On Sex Positivity: My Weirdo Feelings About Lesbians Reacting to “Lesbian” Porn

feature image via Shutterstock

Please note: this post has been edited at the request of a previously featured performer. The only change made was to the recommended Crash Pad episode.

This video happened this week:

I have issues with this video, or more specifically about the way this video is being covered? Maybe? I have feelings. Lots of feelings. Watch the video, be a bit weirded out, then read my feelings below.

Not all lesbians are the same in bed. Shocking, right? This video seems to assume that all lesbians do the exact same things in bed, and in fact says as much – “that’s too many fingers, she looks fake.” There’s also an element of body shame: “I’m 24…” “She looks 44.” And it’s all mixed up with this hierarchy of queerness, brought to you by the special moment where they define “Gold Star Lesbian” in big letters across the screen. Apparently all Gold Star Lesbians — lesbians who have never had sex with a cis man before — don’t like penetration. In fact, they can’t take that much penetration because they haven’t had a cis man inside their hoo-ha. This might not surprise you, but I call bullshit.

I want to be clear that I have nothing against the lesbians presented in this video.

I do, however, take issue with their astounding sex negativity and the producers’ sweeping generalizations that these women represent all lesbians.

Because we seem to be in the business of taking personal experience and applying it to all members of the lesbian community, I can refute several of these statements using my own personal experience or the personal experience of those close to me.

(0:40) “That’s too many fingers.” it’s probably not too many fingers.

(0:43) “Calling her bitch. That’s not sexy at all.” – Actually, it can be sexy. If you’re into dom/sub play or power play, that can be incredibly sexy. I also suggest trying “good little bitch,” “bad little bitch,” and all the other degrees of bitches in between. If you like that. You do you.

(0:53) Gold star lesbians don’t like penetration that much. – Aside from the notion that lesbians who have not ever had sex with men are some how lesbian-er than the rest of us, the anonymous woman in the above linked essay had never had sex with a cis man before. Just FYI. Also I have had sex with a cis man before and right now I don’t like penetration that much. So there’s that. Basically the opposte of that notion. And I’m a real lesbian. And so was that anonymous woman. And so are you, regardless of if you’ve ever slept with a cis man, like penetration or don’t like penetration. Being “a real lesbian” is like being in kindergarten: you all get gold stars. Or like being an audience member on Oprah’s favorite things episode: “YOU get to be a real lesbian. And YOU get to be a real lesbian. AND YOU! AND YOU GET TO BE A REAL LESBIAN.” If you identify as a lesbian, I support you. It’s all okay.

(1:00) “These are strippers” What’s wrong with strippers? Also maybe I’m reading too much into this, but does the video seem to imply that strippers can’t be lesbians? Weird.

(1:05) When the participants start reacting to getting fucked with a stiletto heel – Yeah, okay, maybe you think that’s non normative and smacks of the male gaze. And maybe I personally am not into this. But some lesbians want to get fucked with objects. Haven’t you ever seen an object so pretty that you’ve been like, maybe I wanna stick that inside me? No? Well that’s okay, me neither really. But it’s super important to not yuck someone’s yum. Because when you yuck someone’s yum, that person feels shame. And there are enough people making our community feel shame about the sex we’re having. The valid part of this piece in the video, though, is when one of the participants brings up the fact that you don’t want to stick an object inside you that has been walking about town. This is true. Use a condom.

(1:57) “I have yet to see a porno that was made for a lesbian” I can give you some wicked recommendations. Porn made by lesbians for lesbians. Porn made by queer people for queer people. If we want to get super specific, especially if you’re as not into porn as these girls seem to be, I’d start with [redacted and replaced] Crash Pad Episode 65 Tina Horn and Akira or Crash Pad Episode 92 Siouxsie Q and Sandy Bottoms. These are a good intro to porn in general, I would say. Especially because Shine Louise created Pink and White because she felt that porn made by queers for queer people didn’t exist in the same kinds of numbers or quality that she wanted to see.

Sandy Bottoms via Crash Pad Series

Sandy Bottoms via Crash Pad Series

(2:04) “That’s gross” – I feel like even if things don’t turn me on, I’m not allowed to say it’s gross. Here is when I’m allowed to say it’s gross: when sexual activity is nonconsensual or when it involves beings who are not capable, due to a large swath of circumstances, of consent. I’m allowed to inform someone that what they’re doing isn’t risk aware. I’m allowed to inform someone that what they’re doing can’t be made safe. But as long as consent is queen, I can’t call it gross. Even if I don’t personally like the same things.

Even after all these things that I find hugely problematic, there are two things in the video that I find super valid to talk about.

Nails – In addition to inflicting possible pain on vaginas, long nails can do a number anuses and mouths, too. And not just for the reasons outlined in the video – that you have the pokey potential of tearing tissue. You can also have bacteria that hides up under nails, which can lead to some un-fun times. Basically, if they don’t allow the kinds of nails you’re rocking on the people that work in hospitals, you probably don’t want to stick them in your various orifices without some protection. That doesn’t mean you can’t have them. That means you should use gloves if you’ve got long nails. Here are some sexy black ones.

The difference between girl on girl porn made for straight cis men and lesbian or queer porn made for lesbians – this is weird. Because we all know that difference is there, right? And I, personally, am really glad this video acknowledges the difference. But at the same time, I think they may have missed the mark on what the difference really is? Here’s what I look for when I’m looking for “real” lesbian porn: I look for agency – I look for production companies that celebrate the acts that the performers want to take part in, and that don’t force models to take part in sex acts that they don’t want to do. I want to see what people are really doing in bed, not what someone at the top of the chain of command thinks people are really doing in bed. I want those models to be treated fairly and to be compensated fairly. I look for sex positivity – not shame. People shame others enough. I look for body positivity – nothing says “patriarchy” like the selection of only traditionally attractive humans for porn. I want to see a good mix of humans. I also think racial diversity without fetishizing is huge on my list.

Basically I want my porn to intersect with my feminism. I want real women really fucking the way they really want to. I don’t care if you’re fucking a shoe (with a condom on it) or you have v. long nails (with gloves on them) or if you wink at the camera because you know we’re watching. I won’t yuck your yum, even if it doesn’t turn me on. But if porn does treat women of color like racist stereotypes, or glorifies the subjugation of women without disclosing their company practices, I will call it out.

It’s funny, though, that this video is less of a call out and more of a body shaming, sex-negative complain fest that kind of plays into the culture of porn that they’re taking issue with as not being lesbian enough.

It makes me feel feelings.

I’d also like to point out that the representation in this video is thin and femme/feminine, also possibly entirely white. Now don’t get me wrong, not everything needs to be everything to everyone. I firmly believe that things are allowed to exist on the internet that don’t apply to me. But the claim has been made that these four people represent lesbians as a whole. I don’t think they do, and that’s putting it mildly.

And what weirds me out is that I haven’t really seen this discussion go down in other media outlets. The reaction to this video has overwhelmingly been “Thats HILARIOUS.” Or “OMG, so right!” So here I am, throwing my two cents in. I think there’s a huge gap between girl-on-girl porn produced by and for cis men and lesbian porn made by and for lesbians, but I’m not sure this video should be the only thing that addresses the disparity.

Staff Writer for Autostraddle, Part-time Faculty at The New School (teaching digital storytelling), Managing Editor for Scholar & Feminist Online at Barnard Center for Research On Women. Follow me on Twitter @AEOsworth or on Instagram, also @AEOsworth.

A.E. has written 544 articles for us.

233 Comments

  1. I agree that the penetration thing was maybe too much. But I do think mainstream culture, and actually sometimes lesbian culture, shames people who DO NOT like penetration, when actually, I know STRAIGHT women who HATE penetration. It’s not just a me thing, it’s not just a lesbian thing, and it’s not a bad thing, something that needs fixing. I don’t need to go to the gyno and get botox just so that I can take a penis (seriously, that’s what some women resort to). No no no no.
    I personally think it’s a good thing that this video went viral, because people DO need to know that “lesbian” porn is not lesbian porn. I don’t know anyone who has sex like the (probably straight) people do in “lesbian” porn. And I’ve had inexperienced girls try to copy what they’d seen in “lesbian” porn and it just. didn’t. work. at all. And lesbian porn just serves to add to society’s fetishization of lesbians and add to the male gazeyness of it all, continuing to tell guys that I exist for their sexual satisfaction even when I’m not fucking them. It sucks.
    The guy who did this video also produced another video, “What Gay Guys Think about Vaginas,” and I was prepared to be angry, because of how I’ve heard gay men speak about vaginas and how society speaks about vaginas in general. But it was actually really good, except for one obnoxious guy. I could tell all the guys (except that one) were REALLY trying to be nice and respectful. And one of them said about vaginas the exact thing I feel about penises. It was fabulous. ALSO: Hannah Hart was in the “What Lesbians Think about Penises” so there’s that.

    • “I personally think it’s a good thing that this video went viral, because people DO need to know that “lesbian” porn is not lesbian porn.”

      I think the thing is with videos like this that feature a minority group of people asserting how they are misrepresented is that people tend to watch it, think they’ve heard all there is to hear and know all there is to know, and then proceed gamely forward feeling like they’re now lesbian sex experts and totally enlightened because they sat through a three-minute video. unfortunately this might be the only three minutes we get on the topic, so i just wish they hadn’t put such an emphasis on the idea that lesbians don’t like penetration or that one’s affection for penetration is related to gold-star-status. i wouldn’t want inexperienced girls not thinking it was okay to explore penetration with their sexual partners any more than i’d want them to copy what they’d seen in “lesbian” porn. you know?

      • That makes sense. I guess it boils down to that common question among minority groups of, do we want representation, or do we want positive, accurate representation?
        I come from a gay community that is ALL about the gold star thing. I know two girls who have them tattooed on their bodies. So this video showcases probably exactly how most of the gay girls I know react to lesbian porn. I’m not saying that’s all that positive, and I probably wouldn’t say half of the things those girls in the video said…

    • I’m guessing you’ve been diagnosed with vaginismus too, Sela? My current partner is male and I’m primarily attracted to masculine/male-bodied people, so I decided to self-treat mine and am now able to have pain-free penetrative sex. It’s become extremely enjoyable, but the amount of pressure that’s put on you when you can’t do it really is ridiculous, as if your sex life has to revolve around it and you don’t even have an option.

      So while there definitely were things I found problematic in their responses (although, honestly, catch me when I’m tired and frustrated and I’m also not going to give very poised or critical commentary), I found that part kind of comforting, just because I’ve only ever heard one other woman say flat out that she didn’t find penetration enjoyable and CHOSE not to incorporate it in her sex life.

