somebody, however you 100% wouldn’t fuck them. It’s the girl equal of ‘no homo’.
This brings to thoughts a current viral tweet I noticed doing the rounds on-line. Some lad referred to as Kevin posted an image of an attractive sundown with the caption “I’m straight however… that’s unbelievable.”
Naturally, he was mocked by queer Twitter and the headline on this PinkNews article summed it up in all its homophobic absurdity: “A straight man named Kevin needed to make clear his sexuality with a view to get pleasure from a sundown. Sure, actually.” Kevin could as nicely have mentioned he had a ‘woman crush’ on the sundown.
Again in 2014, a Fashionista piece examined the similarities between these two phrases. “It is the identical means ‘no homo’ is utilized by males to say, ‘Oh man, this soccer participant is wonderful, however I’m not drawn to him, I can acknowledge that one other man is nice at one thing with out wanting his dick in my mouth,’” Style author Nicolette Mason advised the web site. “I don’t suppose that ‘woman crush’ is any totally different from that – wanting to indicate appreciation for any person and the underside line being that you just don’t need to be mistaken as truly being thinking about that particular person.”
Rochelle Brock / Refinery29 for Getty Photos
Is ‘woman crush’ homophobic?
I believe we will all agree that clarifying you completely would by no means in 1,000,000 years *truly* fancy a lady is kinda homo/biphobic. Dr Meg-John Barker, relationships educator and creator of Rewriting the Guidelines and Gender: A Graphic Information says the phrase might additionally ‘different’ queer folks.
“The primary factor that strikes me concerning the time period is that we label issues this fashion once they’re seen as one thing much less legitimate or regular in our society: some sort of exception. It jogs my memory of phrases like ‘woman physician’, ‘businesswoman’, or ‘actress’ – all marking the thought of a lady doing these items because the exception as a result of males are seen because the norm,” they clarify.
“It is up there with ‘gal pal'”
“The phrase ‘woman crush’ reminds us that the ‘regular’ technique to have a crush – as a lady – is on a person. For that we would solely have to make use of the phrase ‘crush’. In that means it has heteronormativity inbuilt: to be a ‘woman crush’ is already to be one thing lesser or irregular.”
Amy, a lesbian working in LGBTQ+ media, agrees. “It is nice when you’re utilizing ‘woman crush’ since you truly fancy a lady, however in any other case it may simply sound such as you’re ignoring the very fact women can and do fancy women! It is up there with ‘gal pal’, which lesbian companions are sometimes wrongly labelled by strangers who neglect lesbians and queer women do exist, thanks,” she says.
‘Gal pal’ was (and nonetheless is, often) a time period utilized by many a tabloid newspaper to repeatedly erase queer feminine celebrities’ relationships. My favorite (and by favorite I imply most rage-inducing) instance being: After Kristen Stewart moved in together with her girlfriend Alicia Cargile in 2015, The Day by day Mail referred to Alicia as Kristen’s “reside in gal pal”.
Oop, there go my contacts once more.
Does ‘woman crush’ push stereotypes about bisexuals?
A few of the most dangerous stereotypes and myths about bisexual persons are that they’re both promiscuous (aka will shag anybody in sight) or simply plain confused and going by way of a part on their technique to Homosexual City. So it is doable a straight lady utilizing the phrase paints feminine same-sex attraction as a fleeting factor, to not be taken critically. Dr Barker provides, “This dangers doing a disservice to those that are overtly LGBTQ+ – treating it as one thing enjoyable to be performed with reasonably than one thing that has large implications for folks’s lives – hate crimes, discrimination, lack of family and friends, and so forth.”
The actual fact the time period entails the usage of ‘woman’ is infantilising in itself, and recommend feminine same-sex attraction is one thing infantile or immature, Dr Barker says. “These are all stereotypes of bisexuality in fact: suggesting that it is probably not legitimate for a lady to be drawn to different women in addition to males. It is most likely one thing she’ll develop out of, actually not one thing to be taken critically.”
