Hugo Schwyzer agrees that the “possibility of equality” is indeed erotic.
In I Married a Lesbian, I briefly discussed some of the theories folks have proffered for my long-standing attraction to women who like women. Since the piece was published, a few readers have come forward with their own suggestions.
The sociologist Michael Kimmel (whose Guy’s Guide to Feminism I’ll be reviewing soon here at GMP) wrote me a kind note about the piece and offered an insight based on an experience watching women on the street in Oslo, Norway.
They weren’t objects of the male gaze, they were the subjects of their own gaze, fully entitled and empowered. I decided it was that – women’s sense of entitlement to their own subjectivity — that was so compelling.
“Lesbian” may be a shorthand for women who are not in public to be “seen” as objects of the male gaze. But who feel entitled to be there all by themselves. In other words, it’s the possibility of equality that is the turn-on, not the same-sex sexual attraction.
Below the article, commenter Jenny D says something similar:
I’m thinking there might be another reason why people are attracted to gay MOTOSes. There’s a certain relaxation in being in the company of someone who decidedly doesn’t view you as a sexual object. You can relax, let down some of the guards and refrain from some of the “preening” (for lack of a better word). That sense of comfort and safety is (to me, at least) very like the feeling of being with an SO you’ve been with long enough to feel secure in the relationship.
I think Michael and Jenny are on the money here. That “possibility of equality” is indeed erotic. Power differentials have never turned me on (one reason I’m troubled by age-disparate relationships). And what’s drawn me to athletes again and again is the combination of confidence in the body, the desire to perform publicly, and the longing to be validated more for what those bodies could do than for how those bodies appeared.
As for my whole short-haired brunette thing…
photo: dominicspics / flickr