Much Ado About Having Sex With Lesbians

It’s been a big week for homosexual-related first person narratives in liberal-and-feminist-but-mostly-heterosexual publications!

Our first piece comes to us via xojane, the women’s website headed up by Jane Pratt (my hero)

(I’m serious) of Sassy and Jane. Entitled “I’m a Lesbian Pillow Princess,” this piece is part of the “It Happened to Me” feature which also existed at JANE magazine and consists largely of writer/reader-submitted accounts of subjectively fascinating personal experiences.

The anonymous author of this piece, who I’ll call “Ariel,” is actually bisexual, but because she readily provides blow jobs to her male partners but doesn’t date or often go down on women, she is, she explains, technically, only a “Lesbian Pillow Princess.” (She also refers to herself as “mostly straight” and “straight” at other points in the narrative.) Her reputation began, she explains, when her first lesbian hookup — a smokin’ hot dyke named Kelly at her college — went down on her for an hour. She la-la-la-loved it and then immediately fled the scene fearing her own inability to perform such fantastic cunnilingus upon Kelly for such an extended period of time.

She writes:

“Needless to say, word got around that she and I had hooked up and that I’d left her hanging, which had the odd effect of giving me folk-heroine status. Kelly called me a “pillow princess,” and henceforth, I was one. It was like some sort of movie conceit where the hero is mistaken for a celebrity and gets to ride in a limo and stay in a fancy hotel because of it.”

This apparently totally worked out in her favor, as she romped about in college hooking up with lots of “aggressive types who got off on the idea that I was reluctant to let a girl touch me.” Post-college, she moved on to the internet, where she advertised her relaxed status and often met up with girls for NSA sex.

Near the end she problematically explains that when hooking up with a woman she’s not attracted to, she simply closes her eyes and envisions someone else “while [the lesbian] does her thing.” Sometimes it seems like she wants women to eat her out just because they’re allegedly better at it than men are. She could go down on them but “I’m not dating them, and I don’t think I would want to have my fetish corrupted by caring for somebody enough to give back.”

I wouldn’t want to sit next to Ariel on an airplane, but her one-sided sexual encounters are consensual and she’s just telling a true story of her life, so I’m not really sure what to make of this (and I’m interested to know what you make of it, if anything).

Then, on Jezebel (via The Good Men Project) we have I Married a Lesbian (And I’m a Guy). The author, Hugo Schwyzer, “tended to get crushes on the same type of girl: the star basketball player, the soccer forward, the swimmer. Some were lesbians. Some weren’t.” He wondered:

What is it that drew me so often to women who were same-sex attracted? It certainly wasn’t the stereotypical male fantasy about what they were doing in bed, and it certainly had nothing to do with a macho belief that I could turn a gay woman straight.

In parts, the piece (which does tred on some stereotypical ground) reminded me of this quote from The Girls Next Door, which I quoted in an article about female masculinity:

“…if we had to make one other generalization about lesbian taste, it would be that a lot of us are powerfully attracted to women, gay or straight, beautiful or not, who look as if they can take care of themselves.”

The author eventually marries a lesbian who presented as straight, and he found their ensuing sex life to be unsatisfactory. She refused to give him blow jobs and didn’t really like penetration but happily accepted his offerings of cunnilingus. When their sexless marriage ended in divorce and a drug relapse (for him), he is seemingly compassionate to his ex-wife’s struggle rather than labeling her as deceptive (as many of the commenters do):

 She had come from a conservative family who would have been deeply embarrassed to have a gay child. She may always have known, but did her best to hide it, perhaps hoping that her feelings might change. Or she might have been like more than a few women I’ve known, and only discovered her true sexual identity after already being married to a man.

What’s redeeming about this essay to me that the writer’s conception of his own gender is mostly free of the traditional masculine posturing one might expect in a piece like this (he even refers to himself as “femmy”). Maybe it just seems that way because men so rarely write about wanting strong, athletic, powerful women with short hair; but it’s refreshing nonetheless.

