Why Lipstick Lesbian is a Problematic Phrase
It’s National Lipstick Day which means it’s time for me to smash some more ideas and thoughtless ideas. Today we’re tackling the phrase “lipstick lesbian” and why it’s so problematic and why you really shouldn’t use it ever. Like, ever again.
It’s antiquated and heteronormative af.
It comes from this heteronormative need to label and classify everything that mainstream society doesn’t understand. If you look at what society classifies as “lesbian”, you end up with a bunch of cis butch or “tomboy” women. So when someone who doesn’t fit that mold comes along, heteronormative society needs to classify it. It just doesn’t work! Similar to the weird desire society has to ask “who’s the man and who’s the woman?” in same-sex relationships, they also push lesbians into “lipstick” and “butch” so they can tell “who’s who” and it’s frankly offensive. We’re both women, that’s the point, and the desire to classify us in heteronormative gender roles in a relationship is gross.
It’s not inclusive.
Sexuality is so much more. Gender is so much more. Lesbians can identify as femme but so can everyone else! Just look at the diversity within the Fashionably Femme posts and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. Femme includes so many more folx than “lipstick lesbian” ever could. Besides, the idea that dressing “feminine” as a queer woman requires makeup doesn’t hold up! Lots of femme folx like makeup, lots don’t! There’s more to being “feminine” than makeup and using it in a label is super exclusionary.
WHY AM I SUDDENLY PIGEON-HOLED INTO WEARING LIPSTICK EVERY DAY?!
Okay, this is me being a little bit silly but, like, I’m femme as femme can be and, to be honest, I don’t really like wearing lipstick. So personally, I would never identify with the phrase “lipstick lesbian.” When I was first coming out, I hadn’t yet heard the term femme. So I went to see what the opposite of butch was and, when the phrase “lipstick lesbian” came up, I was like “well I guess I’m butch then because I do not like lipstick.” When the phrase “femme” came to me, though, everything made sense. I literally had one of those heavenly choirs light bulb moments. Femme just makes sense!
It’s not “derogatory” per se, but…
Well, it kind of is. Or can be. Obviously, context is everything. But it mostly feels just so outdated that its use borders on ignorance and poor taste. I use femme, but of course you should ask before you use a label to describe someone. Labels are very personal and some people don’t like them at all.
Happy National Lipstick Day from this lipstick-wearing femme!