What women owe lesbians
MerchedCymru · 10/07/2021 12:17
A moving guest post by one of our members, on the importance of lesbians to generating feminist activism and a feminist consciousness.
WhyIsThinkingOfUsernamesSoHard · 14/07/2021 13:01
I don't mean to target this particular post but I do have some concerns about the way lesbians are viewed in feminism.
As a bit of background, there is a fair bit of hostility between (some) lesbians and (some) bisexuals and one of the main complaints from lesbians is about (some) bisexual and bicurious women leaving a difficult, unequal relationship with a man and deciding to date a woman - not for an equal relationship but to be the one having their needs prioritised. Lesbians being viewed as "a vibrator on legs who'll be nice to me" is one of the ways I've seen it described - just as a thing to be used to give them orgasms, be nice and supportive and put them first - on the grounds that they've had a tough time so deserve some 'me time' where they are put first. I think they either don't see lesbians as having any problems in life because we aren't dating men, or more likely, they just don't see us as whole people in the same way that they are.
Obviously, we don't normally have that relationship with heterosexual women - and some of us don't have much of a relationship with heterosexual women at all - but I do see parallels with the way lesbians are sometimes portrayed in feminism (and I think a fair bit of this does come from lesbian feminism itself) and I don't think it is a healthy dynamic if we are to build genuine trust, understanding and an equal relationship between lesbian and heterosexual women.
I've seen some heterosexual feminists who resent that lesbians are portrayed as better feminists but I also don't think it's beneficial for lesbians. Firstly, because being the brave foot soldiers of feminism or feminist warriors or however you want to phrase it basically means being expected to do most of the donkey work and put ourselves in harm's way to protect heterosexual and bisexual women but also because the expectations themselves aren't good. Yes, we are put on a pedestal of selfless, feminist virtue but that role doesn't allow room to be a whole person and where does that leave you and how will you be treated if you fall off the pedestal - either because you don't want to fulfill that role or because you're actually just a human being with all the complexities, life challenges and failings that that entails?
SomeNameorOther · 16/07/2021 17:42
I found that piece interesting and informative, and I wish I'd grown up in a community like that! I agree, though, with .@Whyisthinkingofausernamesohard that we (heterosexual women) should not put such onus on lesbians to do the work for us, and that we all need to step up and take responsibility for protecting women's rights and fighting the good fight ourselves. We are all women, after all.
Olderbadger1 · 17/07/2021 09:55
Fabulous piece and a timely reminder of the debt we owe. Thanks for posting Merched Cymru.
It's tragic that lesbian spaces have been taken over - or dismantled - by men. I suppose that demographic was seen as an easy one to colonise since, in general, the only people standing up for lesbians are lesbians and no-one in power is listening to them.
Yes please to women-only spaces Igmum. The one fabulous thing to have come out of the recent resurgence in old-fashioned (i.e. woman-centered) feminism is the re-emergence of women's grassroots activism, solidarity and mass cackling. Such a joy.
MiriamY · 25/03/2022 09:57
Thanks for posting and for using the word 'lesbian'.
I remember my struggles as a teen to find the courage to name myself as a lesbian.
It started as a 15 year old, feeling empowered and excited (with added hormone surges 😁) when I realised I was attracted to other girls, not boys.
I went through a range if different ways to describe myself, often as a deterrent with predatory men ( had the opposite effect!) or simply to let interested boys know they were barking up the wrong tree...
I knew I was attracted to other girls and I discovered the word for me - Lesbian - in a book in the library. It is a serious word. A word of intent and certainty.
But I couldn't bring myself to use it.
Instead I used self- deprecating, lighthearted, and derogatory terms to 'take the edge off ' and to avoid the shame that mingled with my positive feelings about bring same sex attracted. So to the world I was 'Bent as a 9 bob note', gay, homosexual, swinging the other way, bent, etc. But LESBIAN was what I felt.
3 years after coming g out, I met feminists who gave me a whole new take on the early, men, emmen and sex.
Feminism helped me to shed the shame and negativity and be confident enough to call myself a lesbian.
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