Change Your World-NOT your Body

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lesbian, a NEW Old Dirty Word

A very special young woman who has worked to go from thinking/feeling she was trans to embracing both herself as a female AND as a lesbian has emailed me this image taken from another young lesbian's Tumbr page:

Not surprisingly this lesbian has been attacked by the queer/trans hooligans who ignorantly misread her message as "transphoic" rather than the sharp cry for lesbian pride and lesbian visibility that it is. Lesbian clearly is still dirty word and a serious threat to patriarchy.

You would be hard pressed to find a single lesbian only org. among all university in the US. Between uni's that have GlBT groups/orgs, the "L" is either silent or non existent. It is not at all uncommon for queer/trans females to attend lesbian meetings and/or dances outright ignoring LESBIAN in the "lesbian meeting" or "lesbian dances". Lesbian Studies have been completely removed from uni curricula and Women's Studies are nearly extinct in favour of Queer Studies or Gender Studies, both of which work to erase feminist gains from 2nd/3rd wave feminist and reinforce strict gender norms.

Leading lesbian figures both political and popular must begin extolling and reflecting lesbianism in a way to give rise to a lesbian visibility unseen before AND challenge queer/trans groups usurping lesbian identity and lesbian spaces. For if we do not, we will continue to lose young lesbians to a combination of misogyny and lezbophoia that takes shape in the form of transition. And for those who do not succumb to the trans disorder, these lesbians will just continue to be lost amid the queer alphabet.

To the young lesbians reading this: All is not lost. Even if few others see you, I see you and recognize you and recognize myself in you. I will continue to fight for you, for your/our spaces, for our lesbian identity, our lesbian visibility and for the sheer right to just be a lesbian!

dirt

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26 comments:

  1. This has been coming for years. My hands and the pit of my stomach turn to ice.

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  2. I think lesbian invisibility has been an issue since the beginning of the "queer" movement. All queer history focuses on gay men until Stonewall. To blame lesbian erasure on transgender people ignores a centuries long struggle for lesbian visibility. Especially for young lesbians, specific lesbian spaces rarely exist. It's a very real problem that should certainly be addressed. I understand the concern for misappropriation of these spaces by non-female identified people, but to say that's the only and direct cause of lesbian erasure is highly reductive.

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  3. I'm speaking post queer theory.

    dirt

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  4. I notice this too. in the LGBTQQITTWTF 'community', the 'L' is silent. I agree with 'anonymous' that lesbians have always been less visible than gay men, but the the threat to lesbianism by trans and queer identities and ideologies is the latest threat to lesbians, and especially feminist lesbians. It's not the only threat--pornographication of popular culture is part of it; all the various subtle and overt threats of male violence against women; constant diminishment and erasure of the history and achievements of feminists and lesbians--you know. Queer theory, post modernism, and the practice of these theories in transsexualism and transgenderism, are components of patriarchal erasure of women. Anyway. blah blah blah--I'm with Mary, it's chilling. I'm so glad you're doing this, Dirt, I know it costs you a lot. Thank you.

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  5. Thank you so much for this. :)

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  6. This is right on: our Lesbian movement has basically been coopted by the trans movement and the 'queer girls', mostly bisexuals who want it all ways....and because we are FEMALE and don't defend our boundaries, or if we do, we're bashed for it...we've lost our territory, much like the ancient Amazons lost theirs....because the rest of the queer community wants in what little we have....and doesn't represent our interest. Bisexual/queer/pansexual types will ALWAYS put men first..maybe not sexually, but emotionally, because that's where the privilege is, and well, we know already how cooptive the trans movement is and especially of the Lesbian community..and Lesbian has become such a dirty word, especially around young Butch/boyish types, meaning WOMAN and WOMAN has become a dirty word cuz it means 'must adopt feminine behaviors', which means, they've NEVER LEARNED from Feminism 101 that womanhood, and especially Lesbian Womonhood goes so much deeper than that...and a True Butch is ALL WOMON! The more we lost and had our Lesbian organizations, spaces and places disappeared and coopted, the more we lose our actual Lesbian womonhood of the future, sadly. This young Lesbian needs to know SHE IS NOT ALONE, and her Bio Female Lesbian Sisters are with her! And will continue to fight for our kind with all our heart, passion and soul.
    -M.A.

