Charlotte Summers is fed up with unwelcome leers and unsolicited dick pics

BY CHARLOTTE SUMMERS

Lesbians and bi women often face a sea of questions about their sexuality, relationships and even sex life. Sadly, I’m no different and regularly have to deal with questions, looks and comments that belittle and sexualise my relationship. Whether it’s online or offline, my lesbian status is constantly sexualised due to how society sees me.

The mantra “sex sells” is used and abused when it comes to the lesbian/bi identity. If we turn to mainstream media, it’s easy to understand where this false perception of what it means to identify as a lesbian comes from. Historically, lesbian characters have often been created to be consumed by the straight audience and, sometimes, to please the LGBTQI community with a nod to queer representation.

Representation is great, but accurate representation is even better. You see, many lesbian characters shown in the media are femme. For some straight guys, a femme lesbian is their idea of heaven. As a femme lesbian myself, seeing a character that mirrors me is amazing, but the problem lies within the content. A lot of these romances include a married heterosexual couple but the woman strays with a lesbian lover. They also include a lot (and I mean a lot) of sex, which often is a straight guys fantasy of what lesbian sex is.

With so much media being created geared towards the straight community, not to mention porn, it’s not surprising that we are finding that some men (women have fallen victim to this too) have been sexualising lesbians.

Speaking from experience, online I have faced many DMs and comments asking for threesomes and I often get unsolicited dick pics. My relationship has also faced sexualisation and men have approached us in the streets whilst asking intrusive questions. We avoid all straight clubs, because the harassment is overwhelming and when we tell them “no” because we’re in a relationship, it only fuels the fire.

But, the saddest thing about this is that my story is shared with thousands of couples around the world. That’s why I helped to form Reclaim Your Labelto show society that our lesbian or bisexual identity is not something to be sexualised. To date, we’ve had over 200 women get in touch and share their stories about how they’ve experienced sexualisation.

But there is hope and with social media being the powerful tool it is, we are creating safe hashtags to use, queer couples are becoming more aware of the dangers that are lurking and more couples are talking about how to stop this. Although they’re only baby steps, sometimes the littlest of things can have the biggest impacts. To follow our movement, you can join us over on @reclaimyourlabel!

Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors of DIVA magazine or its publishers.

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