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A thread to discuss lesbianism, bisexual Women, and other kinds of sexuality patriarchy doesn't like

(53 Posts)
LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 24-Aug-16 23:52:33

I am starting this thread partly because of current events (a LGBT rep at Edinburgh University who seems very unwell, and odd, has been expressing views that were, amongst other things, lesbophobic and misogynistic). But I actually wanted to start it before I read that, and didn't get up my courage to think it through.

What I want to ask you is, how do you think women's sexualities are formed? What's the relationship between bodies and socialisation?

I am currently thinking that sexualities that don't include men (lesbianism, sometimes bisexuality) seem to be taken as a kind of threat by patriarchy - but so do other kinds of sexuality that don't fit the patriarchal desire for women to be sex objects. Sexuality for mothers, maybe? Sexuality for rape survivors? Do you think patriarchy is uncomfortable with these, too? I think it must be. I am trying to work out what the common thread is.

What can we do to help younger women form healthy sexualities?

NotAnotherHarlot Wed 24-Aug-16 23:57:41

Constantly reinforce that each woman owns their own sexuality. It is not controlled by religion, their father, husband, lover. That they are in charge of knowing what they need to have a fulfilling sex life and sharing it with their partner and having that respected is what should happen.

NotAnotherHarlot Thu 25-Aug-16 00:00:19

Teaching them that having a happy healthy sex life is a wonderful thing. That learning all about their own body and it's responses is a good thing.

That sexual desire is part of being an adult female.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 00:02:36


I think 'That sexual desire is part of being an adult female' stands out. I get the impression a lot of women still dimly assume that sexual desire happens to them.

NotAnotherHarlot Thu 25-Aug-16 00:07:54

I have given this a lot of thought and it is my belief that from the point where little children start discovering their bodies, it is both expected and validated that boys do this, but girls doing the same is not. Boys are taught that running about naked will be met with fond amusement while girls are covered.

Boys and girls are taught that sexually the girl should be resisting to retain her good girls don't do dirty sex things, while boys are taught to overpower resistance and push past boundaries. That sex is hereosexual penetrative intercourse during which the male has an orgasm.

Media constantly paints women as passively presented for the male gaze for approval or rejection.

All of these things disassociate women from their sexuality.

NotAnotherHarlot Thu 25-Aug-16 00:09:50

"Happens to them"

Exactly. It's given or withheld from them.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 00:16:06

Not - that makes sense. And there's that appallingly sad thread at the moment about a dad who refuses to accept his DD wants privacy to change, and that makes me think how much the resistance to girls 'discovering' their sexuality is also about unspoken worries about adult men leering over them. sad

'dissociate from their sexuality' is the apt phrase.

caroldecker Thu 25-Aug-16 00:18:10

Very much PIV is sex - anything else is 'sexual' but not sex. Also male orgasm ends sex. Many women will say a man is a good lover if he makes sure she has an orgasm first, because when he finishes, it is over. She is meant to carry on after orgasm, but not him.

BeyondLovesSweetDee Thu 25-Aug-16 00:22:48

Marking place to read and contribute when it's not just gone midnight. grin

NotAnotherHarlot Thu 25-Aug-16 00:23:50

I do think it is all deeply rooted in female as male possession. Those horrific ceremonies where girls promise to their fathers to remain virgins until he gives them to their next owner.

Carol - YYY it's all about the male orgasm. Women are now just about allowed to hope that they might be GIVEN an orgasm, but y'know if not have sex anyway...that will end in the male orgasm.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 00:25:35

YY, I should go to bed too beyond. Just wanted to start it while I remembered.

But ... so how do we get to lesbianism, then? I mean, I know how, but how do women form or explore that sexuality, growing up in the world we do grow up in?

caroldecker Thu 25-Aug-16 00:52:00

LRD Some people, even women can rebel. grin

NotCitrus Thu 25-Aug-16 01:02:03

I've suggested before, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that the Government should send a free vibrator to every girl when they turn say 14.
It would at least give girls a baseline for sexual pleasure that they would then expect more from their partners. Thing is, all the reasons it won't happen are the same as the reasons teenage girls end up in so many crap if not intentionally abusive relationships in the first place.

JacquettaWoodville Thu 25-Aug-16 06:16:55

Checking in for later..,

HapShawl Thu 25-Aug-16 07:13:49

Marking place to come back to this with an only part thought through comment, sorry

I am not bi or a lesbian, but I think I have a lifelong task of disentangling my sexuality from the male gaze stuff. It feels external (visualising myself from the outside and finding myself wanting) rather than internal. I don't know how to help young girls/women with that, because our society is so saturated

IrenetheQuaint Thu 25-Aug-16 08:34:43

"That sexual desire is part of being an adult female." But also that it is perfectly possible, and OK, to be an adult female who doesn't feel sexual desire, whether permanently or just for the time being. I lost mine down the sofa years ago and really dislike being seen as lesser or inferior as a result.

