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Keep your politics out of my sexuality
I’m tweeting on Twitter as one does watching the feminist debates and radfem stupidity when I come across this article by Cathy Brennan. Cathy is a political lesbian (whatever the fuck that means) who seems to have some issues with other lesbians.
I haven’t been able to get a straight answer out of anyone as to what a “Political Lesbian” actually is so Google will be my brain. I maybe incorrect so bear with me.
Article: In the late 70s a group of lesbians in Leeds, known as revolutionary feminists (RFs), made a controversial move that resonated loudly for me and many other women. They began calling for all feminists to embrace lesbianism. Appealing to their heterosexual sisters to get rid of men “from your beds and your heads”, they started a debate, which reached its height in 1981 with the publication of an infamous booklet, Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism and Political Lesbianism (LYE). In this, the RFs wrote that, “all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.”
So political lesbianism equals women who don’t sleep with men regardless of whether they are same sex attracted? Fucking excuse me? My sexuality is not a political statement to further your hatred of men.
Wiki: Political lesbianism may be defined as the idea that lesbian feminists are in some way – such as morally, ethically or tactically – superior to feminists who “choose to be” straight women (note that this dichotomy completely denies the existence of bisexual feminists, but anyway). It appears to imply the idea (rather controversial in itself) that people can choose their sexual orientation, which interestingly, is almost completely rejected among gay men, but not completely among lesbians – there are some lesbians who believe that it’s possible to choose to be lesbian.
Technically, political lesbians do not have to actually ever sleep with, or even partner with, other women – they may instead be asexual, by practice or by inclination. This, however, seems to do violence to the common understanding of the word “lesbian”, and seems to be more of a get-out clause or fudge than anything else – a sort of mirror image of “ex-gay” scam artists conceding that it’s OK to have gay thoughts, and as long as you pretend to be straight to the world, “you are now straight / ex-gay”.
An extreme form of political lesbianism is separatist feminism, the idea that feminists ought to have little to no direct contact with men at all. This may be conceived of either as a temporary strategy to help bring about a more feminist world, or as a permanent thing.
So political lesbianism is a call to arms. A call for all women to stop dating/sleeping/having relationships with men and either become asexual or gay because apparently all men everywhere suck. Yes you heard it readers, political lesbians are telling women to choose to change their orientation, to completely switch who they are attracted to and have relationships with women (even if they aren’t attracted to them) or become asexuals in order to further their political gain. In this definition, “lesbian” means “women who don’t sleep with men” and here I thought lesbian meant a woman attracted to women (remember transwomen can be lesbians) or same sex attracted. Sex is a byproduct of sexuality. One does not need to have sex in order to have an attraction to someone nor a sexuality. Silly me.
What a crock of shit. While sexuality isn’t a choice, you can’t choose who you are attracted to, however you can chose to act on it. A straight woman attracted to men who chooses to not have relationships with men is still straight. I can understand a hatred of someone dampering your attraction for them but asking someone to change your sexuality or identify a different way purely for politics? That’s rude. You can keep your political crap out of my sexuality and community thanks. Stop appropriating my sexuality for your own gain.
Let’s see what Cathy has to say on the matter:
I can sense she dislikes men and really doesn’t understand what being gay is all about.
All girls in our culture are groomed towards Compulsory Heterosexuality.
We’re assumed to be heterosexual by default and our taught gender roles and gender expression reflect that.
All of us. Including Lesbians. As Lesbians, we have been socialized since birth – like all Females – to be sexually accessible to Males. As Lesbians, many of us work for years with internalized self-hatred and misogyny before we finally are able to confront our sexual attractions and honor our sexuality. This is a long and – for many of us – a lifetime process, as we are constantly bombarded with cultural messages that Lesbian sexuality is wrong.
Yes, it may take some longer to discover they are gay or bisexual. Some people may repress their desires, some may hide in heterosexual relationships for safety reasons or deny they are gay. Some may not realise the words for their feelings. This is okay.
