7 Reasons the Phrase “Gold Star Lesbian” Needs to Die
What’s the gold star for?
Simply put, a “gold star lesbian” is a lesbian who has never slept with a man. So, what’s the problem? Why does this phrase need to die? Take a look at the following seven reasons.
1. It's another attempt to control women
Although some lesbians wear the term with pride, a lot also feel like it’s offensive. The current climate already aims to control women’s reproductive systems, and the “gold star” term has a subtle connotation that women “need” to sleep with at least one man during their lifetime, lest they miss out on a “necessary” experience. This isn’t even to touch on the experiences of those who have had sex against their will, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
2. It reinforces negative LGBTQIA+ stereotypes
The “gold star” term also reinforces the idea that anyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum can “choose” who they would like to have sex with. By asking “why” they haven’t had sex with the opposite gender, it insinuates they have a desire they’re simply not acting on, and that’s simply not the truth.
3. It places value on some sexual experiences above others.
Most of us can probably agree that it’s totally weird and creepy to place a huge amount of value on the virginity of women and girls (virginity meaning, typically, penis-in-vagina hetero sex), because women don’t lose value when they “lose” their virginity. The whole “gold star lesbian” thing places those same values of “purity” on lesbians who haven’t slept with men. A woman’s value shouldn’t have anything to do with whom she has or hasn’t slept with, regardless of what community she’s in.
4. There are plenty of lesbians who have slept with men…and guess what? They’re still lesbians.
We live in a messed up heteronormative world that puts enormous pressure on women to partner up with men, and some lesbians do just that before they come out. It doesn’t change the fact that those lesbians are still only attracted to women, and we shouldn’t imply their sexuality is less legitimate, or that their attraction to women is any less pure.
5. It plays into the narrative that bi women have less pure intentions when they date women.
The idea that never sleeping with a man is the standard we should all strive to live up to plays into the idea that bisexual women are less desirable for lesbians to date, since they’re not as “pure” in their sexual desires or experiences.
6. It can make it more difficult for rape survivors to talk about their experiences.
Placing so much value on the “gold star” can make lesbians who have never had sex with men, but who have been raped by men, feel far more uncomfortable talking about their experience with other lesbians, because the “gold star” is so tied into ideas of status and purity.
7. It can be used to justify transphobia.
While “gold star lesbian” really just means a lesbian who has never slept with a man, penis is often equated with man in lesbian communities, and invoking the “gross out” effect of certain genitalia in “gold star” conversations is common. (We see it played for humor in online videos where lesbians touch a penis for the first time.) Here’s the thing: no one really cares what genitalia your girlfriend has, and no one really cares who you date. But don’t exclude trans lesbians, or the cis lesbians who date them from your definition of “ideal” or “real” lesbians.