I think the most important thing we can do to support women's sexuality is to stop men and boys coercing/persuading women and girls into sexual behaviour. I would guess that, for the vast majority of women, their first sexual experiences involve an element of coercion/persuasion from males - anything from reiterated requests to rape - and it is enormously distorting of female sexuality, as it means that women form their sexuality in reaction to men rather than on their own terms.

IrenetheQuaint Thu 25-Aug-16 08:42:24

Re lesbian/bisexual girls in particular (sorry to spam the thread, it is all so interesting but I have to leave for work in a minute so won't be able to post later), the most important thing, which is totally obvious of course, is that it should be made absolutely clear, growing up and at school and in society as a whole, that finding women sexually attractive and having sexual relationships with other women is JUST AS NORMAL as doing it with men.

Despite all the advances that have been made with same-sex rights recently, fancying someone of the same sex is still seen as other/outside the norm in most situations, and I imagine that many teenage girls who think they might be lesbians are just as worried and confused to begin with as they were when I was that age 20 years ago. (I'd be delighted to hear that this isn't the case any more! Young women and mothers of young women, what is your experience?)

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 09:03:34

I am not bi or a lesbian, but I think I have a lifelong task of disentangling my sexuality from the male gaze stuff.

YY, this is what I was thinking about. I don't think what I'm interested in is just same-sex desire, but also why it's become such a huge issue, and seems at the moment to be so fraught - and this has ramifications for all of us.

irene - agree, though FWIW I read that comment as saying 'part' rather than 'an inevitable and constant presence'?

IrenetheQuaint Thu 25-Aug-16 09:15:40

Yes, I expect that's what the NotAnotherHarlot meant; I just thought it was worth clarifying the point (especially as there is so much shame/judgement surrounding 'frigid' women - from wider society, not on this thread).

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 09:22:04

YY, absolutely.

On that note, I was thinking about another thread recently, where the OP's (horrible-sounding) partner was 'upset' she had her period and saw it as a sort of affront to his right to sex. Nasty to read, obviously. But I also found it depressing that the implication was, for 5 days out of the month, you bleed. For the others, well, that's all fine, isn't it? We're just not especially brought up to think about sexuality and libido shifting over the course of a cycle. Even really nice men I know, seem to struggle a bit to get their heads around it. And yet your body physically shifts around - things are not in the same places and don't respond in the same way.

No one ever teaches you that in PSHE. grin

VestalVirgin Thu 25-Aug-16 10:05:13

What about asexuality?

Patriarchy doesn't like it when women aren't sexually available to men, period (no pun intended grin)

There's also demisexuality, which many people think is a fancy new term for completely normal (female) behaviour, i.e. wanting to know a man before having sex with him.
Sticking a label on it makes it an exception, and reinforces the notion that "normal" women aren't like this.

I imagine that many teenage girls who think they might be lesbians are just as worried and confused to begin with as they were when I was that age 20 years ago.

From what I've read, it's become worse and many young lesbians now think they suffer from a case of manly brain and have to transition.

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 10:12:48

Yes, I take your point about labels. It's difficult, isn't it? Because a label can be othering, but can also give you that fantastic lightbulb moment of realising that the way you feel isn't just you, it's a 'real thing' that other people feel too.

Mind you, typing that, I am thinking that obviously the problem is that young women grow up not trusting their own feelings are a decent guide to what's 'real'!

JacquettaWoodville Thu 25-Aug-16 10:16:41

Good point, Hap.

LRD, I'm on the period thread and it's horrendous.

Another "cycle" point is birth. The whole MILF business feels like another cheat for women - "there there, even though you're a mother now, the male gaze still favours you, aren't you lucky?"

LRDtheFeministDragon Thu 25-Aug-16 10:24:22

Yes, indeed.

See, I'm interested, because it seems to me there are two big ways women get into radical feminism - one is via the sort of radical feminism that has a fair whack of old-fashioned lesbians, and the other is via motherhood. Is that purely because those are two life stages where you think 'fuck it, I'm not here for the patriarchy,' or what?

paddypants13 Thu 25-Aug-16 10:27:54

The period thread is awful. I was also shocked to see another poster describing periods as medieval. The poster was questioning why the op still has a period every month when she could have hormonal contraception that may stop her menstruating.

Menstruating is a normal part of womanhood, it is not disgusting, we do not need scented san pro, we do not need to hide away during our periods, it's normal.

I must admit that thread made me realise how much dh pesters and coerces me into sex and how guilty I feel for not wanting sex as often as him. (Sex drive is buggered from hormonal contraception, entirely my choice to have it though.) No matter how many times I tell him that pestering me and hinting all the time turns me off he doesn't fucking get it.

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