      • Slutever constantly mentions that penetration with nothing else going on “feels like inserting a tampon over and over” — so, yeah, I think it’s definitely just that everyone assumes everyone else is into it, and they’re weird if they’re not. But it’s totally normal, natural, etc.

      • Thanks…I just don’t think this is the site for me than. I was hoping it would be a better alternative to A&E, once they go full blown commercial, but clearly I’m just not sensitive enough. I think I was born an emotionally faulty girl. Oh well.

        • There are all kinds of content on this site. You might just choose not to comment on articles about things that in your opinion aren’t worth discussing.

        • Based on some of your other comments that you’ve made in the past week or so (I’m thinking about “let the bisexuals have their piece because that means I can just avoid them more easily” from the Bisexual/Non-Monosexual booklist, and similar-ones), yeah… AS does have a specific idea of what kind of community and content we want, and equating that to the “land of hypersensitivity” shows that you’re definitely not interested in this kind of community.

          • Meeh, what I keep thinking reading this is, “well this is how this website stays white”. I’m not saying that, “I think you’re in the land of hypersensitivity if you can’t take this video as the funny piece it was meant to be” is a nice comment, but there are other similarly not-nice – even a lot not-nicers ones – and nobody told those people they should leave this website. There is a tendency to think women of colour are more aggressive / “mean” and to be very aggressive when they disagree with you – and among queer circles there is also a tendency to refuse to understand that maybe sex positive radical queerness is in some ways unavailable to women of colour because the communities promoting this kind of views are almost all white and generally unwelcoming towards WOCs. I have only seen people make an effort to drive out users (as opposed to trolls) twice before – and I guess it might be a coincidence because I’m only an occasional reader / commenter, but they were WOCs – so maybe everyone should think about their life choices for a bit?

          • Umm…I’m simply confirming the original poster’s feelings that she doesn’t belong here by pointing out similar sentiments that she’s expressed in other articles that are directly contrary to the general environment created by longtime commenters on Autostraddle. I’m bristling at the fact that you’re implying a correlation to me pointing that out just because her avatar indicates she’s a WOC.

            If someone is dismissing this website, it’s an indication that maybe this isn’t the right fit for what they want on the internet and that’s fine. And yes, since you’re not a regular reader, perhaps you’re conflating some coincidental anecdotes as a trend that’s present here on AS. I’m not denying the fact that a lot of sex-positive queer spaces are white; that’s not really the case here, so maybe you should also think about your life choices for a bit along with everyone else.

          • Hm I think there has been some overreactions/misinterpretations of Jessie’s comments. (Or at least I interpreted some of them differently than other posters).

            But either way…I think there is something on autostraddle for everyone..

          • “among queer circles there is also a tendency to refuse to understand that maybe sex positive radical queerness is in some ways unavailable to women of colour because the communities promoting this kind of views are almost all white and generally unwelcoming towards WOCs.”

            this is a really valid/revelatory point and something we editors need to pay much more attention to, thank you

          • sorry in advance for the super long comment.

            Jessie’s comments (both on the bisexuality thread and here) sound to me like the comments of someone who hasn’t been hanging around these types of sites/spaces much (and therefore both isn’t thinking about the ways in which her comments could be construed as offensive and is new to discussions about these topics), and someone who has a lot of opinions. (I could be totally wrong, but since I was in that exact situation once I’m assuming that rather than an intent to offend.) When I was first exposed to feminist/social justice spaces, I had the same combination of characteristics. A couple times I said something that offended someone, or something that was out of line, and got slapped down pretty damn hard. There’s a steep learning curve. I probably wouldn’t have stuck around the space I started out in if it weren’t my entire college (and therefore sort of necessary). It occasionally worries me that this learning curve is too steep, and ends up alienating people who could be activists or allies.

            Putting that together with Chrissye’s comment below about WOC being uncomfortable in feminist/social justice spaces that tend to be white and you get WOC being more likely to not have experience in those spaces (because who would want to be somewhere where they feel uncomfortable?) and therefore being more likely to get slapped down hard. That’s concerning.

            At the same time, I understand the necessity of having safe spaces where people can go to not have to put up with the bullshit comments they put up with everywhere else. I also understand the weariness that comes with having to explain over and over why certain things are offensive. So I’m not sure what the solution is.

            My only suggestion (which could be terrible because I haven’t thought about it much) is, maybe AS community greeters? People who aren’t weary at the moment, who are willing to message new commenters who seem to be accidentally repeatedly offending people to explain (in a helpful and non passive-aggressive way) why the things they say are offensive, and give them the opportunity to catch up with the learning curve?

          • Your comment nailed it. I didn’t agree entirely with Jessie’s comment but I’m sure the aggressive response she received has a lot to do with the fact that she’s an obvious WoC. I remember in another thread a white woman made a patently racist comment and didn’t receive as much abuse as Jessie. Instead she received links to educate herself.

            Pretty much every race thread here is a clusterfuck as well, with constant cries of ‘what about the white women?? and ‘why can’t we all get on?!’. Coupled with the fact there are very few actual WoC on the writing team it’s unsurprising that this website is so white woman orientated. Especially when you have white women saying things like ‘you aren’t welcome here’ to an obvious WoC. It’s times like these I’m reminded of why I choose to stay out of queer women circles.

          • What Riese said.
            I do think different offensive comments are treated differently on AS. As a WoC, that’s been made very clear. I also think people tend to not read the racially diverse pieces as much, or comment less on them, which makes me think they care less. That’s disappointing. I think it leads to the offensive comments on racially diverse pieces on being ignored more. Makes you think. For instance, a white woman said on one of Malaika’s pieces that “Native” as a noun was an okay term to use for First Nation individuals after FN women had said it wasn’t and did NOT react well when called out. No one really did anything. Hmmm.

          • For what it is worth I am a black woman who has been coming to this site since it’s very early beginnings. This site has actually improved quite a bit with race issues over the years. Could it be better in some instances? Absolutely. But I have never felt like the Riese and company weren’t trying and aren’t still trying to appeal to more queer woman besides white woman. I have seen a definite improvement over the years and I find it is one of the queer websites I have visited in that regard. I do agree with Sela that some of the racially diverse articles on here don’t get read as much as other articles on this site but I also remember when none of these articles existed in the first place so this site is always making process and I know Riese would love to have more racially diverse women writing for this site. She has said so in the past.

          • yes. this site has become so overly pc that it starts alienating those it thinks it’s protecting. the sad thing is that they are so oblivious and are only compelled to respond when said sector confronts them. there is a twisted version of ally syndrome manifesting itself around here.

          • thanks, turkish! everything in your comment is true, and i’m glad that you’ve noticed an improvement because it definitely has improved, and you’re 100% right that i would love to have more racially diverse women writing for this site. this year in particular i’m really proud of a lot of the content we’ve published from women of color addressing racial issues, but we’re definitely far from the kind of diverse inclusive environment and team this site needs to best serve the community and also to just be interesting and relevant, but getting there is a clear & constant priority. we don’t get a lot of submissions from black women in particular, and we try to compensate as much we can by finding things to repub from other sites (bgd, bkyln boihood, elixher, etc), but as this thread suggests, the lack of submissions could be a result of the culture fostered on the site as a whole and on comment threads in particular. this conversation has definitely sparked a big discussion behind the scenes and we’re looking at ways to improve this more aggressively and immediately. we want this culture to change. a lot. we want a more diverse team and content. a lot. anybody who wants to email me or comment with ideas/suggestions or to discuss this further, please do!

            =======

            i don’t really know what to say/do abut the comments about the site being “too PC”? a lot of what commenters have said about our writers being too PC are the same things that our writers have said about commenters being too PC. i like to think we publish a lot of different things and yeah if you only click on high-comment-count pieces, you’re probs gonna witness certain kinds of conversations. the “too PC” problem kinda tends to happen in queer feminist spaces, historically this has been an issue in queer feminist media since the beginning of time, it’s the nature of the beast, and i kinda feel like it’s an easy criticism to make but isn’t that useful. i agree with ali’s opinion here, but i can think of at least three recently-published posts i disagreed with or thought were too something. the variety of stuff published here has led to a situation in which it’s kinda easy to make a case for just about anything.

            cantgoldmedownohno – can you explain what you mean by “there is a twisted version of ally syndrome manifesting itself around here”?

          • I’m glad this sparked such a good discussion. I know the team tries, but it’s hard to change a whole culture over night – especially since the site seems to get a lot of hate every time they make any overt efforts to be more inclusive. I’m certainly not advocating for transphobic or biphobic (or racist etc) comments to be tolerated, had I been aware of the comments the OP made on the Lost Girl article, I probably wouldn’t have written my comment here – I just want us to try to be more aware of how racism / other oppression systems work within our communities and check in with each other more, respect each other’s different experiences, views and needs and try not to take our anger out on each other so much. I know it’s very hard to take a step back from discussions on issues which affect your life so much, but – I don’t know, I kept thinking of a better way to say this – it’s just something we have to try to do to survive and grow as a community? This sounds so absurd, I’m sorry. There’s this whole culture of, niceness is not subversive, oppression is not about hurt feelings, the revolution will not be polite, just deal with it etc – which I get too, I get the need to have a space where you can be angry, I get how this kind of comments might seem harmless although they’re microaggressions – but the problem with saying “the revolution will not polite” is that the revolution is not coming any time soon and in the meanwhile we have to try to take care of everyone in our community. And if we have a more privileged position, we should try to give in more and make a conscious effort to be “nicer” to people who feel excluded from spaces where we’re welcome because of our privileges.

            I do think it might help a little just to have a link to the comments guidelines at the top of the comments section rather than at the bottom of the page so that more people see it before they comment for the first time? (I know nothing about designing websites etc so I have no idea how easy that would be to do, but it seems feasible?)

          • Your comment below misses the part where you’re being asked to consider that people come from different spaces in life. None of us are born fully formed, nor fully enlightened. And so, perhaps the original poster is a human being on the path to getting shit understood. This much I know about being a WOC, and I’m asking you to hear it: feeling out of sorts and unwelcomed in white spaces that lean towards the more radical side of things is a real challenge. This is because often, when one (the POC disagrees/dissent/raises their lived experienced as reason for discomfort they are often shut down HARD, like the original poster was. Your making it clear that she may perhaps very well NOT belong here and policing her other comments real quickly… that follows an uncomfortable pattern in spaces owned and controlled by a white majority. There was no room for growth in your address to the original poster, nor a wish to understand her nor an invitation for her to understand this culture that you defend so vigilantly. Her comment (OP) was ill conceived. Her follow up comment that she doesn’t belong here was an answer to a link that literally told her to SHUT THE FUCK UP. Your validation of her indeed NOT belonging her felt like a shut out, a kind of get the hell out this conversation is beyond you. I don’t speak for her. I’m telling you how this whole thing reads to myself, a WOC. Because this is par for the course in my experience of spaces that are owned and policed by a white majority. I’m asking you to hear this.

