News, Wit & Commentary for Lesbians
JIC Post (aka Just in Case):By Diana CageOnOurBacks.comA tall girl wearing a white T-shirt and jeans leans against the wall at a popular San Francisco leather bar. The crowd is mixed; a lot of men in chaps and a scattered number of dykes are smoking on the back patio. "I met her on craigslist," she says in reference to her latest trick. "She was visiting the Bay Area for a medical conference. She placed an ad saying that she was looking for fun while she was here, and I thought she sounded pretty hot. We exchanged photos, and she was a little straight-looking for my taste, but I guess that’s because she works for a pharmaceutical company. We had fun in her hotel room." Her friend nods and swigs from a Corona. "Craigslist is a good place to hook up with out-of-towners. I already have a primary relationship, but my girlfriend and I play with other people. I prefer to meet others online where it’s understood that it’s a one-time thing."Cruising on CraigslistSince the late nineties, those of us looking for "a little strange" have turned to craigslist. The women-seeking-women section is heavily trolled in major metropolitan areas from San Diego to D.C., and a simple "Butch Seeking Femme" ad can garner fifty responses by the next morning. A recent search of the site turned up two postings seeking information about queer Starbucks baristas working in San Francisco’s Financial District, one posting from someone looking specifically for a regular lunchtime habit, an ongoing discussion about oral-sex techniques, and an array of requests for everything from a butch-boi bottom to a femme of size in need of boot service. "Craigslist is like ordering a pizza," says Logan, a 26-year-old grad student. "Most of the people on dating sites like Gay.com are looking for a relationship, and that isn’t really what I’m into right now. I’ve found hookups, a boyfriend, furniture, and an apartment on craigslist." Logan, a queer trannyboy bottom who uses craigslist to find butch and FTM tops, explains that craigslist revolutionized his sex life. "What I want is so specific, it’s just easier to find it online, meet up for coffee, decide if you like each other, and then go back to an apartment and fuck." Butchfemmematchmaker.comDykes with day jobs have found that the internet allows us to cruise for sex while filing expense reports, but more than that it has changed the way we interact. "I love that I don’t have to go out all the time," says Suze, a 38-year-old former bartender. "Even five years ago, I felt compelled to hit bars and clubs a couple of nights a week just to see people. But now I’m pretty connected to everyone online. I talk to my ex on instant messenger, I’ve met dates on craigslist, and I keep up with everyone’s social life through LiveJournal. I really only go out when there’s a fun event going on." Googling for GrrrlsSo you’ve all heard the commonsense safety tips about online hookups: meet the person in public first, tell a friend what you know about your date and where you’re meeting her, etc. And you’ve scoped out the babe’s Myspace profile, read her blog, looked at her online photo album, and checked out her friends. Here’s one more thing to do: Google.Type her name into Google and/or other search engines, and you might be surprised what comes up. Her softball scores, place of employment, genealogy records, the program for an open mic she appeared at five years ago—if she has an online presence of any kind, a search engine like Google will likely find it for you. Depending on how common her name is, you may need to put in additional search terms, like her city or email address if you have it, so that you can weed out the 22-year-old history major at Duke from the 34-year-old photographer from Dubuque you’re meeting on Saturday night.If this is someone you’re meeting for a one-time hookup, you may not care where she works or where she’s been published, but if you want a little more 411, Google her.Four Degrees of SeparationWhile the appeal of craigslist may never wane, since 2003 a new tool for wasting time online has surfaced. The overwhelming popularity of social-networking sites like Friendster, Myspace, and Tribe.net has changed the way we flirt and hook up, perhaps permanently.Friendster, which boasts 19 million profiles, started the trend. The internet-addicted logged on in big cities like Manhattan, San Diego, and San Francisco, but before long the entire country was Friendster-addicted. "Dude, my dad is on Friendster," says Kate, a 24-year-old account manager. "He met his girlfriend there. I don’t want him to look at my profile and see all the testimonials from my friends because he’ll think I’m a drunk slut.""Usually I see a girl somewhere and talk to her first, but I might use Friendster as a way to get to know her," says Ana, a 29-year-old financial analyst for Planet Out. "It isn’t a dating site, so it’s low pressure.""The girl I am seeing isn’t into email, Friendster, Myspace, or anything like that," says Morgan, a 40-year-old controller for a wine distributor. "She’s not really online at all, which seems weird to me. But she works in a salon, so it just isn’t part of her life. Since we haven’t been able to do the usual getting-to-know-you conversations over email, we talk on the phone a lot more. It was kind of awkward at first, but it’s getting easier. It’s just moving a lot more slowly than what I’m used to."Friendster, which New York magazine compares to a "high school dance mixed with a virtual rolodex," allows users to connect with friends as well as friends of friends, up to four degrees of separation, creating the sensation of community. The site grew so quickly in popularity that it often crashed in the beginning, causing regular users to defect to similar but newer sites like Myspace.com and Tribe.net. "They are all basically the same thing," says Forrest, a freelance graphic designer. "I switched to Myspace for a while, but it’s really dominated by fourteen-year-olds, so I switched back to Friendster. The other day I was having dinner in a Mexican restaurant, and three guys at the table next to me were having a conversation about which was gayer, Myspace or Friendster. They seemed to think Friendster was the gayest."Like any cheap place to hang out and gossip, dykes have flocked to Friendster. "It’s totally a drama magnet," says Kelli, a buyer for a popular sex-toy store in Chicago. "Everyone is on Friendster; it almost functions like a bulletin board for the queer community. It’s where all the parties get announced, and everyone promotes their drag performances and stuff." She pauses to sip the