Self identified bisexual woman, Stephanie Farnsworth, recently wrote an article on The Queerness telling us all her very important thoughts about who is and isn’t allowed to call themselves a Lesbian. I have ‘dissected’ her ‘dissection’ piece by piece.
While there have been features on this site of cis-hetero people invading queer spaces (specifically bars) it’s less acknowledged how many radical feminists have co opted the term of ‘lesbian’. This has been around since at least the seventies with many claiming that ‘lesbian’ is a political identity.
Two sentences in to this ‘think piece’ and we’ve already hit problems. With the use of the term “co opted” here, Farnsworth is telling us that for the last forty plus years, large numbers of Radical Feminists who are not Lesbians have been going around claiming a Lesbian identity for themselves. Citation needed.
The concept of lesbianism as a political identity stems from the idea that to reject men is to reject the patriarchy and therefore is one of the ultimate acts of feminism. It is steeped in the idea that it is one of the truest forms of women reclaiming autonomy over their bodies and of being independent from men. However, this very idea is considerably flawed and erasive of women who are attracted to women.
This is a very watered-down analysis of what Political Lesbianism is. For heterosexual or bisexual identified women who wish they were Lesbians, the rejection of men is merely the first step on their journey towards discovering their love for women. I’m interested to know how women discovering their Lesbianism erases Lesbians but ‘erasive’ isn’t a word.
To be a lesbian does not mean to reject men. The very foundations on which this concept of ‘political lesbian’ rests are lies. It is also deeply saddening that anyone could take an identity based on attraction and love and try to turn it into something which equals rejection and sometimes hatred. Being attracted to women is a much more beautiful experience than that.
Being a Lesbian does mean rejecting men sexually. Being a Lesbian doesn’t have very much to do with men and I agree that being attracted to women is a more beautiful experience than most other things.
Lesbian is a term gay women, bi and pan women lay claim to because it is a term that is used to assert what one’s sexuality is.
Nope. Lesbian is a term gay women can lay claim to because it is a term to assert what one’s sexuality is. Bisexual women aren’t Lesbians and pansexual women aren’t Lesbians.
It is not about rejection.
Sexuality is such a deeply personal journey for each and every one of us, but it is about finding out what we like and what works for us, it is not a political statement.
Sexuality is a deeply personal journey for all of us but if you discover your Lesbianism through women-centered radical politics, your sexuality is invalid, right? And being a Lesbian is always a political statement whether that’s your intention or not.
If you do not experience sexual and/or romantic attraction to women then the term lesbian is not yours and to use it is appropriation.
Right. I’m unsure of your point here.
Lesbian is an umbrella term for women with a common bond: the experience of attraction for women.
Not really. Lesbian only means one thing: female homosexual.
It is not a slogan for a banner against the patriarchy.
Why not? What’s the point in the Dyke March?
It’s as ridiculous as men’s rights activists claiming that because they hate women they are therefore gay. That’s not how sexuality works and it shows a mark of huge disrespect for the LGBTQ+ community to try to invade a space and identity that is not yours.
Are you asserting that Political Lesbians are only Lesbians because they hate men? Are you asserting that all Political Lesbians hate men? Are you being ‘erasive’ of Gay Men’s Rights Activists? They exist.
It must also be deeply insulting for any partner of a self professed political lesbian to know that their partner’s sexuality is based on a rejection of men rather than a bold expression of what they do want.
If the partner of a self-professed Political Lesbian feels insulted by her girlfriend’s sexuality, she should break up with her.
Cissexism and transphobia are also common within the community of political lesbians. It is not solely the rejection of men but the rejection of “penis”, in their words.
And here we have it. A Political Lesbian, in Farnsworth’s imagination, is a woman who has a distaste for a penis on her sexual partners. In other words, a Lesbian.
However, many men have vaginas and many women will have a penis.
It’s quite confusing how a group that insists on smashing gender as a social construct is so happy to reinforce an arbitrary binary by invasively insisting that they demand to know what genitals a person possesses.
It is more than reasonable to want to know what genitals a person possesses when considering embarking on a sexual relationship with them. Farnsworth here mixes up gender and sex by equating male and female sex organs to an ‘arbitrary’ gender binary.
They’re all for women not being defined by having a uterus when it comes to the rights of cis women but when trans women start being included in feminism then they are happy to ask us all to pull down our trousers.
I got a little confused here because I thought Farnsworth was talking about Political Lesbians not wanting to have sex with people who have penises and now she’s talking about making people with penises pull down their trousers if they want to be included in feminism. Lesbianism and feminism are two different things, says Farnsworth, unless she wants them to be the same thing?
This is yet another insult to women who are attracted to women though because it means the term of ‘lesbian’ is being co-opted and twisted into an ideology of hatred for trans people.
Lesbians are female homosexuals. Not wanting to have sex with someone doesn’t equal hating them and plenty of Lesbians date trans men.
Many trans women are lesbians and many lesbians will date trans women and their experiences should not be erased or diminished. Lesbianism isn’t an ideology.
Trans women are men. Men can never be Lesbians. The women who date trans women (men) are not Lesbians. It does not erase or diminish anyone’s experiences to ask them to not use a word that’s already being used to describe something else. Lesbianism isn’t an ideology, that’s true. It’s just female homosexuality.
It is also offensive to suggest that lesbians are somehow inherently smashing down patriarchy when women (particularly if women of colour, disabled and/or trans) are being harassed and threatened daily for being who they are and exploring their attractions with other women.
I’m not sure how the second part relates to the first part. I’m also not sure who is suggesting that lesbians are somehow inherently smashing down patriarchy.
These women are not doing it for any cause. Yes, it has political implications because anything that smashes the norm is therefore radical by nature in this stifled world, but it is not a political act akin to tearing up a voting form or campaigning for the Women’s Equality Party (which is ironically pretty terrible on equality issues).
Intent doesn’t always create the result you want. Some Lesbians are very political and make a political statement with their Lesbianism all the time. Some Lesbians want to have a family and live in the suburbs. Some Lesbians are in the closet. Some just want to cruise bars and pick up women. Whether it’s their intention or not, their Lesbianism is a political act. In a heteropatriarchal context, deviation from your assigned gender role is an act of rebellion. It’s an, “I won’t do what you tell me.”
Gay, bi and pan women should be celebrated but they also should not be fetishised as innately revolutionary heroes just for simply trying to be.
Who is fetishizing Lesbians?At what point does Lesbian Pride become Lesbian Fetishization?
They are not a new trend for radical feminists to steal to try to further one’s own feminism. Lesbianism is about women experiencing attraction to other women, nothing more and nothing less.
Realizing that you have the capacity to be attracted to women after discovering revolutionary politics is not a valid way to do your sexuality says the woman who also says that all identities are valid and must be respected. Lesbianism is about female homosexuality; nothing more and nothing less. The ‘sex’ part of homosexuality refers to sex, not gender. Sex is something you do with your genitals so they do become important in that context.
- lots of radical feminists are pretending to be lesbians and it’s insulting to their partners.
- these fake lesbians only have sex with women who have vaginas and this is what makes them fake lesbians.
- bisexual women can call themselves lesbians but lesbians can’t.
- men can call themselves lesbians but lesbians can’t.
- all lesbians love men.