It’s Time We Reevaluate The Phrase “Girl Crush”

girlcrush_embedPhoto: via @karliekloss.
A quick page through this site will have you reading the phrase "girl crush" more than one or two times. The Internet itself has developed bona fide crushes on the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Kendrick, and, the newest crushable star, Lupita Nyong'o. It's become the go-to phrase for girls to express feelings of adoration toward other girls without calling into question their sexuality. When viewed in that light, however, "girl crush" starts to read a lot like "no homo," which is overtly homophobic.
But, is "girl crush" homophobic? Fashion writer Nicolette Mason spoke to Fashionista's Tyler McCall, saying: "I don’t think that 'girl crush' is any different from ['no homo'] — wanting to show appreciation for somebody and the bottom line being that you don’t want to be mistaken as actually being interested in that person." It's an unspoken reassurance of the speaker's straightness. This gets extra prickly when considering the various roles men and women play in the fashion industry.
McCall touches on the fact that there are very few self-identifying queer women in fashion. There are certainly gay men, but those fellas share the same level of power as straight women in the industry and are, as Mason says, not seen as threatening. A queer woman, however, must either fall into the androgynous or femme stereotype, or risk being labeled "butch" for asserting her "masculine" side. "When women such as [J.Crew's Jenna] Lyons play with elements of masculinity without identifying as butch," Autostraddle's Lizz Rubin tells McCall, "it plays right into the fashion world’s current love affair with androgyny." And, butch is, for whatever reason, a stereotype that's most often mocked.
So, when one uses "girl crush," they're acknowledging another woman's attractiveness while underlining that they don't want to bed the girl. Taken that way, the phrase could imply that a woman can't say she finds another woman attractive without being a lesbian. It may also add fuel to the "performative lesbian" trend that's been buzzing again of late (read: Rihanna and Shakira's latest video). Since girls liking other girls is, as Jezebel suggests, akin to having "two pieces of candy instead of one," teasing an audience with one's flirtation with lesbianism is like playing right into its sweet tooth.
Still, we probably won't rid our lexicon of "girl crush." What might be beneficial is to question why we feel the need to frame things we like as "crushes." At its inception, "girl crush" wasn't an expression of homophobia. "No homo," on the other hand, obviously was. We are, slowly but surely, assimilating to a world in which it doesn't matter whether a heterosexual man thinks another man is attractive. (That should never have mattered in the first place, but here we are.) Even though women largely haven't had to face the same kind of thought restrictions that men have when it comes to appreciating folks of the same sex, having to frame any "like" feelings in a romantic way does feel reductive. It might not be homophobic, but it's also not not homophobic. The ways in which we articulate admiration don't have to be seen through a lens of lust. Sometimes, two pieces of candy do more harm than one. And, perhaps it's time we stop indulging our sweet tooth and save our crushing for that candy saga. (Fashionista)

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