The Unbearable Fairness of Lesbianism


Can we talk about dibs? Like “callin’ dibs” on the window seat, or taking the first shower, or on being the front half of the elephant at the masquerade ball? These are all perfectly normal things that someone might attempt to claim for their own preemptively like say middle schoolers, or office workers vulturing over leftover meeting pizza.

Most of us, I’d wager, are very aware that there are lots of things though that really cannot be requisitioned by just anyone. You can’t decide that the public fountain in the park is where you are relocating your dog grooming business. Dibs won’t stand up in court in defense of your unauthorized use of cable services or for taking a wallet from a stranger’s pocket.

Even if there is no established ownership of them, calling dibs on parking spaces in Washington, D.C. with things like bins or folding chairs will get you a ticket.

Maybe you are thinking, “You know what? There are limited spaces in my neighborhood and I live here. It’s in front of my place. It should be mine.” If so, that is where we begin to part ways. See, I feel like those chairs are limiting everyone and making it difficult for the repair service van or the delivery truck or your neighbors’ visitors. You are not in charge of the street. Are you going to get nasty when some frazzled driver finally moves your questionably obtained traffic cone so they can stop circling around the block? Is parking a crime worthy of keying a door, or starting a fight? Who wants to live in that world?

Why are we talking about dibs on Queereka? What does calling dibs have to do with lesbians? Well, I’ve illustrated a conversation trend I’ve picked up on lately. This is a verbatim retelling of the most recent of these conversations I’ve found myself in.


Jean Béraud’s 1908 painting, The Drinkers, spliced up into comic panels
Jean Béraud’s 1908 painting, The Drinkers, spliced up into comic panels

Woman: So what brings you to queer soul night?
Man: Oh is it? Does that mean you’re not into men then?
Woman: Yep. So you’re not into them either?
Man: Oh hell no. I’m not gay.
Woman: You say that like it’s the worst thing. You’re not really jivin’ with my worldview, y’know?
Man: Oh right. But yeah. So no men at all?
Woman: Well, yeah. That’s typically how it works with lesbians.
Man: That’s not fair!

That’s not fair, he said. An adult responded to another adult’s sexuality with “that’s not fair.” The logic-parkour he executed to get from point “Oh, a lesbian” to crashing into the pool of “lesbianism is an infringement of my rights” is fascinating. This guy is calling dibs on reciprocal interest and is really put out that I’ve moved his chair and parked myself at the queer bar.

There is certainly a meme in pop culture of straight women showing annoyance at discovering their crushes are gay — and “that’s not fair” is absolutely a total bullshit response to anyone’s disinterest in romantic encounters, period. But it seems to me that this shift from less direct admissions of imaturity and entitlement such as “Are you sure?” and “You just haven’t found the right guy” from straight men is more recent. In the last year I’ve noted tales of it popping up frequently in conversations with my queer friends. As baffling as it is to hear I actually prefer its absurdity to a lot of the other common negative reactions. They’ve done the work of breaking it down to their true feelings: as a woman you are fair game, your feelings be damned. You are in front of them, so you should be theirs. How have you missed the part where they have claimed us all with assorted milk crates held together with mop handles, and buckets of hardened cement with house numbers stenciled on them?

“It’s not fair? You should get to have a chance at anything and everything you want? Are you a toddler?”

I kind of love how easy it makes things, cutting right to the chase.

Still not interested or swayed in the slightest by bratty behavior. Sorry, I call no dibsing on …humans.


[Featured image/Béraud’s The Drinkers source]

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  1. And of course, I’m sure if you call them out on it, they’ll insist they meant it as a ~compliment~; after all, the ‘reason’ it’s unfair is that you’re so attractive, right?

    Excellent piece, even if I disagree with you on the matter of street dibs (though in Chicago, we only recognize dibs in the three or so days after a heavy snowfall, when you’ve made the personal effort to clear a space of 6+ inch-deep snow large enough for your car until the plows can get around to opening up the side-streets).

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