I don’t fault Hugo or Ariel for telling their stories, but it’s worth mentioning that both narratives seem to ride on the idea that bedroom behavior is the ultimate/only litmus test of sexuality. Hugo and Courtney enjoy each other’s company, but Hugo cites Courtney’s disinterest in penetration as a “warning sign” he missed, when penetration is hardly an exclusively heterosexual act (it seems more likely Courtney feared the intimacy of penetration with a man she didn’t truly want to be with, but really who knows) and falling in love, ultimately, is about your vagina but it’s also about your heart and it’s mostly about having romantic feelings. Those romantic feelings are what turns a hook-up relationship into a relationship, after all.

Finally at nerve.com we have a sweet story straight from the horse’s mouth — My First Time: Female. 17. San Francisco. I think this is the first time the “First Time” series has featured a lesbian.

Basically, in ninth grade, the author confessed to her best friend that she had lesbian feelings for her, and her best friend reciprocated, and they proceeded to carry on a covert lesbian relationship and they are still together now and she is a grown-up in the military! It seems they’ve yet to take their relationship out of the closet, which is a bit puzzling, but whatever. [ETA: Turns out this story was written before DADT was repealed, even though it just got published, therefore there is nothing puzzling happening here. This is just straight-up sweet in every way, unequivocally.]

The focus of the piece (which is very cute and sweet) is on the author’s discovery of what lesbian sex IS:

 We had never gone down on each other, and I was pretty sure that’s what we’d meant when we said we wanted to have sex. (Now I realize that there’s more to fucking than licking a girl’s vagina and calling it a day.)

 She concludes:

I know that a lot of people disagree about what virginity means to a gay woman, but virginity is totally subjective, and it really depends on who you’re asking. Some people might say penetration has to be involved, but I think it’s up to the person losing his or her virginity. If I feel like I’ve lost my virginity, then goddammit, I have!

I’ve spent most of the morning and afternoon staring at wordpress, trying to figure out what point I could make about any of these pieces. I thought a lot about why we’d never publish “I Was a Lesbian Pillow Princess” on this website but can’t get past the explanation that I’d fear 50 of you would vow to never return here and the remaning many-thousands of you would fight with each other about bisexual erasure/lesbian erasure until the heat death of the universe. I pictured someone submitting “I Was a Lesbian Pillow Princess” to us via email and then I imagined the editorial meeting where we’d get to that story and all say “NO” at the same time.

In searching for a point to gleam from these stories, I’ve tried to figure out what you would think or say, and I can’t, and I want to finish this post as soon as possible to speed up the process of me finding out what you think about these stories. Yup, for the first time ever since beginning Autostraddle, I’ve got no idea what to say about a thing. So maybe I should just ask you — what’s your reaction to these pieces?

 

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2696 articles for us.

54 Comments

  1. You wouldn’t publish “I Was a Lesbian Pillow Princess” because there’s really no way to be like “here’s how I act in bed with this gender, which is different from how I act with a different gender!” without inviting political analysis of those preferences, even though they are just one lady’s preferences and politicizing them would be super counterproductive and, like you said, make everyone angry.

    • yes, truth.

      also, the piece itself has no point, which is probably why i had a hard time figuring out how to make a point from it myself. there’s nothing for us to argue against (or for), it just… exists.

      • ha, yeah, i feel like people who want to write confessional essays don’t always understand that personal details are supposed to be supporting evidence, not the thesis

        • people who want to write confessional essays don’t always understand that personal details are supposed to be supporting evidence, not the thesis

          laneia you need to write this down for the autostraddle style guide

          • screw t-shirts, I would buy the shit out of an autostraddle style (autostyle?) guide. put some stuff about gender and using proper pronouns etc in there and i’m done. (this comment reveals how much of a writing/editing nerd I am, but fuck it.)

      • This sentence: “Some of them are gay, some are bi, and some of them are in relationships with men who don’t know that they meet women on the Internet for sex.”

