Aside

Part of my feminism is helping women discover their love for women. In the conversations I have with ‘het’ women in person and online, it’s easy to see that many women are only with men because it’s what they know, what they were taught, what’s expected of them. Many women, having been hurt and abused and gaslighted all through their relationships with men, don’t actually like men very much, for good reason. I talk about my own experiences: being molested at a young age, getting into relationships with men to help me escape other men, taking in all that male-identification and misogyny, despite considering myself a feminist. Had I been born a lesbian, my molester wouldn’t have cared, the same cycle of events would have been set in motion. As it is, I’ll never know what I was born as, because my reality was erased and derailed from the time I was born onward, and that ONLY stopped when I turned away from all men altogether.

I hate that lesbians have left radical feminism because of political lesbianism. We can’t afford to lose a single woman’s voice. I do fear the misrepresentation of PL on tumblr (the idea that it is a ‘new fad’ is insulting and misinformed). Second wave lesbians spearheaded the idea that all women could choose to reject men and be with women (intimately, sexually, whatever was ‘right on’ for the individual lesbians involved). That no woman is born straight. I don’t really question the idea that born lesbians are just that. That isn’t my experience but I see it enough. But I don’t think that because some women are lesbian from word go, that means some het women are born het. Lesbianism is MORE than just hetereosexuality but with women. They are not comparable, especially under a political lens. Heterosexuality is a political institution that benefits men. Women need to recover from it. 

I do understand the sort of knee-jerk of “once bi always bi” or whatever, but I think it’s really gross. Women are not tainted by men, they are exploited. Women who choose PL are radical women, women other lesbians should be able to trust. Lesbians should trust political lesbians to: not derail conversations about born this way or lifelong lesbian issues; not fetishize gold star experiences; listen to lesbians’ concerns about PL as a political ideology; give lesbians safe spaces; be respectful in shared spaces. 

Should the label be dropped altogether? A political lesbian is someone who comes to lesbianism through political radicalization. She wants to be with women, exclusively, intimately. The self-descriptor allows her to express both her history pre-radicalization and her promise to women not to repeat it. 

Like I said above, my feminism means reaching out to women and letting them know they aren’t alone, yes men really are that terrible, and yes you can be happy with women if that’s what you want, as long as you are honest and real. I was lucky to have a total stranger care enough about me to point me in the right direction and save my life. Gradually I understood I was a lesbian and would always have been had it not been for men. 

I did experience privilege as a perceived het woman (I was married to a man). I was never harassed for my sexuality (unless people knew I was ‘bi’), I was a social default and received benefit from that. Heterosexuality itself is not a safe place for women, though.  I was also raped and abused within straight relationships, a cycle that kept me from women for much of my life. Women don’t belong with or to men, none of us—our place is side by side with women in revolution. 

I believe all women are derailed by men and by the socialization we receive as females. We are the babymakers, the caretakers, the vessels. Not all women withstand the pressure. If, as a PL, you deny all privilege granted someone perceived as the default approved sexuality, you are doing a shitty thing. But this isn’t opting into oppression. It’s opting out of heterosexuality and discovering you have something to offer women, and being prepared for the backlash from society that any ‘rebellious’ woman faces. And maybe there are women who aren’t ready for the double dose of misogyny and lesbophobia, but radicalized women don’t go back to men and it’s beyond cruel to dismiss women in this way. There is abuse of PL, apparently—women who claim the title while still fucking men or planning to. These women are not lesbians and they are doing significant damage to radical feminism, mainly in the form of causing other lesbians to abandon the movement. So stop doing that.

My lesbianism is political, it is personal, and yes I do want to recruit. 

 

 
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6 thoughts on “

  1. I’m inclined to see this as problematic terminology for a good concept. It’s sort of like men calling themselves feminists. I don’t know how to define “lesbian” other than “woman who loves women and does not involve herself sexually with men,” which unfortunately leads to a woman being rebranded “traitor” if she changes her mind.

    Sexual orientation policing has always bothered me. But I do see a real problem that affects all women not involved with men, that women who are involved with men so often put the guy first. That is hurtful even if you’re not a lesbian, and I can only imagine how painful that is to lesbians. So any woman who has not given up on men should take that into consideration if she finds lesbians prickly at times. Hurt people hurt people, and women should not be seen as fallback positions, it’s insulting.

