We've heard from a few folks concerned that we could be up to something they've decided is NOT to their liking for lesbians in general.
Possibly we are mistreating other lesbians, possibly on purpose?
Or possibly not purposefully, but as the obvious outcome of how we imagine lesbians today . . . which is now obliviously old-fashioned to the point of obsolescence?
Our thoughts on who we are, who other lesbians are allowed to be now, and how we're all allowed to behave together are sometimes “so wrong” others feel we should be shouted down and explained away.
. . .
So Once Upon a Time . . . Many Years Ago . . . we mostly received authoritarian-style concern from religious fundamentalists, something like: "Lesbians are still behaving badly because you still call yourselves lesbians even after we already told you’re all whores on the highway to hell."
You know, approximately. We still hear from them occasionally.
More recently, different folks are also suggesting we're behaving badly, but now in two new and mostly contradictory ways:
GROUP ONE: lesbotronic is behaving badly because you are not keeping lesbians safe from trans women and/or bisexual women with bad boyfriends and worse husbands.
GROUP TWO: lesbotronic is behaving badly because you continue to insist that lesbians continue to exist at all. Preference for one biological sex over the other is no longer allowed in dating or befriending if you are a cis woman, so both female homosexuality and labelling yourself "lesbian" in any way that's about interest in other cis lesbians is now cancelled as well. You should be tragically embarrassed for your failure to realize that lesbianism is now cancelled for cis women, because it shows everyone how old-fashioned you are. Also, the name of your website now makes trans and bisexual women unsafe.
It doesn't seem like most of these folks with concerns actually signed up for lesbotronic. They don't seem like lesbians who socialize with other lesbians elsewhere either. Most don't even seem socially interested in lesbians . . . at all? But they still have concerns.
So, this is a special "pullout section" of the FAQ to which we will now refer anyone with these particular concerns. We didn't put this in the discussion forum because we imagine inviting comments on this would serve mostly to invite folks with no sincere interest to come troll those who are looking for something enjoyable. (We have a strong preference for members who would rather something more mutually pleasurable with other members hoping for same.)
But for future reference, with the exception of SOME STATS we put near the end, all this info was already and remains in our site FAQ.
. . .
Those are not your concerns represented above in GROUP ONE or GROUP TWO?
That's cool. We're not under the impression most of our members are extremely concerned either. Mostly, they just want to use the site to meet the lesbians who want to meet them back.
So stay gold, Ponyboy, and stay off Twitter.
. . .
As a necessary preamble to clarify these concerns: when we started lesbotronic we imagined we'd be exclusively for lesbians. Since that's who we are, that’s what we knew.
What we did not predict were all the bisexual women and trans women that quickly started signing up right along with the lesbians. The original questionnaire did not ask about sexual orientation and trans vs. not. And it was a basic mailing list in the beginning, where everybody heard about everybody else. We didn't even know what kind of filters we'd eventually need, so we had none.
As you can probably imagine, that did not scale well.
Then, because it was emphatically requested by almost everyone, we moved the profiles online and added filtering options. And everyone requesting better discrimination in search results wanted not only to eliminate the demographics they didn't wish to date/befriend themselves, but they also wanted everyone else to be able to do so as well. Mutual. Reciprocal. Meaning, they wanted to be excluded rather than included from anyone else's search results that didn't want them TOO.
Because honesty about who you are and who you'd like to meet saves avoidable rejection for everyone? Because better discrimination in search results means you're less likely to waste your own time or anyone else's? This seemed to be everyone's dominant motivation.
Currently, everybody does NOT have to hear about everybody else anymore. We have search results now that filter on geography, age, educational level, sexual orientation, biological sex, gender presentation, ethnicity, and relationship type desired. (Interest in a new sexual partner is not required for participation; there's always the rest of your social life plus single by choice folks and established couples can often use some new friends too.)
It can get really granular if you like. Your search results narrow by who YOU are and want to meet, and based on the OTHER member's criteria as well. For every single question, you can also choose that you're open to everyone. That means at least on these criteria, everyone in each other's search results mutually wants to meet each other, exactly what most of our members requested.
We let the lesbians tell us what they wanted and then . . . we're not mad about it?
