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Womens liberation and lesbianism

(131 Posts)
LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 19:41:33

I've been reading this board for years. I'm a lesbian. It feels like until recently, there was a good appreciation here of the importance of lesbian rights to women's liberation and the womens' rights movement. If lesbians face discrimination and oppression, then it's harder to come out and lead a good life as a lesbian - more lesbians will get stuck in straight marriages that make them unhappy. More young lesbians will struggle with bullying at school. If lesbians who want to be parents are supported by the community in doing that, again, it makes it easier to imagine a good, fulfilling life as a lesbian. Easier to come out and live honestly for lesbians - that's important to women's liberation.

It suddenly feels more hostile to lesbians here. Does anyone else feel that, or is it just me? Like, there is reasonably regular criticism of lesbians who have kids by sperm donation, criticism of LGBT education/anti-bullying classes in schools as a whole. A general anti-LGBT feeling as a whole, which includes a feeling that lesbians are fine now in 2020 and just need to get over themselves and get on with it and not moan.

Maybe that's unfair, but it feels like there's quite a bit of talk about lesbians as "those people in the LGBT club over there" rather than as part of the women's liberation movement.

You're going to want examples aren't you, but I don't think I have the energy and anyway, then it would be a thread about a thread. It's more a feeling that this board is for straight women now. Does anyone else feel that?

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CuriousaboutSamphire Thu 19-Nov-20 19:55:14

I think that many people have become collateral damage in the whole TRA thing.

In exploring those issues all sorts of additional issues are being discussed, the many ways the female body is exploited is being openly debated in many places. Surrogacy debate widened to all sorts of other related issues. I don't think it's aimed at lesbians, personally I don't think any fertility treatment should be a right for anyone... available yes, but an entitlement? No!

And many here are lesbian. Others very vocal on the 'chicks with dicks' lie. More so on the 'Lesbian? No dear girl you are a man!' stupidity.

So I don't think being lesbian is the issue, it's part of a wider problem, patriarchal of course!

ChakaDakotaRegina Thu 19-Nov-20 20:39:26

I’m sorry if it seems hostile. I haven’t picked up on that (but not L so may be missing a tone)

I think the views about LGBT education in schools etc are more directed at the conflicts between the LGB and the T and the Q. There seems particular pressure for the L to be nice and make room. There have been threads noting how L do not feel represented by the rainbow flag anymore. I feel we were nearing a point 10 years ago where LGB was accepted in the workplace as normal and the stereotypes about flat lesbian shoes and glittery shirtless gays were reducing. Somehow we seem to be heading back to an idea that LGBT+ means different (not on here, in life)

I think the threads on conception are more distrustful of the way women’s bodies are being used and the rights of children being overlooked.

twoHopes Thu 19-Nov-20 20:49:57

I frequent this forum very rarely so I can't really comment on what you're saying. But I just wanted to say that I completely disagree with the idea that lesbians have it easy. Many of my closest friends are lesbian and it really upsets me that they feel they have to hide their sexuality so as not to be judged or leered at. It's appalling that this is still the case in 2020. I'm sorry if you don't feel supported by this forum as I completely agree with you that lesbian rights are fundamental to women's rights as a group.

LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 20:58:36

That's really nice of you to say sorry, Chala, but no need!

As a flat-shoed lesbian, I didn't feel like it was a non-issue to come out at work 10 years ago. I mean, it depends on the workplace and the person, of course and for some, it will have felt 100% fine - but my guess is, for a minority. I've a professional, secure job and a good employer, but it was still a bit scary to come out at work 10 years ago. It still is, a bit, even as a middle-aged woman. Loads of people are homophobic, whether they really realise that or not - I don't think there has been a regression in LGB rights at work recently. Maybe a regression in how women on this board feel about lesbians and training/discussion about homophobia at work.