        And this sentence: “Occasionally, I’ll crack in the moment and reciprocate.”

        That’s why.

    • Well, for one, it’s confusing how she doesn’t go down on women, except sometimes when it “gets really good” she “cracks”, because as it turns out, she actually does like going down on women. (“It’s not that I don’t like going down on women. I do.”)

      But it seems kind of pointless to speculate about the reasons behind this and/or their ‘appropriateness’, because, as Dana mentioned above, the article just discusses her personal experiences, not a wider phenomenon, and people’s desires and sexualities and decisions are complicated, etc.

    • Because it feels incredibly exploitative, I think. Even though she is being honest and upfront.

      And because she doesn’t treat men that way. It’s as though women are a convenient service for her, whereas men are the ‘real deal’ who she has to take seriously. Which is, you know, how women have been regarded for ages, by men and other women both.

  2. I think these pieces are just another example of how the public discourse is changing.

    The pillow princess takes an idea that we hold so dearly in this community — sexuality is not always one extreme or another — and says, “yes, this applies for people who identify as straight too.” We may have our own queer culture and community, but this shows that it’s not some impenetrable fortress. You want to F**k a girl in college (or, more accurately, be f**ked by one) then go for it. There’s a whole lotta gay exploration happening inside us all.

    Like Riese already said, the story about marrying a lesbian does not seem themed on deception or blame as these stories were in the past. Instead, I think it shows the other perspective that all of this queer shaming and, as that current female presidential candidate who must not be named implied “equal right to marry heterosexually” is doing a lot more harm than good. If anything, this guy now gets why people should be able to explore and understand their own sexualities.

    Aww, besties! Cute! The first time article seems to just sum up what the trifecta said as a whole. It simply reiterates that society told these girls they needed to hide their feelings even if those feelings have proven true. They know what they want. Just let them have it in peace.

    Personally, I think these articles get our attention, especially yours Riese, because all they keep saying is “You do you,” and society is now starting to say, “Oh, maybe I’m finally beginning to get what that means.”

    • yes, yes, all very good points!

      it’s almost like the story is that there is no story — queer people are incorporated into somebody else’s personal narrative in a way that isn’t inherently problematic, dismissive or ignorant. nor are the queers in the story revered in a way that feels like overcompensating. and my number one feeling after reading “i am a lesbian pillow princess” was “you do you”!

  3. um i’ve had dudes fall in love or just be into me in my later twenties after i for realz figured out how to present myself:
    caps
    timbs
    black jeans
    etc

    non-feminine but not overly masculine either

    and i’ve kinda wondered if these dudes were just gay and some of the times they turned out to be gay dudes looking for a different kind of beard lol a balanced butchy beard.

    and then other times they’re just guys who dig my style and my attitude and like ME, gabby and don’t care what i am and don’t try to change me…and those guys are so f*cking dope. friend status but still dope.

    as for the “lesbian pillow princess” bs…umm however u wanna do sex type things is however u wanna do them, long as your upfront about it.
    it’s kind of a wak title though. what is she when a “straight” chick like herself is going down on her?
    but i do respect that she seems upfront about it. sometimes women have these sex issues or hangups or fetishes or whatever that you don’t find out until long after the initial sexing has begun and it can kind of be a huge bummer. like finding out your main chick is a “pillow queen” after a year of dating or something like that can be reason enough to end a relationship.

    >side eye< you better work, chick. this is the both ways or no ways club.

    😀

    • I think in personality I’m pretty masculine, but I have long ginger tresses and lady hips and ass, so dudes are constantly trying to get in my pants, and a few of them have said “It’s awesome, because you are like a bro, but you’re a girl.”

      Which in my brain, I think makes them a little gay. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

      • I don’t think that’s gay at all. I think what they mean by that is that they can just be themselves, men seem to find women confusing sometimes but if you’re “like a bro, but you’re a girl” they’re on solid ground but you have a sexy ladies body.