In other words, we never imagined ourselves "in charge" of telling lesbians what to do. We just invited them, then let them tell us.
We thought we were giving the adults in our "online lesbian bar" a sufficiently extensive menu of options, then letting them choose their own adventures. And that was fine, for years . . . until relatively recently, folks now have concerns regarding some of the search criteria listed above:
lesbian vs. bisexual
trans vs. not
GROUP ONE (some similar-sounding concerns we're calling Group One):
"lesbotronic is NOT a safe space for lesbians because you are NOT protecting them from bisexual women with boyfriends now expecting threesomes with lesbians which they're probably even going to get NOW because lesbotronic is serving something other than 100% authenticated pure lesbians."
"Why is lesbotronic not taking its responsibility seriously to protect lesbians from trans women? Keeping lesbians safe from trans women is your job!"
"Is lesbotronic coercing lesbians to date bisexual and trans women?"
"Is lesbotronic encouraging trans women to bully lesbians who do not wish to date them to go on dates anyway? How is that safe for lesbians? Why don't you care that all your lesbians are unsafe now?"
"Are you encouraging trans women to accuse any and all lesbians who do not wish to date them of transphobia?"
"A site called lesbotronic should never allow bisexual women and trans women to sign up at ALL!!!”
So, with regard to safety, you're entirely correct. We're not keeping lesbians safe from bisexual women and/or trans women or . . . anyone at all, really. No. All the nope.
Most members are hoping to meet other women, IRL after everybody's comfy, and many do exactly that, which we love since that's what we had in mind when we started the thing. But while there are women you could meet on lesbotronic then take that offline . . . lesbotronic is online only.
There are venues where folks meet face-to-face for the first time IRL without the opportunity to verify anything in advance. lesbotronic is pretty much the opposite of that.
The cool thing about an IRL venue is you can see the whole person and right away, definitely. While lesbotronic isn't cool that way, it could be another way, if different is actually what you want. Because you could actually ask other members for validating info then verify it before meeting anyone at all.
So there's that.
The folks with other concerns seem aware that lesbotronic is online only, but feel if we are lesbians running a site called lesbotronic . . . it's obligated to be "pure lesbian space" where a lesbian would never have to wonder about anyone else, or validate or verify anyone in any way at all.
The only women allowed in would be lesbians, and they'd all be the "right" kind of lesbians too.
Over time, we've gone to whatever lesbian spaces we could while traveling anywhere in the country. We're talking lesbian bars, lesbian nights at other bars, gay and lesbian bookstores, women's music festivals, lesbian spoken word, lesbian nights at coffeehouses, lesbian reading groups, lesbian support and 12-step groups, lesbian meet ups . . . and possibly something else we're forgetting now but lots and lots of everything lesbian we could find, both in support and out of curiosity to see what they were doing and how.
And if there is any "pure lesbian space" accessible to the public anywhere in the United States, we've yet to discover it.
We certainly haven't spent any time in it.
And while definitions of "lesbian" have been a bit variable lately, we still know we'd qualify for most.
Yes, we do find this mildly amusing (sorry not sorry), but only because we sense an inverse correlation between finger wagging at lesbotronic for our failure to provide "pure lesbian space" and any experience with any public lesbian spaces . . . at all.
If you ever thought you were in any reasonably well-populated public space full of nothing other than lesbians who were lesbian enough for you, it's likely bisexual and trans women were also present but also apparently flying way under your radar.
They just didn't TELL you. So you just didn't KNOW.
If you advertise anything for lesbians, you'll likely get some lesbians that are lesbian enough for you, some bisexual and/or trans women that probably aren't, and a few "lesbian adjacent" friends who wanted to hang out with them too . . . that's who's showing up to the lesbian bar.
And just like any other bar, most folks say whatever they need to say to get in the door. Online forms, same.
There's no reasonable screening that could ever get to the bottom of who's who in all of that. Public bars could never be that tightly controlled, plus not already knowing everyone who comes in the front door is part of the appeal of a bar, that someone new to you might show up.
Meanwhile, anyone feeling argumentative should realize that lesbians, bisexual women, trans women and trans men do often date each other. That doesn't mean YOU have to date anyone that YOU don't want to date. NOPE!
