Urban Dictionary defines the phrase “girl crush” as “feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl; a non sexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level.” This was UD’s word of the day on April 13, 2007.
I was on the cusp of 15, a vulnerable and impressionable age, in ’07, when I thought I knew it all; one of the big fish in the middle school pond. Had I read this definition back then, I’d learn that “girl crush” is my “Get-Out-of-Lesbian-Free-Card;” a hall pass to state my attraction to another girl while still maintaining my “straightness.”
Who hasn’t said it before? At 15, my friends and I would cautiously talk about girls we found attractive, sitting in a circle at the park or in someone’s basement. It did not matter how open-minded and accepting our little group was. “Girl crush” was our salvation, that permission to evade those questions, stave off those “different thoughts.”
“Girl crush” has quietly risen to fame, as the “no homo” (a defense of one’s sexuality) for the straight girl. “No homo” and “girl crush” ensures that there’s no miscommunication over a previous statement. It’s the subtle way to announce, “I’m straight, don’t worry!” when no one was ever really worrying in the first place.
So let’s break this down: “I have such a girl crush on Selena Gomez! She’s so hot!”
People find it necessary to announce their sexuality when it was never being threatened to begin with. We live in a culture that labels homosexuality as wrong, but this little phrase serves as an easy defense of one’s sexuality to others. People might not realize they’ve done it. For others, it serves the purpose of making sure that whomever they’re talking to knows they’re not on the “wrong” side of things.
By using “girl crush” or “no homo,” a person is also saying “Don’t take my attraction to another person of the same sex seriously.” By making a joke out of it, homosexuality is now minimized into something that is not to be taken seriously. “It’s all a joke… My crush on another girl because I’m straight and I don’t want you to think otherwise.”
There is an inherent fear (homophobia, get it?) of being labeled anything but Kinsey 0, something we’ve been conditioned to avoid. We need to always make sure people know we’re a part of the “norm.” We feel the need to remind the people around us that we are not the outcast. To our society, normal means not being attracted to the same sex.
A guy will say to his friend, “I like your new haircut. No homo.” and his compliment is relieved of its homosexuality. (Amazing!) Though I’ve found it’s rare to hear a girl use “girl crush” in that same context. That’s not to say that girls don’t use it to talk about their friends or girls they actually know. But usually the term is directed at an otherwise unattainable woman – someone famous and universally known as an object of desire. It’s another subtle defense because it’s a general consensus that Selena Gomez is attractive so it’s okay for me to have a “girl crush” on her. But it’s devaluing same sex crushes on the average woman and simultaneously objectifying a famous woman for her looks. People only have crushes on her because she’s attractive, not because she has a great personality or an intoxicating laugh or likes long walks on the beach.
There is still a fear of being shamed by someone else for being gay or lesbian just by making a positive statement about another person. Saying “girl crush” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re afraid to be a lesbian or fear lesbianism, but in a world that shames people for their sexual orientation, where there is such an aversion to indefinite sexualities, it is something that we should work to remove from our vocabulary. There’s nothing wrong or scary about sexuality, nor is it something to be feared when it involves a simple matter of opinion or preference.
To quote the ever amazing Mindy Kaling, “Stop saying girl crush. No one’s gonna think you’re a lesbian if you just say ‘crush.'” And if they do think so and make you feel bad for it, maybe you shouldn’t associate yourself with that person anymore.