          • my two cents (and this is just that, my two cents, i recognize i come here with white cis privilege and defer to the feelings of others) — i definitely see what you’re saying. where i have trouble and where perhaps some of the more aggressive comments are coming from is that on the “i just now saw: lost girl” thread, jessie was telling shelby, a trans reader, that shelby’s lived experience wasn’t valid enough to support shelby’s feelings of hurt/betrayal by a transphobic episode of lost girl. jessie said that shelby was being “hyper-sensitive” and not respecting the overall queer-friendliness of the show.

            i think it’s really important that respect goes both ways. as a white cis woman i can’t speak to jessie’s lived experience or shelby’s, i can only listen and respect where they’re coming from, no matter what the issue. i come here with privilege and cannot tell anybody else what they’re allowed to be offended by or not — i can’t tell jessie that she should be bothered by this video, i can’t dismiss jessie’s feelings, and i also can’t tell shelby that she shouldn’t be bothered by a transphobic episode of lost girl. (although i could be missing something here, and please call me out if i am.)

            if shelby said that episode of lost girl was transphobic, i accept that and i believe her. chrissye, you assert that “when one (the POC disagrees/dissent/raises their lived experienced as reason for discomfort they are often shut down HARD, like the original poster was,” and i accept and believe that too. all people should be accepted and heard here and not told they don’t belong or that they are overreacting.

          • the response to jessie’s OP cites moff’s law, which was actually invented by an i09 writer who wrote about racial fantasies in avatar, an article called “when will white people stop making movies like avatar?”, and felt like “Of all the varieties of irritating comment out there, the absolute most annoying has to be “Why can’t you just watch the movie for what it is??? Why can’t you just enjoy it? Why do you have to analyze it???””

            http://www.racialicious.com/2009/12/21/and-we-shall-call-this-moffs-law/

          • I feel like this entire comment thread is articulating what I haven’t been able to express while reading through a few of the stories here. I even made an account just so I could reply. I’m not necessarily replying to Paper0Flowers, just in general.

            It’s interesting that being a WOC was even brought up in the first place. It was at first seeming unnecessary, and yet it was. It started a conversation that needed to be held.

            I have, at times, felt this place to be too PC for my tastes. Running into all sorts of labels I was unfamiliar with and sometimes just straight misunderstanding. I didn’t want to acknowledge any of it though, because it felt too much like admitting to my own ignorance.

            However, I do enjoy the openness and acceptance that’s generally found here. I think I’ll take Dina up on her offer of listening and growing though. It doesn’t sound too bad.

  2. I wasn’t too keen on it either. At first I was like yay! A video about how shit lesbian porn is! But then it was just loads of ridiculous assumptions about lesbian sex.

    It does bother me on this website however that your solution to everything is that we should all go pay for it. Crashpad series and the like are not cheap. Very few people I think have spare cash to spend on porn. It just irritates me so much that gay men get all of this really great porn for free and I have to spend large sums of money to get the same quality. So thats me whining.

    • If you want to watch free porn, check out queerporntube.com, which is a site where people submit their own homemade content. free content is either stolen or user submitted.

      as someone that works in porn and likes to be paid for it, i suggest not stealing it. queer porn performers make the least in the industry as it is. the less people pay for it, the less content that can be made.

      • I totally appreciate that, I’d never steal it and I understand why we have to pay for it, I feel kind of shit being like no! I want free things! But I will check out that site!

      • What!? That exists? I haven’t checked it out yet, but I love you in advance for linking me there. Paying for good porn is one of the things on my to do list for when I’m finally no longer unemployed, but in the meantime–thank you, thank you, thank you!

      • thankyou so much for this. I had to cancel my crashpad series subscription just the other day in order to minimize my expenses. I miss my queer porn. This makes things better in my world. 🙂

  3. There’s also an element of body shame: “I’m 24…” “She looks 44.”

    I’m pretty sure they’re addressing this weird concept in mainstream porn where used up looking porn actresses are allegedly playing women younger than themselves…which the idea that someone has to be young to be sexually attractive is odd in and of itself and kind of gross when they’re doing the barely legal thing. If you have to fantasize about teen girls to get off, I really hope I never meet you in real life.

      • You just can’t win can you. Yes, I do believe that there are certain lifestyles, like being a drug addict, that can cause your body to age aggressively before it’s time. Some porn stars have that look, obviously not all.

        I didn’t make a judgement call on whether or not it’s attractive, all I said is it’s unrealistic to portray that body as young and further more, why it is even necessary?

          • Oh cool, hey, thanks, for calling those of us involved in healthy critical discussion “morons”. It’s sooooo much easier to go by that name because “respectful, intelligent and dissident adults” was getting super clunky.

            Thanks for playing!

          • Funny, because all I see is rudeness towards people with different opinions and narrow-mindedness of what this community should be able to contain.

        • Hey Jessie, I think you made some really good points about mainstream porn’s weird obsession with things like barely legal models, and the sort of invisibility of older models that comes with making them pretend to be much younger than they are. Nic also made a good point, though, that using terms like “used up” can come off as being very negative and shaming – regardless of what the habits (drugs or otherwise) of those people are. I’m willing to bet you didn’t mean to be shaming, though I hope you can see where using terms like that can be hurtful to some folks.

          I suspect we could all do a better job of thinking through our comments and responses to comments before posting, to make sure we’re not torpedoing our own good arguments/intentions by including problematic language or tone. (This bit is directed at everyone, including myself.)

        • I think that your comment was insightful and made a good point, and that some people can look “used up” not in a body shaming way, but in a spiritual way/intangible way… and that totally does and has happened in mainstream porn. I think your main point was really true: that attempting to look younger really shouldn’t be the epitome of attractive.

          I wish people could just look healthy, and happy (AKA attractive).

    • I certainly agree that the sexualization of young girls is saddening. Though it’s nothing new, one would hope that older women wouldn’t be expected to pretend to be rather young on screen in order to be titillating. D: Frankly, it kind of scares me.

      Furthermore, body shaming in general is just a terrible business. Of course it’s common in porn, but I think it’s more of a general media thing. In movies, the older women, the heavyset women, they’re all played for comedy, far more so than their male counterparts. It perpetuates this cultural idealization of thin young girls, to the extent it comes off creepy.

  4. It was a big generalization, no doubt, but they did have a point about the lesbian porn usually being created for men.

    Course, then there are some of us that hate porn no matter who created it, who’s in it, or who its for. Total turn off.

  5. “YOU get to be a real lesbian. And YOU get to be a real lesbian. AND YOU! AND YOU GET TO BE A REAL LESBIAN.”

    This. For all of the reasons.

    This video seems to maybe be a good first step in acknowledging that “lesbian” porn is not about lesbians, but I also agree with what Riese said… I wouldn’t want inexperienced or newly-out girls to think that this is what it’s all about either.

  6. I see Crash Pad get recommended a lot but I’m personally not a fan. Are there any other alternatives to that site that feature “real” lesbian porn? Or at least porn that’s not as overproduced as say Vivid Ent. type of porn.

  7. It seems now, if a lesbian says she hasn’t had sex with men!
    She is automatically regarded as discriminatory towards lesbians who have had sex with men.
    I get it, people experiment and people take time and discover themselves but not everyone does
    Please leave the gold stars alone.
    It is not a test that says that everyone must have shagged a guy.

    • ali isn’t saying there’s anything wrong with gold stars? she’s just saying that gold stars aren’t more “authentic” or “real” lesbians than non-gold-stars. nor is it an accurate measuring stick for determining whether or not a girl likes penetration. (i can say from personal experience that there’s no strong correlation between gold stardom and ability-to-be-penetrated.) anybody who regards a lesbian as “discriminatory” because she’s never had sex with a man is an idiot. because that doesn’t make sense. at all. not even a little bit.

    • I think she was just pointing out that being a gold star has nothing to do with how you like to treat your hoo-ha w/r/t penetration in general

    • I do take issue with the fact that most things written here about “gold star lesbians” as of late has had an air that suggests or assumes that gold stars are automatically discriminating on the non-gold stars. That’s a real generalization to make, and it doesn’t represent everyone. Myself, for example.

      • I think the people that are being called out are not “gold stars” per se but the people who privilege having only slept with women over other sexual histories.

        Plus, as I’ve mentioned, I’m technically “gold star” even though I’m bisexual. It’s a meaningless distinction.

      • I feel like usually the intent is to highlight how ridiculous it is that we are even using the term gold star at all. Like, who cares? It seems like something that we as a community should start being able to move past using as an outdated term that just doesn’t do anything for us.

        • I do think that “gold star” is inherently privileging — it’s quite clearly a reference to classroom grading, and therefore definitely requires that a sexual history that gets a gold star is better than one that doesn’t. If people aren’t comfortable with being called out for that kind of privileging, they should use a different term to describe that particular experience.

          • I loved this comment, because I think about any self-proclaimed gold star ladies I’ve known (and, ahem, “known”) and they grew up in metropolitan areas with a pretty healthy gay community and most went to a high school with more people in it than my entire hometown. So while I spent my whole life being attracted to women, from my earliest memories, it took me until I graduated college and moved to actually meet a woman who was mutually interested in sleeping with me.

            Who knows what would have happened if I had gotten to go through that whole early dating stuff during the years of my life where all I wanted to do was experiment with sex and connect with another person. Maybe I would never have slept with a dude, though this is pretty moot because who cares if you’re a gold star? You don’t get any points for your sexual preference. But the whole thing is annoying because it seems to me being a gold star lesbian is about luck, circumstance and/or stubbornness—I sure as hell couldn’t wait until after I graduated college and moved away when basically I was thinking about sex to the exclusion of all else all the time and was busy masturbating to anything that even hinted at turning me on, which was basically all animate and inanimate objects during my late teen years.

            No idea of that was where you were going with this comment, but it sparked this moment of recognition in me of why the “gold star” stuff rubs me the wrong way, besides, you know, the obvious “sleeping with men doesn’t make you inferior to someone who never has” thing.

          • yep, that’s pretty much exactly where i was going with it — just that the notion that calling it ‘gold star’ could mean anything *other* than ‘better than’ is a bit “oh come on,” for me.

          • That’s always been a lot of my discomfort with the term, too. It’s not even just that I’m bisexual and it’s felt to me like a lot (but certainly not all!) of the people who were proudly identifying as “gold stars” were the same people telling me I had no place in queer-women spaces. But even when it comes to people who are all dyed-in-the-wool lesbians, those who tend to be gold stars tend to be people who were lucky enough to be in a certain environment, and to have a certain mental self-awareness, when they were young and shaming others for not having that seems really wrong.