But to assume for all lesbians everywhere that they need to avoid anyone on that list above is not your job. For YOURSELF, absolutely. For everyone else . . . still nope.
We think it's best that everyone likely to show up to our "online lesbian bar" can legitimately identify themselves and be allowed in after they do.
. . .
Offline IRL, you can definitely create your own pure lesbian space according to your own definition. You'll definitely be able to have it exactly your way, and the only ones invited will be your own kind of pure lesbians. Because they'll be the ones you invited to a dinner party in your living room. Or a cookout in your backyard.
And we imagine that'll be a compatibly lesbian experience for everyone invited, because you'll only invite folks you've known long enough to be absolutely certain they meet your definition.
But don't let any guest bring her own plus one. If not heavily vetted in advance, new guests will introduce question marks. You can really only have pure lesbian space if you keep it small enough that it will never be capable of attracting new women on anything approaching a regular basis.
You could also look for a local group of lesbians that has already vetted each other. But if you don't already have one or are looking for new members for yours, seems like most look online these days.
. . .
So back to safety . . . when we've shared some of the realities above with women who eventually seemed to accept them as truth, a few then scattered in a couple of other illogical directions:
Such as: "If even a site like lesbotronic run by actual lesbians can't promise to keep women safe, lesbians just can't meet each other online anywhere anymore! It's just not safe!"
Or: "If someone donated or crowdsourced this we could get lesbotronic money to screen all the profiles with more advanced technology and then they'd have everything they need to keep lesbians safe!"
Basically, a lot of folks seem to be under the misapprehension that any problem any lesbian could have in a relationship that started online first could have been completely prevented in advance with better screening, possibly assisted with newer better more expensive technology than just our organic brains and eyeballs.
Sometimes, sure. I mean, if you sign up for a site that doesn't screen newbies in any way whatsoever, then yeah, but . . . this is the awkward moment when we share that lesbotronic already does screen all profiles submitted and we're already doing that for free . . .
. . . sometimes followed by yet another awkward moment if those folks subsequently start waving around one of the ideas above in bold.
We're already only accepting about a third of all profiles submitted.
(Pre-answering questions about that last sentence: you don't want those other two-thirds, nope you do NOT. For real. We're not that snobby. You didn't want 'em, no way; we will say that again and we're still not sorry nope!)
We mean this in the least hateful way possible, truly . . . because while the notion we could keep all lesbians safe if only we had enough money feels like a sweet compliment, we think it's the WRONG IDEA overall. Because in a roundabout way, it suggests that with more money and advanced technology we could save women the bother of doing their own screening.
And protect them if they don't.
We don't believe safety is something anyone should encourage women to "outsource," not online or IRL. We also believe any website that suggests their screening is close to foolproof is creating a dangerously false sense of security.
We're well-intentioned and increasingly experienced, getting more experienced with screening all the time. But we'll never be omnipotent or infallible. Some wrong or fake folks will always get past the goalie.
We'd rather not encourage women to worry vaguely. We think specific common-sense precautions which practically mitigate risk are the more sensible (while still social) idea. Our advice section encourages you to take your safety and security into your own hands.
Here's an excerpt that is applicable to this discussion:
If you made a date with someone based on one professed demographic and headshot, but whoever it is shows up looking like a whole entire someone else, JUST LEAVE.
Because you met them IRL the first time in a public place, right? So JUST LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! is never not an option on that first date, right?
Not even 5 minutes for excuses, because that is a lying liar who lies and will keep right on lying.
Then report them to lesbotronic!
We care if someone is misrepresenting themselves and we take action, usually by giving the offending member the opportunity to experience the rest of their lives as a non-member.
. . .
Some folks are worried that lesbotronic is inclined to allow trans women to bully XX lesbians and vice versa ON lesbotronic.
NOT that they still imagined adult lesbians on lesbotronic, both trans and XX, could realistically be bullied into doing anything unwanted IRL . . .
. . . but in thinking that, using the site would then either be frequently traumatic because of all the onsite bullying, and/or that we'd be booting anyone out for simply reporting it.