    Therefore what such women can do is similar to what male allies should do: stand up for members of an oppressed group, try not to judge, and respect boundaries, do not see this as a club you can just invite yourself into when it suits you, and do not see yourself as being owed anything in return for your support.

    1. I absolutely agree. If the women in question are not willing to put women first, absolutely and eternally, then they can fuck off. There’s no room in my feminism for male-identified women, and no room in lesbianism for women who might return to men. I truly cannot fathom a woman coming to lesbianism through ANY means returning to men, but I’ve been told it happens.

      Honestly, I’d be happy to retire the phrase political lesbian altogether because IMO it doesn’t matter HOW, it only matters THAT. So, I don’t give a shit if you were born that way, married twelve dudes, were celibate, whatever, so long as FROM NOW ON you only want women and only fight for women. But it isn’t up to me because I’m one of the ones that had to fuck nine dudes and marry one to figure it all out.

      Respecting women, listening to women, and trusting women. This is my feminism; this is my lesbianism.

      Thanks for your comment, it’s greatly appreciated.

      1. Thanks. I agree that “political lesbian” is a confusing term and more divisive than it is unifying. At the same time, it’s possible to be politically supportive and not do that thing where one is always qualifying it with “but I’m not a lesbian,” because that’s insulting to lesbians, it makes it sound like being a lesbian is somehow negative. This does not mean it’s okay to mislead women in a sexual sense. Boundaries should be absolute, and if a woman does not want to date women who aren’t sure they’ve given up on men, that is her right.

        Otherwise, what’s the worst thing that can happen if people think one might be a lesbian? Might meet some nice women. And men harass lesbians just as much as they do het women. But resisting the conditioning to throw women under the bus in favor of men is what’s most important, whether sex is involved or not.

  2. I see where you’re coming from but not all men are “that terrible” and I personally am happy that there are also good men out there and some of them even happen to be in my life right now 🙂 It’s time to say “I am terribly sorry” for what has happened-nobody deserves that.
    I’d more likely say to search for happiness-if a woman is your choice, fine! if a man’s your choice-absolutely no problem! 🙂 We all have less time to bother for other’s opinion so we better enjoy life while we can-find love, live the way how we want.
    I am bisexual so part of the post is a bit offensive to me. I believe you’re fooled by those women who actually use bisexuality to cover their true desires so this is the reasons why true bisexuals get a bad name so many lesbians don’t think bisexuality exists because it does exist.

    1. Oh, I know bisexuality exists because I can always count on you all to come into my space and tell me all about how the guys you fuck actually loooove women and soooo wouldn’t be meanie-pants to you! I used to think I was bisexual so I get it, I truly do. It’s impossible to fuck dudes and not think there is some good to them. But I figured out pretty quick that yep, all dudes are “like that”. Haven’t met a single one to prove me wrong and believe me, I wanted to. Please don’t ever go onto a lesbian feminist blog and talk about how “not all men are like that” (NAMALT) or tell me about your fucking Nigels because I Do Not Care. Try a class analysis. It isn’t all about you. Good luck, sister, and be careful with those men–they’ll get you every time.

  3. As Mary Daly said, we are the touchable caste Tabooed from touching: “For the touchable caste, THE acts which we are required to shun are those which express, legitimate, and create deep Elemental connections between and among women — connections which are intellectual, passionate, erotic, psychic, and which imply deep respect, honor, caring, gratitude and comitment…Women are paralyzed by this injected fear that our own Powers, if we Touch them, or use them “unlawfully,” that is, in ways contrary to the Lecherous State, will take vengeance by casting a spell over us as wrongdoers. In other words, the Taboo against Touching makes women afraid of Ourselves, of our Powers, terrified of the vengeance that will be wrought against us by our Selves, terrified that our own Selves will cast a spell over us… Deprived of our powers of Touching, women have in fact been skinned alive. (We must) reclaim our skins…” — Pure Lust

    From one PL to another, thanks for speaking up, for breaking the spell, for wiping your feet on dudetaboos.

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