            Even just looking at my own personal experiences for why it took me so long to realize I was bisexual rather than straight, part of it was that I grew up in a homophobic town, but even when I went to a high school that was more accepting and where there were a lot of out gay students and same-sex couples, I was still burdened by my horrible lack of self-awareness when it comes to matters of the heart or, you know, other areas. So it literally took until I was college and I watched The L Word and was turned on by a sex scene it – when I was finally in a position where I COULD NOT DENY that I was turned on by people other than men, because there were no men in that scene – to begin that soul-searching.

          • @Rose — I really don’t understand where you got the idea that gold stars are “lucky”? Like…I don’t understand how you decided that at all.
            I was raised in an extremely homophobic environment—I no longer have contact with my parents and many of my relatives post-coming out. So were, actually, almost all of the lesbians I know who haven’t slept with men. Did I know I liked girls at a very, very young age? Yeah, I did, from as far back as I can remember, but there was nothing remotely lucky about that, because I started self-loathing at the same time, again, because I was in a pretty loudly homophobic environment.
            I just think it’s really wrong to make sweeping generalizations like that. I don’t know if you just haven’t listened to other people’s narratives and therefore made somewhat self-serving assumptions?

          • The term “gold star” comes from an older generation of lesbians – women who came out in the sixties and seventies – and it’s a reference to coming out, not to bisexuality vs. lesbianism.

            Back in that era, most women had relationships with men before the came out as lady-lovers, because women didn’t come out until their twenties or thirties. There was NO lesbian visibility on TV, in books, in movies. Lady-loving was a huge secret, and if you figured it out young, it meant you were particularly self-aware.

            So a woman who came out very young and figured out her lady-loving tendencies early on, before she had a relationship with a guy, got a “gold star” for figuring it out early. Not for being exclusively lesbian. It’s not supposed to be a “hating on the bis” term.

        • @Sela – It’s not a “self-serving” assumption, it’s a pattern I’ve noticed among people I know who’ve shared their experiences, and one that seemed to be echoed among the comments here, but I apologize if I jumped to conclusions and erased the experiences of other people here who’ve had more difficult lives. I didn’t mean to do that, and I certainly don’t want to perpetuate the Oppression Olympics of which side of the queer female community has it the “worst.”

          That said, it does bother me in terms of how it often ends up shaming people who are not as in touch with their sexuality as others, or are not as self-aware in general. I don’t know if “luck” is the right term but it is certainly something that people have no control over – whether you’re self-aware to figure out you only like girls at a young age, or you’re confused about it for years and might act out that confusion by trying to like guys, or actually thinking you DO like guys, and sleeping with them.

          I just don’t think that people should be stigmatized for a lack of self-awareness, especially at an age (adolescence) when most people lack self-awareness in at least some aspects of their lives.

          @Steph M.: But that’s what I meant, it’s not just about bis, it also seems to reward a sector of lesbians who are more self-aware than others. I just don’t think that people should be getting prizes for a quality that most people don’t have much control over, and especially when we consider we live in a society that discourages women of ALL sexual orientations to have as little awareness of their sexuality as possible, and to define it in terms of men.

  8. You said it all, I really don’t have much to add but a resounding THANK YOU to introducing me to the Lusty Lady Strip Club. I’ve never been to a strip club before because I wasn’t sure about labor practices and the like, but this one looks promising!!

  9. I feel like everyone has their own opinions though and if the women on the video wanted to say “That’s gross” or “Calling her bitch. That’s not sexy at all” then they can because it’s THEIR opinion. Doesn’t make it right but it doesn’t make it wrong either.
    I understand why you wrote this article but it feels slightly judgy to me. But hey again that’s just my opinion.
    Anywho I found the video to be hilarious and to be taken very slightly, lets all stop getting so serious and have fun XD

    • I had pretty much the same reaction that you did. The women in this video weren’t speaking for “all lesbians,” they were speaking for themselves. If you want to disagree with their comments, fine, but don’t act like it’s their job to represent the entirety of the lesbian community.

      Obviously they were asked to watch some porn and react to it, so why would you criticize them for being candid instead of giving thoughtful responses like “well, this isn’t my cup of tea but I know someone else might like it so I’m not going to offer my honest opinion just in case it hurts that person’s feelings”? That’s not what they were asked to do, and that’s not the point of the video.

      This is what we mean when we say that articles like these come from the “land of sensitivity.” Not everyone is going to say things you like or agree with you or live up to your standards. Learn to accept it and move on.

  10. I think the point of the video was that ‘lesbian’ porn was not representative of lesbian sex or lesbians and I thought it was funny and I don’t expect it to cover every aspect of lesbian sex. And just because it omits S&M lesbians does not mean it is condemning S&M. And I think sticking a stiletto heel shoe up a woman’s cunt is gross and I think it is ok to say that.

    • “And just because it omits S&M lesbians does not mean it is condemning S&M”

      As a masochist who’s been into BDSM for longer than I’ve known I was queer, I felt shamed by this video. I totally agree, I think it’s gross to put a high heel up someone’s pussy. But other people can do it if they want to. But I like being called “bitch” in bed, under certain situations. But that’s not really the point. The point is that watching this video made me feel bad for wanting the things I want in a sexual relationship when nothing has in a long time–I don’t feel shame about these sorts of things. It made me feel guilty about it. It made me feel bad about the fact that last night I masturbated to a fantasy of being humiliated by another girl.

      That’s not okay. The derisive tones in which they speak, the way they talk–it’s not just what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it. And how they’re saying it made me feel like I was not okay, that no one was okay unless they were real lesbians the way these four women were.

      I felt humiliated and mortified (and not in a sexy way) sitting alone in my house at my computer. I can’t imagine that I’m the only person who watched this video and felt this way.

  11. This was good. I initially watched the video, liked a few aspects of it (mainly that nails and shoes are unsanitary, and that this isn’t made for actual queer women) and put it on my FB but I deleted it after I realized how the only things that were gross in this video were the slut-shaming comments. Now that is a definite yuck across the board.

  12. Question: do queer humans generally just accept mainstream porn? I think I watched about 1 and half mainstream produced “lesbian” porn films before I was like, really?! That’s it?! A quick internet search pointed me in all the right directions and I’ve never looked back. So I guess what I’m asking is if I am in the minority for searching out porn that I relate too? And why would you settle?

    • This wasn’t directed at me, but I have been watching porn for straight people for years because I am afraid of the internet or internet sex things specifically and I guess my biggest fear is that the computer will find a way to tell everyone what i’m watching or the government or the people I share my wifi with.

  13. This is special shout out to the author Ali. Just wanted to let you know that one of the participants of the Crash Pad episode you recommended has since removed their profile and photos from the Crash Pad site. At her request, the website also removed links to photos and video from that episode. Just wanted to let you know that perhaps that’s not the best image to use for this article or the best video to suggest.

    • Hey Sugar –

      I’m seeing photo and video of this episode still up on Crash Pad, but if there’s a concern, please do PM me and we can talk it out! You can also email me: ali [at] autostraddle.com.

  14. On the topic of “lesbian porn” representing real lesbians…

    My girlfriend was talking to me some time ago about how she doesn’t find herself represented in queer porn – being a tall, lanky, blonde (at the time) femme trans* woman who looks more like the performers in “mainstream” porn. To her she feels like the queer porn mainstays fit a sort of Genderqueer Uniform – ALH, AFAB but leaning somewhere masculine. Mainstream porn isn’t always that awesome for her either, but she feels like she has a slightly better chance of seeing someone that looks like her.

    • Equally, the representations (and my experience are limited, so I stand to be corrected) of porn involving just masculine women or just transmen isn’t great. There seems to be quite a strong ‘butch/femme’ as it were dynamic that permeates queer porn.

    • Mainstream porn featuring trans women is a disgrace– I could write an entire dissertation about it! Ugh. And you can just tell that it’s made for weird men with gender issues, on account of how it’s mostly just either men raping trans women, or trans women raping men*. I wish there was something better for us out there. I wish there was more pleasure-focused porn for trans people, women, queers, etc.

      * I realize that this is also generally just the lot of women in porn, trans or cis. But the whole “trans woman raping cis man” scenario, which plays out A LOT, is a gross sexualization of the very real anxieties and fears that inform transphobic discourse.

  15. I agree that this video is extremely sex-negative and non-inclusive. However, I disagree with the sentiments of many of the articles about porn on here which insinuate that the lesbian-made porn is inherently always better than the porn made “for men.”

    There are many porn stars out there who make somewhat “traditional lesbian porn” who have actually had girlfriends in real life and do enjoy having sex with other women, like Malena Morgan and Georgia Jones. They also happen to be “traditionally attractive humans,” and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that either. People shouldn’t be made to feel bad for preferring to watch traditionally gorgeous people when indulging their fantasies.

    So I just don’t think we can make generalizations that porn which may in fact be made with men in mind can’t be enjoyed by queer women as well, whether as viewers or the performers themselves.

    • Your post reminded me of when I was at this academic conference about sex and pop culture (or something along those lines) and one of the presenters was a professional porn actress. she had studied this interesting effect where quite a number of straight female porn stars had worked in a number of girl/girl scenes and found lesbian sex so much more enjoyable that they shifted their sexual preferences altogether.

    • No one is suggesting that it’s the end of the world. You have every right to enjoy it and laugh at it if you want to. Why does it bother you that other people choose to think about it and discuss it? Ali brought up valid points that warrant a forum–you don’t have to take part in it or even care..

  16. Anything that claims to lump a diverse and large section of humanity into one header is suspect in my book, even when they’re trying to be funny. Thanks for taking the time to call the “shame game” what it is and really dissect this video.

  17. I found it funny when I first watched it, but then the more I watched it, the more annoyed I got at what they were saying. Especially that gold star lesbian comment. Wtf?

    But I guess the sole purpose of this video was filming all of their bad/grossed out reactions. They probably knew that going into it. They’re not exactly gonna show them liking it, because it defeats the purpose. They knew what kind of reactions they were gonna have. You’ve kinda just gotta see this video for what it is. (I don’t know if I’m making sense, I’ve had like 2 hours sleep lol.)

  18. Is it just me or does the video itself seem staged? I mean I’m wary of anything on YouTube that has ‘REAL’ in capital letters. That being said, it does bring up an interesting discussion.

      • I think it should have been titled “Some women who have also slept with women discuss their experiences watching porn showing two women have sex together”, because wow do I not care if one of them is “even” a lesbian or not. I made this point in an earlier comment below, but the thing is, I’m assuming most straight women (at least my straight friends, so this is anecdotal) and maybe slightly less straight men (all the straight men I know, at least) don’t think this porn is aimed towards lesbians either. I have no idea the percentage of people who actually think porn represents real life, but I don’t think you need to be a “real lesbian” to recognize that mainstream porn isn’t real life.