And we guess we have to operationalize "bullying" here? Mostly the concerns seem to be that trans women will ask XX lesbians on dates and if they say no, they'll be accused of transphobia and/or kicked off the site.
It feels very twilight zone that we'd even have to say this, but no; no XX lesbian member of lesbotronic is required to go on a date with a trans woman. And vice versa.
No one is required to date anyone they don't fancy.
We have XX lesbians that only want to date and befriend other XX lesbians. We have XX bisexual women that only want to meet other XX bisexual women, and we have XX bisexual women that prefer XX lesbians. We have trans men that only want to meet other trans men. And yes, we have trans women that only want to date other trans women. (More on this in SOME STATS below).
We're not aware of any member bullying another into an IRL date, or for refusing one. While it's possible bullying took place in some members' private messages without us noticing (because we don't read those unless a problem is reported), members have not reported this issue. We think if bullying was going on, we'd probably be hearing about it via our onsite reporting tools that members have already used for other stuff.
And just like a decent bartender at a decent bar would do if one of her customers was refusing to hear a clear NO from another . . . we'd tell 'em, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."
. . .
GROUP TWO (some similar-sounding concerns we're calling Group Two):
"Lesbians are no longer socially acceptable, but I guess don't shut down your whole site, LOL! Why not just rebrand as Queer WomXn?"
"Lesbians are seriously no longer even socially relevant. So just stop it."
"Queer females must now refrain from any subjective sexual desire and submit to whoever wants them, or everyone else will point to them as phobic. Are you doing that too --- telling every single lesbian on the planet she's transphobic? You better or else."
"If I admit that biological sex is still real for dating on Twitter, I’m accused of phobias. You probably will too, just wait."
"Lesbians aren't allowed to exist anymore because a bunch of them discriminated in the past."
"Does lesbotronic still allow homosexuality?"
You know a proprietary attitude toward female sexuality is standard issue religious fundamentalism, right? If you were raised with Christian fundamentalists, you may recognize this authoritarian refrain.
Fundies believe females are obligated to have sex with those they'll deem worthy (males). But it's not homophobia, it's holy!
It's not that female happiness is entirely unimportant to them, all things being equal. It's that they have an approved algorithm of human happiness they impose on everyone, where females are worth only a fraction of the value of males.
In this algorithm, it's more important to keep males happy; so if you're female, it's ultimately fine that your happiness could be sacrificed for the "greater good" . . . which'll probably mean a big manly dude for you, lesbian.
Most fundies aren't precisely in love with bisexuality either, but if you can do it in a way that keeps the penises happy, you can probably get away with it. Lesbian is the sexual orientation that offends fundamentalist men the most because it's the only one that excludes them.
They also tend to think that exclusion should be temporary.
. . .
So confusingly, GROUP ONE is mad at lesbotronic for not providing "pure lesbian space" plus some version of "pure lesbian safety."
GROUP TWO is mad at lesbotronic for continuing to insist lesbians continue to exist at all.
Or more specifically, because we're not allowed to say there's any difference between XX females and trans women when it comes to dating anymore.
According to GROUP TWO, we're no longer allowed to admit that humans are sexually dimorphic, or that the vast majority of humans are biologically male or biologically female, independent of gender presentation.
While homosexuality was once generally allowed by liberal progressive, tolerant well-educated types, some activists want it cancelled now. Then by domino effect, since biological sex is cancelled, so is any sexual orientation that doesn't include males, at least for females.
By extension, this means female bisexuality is cancelled too, because it is a logical "other" to female homosexuality. Since female homosexuality is definitely no longer allowed, it crashes female bisexuality down along with it in a cascading effect of orientation cancellation.
All these new philosophical-sounding theories, when they practically trickle down onto any actual human lives, seem to mean it's somehow selfish to be a lesbian.
Because whoever a lesbian doesn’t already desire isn't good enough.
Meanwhile, men still get to be men, and gay as well if they like, because OBVIOUSLY, they're still MEN! [see: history of sexism]
Straight men: According to these same theories, it should logically follow that heterosexual males are now obligated to have sex with any other male that wants them too, like it or not. But in practice, few seem to believe heterosexual males are sexually motivated by theories.
