Funny Women: Who’s the Man in a Lesbian Relationship? A Guide for Curious Straight People


Begin with a brief but informal questionnaire: Who typically takes out the trash? Who is carrying Infinite Jest on their person? Whom do birds trust more? If there’s no clear answer, then proceed with haste to the next steps.

Determine which lesbian can recite more of Emily Dickinson’s oeuvre. She is definitely not the man.

Start playing Johann Strauss’s “The Blue Danube.” When the couple begins to waltz, pay close attention to who leads. If that person is also explaining why “The Blue Danube” was used in Squid Game, then they are undoubtedly the man.

If they both have the audacity to wear pants, tickle their knees. The one who laughs second is the man. If neither laughs, check who has the roomiest pockets.

Say something false about bike maintenance. Whoever corrects you first and most forcibly is the man.

Open a can of IPA. Hold it in front of the lesbians’ noses for thirty seconds. Whoever salivates is the man.

Hold an iron chain over each lesbian’s head. If the chain spins in small circles, that is the woman. If the chain moves back and forth, that is the man. If the chain is yanked from your hand, one of them is holding a powerful magnet.

Claim that Cormac McCarthy is “the greatest living writer.” Whoever agrees fervently–even though they haven’t read a single one of his novels and just think Javier Bardem is badass–is the man.

Ask them to show you all of the carabineers they have in their possession. Whoever produces the most is the man, and also the winner.

Place them on rocks on opposite sides of a jagged cliff-face. Instruct them to sing a song of their choosing. Whoever lures a ship of sailors to their death is not the man.

Ask each what household staples they are out of. And do they need bread? Whoever doesn’t know is the man.

Present a copy of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. Whoever puts it in their purse is the woman. Whoever pulls their own copy out of their pocket is Gertrude Stein.

If one of them drives a motorcycle, then the motorcycle is the man.

If both ride motorcycles, then hand out first-edition copies of Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Whoever cries first is the man.

If the motorcycle has a sidecar, no one is the man; the bike is a prop, and both people are muppets.

Inquire as to who their favorite authors are. The one who doesn’t list a single female author is onto your investigation and is obviously just messing with you. Do not fall for her tricks.

Drop a coin onto their exposed skin. If you hear a hot take on the new Dune movie, then that is the man.

Throw their fettered bodies into a lake. The one who sinks is the woman. The one who doesn’t sink is either the man or a witch.

Penguins can instinctively tell which lesbian is the man in the relationship, but we all know where their loyalties lie, so it’s rare that they will assist you in your investigation.

Put a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos on the sidewalk in front of the lesbians. Ask them to call the bag of Doritos to them. Whomever the bag goes to is the man.

Repeat their names three times in front of your bathroom mirror at midnight. When you say the name of the man in the relationship, the room will fill with Axe body spray. When you say the name of the woman, Taylor Swift’s evermore will play in its entirety.

Ask them to throw a gender reveal party for their relationship dynamic. Whichever of them is the first to tweet, “Are straight people okay???” is the man. If they tweet it at the same time, then bow down to your powerful new overlords. The future has arrived.



Rumpus original art by Natalie Peeples


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Rebecca Turkewitz is a writer, high school English teacher, and cat aficionado living in Portland, Maine. Her short stories and humor writing have appeared in The Normal School, The Masters Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Electric Literature, The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and elsewhere. Read more at More from this author →