The threads criticising donor conception are going to feel shit for a lot of lesbians aren't they - especially if from the perspective that children's rights are being overlooked. Like almost all mums, most lesbian mums love their kids more than anything, and it's hard to feel that your motivations in having kids are questioned or that women think you've harmed the kids who mean everything to you (even as you see them, and other lesbians' kids of all ages, thriving). That's not to say that it's not a valid discussion to have - of course it is. But listening to it is often like "us" straight women talking about "you lesbians" who don't put your kids' welfare first. Ouch.

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LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 21:08:32

That's nice twoHopes, thanks. I'm sorry your friends don't have it easy. I think most lesbians are probably careful from time to time about the contexts in which it feels a good idea to be open about your sexuality/hold hands/come out, and when it's just going to cause trouble. That's life.

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ChakaDakotaRegina Thu 19-Nov-20 21:23:34

I was thinking more that with sperm donation, egg donation, suragacy etc (on children raised with ANY sort of parents) there is a chance that kids don’t get a full idea of their genetics which has been something raised as an issue by people that were adopted for example. If doctors ask about family history of medical issues etc there’s a missing piece. I don’t think that’s a slur on the LBGT community or any family set up (many a single mother won’t have access to this information through no fault of their own) It’s more a debate about modern conception ethics in general.

thinkingaboutLangCleg Thu 19-Nov-20 21:23:50

I hope there’s no hostility to lesbians here. More than ever, we need solidarity among women. Lesbians have always played an important part in the feminist movement. The new anger I see is about the trans (not gay) lobby’s push against women.

MichelleofzeResistance Thu 19-Nov-20 21:40:09

I'm L, many FWR regulars are. The only issues I've experienced that I'd say were offensive or unaware of the realities for the L part of LGBT+ has come from those vigorously supporting the right of male people to define themselves as lesbian, and to encourage lesbianism as a label to be optionally inclusive of heterosexual sex and sexual partners, in other words removing the definition of lesbian from homosexual women to be a more general label that better fits the self identity of male people. Oh and cotton ceiling stuff and the whole current political lean in some quarters that the word 'lesbian' is now a wrongthink political statement and naice women say they are queer. (But lesbian is a word to be celebrated if a male person self defines themselves using it.) That I get really fed up about. But FWR being always female centred tends to hold discussions in which the majority of posters see and discuss the difficulties and homophobia involved in the above listed positions, which I personally find very supportive.

There's interesting discussions here around surrogacy and donation which obviously significantly involves LGBT+ parents. I have mixed feelings there. I have many gay friends who are parents, through adoption or in the case of several lesbian couples sperm donation, and they are great parents with happy and well raised kids. But they were either very carefully vetted and worked for a long time with adoption agencies and openly support their kids with the trauma of losing birth parents, or the child is living with the birth parent. Where I have a lot of doubts (and you will find robust discussions here regarding it as should be held) is surrogacy, because of the many issues for the child's mother and the child and the many risks to those two key people's rights and protections being minimised or lost altogether in the conversation. The threads are worth reading but they're not anti-LGBT+.

It always comes down to the same key points really: that the experience, rights and experiences of female people (and children) should not be lost behind a wider agenda. And I'm all for that for all female people, whatever their sexuality.

persistentwoman Thu 19-Nov-20 21:45:05

I'm another lesbian who doesn't find this board hostile at all. There is a legitimate criticism of LGB groups like Stonewall who have been 'captured' by the T and now promote an anti lesbian / anti women line. There's a lot of (in my view legitimate) criticism of an LGBT agenda in schools being used to coerce children and promote the (now apparently dumped) 'born in the wrong body' agenda, not to mention all the queer theory porn advocating SRE.
I suspect if I wandered on here I might look at some of the above criticism and wonder about it being hostile to lesbians - but I genuinely believe it isn't. It's part of this awful realisation that organisations that should have been supportive of women and lesbians - political parties, unions, the arts etc, even the bloody WEP, have turned out to be implacably hostile to women's and lesbian's rights and it's right that they are challenged - even though it's bloody uncomfortable.