  4. The only part of the lesbian pillow princess piece that really annoyed me was one of her opening lines when she said “plus, ‘lesbian’ looks so much better in a headline, don’t you think?”

    because, at the end of the day, this girl (with the exception of her first time) did not conceal to her potential partners that there would be no reciprocity after they got her off. she says she’s mainly straight but clearly has a strong gay-ish side that really really likes women’s mouths on her lady parts, so good for her? like what you all have been saying, it’s just one person’s singular experiences and shouldn’t be blown up to make some grand statement about lesbians or bi girls or girl-girl desire.

    however, going back to my original point…the fact that the word lesbian is always always used as an attention-grabbing headline, when in fact often times the “lesbian” in question isn’t really gay at all…THAT to me is the problem. it is using an identity as a marketing/SEO tool…and then having drawn readers in, it leaves them wondering if all lesbians, like this woman, are “mostly straight” that’s why i had a problem with this piece, and not for any other reason.

    you do you indeed but don’t call yourself by my name

  5. So I expected to get really heart-poundingly uncomfortable and sad and conflicted upon reading the pillow princess piece, because mostly-straight-identified/presenting/living women bragging about the hot hot things they get hot hot dykes to do to them generally produces that reaction in me.

    I think we (which is to say I) have a lot of anxiety around people casually and unremorsefully using lesbians for sex without pitching in politically or helping create community and all that.

    And then I read the piece and really wasn’t upset at all and I think it’s because it’s not really about lesbian anything, it’s about kink. She’s not being exploitative because of the whole soliciting-people-in-such-a-way-that-they-know-what-exactly-is-on-offer thing, and she’s not being particularly flip or casual about it, either, because of the whole investing-ridiculous-time-and-effort-into-creating-these-scenes thing.

    So she has a particular kind of toppy character in a very specific kind of servicey same-sex fantasy scene. And she is willing to jump through all kinds of logistical hoops to make this scene happen consensually and play out in a personally fulfilling way. That sounds pretty damn responsible to me. The biggest thing I can find worth criticizing in it is the fact that it works the OMG LESBIAN SEX! angle kind of salaciously, when I think the heart of the story is about pursuing a particular fantasy.

    Riese, I am wondering if the reason it wouldn’t have been a great choice for Autostraddle is that this site focuses mainly on queer-identified female-type people and their queer relationships, and not so much on kink.

    • Riese, I am wondering if the reason it wouldn’t have been a great choice for Autostraddle is that this site focuses mainly on queer-identified female-type people and their queer relationships, and not so much on kink.

      that’s a good point, too. because it’s not a piece about sexuality, it’s a piece about sex… and i guess posting it here, also, would be us sort of implying that we consider this woman to be queer like the rest of us, when it’s possible she’s not queer at all, she just likes girls to eat her out

      • I think there actually is something really queer about her unrelenting pursuit of the type of lesbian sex she enjoys, and her acknowledgement that it is about a power dynamic that can and does exist between women and is embodied in the “pillow princess” concept and fantasy. (“It’s a weird combination of submitting and being serviced that I find intensely sexy.”) I think she totally nailed the pillow princess, and identified something about how a pillow princess is often less of a passive partner and more of a power bottom.

        How would we interpret this if she were a man constantly enacting and re-enacting the fantasy of being a “straight” guy who “lets” all the gays blow him, and specifically does it for the power dynamic and fantasy elements? I think we would think it was probably pretty queer. (Not a perfect analogy in a lot of ways, but it’s interesting to consider the other side and the extent to which gendered perceptions of sexuality might be influencing our take.)

        I think there’s an understandable defensiveness of queer territory because lesbianism or bisexuality is so frequently misrepresented and used to titillate straight men and straight women alike, and this could be seen to be playing to straight women’s lesbian fantasies about being pleased and not having to reciprocate. And yes, this piece isn’t really written for our audience, but it still strikes me as ringing true about a dynamic that exists. Maybe it isn’t the mainstream of what we think of as lesbian sexuality, but it is represented more in butch-femme and kink communities… and I don’t think it’s threatening at all, it’s just one more piece of the puzzle that is human sexuality.