        Then again I’m a graphic designer who uses Photoshops to drastically alter pictures and I STILL have to remind myself that those people in the magazines don’t look like that in real life, so maybe I’m giving people too much credit based on my own ability to believe everything in the media.

  19. I feel this article was nit picky. I just watched the video again and there may be things that can be construed as problematic when you look into it, but in general they are trying to get the point across that mainstream lesbian porn is targeted toward men and penile penetration. The point is that lesbian porn is not really representing what lesbian women may want, it’s not a video seeking to educate you exactly what all the fundamentals/components/nuances of lesbian sex is.

    • I’d say it’s more of a conglomeration of their collective disgust on the porn industry commodifiying a sexuality in order to entertain and please /men/ consequently trivilializing non-hetero sex more than anything else

      • I totally agree with this point you said here.
        But the way in which the people in the video went about doing it, and the context that this video sits in… these women’s opinions are basically represented as truth for ALL lesbians to the mainstream.. even if it isn’t intended to educate you about what lesbian sex is.

  20. Thank you for writing this omg omg i couldn’t figured out why that whole video made me uncomfortable and now i literally have an essay on my exact feelings

  21. I wouldn’t say this video upsets me so much as the immediate need to jump on it and say its intention is wrong. Agreed it doesn’t represent everyone, but can we not just take it as face value and say, ‘alright, this isn’t great, but it’s not terrible either.’
    I’m a loyal ‘patron’ to AS. I’ve read nearly everything on the site, gone to the 1st speed date at The Strand in NYC and learned about new recipes/books/people from the articles posted; although I’ve never felt like I belonged here. In reading all the comments here my feelings have kind of been solidified. Instead of being able to laugh with the group about a straight person’s attempt at being gay/lesbian inclusive, I feel like an outcast in community because I thought this was sort of hilarious. I’ve been in that chair (figuratively speaking) and had the same thoughts as those women. That kind of lesbian porn isn’t made for lesbians. To be honest, from what I’ve read here, I’m not shocked when I hear/see the stereotype ‘lesbians have NO sense of humor’.
    I understand this a forum to express frustration over the patriarchy/things that piss us off, but can we not just for a minute find humor in the simple minds of mundane straight folks and realize, laughing is much easier than frowning.

    • It’s kind of hard to “find humor in the simple minds of mundane straight folks” when the very existence of our sex lives suddenly becomes their business every day, and each of us is expected to act as a spokesperson for the entire community every single fucking time someone asks (in jest or in seriousness) “So how DO lesbians have sex?? Which one of you is the man?”

      Hi-fucking-larious.

    • Why can’t we both laugh at AND think about things? … that’s what I usually do. Many of the things that I enjoy and even participate in have problematic aspects–I don’t let that keep me from enjoying them, but I also don’t let my enjoyment of them prevent me from recognizing and thoughtfully critiquing those aspects.

    • Actually, the video was posted by ‘Davey Wavey’, who is a young gay man. So I don’t think we could just laugh it off as a the product of a ‘simple straight mind’ (which is a phrase I find pretty off-putting), this really means that even to the larger queer/queerish circle, this video seems like an accurate, ‘say it as it is’ reprentation of reality.

    • I agree with you and I LOVE AS. I don’t feel like I don’t belong, but I do find many of the comments persnickety more often than not. And again, I really do enjoy the site. I enjoy the educated discourse, but sometimes it’s so grave…

      And I am blithe and levity is my language, so sometimes I find these threads very “Here we go again…”

      Hear me out. I’m Black. So I understand sensitivity, but maybe I’ve transcended it? Certain things just don’t bother me.

      I found this video hilarious at first because for the most part I agree. You have to really know your search terms to find good porn, particularly lesbian. And I agree that most porn in general is a turn off. True Blood/L Word has had better scenes.

      My second time watching I found the Gold Star comment insulting and that at least half of the girls reminded me of several of my extremely prudish friends, but it’s not a crime to be sensitive regarding sex. And I don’t think the video was meant to represent every woman who likes women. The video was MEANT to be cheeky, not an ethnography of queer space and sexuality.

      So that being said, I do find that there’s this sense of who’s the Gold Star feminist academic in certain lesbian circles. People aren’t allowed to just… be. And this is coming from someone who has Combahee River Collective and Roland Barthes posters all over.

      Reminds me of the time I went out with my best friend in Philly. He wanted to go to Woody’s. We had a blast and danced and twirled our asses off. Then I begged him to go to Sister’s and they were having an esoteric trivia night that felt like an episode of All Things Considered. No shade. Normally I would have appreciated that, but sometimes a chick just wants to have fun and fcuk queer politics! Like can I just put on some heels, a leather jacket and just spin. Sometimes a bish just wants to spinnnnnn.

      But like I said I understand why things are as they are. And for that, I appreciate the inclusive embrace this site offers. Also the teevees recaps are just so funny.

      • Hah, I really want to know what sort of trivia questions they were asking! I can totally be one of THOSE lesbians, and I find the fact of that hilarious.

        “Like can I just put on some heels, a leather jacket and just spin. Sometimes a bish just wants to spinnnnnn.”
        YES

  22. I didn’t really think about this when I first watched it, so thank you for writing this! I fucking love penetration, and I’ve only ever done the do with my girlfriend, so. I thought the video was funny, but now I realise that it was also quite problematic.

  23. There’s this one too:

    Which made me feel feelings about being trans. And sex. And Authenticity.

    Those feelings included: Shame, disappointment, and ephemeral “fuck yeah!” (the I have three penises comment)

  24. That’s all very good, but let me tell you about how porn is a type of low wage high risk physical labour into which disadvantaged women are forced – just like e.g. janitorial work or fruit picking – and how promoting it as liberatory / empowering / revolutionary from a position of privilege is not that great.

    • I don’t think anyone would argue that porn is 100% empowering for everyone (or even most) involved. If it was a lot more people would be rushing off to be empowered. For some people it is empowering, for some people it’s exploitative, and for some it’s just a job with aspects that they like and aspects that they don’t like. Which is why it’s encouraged that if someone enjoys porn that they try to seek out porn that is created by companies that treat their actors with respect, dignity, and fair pay, just like it’s a good idea to do for anything you spend your money on. There are things that can and should be done to reduce stigma, increase safety, and increase opportunity because no one should have to do a job that they don’t want just because they need money and no one should be demonized and ostracized for doing any job, whether they loved or hated it.

      “… porn is a type of low wage high risk physical labour into which disadvantaged women are forced…” Ultimately, this isn’t a criticism of porn, it’s a criticism of capitalism. A criticism I share, by the way. Seriously, screw capitalism.

      • The problem is that, while claiming to be sympathetic to sex workers, sex positive movement usually refuse to treat sex work as “just a job”, with positive and negative aspects. Can you imagine someone saying that picking fruits in hot weather for 10 hours a day is “exploitative” for some people, but “empowering” for others? Can you imagine saying that about any kind of work except sex work? Sex work is constantly promoted as an expression of empowered / liberated / revolutionary sexuality in ways in which fruit picking or working in an office never will – and this makes porn industry’s representation of sexuality 100% above criticism – which is actually what this article is about, the inherent badness, sex negativity etc of voicing ANY criticism of porn, even if it’s the kind of porn, mainstream and aimed at straight men etc, which we all think of as the most exploitative.

        • I can imagine saying sex work is empowering for some people because some sex workers have told me that they find it empowering and I accept that they are human beings with agency.

          • And on that note, that will actually be my last word on the subject of sex work as exploitative/empowering/neither/both. IMHO, this usually becomes a very disrespectful, problematic, and dehumanizing debate when it’s not led by actual sex workers and I really try to avoid it.

          • Can you imagine anyone E V E R suggesting that if you say fruit picking is exploitative (because it’s a very low paid labour intensive kind of work), what you’re actually saying must be that fruit pickers are not human beings with agency? Again, you’re claiming sex work isn’t work, but an expression of sexuality.

        • I appreciate you bringing this up. As a former sex worker who was absolutely exploited, coerced, and traumatized, I have yet to comment on any porn-related AS material, because I find the chorus to be “hey there’s good queer porn” and the comments to be pretty silencing and aggressive to people who disagree–which is a problem I’ve been encountering more and more with Autostraddle as a whole (see comment thread above)

          I find it troubling when people who exist in the porn sphere solely as consumers (albeit conscientious ones, which I appreciate) to exoticise the role of the sex worker as a fully empowered, positive job and stick their fingers in their ears and go “lalala” whenever they’re told differently, because THEY only consume GOOD porn.

          That said, I have also met and worked with people in the industry who loved what they did. Which is awesome and authentic and my trauma doesn’t negate their truth or agency in any way.

          I have a lot of trouble consuming porn because I feel like I have limited access to the participants’ true experience, and that creates a whole cycle of “am I exploiting this person or not?” that I have yet to find a satisfactory answer to. So I just abstain, unless I know said participants or sex workers through the grapevine and feel like I can at least gain enough insight to know I’m not inadvertently using their trauma for my personal sexual satisfaction.

          • This is why we should be anti-porn: I’m sure it’s very empowering for some women, but for those who aren’t as privileged (and that’s the vast majority of women involved) it’s a horrible experience and not one we should eroticize. That being said people on AS are VERY protective of their porn, and most readers who are against it just don’t comment because internet fights are no fun (or at least that’s my case), so, we’ve lost this battle on this website.

          • I can’t fully endorse being anti-porn, I think the discussion is too complicated for that. But I definitely agree with you about AS not necessarily being as welcoming as I’d like, especially because it often feels like speaking in a room where someone disagrees*, someone else gives them a verbal lashing, and then the comment thread explodes with “Snaps!” and “Boom” and cat gifs. Yikes, people.

            AS isn’t my safe space, but I enjoy most of the content here nonetheless.

        • I think fruit picking is not quite the right analogy. I think childcare work or nursing would be better examples. Childcare work especially is incredibly low paid and involves intensive labour. I would imagine that some women working in childcare feel exploited – they are thrust into an industry largely because of their gender and the associated expectations that they use their bodies to look after children for next to no remuneration because they should be doing if for free anyway. Similarly, women are exploited in sex work because their bodies and their sexuality are supposed to be free (and easy to access). But, I would argue that some childcare workers feel empowered by their work, because they’re good at it, because they feel they’re making a contribution to the bettering of society or simply because they’re getting paid to do something they would’ve had to do anyway. So basically, I disagree that sex work is the only industry where the work can be exploitative for some and empowering for others. And I don’t think sex work is exploitative because it’s about human sexuality but because it’s about women’s work which is often low paid, low status and labour intensive. Putting a blanket of ‘bad’ over the whole of women’s experiences with sex work means that we don’t really get to look at why some women find it empowering while other women are so vulnerable to the exploitation.