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  7. And NO, I don't recognize the born male as Lesbians. They smack of all the male privilege they've partook of their whole lives till they transitioned, and they treat Lesbians in just that very same way as they treated straight women as men....with all their male privilege intact, though their superficial appearance has changed.

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  8. Wow, Master Amazon. Your attack on queer women and bisexual women was totally uncalled for. Seems like you missed large chunks of Feminism 101 as well.

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  9. "Your attack on queer women and bisexual women was totally uncalled for."

    Nope, the PROBLEM is men, and lesbians just have less reason to invest anything in men than bisexual or queer women.

    Gawd, radlesfem 101, NO ONE ever said that feminism was the same as wishy-washy liberalism, so all these -- stop being MEAN to queer/bisexual/trans people -- comments don't wash. The problem is men, and then it is pretty damn obvious that the question we should be asking is whatn women aren't possibly going to be as willing as lesbians to criticise men -- and bisexual and queer women fit the bill.

    "someone will notice she's Trans and kill her" Sorry, but no one seems to CARE that this is something that bio women and lesbians have to put up with ALL the DAMN time (go check out the domestic violence figures why don't you).

    And, WHY, when talking about trans peoples (or anyone elses for that matter) fear of violence is no one making the OBVIOUS bloody link that the problem here ISN'T lesbians, or radfems, or naughty transphobic bloggers -- but boring ole straight MEN, biological men, those same men that some women have so much invested in...............

    "just because someone has privilege" Cut the cant!

    "or if she gets interviewed for a job whether people won't hire her because she could be bad for business." Sorry, but this doesn't impress me one bit, because that is something that women and lesbians know all about, yet STILL you're not willing to point the finger at the real culprits -- the patriarchy.

    "Trans people live in a world that see's them as lesser than." Except if (s)he passes, then (s)he'll get treated just like us women anyway, except we had to put up with that since the day we were born. We also don't have the advantages of being treated as a male by society for years, with the sense of male entitlement that goes with it. Hence to someone with that background, discovering exactly how shitty things can get if someone takes you as a woman must be a bit of a shock. Except rather than name it for what it is, we end up with -- trans people are treated WORSE than anyone else, and it's you naughty transphobic women who are the problem....................

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  10. Since when is feminism just for lesbians? Dating men doesn't mean you can't criticize them.

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  11. BadDyke, I often like what you say, but today is the first time to disagree ^^ I don't quite understand your opinion why bisexual females cannot criticize men. Or even why heterosexual females cannot criticize men. There were quite a lot of feminists who were heterosexual, too, in the early times of feminism.

    Being attracted to someone sexually doesn't mean that you automatically approve of everything they and their kind do, or does it?

    It is a little bit like saying that if I like females, I wouldn't be able to criticize any female - or anything done by females in general (do you know Eva Herman, the german anti-feminist? I certainly don't approve of what SHE does).

    I understand the resentments again the new queer movement, which is in my opinion a dangerous one since it actually rather reinforces the binarity instead of removing it, and allows even more misogynistic tendencies.

    I also wish that women who like women only to call themselves lesbians without being singled out or seen as "somethingphobic". Lesbian identity is important for those stuggling with the hate and discrimination towards them - and yes, there is hate against lesbians, I notice it a lot.

    As a child already I have been searching in vain for examples of lesbian love in the media, and the only one I found was in the Sailor Moon anime, in my teens. Sad, isn't it? The invisibility is truly there, and with the queer movement it gets worse, since everything is blended together and then again divided into the big "male-identified" and "female-identified" roles.

