Vintage homophobia: Tips for when you meet a lesbian from 1988

Wowza, can you say “dated”?

tips for when you meet a lesbian

This pamphlet, “When You Meet a Lesbian: Hints for the Heterosexual Women,” was a handout in a women’s studies 103 class at the University of Wisconsin at Madison circa 1988. While some of the advice stands the test of time — “Do not assume she is attracted to you” is probably worth repeating three times — apparently we’ve come pretty far in a couple decades when it comes to not acting as though lesbians are potentially dangerous wild animals. So, ya know, progress!

(h/t @jodyrosen via Jezebel)

Update: Or perhaps vintage satire? I can’t tell! What’s your vote?

Maya DusenberyMaya appreciates the sentiment but thinks “pretending to be a lesbian for 24 hours” is probably not gonna do much.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • selkie

    The fact that now both feministing and jezebel don’t understand that this was satire written by lesbians *and* that both blogs called it “dated” when it so tracks with my experiences with straight women feminists in 2014 is a sign of how utterly not dated it is. I would just add “do not assume that everything she says is to be taken 100% literally because you believe lesbians are incapable of humor”

  • emmie

    The whole thing….. wow. Especially numbers 5 and 10. For #5, um if the woman is straight then obviously she won’t be attracted to the woman. And for #10, hmmm how did she get this way? Well….. let’s see…. maybe she was BORN THAT WAY! Just like any other homosexual person! Sheesh!

    Was there ever a hand-out similar to this but opposite? “Hints for straight men on meeting a gay man” with the same questions?

  • Jana Harbin

    OK, how about we first not characterize 1988 as vintage? I get that I’m middle aged now and 1988, the year of my college graduation, seems not quite as far back as it may seem to some of you… but you need to know that we weren’t that backwards in 1988! We were raunchy and sexy and visible and vocal- and enjoyed it all immensely (just as we still do now). And when we passed around this list (yes, I remember), we laughed our asses off- as we were meant to do. It was written by a lesbian, a funny lesbian. That’s right, we were so comfortable with ourselves that we had a sense of humor. So instead of rolling your eyes about homophobia in the olden days, how about you have a good laugh too?

  • Masa

    Looks like satire. And well done too. Starts with the most absurd reactions and then goes to more nuanced “tips” for people who might be marginally aware but still say and do things that are heterosexist.