The Lesbian Sex Joke: Did You Get It?

By perpetuating the idea there is secret lesbian knowledge, lesbians take power away from mainstream forces like Hardees/Carl’s Jr.

Becoming the Power That Excludes

Arielle Scarcella makes light of this trend in her YouTube video series, “Lesbians Explain”. In the video, “Lesbians Explain: Scissoring” she asks one lesbian interviewee whether she scissors. The woman admits she is not acrobatic enough for scissoring and emphatically declares that “pussy eating” is the number one sexual position. At the end of the video, she makes sure the viewer understands how much she enjoys oral sex: “Pussy is the shit and we eat it!” This video has been viewed over half a million times and has over 1,300 comments. The comments section for this video contains a lot of debate about whether or not lesbians actually scissor. In fact, it’s in the comments section of YouTube where the complex relationship between these onscreen lesbians and their audience becomes clear. The majority of confused and angry comments are not lesbian ones.

The abundance of LGBTQ-made videos on YouTube suggests that the response to mainstream constructions of marginalized sexual identities isn’t one of retaliation, but rather a celebration of real lesbian sexuality in concert with a tongue-in-cheek wink to the lesbians in the crowd at the expense of mainstream ignorance. Lesbian-made videos hold up a mirror to the dominant world-view of lesbianism by mocking the most egregious representations of their sexuality, such as the inane notion that lesbians secretly desire sexual satisfaction and dominance by men. Such mainstreamed falsehoods draw on the most salient and exaggerated representations of sex that exists—pornography—to create fictionalized “lesbians” in need of a phallus.

The idea that lesbian sex occurs only in anticipation of a male intervention into the sex act is about as wrong as wrong can be, but it’s perpetuated in mainstream media to the point of absurdity. “Lesbian” pornography often represents women in need of penetration, and this concept is replicated ad nauseum far beyond pornography, as in the Hardees commercials. It’s certainly progress that media forces like BuzzFeed have begun to challenge mainstream constructions of lesbian sexuality, but it’s the lesbians themselves, now able to exert some control over media through self-published videos, that really brings the point home. Do-it-yourself outlets like YouTube have made a space for lesbians to write their own scripts. And they’re not that interested in coddling to the ignorant masses.

Unsolicited Project’s The Gay Women Channel takes this challenge to a new level of sophistication. The beginning of the video “Scissoring – Pillow Talk” features the lesbian hosts Adrianna DiLonardo and Sarah Rotella comparing lesbianism to a video game:

Adrianna: “For those new gaybies out there: Scissoring is like a more experienced level of lesbianism. Take your time to get there. You can get hurt. There are other things that you need to accomplish first. You need to unlock scissoring.”

Sarah: “It’s like you gain enough experience points and then it’s like a new level. So then you have this map.”

Adrianna: “You’ve unlocked caressing! Where would you like to go next?”

The two women then compare the advanced difficulty of scissoring to its straight equivalent of pole dancing. They repeat that you can injure yourself if you’re not leveled up sufficiently. Adrianna claims she once dislocated her arm trying to scissor. They go on to explain that the peace sign is actually an Asian gesture indicating the desire to scissor and that Japanese lesbians have been scissoring much longer than North Americans. The beauty of this particular video is the matter-of-fact, informative tone the two women employ throughout their discussion. They never laugh or break character and their demeanor throughout is one of seriously trying to explain scissoring as an advanced sex act to their audience. The humor is so dry that many viewers just don’t get the joke. For those in the know, the comments section is almost as amusing as the video itself.

Several viewers who identify as male seem simply confused:

“funny I can never tell to what extent you guys are joking. like is this a golden life lesson or do I just not understand anything anymore?”

“….i thought lesbs sai thats porn stuf…aAAAAH so frustrating! everyone has a truth & contradicts the others”

A number of other viewers attempt to correct their claim about the peace sign:

“Sorry if I and probably 90% of Asians didn’t know that sign, but it just doesn’t mean that in Korea, Japan, or China.”

“isn’t that scissoring asian sign you talk about the otaku sign ? or maybe i’m just really confused right now…”

Meanwhile, the lesbians in the crowd join in on the joke:

“I’m so glad I resisted the temptation to try scissoring with my first girlfriend because I think she probably could have broken me in half.”

“’Oh this scissoring is aweso- OWW! I dislocated me shoulder!’ **COMBO-BREAKER**”

The lesbian hosts in this video are making a very salient point, but it’s a point that relies on its audience’s ability to see through the constructed version of lesbian sexuality ubiquitous in mainstream media, and they really don’t care who can’t figure that out. In other words, lesbians are willing to answer some of your questions, but their patience is wearing thin and it’s more enjoyable to mock the “ignorant shit” than to get angry about it. Lesbian resistance to the phallocentrically constructed “lesbians” with long, painted fingernails, stiletto heels, and a desire to eat meat together (seriously, Hardees, no subtext at all) hinges on these lesbian videographers’ use of sarcasm and irony that pushes mainstream audiences, sometimes to a breaking point.

After reading some of the comments in response to one of her “Lesbians Explain” videos, Scarcella tweeted to her followers: “LOL at the straight guys getting offended by my new video #NotAllMen (It’s not about YOU silly).” It seems Hardees would like us to believe it is all about them when they made a hamburger stand in for a penis. In the “BBQ’s Best Pair” commercial, the two women sandwich (it’s pun day) the burger between them with scissored legs (I’m not kidding) and lick the dripping meat from one another.

By embracing the pleasure of critiquing such nonsense, lesbians can inhabit, at least temporarily, the privileged perspective of the observer in relation to the marginalized position of the objects under observation, a perspective usually accessible only to straight men. Through enacting and perpetuating the idea there is a “secret” lesbian knowledge, lesbians take power away from mainstream forces like Hardees by choosing not to explain the joke. They reverse the long-standing oppression of being excluded from mainstream representation by turning it upside down—by becoming the power that excludes.

With the rise of easily accessible soap-box outlets like YouTube, lesbians are able to take pleasure in their outspoken resistance to the ridiculous constructions of lesbian identity, and such resistance is made more enjoyable by presenting the critique as an in-joke for the lesbians in the audience. For a long time lesbians have been rendered invisible through false constructions and commodification of their identities. The internet has now made a space for that marginalized group to turn the tables on mainstream audiences by intentional contradiction and double-speak.

At the end of “REAL Lesbians React” Kam turns to the camera, horrified, and confirms that “lesbian” porn is not for lesbians. She says “it’s gross and not sexy and… not true.” In that same video, Scarcella confirms: “If ‘lesbian’ porn was made for lesbians, there would be Home Depot ads on the porn sites.” Don’t get that joke? You may be the butt of it.