    But really, I see the problem in men too, just like you said... In MEN. Not in hetero- or bi-women. In the queer movement, it is the MTFs who want to be accepted as a lesbian female by lesbians that I perceive as a problem. It is the pressure on any non-conforming female to become a "man" (as in "transman"), because the main face of the "queer" is male. It is the gay male visibility inside the queer movement, accompanied with the lesbian invisibility. This is the problem. Blaming only the female-identified females inside this new movement somehow makes the image skewed in my opinion.

    EDIT: sorry, forgot to add that I still think that Lesbian and Bisexual are in my opinion two distinct identities and should not be blended into each other to prevent Lesbian invisibility.

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  12. Hm I wonder if this is true. It can't be that worse or can it?? I can't imagine this. I don't understand how being a lesbian is THAT bad. I'm bisexual so I don't know how it is to be attracted to women only but if it's really that worse young lesbians should be supported.

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  13. I'm sorry Dirt but I have to talk to a User here. Because I can't find her email adress.

    Hallo Doll, ich bin auch deutsch :)
    In my opinion Eva Hermann is as bad as Alice Schwarzer because it seems while Hermann worships men Schwarzer hates them. But I could be wrong.

    In what kind of media did you looked for lesbian relationships? I also wonder if it's for german lesbians as bad as it is in the US? Because the things I read on this blog are alarming.

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  14. Hey Bee, I think we could continue this conversation in private (I put my e-mail address up on my blogger profile now, please mail me if you like to ^^), so I will only write here what I consider also on-topic for this post, which is about lesbian invisibility.

    Since when I was a kid, the internet wasn't used much, I had to stick to books, movies, newspapers and magazines as well as television. And at least back then, I never saw lesbian role models there. Nor did I see bisexual women as characters in movies or books. They were just invisible, while hetero people and gay men were EVERYWHERE. Even transpeople were more visible in the media back then. And it has hardly changed.

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  15. every coffee bar i frequent in manhattan (and not just downtown) has at least one young ftm barista and plenty of fag baristas but dykes not many

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  16. also there's a supposedly groundbreaking 'gay' art exhibit called hide and seek- very masculine and 'trans-masculine'

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  17. "Blaming only the female-identified females inside this new movement somehow makes the image skewed in my opinion."

    I didn't mean to blame the females, I just wanted to point out that lesbians in feminism have always been in a different position, in that having less investment in men, they've often been in an uncomfortable position as regards straight or bi women who have more invested in men -- and they don't like us pointing that out, and never did. How many times have we heard -- yes, I hear what you say about men and the patriarchy, but MY boyfriend is DIFFERENT...............

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  18. 'How many times have we heard -- yes, I hear what you say about men and the patriarchy, but MY boyfriend is DIFFERENT...............'

    Yes, BadDyke, sadly this IS an argument for some bisexual or "queer" women...

    But using the "MY boyfriend is DIFFERENT" argument is a CHOICE.

    Bisexuality, on the other hand, is a fact. It is not at all about "wanting to have it all ways", like MasterAmazon says. You cannot just choose to be bisexual. You don't choose to be a lesbian or a straight woman neither. You simply are what you are (different to transsexuality - there you try to change what you are).

    Being bi- or heterosexual doesn't automatically imply the use of the above argument. Everyone able of self-criticism and/or seeing more nuances than just black or white can distinguish between sexual attraction to someone and the situation between men and women in general.

    While I see how the "queer" culture is silencing the lesbian voices, I really don't think bashing other females (be it bisexual or not) like MasterAmazon does is the right solution to this problem. Even though I see some truth in your point - that on average, a bisexual woman will probably have more invested in a man.

    But if we look at it objectively, "bisexual female" is an identity that CANNOT be blended with "lesbian". This is very, very different to the "queer" movement.

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  19. "You don't choose to be a lesbian or a straight woman neither. You simply are what you are...."

