When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A Lesbian

September 6, 2012

Herstory

There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.

A baby girl is born. It’s a girl! Pink! Baby Dolls! Dresses! Other Stuff! From this moment, the girl is groomed for life as a Heterosexual Woman. She is groomed for a life as a wife and servant for Men. She is groomed to  want to have babies and raise the children of men. She is groomed for Compulsory Heterosexuality, the concept coined by Baltimore native and Radical Feminist Adrienne Rich that identifies heterosexuality as the agent that keeps Females from actualizing their full sexual and emotional capacities, an agent that denies a sexual way of being unrelated to Male pleasure – Lesbian sexuality.

All girls in our culture are groomed towards Compulsory Heterosexuality.

All of us. Including Lesbians. As Lesbians, we have been socialized since birth – like all Females – to be sexually accessible to Males. As Lesbians, many of us work for years with internalized self-hatred and misogyny before we finally are able to confront our sexual attractions and honor our sexuality. This is a long and – for many of us – a lifetime process, as we are constantly bombarded with cultural messages that Lesbian sexuality is wrong.

This grooming is part of our Shared Girlhood. This is the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the blanket that our mothers tuck us into bed with at night.

And, yet, despite this grooming, Lesbians – Women who love Women – exist.

Some “Real Lesbians” (tw, sarcasm) or “Born That Way Lesbians” note the existence of Women who have “escaped” Heterosexual grooming as proof that “Lesbians” are born, not made, that sexual orientation is innate, and that no Woman can choose to be Gay. They can only be “asexual” or “spinsters” or “ex-het” or “bisexual.”

All “Real Lesbians” have a coming out story.  Many “Real Lesbians” recall feelings of same-sex attraction from very young ages, or recount anecdotes of “just knowing” we didn’t “fit” that Heterosexual Mold for which all Women are groomed. Of course, all Lesbians also have coming out stories, but these stories are deemed inauthentic if they occur after participation in Heterosexuality. And no Women is “fit” to be nothing more than a brood mare. Nevertheless, for these Born That Way Lesbians, Lesbianism must be proven in an environment that has a default assumption of Heterosexuality – the default created, of course, by grooming into Compulsory Heterosexuality.

But what does this mean, if Being Gay is innate, if the only entry into Lesbianism is an accident of birth? Why does it matter? And how do you account for Women who come out later in life? How do you account for Women who realize that Heterosexuality is not conducive to their happiness? What do we say to these “Made Lesbians”?

If we accept that Lesbians are “Born That Way,” they cannot be Made. And, thus, we deny these Women their experience of discovering themselves and their sexuality free from Male dictates. We place on them the same patriarchal expectations of what makes a Lesbian – can you be a Lesbian if you’ve had sex with a Man, eve? Once? Twice? One hundred times?

In rejecting these Women, we doubt Women. And we make these Women doubt themselves. Opponents of Political Lesbianism, the Born That Way Lesbians, demand proof – they reject what Women say and instead look for external evidence to prove what a Woman says and feels. They distrust and disbelieve Women.

How does this create trust among Women, when we are telling Women that we don’t believe them and their own desires? It doesn’t create trust, and it doesn’t reflect listening to Women – it rejects Women, and denies the grooming that all Women endure in our Woman Hating culture.

We need a Political Analysis.

Thus spake Political Lesbianism.

Political Lesbianism is the radical feminist idea that Women can “choose” to be Lesbians, and that such “choice” is a way for Women to escape the shackles of Compulsory Heterosexuality. It enables Women to politically and personally ally with other Women. In effect, Political Lesbianism allows Women a framework to reorder our priorities – it gives Women space and room to maneuver as we navigate the Heterosexual grooming all Women experience. As Feminists, many of us, in exploring our ideas about Woman-hating culture, realize that Lesbianism can bring us to experience deeper connection to and intimacy with other Women, an experience many of us want, need and crave.

Some radical feminists reject Political Lesbianism.  These critics accuse Made Lesbians of “the worst appropriation,” of stealing the experience of Lesbianism. They view Political Lesbianism as an attack on Real Lesbians.