    • “I think we (which is to say I) have a lot of anxiety around people casually and unremorsefully using lesbians for sex without pitching in politically or helping create community and all that.”

      Yes to this! Ideally it would be nice if queerness was something that we could just say “you do you” about, and end of story. But it makes me uneasy that she’s dabbling in queer culture and yet confronting *none* of her straight privilege. Because being a queer woman isn’t just another difference that makes you quirky and special, it’s a difference that *matters* politically, which this article manages to erase.

      Also, not related, I wonder how she’d identify if she hadn’t been “so terrified of doing it wrong” in college.

  6. Honestly, what bothers me about the “Lesbian Pillow Princess” article is that the author is A. explicitly not a lesbian yet uses “lesbianism” as a draw, which feels plainly exploitative and B. feels comfortable using actual lesbians in the same way, as a novelty but not actual sexual partners. I just feel like the article lacks RESPECT for her lesbian partners, portraying them as dupes for going down on her when she’s actually straight. Like the way she writes, “‘You can sleep over, you know,” Kelly said, frustration straining her voice. Poor thing.'” She just sounds like an asshole. And the way she can “imagine” someone different sounds like she doesn’t count these experiences in the same way as “real sex,” you know? And have her fetish “corrupted” by caring about someone? WTF?

    • yes, i got that same feeling — a lack of respect — which is why i pointed out the part where she says when they’re not good looking, she just closes her eyes and imagines someone else — though i’m sure we all have done that, i tend to think of that as an unfortunate resort rather than a strategy.

      if a man said he just closed his eyes and imagined someone else when a girl he wasn’t attracted to gave him a blow job, we’d be horrified.

      the “poor thing” was the worst moment of the essay for me, too, though.

  7. I really liked the pillow princess article, mainly because of the refreshingly honest and unapologetic way it was written.

    It’s also fascinating from a gender-role point of view. Stone butches and recipricocity are an established girl-on-girl narrative; I wonder if part of the reason she doesn’t do the same thing with guys is because women don’t think they’d get away with it regularly?

    Other than that one episode of Sex and The City where Carrie purposefully gets head from a guy then runs away, I can’t think of any other example in film/tv of a guy not getting satisfied where it’s about the woman and not about him. Then again I usually go make a cup of tea if I sense heterofreakery about to happen, so who knows what I’ve missed.

    As for the guy who married the lesbian…I’m not really sure what the point of the article was. He glosses over his first, “disastrous,” marriage, so I don’t know how we’re meant to have any faith in his romantic choices.

    I have a close friend that has unwittingly fallen for lesbians a few times. I don’t think it’s a “type” thing, rather that he likes intelligent, powerful women, and I think lesbians are less afraid to unleash their intelligence and power because they’re not worried about having to tone it down in case it puts men off. I wonder if the guy in the article homed in on a certain physical type of women because they represented that power to him?

    My general takeaway was that if people were free to inhabit and explore the gender roles they felt most comfortabe with, no-one would have had to endure crappy marriages.

    • There was also that episode of Sex and the City where that guy keeps trying to get Charlotte to give him a blow job and she doesn’t want to do it…

      I wonder if part of the reason she doesn’t do the same thing with guys is because women don’t think they’d get away with it regularly?

      good point.

    • The gender-role issues in the Lesbian Pillow Princess article actually are really interesting! I think it actually comes down to how heterosexual men and women view their roles in sex and the idea of who is guaranteed gratification during the encounter.

      There seems to be an unnatural fixation in heterosexual sex on the male’s pleasure and orgasm. Most of my straight female friends have expressed complaints about various boyfriends being unwilling to reciprocate oral sex, thinking a sexual encounter ended with their own orgasm, or being completely unable to actually get the girl to orgasm. There is also a lot of research, articles, and discussion about women not reaching orgasm during heterosexual sex, men having more orgasms than the women in sexual encounters and in general women being dissatisfied sexually.

