Lesbians Are From Venus - Straight Girls Are From Mars

OK I confess - I've been reading straight mags again, but only for research purposes! I am always thinking how different straight women are from lesbians (who we sleep with being the least of our differences) but it is when I occasionally flick through the monthly glossies passed on to me by straight friends and relations that it really hits me.

Take the latest article I read, about someone approaching 40 (I'm guessing from context), much like myself, and all the things she never thought she'd be doing. Like me this woman grew up in Essex in the 80s (stop sniggering, one can't change the circumstances of one's birth), but that's where the similarities end.

She bemoans the fact that while in her youth handbags were for dancing round, and therefore uncool, she now owns 18 of them. EIGHTEEN. Why? Why would you want one, let alone 18. I have never owned a handbag except for one my mother bought me that I've occasionally used for interviews in extreme heterosexual settings. It is a huge mystery to me what women carry in their handbags and why they need to carry all that stuff around. OK, so some things are necessary - money, lip balm/lipstick depending on your proclivities, sanitary wear as applicable, and... see now I'm struggling, mobile phone maybe (not sure it's a necessity, depending on how long you'll be out and where you're going), oh yes keys. But all this can easily be carried in a coat and/or trouser pocket and as for diaries, filofaxes, mirrors, pens, perfume, make up, and any other number of useless items that women carry around with them - do you really need them for an afternoon in town? If you need them for work, fair enough, but then you don't need a handbag you need a work bag, also large enough for your packed lunch and book. Obviously I just don't see things the way straight women do.

Next on her list of things she thought she'd never do is 'become part of a sporty couple'. Oh no, no, no! Now this may be a sadness peculiar to this particular hetero, but I don't think so, I've seen the tendency elsewhere, and sadly some lesbians have been influenced (I won't name names, but you know who you are, you couples who do exercise together). But on the whole, lesbians do sport either in groups, i.e. group sport - something hearty like hockey or football, or a bit butch like rowing, or they do it alone at home, or in gyms. This poor straighty has also succumbed to becoming a beauty product believer, now what self-respecting lesbian would admit to that! There might be a few who are closet users of beauty/anti-aging products, but they won't admit it, brag about it, or swop tips about products the way straight women do, and on the whole they're not interested in the beauty industry and the attainment and maintain-ment of beauty (as defined by society and glossy magazines). How many lesbians do you know who've had Botox? Not following fashion is a similar phenomenon, but that demands its own column.

And yet again I'm glad I'm not straight if it means that when you hit your late thirties you become a fan of 'dad rock'. What? I mean, what planet is this woman on? Abba maybe, but Joni Mitchell and the Rolling Stones? I rest my case - they're from Mars, they must be!

Then there's how we shop. Straight women just do it differently. Now, obviously my experience is somewhat limited to family members, but unlike straighties, I'm a big proponent of the grab it and run method of shopping, as used by lesbians and straight men everywhere, which comes in two parts:

I usually already know what I want, it's just a case of finding it, shopping on spec is a recipe for disaster and running up credit.

Quick scout of a likely shop (very few shops make it onto the list so this doesn't take long) - I can tell within a few minutes if they have anything promising, if not leave, if they do, buy said item and leave as quickly as possible thereafter. Straight women however, seem to enjoy shopping, for its own sake! The thrill is in the chase, they are happy to spend hours looking through tat that shows no signs of offering up a promising item, let alone one that will fit, 'just on the off chance'. Having found something perfectly suitable they insist on continuing to look, in case they find something better. They nearly always have to try it on, at length. I try things on at home, because shop changing rooms are the work of the devil - they're too hot, the lighting is bad, the curtains don't meet, or worse they're communal (shudder with unpleasant memories of school changing rooms) and there is invariably a queue. Add to which, you get strange looks trying on men's clothes in the women's changing room, and even stranger ones trying on men's clothes in the men's changing room (no I haven't tried it, I'm speculating) and the men's clothes are usually on a different floor to the women's. From this I hope you're guessing, that being a tallish woman, I'm a big fan of men's clothes - they fit better, they're better made, they're cheaper.... need I go on? But, as I'm fond of saying - that's a topic for another article.

Naomi Young is the founder of Velvet magazine and writes regularly for www.PlanetSappho.com - lesbian dating a popular site.

Copyright © 2007 Naomi Young