MichelleofzeResistance Thu 19-Nov-20 21:45:37

Sorry, that got incoherent at the end, I was typing around distractions! I meant to add: It is important that my sensitivity around the subject and that the conversation may be uncomfortable in some ways from me does not mean I desire to shut that conversation down. I have mixed feelings because there are issues. These issues should be discussed, I should consider and think about things I may personally find uncomfortable because my not liking to think about something doesn't mean it's wrong.

LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 21:52:06

"I was thinking more that with sperm donation, egg donation, suragacy etc (on children raised with ANY sort of parents) .... It’s more a debate about modern conception ethics in general."

I get that...it's not specifically aimed at lesbians or, usually, motivated by homophobia. But it's really disproportionately relevant to lesbians - it's not a new issue, it's a critique of how we've been having our babies for decades and longer.
It's a debate people have every right to have of course. People can debate what they like. And it's never going to feel great to be listening in to largely straight women scrutinising your decisions as a lesbian as to the impact on your kids.

Of course we mustn't do things that harm children. But to the extent that there's no evidence that lesbian families are harming their donor conceived children (and I know that's disputed), surely feminists want lesbians to be free to settle down and bring up kids together. That's part of women's liberation - that women aren't forced by societal pressures into relationships with men that they don't want.

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MichelleofzeResistance Thu 19-Nov-20 21:58:01

You still seem to be thinking in terms of FWR being straight, OP. You're assuming there, a lot of regular posters are LGBT+.

It isn't responsible for female people to avoid discussing here the ethics and issues around conception, the rights of female people and of children, and the potential issues ahead for them if some of the current things being mooted towards surrogacy go through unchallenged. Surely that's a huge, huge part of women's liberation. I'm afraid that some people might find anything but unconditional positivity to be personally uncomfortable is not a good reason to abandon the vulnerable people in the wider picture. After all, it's not compulsory to come here and read such discussions unless you wish to.

MichelleofzeResistance Thu 19-Nov-20 21:59:46

And I'll add: I've not seen any discussions about gay parenting so you'd need to show me threads or posts of the kind you're concerned about for me to know what you mean. It's almost entirely around the ethics of surrogacy.

LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 22:00:31

"I should consider and think about things I may personally find uncomfortable because my not liking to think about something doesn't mean it's wrong."

That's true, Michelle!!

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LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 22:09:18

As I typed that message, various contented lesbians popped up. I wasn't ignoring you, our posts crossed. I note that I'm in a minority of one, so presumably I'm wrong.

I did say "largely" straight women discussing conception issues, and I still think that's true, from many hours spent reading these threads.

There is definitely quite a bit of discussion of sperm donation and lesbian parenting periodically, not just surrogacy. I see surrogacy as a separate issue which impacts differently on women and children from sperm donation. I'm not upset about people discussing surrogacy.

I don't see where I've said we should 'abandon vulnerable people' - which vulnerable people am I advocating that we abandon?

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persistentwoman Thu 19-Nov-20 22:18:45

I like the 'contented lesbian' moniker. smile
As a lesbian parent I do think there are a number of unspoken issues about sperm donation and have at times been challenged by my wonderful children about my choices over this. This and the surrogacy discussions have made me consider difficult issues that I failed to consider deeply when I was younger and having babies. I'm all in favour of these being aired more widely. I don't see it as an attack. I'm happy that these discussion happen on a predominantly female and feminist board.

NiceGerbil Thu 19-Nov-20 22:21:31

On the thread about surrogacy at the moment, which has strayed into other topics. It's mainly concerns about surrogacy full stop. And concern about the clinics and what they are up to.

I can't imagine why there would be feminist issues on using donor sperm. It doesn't harm the donor. There may be questions from the child later but this applies with single women who use this route or even if they're straight just take the old fashioned route as it were

I mean I can't speak for everyone obviously and I can see there's sensitivity but I've not really seen it.

If anything there's more concern for lesbians than anything else. With sexuality becoming a tick box whatever you want thing, and the worry that young lesbians are opting out of being girls, for reasons that I'm sure we're all aware of.