This grooming is part of our Shared Girlhood. This is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the blanket that our mothers tuck us into bed with at night.
And, yet, despite this grooming, Lesbians – Women who love Women – exist.
Well yes we do exist.
Some “Real Lesbians” (tw, sarcasm) or “Born That Way Lesbians” note the existence of Women who have “escaped” Heterosexual grooming as proof that “Lesbians” are born, not made, that sexual orientation is innate, and that no Woman can choose to be Gay. They can only be “asexual” or “spinsters” or “ex-het” or “bisexual.”
Again one cannot choose their sexuality but they can choose to act on it.
All “Real Lesbians” have a coming out story. Many “Real Lesbians” recall feelings of same-sex attraction from very young ages, or recount anecdotes of “just knowing” we didn’t “fit” that Heterosexual Mold for which all Women are groomed. Of course, all Lesbians also have coming out stories, but these stories are deemed inauthentic if they occur after participation in Heterosexuality. And no Women is “fit” to be nothing more than a brood mare. Nevertheless, for these Born That Way Lesbians, Lesbianism must be proven in an environment that has a default assumption of Heterosexuality – the default created, of course, by grooming into Compulsory Heterosexuality.
What the flying fuck are you on about? I came out gay early, I’ve never been interested in men yet I don’t demean people who have realised they are gay later in life. Generalising much? I do however have issues with people using my sexuality and community as a means for political gain. You don’t get to call yourself a lesbian simply because you hate men. Lesbianism means an attraction to the same sex, not “I’m going to stop sleeping with men because I hate them and call myself gay because I don’t want anything to do with men – including the sexualities of straight and bisexual”.
But what does this mean, if Being Gay is innate, if the only entry into Lesbianism is an accident of birth? Why does it matter? And how do you account for Women who come out later in life? How do you account for Women who realize that Heterosexuality is not conducive to their happiness? What do we say to these “Made Lesbians”?
If you’re gay then you’re gay no matter your age but if you adopt that label as a way to move away from an association with men – that’s messed up. If you’re straight but choose to be asexual because men make you unhappy – you’re still straight. You just don’t have sex. Asexuality means a lack of sexual desire or disinterest in sex.
If we accept that Lesbians are “Born That Way,” they cannot be Made. And, thus, we deny these Women their experience of discovering themselves and their sexuality free from Male dictates. We place on them the same patriarchal expectations of what makes a Lesbian – can you be a Lesbian if you’ve had sex with a Man, eve? Once? Twice? One hundred times?
If you’re attracted to women, want to be with a woman, yes. Many lesbians don’t find out until later in life that they’re gay but if you’re telling women that they need to leave men and turn to women because of your issues with men – that’s not lesbianism. That’s you needing a therapist.
In rejecting these Women, we doubt Women. And we make these Women doubt themselves. Opponents of Political Lesbianism, the Born That Way Lesbians, demand proof – they reject what Women say and instead look for external evidence to prove what a Woman says and feels. They distrust and disbelieve Women.
How does this create trust among Women, when we are telling Women that we don’t believe them and their own desires? It doesn’t create trust, and it doesn’t reflect listening to Women – it rejects Women, and denies the grooming that all Women endure in our Woman Hating culture.
We need a Political Analysis.
Thus spake Political Lesbianism.
It’s not that we don’t trust women, we don’t like the idea of straight women using lesbianism or adopting the term lesbian as a way to get away from men.
Political Lesbianism is the radical feminist idea that Women can “choose” to be Lesbians, and that such “choice” is a way for Women to escape the shackles of Compulsory Heterosexuality. It enables Women to politically and personally ally with other Women. In effect, Political Lesbianism allows Women a framework to reorder our priorities – it gives Women space and room to maneuver as we navigate the Heterosexual grooming all Women experience. As Feminists, many of us, in exploring our ideas about Woman-hating culture, realize that Lesbianism can bring us to experience deeper connection to and intimacy with other Women, an experience many of us want, need and crave.