          I also think that maybe some men (and some women and any other number of lovely human creatures) would find fruit picking to be empowering. Maybe because they get to be outdoors? Maybe because they believe in delivering fresh fruit? Maybe because they feel as though they are displaying strength and stamina? Maybe just because they have a job which keeps them eating and off the streets and able to escape domestic violence situations? Who knows.

          Just because the conditions of the industry might be exploitative doesn’t mean the work itself can’t be empowering to some people. The situation is always more complex than good or bad.

  25. Porn is such a weird topic for me, man. When I do find myself in the mood to watch it, generally stuff from Girlfriend Films and Sweetheart Videos are the only things that work for me.

    The thing is, is that I honestly have no idea what distinguishes ‘male gaze’ lesbian porn from ‘real’ lesbian porn, because I’ve grown up learning about sexuality and women’s bodies from a guy’s point of view. I can watch something and be like ‘oh this is just silly/ridiculous’ but I don’t know what it is exactly that pushes it over that line for me. All I know is that the Crash Pad Series and Queer Porn generally leaves me cold, and so do women with talons for nails, so I have to find something somewhere in the middle to float my boat.

  26. All very valid points! Im torn between thinking these people are serious or maybe they are doing a comedic performance. if I’m being honest my favorite part was knowing from now that I am gold star REAL lesbian no matter what! Yay me! yay us!

  27. Hey! I’ve seen some other videos by these women and they play things for laughs a lot, like dressing in random costumes and being generally silly and possibly playacting caricatures of themselves. So not to say that there aren’t some big problematic things with this, but in the context of other vids it seems a little more like shtick and humor than not. I’d love for some AStraddlers to chat/converse/educate/dialogue with these ladies! They might lie to learn more about all our different feelings on lesbian/queer porn and sex etc.

  28. Thank you for this. And, like, everyone wants to talk about fisting when they are making fun of queers, but does fisting not exist in these women’s world? Are they seriously saying someone can’t be gay because they like having a lot of fingers (which are not penises, which are not exclusive of womenhood) in them?

  29. Hi everyone, I’m the one who recently posted thos video in the comments section of a recent post, and now I kinda feel like a jerk.
    I don’t agree with a few things said in it, and the women in the video are really judgey, but I did think it was amusing (and still do), and I’m sorry if I offended anyone or made them feel like their body is less than amazing. All of us here are beautiful and amazing and I love you all!

  30. Thanks for this. That “gold star lesbian” concept kept me closeted for an extra decade because I thought I couldn’t be “really” gay if I’d slept with a dude, so, happy to hear I can now get a gold star too. 🙂

  31. Thank you SO MUCH for this. As I watched the video all I could notice was that these were white cis femme lesbians making the dubious assertion that “most” queer women don’t like to be penetrated and reinforcing the tired notion of “gold star” vs. “non gold star” lesbians.

    First off the entire video was ridiculously cissexist, and second off it made me feel really shitty as a bisexual person that these women were sitting there deciding what constituted a “real” or “fake” queer woman. This is coming from someone who is not a fan of penetration and has never had sex with a man, but the entire thing nonetheless struck me as incredibly exclusionary NOT because the women in the video weren’t turned on by the porn but because they made sweeping generalizations about all lesbians (oh and funny how a woman is either gay or straight amirite??)

    That being said, I find it hard to be turned on by barely any mainstream lesbian porn but I’d say the main reason is that the actors clearly aren’t enjoying it at all, not that they are having the “wrong kind” of sex. Ali’s comment about the women’s agency is also spot-on, sometimes I get the feeling that these women had no say in what they were doing whatsoever and that makes me uncomfortable.

    Anyway, point being: I don’t see why this video couldn’t have been made without shitting on people’s sexual preferences and framing these women as the spokespeople for all lesbians/queer women.

  32. Thanks for this Ali, I was glad to read it after I watched the video a few days ago and felt kinda grossed about it… the thing is, I admit I almost hesitate to leave this comment, because part of me feels kinda cliche, like someone will read this comment and just think to themselves, “Oh, she’s trans, of course that’s what she’s going to say.” But anyways, for better or worse here goes:

    I don’t get the “Gold Star Lesbian” thing at all, and honestly I don’t get why cis lesbians don’t actually get pissed off hearing that phrase. I mean, think about this for a moment… traditional heterosexual society invented this concept of “virginity” that while to some extent it applied to men, we all know what it was really about when it came down to it: has a (cis) woman had a penis inside of her or not?

    And this all stems from the concept that once a woman has had a penis inside of her, she should be viewed as less sexually desirable according to mainstream heterosexual society. (think “Hey dude, you don’t want to mess with that…. T-bone already did her!!” or some nasty shit like that… and yeah, I’ve been in men’s locker rooms before, and guys really do talk like that).

    Society goes so far with this concept that it actually used to designate unmarried women as Miss and married women as Ms., to implicitly (at least in theory) signify whether or not a cis woman had had a penis inside of her. And I think we’re all aware of this, but think how incredibly phallocentric that is? (not to mention, anti-woman).

    And I can’t help but think…. it’s not really a subtle point: “Gold Star Lesbian” status translates 100% directly into traditional, heterosexist, misogynistic society’s concept of “female virginity.” The only difference I can see is that now it’s a woman who ends up being the one to say, “Hey dude, you don’t want to mess with that…. T-bone already did her!!”

    How is that any more acceptable??

    • I dunno kinda bracing for impact on this one…. and yeah FTR I get that as a woman with a penis I have a kind of self-interest in saying this, but nevertheless I genuinely find it to be a really gross concept.

      Also, I typed “Ms.” where I meant “Mrs.” slightly awkward typo…

    • Yes I find the gold star thing weird too. I came out at around 12/12 so bingo bango I’m a gold star. (wow give me a trophy…so silly)
      Anyway I get most of the “ya but you haven’t really had sex, you’re still a virgin technically” from gay men! Not all gay men now but it’s strange. They are in the same boat as lesbians!

      Also I find it very sad when other lesbians say to me “I wish I had come out as early as you so I wouldn’t have this horrible regret over being with a man”. That is so upsetting to me. No one should ever feel shame for having experiences. I am sitting on NO throne.

    • For the lesbians I know that are really into their gold star status, it’s about how gay you are. Both lesbians I know that have gold stars tattooed on their body are also lesbians who will not date bisexuals. So it’s sort of like a question of, what chance is there that you’re going to leave me for a guy? Or, do I have to compete with a penis? It’s really sort of fucked up but there it is. It has nothing to do with what you’re surmising.
      I don’t think it’s really fair for you to make that judgment. You can dislike it all you want to, but I don’t think that argument is yours to make. I don’t know, it rubs me the wrong way.

      • How does it not have anything to do with what Savannah is surmising if the whole measure of “how gay you are” is based solely on whether or not you had a penis inside of you, or experiences with a man? If anything, you reaffirmed the point by stating this. As for your question you raised, “What chance is there that you’re going to leave me for a guy?” The same question can be asked about you, “What chance is there that you’re going to leave me for another woman?” There is no difference. The fact that you are putting a male and his penis on a higher pedestal to measure your gayness or the gayness of others is really telling, if not problematic because you’re basically saying, “I see penis/male experiences as the holy grail by which I measure my gold star lesbian status and the status of other people’s identities.” Why are you even measuring yourself in such a way and why do you measure others in that way? Also, the fact that you say it’s “sort of fucked up” tells me, that inherently you actually know that it’s problematic, but refuse to address the issue by sugarcoating it. You also state that it “rubs you the wrong way,” which also tells me that you probably had some experience with someone who hurt you (who probably identified as bisexual), thus why you carry such a viewpoint. It’s really all in the words. People who typically and or adamantly deny something or project a particular viewpoint, means that there is more underneath. They had an experience that they haven’t dealt with fully, so they gloss over the issue with excuses of why they act, think or behave the way they do, instead of taking accountability and working through the issue.

      • Yeah, even from what you said I think it’s very clear that it is about a concept of sexual “purity.”

        I will consider your point that maybe it’s not my place to speak… but I guess part of what is so weird about it for me is that it sounds so similar to stuff that I used to call out guys for saying back when I lived outwardly as a man. I dunno, so now I live as a woman and hear other women say very similar things and suddenly, oh, everything’s cool with that! I really don’t get it at all.

        • I will admit that I do see it as an act of reclamation. I struggle with my goldstarness b/c while certain factions of the queer community might praise it, the rest of the world does not. How do I know I’m a lesbian if I’ve never gotten dick, is the most popular question, and oh, you’d like it if you just tried it. So while virginity is praised, if you’re going to have sex, do it with a penis. And so for some gold stars, it’s a matter of pride, that they can have pleasant and healthy sex lives withouth involving a penis. I don’t broadcast my goldstarness in real life; I got mad at my ex not too long ago for telling someone I had mine. I think there’s a big difference bewtween men telling me how I should value my body and women.it doesn’t make it right, but it’s very different. I hold to the opinion it’s not your place. And for what it’s worth, my very Christian parents still consider me a nonvirgin despite only being penetrated during rape.

          • Just wanted to clarify: not calling you a man, just that you said you told men not to speak about women that way.

          • Hmmm… “How do I know I’m a lesbian if I’ve never gotten dick, is the most popular question, and oh, you’d like it if you just tried it.”

            This is interesting. Reminds me of straight men who are afraid of their girlfriend’s going near their anus… because they might like it. And chances are they will. Does it mean they’re gay? It means their body derived pleasure from it.

            I think people defining themselves as super straight, strictly dickly (as I hear some straight girls say and gay men), or gold star lesbian puts unrealistic pressure on people. You’re human. You’re allowed to like. Which is why I enjoy not classifying myself at all. No one is ever going to make me feel bad about MY OWN sexuality. So as long as you’re secure and truthful to yourself, you’re good.

    • I agree with Savannah 100%. Absolutely 100%.

      I have slept with butch women who were gold stars and butch women who were not gold stars and femme women who were gold stars and femme women who were not gold stars… and in my personal experience, I have not found any correlations between anything to even exist. Period. Sexuality is determined by the individual… you know, the whole You Do You thing? Whether a woman has had sex with men in the past or only exclusively with women (or lands somewhere in the vast spectrum in between), whether a woman is a man’s wet dream fantasy of a lesbian or is a flannel-wearing, hairy-legged stereotype (or again, something in between)– the only person to define someone’s sexuality is that person. How someone identifies, what someone wants in bed, what someone does not want in bed is completely up to that individual in that moment — not the way they present themselves to the rest of the world, not their past sexual experiences, not whatever labels they fit or even claim. It’s so individualized that I think it’s ridiculous to make any assumptions at all.