An attack on Real Lesbians?

Who are the Real Lesbians?

And where is this attack? I see Men on the right attacking Women, by limiting through legislation our ability to control our own bodies. I see Men on the left attacking Women, by demanding that we remain silent in the face of rape and sexual assault by the Left’s leaders. I see Men in the GLBT Community attacking Women, by expecting Women to consider Males as “Women” if those Males say so and by supporting efforts to limit Women-Only Space.

I don’t see the threat posed to Lesbians by Political Lesbianism in the here and now.  Indeed, the biggest threat to Lesbians is the Queerification (i.e., elimination) of Lesbian culture and community and the erasure of Female reality.

So, then, are we – as Feminists – saying that only Born that Way Lesbians are Real Lesbians?

If that is what Feminists believe, this position denies the lived reality of the Woman who leaves her boyfriend, who leaves her husband, who wakes up one day and realizes that there’s more to her life than being a servant to Male desire.  And the opponents of Political Lesbianism render “Lesbian” into simply another identity, another lens that dilutes our community, another barrier to divide us.

Lesbians are Women who love other Women.

All Women can be Lesbian.

All Women. All Women can be Real Lesbians.

Our movement should trust Women. We should believe Women. Our movement cannot exclude all but a handful of Women – the Real Lesbians – from having the ultimate Women-only space.  All Women have the right to Say “I am a Lesbian” without fear of being judged or disbelieved or labeled a liar and a thief.

Women need space to develop and grow. Indeed, we all need space with each other to recognize the massive con job that’s perpetrated on us since the moment the doctor declares “it’s a girl.” Elevating “Real Lesbians” over all other Women places these proponents among the ranks of any other supporter of Identity Politics.  These efforts to “protect Lesbianism”  for “Real Lesbians” focuses not on the liberation of Women, but on the determination of which Women are entitled to claim to title “Lesbian.”

Who wants part of a Feminist Movement built on exclusion of Women? The process of deconstructing the Woman you were groomed to be from girlhood is lifelong and never ending – even for Real Lesbians.

Thus, we are Political Lesbians and choose to be a Lesbian in a Woman-Hating culture. We choose to love Women and put them at the center of our lives. All Women can do this.

Give Women room to breathe.  Our movement should be generous towards Women struggling to untangle the web of lies and expectations we are woven into since birth.

Oh, and if you doubt a Woman is a Lesbian, you can choose not to date her (and this, by the way, is not a Political Analysis).

SO WHAT? EXACTLY. JFC.

Cathy Brennan supports political lesbianism, the Poli Lez Collective and its revisions to the statement by Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group (“Love Your Enemy” 1979) about political lesbianism. You can read that revised statement here.

LULZ

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About Cathy Brennan

Gender Atheist.

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95 Comments on “When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A Lesbian”

  1. bugbrennan Says:

    Hey Mary – Sure you can. Maybe you might try being a decent human being first.

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    Bess Hungerford · 7 subscribers
    6 hours ago ·
    No, seriously.

    Poli Lez Collective, August, 2012

    Rubyfruit, Terri Strange, dubsh, Sarah Wallace, Maribel Griggs, kathleen de vries
    DON’T LOVE YOUR ENEMY, LOVE YOUR SISTERS | politicallesbiansinsisterhood
    politicallesbiansinsisterhood.wordpress.com
    (We are a group of activists who are revisiting the statement by Leeds Revolutionary Feminist Group (“Love Your Enemy”,1979) about political lesbianism. Building on our sisters’ work, we’ve address…

    Kathy Miriam I’ve said to Ruby Fruit that we have to study the seeds of current problems in radical feminism by looking at how wrong that theory was about the praxisis.
    5 hours ago · 2

    Boadie MacLeod I already said I have screenshots of Terri.
    5 hours ago

    Boadie MacLeod If anybody wants to see them they can send me a message.
    5 hours ago

