October 19, 2000


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And then there were four. In Samantha’s absence, I was the odd woman out this week as I was the only one who could not relate to what Catwoman, G. Killians, and Absinthe were talking about: being with a woman. More specifically, though, we spoke of the ins and, well, the ins of lesbianism. This is something that needed to be discussed before the group delves into any further topics in order for the rest of us, and, more importantly, the rest of you to understand Catwoman’s point of view a little bit better.

Catwoman prematurely leapt out of the closet when she was 17. She had known on some level that she was attracted to other women, but had planned on waiting until she got to college to reveal her sexual orientation. In high school, she hooked up with a boy for a while, but that was just because she didn’t know any lesbians at the time, she said.

When she did meet a lesbian for whom she had very strong feelings during her senior year in high school, Catwoman felt that it was time to let her parents know. “Coming out” had substantial effects on her family life. Before, she was very close with her mother; now they talk much less. “She thinks my life is some weird gay thing,” she said. On the other hand, Catwoman had never been close with her dad. When she became open with him about her sexual preference, he saw being understanding as a way to get on her good side, and he talked to her about it for a while. Then her mom yelled at her dad and now they no longer talk about the subject. Catwoman’s siblings still do not know that she is gay.

Since she was 17, Catwoman has had several relationships, and in the past two weeks she has been involved with two women (both of which were initiated or reinitiated since the group last met). At some point, Catwoman hopes to find a woman with whom she can spend the rest of her life. She would also like to get married, if it is legal, but that is an entirely different topic of discussion.

Back to our focus though. We had many questions for Catwoman about the technical aspects of a physical lesbian relationship. For example, I have been wondering since my ninth grade health class how it is that lesbians use condoms. My teacher apparently failed to explain that tiny piece of information.

Catwoman explained that there are special kinds of condoms that lesbians commonly use called “dental dams.” The name for these latex squares was coined by dentists, who use the same device to isolate oral areas during dental procedures. But these dams can also be used as a form of protection during oral sex (the use of these condoms is obviously not limited to lesbians). Since these devices are not widely available, there are various other methods of protection with the same purpose. Despite the fact that the sexual activities in which lesbians participate puts them in a low risk group for sexually transmitted diseases, people sometimes use devices such as these because there is a difference between low risk and no risk.

I still don’t understand why Catwoman is on birth control, but that question may forever remain unanswered.

Since lesbians lack that crucial body part that heterosexual people commonly associate with the term sex, what it was that lesbians are doing behind that metaphorical closet door? One answer, Catwoman told us, is that lesbians often partake in “tribadism,” or what Catwoman jokingly refers to as “leg sex.” It involves one woman rubbing her organ of choice against her partner’s leg or stomach. While heterosexuals can do this, too, only lesbians can both do it at the same time.

Absinthe is not a fan of this technique. He said that a sexual partner had tried it with him in the past, and his sentiments on the subject were, “You might as well be a chair.”

The next part of the conversation involved Catwoman, Absinthe, and G. Killians exchanging technique about pleasuring a woman, and the mysterious and elusive “G-spot.”

“What about ‘gaydar’?,” I interrupted, “Does it actually exist?” Catwoman said that there are certain cues that she uses to determine if a girl is a lesbian. She looks at another women’s hair, dress, and for the presence of pride jewelry in order to gauge her sexual orientation.

She also looks for a girl who wants to look good in a way that is not pleasing to men. When a lesbian tries to look like a sorority girl, for example, it throws her off. “If someone tries to put out a signal that I am not familiar with then it’s hard,” she said.

Another question the group had was where do Catwoman and other lesbians at Cornell meet other women with a same sex preference? “There’s a lot of dykes on the bus,” she said, half jokingly. Common Ground, which is on Route 96, past Ithaca College, is also a place frequented by members of Cornell’s homosexual community, as are social support groups. Ithaca has a big gay community, unfortunately for Catwoman though, most of it is over forty. Nevertheless, it seems that she is doing quite well for herself.

But, of course this is not a complete discussion of the ins and ins, but space is limited. This is an overview that is meant to provide insight into a way of life with which many of you may not be familiar. Hopefully, however, you, like me, will not feel like the odd one out in this and future discussions of ins.

Archived article by Sara Katz