Lesbians, Yes We Have Sex With Each Other But That Doesn’t Mean ‘Girl Code’ Is Dead

“Not only are we under attack by society at large because we’re female, we’re also under attack by society at large because we’re effing QUEER, babes! If there has ever been a group of women who should be tightly bound to the ethics of GIRL CODE, it should be us queers.”

Eons before I came crawling out of the dusty, dark and dismal straight closet and marched into the sunny dyke world, I was a staunch follower of “girl code.” Maybe it’s because I’m one of those annoying entities born with a ravenous thirst for ~justice~ in this screwed up world. Maybe I’m just my mother’s daughter (my mother is the moral dictator of the Eastern Seaboard). Or maybe I’m just a self-righteous bitch. 

Zara at 18 Years Old, Baby Lesbian  Photo by Owen Gould

Regardless of the reason; I’ve been a staunch follower of “girl code” since those sweaty adolescent hormones kicked in around age 10.

So what even is “girl code?”  Girl code is a code in which all girls who are generally supportive of their gender, abide by. It’s an unspoken set of rules, set in place centuries ago by our foremothers, to ensure we take care of our kind. It’s primal. Animal. 

It means that even if we oh-so-fiercely hate that vile witch who sits two cubicles away, we will still give her a tampon when she’s bleeding through her bleached white jeans.

Girl code is rooted in the inherent sisterhood we share with all women, even if we don’t know them personally. We share an unspoken bond because only we understand the hardships, the complexities, and the inevitable trauma that comes along with being a girl in a fuckboy’s world.

When I was eleven I was heartbroken when I witnessed smart-mouthed Brittany* a platinum-haired volleyball star “steal” the boyfriend of Ashley* a freckle-faced academic.

“How COULD SHE?!” I gasped to my best friend Suzie Goldstein over a carton of chocolate milk in the cafeteria.

Suzie, also a die-hard girl coder, sadly hung her head. “I don’t know, Zara. I don’t know.”

A few years later I had a “crush” on a pretty-faced long-lashed boy who was the spitting image of Halsey (when I forced myself to “crush” on boys, I always went for pretty boys who bore striking resemblances to the cute queer girl pop stars of today). Trouble was, said boy had once dated a buddy of mine. I asked her if she minded if I dated her lesbian-looking ex-boyfriend (not in those words, of course).

“Of course I MIND!” she screamed, flinging her pink velour Juicy Couture backpack into the air.

I vowed to never challenge girl code again.

Then I turned 20 and started playing with the ~lesbians~.

I was a Sapphic little kitten fresh on the scene and while I felt like I had died and gone to lesbian heaven, one thing really confused me (okay, a few things, but you get where I’m going).

Girl code didn’t seem to be as fiercely ingrained into my new lesbian friend group. My friends seemed to constantly be dating their friend’s exes, flirting with taken women and engaging in top-secret affairs with girls still romantically attached to other girls.

“Wait—no, you can’t do that! It’s not GIRL code!” I would shriek at my new friend Talia, a girl who was always recklessly smashing girl code with her tan little fists.

Talia would roll her glittery green eyes. “We’re lesbians—it’s different. We have sex with each other.”

“Just because we have sex with each other doesn’t mean girl code goes out the window,” I roared with a feverish intensity I didn’t even know I had. I was 21 with ratty hair extensions and probably -$20.00 to my name, but I knew in my heart I was dead fucking right.

Not only should queer women be adhering to girl code (even though we do indeed, have sex with each other, LOTS of sex with each other), it should be cut even deeper than the girl code that exists in the heteronormative world. Not only are we under attack by society at large because we’re female, we’re also under attack by society at large because we’re effing QUEER, babes! If there has ever been a group of women who should be tightly bound to the ethics of GIRL CODE, it should be us queers. In fact, I would call it “queer code” but that’s its own thing, worthy of its own article.

But all of us, regardless of where we land on the gender spectrum, all of us, who roll in the queer girl community, should be adhering to girl code. No exceptions.

For instance:

It’s against “girl code” to aggressively hit on a girl who has a girlfriend.

A few months ago I was at The Cubby Hole with my friend Maggie.* A lanky lesbian with a swanky haircut came striding toward Maggie. She stomped over to her with that highly sexual “vagina first” strut and she began to shamelessly flirt with little Maggie. Within minutes, she asked Maggie out on a date.

Maggie smiled politely (she’s southern) and cooed, “That’s really sweet, but I have a really serious girlfriend.”

“That’s too bad. I’ll buy you a drink anyway.” The lanky lesbian purred, raising an impressively arched eyebrow.

