The phenomenon of femininity: platonic or romantic

Story by Morgan Sun
Feature Editor

Illustration by Isole Kim
Co-Design Editor

The phenomenon of women’s stereotypically intimate friendships seem to be a staple of the “straight girl besties.” The story of drunk friends kissing through the haze is not an unusual one, but the tendency to brush off these acts as purely platonic is harmful to the genuinely sapphic relationships. While people, and their sexualities especially, are fluid and complex, people must be wary of the lines that blur a friendship and romantic relationship. When assumedly straight people cross that boundary, the validation of other queer relationships come into question. 

Assuming people’s sexuality is inherently harmful to the safety of queer folks, but the issue lies with those in a committed relationship who find it acceptable to kiss other girls solely because it is “not official.” These women who claim to be straight and in an exclusive relationship will still casually plant a kiss on their friends. Even so, the inkling of an in-between never springs to mind. 

Bisexuality encompasses the umbrella of everything in the midst between homosexual and heterosexual attraction. However, the erasure of this orientation leads to a black-and-white mindset where straight women feel compelled to only explore their sexuality through drunken misadventures rather than exclusive experimentation.

Beyond this erasement, even women who are exploring must be conscious of the boundary that lies between a close platonic relationship and a romantic relationship. When transgressions are made in friendships, the distinction blurs and many genuine women-loving women (WLW) relationships are invalidated in the process. 

Terms ordinarily used in conjunction with exclusive and committed romantic relationships are seized by straight friendships between women. The titles of “girlfriend” and “wife” hold less meaning between women when used in the context of friendships, and this common usage will lead to the discreditment of the authenticity of sapphic relationships. While “boyfriend” and “husband” still hold their exclusive meanings, “wife” has been appropriated by a community unfamiliar with its designated significance. 

The gray area appears when discussing the safety and comfort of queer people, especially those still in the closet, so to speak. This phenomenon, the inherent intimacy of female friendships, can protect those who are not comfortable outwardly expressing their sexuality yet. However, this hurts those who were previously out, especially in a one-sided queer “situationship.” When one sapphic woman is crushing on their assumedly straight friend, it causes further harm to promote a superficial intimacy that can never be furthered. This is similar, though additionally stressed in a one-sided queer friendship, to a straight “friendzone.”

Another boundary still lies in the public posting of relationships. When the public is shown an assumed piece of proof of a queer relationship, such as a kiss or a declaration of love, it is demeaning to then reveal a straight relationship outside of that friendship. No longer is the sanctity of romantic relationships kept within the bond; rather, people outside of the queer community have thrown open the doors for an unwelcome assimilation. 

It is damaging to genuine sapphic relationships when straight women commandeer the role without having to deal with fall out. People cannot cherry-pick queer culture when it is convenient for them and reject the inherent confusion and stress that comes with being sapphic. Sexuality, and sapphic relationships especially, is not an inside joke that people can merely laugh about with their friends.

Being queer in a hetero-normative society is difficult enough — creating unnecessary confusion encourages hurt to inexperienced queer folks discovering their role in the world. People are unmistakably allowed to have intimate platonic relationships, but do not act like the role of a best friend is anywhere near a sapphic relationship. Keep the same standard for friendships across the board in any sexuality; the muddlement of sapphic culture dilutes the definitive validity of its relationship.

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