Does ‘woman crush’ play into the fetishisation of queer women?
Dr Barker factors out the similarities in tone to Katy Perry’s music ‘I Kissed A Woman’. “The music additionally places throughout a ‘woman crush’ as one thing experimental, adolescent, candy and attractive however not severe. You have to surprise what the kiss meant to the woman within the music. Did she know she was simply any person’s enjoyable experiment? She’s not handled like a full human being, simply an object to be performed with.” They add, “Politically we additionally do one thing fairly dodgy by repeating the concept women’s wishes for women – and bisexuality – are one thing immature, foolish, and girlish.”
Talking about her music ‘Woman Crush’, queer musician Rebecca Lucy Taylor of the band Self Esteem advised Dork, “Women aren’t a enjoyable new cool factor for straight women to strive – and in an age of pop songs about ‘kissing ladies’ and ‘making an attempt it on for measurement’, I felt like saying, ‘nicely you realize, that’s not a lot enjoyable for the particular person you’re experimenting on?’”
Is ‘woman crush’ ever OK to make use of when you’re not LGBTQ+?
In mine and Kate’s experiences, the time period has allowed us to nearly half come out to the folks round us in a means that feels protected. I advised Dr Barker this, they usually mentioned, “I agree with you although that these sorts of ‘protected’ phrases like ‘woman crush’ ‘bi-curious’ and ‘go homosexual for’ can allow folks to be within the questioning and unsure territory which all people most likely wants in the event that they’re exploring same-sex wishes in such a heteronormative and homophobic tradition.”
Sara, a 34-year-old bisexual lady, additionally discovered it comforting to make use of the time period when she was youthful. “Earlier than I used to be correctly out I used the time period to validate my infatuations with associates or celebrities,” she says. “A ‘woman crush’ was the perfect factor I might attain to after I was nonetheless residing that hetero life and nobody would decide me. I believe if straight folks use the time period that is positive – as a result of that straight particular person was me as soon as.”
For Charlie, a 23-year-old, bisexual and genderqueer particular person, straight women utilizing the time period doesn’t trouble her. “It additionally permits for some fluidity of sexuality/self discovery,” they clarify. “I do not thoughts folks utilizing it and residing their straight lives and having the occasional woman crush, so long as it would not diminish lesbian/bi identities.”
“That straight particular person was me as soon as”
Bisexual illustrator and creator of ‘How To Have Feminist Intercourse’ Flo Perry, 27, would not discover it helpful to police phrases on this means. “Usually, I do not prefer to be too choosy on how others use language, and I do not discover ‘woman crush’ offensive,” she explains. “I suppose the hazard could be that individuals who say it aren’t taking their very own sexuality critically. They’re dismissing real lust as simply admiration.”
And for any queer individuals who overhear somebody they’re drawn to utilizing the time period and see it as a signifier of that particular person’s queerness, Aisha*, a 29-year-old ‘principally straight one that has had romantic woman crushes, a few of which have turn out to be bodily relationships’ has some recommendation. “I believe it’s finest to take this phrase with a grain of salt when different folks say it. It could result in disappointment if you’re utilizing that phrase as a technique to gauge whether or not your romantic crush is straight or homosexual/ bi. It may be disappointing when you learn into their remark as them being attracted to ladies when they aren’t. So guard your emotions with that one!”
It’s a posh challenge, and one which doesn’t provide a easy reply. If you happen to’re somebody who’s questioning their sexuality and utilizing ‘woman crush’ to check the waters, do no matter it’s essential to to really feel protected. And to any straight women making jokes about their celeb ‘woman crushes’, please simply think about queer women and the impact your seemingly innocent phrases may need on them.
*Title has been modified
Intercourse & Relationships Editor
Paisley is intercourse & relationships editor at Cosmopolitan UK, and covers all the pieces from intercourse toys, the best way to masturbate and intercourse positions, to all issues LGBTQ. She undoubtedly reveals an excessive amount of about her private life on the Web.