Lez Miserable: Now recruiting young women to the lesbian cause

There will be an admissions procedure. “So, did you get into lesbianism?” Emily asks Stephanie. “No,” says Stephanie, gazing at her tiny, straight-girl feet.

Once upon a time, lesbians recruited. In the days of the Greenham Common peace camp and dungarees worn without a soupçon of irony, I didn’t exist – but, being an amateur lesbian historian, I know that back then dykedom was something of an insurgency. For many Generation X feminists, sleeping with women was more political than personal. Gen Y lesbians are, for the most part, far less vegetarian or militant. We eat burgers and the only dungarees that can be seen are vintage ones, draped over Clapton waifs. Is the recruitment office still open?

It’s not that lesbian activism is dead. I went on something called a “dyke march” last year and there were at least 12 of us. Some were brandishing “We recruit” placards. But do we? I’m not one to extol the benefits of lesbianism to anyone. Even when my straight female friends bemoan the shitness of men, I’m never tempted to coax them over to the dyke side. I’m far too busy dealing with my own lesbionic problems to start creating new ones for wide-eyed straight girls who feel like a holiday from penis.

Maybe, since lesbianism has become fashionable, we don’t even need to recruit. When more women than ever are either coming out or experimenting, should we be accepting applications? Let them come to us. Aspiring lesbians ought to face a rigorous course of exams and interviews – a bit like applying to Oxbridge but with more crying.

Candidates would face exam questions such as: “Nikki has been in a relationship with Catherine for 18 months. After a massive argument, Catherine gets drunk and shags her best friend, Becky, in a toilet cubicle. Meanwhile, Nikki has been WhatsApping Emma, her ex, who has wanted Catherine out of the picture since the Dalston Superstore Couscous Incident of 2011. Nikki’s and Catherine’s cat, Morrissey, has had to bear the brunt of their bickering. Which of them deserves to keep him after their inevitable break-up?”

Following written exams, hopefuls would be tested on their knowledge of Beyoncé lyrics and challenged to a pun-off by Sue Perkins. In this way, only the brightest and the best would be awarded access to the illustrious realm of Sapphism. And, my God, is it illustrious – the drama, the knackered brogues, the continuous questions from straight men about what two women do in bed, when they know perfectly well what you do and just want to hear you say it.

A study by the Open University recently revealed that same-sex couples are more likely to be happy than hetero ones. Lesbianism simply sells itself. If my application system is implemented, I’d expect interest this year to go through the roof. Straight women throughout the land would sit, anxiously, praying for acceptance letters.

“So, did you get into lesbianism?” Emily asks Stephanie.

“No,” says Stephanie, gazing at her tiny, straight-girl feet. “I passed the written papers but I completely messed up the pun-off.”

“Do you think you’ll try again next year?”

“I’m not sure,” says Stephanie. “There are a lot of places left in bisexuality and I hear it’s much easier to get into.”

A gay pride march in Manila in December 2013. Placards saying "we recruit" are somewhat rarer these days. Photo: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist.

This article appears in the 21 January 2014 issue of the New Statesman, The radicalism of fools