When I moved into my current apartment, I was moving in with my other half. We'd been dating for some time and had decided to take that bold step many couples make and simply move in together. We found an apartment, small and slightly dingy though it may appear, that suited our needs. As the only women in the building we felt a little odd. Surely people would see on the tenant board the information about two women living together and assume we were a couple.
Not too long after moving day, my partner met the man in the flat above in the hallway. They ended up speaking briefly and he invited us to both head up for tea and coffee later that day. With only £20 to our name at the time we were delighted. Heading upstairs I met him for the first time. He seemed a friendly enough neighbour to have and so we sat down and began speaking. Since he and I both have facial piercings we started on the topic of body modification. My partner made a comment about how I didn't want her to get any sort of facial piercings because I find her to have such a classically beautiful face.
But before I could even respond our new neighbour, utterly unabashed, said: "Yeah and, to be fair, it's her face you've got to sit on".
The sheer crudeness and forward tone of this comment left me speechless. I found myself appalled and fighting the urge to throw my tea over him or to leave right then. From a man I'd only known for about five minutes I'd like to say I was shocked by this comment but the truth is I'm not shocked at all.
You see, I'm pretty sure if my partner and I had both been male or if we were a heterosexual couple such a comment wouldn't have surfaced.
Queer women, and their relationships, have been so highly fetishised that throughout my entire dating life I've been followed by volleys of inappropriate and intrusive questions:
- "Which one of you is the man?"
- "How do you guys, you know, do it?"
- "Isn't that gross?"
- "How do you feel anything?"
- "I just don't get how you have sex. How does it work?"
Stop right there unless you want me to come and pry into your sex life. You probably won't like it either. You may see it as a harmless comment, you may simply be curious about their lifestyle, but these questions are bothering and alienating.
It is none of your business what a couple gets up to in the privacy of their bedroom, or their office at work or their garden shed or Disneyland or wherever it is they like to have sexual intercourse. Secondly it is none of your business about what they get up to at all. Not all couples have sex and making forward comments to assume that they do may just act as a sharp, neon light above their heads saying 'Asexuality? You don't have sex? Oh, I see. You aren't like the rest of us then. You're different' and sadly asexuality isn't often taught during sex education. This is problematic as it leaves those who don't develop sexual urges towards others to feel incredibly isolated or estranged from societal norms.
If I had a pound/dollar for every comment I'd had from a man saying they want to 'get in between' my partner and I in bed, or told me I was some sort of 'abomination' by a stranger, or heard some guy say they want to try to 'turn' us to make us straight my rent would be paid this month.
The most appropriate way of approaching such a situation is to see how much conversational freedom a couple or individual allows. If they are open and candid about their sex lives then it's possible to ask them questions if you find appropriate and non offensive phrasing. If not then just remind yourself that it is none of your business what they do or do not do. There are plenty of educational sources online that promote a sex positive education.
The sad thing is that a lot of these questions stem from ignorance that could be easily avoided with a wider and less restricted sexual education during puberty. When I was young asexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and anything considered different from 'the norm' could not be discussed. This has produced many people clueless to issues the LGBTQ community must face. Members of the LGBTQ community, queer women in particular, do not exist to act as an embodiment of your personal fetish.
We love, we live and we deal with the stupid questions as best we can.