Some radical feminists reject Political Lesbianism. These critics accuse Made Lesbians of “the worst appropriation,” of stealing the experience of Lesbianism. They view Political Lesbianism as an attack on Real Lesbians.
I agree with on the second point, you are appropiating lesbianism for your own political gain. There’s a difference between a woman whose been married to a man to hide their sexuality because of safety issues or because they couldn’t put a name to their feelings and a woman who is straight turning to women because she thinks men are jerks. Lesbianism isn’t a political alignment. Nor are we a constilation prize. You can’t go to us when men don’t work out.
An attack on Real Lesbians?
Who are the Real Lesbians?
Not the people you’re calling to arms.
And where is this attack? I see Men on the right attacking Women, by limiting through legislation our ability to control our own bodies. I see Men on the left attacking Women, by demanding that we remain silent in the face of rape and sexual assault by the Left’s leaders. I see Men in the GLBT Community attacking Women, by expecting Women to consider Males as “Women” if those Males say so and by supporting efforts to limit Women-Only Space.
Transphobia. I was wondering how long that would take. Radical feminism and a hatred of all men pretty much go hand in hand with transphobia. I really dislike transphobia.
I don’t see the threat posed to Lesbians by Political Lesbianism in the here and now. Indeed, the biggest threat to Lesbians is the Queerification (i.e., elimination) of Lesbian culture and community and the erasure of Female reality.
So, then, are we – as Feminists – saying that only Born that Way Lesbians are Real Lesbians?
Yes. Honest lesbians aren’t using lesbianism for political gain or simply because they don’t like the label of “straight” because it implies you have something to do with men.
If that is what Feminists believe, this position denies the lived reality of the Woman who leaves her boyfriend, who leaves her husband, who wakes up one day and realizes that there’s more to her life than being a servant to Male desire. And the opponents of Political Lesbianism render “Lesbian” into simply another identity, another lens that dilutes our community, another barrier to divide us.
Women who wake up and realise they are gay are a lot different to women who wake up and don’t want anything to do with men because they think men are the ultimate oppresses and have read too much radical feminist literature.
Lesbians are Women who love other Women.
There’s a difference between loving women as in the general population and wanting to be with one. I’m gay, I don’t love all women or women in general. I’m attracted to some and in love with one. I don’t love all women or women in general because I haven’t met all women and some women are douchebags.
All Women can be Lesbian.
All Women. All Women can be Real Lesbians.
Perhaps your deluded twisted version of lesbianism. If I suddenly decided all women were shit and I wanted nothing to do with them – can I call myself straight?
Our movement should trust Women. We should believe Women. Our movement cannot exclude all but a handful of Women – the Real Lesbians – from having the ultimate Women-only space. All Women have the right to Say “I am a Lesbian” without fear of being judged or disbelieved or labeled a liar and a thief.
The ultimate women only space? Puh-lease.
Women need space to develop and grow. Indeed, we all need space with each other to recognize the massive con job that’s perpetrated on us since the moment the doctor declares “it’s a girl.” Elevating “Real Lesbians” over all other Women places these proponents among the ranks of any other supporter of Identity Politics. These efforts to “protect Lesbianism” for “Real Lesbians” focuses not on the liberation of Women, but on the determination of which Women are entitled to claim to title “Lesbian.”
Who wants part of a Feminist Movement built on exclusion of Women? The process of deconstructing the Woman you were groomed to be from girlhood is lifelong and never ending – even for Real Lesbians.
Thus, we are Political Lesbians and choose to be a Lesbian in a Woman-Hating culture. We choose to love Women and put them at the center of our lives. All Women can do this.
Give Women room to breathe. Our movement should be generous towards Women struggling to untangle the web of lies and expectations we are woven into since birth.
Oh, and if you doubt a Woman is a Lesbian, you can choose not to date her (and this, by the way, is not a Political Analysis).
You choose to be homosexual? Give me a break. You don’t get to call yourself a homosexual woman simply because you think men suck.
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