Gay men: Many conservatives are still giving gay men a hard time. That is, any gay men still listening to conservatives, which even conservatives seem to think is hardly any of them anymore.
Straight women: Things get dodgy when you move from males to females, as so many are motivated to tell straight females what to do, as women. But it's nothing like the lesbians. Straight women still love penises so they'll always be on trend.
Not so much for lesbians, no. By the time you get to the trifecta of female, feminine presenting, and not dating males, the urge to instruct that so many sexists have is so very strong they just can't help themselves! Lesbians shall be judged! Sometimes even by other lesbians, sadly. And no, feminine gender presentation isn't required, but if present, you'll probably be judged more often and worse.
Is lesbotronic mad at everyone else for their ability to self-direct? For real, no. We'd like lesbians treated the same. We'd like lesbians granted the same ability to date whomever they like without it being a controversial issue.
Talking to everybody, but especially the lesbians: It's your life. It's your body. It's not public housing.
Even if you're a lesbian, no matter what you call that. Even if.
. . .
So to address concerns bolded above, to the folks that said our criteria (and the boundaries they imply) are too outdated and old-fashioned, we’re sharing some stats.
All our search criteria were member requested, that's why we added them in the first place. And currently all our search criteria are still being used by the vast majority of our members. They're using them to discriminate among the potential demographics that could appear in their search results (saying no to some of them instead of remaining open to all).
Very few folks seem concerned about most of the other search criteria. Hence, we're only reporting specific numbers on specific current concerns regarding biological sex and sexual orientation.
We pulled numbers on the following groups, specifically on who wants to meet whom and for what style relationship. We see the most severe discrimination along biological sex and gender presentation between the following groups:
XX bisexual women**
(**Yes, we understand that a woman can be both trans and bisexual. We have thousands of trans women, but only a handful identifying as anything other than lesbian. Correspondingly, the vast majority of our bisexual women are in the XX category.)
For relationship type, we collapsed the categories into interested in only platonic relationships (Platonic) vs. possibly interested in having sex relationships, including casual and hoping for longer-term/spousal (Possibly Platonic Plus.) So, in short, relationship types will be one (P) or the other (PPP) or just all the Ps.
Our first finding is that it's not generational. Our younger members seem to be discriminating more, while older XX lesbians are now the group most likely to allow the largest range of folks in their search results by leaving their criteria wide open. (Not only on the criteria reported here but all the other ones on the list above too. Not so "old-fashioned” after all.)
And these are the larger differences we found in our current database.
Probably predictably, given the name of the site and how we’re “by lesbians for lesbians,” XX lesbians are by far the most popular group for all the Ps among all groups. For XX lesbians and all the Ps, about 15% are open to trans women, and about 40% are open to trans men. These numbers hardly change when you exclude PPP. In other words, we thought we'd see our XX lesbians get more interested in both trans women and trans men if you exclude PPP, keeping it P only, but they are remarkably consistent across P and PPP.
Most bisexual women are open to both XX lesbians and other bisexual women for all the Ps. There are small but significant minorities of bisexual women only interested in XX lesbians and bisexual women only interested in other bisexual women. About 25% of bisexual women are open to all the Ps with trans men as well as trans women, with seemingly no discrimination between them.
Trans men are more likely than other groups to want to meet trans women for all the Ps, about 40%. And they select interest in other trans men about 60% of the time.
Our trans lesbians also mostly want to meet XX lesbians for all the Ps. It's over 95%, same as the XX lesbians wanting to meet each other. A significant minority (just under 30% for each) of trans women are interested in trans men and XX bisexual women for all the Ps. Trans women are least interested in meeting other trans women, selecting them well under 5% of the time for all the Ps. That last percentage seemed weird and low, so we pulled numbers for trans women that excluded PPP to look at platonic only relationships and found that the percentage jumped up to over 75%.
on lesbians with the audacity to call themselves lesbians even though lesbianism was "cancelled"
wikipedia on lesbian: a homosexual woman
wikipedia on homosexuality: As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. The most common adjectives for homosexual people are lesbian for females and gay for males, but the term gay also commonly refers to both homosexual females and males."