    Kathy Miriam the woo woo was kewl in some ways but for a secular nyc Jew there was always something alienating about the wiccan dances in the night woods with mosquitos biting and everything. But the hexes on Halloween in the woods were terrifi.
    5 hours ago

    Kathy Miriam Boadie you can PM me the screen shot. thanks.
    5 hours ago · 1

    Bess Hungerford Also, stop derailing. This is about how POWERFUL I am and why the BACKLASH is so big.
    5 hours ago via mobile · 2

    Virginia Pele I am confused. Forgive me, but political lesbianism is kinda different from cultural feminism…
    5 hours ago · 1

    Boadie MacLeod ‎@Kathy: OK, you’re actually going to make me dig through my screen shots but I will. Lol. ♥
    5 hours ago

    Rain Lewis Boadie, you are off-topic, and trying to steer the conversation to be all about you and how badly you have been treated by A, B and C and whoever. Take it elsewhere.
    5 hours ago · 4

    Rain Lewis The post here on this wall, is women airing thoughts about the politics, of “political lesbianism” and its place in feminism.
    5 hours ago · 5

    Kathy Miriam It’s not completely off-topic since it pertains to the vicious dynamics that you, Rain, yourself referred to as common in these insular kinds of groups that tend to come out of the political lesbian “camp” –But is not unique to them. Although I’m putting off judgment until I see the screen shots.
    5 hours ago · 1

    Bess Hungerford Ok, Boadie is lying about Davina. anyone who knows Davina knows she would NEVER call another woman a whore. GREAT BOADIE, NOW I HAVE TO BLOCK YOU. Nice job.
    5 hours ago via mobile · 4

    Boadie MacLeod ‎@Rain: I AM on topic. I’m talking about their little so-called lesbian utopia and how they were abusive to me and it wasn’t a utopia.
    5 hours ago

    Rain Lewis qualifier: I think its common to all groups, not just the political lesbian camp.
    5 hours ago · 2

    Rain Lewis and it happens with women who use non-nasty language too. Respectful language is often a cover for deep contempt.
    5 hours ago · 2

    Boadie MacLeod Well, here’s A screen shot. I have many. I’m “Mavis Mantis” in this screen shot.

    5 hours ago

    Boadie MacLeod So apparently Terri thinks it’s OK to verbally abuse women and speak to them in a sexually degrading manner.
    5 hours ago

    Rain Lewis I’m off to bed to finish reading Atwood’s “After the Flood”
    5 hours ago · 1

    Boadie MacLeod Anyway, I hope that my example successfully disproves the theory of the happy loving rainbow lesbian utopia. Please keep me far away from those people and wherever they gather in groups.
    5 hours ago

    Ginny Brown ‎Kathy wrote: ‘I agree with many of Bess ‘s points but I still do not get what is so strongly at stake in arguing against this particular formation of “political lesbianism.” These aren’t women who are using lesbianism to toy with women.’


    See More
    5 hours ago · 2

    Kathy Miriam ‎(The reality is also that lesbians can still appropriate the concept of lesbianism for political ends, and this is being done IMO, regardless of how this endorses broader confusion about what lesbianism and feminism are.)
    a few seconds ago…
    See More
    5 hours ago

    Bess Hungerford GINNY IS CORRECT. ♥
    5 hours ago via mobile

    Ginny Brown Kathy I don’t think that the PL exaggeration of the positive *political* impacts of lesbianism *is* a good end.

    And honestly, given how PLism seems to involve treating those who disagree with it, I am increasingly regarding it as destructive.
    5 hours ago · 4

    Kathy Miriam Ok, it’s funny we agree but have a completely different critique! my problem is with how totalizing the vision of lesbian feminism is, which leads to a rabid moralism where every portion of a feminist’s life must be measured according to the “lesbian feminist” ideal.
    5 hours ago · 1

    Ginny Brown Well women calling themselves PLs don’t all do that (insist on examining every portion of feminists’ lives). PLism can certainly lead to some feminists thinking it’s more important to examine our sex lives than to focus on our activism, tho :-/
    5 hours ago · 1