latte in front of her. "It’s the testimonials that get you in trouble," she says referring to one of Friendster's popular functions in which users can leave testimonials to each other, which seem to serve as records of relationships. The remarks may seem appropriate at the time, but it’s a lot like leaving your journal open for everyone to read. "I left a testimonial to my then-girlfriend, who kept complaining that I hadn’t done it yet, so I finally did, all about how in love we were. And now I feel weird removing it, but I don’t feel that way about her anymore, and I don’t want my current lady to see it.""I was totally addicted to Myspace for a while," says Kelli. "The problem was that everyone I knew was on it, and they were all writing blogs about what they did the night before and leaving comments on each other’s pages with inside jokes. And I was kind of stalking my ex. Well, not stalking her, but I was very interested in who she was sleeping with, so I was constantly combing everyone’s blogs for mention of her and who she might be hooking up with. Finally, it got so bad I just deleted my Myspace account so I couldn’t look anymore. It was depressing me."Friendster is the reality-TV show about dyke drama that LOGO should produce. Everyone is hooking up, fighting, and breaking up, all right there for the world to see. "It’s a little like bad lesbian porn," says Ana.Online Porn for Bois and GrrrlsBut what about real porn? The internet is crawling with it, and it seems that in between sex and schadenfreude, queer women are getting off online. "I look at porn online all the time," says Lauryn Pigeon, 28, a Brooklyn resident and sometime deejay. "But I really only like straight porn," she says. "I never look at lesbian porn. I look at gangbang sites and interracial porn. So does Ana," she says referring to her best friend. "We have the same taste. Basically we’re like Jewish butch-lesbian frat boys.""I look at gay-male porn. I don’t look at lesbian porn because it doesn’t represent the girls I go for. I like real-looking queer women," says Gino, a 32-year-old facilities manager for an advertising firm. When asked about porn sites that feature real queer women, like the Cyberdyke network or Darkplay.net, she replies, "Never heard of them.""I look at 89.com—it’s a free site where you can look at snippets of videos that have come out recently," says Karen, a 30-year-old French instructor at New York University. "I only look at the gay part. There are all these subsections like gay cowboy, gay Europe, and gay bondage. I also like to read smut stories on a site called Nifty.com, though they aren’t very good."Instant Access with Instant MessengerKaren says, "Most of the time I spend online is on instant messenger. My previous relationship was long distance, and we spent a lot of time chatting online. We had tons of sex on instant messenger. And we sent each other dirty emails. My current girlfriend and I had sex over instant messenger a lot in the beginning." Karen and her girlfriend Rachel share an office in NYU’s French department. "When we first got together, we couldn’t stop touching each other. But we were afraid someone would walk in. Once we had instant-messenger sex while another teacher was actually in the office. We both sat there at our respective computers as if we were working.""I have that conversation archived!" says Rachel."Instant messaging and email allow me to be connected to everyone I know, pretty much all the time," says Jules, a freelance writer from San Diego. "I travel a lot, and I have a lot of play partners. We keep up with each other’s lives through the internet. It collapses the physical distance. I like to flirt over text messages as well. Sometimes I use text messages as a way to get a girl hot before we go on a date. I’ll send her something about how I want to see her tied up, so I know she has to think about it all day at work."About half of the interviewees for this article were interviewed over instant messenger. And everyone I chatted with agreed that it was a great tool for flirting, but it’s also dangerous because without inflection and body language, it’s easy to misunderstand each other. "My girlfriend has outlawed instant-message conversations because we fight too much," says Sal, a 38-year-old librarian from Seattle.Personals Plus vs. Freewheeling FriendsterWhat about all the dating sites out there? Isn’t anyone using them to get girls? "I feel like dating sites aren’t good for meeting people because there is too much pressure on the fact that you are dating. You can really get a better sense of someone through a site like Myspace or Friendster because you see someone interact with their friends," explains Ace. "I’ve used Gay.com and Planet Out and had mixed results. But that’s the same across the board as far as the internet is concerned.""When I first moved to the Bay Area from Seattle, I used Planet Out personals as a way to make new friends. I went on a few dates with girls I met, but nothing really turned into anything," says Sal."I met one of my good friends over Planet Out personals," explains Gino. "It wasn’t a sexual thing. But I’m glad I met her. And I did meet a former girlfriend through Planet Out. But I really prefer things that aren’t designed as dating sites.""The problem with a lot of the personals sites is that they aren’t specific enough. I’m not just a ‘woman seeking a woman’; I’m a queer butch top seeking a submissive, kinky, femme bottom. And you don’t get that kind of specificity with dating sites," explains Ace."Butchfemmematchmaker.com seems better designed, but I checked it out recently, and it didn’t seem to have a lot of people on it. I’ve also looked at a lot of sites that claim to have millions of profiles of bisexual women and lesbians on them, but when you log on, it’s all porn pictures and people looking for sex with women—but not what I consider dyke sex. I mean, they aren’t dykes. Technically they are women who want to have sex with women, but they don’t appeal to me."While researching this article, I came across a site called Executivelesbiandating.com and tried to sign up for it. They claim to have hundreds of thousands of executive lesbians looking for serious relationships. They charge you a large fee to sign up. It’s designed to keep out the riffraff like myself. I filled out a profile and submitted it for approval, but no one ever got back to me. "I don’t really think they exist," says Ana. "How could there be hundreds of thousands of lonely rich lesbians looking to get married? Why haven’t I ever met one in person?"
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