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I grew up with the trope of the "predatory lesbian", and I always have it in my head that even thinking of a woman being attractive is preying on her.

I think I might be attracted to some men (fictional ones), but even that makes me feel guilty. Like I am somehow betraying women by having feelings for men.

I feel ashamed for having a sex drive. Sex is still associated with my parents in my mind (abuse), so even thinking about it is gross.

And I feel embarassed for being relatively inexperienced for my age.

I'm having trouble reconciling all of this. There's no one in my life with whom there is a mutual attraction, so it's just me and my mind. It's kind of tormenting me.

I grew up with the trope of the "predatory lesbian", and I always have it in my head that even _thinking_ of a woman being attractive is preying on her. I think I _might_ be attracted to some men (fictional ones), but even that makes me feel guilty. Like I am somehow betraying women by having feelings for men. I feel ashamed for having a sex drive. Sex is still associated with my parents in my mind (abuse), so even thinking about it is gross. And I feel embarassed for being relatively inexperienced for my age. I'm having trouble reconciling all of this. There's no one in my life with whom there is a mutual attraction, so it's just me and my mind. It's kind of tormenting me.

6 comments

[–] milpathecat 9 points Edited

Hi. I'm sorry the world has driven you into feeling this way. I have heard about that fear of being predatory from many women. The lesbophobia in our culture is very real and does deep damage, and there is a real paranoia among women about supposed predatory lesbians. However, love is not predatory. Desire and love are positive drivers that make us want to interact with other people in the best of ways. And statistically speaking, it's not women who are predators: it's men. The predatory lesbian is a misogynistic lesbophobic trope that serves the very real purpose in patriarchy of controlling women and their sexuality and life. Don't let it rule you: remember it's not real.

I am a bisexual woman but didn't have any experience with women until my thirties (although I knew I liked women ever since I was young), and that was partly due to fear of acting on those feelings. I just want to give you a few pieces of advice:

  1. Not only you are not predatory, but your feelings for women make you golden in the eyes of other lesbians and bisex women who want to be with women but are having trouble finding someone (there are very few of us out there, comparatively). I personally love love love women who openly love women, they move me emotionally on the one hand, and I find them very attractive on the other. Women owning their agency and desire are amazing. What they want us to think is shameful becomes actually an asset when you find more women like you. Also: being a woman who becomes an agent of her desire is hugely empowering. I did not realize how passive and weak I was while I dated men. Dating women (well, a woman, my current partner) made me take control of my desire: I was the one to ask her out and now I allow myself to be strong and protective of her. It feels amaaazing.

  2. Take it easy. Having sexual trauma (direct or indirect) is unfortunately very common for women and there is no rush to get over it. When you find a good partner for you, she will be understanding and patient with this (and if she isn't then your relationship was not meant to be!). You are under no obligation to have sex, for years if necessary, or never again in your life, if you don't want to. That's what sexual freedom actually means: the ability to say no, indefinitely if necessary. Believe it or not, there are women out there who will understand you. But you say you do have a sex drive so: remember sex is just desire to be physically intimate with someone in a variety of ways. There is nothing wrong with consensual, mutually desired physical intimacy between adults and it's okay to explore that, at your own pace! Sexuality is not abuse and it is not porn (these two are instances of power and violence, not actual sex).

  3. About the inexperienced thing. When you find someone with whom it is mutual, if she is a good person she will also be completely understanding of your lack of experience. When I finally got a girlfriend I was extremely insecure about this because I was 30 with zero experience, but she didn't care in the least and was super patient and lovely with me (which for me was a way of knowing she was a keeper, too). Also, in my experience making love to a woman is much easier than to a man, because she's basically the same as you after all. So to me it feels much more natural than straight sex, even for a bisexual woman like myself.

  4. You are not betraying anyone by having feelings for anyone. You don't owe anyone an explanation. As women, we are socialized to feel wrong and guilty for everything and it is just a manipulation device of patriarchy. If you're bisexual that's cool. If they are just fantasies that's cool. The only person you owe an explanation to about your life and desires is yourself.

  5. It sounds like you have a lot of recurring ruminations. Oftentimes, the things that our brains obsess with are not true, and it would be best to just not listen to them, but we feel we can't turn them off and they really hurt us. Maybe you can't afford therapy for this at the moment or can't escape a certain home situation and so on, so may I suggest: exercise regularly (does wonders for the head) and build your own inner sanctuary. For me, in this specific topic, this means reading radical feminist theory (lol) and also novels or watching films about lesbians with happy endings. For you it might mean something else.

Good luck and remember you are GOLDEN!! Take much care.

Oof, with the small exception of being possibly attracted to some men, reading this post had me going, "hold the phone, did I write this???"

I feel this very deeply, especially the bit about the "predatory lesbian" trope and essentially living only in your own mind. I think I've even used the term "torment" to describe the feeling in the past. At the very least, you are not alone in your struggles.

Unfortunately, I can't say I have gotten over thoss feelings myself, so I don't have a lot of concrete advice about it beyond "seek a therapist if it gets REALLY bad" however, I can say that you are more then free to DM me just to vent to a very sympathetic ear if you'd like.

Also, though I know from experience that believing what I'm about to say its waaaaay easier said than done, but you are NOT a predator simply for feeling desire towards women. Predators don't sit around and worry about being predators. They just act without any regard for anyone but themselves, and the fact that you are concerned for the other (hypothetical or real) woman's wellbeing indicates you are far from predatory.

Being attracted to men does not make you tainted. Many same sex attracted women have had experiences with men, whether desired or not. These experiences, and that attraction for those who have it, do not taint or betray your feelings for women.

It sounds like you've been ruminating for a long time, going over the same pattern of thoughts over and over again. In my experience, being with another person can be easier than being alone with ourselves and our expectations. Our own thoughts are predictable and routine, patterned. Another person's input is unexpected and can shake you out of those patterns of thought and behavior. Basically, don't let this keep you away from intrigued women.

Also, I wouldn't worry about the lack of experience. A lot of women I know in committed same-sex partnerships didn't have any experience before their current partner. A lot of them, on the other hand, did, and a lot of that experience has been more problematic than helpful (bad habits at best, trauma at worst). Experience isn't everything.

It's ok sis, you don't have to have everything figured out.

It sounds like you've been through hell and back. It's totally understandable that it would leave you feeling confused and unsure.

I just want to agree with the other commenters in saying that your feelings of attraction to other women are a beautiful thing. Personally when a woman comes onto me, even if she's not my type, it's still an amazing feeling and I actually cherish those memories.

And as far as attraction to men goes, well, I know some people come down very hard on bisexuals but there are many amazing, brilliant bisexual women out there. Frida Kahlo was bisexual, and I recently learned that Simone de Beauvoir was bisexual too!
If you spend some time looking through the wikipedia categories for bisexual women and bisexual feminists, you might be surprised just how many awesome, talented, well-respected bisexual women there have been throughout history.

That being said, I think the jury's out on whether fictional men "count" exactly. I've seen lesbians admit to as much as watching gay porn and still considering themselves lesbian.