I’ve been thinking lately about the times when queer women are mistaken for sisters, cousins, or other relatives. I’ve also noticed people on the internet talking about this phenomenon here and there, but I haven’t found any research or even conjecture about it.
I figured this would be a good place to start the conversation. Numerous times I’ve been out with my partner and been asked if we were sisters. Once this even happened with former senator, Scott Brown (R-MA). To me, it seems like a way for someone to recognize that there is a relationship there, but dismissing the legitimacy, whether intentional or not. I have been thinking over this phenomenon for a while now, though only recently did I notice that nobody is talking about it.
I tried researching the idea, and I was able to find a comment on a thread occasionally, but it seems that most people dismiss it after it happens. Even worse, it causes queer women, whether they are part of a couple or not, to take a step back and examine themselves and their friend or partner, assuming that the clothes they’re wearing or mannerisms are somehow creating a meshed persona.
In effect, queer women are blaming themselves for others’ perceptions. Perhaps women are internalizing the fault as they are taught throughout their lives. I may be taking this a bit too far, but I believe the point has some foundation.
By recognizing a relationship between women as one of sisters or other relatives, the relationship is less threatening than a romantic or sexual relationship. Since this phenomenon most often seems to happen when men are asking, I think it might be that men do not see relationships between women as having the same status as relationships between men and women, or among men. I would love to find some research on this topic but until I can start, I’ll have to rely on my own speculation. I suppose I’ve been thinking of this as a dismissal of sorts; a way of devaluing the relationship.
The other issue I’ve noticed with this phenomenon ties into the fetishizing lesbian twins in pornography. Can this idea be so prevalent that it spills over into real life? I’m not sure how to understand how this applies to everyday life, but these pornographic scenes ultimately involve men being the protagonist of the story. Without men, the women’s relationship is invalid and unfulfilling.
I’m not sure how exactly to connect these ideas without further research, but I am hoping to get some more insight into this phenomenon of queer women being mistaken for sisters. I would love to talk to anyone who has something to say about this and I’d love to hear feedback!