Why are lesbians so serious and dour?

Whenever I’ve observed women who are obviously lesbian out in public – around my part of town, they tend to be the “Boston marriage” couples comprised of two physically similar middle-aged and older women with short gray hair – it seems like they always look so … well, serious. Never smiling, never showing any emotion or joy. No facial expressions aside from one of extreme seriousness. Even in mixed groups, say a reading group meeting or knit-and-bitch at a coffee house, others will be lively and expressive, there’s often going to be a pair of stocky gray-haired fiftysomething women that sit together in the group, expressionless and dour.

So, why does it seem like a certain subset of lesbians are so serious? I tried to assume this observation was selection bias, but it doesn’t seem the case. Is it a “game face” that is an integral part of lesbian culture, or something else?

  • Yes, this being Doperland, I know many lesbians will check in and write that they express a full range of emotions on a regular basis, and that in fact, their straight friends tell them they’re too expressive. Also, they never talk in the movie theater, never use their cell phones in inappropriate public locations, and they only use their Ford Excursions and Chevrolet Suburbans for hauling horse trailers over mountain passes every few days, and never, ever for three-block grocery and Starbucks runs. :smiley:

It would be interesting to compare what percentage of lesbians are serious and dour to the percentage of non-lesbians who are serious and dour. Do you think it would be more or less?

That’s not a lesbian issue - all women have no sense of humour.

It might be true, and it might be because lesbians don’t need to flirt cheerfully with men.

(And if that’s true, then perhaps straight men are also more serious and dour than gay men – and gay men perhaps are called that because they tend to be gayer is the older sense of the word “gay”.)

I think it’s just your side of town. Those east-siders bear the brunt of the responsibility for all the culture in town, and it weighs heavily on a person. Over here on the west-side, the few couples I get to observe of that category are quiet and reserved, but hardly dour. The younger couples I know are more Out, so they tend to be quite the life of most parties.

Why the mystery? Many (not all) lesbians tend to have heterosexual male oriented personality traits which are often affiliated with a certain level of social caution and gravitas in middle aged and older men.

It’s true. We don’t.

My lesbian friends are pretty funny and outgoing, actually.

Why are men so stupid?

See the problem with your question?


Because they’re tired of silly questions from straight men who clearly don’t know enough lesbians?

I don’t like to generalize, but I agree with the OP. Why aren’t gay women gay? It has never made sense to me. For one thing, they have the lowest rate of AIDS in the world, which in itself should cause them to be merry and light-hearted. But they are SO serious. I’ve met plenty of vivacious cheerful gay men, but the women are indeed dour and solemn.

Yeah, they’re not real lesbians. They’re just having you on about that.

Also, no true lesbian puts sugar on her porridge.


Cite what?
That older men more reserved?

Try “real life”. Look around the next time you go out in a restaurant, stores, etc. Obviously there are exceptions (I’m one) but older men are generally lower key, and not all that animated and smiley when in public unless they meet a friend or something else causes them to break their usual reserve.
That many (not all) lesbians tend to have heterosexual male oriented personality traits?

This also kind of falls into the over the top obvious category. Are you seriously saying lesbians do not evince many characteristically masculine personality traits such as being more socially reserved?

Let’s be honest… can a man ever know enough lesbians?

Am I the only one who thinks this is a selection bias? elmwood thinks that lesbians are serious and dour, so it’s only the serious and dour ladies that he considers “obviously” lesbians. The high-spirited lesbians he meets, he doesn’t add to his data set, since he doesn’t realize that they’re lesbians. Likewise, he probably sees a good number of serious and dour pairs of woman who are actually just heterosexual friends, but mistakenly classifies them as lesbians.

Definitely selection bias. If he went to more of the right type of bars, he would see highspirited lesbian hijinks galore.
The error is in presuming that any given dour pair of women out on the street are lesbians.

I know plenty of lesbians and agree with the OP’s hypothesis in a general sense. On average it seems that lesbians are more serious/reserved/etc then the average straight woman.

What kind of person indiscriminately invites social attention when out in public trying to mind one’s own business? Young single people trying to advertise their availability and desirability… flirty young women and gay men more than others (young single hetero men tend to express their availability by car stereo wattage).

The rest of us, we’re dour. No need to waste our best material on total strangers. It’s not just lesbians.

Yes, I am seriously saying that most lesbians do not evince many characteristically masculine personality traits. My real life experience would be myself, lesbians I’ve been friends with, lesbians I’ve known and not been friends with, and women I’ve met in passing that have made my gaydar go off. Yes, there is a subset of lesbians, generally referred to as “butch”, that do display personality traits more commonly associated with men, but they seem to be a minority. Because this is the section of the board for factual answers and because you seem to be making a statement you wish to be taken as factual, I would like a cite. Your real life experiences do not match my own, do you have anything less anecdotal as I cite?