      Making “gold star” a thing feels a lot like slut-shaming. I have read before that the concept of virginity is ludicrous because it ties a woman’s worth and purity to whether or not she had been with a man, like Savannah also said above. It labels a woman not on who or what she is, but based on a man’s relationship with her. When you really think about it, it is such an outdated, anti-feminist concept. I never thought about how it applied to ME; because I have never been with a man, I was like, yey, pat on the back for me for being above the patriarchy. However, how is the gold star issue any different? A woman gets a “gold star” for not being with a man? Once again, we are making women’s worth boil down to “has been with a man” or “has not been with a man”? That’s where our value is? That’s how we choose to label each other?

      My mom always told me that in certain situations, the best response is no response. When something truly doesn’t matter to you, you don’t feel the need to address it at all. Even the most eloquent, biting, above-it-all, logical retort is still a reaction and still shows that person that they are getting to you. When you’re over something, when it is meaningless, you don’t feel the need to waste your time. That’s how I feel about this. Instead of being an evolved group of women who love women and do things our own way, we further segregate our own community into sub-groups, with special accolades given to those who never slept with a man (and extra judgment given to those who could *possibly* end up with a man in the future… don’t even get me started). But instead of that saying “Oh good lesbian for never needing or wanting a man” (eyeroll), what it REALLY is saying is “We all put so much value on whether or not you have been with a man that we are going to make this a thing and make you special for not doing that.” It’s not nearly as evolved and unaffected as it tries to come off as. We aren’t defining ourselves by who WE are and what WE want, but based on whether or not we’ve ever been with a man. And I think that is preposterous. It is irrelevant.

      ALL of that being said, I think the video was just made to be funny and say something about how “fake” a lot of lesbians view mainstream girl-on-girl porn but… I’m against slut-shaming. If it’s consenting adults, then go at it and do what feels good. 🙂 I would never want to yuck someones yum, lol, and I don’t think it’s comedic material for someone else to do so.

        • Savannah, I don’t know that gay men have a quirky term or label for it, but I have absolutely heard cis men in the gay community (and some trans women as well) say with some pride that they’ve never had physical intimacy with women. I don’t know if it was mentioned as an explicit “rating” of one’s sexuality, but I think there was an inherent suggestion of “gayness rating” or, in the case of some trans women, how inherently womanly they were. Not saying either was right, fair or accurate, but it is out there.

          • Yeah, I’ve heard some of my cis-male gay acquaintances in my queer group on campus joke that they only way they could be any gayer would be if they had been born through a C-section. i.e. The very act of passing through a woman’s vaginal canal counted as demerits against their “pure male homosexuality”. These comments were also made by some of the most misogynistic gay men I’ve ever met.

  33. Maybe I need to watch the video again, but I honestly didn’t feel they were saying lesbians who are not “gold-stars” are less-than in anyway. I feel like they just made a huge generalization that the only people who love penetration are people who have had sex with cis males (which is obviously not true).

    I agree with many of the points that you made, but there was one that I didn’t so much agree with:

    I think it was a perfectly legit reaction to say women in mainstream porn calling other women “bitch” is not sexy.

    What they were watching seems very different from partners who use that language when engaging in things like powerplay/humiliation because they know they both enjoy it.

    • I think the phrase “gold star” in itself implies less-than pretty clearly. You get a gold star for doing something right, correct or good. It’s a “congratulations!” The implication is that if you don’t have a gold star, you did it wrong, or not as good. The first time I heard that phrase I was like “the what now??!”

      I have an urge to get a multi-colored star tattoo and tell people it’s my congrats to myself for all that I’ve learned and gained from all of the varied experiences I’ve had with people of varied genders.

      • lol. I understand the implication & why the term itself is problematic (I don’t use it for that reason). However, I also understand it has become a socially acceptable term within the culture & that not everyone uses it because they personally believe people are less of a lesbian if they had sex with a man.

        • Slippery slope there. I can name you any number of terrible “socially acceptable terms within a culture”, the usage of which doesn’t necessarily mean the speaker buys into the term, but that are still awful enough that the extra time you get by using the term rather than explaining the concept (i.e. “women who have only had sex with women”, in this case). “Wifebeater” is an example, albeit to a quite different magnitude. I don’t think “gold star” is as problematic, but the point is you have to evaluate each term on its own merit rather than falling back on what other people are using.
          tl;dr: “socially acceptable” is not a good excuse.

          • Did I ever say a term being deemed socially acceptable was a good excuse to use the term? No, I did not. I merely said not EVERY person who uses the term “gold star” uses it to degrade lesbians who have had sex with men.

            IMO it is worthy to discuss the implications of the term — but let’s not accuse every person who uses it of having intentions they may not have had.

          • Did either I or Robin say that every person who uses the term uses it to degrade etc etc, or ascribe any intentions to anyone? Robin explained why she found the term degrading (independent of the intent by the user). You responded with, “yes, degrading, but people don’t mean it that way,” which in my mind has an implication of “which makes it less of a transgression on their part.” I responded with, “just because someone isn’t intending to degrade someone with their words doesn’t necessarily make it any less of an insult.”

            If you didn’t mean to imply 1. “which makes it less etc etc,” but rather 2. “this is an explanation for why people do it anyway,” I apologize for reading something that wasn’t there, but 2. is so obvious I didn’t think someone would go out of their way to state it as if it were something needing to be explained.

  34. Thank you so much for addressing this.

    I especially felt the ‘strippers’ comment and the ‘gold star lesbian’ comment extremely offensive.

    The whole labeling of ‘gold star lesbian’ annoys me because it does indeed imply that someone is more lesbian if they’ve never had sex with a man. Also, it kind of makes it seem as though a lesbian is not as lesbian if she enjoys penetration.

    That being said, I also agree that it’s important to note the difference between porn made for lesbians and porn made for straight men.

    I think a more telling sign of porn made for straight men or maybe even bisexual women is when a guy walks in and suddenly the ‘lesbians’ want him to join them.

  35. Thank you for writing this, Ali. Also thank you thank you thank you for the “yuck someone’s yum” phrase, which I will be using as much as possible now.

  36. How disconcerting to see you all bending over backwards to defend lesbian porn. You know, the exploitative and misogynistic bottom feeding trash that gets churned out by men for men. I feel like I’ve stepped into some sort of alternative universe.

    The sort of porn they were watching is not “sex positive”, it’s demeaning and hateful. Maybe a bunch of non-lesbian women are not the most qualified to critique actual lesbians’ opinions about this? Privilege. All of you non-lesbians should check it.

    • “Privilege. All of you non-lesbians should check it”

      I hate all this “check your privilege” stuff. It’s not anyone’s decision to be born white, straight or a man! I don’t think that all non-lesbians should wake up every morning and say “Remember my privilege now, I have things easier than lesbians”

      Plus straight and bisexual women are hardly represented amazingly in mainstream porn either. All women get a raw deal in porn.

    • Aside from the dismissal of queer identified humans who don’t identify as lesbians (or was this transphobia? I’m not sure where the angry something-phobia is coming from) and confusing assertions of privilege (I’m not sure that word means what you think it means) this was mostly just a confusing comment:

      “How disconcerting to see you all bending over backwards to defend lesbian porn.” Maybe we read a different article/comment section, because I don’t think anyone did this.

  37. I was really excited to read this, and while I don’t have time to read all the comments (which is a terrible offense because I’m just repeating what I’m sure has been said before)—I hated the shaming aspects of this video, and my mouth just dropped open at the line “I’ve never seen any lesbian porn made by lesbians” because seriously, Let Me Google That for You because that was some bullshit. And it’s not like the majority of people watching porn see themselves represented in mainstream porn: how many straight couples watch porn and find themselves deeply connecting with the actors? Honestly, I feel like the alternative porn being made right now makes me more likely to be able to watch people who look and want like me (fat and kinky) than my straight, not very kinky best friend. (That’s purely anecdotal, though, not that I’m in some sort of porn paradise because it’s not really my thing so I never run out of stuff to watch since I do it infrequently.)

    And GTFO of here with the Gold Star Lesbian = no penetration line. I looked down at my hands, looked over at my (“gold star”, which means nothing to us) ladyfriend whom my hands have been inside and rolled my eyes so hard.

  38. Very good points. These thoughts were in my head too as I watched the video, (“Wait, but some people do like fisting..” “Hey, but I wouldn’t rule out sleeping with a man..”) but I still found it funny. I thought em summed up my overruling sentiments pretty well:

    “I’d say it’s more of a conglomeration of their collective disgust on the porn industry commodifiying a sexuality in order to entertain and please /men/ consequently trivilializing non-hetero sex more than anything else”

    I’m worried that I wasn’t disgusted enough by this video as to not have found it more offensive than entertaining, though. I guess it was more a feeling of validation that I gave more weight, a big middle finger to all the stereotypical “nasty, horny men” in my head (and those in real life who’d taken my “Not interested, I like women” as an invitation rather than a rejection), getting off to caricatures of my private life.. No, I don’t prefer penetration. And neither does my girlfriend. No, I won’t shove this symbol of female oppression into my cunt to satisfy your gaze. No, no, no.

    I can’t imagine them making the same comments, though, if it were queer-made-for-queer porn, even with all the same attributes. AT THAT I would be offended. Is that fair?

  39. I’m not going to stream through 500000 comments to see if my point was made or not, so I’ll just say, while I agree with you on some things about this critique of that ridiculous video (like the fact that actual queer porn is indeed out there), I also feel like you read WAYYYYY too deeply into what those girls said. These girls aren’t attempting to be the voice of a large and diverse group of queers, they’re simply stating their own reactions.

    If anything, you should have critiqued that video they made with those girls called “What lesbians think of penises”. That I found to be offensive, as yet again some insecure guy is looking through the world with his phallocentric mindset. And in the middle of the video an annoying straight girl starts saying how not-gay she is.

    • >>they’re simply stating their own reactions.>>

      I disagree. If this video was just a real-time video of some girls watching some porn and saying words about it, I might agree. But this video has been edited. Someone decided to pull out certain pieces of speech and highlight them by putting them in this video.

      In addition, look at the title. “REAL Lesbians React…” Emphasis theirs.

      Maybe the individual women in this video weren’t attempting to speak for all lesbians, but I would argue that the video is.

      (Also, out of curiosity, I looked into who produced the video: it’s this guy. Because if I trust anyone to represent queer female sexuality well, it’s gay men.)