      This seems to imply that men go into sexual encounters with women expecting to please themselves, regardless of the woman’s pleasure. It’s likely that the ‘Lesbian Pillow Princess’ has a significantly harder time finding men willing to give her head without reciprocation than women because of this. Which explains why she almost exclusively has sexual encounters with women that follow her pillow princess kink than in any other manner. While she may identify as straight, if there weren’t this male dominated imbalance in heterosexual sex it might be a completely different story either way. Maybe she wouldn’t hook up with women at all, maybe she would identify as bisexual, maybe she’d have more diverse sexual encounters with women. Who knows?

  8. so………. I Was A Lesbian Pillow Queen (i always said queen, not princess) and I admit it!
    There was one lesbian who turned me into a pillow queen when we were together. I wasn’t before, and I’m not now. I by no means would identify as a one-way player, a bottom, or any of those things. I like fucking girls, I like getting girls off, absolutely.
    But for an extended period of time I was regularly sleeping with a girl who I would describe as a COMPLETE top. As in, she would get me off over and over until the sun came up, but would refuse to let me reciprocate.
    The first few weeks I was almost outraged, this girl was turning me into a pillow queen when I wasn’t one! But the months passed and I adjusted to our dynamic and learned to reciproacte in other fashions (home cooked breakfast in the mornings?!?).
    My feelings about this article are mostly….negative. I am into mutual pleasure. Getting “what i want”, but also giving other girls “what they want”. But for some people, what they want is different than other people (like in the case of the girl who pillow queen-ed me; she was satisfied by satisfying me)
    I know for a fact I’m not the only lesbian who has slept with someone who was unwaveringly toppy, or known someone who always identified as ‘the fucker’ (as opposed to ‘the fuckee’, if you will). It’s certainly not unheard of. I just dislike the way the author approaches the subject, the fact that she uses the word lesbian as an attention ploy, and just that she seems incredibly selfish.

    THOSE ARE MY FEELINGS.

    • PS I feel like I may have explaiend myself poorly. There is nothing WRONG with not being a reciprocal sex partner, as long as you are open about it and the person you are sleeping with is fine with that being your established dynamic.
      I just disliked that fact that she seemed to be USING lesbians for her own pleasure, and then basically going off and laughing about it. She just seemed to have a complete lack of respect for the lgbtq community in general, as well as the individuals ladies she was sleeping with. That is what I was not very impressed by. Lesbian is not a term to garner attention, or joke around with. It’s who I am and the way I lead my life, and I didn’t like her playing with the word lesbian, or playing with other gay girl hearts.
      That was my issue, NOT that I am of the mind that all sex needs to be “equal”, because that is silly.
      (hope this makes more sense)

      • But, it seemed like she was upfront that she didn’t reciprocate except for that first time where she totally left the girl hanging. Are you being used if you really want to go down on someone and don’t care if she reciprocates, or even get off on the fact that you’re there to service her? I don’t think so.

      • OK-so there was a lot wrong with the tackiness of that piece and the tackiness of some of the behavior….

        But to jump on bandwagon, nothing wrong with not wanting to reciprocate, if you’re open about it and not an asshole, as this author seems to have been intermittently. Actually, I’d love it if I didn’t sometimes feel obliged to LET other people reciprocate, because, you know, generally people want to. And then I can either go ahead with that and be uncomfortable or I can say no and make them uncomfortable. And then, inevitably, there will be way too much conversation about why why why.

        Seriously, some people just like what they like or don’t like what they don’t like and that’s fine, and while it is LAME to write a personal piece with no point that is flagrantly exploitative and poorly crafted, I think it is also ok for people to air their preferences because someone might read that (ugh, wish there were better options) and think, “oh, ok, that’s not so weird” and be saved from an endless “well why do I feel this way, ohmygodi’msoweird /mygirlfriendmusthaveproblems” conversation/interior monologue. And those are silly. Because people like different shit, sometimes for no real reason.