    Kathy Miriam Ok, I agree about how certain advocates of PL treat other women. But basically I see this as endemic to different enclaves-and what hurts is how it has been endemic in radfemlesb internet enclaves– and not particularly this new development PL. There are individuals involved in the PL like Ruby Fruit who I exclude from this vicious dynamic, and i assume there must be others.
    5 hours ago · 2

    Kathy Miriam ‎Ginny –it’s the ideology of PL aka lesbian-feminism that leads to that (and not always)–I wasn’t referring to specific individuals.
    5 hours ago

    Bess Hungerford It doesn’t matter which way you slice it, PL DOES NOT WORK.
    5 hours ago via mobile · 1

    Virginia Pele It can be part of the liberation process. It is an ethics, to be your own woman, a human being who doesn’t need a man to live. Every political institutions is based on women’s subordination to men, through this aspect of male identification, male violence and so on. Did u watch this ? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmm_hYhs1RM there r some interesting stuff, tho some aspects are a little overemphasized.
    4 hours ago · Edited

    Kathy Miriam it is an ethics and not a politics. that is one of my main points of critique of lesbian-feminist ideology in most of its forms (that i myself adhered to).
    4 hours ago · 3

    Virginia Pele It is politics, u can’t do politics without ethics. I really don’t see what’s wrong with PL, is it because u feel it is sort of compelling ?
    4 hours ago

    Virginia Pele ‎* compulsory
    4 hours ago

    Kathy Miriam The fact that you can not do politics without ethics does not mean that ethics is politics. The latter does not logically follow. PM me and I will send you an article I wrote if you’re interested with my critique of lesbian-feminist ideology and queer ideology– i lean on the latter, but show the pitfalls of the former.
    4 hours ago · 1

    Virginia Pele super thanks.
    4 hours ago

    Bess Hungerford POLITICS means something. These words have meanings. Omg.
    4 hours ago via mobile · 2

    Boadie MacLeod Any ideology that rests on needing to have a certain sexual orientation is doomed to fail because sexual orientations among people will always be diverse, and inevitably men and women will be attracted to each other. That’s a force of natur…
    See More
    4 hours ago

    Bess Hungerford BOADIE is blocked.
    4 hours ago · 2

    Bess Hungerford AND I deleted a bunch of comments, but not everything. I will be taking requests, however. For additional deletions.
    4 hours ago

    Teh Bewilderness I thought that everyone in feminist groups knew by now that Boadie is a troll. No one has yet been able to figure out if Boadie and all the sock puppets are an MRA on a disruption mission to derail every discussion every feminist group on f…
    See More
    14 minutes ago · 1

    Mary Sunshine I have all of her sock puppets blocked. There are at least four of them.
    13 minutes ago

    Bess Hungerford names, please. Mantis…
    12 minutes ago

    Mary Sunshine Are all the women in the PoliLez collective lesbians? ==> BISEXUAL WOMEN ARE NOT LESBIANS <==
    12 minutes ago

    Bess Hungerford Mary, it doesn't MATTER, you know. LESBIAN means whatever they WANT it to mean, okkkk??
    10 minutes ago

    Mary Sunshine Cathy Brennan used to think that males who called themselves women were women. It lost her a few followers. So, she relented. Now, the official word is that only females are women. So, do the followers who aren't lesbians now compensate for the loss of followers who *are* lesbians?
    8 minutes ago

    Bess Hungerford Yes.
    8 minutes ago

    Bess Hungerford Brennan said "trans women are women" UNTIL I wrote my sweet form/function blog post. Gosh, I am SO influential. And EVIL.
    7 minutes ago

    Mary Sunshine Ohhhh !!!!!!!!!!!!! and when I was in "Lesbian Caucus" at the time that the shit with Galus Mag was going down, Cathy Brennan told the entire caucus: "Mary Sunshine is not a lesbian".
    6 minutes ago

    Mary Sunshine She ought to know, eh?
    6 minutes ago · 1

    Bess Hungerford Oh, I have some communications from Brennan questioning other women's lesbianism. But I generally don't publish private emails in public, so….that would be petty.
    4 minutes ago

    Mary Sunshine oh bla di, oh bla da ….
    2 minutes ago

  2. bugbrennan Says:

    I don’t actually live on the Internet. Feel free to copy paste the whole thing here.