    I don't totally go for this. I know some people like the I was born this way argument to justify their existence, but I don't! I like to think that if I could choose, I'd still choose gay over straight, women over men.

    Okay, gay as a lifestyle choice, but what's wrong with that? Nothing. Morally, I don't need lack of choice to justify it.

    I guess I just don't like determinist arguments. I was born female, not much I can do about that apart from mutilating surgery -- I guess I was just also born lucky in that I ended up as a lesbian! Yes, cos I think in the patriarchy, being a lesbian is a lot better spiritually, you have MORE chance of a truely egalitarian relationship, rather than having to pander to the needs of men.

    We seem to have forgotten that in this liberal, all choices/all sexualities/all genders are equally good/valid.

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  20. Bisexually is a "choice" governed by the male gaze. Interestingly, bisexuality is primarily "chosen" by females. Coincidence? I think not.

    dirt

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  21. Dirt and BadDyke, now I am confused: How can it be a choice? Could you both, who I assume are lesbians, choose to become bisexual? Or even heterosexual? How could that work?

    I am not trying to troll here. I thought till now that sexual orientation is natural, that one is born homo/bi/hetero. I am trying to learn from you. Till now I also had the impression that you were saying that one is born a lesbian (or not a lesbian), and not becomes one by choice. Of course, I can think on my own too, but I would like to know how you see that. Could you please explain how it works, if I am mistaken?

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  22. Hetero females perform for the male gaze in many ways, including having sex with other females. In the end, emotional attractions wins out, and bisexual females wind up just as hetero as the next hetero.

    dirt

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  23. So that would mean that there are no bisexual females in reality?

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  24. " I thought till now that sexual orientation is natural, that one is born homo/bi/hetero."

    That's an ASSUMPTION, not a simple fact.

    Engage imagination for a moment. We could be born without any innate orientation, we just learn it. We could be born with a slight genetic inclination one way or the other, but how we end up exactly depends on upbringing experience etc.

    Or we could look at close relatives such as bonobos *pygmy chimps), who practise hetero and homo sex.

    Humans are complicated, some things are simply set by genes (you will have blue eyes etc), others are a combination of genetic and cultural factors and opportunities and experience.

    Anyway, although interesting from a scientific point of view, I'm more interested in being BORN that way as used to JUSTIFY being gay -- I think that is a WEAL argument. Even if it were a choice, what's wrong with it? We seem to have forgotten 'glad to be gay' (not that I'm that hot on Tom Robinson BTW...............)

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  25. "Even if it were a choice, what's wrong with it?"

    Well, actually, there would be nothing wrong with it ^^

    I am not talking about right or wrong, my aim is not to judge but to understand. I am curious ^^

    I also think the way this topic (cause of homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality) is treated by society even has an effect on how lesbians, bi- and heterosexual women are treated by society.

    When I said "born" that way, I meant that you only feel sexual attraction to the individuals that fit your orientation, that it is beyond conscious intent. I just cannot imagine a lesbian who feels sexually attracted to males -.- Or a het female that only feels attracted to men but says: "I will be homosexual and feel attracted to women from today on."

    Now I see that the way I said it implied a stronger genetical or pre-and perinatal component than probably present. I know that research indicates that there are more important factors, and that there is no "single cause". I am sorry that I worded it wrongly.

    Thank you both Dirt and BadDyke for answering to my almost (though not quite) off-topic questions ^^

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  26. " I meant that you only feel sexual attraction to the individuals that fit your orientation, that it is beyond conscious intent." Except people are sexually stimulated by all sorts of weird stuff -- I don't think it is THAT simple.

    FOr instance, I know one person who explained their reluctance to go out with anyone fat by just saying they didn't find them attractive -- they were acting as if being attracted was innate and unchangable. Except we know that what people consider attractive is fairly malleable, just look at different societies.

    I'm just saying that things have more to do with culture and what we've learnt than some people like to admit. Changing your individual perceptions isn't impossible, just hard.

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