“Don’t worry about it, I got it.” Maggie looked nervously at me (the bitchy New Yorker who bites back).

“Let me buy you a drink. You’re gorgeous. And hey, who knows where your relationship is going?” Lanky Lezzie cackled, all sex-eyed and throaty-voiced. She put an unwelcome hand on Maggie’s bare shoulder.

Finally, I burst. “Dude! She has a girlfriend! It’s not just disrespectful to Maggie, it’s also disrespectful to her GIRLFRIEND. We’re all women! We don’t betray each other like that!” I roared, as the Lanky Lesbian quickly excused herself for a smoke.

You’re not just breaking girl code by making another girl feel uncomfortable for rejecting your advances, you’re breaking girl code because some poor lesbian is sitting at home innocently chomping on a vegan burrito, as her girlfriend is being HIT ON by another woman.

I mean, maybe she would expect such behavior by drunken bros at the bro bar, but the queer bar should be a safe place! I hold us to a higher standard than men (NOT PC, sorry), don’t you?

It’s against “girl code” to ask a girl’s permission to talk to her girlfriend.

Recently I was at big queer girl party when all of a sudden a random girl comes walking up to my girlfriend and bellows: “Can I ask your girlfriend a question?” Right. In. Front. Of. Me. As if I wasn’t even freaking there.

Talk about smashing girl code into the ground! You’re equating my femininity with weakness, and implying that my leather pants sporting girlfriend is my boss (GAG!), because she’s not twirling around in a mini dress like I am.

PSA: You can twirl around in a minidress and still have a goddamn brain.

Not only are you breaking girl code by judging another woman solely based on her outer appearance and personal style, you’re also being wildly sexist. You’re asking my (slightly) more masculine presenting girlfriend for permission to speak to “femmey little me.” Listen up ladies: This mascara lesbian has no boss. Not at work. Not in life. And certainly not in fucking love. 

It’s against girl code to date, sleep with, or flirt with your friend’s ex (without asking for permission).

Look: there are times when I think it’s totally OK to date a friend’s ex because lez be real. Our world is so small that dating a friend’s ex will at some point (probably) be inevitable. Especially if your friends are all fabulous, wild sluts like mine, and have hooked up with 90 percent of the scene.

But baby girl! You MUST ask for permission before venturing into that territory.

I know finding a girl you connect with is as rare as finding a pearl in a goddamn oyster, but you must hold yourself back if permission is not granted.

It’s against girl code to flirt with your friend’s current partner (even if it’s innocent).

Close your eyes. Imagine you’re at a bar watching another girl splay her legs all over your hetero friend’s boyfriend. You would think it was wildly inappropriate, and probably tell her all about it, no? Same goes for girls on girl laps.

Trust me I struggle with this one, major. I’m naturally a lap sitting lez, in the most ~innocent~ of ways. I recklessly plop on the laps of gay boys, lesbians, my mother, my brother and straight girls alike. It’s probably a deep-rooted childhood issue of longing for affection.

However. That’s no excuse.

I’ve had to set up some strict boundaries when it comes to my friends’ girlfriends. Even if in my heavily mascara adorned eyes I’m not “flirting,” it’s still WILDLY inappropriate for me to be lapping it up on my friend’s girlfriend. Or anyone’s girlfriend for that matter.

It can get confusing for us gays. Oh, we’re all girls! It means nothing! But unless you want someone’s girlfriend to (rightfully) sock you in the nose as you drunkenly perch on her lady’s lap: go sit in a rose bush instead. It’s a far better option.

It’s against girl code to let your wasted girlfriend go home with a douchey stranger EVEN IF SAID STRANGER IS A WOMAN.

If my straight best friend Ruba gets out of control wasted and slurs to me that she’s going home with some douchey looking bro who’s giving me a case of full body creeps, I’ll drag her out of the bar kicking and screaming before I let her get in a taxi with him.

Just because your intoxicated friend is going home with another woman (aka not a man) doesn’t necessarily mean she will be safe OR won’t wake up without terrible regret and shame spirals. We are here to protect our friends from danger AND from shame spirals. Girl code, baby.

So there it is. Tell me what you think. Message me on Facebook and tell me you disagree. This is a conversation, not a lecture, kitten. I’m just your self-proclaimed internet lesbian big sister, what the hell do I know?

OH—one more thing. It’s against girl code to treat a girl you had a one night stand with like garbage. Even if it’s just a rando hookup (which I totally endorse) be KIND to her and pay for the taxi home. Women are to never treat other women like disposable sex toys, under any circumstance.


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