I wanted to express my thoughts about articles some women have been writing towards the queerfiying of lesbians and in particular, young lesbians.
I’ll be brief and say think it’s unfair to blame or shame younger lesbians for adopting a queer identity instead of proudly declaring themselves as lesbian. Especially when they played no part in the growth of queer politics and the destruction of lesbian community themselves.
You need to understand lesbian history. Yes, our lesbian foremothers during the 70s did many amazing things for the building and growth of lesbian community. And when they were united under the ethical values of lesbian feminism, it made the lesbian community a safe, powerful, and womanloving space to be, and many things had been created, yes including Michfest, and made the patriarchs tremble in their boots.
However, it didn’t remain this way for long; let’s continue with the rest of the tragic lesbian story. As documented by Sheila Jefferys, around the 80s, some lesbians began to grow ashamed or resentful towards their lesbian identity. They became influenced by patriarchal hetero/gale male values instead of lesbian feminist values. So a lot of them migrated from lesbian feminism and community, and began adopting anti-woman, anti-feminist conduct and misogynist behavior.
Eventually, instead of the terms “lesbian” having a strong feminist, anti-patriarchal inclination, suddenly, lesbians were dropping feminism and lesbian feminist politics, and adopting womanhating pornography, BDSM, butch/fem, dildos, and male sexuality, doing a complete one-eighty, no doubt brought on from gay male influence. They slowly walked away from “lesbian” and went to “queer” from the 80s and into the 90s.
This was what our lesbian foremothers did during the late 70s and into the 80s. Yes, our foremothers became ashamed of themselves first. They were the first ones to deter from feminism and lesbian pride, and those effects are still seen in ever fading lesbian community today. It’s what eventually helped to break down Michfest; trans-males were the final nail in the coffin. And the ‘lesbian community’ is just as misogynistic and pornographic as ever, from the 80s and on.
Your use of pornographic words, like “juicy” and even dangerous words like “stone” (indicating a lesbian’s sexual dysfunction), and other crude descriptions to describe lesbian sexuality is a reflection of this. I know you meant well, and you were trying to state how pleased you were to reject men and embrace lesbianism. But we can say so in a way that reflects lesbian feminist values, anti-porn values, and respect for women and lesbians. Being shameless about being a lesbian doesn’t mean sounding like we’ve come off the cover of a lesbian porn magazine. It means being proud of embracing and loving and respecting women, like you would yourself, instead of men. It means also meant being proud of your lesbian feminism ethics and womanloving values, in a patriarchy that hates and debases women and lesbians.
Just because we’re lesbians doesn’t give us the freedom to ignore how our sexuality and personal conduct in regards to sex and other lesbians plays a part in either upholding or dismantling and moving away from patriarchy. Unfortunately, some lesbians of the past didn’t understand this either, and still don’t. They were the beginnings of the queer/trans, anti-feminist migration of lesbians. And without a strong lesbian feminist foundation, you simply don’t have a lesbian community. Because lesbian community was first founded on lesbian feminism, which held strong to womanloving ethics and patriarchal resistance, not on exclaiming how many orgasms we can get, or how much we fetishize the vagina (ugh… men do that too, remember? They fetishize the female body A LOT, actually. It’s not charming or feminist to declare yourself a ‘vagina fetishish’, at all, no matter how well you meant); we really cannot forget that.
Your ‘juicy’ orgasms turn men on, it doesn’t make them scared of you. And it does’t threaten the patriarchs whatsoever.
Anyway, I say all of this to say, that we have to stop pointing the finger at younger lesbians, the girls born during the 90s and early 2000s (like I was), who adopt the queer label. The lesbian community had been thoroughly warped and tainted with anti-feminist queer/trans politics by then, just waiting to trap young lesbians, and this was the unfortunate fault of the lesbians who came before them and their actions.
There is no lesbian feminist community like there was, just waiting to embrace young lesbians under its wings. Now, the “lesbian community”, or what’s left of it, is largely no place a lesbian would want to go. I wrote about this in another post, but when I was still 18 and embracing my lesbianism, while questioning and rejecting patriarchy, I sought out lesbian community. I still believed it was as womanlovingly ethical and feminist as before. But I had no idea of lesbian history and events, or any recollection that the lesbian community had been broken down since before I was born. But as ventured to find lesbian companionship, I would find out from being in online spaces (usually so-called radfem spaces with other lesbians), the lesbians in said community were either anti-feminist, indulging in the pornography and male sexual norms that objectified and harmed me as a child, and blatant misogyny. So much misogyny.
If I wasn’t interested in feminism at the time and yearning for the lesbian community of the 70s, I’d probably had fled for the companionship of those in the queer community instead. Because for young lesbians like me, who are isolated and harmed by many forms of patriarchal abuses and usually without money or support, having a sense of community matters more than anything. And the queer/trans community is unfortunately their only bet, and it’s right their waiting for them with open arms and extended talons.
While its easy to say that young lesbians simply adopted the queer label and are ashamed of calling themselves lesbians (especially for its strong feminist roots), there’s more to it I think. While it’s a horrible ramification of lesbian community, the queer/trans community gets one things right: it presents itself in a welcoming and positive way. When first searching for lesbian community in online spaces, for the most part, I didn’t feel a sense of community, at all. This is something the queer/trans community gets right. The lesbian community, without being rooted in its ethical and womanloving feminist roots, becomes an unpleasant place to be.
And if we are just simply talking about shame, then ask yourself this: Why would these young lesbians of today be proud of calling themselves lesbian and embracing lesbian community and lesbian feminism, if their foremothers became ashamed of it first? When their foremothers first resented and retreaded from it first?
I’m a young lesbian myself, and it’s irritating when these things aren’t being taken into consideration. Stop blaming and shaming your lesbian daughters when they done nothing wrong, when being influenced by the trans/queerism wasn’t their fault, when they were simply trying follow their survival instincts (the way all lesbians do in a hostile patriarchy).
Lesbian Mothers need to take some personal responsibility and acknowledgement for themselves, okay? Please.. The queer/trans train was started by patriarchal-influenced lesbians from the 80s-90s. And that’s just an unfortunate truth. I’m not trying to shame these older lesbians either, but we need to understand and acknowledge our mistakes and our history first, so that we don’t keep making the same mistakes or repeat history. I believe that lesbian pride, lesbian feminism, and womanloving values could be reinvested into the lesbian identity and community. And by doing so, it would make the term lesbian embraceable and give the lesbian user a sense of pride once felt. By doing this, I believe lesbian community, in turn, would be built up again and never fall.
Thanks for reading!
Please read the other post on my blog regarding my online radical feminism journey and encounter of other lesbians to know more of feelings and what I’ve observed.
P.S. Don’t worry, I do have lesbian friends both online and off line. I’m not alone!! And I know not all lesbians are like this, but enough are and the lesbian community doesn’t need anymore of those types of characters in order Her to be resurrected.
Some good lesbian feminist reads for curious lesbians: