Misandrist Seeks Male Lover
by Keely Weiss
People like us don’t exist. Haven’t you heard? Bisexual women are a myth, at best, or at worst a pernicious social disease engineered to wreak havoc upon the queer community. We’re sluts, incapable of moderating our desire to a single gender, or we’re merely appropriating gayness until we decide we’ve had our fill and are ready to find husbands. It’s a word for straight women who use lesbians as props and for lesbians who are scared to commit to their identity. Arriving at bisexuality by way of gayness, on the other hand, is a logistical impossibility. Our culture has not accounted for that path of self-discovery, and thus: I am simply a Bad Lesbian. To tell the truth, I’m pretty sure I might even be designated by my actions — by my path from Identity A to Identity B — as a Bad Bisexual.
Here is what you do when you’re a secret: you turn to the Internet. Since 1995, this has been the answer — anyone whose desires have ever been uncertain or unorthodox can find what they are looking for on the other side of the screen. And we’ve come a long way from AOL chatrooms, baby. Nowadays the only thing you have to do to experiment with your sexuality is change your settings on Tinder.
Being gay on Tinder is only a minor hobby: the resources are finite. Within an hour, I can find three coworkers and two former high school classmates I’d never thought were queer. From there, listing yourself as “interested in men and women” is like taking a deep dive into the Pacific Ocean from the International Space Station. The deluge is unmanageable — they’re short, and tall, and skinny, and muscular, and some of them are clearly actually 17, and some of them are clearly actually 45, and they’re all around you, and suddenly you feel a profound sense of sympathy for straight women. At least I don’t have to deal with this if I really don’t want to.
Women seem to quickly disappear from my options, so much so that I check my settlings multiple times to make sure I’m still listed as interested in both of the genders Tinder offers. Gross. If I wanted to live in a world where queer women are barely even an afterthought, I’d probably be trolling for dates in real life instead of on my phone. I’m hunting for men online because it seemed less frightening than doing so in person, but at this point it’s hard to remember how I ever came to that conclusion. I used to be unjustifiably picky in my days as a “women only” Tinder user, but now I’m so relieved to see a woman pop up that I swipe right every time. In a single week of keeping my preferences open to men, I’m pretty sure I’ve matched with more women than in the entire rest of the time I’ve been using Tinder.
I started considering men again because I wanted to know what it felt like to be chased. This is how the straight world seems to work: men see, and women are seen. As someone endeavoring to date others who have been taught to be seen, it becomes a gargantuan effort just to make myself feel visible. I am exhausted by seeing. I am exhausted by my efforts to make myself be seen. I failed to consider, in my effort to expand my horizons, that the male obsession with chasing was half the reason I stopped spending time with men in the first place. The first male match who messages me, before sparing even a hi what’s up, wants to know my favorite sex position. On OkCupid, it’s frowned upon to send messages that begin and end at “Hey!” On heterosexual Tinder, I would sell my soul for a hey.
When I was in New York for the holidays, I almost got drinks with a man whose face I don’t know — his only Tinder pictures are of his admirably-shaped body. He wants to fuck me like a donkey, or a whore, or something, I don’t know. I’m learning that talking dirty with a man I don’t know is to follow a Mad Libs template. He’s also the first match who I actually feel is talking to me like I’m a human person. Does this qualify as irony?
As I’m riding over the bridge on the subway into Manhattan, I get a text from him: he’s canceling because his friend is in the hospital. Only later does it occur to me that this friend might be an excuse instead of a real person. Still, I like to imagine what might have happened to this friend and how their relationship might have changed in the aftermath. Was this friend a man? Or a woman? (Neither?) In my head I construct for them a narrative not unlike that of the poet Maggie Nelson and the paralyzed friend she describes in Bluets. If my aborted Tinder date is Maggie Nelson, I’m the jacaranda: described to him, by his dear friend and correspondent Tinder, as a “type of blue” when really it turned out that I was purple.
In the last text he sends me, he tells me that I shouldn’t have a problem getting laid at any bar I might deign to visit. Garnering that crude-oil sort of validation from this man I have never met feels like an accomplishment. It also feels like proof of another way in which I am failing. In the absence of physical evidence that I am lovable, I will settle for being fuckable, and strangers from the internet seem convinced that this, at least, is within my power. Yet they themselves dance out of my reach, and they will not tell me why. That is a question they cannot answer. I am not sure whether to feel relieved or disappointed by my Maggie Nelson’s change of heart, so I settle for feeling unfinished.
After this, I mainly Tinder in short, aggressive spurts — late at night, deep in a navy-blue won’t somebody please fuck me sort of mood. Everyone is awful. I am enmeshed in my longest dry spell since I lost my virginity and nobody is worth fucking. I begin to interrogate my own proclivities: I’ve spent the past two years surrounding myself exclusively with women, mostly queer women, and even interacting with men has become a burden.
Dig deeper. Try harder. Push past it.
I’m drunk when I swipe right on the carpenter, a 33-year-old man who looks crunchy in (I try to convince myself) a “fun way.” He talked to me in a manner I didn’t like, even if there wasn’t anything intrinsically disrespectful about it.
I met him for coffee the next morning, and I already hate him — he is even crunchier in person and not “in a fun way” — but I walked the two blocks back to his apartment, and I hated his apartment, but I went into his room, and I took off my clothes, and I literally shuddered when he touched me and yet, and yet, and yet, until —
A friend of mine made a short film about a girl who tells her two gay dads that she’s going to a movie but who instead goes to a party to lose her virginity. Even though the experience goes poorly she endures it from beginning to end.
After she gets home, one of her dads tells her she’s allowed to leave the theater in the middle of the movie. She paid for the ticket and she owns her own experience. She owes the movie nothing.
I left in the middle of the theater. I realized, starkly, like a bucket of cold water to the head, that I couldn’t live with myself if I stayed where I was for one minute longer, and I grabbed my clothing and threw it back on and raced out of the door, telling him that it wasn’t his fault, this was an experiment, it turns out I’m a lesbian after all. I’m not a lesbian; you’re just absolutely nauseating.
I practically sprint toward the subway station. I delete Tinder from my phone. Men who like women are everywhere. I don’t need to fuck one badly enough to go out of my way hunting for it. Five days later, I leave my parents’ house in Brooklyn and fly home to my roommate and my cat in Los Angeles.
A couple weeks after this, I’m ready to return to online dating. (The saying goes, after all, that dating other women is like finding a job: these days, one must either apply online or get a referral.) I want the world to remain open to me — or is it that I want myself to remain open to the world? And so I download Tinder again. This time around, I know one thing to be true: I will not find my next Maggie Nelson through an iPhone screen, and until I do find him — if such a thing is even in the cards — it will bring me no joy to sort through the chaff. My last great milestone was the realization that dating men might be an option available to me; now, months later, I understand that this does not make it a requirement.When I open up Tinder for the next first time, I set my discovery preferences exclusively to women.
Keely Weiss is a Brooklynite living and writing in Los Angeles. She cares about building queer community and staying on-brand at all times. Keely is the co-purrent of a cat named after Ronan Farrow and has gotten into multiple Twitter fights with Joyce Carol Oates.