Just Like Us cite harmful ‘man-hating’, ‘over-sexualised’ and ‘anti-trans’ stereotypes in their research
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY JUST LIKE US
Yesterday, LGBT+ young people’s charity Just Like Us released a new piece of research analysing delayed approaches to coming out amongst the lesbian community. Surveying 643 lesbians ahead of Lesbian Visibility Week, the study finds that more than two-thirds, equating to 68%, reported delaying coming out due to harmful stereotypes including lesbians being ‘man-hating’, ‘over-sexualised’ and ‘anti-trans.’
The research finds that the top two reasons related to stereotypes of lesbians being ‘cringey or awkward’ (30%) or ‘wrong’ (25%). This was followed by lesbians being stereotyped as ‘taboo’ (23%), ‘embarrassing’ (23%), ‘masculine or butch’ (22%), ‘over-sexualised’ (19%), ‘unattractive’ (16%), ‘man-hating’ (12%), ‘old-fashioned’ (9%) and ‘anti-trans’ (4%). Importantly, over-sexualisation forms the biggest barrier for young lesbians aged between 18 and 24, resting at 36%. This element impacts this age cohort more than any other group.
The report further investigates how these statistics differ depending on geographic location throughout the UK. In London, 76% of lesbians surveyed reported delaying coming out, with the figures representing 65% in the South East, 74% in the South West and 72% in Yorkshire. In Northern Ireland, 100% of those surveyed reported delaying coming out, with the figures for Scotland and Wales resting at 66% and 55% respectively.
Dominic Arnall is the Chief Executive of Just Like Us, and comments: “It is deeply saddening to see that the next generation of young lesbians are still suffering from these harmful and damaging stereotypes about lesbians. All young people deserve to know that being LGBT+ is something to be celebrated and through our work with schools, we want to smash these stereotypes and show that being a lesbian is a wonderful, positive thing”.
Director of Comms at Just Like Us Amy Ashenden states: “It’s heartbreaking to see that the majority of lesbians are delaying living their lives to the fullest and feel unable to come out because of tired lesbophobic stereotypes that continue to be perpetuated, and this is something I regularly see lesbians struggling with.
“It is especially sad to see that lesbians are delaying coming out because they fear being seen as butch, masculine and unattractive – societally there is a lot of work to be done around embracing women of all gender expressions and bringing positive messaging around being a butch lesbian to the forefront.
“To paint lesbians as ‘man-hating’, ‘unattractive’ or ‘anti-trans’ is to unfairly stereotype an entire community – these stereotypes are rooted in misogynistic ideas of what a woman should be and we can see the damaging effects of these stereotypes, particularly on young lesbians, in the research”.
Interested in the work Just Like Us do? Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Aged under 25? Consider joining their Ambassador Programme and help to change real lives with real stories. To donate to their cause, visit their website. Read the full report here.
DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.