HecatesCats Thu 19-Nov-20 22:31:27

One of my main concerns around the trans debate is imposing gender ideology on girls and young women who are likely Lesbians. The fact that that might lead them to consider themselves men and encourage them to end up on a pathway to lifelong medical care pains me. I also hate to see young women on social media routinely being encouraged to view people with penises as Lesbians. I worry about women's boundaries and I worry about young women being encouraged to embrace self loathing. I'm not gay, but relatives and close friends are and the lesbians in my circle also have concerns.

LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 22:39:49

"As a lesbian parent I do think there are a number of unspoken issues about sperm donation and have at times been challenged by my wonderful children about my choices over this"

These are useful thoughts and conversations we (lesbian parents) need to have. But I think the issues that arise from donor conception are commonly thought about by lesbians now - by law, if you use a licenced clinic you have to have implications counselling where you discuss the issues. And lesbians with little kids now often use resources from the Donor Conception Network to talk to them about donor conception - at least in my circle - and read materials from that Network to inform our parenting. You're right - there are important parenting issues that arise. But I don't think lesbians usually go into it unthinkingly nowadays. I've not found the discussion here very helpful on those subjects but I see that you have.

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NiceGerbil Thu 19-Nov-20 23:03:41

The threads that I've seen around that topic seem to me to focus on surrogacy.

They do stray off, of course. And sometimes you get posters being a bit random but they get picked up on it on the whole.

The whole topic of fertility is one where there are strong emotions at play, and you see that across all the boards on here. It is a really sensitive topic.

I've genuinely not seen much questioning the ethics etc of using donor sperm. The provision of semen is totally different to the process to get eggs for IVF and of course surrogacy is a whole different ball game.

On the stuff being taught in schools, most of the threads which are about the sex and sexuality side of the materials they've seen are about things like

Very male view of sex
Little focus if any on female pleasure
Poor info about female sexuality
Normalising of acts that are more, um, advanced for want of a better word (more relevant for het girls)
Reframing lesbian/ gay sexuality as a gender preference and that body configuration is not relevant

Etc etc

I can see that you're upset and I wonder if it's one of those things where if you see it once, twice. You start seeing posts in a different light/ noticing the ones that say X and not noticing really that it's a very minority view and loads of people say WTF are you on about. I know I have done this in the past on topics I feel strongly about.

LesbianonFWR Thu 19-Nov-20 23:39:38

@NiceGerbil
"I can see that you're upset and I wonder if it's one of those things where if you see it once, twice. You start seeing posts in a different light/ noticing the ones that say X and not noticing really that it's a very minority view and loads of people say WTF are you on about."

Do you know, I think you're probably right there. It rings true when you say that.

I think my theory was that the discussion of trans issues might have attracted anti-gay and lesbian posters and people with conservative views on how children should be conceived/brought up in "traditional" families. And that was why it felt anti-lesbian.

But you're probably right that I've fixated on a few posts. All the contented lesbians here would also suggest that it could be that.

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NiceGerbil Thu 19-Nov-20 23:45:14

When I've found myself getting upset on topics that are personally sensitive for me I think hold on. Go back. How many posters are actually saying this Vs how many posters on the thread. Are they enjoying putting the boot in. How are other posters reacting to them? And just because they're posting on X board doesn't mean they are X. Some boards attract trolls. Etc etc

And if it's really making you feel crap take a break from the board/ or from mn entirely. Reading and posting a lot on the more involved topics can really wear you down.

NiceGerbil Thu 19-Nov-20 23:50:10

'I think my theory was that the discussion of trans issues might have attracted anti-gay and lesbian posters and people with conservative views on how children should be conceived/brought up in "traditional" families. And that was why it felt anti-lesbian.'

I'm sure this has happened to an extent- I've seen some posts about abortion and, well a host of topics that are a bit, what?

There aren't that many though which is good and safe to say those people aren't representative of the board generally and usually get short shrift.

stumbledin Thu 19-Nov-20 23:55:25

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