At Feminist Current, Jocelyn MacDonald notes that a lot of people have been asking about the disappearing lesbian.
For those of us in rainbow community, it’s not really a head-scratcher. We’ve watched lesbian culture be beaten back, redefined, and undermined — in many cases with the gleeful participation from the other letters in LGBTQ. For lesbians, it seems obvious that this is happening because we are in the midst of a backlash against feminism and women’s rights.
A ferocious, noisy, and very hostile backlash.
(It depressed me to notice a moment in Obama’s farewell address when he singled out every marginalized group…except the biggest one.
For blacks and other minority groups, it means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face — not only the refugee, or the immigrant, or the rural poor, or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy…)
Back to the Feminist Current piece.
In the last couple years, I’ve moved from identifying as a bisexual/queer woman, to identifying as a lesbian. I offer this personal information because, as I’ve moved away from dudes and ever deeper into community and intimacy exclusively with women, I find the opposite is occurring in the communities where I once felt at home. More and more women call themselves queer (whether or not they engage in homo sex) and are going so far as to position lesbianism as an outmoded, “problematic” lifestyle. In queer circles, “lesbian” is synonymous with second wave feminism.
And second wave feminism is synonymous with practically dead, with stale and conservative and outmoded and wrong wrong wrongity wrong.
Queer women owe their rights to the radical resistance and separatism of their lesbian foremothers, but are embarrassed by lesbian culture and history. Christina Cauterucci contributed an entire article explaining why queers hate the term “lesbian,” in unironically self-hating terms:
“In the space between ‘lesbian’ and ‘queer,’ my friend and I located a world of difference in politics, gender presentation, and cosmopolitanism. Some of our resistance to the term lesbian arose, no doubt, from internalized homophobic notions of lesbians as unfashionable, uncultured homebodies. We were convinced that our cool clothes and enlightened, radical paradigm made us something other than lesbians, a label chosen by progenitors who lived in a simpler time with stricter gender boundaries.”
Yeah – lesbians are indistinguishable from those 50s sitcoms in which Mom ran the vacuum cleaner in a starched dress and high heels.
Cauterucci thinks the 70s were simpler times and that gender boundaries were not something women played with, defied, and remade in their own image. She admits an internalized homophobia is responsible for her unfair characterization of lesbians, but still refuses the term and the legacy that goes with it.
Queers hurl “lesbian” sneeringly at assigned-female-at-birth homosexual women, recharacterizing females as “cis” women, which in the twisted logic of queer is equated to “privileged women.” In the superwoke queer community, privilege is finally, inexorably, another way of saying “you need to shut up, take up less space, and admit that it’s an unearned honour to have had your life shoved into a tiny pink box.” This cannot come as a surprise, as the term lesbian has always been weaponized to silence and deride women.
Well, yes, but not so much by the more radical feminists, and not by lesbians themselves.
Queer culture demands that female homosexuals redefine our sexuality away from female bodies and toward gender roles, those which are traditionally associated with femininity.
Take trans comedian Avery Edison, who said this on the topic of lesbians dating people with male bodies:
“Look, it’s not like I require the women I date to be cool with having my dick inside them. In fact, I’m fine if that never happens. But being shut off from the very idea of it, not even considering that having my penis inside you is different from having a man’s penis inside you? That hurts.”
Gaymous cultural icon and sex columnist Dan Savage offers this advice to a lesbian:
“Having a coffee now and then with a trans woman you most likely won’t find attractive — but you never know –is a small price to pay to make the online dating world a less shitty place for trans people. It’s what an ally would do.”
Both of the above are examples of people socialized with male privilege telling women that they should not listen to or trust their own instincts. In order to protect the feelings of people socialized with male privilege, women should “interrogate their sexual preferences” for signs of bigotry, and then bring their newly inclusive political analysis into practice by dating people who they are neither romantically nor sexually attracted to. This is quite rich coming from Savage, a man who posits that gayness is an inborn, unchangeable biological condition.
Does Dan Savage go on dates with trans men I wonder? I kind of doubt it. Men don’t think they’re supposed to “pay a small price” of that kind, but they do think they’re entitled to push women to do so. Funny how that works.