  40. I am working on my sex positivity, I went to the panel at camp, I even had some sex pre-camp and it was awkward but really fulfilling. The gold star thing actually came up in my relationship and it felt sort of like while she might think I’m a lot hotter if I were, life just didn’t afford me that chance really. I was an over-sexualized (abused) kid and my socialization just started with men. I don’t know how I feel about it, but I don’t think it should be anything that divides and does smell of purity myths and not roses. One of the girls in the video did work with WWG people so I think it was mostly comedic in it’s intention, but I feel like every video I see on the internet has this split in activist intention and entertainment value. Another example (which is off topic) is the guy that gave the Abercrombie clothes to the homeless being accused of exploiting the homeless when I think he was making a point about the d-bag owner of the company’s remarks. It is all in interpretation, your feelings are just as valid and useful as anything else and in every response I found something to think about, which is why I go here.

  41. I don’t see any problem with some lesbians wanting to label themselves goldstars. even if it’s a pride thing, I don’t think it has anything to do with any else’s experiences, nor do I think there is any “slut shaming” to it. I wouldn’t try to tag that on to the way some lesbians identify, that seems a bit petty and insecure. that being said, what was said in the video about goldstars was absolutley not true. and ridiculous.
    but it was just someone talking shit while watching some shitty porn, as was the rest of the video. some was funny, some wasn’t. it’s good to analyze stuff, but christ, someone really sucked the humor out of this whole site. that, coupled with some serious mob mentality is making this place a serious drag.

  42. I love this article, I am so glad you wrote it.

    I would like to add that I have never slept with men, but I actually enjoy penetration. I also have been with girls that have slept with guys and actually don’t enjoy it at all. So, there goes that…look what happens when people assume, they look like idiots.

  43. Bottom line is a handful of people cannot claim to represent the views of entire community. That’s pointless and somewhat offensive. And if it’s supposed to be a joke then it’s a sick one.

  44. Is there any reason people keep saying the requirement for a gold star is no “sex with cis males?”
    Maybe I’m being nit picky, but I think this is a little offensive- implying that trans men just don’t count, because they’re pretty much the same as MOC women.

    Aside from that I totally agree with this article and all the comments regarding the gold star rating system. Even in queer communities, people can have neolithic ideas about “purity.”

  45. I think the requirement for a gold star is no sex with cis males because well basically trans guys dont have a penis and still have lady parts. no offense but that’s what people think.
    not that they’re both not men but one has a penis and one doesn’t thus the sex is different.
    That is true like

  46. Hmmm. I thought I left a comment here but I can’t seem to find it. Oh well.

    It’s funny. When I was watching this video, I couldn’t help but think, “I wonder what Autostraddle thinks?” Because, you know…. This whole site is an entity unto itself.

  47. i’ve got a pad of sticker stars. they’re silver, green, gold, red, blue, yellow and orange. ali, can i put them all over your body?

    i wish i had something more constructive to say. all i can think about is stickers and high heels.

    also, people make stupid ass videos where they think they’re being funny and they’re just being stupid. this is somewhere in between erring on the side of “aww girl, really?”.

    also, ali, i love you for this:

    “I’d also like to point out that the representation in this video is thin and femme/feminine, also possibly entirely white. Now don’t get me wrong, not everything needs to be everything to everyone. I firmly believe that things are allowed to exist on the internet that don’t apply to me. But the claim has been made that these four people represent lesbians as a whole. I don’t think they do, and that’s putting it mildly.”

    and the only way to respond to this and counter this type of representation is to keep creating diversified content. do i have to make a video blog now so that people can see my brown ass in action?

  48. Isn’t it SO totally strange and meta that this video was made as a critique of weirdly artificial queer content marketed to straight audiences, and ended up (given it has been all over mainstream places like Buzzfeed or Facebook) as a weirdly artificial queer content for straight audiences?*

    (* I don’t think it was actually made for lesbians to ‘finally have a laugh at ridiculous porn representations’, because the video seems to say lesbians already KNOW all of this, but for people who are not queer, or at least not lesbian, to laugh after having been explained why the porn content was strange or unrealistic.)

    • you’re really expecting too much from the video. the purpose was to inform straight audiences. otherwise it would preaching to the choir. please don’t watch it next time if you feel the need to get so offended.

  49. I felt SUPER weird when I watched this, and you summed up the reasons why perfectly. The whole ‘Gold Star’ almost made me stop watching halfway though.

    Sometimes I forget that not everyone is as lovely and open minded as us here at Autostraddle.

  50. Jesus H. Christ. I read this a couple days ago, thought about it, loved it, learned something new. I come back now and some craziness blew up in the comment section!

    WoC this. Privilege that. It was funny! That will never be funny. You’re being too sensitive, etc.

    I’m not saying anyone’s opinion is invalid. No offense intended. I’m just saying, ladies, can we just accept that not everyone is completely on the same train of thought here on AS. We are a group of lesbians from all over the world. Think about it, we have soooo many different age groups, cultural backgrounds, races, sexualities it is both something to be immensely proud of and our largest drawback. There will be differences and nobody’s opinion is better than any other’s.

    When I first started here I didn’t understand everything either. I’m sure if I would have been brave enough to make comments they would have been just as innocently ignorant, but AS is a great community to learn and grow in so long as we aren’t lashing out at every single person not performing at the pinnacle of lesbian feminist perfection. I’d like to see AS continue to be that safe place where I learned exactly what it was to be…well, myself. But, I digress…

    I had soooo many feelings just reading these comments. There was no way for me to reply to them all, but from the outside looking in I really felt like I must say something, anything, to let you guys, the community I spend about 90% of my internet life with, know that it just doesn’t look good. We aren’t quite as “lovely and open minded” as we thought. I’d say it’s about time we cleaned up shop a little bit, because the last thing I want is for AS to become clique-y and exclusive. We aren’t right now, but if I could guess it probably starts in the small stuff.

    But you know? you do you.

  51. Definitely very uncomfortable with ‘gold star’ lesbianism, not least because it seems reminiscent of abstinence only education. If you’re not gold-star/abstinent, you’re Doing It Wrong. And as well as generally crappy for shaming people for having sex, its also exclusionary of survivors of nonconsensual PiV sex. Does it make them less of a ‘good queer’? No. Fuck that. Fuck making people feel used or like damaged goods.

  52. A golden tongue, that is all one needs, well, talented fingers too.

    Let’s be honest, how many of us at least thought of going to the clinic after hearing about Michael’ Douglas’ claim of vaginal food poisoning?

  53. so many feminists like!get off your high horse, its a funny video and it seems like some of you may just be jealous cause the gurls in this video are beautiful! They are feminine nd some of you are scared of that! I love bein a gold star too & people can be proud of whatever they want! Just cause some of ye slept with men doesn’t mean we cant be proud of the oppisite 🙂 peace!

  54. mmmmm, really uncomfortable with the assumption that being “sex negative” or not wanting to hear someone call their partner a bitch is a bad thing! Honestly, a lot of the way sex positivity is talked about/actually used in practice feels really icky to me, as a rape survivor! If that yucks someone’s yum, oh well.

    • I would be wary of making the correlation between being a rape survivor and liking/not liking particular sex-related things. I feel like sometimes there’s this expectation of “if you were REALLY a survivor you would NEVER enjoy XYZ kinky thing” – which alienates a lot of people like me, survivors who are into some disturbing-sounding kinks.

      • I’m making that correlation just for myself, though, I know that not all survivors have the same feelings about sex that i do! Like “I am a rape survivor and I feel uncomfortable with some of the wording in this article.” is really all I am saying! There are a lot of good reasons to feel negative about sex/BDSM/fetishes, and for some survivors, having experienced sexual assault is one of those!

        I’m really sorry that people are doubting your survivorhood because of what you do in bed, that’s really shitty! I am a survivor who feels really uncomfortable around some kinds of sex/fetishes/kinks, and that rarely gets respected, especially in ~radical~ communities (being able to have sex/wanting to is often seen as a measurement of recovering from one’s rape, people don’t always think before telling me about their rape/violence based fantasies, etc)! I’m sorry people are awful, they are awful to me too!

  55. lately autostraddle has become a rather hostile place. all of the gold star lesbian hate this article spawned is proof of that. the need to generalize a group of people that are different from yourselves or preferences to put them down.

    it’s pretty hurtful to me, as a gold star- a label I neither care much about nor put stock into- seeing people put me down because of that status- which I don’t flaunt- and making negative assumptions about me and my attitudes- that’s hurtful. We’re supposed to be a community here and to see all of this intolerance for another person’s identity or merely different set of life experiences is saddening.

  56. Just wanted to add that you can have the shiniest gold star out there, but two 9lb babies later, your vagina doesn’t know the difference. Unless she had both hands in there, that’s not too many fingers.

  57. So I responded to someone, but I watched this video coming into it knowing what I was going to see, and actually got an AS account to leave a comment, because I watched the video after reading the article.

    Three hours later, I still feel sick to my stomach and ashamed for being into kink and BDSM because of that video. I’ve never been ashamed of the things I want done to me in bed, even when I was 14 and discovering spanking was hot and knew that that was…well, it seemed unusual when I was 14. Even when I realized that the type of spanking I was in was way more like a beating than spanking a year later and that people were going to think that was weird. I didn’t feel this ashamed of my kinks when I was a confused teenager in an abusive relationship with a woman while I still thought I was straight.

    I feel ashamed now. I would feel worse if I had stumbled upon this article via buzzfeed or reddit without the context you’re providing, Ali. I feel gross and wrong and like I’m a bad queer because I don’t fit into these women’s representations of “real lesbians (for basically every reason: i like penetration, I like being called a bitch in bed, I like sleeping with men, I’m fat, I’m…etc., etc., etc.) I don’t want to have been this affected by this video, but it definitely made me feel like shit.

    So thanks for making this post, and mentioning the problems that came with this video because they are so real that I had to throw up in the sink after I watched it. Yes, they are problems and yes, this is a video that shames people. I’m not even capable of commenting on the sort of more intellectual ways it’s problematic yet, mostly because I currently feel bad about my sexuality (from orientation to kinks) in ways I’ve never felt bad about it before. Fortunately you and other commenters have covered them for the most part.

    So this post? Awesome. Thank you so much for it.

  58. Wow. Okay, so I agree that most mainstream lesbian porn isn’t really made for lesbians, but these reactions? I feel like there is too much generalization about what everyone likes/dislikes. Lesbians are just as diverse as people who are heterosexual! You could ask someone who is hetero to watch hetro porn and they are going to react like this to some videos. It really all depends on your kinks, likes, and dislikes.

    I would be considered a “gold star lesbian” but I wouldn’t want people to assume that I felt that way about lovely lady love just because these girls do, and I would never assume that people who have had experience with guys would all act the same way.

  59. This might seem like a silly question: do lesbians always have to have short nails? I’ve had long nails (at least an inch-and-a-half at their longest, enough that people asked me if they were fake), and I never had any problems when I was rubbing one out. However, I always stuck to just rubbing my clit rather than inserting my fingers into my vagina.

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