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May 18, 2007
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Volume 35
Issue 20
 
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General Gayety by Leslie Robinson
Sexiness and the eye of the beholder
Leslie Robinson - SGN Contributing Writer

At first I barely registered the question AOL had on its homepage: "Can Ellen be sexy?" An hour later I can think of nothing else.

It's not that I pine after Ms. DeGeneres, so successful as a talk-show host that the media can identify her with just her first name. It's that this question kick-started a conversation in my head about Lesbians and attraction, and I better move this conversation from my head to print, or before long I'll be inventing a few new personalities to join the discussion.

I went back to read exactly what that question referred to, but it had vanished, so I sleuthed a bit. It seems Carmen Electra had just been on "Ellen," promoting her new book, "How to be Sexy." Aha, she probably got Ellen to strike a sexy pose. I also learned Ellen has thrown out her back, so striking any pose other than "Shoot me now" would be a feat.

The assumption underlying "Can Ellen be sexy?" is that she isn't. It's true that she doesn't display many of the characteristics society defines as sexy. She's not willowy or ravishing. Her hair is short. She opts for pants, and her idea of designer footwear is Hush Puppies.

But I find her sexy. Because-I informed myself during my conversation with myself-Ellen displays heart, humor and competence.

Yup, I find those qualities alluring. And while I know some Lesbians who also find such qualities sexy, I can't say whether I'm the norm or the exception in Lesbian-land. Knowing me, probably the exception. I'm not claiming looks don't matter. I'm not that far gone. I think Ellen is cute as the dickens. What I mean is oftentimes society's standard of what's sexy about women doesn't work for me, and I don't know if that's because I'm a lesbian, a grown-up or just contrary.

Case in point. Recently I was traveling in Europe with a straight male friend of mine, Phil. As we strolled back to our hotel in Amsterdam, two women got out of a car and walked ahead of us on the sidewalk. One was tall with long blonde hair. I can't remember what she wore-only that it was tighter than a Dutch sausage. Her heels were sky-high, and my overall impression was that she had no use for subtlety.

Phil's overall impression was that he couldn't breathe. Two guys sitting in a café with their wives tracked the woman's course down the sidewalk. But for this allegedly woman-loving woman right behind her, she did less than nothing.

The next day Phil and I headed for France. We took an extravagant train from Brussels to Paris, and a female attendant served us food. She was attractive, wore a tailored uniform, switched languages effortlessly and made us feel welcome.

In the Paris train station, as she walked away, I wanted to crawl into her suitcase. I tried to explain my different reactions to these two women to Phil, but I doubt he got it. This was similar to the time, when I was in my twenties, that I told my then-boyfriend that I thought women in their thirties were sexier than younger women. Boy, did he beg to differ.

I guess what I was really saying back then was 1) I'm a Lesbian, and 2) I'm attracted to women with self-possession, ability, strength.

But I certainly learned early in my Lesbian career that the stereotypical brand of sexiness has many Sapphic fans. Standing in a bookstore looking at magazines with my first girlfriend, I picked up a "Playboy" to remark how little effect it had on me.

Her drooling suggested she couldn't say the same.

Leslie Robinson hopes she won't get even more contrary with age. E-mail her at LesRobinsn@aol.com, and read more columns at www.GeneralGayety.com.

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