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- Years old:
In Berlin, I watched us queer women watching each other.
Woolf states that while the world is indifferent to the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of men, it is blatantly hostile to those of women, resulting in the need for a place where they can comfortably and honestly exist as their authentic selves. This trend is because of the longstanding persecution, oppression, and denial of the queer community within the United States by the dominant, heterosexual majority.
Though this majority tends to group gay men and women together because of their shared sexual preferences of same-gendered relations, the development of lesbian bars necessitates particular attention.
This is because these places represent the desire for a space that is not only queer, but also, built for women. The steady growth of lesbian bars throughout the twentieth century can be attributed, at least in part, to the outward dislike of gay women expressed by gay men when they inhabit the same social space — in this case, bars.
The popularity of lesbian bars throughout the twentieth century sprang from the necessity of a space of their own. Before the s, lesbian community interaction was extremely limited to upper-class women and sex workers, since women unaccompanied by men were often refused service in public spaces.
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However, ificant changes began to take place due to the social transformations of the early twentieth century. For example, there is the possibility that Prohibition actually deated the bar as a lesbian space, since lesbians could come together in speakeasies, where they illegally drank alongside heterosexual populations who, like them, were breaking the law. For example, during the s and s, working-class lesbians in the city of Buffalo began to congregate at bars, enabling lesbians to end their sexual isolation and instead develop a sense of community with one another.
This trend continued throughout the rest of the twentieth century and into the present day.
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However, with the dawn of the digital age, some scholars have noted that lesbian bars are beginning to die out. And while this bar, which closed inis only one example, it represents a larger trend of the disappearance of spaces for queer women in the club and nightlife arena throughout the United States.
This has happened in numerous cities throughout the country, from Los Angeles to Houston to New Orleans. And while Cohen holds that this may just be a result of a greater acceptance of queerness, therefore invalidating the need for lesbian bars, there are still a fair amount of male-dominated gay clubs in cities across the United States.
The prominence and increasing normality of these dating apps allows couples to interact through digital space, in turn destroying the need for physical spaces, such as bars, to serve as meet-up spots.
For example, according to a survey done by Match. And while hook-up apps have risen in popularity throughout the last decade, attempts to create online services specifically for queer women, such as the apps Her and Scissr, have failed tremendously. This could possibly be because Her is a paid service. Additionally, both apps attempt to promote themselves as spaces where queer women can make friends and find fun events in their area, making the sexual aspect of these services vague or seemingly obsolete.
However, it can also be attributed to the negative place identity of digital space held by queer women. One must note the negative perceptions women tend to hold of themselves for participation in online hook-up services. One college-aged queer woman describes her experience on Tinder as fluctuating between straight couples seeking a third person for threesomes and men that would show up in her feed, despite her preference being set to women. This is evidence of the fetishization of this community by the dominant heterosexual majority, further causing queer women to view the use of dating apps in pursuing a love life as a futile attempt.
Queer identifying women are further still disenfranchised with participation in the online dating sphere due to the perception that it may be dangerous. Furthermore, queer women identifying as a race other than white are often subjected to racial biases on dating apps, which may lead them away from online dating. A study found that white men and women of all ages are more likely to pursue relationships with other whites, and are the least likely of all the racial groups to date outside of their race.
This has ificantly detrimental effects to queer women attempting to participate in white-dominated social spaces, which are characteristic of the United States. This can dissuade older queer women from using online dating services, as they may feel they have next to no chance at securing a successful match. Public spaces for women, particularly those for queer women, will always be a necessity in a male-dominated world that often subjects them to degradation, verbal abuse, and physical violence.
The solution, simply, is a hook-up space of our own.
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“open-minded couple seeking a third”: queer women in the digital age
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