Girls 2 Men
Posted by E on November 14, 2007
Earlier this year, Ariel Levy of NY Mag wrote a provocative and controversial article entitled Where the Bois Are – Why some young lesbians are going beyond feminist politics, beyond androgyny, to explore a new generation of sex roles. I would post excerpts but I can’t copy the text and have to content myself with posting the above photo from the article and the article’s beginning paragraphs:
A girl in a newsboy cap and a white t-shirt with rolled-up sleeves is leaning against the back wall at Meow Mix and telling her friend, “Some femme… just some femme. I met her at a party three weeks ago, but now she’s like e-mailing me, and I’m just like, chill out, b****!” … She thrusts her forearm in front of her face as if she’s rapping as she says, “Some of these chicks, it’s like you top them once and then they’re all up in your face. It’s l like, did I get you off? Yes. Am I your new best friend? No. You know what I’m saying, bro?”
Her friend nods and keeps her eyes on the blonde go-go dancer in tiny white shorts undulating on a tabletop. “Bois like us,” she says, “we’ve got to stick together.”
Now, the Village Voice has published an article written by Chloe Hilliard entitled, Girls to Men and subtitled Young lesbians in Brooklyn find that a thug’s life gets them more women. Following are excerpts:
At the Lab, a Brooklyn nightclub and rental hall, a petite Hispanic bartender sporting braids down the middle of her back and a baseball cap is taking a break on a recent Friday night. Then she spots something in the crowd and leaps onto the bar. She sees another woman dressed in boyish hip-hop gear hitting on her femme girlfriend on the crowded dance floor. The bartender jumps to the floor, pushes her way past dancers, and grabs her woman by the arms. After giving her a rough, disapproving shake, she drags her quarry back to the bar, where the girlfriend will remain standing in silence the rest of the night.
“It’s a property thing,” explains Siya, who, like the bartender, looks like she’s walked out of a rap video. Among the 15 tattoos that adorn her beige complexion are a large Bed-Stuy on her forearm and Brooklyn on the back of one hand. She’s 20. “You can be holding your femme girlfriend’s hand in the club, and she could be looking around, searching for a flyer AG. She’s going to want to stray, slip her a number. All lesbians are sneaky,” Siya says.
At the weekly 18-and-over females-only hip-hop party going on, about half of the black and Hispanic crowd is femme, the other half “AGs,” or “aggressives,” who also refer to themselves as “studs,” whether they’re fly or not.
Later, when two AGs get into a pushing match over a femme, one shouts, “Suck my dick, n****! I’ll fuck your whole shit up!” Friends break it up, pulling one outside the club to get the story. One of the women had tried to talk to the other’s girlfriend while her back was turned. But it’s a common occurrence. No femme, committed or not, is really off-limits.
“When you go to the club and you’re an AG, your mission that entire night is to find the baddest femme in the club and make her your girl,” says another woman, who calls herself Don Vito Corleone. “Just like every rapper wants the baddest video chick on his arm, so do AGs.”
…for increasing numbers of very young black and Hispanic lesbians, the bitches-and-’hos lyrics of their musical heroes are the soundtrack for a thug’s life they pursue with almost as much passion as they do the hottest femme in the club.
… For these women, there seem to be few older lesbians they can look up to, or organizations that mean much to them, other than the crews they create themselves.
…After a previous location closed, the women moved their weekly dance party to the Lab after a five-week hiatus. “When we had our grand opening, almost two years ago, the fashion trend had changed dramatically. Our grand opening night we had 650 females. Half the crowd had on ‘do-rags and the whole thug look going on.”
…Siya dreams of success in the music market, but she’s already a steady presence at the Lab. And one thing she has in common with some of her musical idols: a rap sheet.
“It’s hard for me to find a legit job because of my criminal record.” At 16, she ran away from home with her then girlfriend. The two became engaged and moved to Albany, where money got tight and Siya, like many AGs, took to hustling.
It’s a pressure many young AGs feel as the dominant figure in their relationship. If you have the sand to knock down another woman in order to grab the hottest femme in the club, you don’t want to admit that you have little cash to keep your prize happy.
