Lindsay King-Miller (@AskAQueerChick) writes a column for@thehairpin, which is a spinoff site from TheAwl.com, which is one of those Trendy But Not Actually Popular Kind of Blogs That You Should Never Call a “Blog.” There are dozens of these sites out there trying to convince investors that they could be The Next Buzzfeed. More accurately, the best they could hope for is to become The Next Salon.com, which has been losing about a million dollars a year since the 1990s. But I digress . . .
Lindsay King-Miller’s column is “Ask a Queer Chick,” i.e., her bid to become the Lesbian Internet Dear Abby. Of course, this ambition is problematic because there are entire sites like Autostraddle devoted to the Lesbian Lifestyle™ and, also, HELLO, IT’S THE INTERNET.
There is a reason why very few websites have “Advice for the Lovelorn” columnists, you see. Whereas in the Dead Tree Age, it was possible to be clueless about sex and relationships, in the Information Age, the only clueless people are (a) stupid or (b) quasi-autistic nerd types with impaired social perception. Everybody else is able to Google up their own particular issue and figure it out. By 2006, all potential relationship problems (“Is my penis too small?” “If you have to ask, the answer is yes.”) had already been answered somewhere on the Internet.
The only reason anyone would still be publishing an online Relationship Advice column in 2015 is to serve that niche readership of Pathetic Nerds Who Just Don’t Get It:
Q. I think the attractive woman in the next cubicle likes me. How do I find out for sure?
A. No, she doesn’t like you. Nobody likes you. You are an ugly man with Asperger’s Syndrome and nobody likes you. This woman on whom you have a sick fixated obsession doesn’t like you. If she smiles at you, that’s because you’re creeping her out. You make her nervous, staring at her constantly. Her smile is a sort of defensive shield. She has nightmares about you stabbing her in the parking lot, you disgusting weirdo. Leave her alone. Leave women alone, period. Don’t even look at a woman.
This is all that’s left, in terms of readers for Relationship Advice columns in 2015. Except for extreme nerds — whose social skills are so impaired that they don’t even realize how utterly hopeless they are — everybody else can figure out their problem with a simple Google search. Beyond that, thanks to social media and online dating apps, any young single person who is even moderately attractive nowadays is swarmed with would-be dates. This drastically shrinks the potential readership for advice columns.
Don’t like your boyfriend? Zap! New boyfriend, just one text message away. That is, if you’re attractive.
The Internet has starkly divided the romantic universe into the Haves and Have Nots. Therefore, if you’re doing a Relationship Advice column in 2015, you have to understand that you are dealing with the hopelessly desperate types who are probably beyond help of “advice.” So, what kind of questions do you think Lindsay King-Miller gets at “Ask a Queer Chick?”
- “I’m a twenty-five year old woman who is thinking about trying to date women. I’ve always had what I’m realizing were crushes on women, but have never talked about or acted on them. Do you have suggestions for the most respectful way to go about this, on say, OkCupid?”
- “I have such a crush on my intern. I’m not her supervisor, though I’m a senior person on a team that she is also on, so I’m in a leadership role in relation to her. I’m only two years older than she is. She is so ambiguously queer I can’t even stand it. We either have extremely subtle, almost-undetectable queer-girl sexy eye contact going on, or I am totally imagining everything. When she leaves our office at the end of the school year, can I ask her out?”
- “My girlfriend of over a year recently came out to me as a trans man. I’ve never been in a relationship with a man before: not because I’m unattracted to men — I am sometimes! — but because I’ve always preferred the company of women, and I love the queer community. I love my partner and support him and I want to stay with him, but I never thought I’d have a boyfriend, and I need some advice on how to proceed.”
Do you see what I’m getting at here? In 2015, people who have romantic problems that they can’t figure out without asking a Dating Advice columnist tend to be so far out on the freaky fringe — lesbians lusting for their interns, or dating a weirdo with gender dysphoria — that you don’t know whether to give them advice or report them to the FBI.
At least 90% of all “relationship” questions could be solved simply by asking the person a few questions:
- Are you ugly? Here’s the basic problem for most people who have relationship problems. This is not to say that attractive people never have problems. However, attractive people have options. If you’re good-looking and things aren’t working out with your boyfriend or girlfriend, there are lots of other people you could be dating, so you just move on and find somebody you like better. If you are so desperate to find love you have to ask for help from an advice columnist, you probably aren’t an international supermodel.
- Are you an introvert? Give them a Myers-Briggs test. If the result shows them to be an introvert, that’s the basic problem.Ceteris paribus, introverts have more social problems than extroverts, and also have more of a tendency to sit around brooding over their problems. However, being an introvert is probably not going to cause you a lot of dating problems if you’re extraordinarily good-looking, so if somebody’s asking you for relationship advice and the Myers-Briggs test shows them to be an introvert, they’re probably ugly, too. They’re batting with two strikes against them, you see.
- Are you crazy? Mental illness is more common than most people realize. About 1-in-4 women take mental health medications, mostly for depression and anxiety. Guess what? People with mental health problems also often have relationship problems. So if somebody comes to you seeking relationship advice, it might be helpful to know if they’re gobbling Prozac, just one crisis away from their next suicide attempt.