Our data suggests XX lesbians that want to date each other will always exist. We believe lesbians have been around since before you were born, and will remain as long as the rest of humanity, however long we've all got.
Not only will we persist, but now that sexism is "cancelling" lesbians while simultaneously labeling a long list of biological male/biological female pairings "queer" instead . . . lesbian could be the only authentically transgressive sexual orientation left!
If wikipedia's definition for "lesbian" sounds like you, you can still label yourself whatever else instead, and we'll still support you, for real. But suggesting there's anything wrong with "lesbian," that the worldwide, cross-cultural and cross-generational history of lesbians should shoo! begone! is not a branding issue.
It's sexism plus homophobia.
And pretending sexism is something else entirely is almost as old as sexism itself.
This next bit is going to sound like snark or sarcasm, but it's not. We think it's actually harder for young women to confront actual sexism rather than imagine it's something else entirely. It's a harder day when you realize there's nothing new under the sun that was ever wrong with being a lesbian no matter what you've heard so many sexists say.
It's much nicer for young women to imagine they can easily fix this for themselves if only they just stop calling themselves lesbians. Or women.
The underlying problem is that a "lesbian" (or whatever word anyone else is using for lesbian) still doesn't center men or masculinity. It's the underlying difficulty with being a female into other females exclusively at all, that males aren't into you not being into them too. That's the whole entire deal.
"You can't call yourselves lesbian any more" is yet another symptom of sexism. It's convenient for sexists for you to spend as much time as possible worrying about what sexism is NOT, because then you'll have no more energy and focus left to get mad at actual sexism instead . . . which still unfortunately won't be cured by changing names or labels or pronouns or stickers or slogans.
If you're still a female interested in other females and open to anyone at all giving you grief about that, THEY STILL WILL, and signing up for a fresh new label still won't fix it. It's understandable you'd want it to and understandable you don't like hearing that it won't, because if a fresh new label won't fix sexism then the alternative is that you're stuck with living with sexism and who wants THAT?!?!
It'd actually BE a better world if it was merely a branding issue that all the sexists who have a problem with females into other females can't stand the specific word "lesbian."
But it's that first part that's actually the still enduring problem. If they still know you're female, and suspect you're conducting yourself in a manner not of maximum benefit to males . . . no matter the benefit to whoever else of whatever else you've been up to instead, you're NOT the right kind of female.
Sexists have a visceral problem with it. That anyone ever imagines "problems with lesbians" en masse is anything other than sexism is ultimately gaslighting, or an after the fact rationalization to justify a visceral inward feeling that it's beneficial and gratifying to hang onto your sexism.
And whoever you are, you can call lesbians whatever you like and give those women as hard a time as you like, but they're still not going away, even the ones that aren't afraid to call themselves lesbian.
They'll mostly just avoid you instead.
. . .
If you're a lesbian, we know it's hard to ignore all the hateful messages we quoted above. With so many sexist people, it's next to impossible to shut them all out.
But we really hope you'll try.
. . .
contacting lesbotronic about lesbotronic
Anyone who wants to has long been able to email us, which has obviously contributed to the number of opinions received, and this remains the case.
But we're seriously NOT guaranteeing a reply. We're not even suggesting a reply is likely, especially if we didn't enjoy hearing from you.
Mostly because we feel we've replied to a LOT by typing this pullout section, and we've said most of what we could possibly say. We don't want to continue wondering whether or not we're allowed to continue existing just because some folks have even more and additional "questions for lesbians."
We want to be a reasonable social resource, not debate your theories of womanhood or meditate on cancelling biological sex in dating. Did we want to contemplate the latest and greatest in sexist terminology until we all backed away slowly? NO WE DID NOT.
We also can’t answer 1001 "but what abouts" regarding very specific situations or rare demographics. If you're wondering about someone(s) not already referred to here or elsewhere on our website, we do not consider ourselves any kind of experts.
We feel that the vast majority of adults you'd ever want to engage with will work it out amongst themselves by honestly using the filtering options on this site or others.
. . .
. . .
. . .
Quite frankly, we didn't expect to write any more statement on trans issues after this one!
Thought we were done!
But nope! There's more now: are we obscene?