    • Nicely put.

      I think even more attentions would’ve been grabbed had she used that angle instead of the tired ‘”lesbian” looks so much better in a headline’ one she went with; or, maybe, an exciting combination of both: “It Happened to Me: I used human faces to masturbate and I liked it (and again and again, and again, those faces were attached to LESBIANS! IKR?! HOTXXX!!!)”

  9. OK, upon first reading I had absolutely no problem with the Pillow Princess article. Maybe I’m just being contrarian. But let me explain.

    It is clear this chick is VERY VERY much bisexual. She is not straight, nor does she seem to identify as such. She was clearly insanely attracted to Kelly from college, is clearly into girls eating her out, and actually at one point says she likes going down on girls, too, and sometimes does so when she “gets carried away”!

    As another poster said, this story is about the development of a kink. Sometimes, kinks are unfortunate. See: sock fetishes. Diaper fetishes. Etc. I see this as a sort of unfortunate kink that seems to have developed in response to a somewhat terrifying/traumatic/incredibly sexy/incredibly amazing experience with a woman. Sometimes the way we deal with anxieties, embarrassments, conflicts, etc, is we decide it is better to twist them to our own advantage rather than deal with them head on. This kink has clearly turned into something so powerful that she’d give up an emotional connection with women (likely helped by the fact that she can get it from men) in order to keep the intense sexual pleasure and excitement she gets from this very specific fantasy that developed from a specific incident early in her sexual development.

    I think, after brewing on it, what’s problematic about this is that this girl didn’t confront her anxieties about her sexuality, about her inadequacy, in what we would describe as a “productive” way. It seems “unfair” that she can “ignore” them. It seems to suggest this is a viable choice for other bisexual women struggling with their identities (fetishize women, you can always just have a man for everything else!). I think if this were the other way around – a mostly-lesbian-identified-person fetishized males in some specific way – we would be ok with it. And I think that reflects the different power structures/norms/etc. I want to “blame” her for this but ultimately I can’t…as a lesbian I understand feeling like it’s “easy” to please guys/know when you’re doing something right/etc. As someone who has had weird sexual experiences and sort of fetishized them to an extent, I understand that part as well. I guess in the end, if she’s happy, she’s happy…who are we to tell her otherwise? Maybe the worst part about this story is that she’s kind of gloating about it. But often people don’t gloat unless they’re a bit insecure…;)

    • yeah i agree with this. my gut feeling reading this article was that she’s using this stage of being ‘passive’ to delay something that’s unresolved. ie, how long can she keep this up? i think she hasn’t (let herself) meet the right girl. then again, kink is kink. whatever rocks your boat.

  10. I think what it comes down to is, who is someone to tell someone else that the way they deal with conflicts is “wrong” or “unproductive”? Clearly the author is missing out on something (an emotionally fulfilling relationship with a woman) but every day we make choices to miss out on something because we can’t have everything. Is this problematic because it means if you’re bisexual you can “choose” to not have relationships with a woman? Well, yes and no…I don’t think the author “chose” this kink…so I don’t think she “chose” not to be with women romantically. And though I might get in trouble for totally psychoanalyzing inappropriately, something about the tone makes me think she’s not totally happy with it.

    The majorly problematic line was the one about “unattractive” women because like srsly, can’t she do the same with a guy? So it does kind of suggest she sees this as a sort of masturbatory act sometimes. But I think it has more to do with the fact that the ‘Pillow Queen’ fetish is so powerful, the person who is taking part in it doesn’t even have to be hot necessarily.