Once you’ve screened out the ugly introverts and crazies, you’ll find that there aren’t a lot of people who need relationship advice. Sane, good-looking extroverts aren’t writing to “Ask a Queer Chick,” you see. And — here’s the key point — people who are such romantic failures they write to advice columnists aren’t likely to benefit from whatever advice they get.Here is an actual question to Lindsay King-Miller:
My surface question is this: How common, really, is the sort of stereotypical “femme/butch” dynamic in female same-sex relationships?
My real question is this: How can I, as a relatively femme cisgender woman, meet other relatively femme cisgender women? This is not the only sub-population that I’m interested in, but it’s probably the most compelling one to me. I tend to be kind of wary of “lipstick lesbian” groups, because the ones that I’m familiar with can be pretty exclusive (“bi/queer folks, trans*/genderqueer folks, and ugly folks need not apply!”). But it often seems that in the larger LGBTQ world, I run into two obstacles: First, my femininity does not signal “queer,” and so unless I explicitly share that with people, other queer women don’t realize that I’m a potential partner. Second, I’m wondering if most of the women who would be interested in me would tend to be a little more butch than femme.
But actually, I think my real question is this: Should I even be worried about finding a partner who fits with what is consistently and pervasively most compelling to me (femme, cis women)? My sexuality is fairly fluid; I can also be interested in non-femme women, men, and some individuals who are genderqueer. My last relationship was with a cis man and lasted two and a half years, and it was wonderful, and I miss it. But if what most reliably pulls at my heartstrings is a femme woman, do you think I should just take that self-knowledge and zero in on that? From your experience, how successful and sustainable are mixed-orientation relationships, or relationships that may be surprising to oneself?
The only honest reply to that 267-word question: Have you sought professional help? Are you on medication? If not, why not?
To begin with, let me bet $20 that this person is an introvert. How else to explain someone who is “most reliably” attracted to women but who nonetheless spent more than two years in a “wonderful” relationship with a man? Extroverts tend to be decisive and action-oriented. Figure out what you want and go get it — that’s the extrovert way. Certainly, extroverts don’t sit around wringing their hands wondering how to attract the people they like, or trying to figure out if they would be happy in a hypothetical relationship they haven’t actually had. Furthermore, while you may not have noticed this pattern, it’s actually my point here: Many women who experience same-sex attraction are not strictly lesbians.
Of the four “Ask a Queer Chick” questions we’ve cited, three-quarters of them are from women who could be described as bisexual. Their interest in the “queer community” can be described either as opportunistic or an alternative to confronting their own failures in heterosexual relationships. This phenomenon is common enough as to have spawned an entire genre of books, including Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire by Lisa Diamond and Dear John, I Love Jane: Women Write About Leaving Men for Women, edited by Candace Walsh and Laura André. There are far fewer books about women who, after a lesbian past, have discovered that heterosexuality is actually not bad. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith has gotten a lot of attention. I’m sure there would be more stories like Professor Butterfield’s were it not for (a) the fact that most women like her keep their lesbian pasts secret, and (b) there is a pro-gay bias in the publishing industry.
The LGBT community (to say nothing of feminists) would raise hell if there were a spate of memoirs by women telling their stories about how they were part of the college L.U.G. scene (“Lesbian Until Graduation”) but then went out into the real world, met a nice man and got over all that. More than four decades since the emergence of the Women’s Liberation movement, there is a distinct but seldom-mentioned prejudice against certain kind of narratives. The only stories women are now allowed to tell are stories about how men are to blame for all the problems in the world. After reading about five dozen feminist books, I’m ready for the first truly honest feminist memoir, Don’t Blame Men: Confessions of a Neurotic Lonely Overweight Bisexual Cat Lady. Such a book would never be assigned as a text in Women’s Studies class, however, so instead we keep seeing feminist books that amount to a rehash of the same familiar themes — Misogyny, Objectification, Harassment, Rape and Other Evil Consequences of Male Supremacy and Heteronormative Patriarchy.
Feminism means that the problems of unhappy men are not problems at all — because what’s the point of feminism if it doesn’t make men unhappy? — whereas the problems of unhappy women are social injustice.
It’s nice of Lindsay King-Miller to explain the true meaning of feminism. Not as if we didn’t already understand it, but it’s nice when they say it in so many words.
In case further explanation is necessary:
- The reason feminists so often have to assert that they don’t hate men is because they don’t want to explain why they actually do hate men;
- The reason feminists hate men is spiteful revenge, because men don’t like them as much as they believe they deserved to be liked.
Sometimes, feminists are women who have actually been treated badly by men. Most often, however, it’s just about envy and frustrated narcissism. They think they should be admired, but there isn’t anything particularly admirable about them. Therefore, the feminist needs a rationalization to explain why this lack of admiration is not her fault. Otherwise, she might have to confront the reality that she is not as special and wonderful as she thinks. “Men don’t love me? It’s because men hate strong, intelligent women! This failure of men to love me proves that I am strong and intelligent, and proves that men are all selfish monsters!”
You keep telling yourself that, sweetheart.