I hope people don’t actually base their decisions on WikiHow

26 02 2009

Why on earth did I ever start reading WikiHow?

This article just screams “Oh my GOSH is my friend a lesbian?!  I absolutely must know immediately because if she is a lesbian she will totally fall in love with me and that would be oh my gosh so AWKWARD and WEIRD!!!!”  Here’s “How to tell if your best friend is a lesbian,” according to the ever-so-knowledgeable WikiHow database:

Friendships between girls can become very close, and you see that reflected in the body language, eye contact, and verbal language. However, there is a thin line between close friends and lesbians. If you suspect that your best friend may be a lesbian, or just want to learn how to spot the difference, then this is the article for you.

Watch the body language. This is usually a definite giveaway. Does your friend brush against you or touch you very often? Does she often stand very close to you, and look at you a lot? Test this out when you’re together, and test this out when you see her with other girls.  Make sure you don’t make a mistake though. Sometimes she may just be looking at you because you’re wearing a new outfit, and brushing against someone is an action used with most, if not all good friends.

Okay, WikiHow has got people on the sleuthing path.  The Discovery Channel and WikiHow are teaming up to explore the land of the dangerous and mysterious species lesbian.  First, we have to analyze our “friend’s” every move.  Because apparently the author thinks that if your friend is a lesbian she is totally going to hit on you constantly and touch you when you don’t want to be touched.  And your friend looking at your new outfit and being lesbian are described as mutually exclusive.  Because obviously lesbians only look at other women out of lust, and only straight women like clothes and fashion.  DUH.

Think about the way she talks. Does she often hit on you or other girls jokingly? Is she flirtatious? Consider the way she is when talking to other girls – how close she is, her eye contact, and read her body language. Think about all of it carefully and see if anything is crossing the friendship line.  

Let’s delve deeper.  Does she TALK like a lesbian??!!  If she flirts with girls jokingly, she must be a lesbian…because she couldn’t possibly just be someone as ignorant and immature as the reader who actually is attempting to follow the steps in this article.  Jokingly making fun of lesbianism is something that lesbians do all the time?!  Well, WikiHow says so, so it must be true!  But wait, we can further pry into our friend’s personal business!  Brace yourself for step three!

Check for rainbows. Rainbows (a lot of the time with only six colors) are a gay/lesbian symbol. Many gay people wear a rainbow bracelet, anklet and/or necklace. Other places where people place “pride” rainbows are: on bumper stickers, on clothing, in/as tattoos, on backpacks, on laptops, etc. Keep your eyes peeled for them – but don’t jump to conclusions.

Well this is even more ridiculous.  Not only are we inspecting the person for rainbows, but we are counting colors.  And I guess if the species marker isn’t readily visible, well the tattoo might just be hidden underneath her short hair or baggy clothes, right?  The article of course doesn’t take into account that if your friend is wearing a rainbow, maybe they identify as any of the letters in LGBTQIA, maybe they are an ally, or maybe they just like rainbows.  But mostly it just isn’t your business anyway!!! 

Watch her reaction to people who are gay/lesbian. Does she seem absolutely disgusted about it or is she relaxed? Use your brains, though; sometimes she may be pretending to be disgusted with the idea in an effort to hide her true feelings. She may also be lesbian if she seems very uptight and nervous about the topic. Be sure to take into account what kind of a person she is. In addition, many straight people are unaffected by exposure to gays and lesbians, so be careful to factor this into your conclusion.

Ok, this is REALLY infuriating.  It basically implies that most straight people are completely uncomfortable and rude around LGBT people, and only a true lesbian would be comfortable around lesbians.  But even if the friend is totally ignorant and rude to LGBT people, the author implies that she could still be a lesbian and just be ashamed of her shameful nature.  The author should be ashamed of his/her shameful nature, if you ask me.

Be forthright and ask. If, after looking for these signs, you still aren’t sure, and even if you are 99 percent sure, you need to ask her. Be careful though, it may be a touchy subject if she is still confused or feels cornered by your question. If you do ask, make sure it is in a way that makes it clear that you’ll be supportive of her, whatever she answers.

Ugh, people who think they are being open to others but are really just annoying and rude piss me off to no end.  Why is it that everyone feels this overwhelming need to know everybody else’s sexual orientation?  Is it so we can box people into little neat stereotypes?  Why do so many people feel entitled to know everything about everyone?  It is so sad that people cannot get past their nosy curiosity and fear of LGBT people.  

To add insult to injury, there is a list of sources and citations at the bottom of the WikiHow page that lists some pretty legit LGBT positive websites.  The inclusion of the list kind of gives the feel of “this is where I got my info on their behavior patterns, because this is where they congregate.”  But none of the info in the article even remotely resembles something you might find on a queer-positive site!  There are some disclaimers near the bottom of the WikiHow post that remind people that not ALL lesbians act the same and not ALL lesbians are attracted to their friends just because they are girls.  So the author only thinks that most lesbians are the same.  That definitely does not reassure me as to the author’s accepting nature and high quality of advice.  If even the author admits that the approach is at least a little bit faulty, why on earth does the article exist at all?  Because unfortunately, in WikiHow as in everyday life, people will share their self-proclaimed expertise whether we like it or not.

Other gems from WikiHow include:

The list could go on and on, but I shouldn’t waste my time on any more of this ridiculousness.  I wonder how many walking talking human robots actually try to follow these steps on WikiHow, and how often they embarrass themselves with their insensitivity and closed-mindedness.  HRUMPH.

 


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4 responses

27 02 2009
angryblkfeminist

Wow, that’s really upsetting. Since when is there a THIN LINE between a friendship and a romantic relationship? Just because one person may be of a different sexual orientation it means that there’s a “thin line?”

What about the whole thing that if you’re BEST FRIENDS maybe you’d want to ASK FIRST. I hate that that isn’t the first suggestion they give.

This is a really upsetting wikihow; it needs to be edited/deleted.

27 02 2009
feminist2

This was a great post, thanks for writing about it!

1. “If you suspect that your best friend may be a lesbian, or just want to learn how to spot the difference” – why would it matter if your best friend is a lesbian or not? She’s your best friend isn’t she? And also, giving advice for people who “just want to learn how to spot the difference” feeds into socially constructed stereotypes about lesbians, because of course they all look or act a certain way.

2. The whole schpeal with rainbows and how “rainbows (a lot of the time with only six colors) are a gay/lesbian symbol” completely omits ALLIES, people who are NOT homophobic and are supportive of LGBTQ rights.

3. The other WikiHow’s irritate me. The “How to understand gay and lesbian people”?! Oh right, because they’re their own class that cannot be deciphered. And you’re right, the “How to lead a heterosexual lifestyle if you’re gay” is absurd.

27 02 2009
t0mblender

I just read this and am in utter disbelief… I thought that wikipedia might at least tag the page with something like “This page is in need of an expert on the subject” – Clearly, this person has no idea wtf they’re talking about, and I can’t help but feel shitty about all of the people out there who will take it seriously.

28 02 2009
feminist1

Just to clarify, wikiHow isn’t the same as wikipedia. Wikis are online web forums that anyone can edit, so basically anyone can create a new page or edit the stuff on the site. Anonymous users can also edit other peoples’ posts as well. But I still think a lot of people take the stuff on the site seriously.

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