Siya served four months for grand larceny, first degree assault, and attempted assault, and was placed on three years’ probation. “Hustling is the next best thing if you can’t find a legit job. There are a lot of females that boost or sell drugs,” she says. “I wouldn’t say it’s hard for all aggressives to find jobs because there are some that are sacrificing: putting on tight clothes, female suits, or business suits to go to work. Then there are a lot of us who wouldn’t feel comfortable like that. I could apply for a whole bunch of jobs and if I don’t come in looking like the girly girl or because of my tattoos or just by me being gay raises a red flag.”
During the day Don Vito (she’s reluctant to give her up real name) works on Wall Street in the IT department of a prestigious law firm. Her co-workers don’t know that she’s gay, but some of her female co-workers wonder why she never talks about a boyfriend.
“I’ve never been with a man,” she says. “That’s gross. But I’ll tell you what’s funny: I did have to go to prom when I was high school, and what made it worse was that I was a debutante.” She laughs at the thought of herself in a dress and heels. ..She stands around five foot eight, and though an AG, doesn’t deepen her voice or bind her breasts. She walks with a light bop and likes wearing a bandanna over her face when she’s in the club. It gives her mystique.
Two years ago, Vito moved to New York with her then girlfriend to attend film school. After the program ended she got the job in IT but writes screenplays in her spare time.
She’s the “father” and creator of House of Corleone, a tightly knit group of young black and Hispanic lesbians. Modeled on the extended-families structure used by previous generations of New York gays and lesbians, a number of hip- hop houses have sprouted up recently with names like the Da Vincis, House of Mecca, and the Bossalenos and Belladonnas. Vito’s crew has attracted young AGs like Chick Murda, a/k/a Aisha Sampson.
“I joined House of Corleone four or five months ago,” Sampson tells the Voice during a photo shoot held at the Lab. “I was on downelink.com and Vito hit me up. She told me to look into it. I didn’t know gay women had houses. As time went by, I saw the house’s progress. I like to meet new people, and met a lot of people in this house. It’s a lot of exposure.”
Vito says she was motivated to start her house as a result of the self-destruction she saw many young lesbians headed toward. “There are a lot of AGs that are going down the wrong path,” she says. “A lot of them are selling drugs. I used to sell drugs and almost went to jail for a long time. A lot of these AGs do it because the girls think it’s cute. They are so serious about keeping up appearances that they’ll either hustle or take a fast-food job so they can wear their low haircut or gold teeth.”
Life as a young lesbian of color, of course, has its risks. In 2003, a young AG named Sakia Gunn engaged in a shouting match with a man named Richard McCullough at Newark’s Penn Station after Gunn had returned from an evening of partying in the West Village. The altercation turned violent, and McCullough stabbed and killed Gunn. He’s serving 20 years in prison. Last August, Patreese Johnson and six other women got into another shouting match with a man named Dwayne Buckle, a street vendor outside the IFC Center. Buckle was stabbed, and identified Johnson as his attacker, telling the press that he was the victim of a hate crime against straight men. Johnson has pled not guilty to charges of attempted murder and gang assault.
Well aware of such incidents, Don Vito has recruited 50 women—a mix of femmes and AGs—including Siya, from across the country and even overseas into the family just since January. But a rash of other groups are giving houses like Don Vito’s a bad name.
“…In my house I require my members to partake in at least two charity events a year. I want a family bond and I don’t want it to be about drama.”
Growing up in Atlanta with a preacher for a father, Don Vito wasn’t able to talk about her feelings or her sexuality. “To this day I can’t say to my parents, ‘I’m gay.’ I didn’t come out to anyone until I was 26. I don’t want my ’sons’ to have to go through that.”
…Behind these brick walls, the girls are free to be badass rap stars and their girly dates. They’re free to grab their crotches, kick it to a pretty girl, or dance in a tight embrace. It’s a life you might not imagine when you see one of them on the street, look at her face, and think to yourself, “She looks like a boy.”
Many of you will see this as exploitation – others as subversive. Tell me what you think, let’s have some discourse here.