  11. I am totally okay with the pillow princess story. Using the “lesbian” angle when its not really warranted is a bit tacky but I’m sure with the amount of content out there you do what you have to in order to attract readers. I guess the one thing I really appreciate about being queer is our sexuality becomes sort of a choose your own adventure. Not that it can’t be for everyone but I feel like if I was straight, I’d have a more defined idea of what my sexuality is suppose to be. I don’t know how best to articulate what I mean. It took me a long time to figure out what was sexually appealing and satisfying for me. I identify with the author of the pillow princess story in that while I have in the past and may in the future have sex with men, I have zero interest in giving a guy a blow job. However I love and venture to say there are few other things I would rather do than go down on a woman. Bigger picture, I prefer to be with women which I’m sure is part of why I feel the way I do. My experiences with women are generally in the context of a relationship and feel more intimate than anything with wmen. I guess what I am trying to say is we each have to find what works for us personally and it seems like the pillow princess has done that.

  12. haha just to clarify i’m that person who wrote that nerve piece and it was submitted before the dadt repeal. but my gf and i are absolutely open about our relationship now!

    i feel like the author of the lesbian pillow princess story used the “lesbian! omg! girlsex!” angle a little too blatantly. i think she even says at one point “i could totally call myself a bisexual pillow princess, except ‘lesbian’ sounds more shocking, so i’ll go with that.” the exploitation of a sexuality is probably what is so off-putting about the whole piece to many of the autostraddle readers.

  13. Also . . . I don’t really buy this: “Needless to say, word got around that she and I had hooked up and that I’d left her hanging, which had the odd effect of giving me folk-heroine status.” “Needless to say,” really?? What kind of circle of friends did you have in college? Also saying that “the best part” of this whole situation is you can imagine someone hot going down on you if your partner does not happen to be hot enough is sad.

    • “Needless to say” is my least favorite phrase. It is over used and improperly used. Actually, I’m not sure why anyone ever uses it at all. If it’s not necessary to say it, don’t. If you felt the need to include it, it was not needless to say.
      //end rant.

  14. using “lesbian” for sensationalism feels like an exploitative dick move. that already put me off this girl’s story. her first tale of leaving kelly high and dry was pretty horrifying, but otherwise she was being up front about the kind of sex she wanted to have with potential partners so rationally i can’t be mad at her.

    i’m still skeeved out by her going the extra mile to do an act that would be solely about pleasuring her male partners but not really feeling at all compelled to pleasure her female partners. as other people have said upthread, i think this because most men expect to be pleasured and at least orgasm when having sex. and it almost seems it is now de riguer for men to get head, which is completely and totally about HIS pleasure. i just have a huge inkling she would not be able to get away with this with men. i also wonder, are these women giving her better head then men? kink or no, this is how i feel about her story.

  15. I happened to read Ellen Willis’s essay Sins of Confession (1981) today, and the first few paragraphs, before she gets into the discussion about Ghost Waltz, helped to clarify a lot of the feelings I have about the Lesbian Pillow Princess article. Willis actually writes, “Often, at the end of a documentary confession, one is left feeling confused and a bit cheated, wondering what, exactly, is the point.” But at the start of her essay, she makes the point that the reader may define a writer’s work as confessional when, in fact, that definition is left up to the writer. After going back and reading the Lesbian Pillow Princess article, not as confessional but as sensationalist, I no longer feel confused or upset by it. Now, it’s just an article about a fetish that gave me a real world application of stuff I read in a book about feminist theory.

  16. I wonder if Hugo is my ex husband… lol…jk… but I relate. I was in that exact situation. Good to know there are others out there. That was a good post, thanks for sharing!!

  17. “I thought a lot about why we’d never publish “I Was a Lesbian Pillow Princess” on this website but can’t get past the explanation that I’d fear 50 of you would vow to never return here and the remaning many-thousands of you would fight with each other about bisexual erasure/lesbian erasure until the heat death of the universe.”

    this is the funniest thing i have ever read in my entire life, because it is completely true.

  18. If Ariel was a man who wrote about how he just lies there while women he had no interest in went down on him, everyone would think he was an a hole. I think Ariel is a total a hole. I would never want to end up in bed with someone like that.

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