    Cheers.

  3. buttercups Says:

    Thanks for co-opting my sexuality and using it as a political cudgel. Please only ever shack up with other political “lesbians” so you can be celibate angry old bitches together.

  4. Maggie Says:

    Hi Cathy,

    Brilliant work! :)

    I’m an ex-bi. Been living as fully lesbian for 4 years, and I can’t thank you enough for this post. *hugs*

  5. recovered-bisexual Says:

    Celibate angry old bitches are well sexy :) xxxx

  6. SheilaG Says:

    We will never know the mystery of human sexuality, but we can be aware that there is a huge heterosexual machine out there, and it doesn’t want women to have a choice in life.

    We get confused about this because some women really do avoid all heterosexual relationships and love women deeply, despite all the hostility and indoctrination. Some women take longer to understand themselves.

    Sometimes falling in love really is a big accident, but may come about because social forces make love possible.

    Whatever the causes out there, we need to honor the women who make them. And we really can learn a lot from women who never were heterosexually married or with men to begin with. What made them so different? How can we learn from this? I found it very helpful to read the stories of 19th century lesbians, who I think had a stronger women’s community then than we do today.

    I believe all women can deeply love women. I see this in the great friendships women have with each other, how all women groups laugh so much and enjoy each other so much. I see many homo-social environments that women are in. But I also see many women who really do fear social rejection or the loss of heterosexual privilege, and for them, this is huge.

    It’s why we are creating a global lesbian consciousness to begine, and are making ourselves easier to find, so that more women who love women can find this out sooner rather than later.

  7. SheilaG Says:

    P.S. The most controversial thing I can say to straight women these days is that being a lesbian really is a choice. This is a show stopper for them, because the “born that way” argument smacks of Gay Inc. and “I’m just like everyone else except what I do in bed” school of political awareness. Well no, it’s a little more than that.

    So when I say I chose to be a lesbian, this really shocks straight women friends. This opens up the world to all women, to love of women sexually and intellectually to all women. Now that is truly revolutionary.

  8. Kristen Says:

    “Lesbians are Women who love other Women.

    All Women can be Lesbian.”

    No, lesbians are women who are sexually attracted to other women – everyone knows this. Otherwise aren’t all radfems lesbians? I don’t know why you insist on using this definition of lesbianism since everyone uses the word ‘lesbian’ to mean a woman who is sexually attracted to other women, not a woman whose politics lead her to prefer to be in lesbian relationships. Would you say ‘gay men are men who love other men’ or ‘gay men are men who are sexually attracted to other men’?

    Also, if you believe that the male socialization of trans women means that they will never understand the oppression a woman truly faces, how do you not think the same is true for ‘political lesbians’ who are able to choose at what time of life they become a ‘lesbian’? If you’ve led your life as a straight woman – and aren’t sexually attracted to other women – and then you ‘leave’ heterosexuality to be with someone of the same sex because you ‘love women’ – how are you supposed to understand the oppression of people who didn’t have that choice? There’s no worrying about being outed or being rejected by family members – if you’re a political lesbian you are able to do things whatever time you want, whenever it’s safest for you you’re able to make that ‘change’ to lesbianism. That’s a safety that lesbians who aren’t lesbians for political reasons, don’t have. If you’re a political lesbian you also have a ‘safety net’ that you’re able to use – if it gets too hard you’re able to go back to men, which isn’t a possibility for lesbians.

    Or are you actually saying that if you’re bisexual you can choose to be a political lesbian? If you’re saying that, that makes sense because you can just choose to act on that part of your sexuality. However if you’re saying if you’re straight you can choose to be a lesbian that makes no sense to me. Surely, to enter into an emotional and sexual relationship with a woman you’d have to be attracted to women anyway.

    I’m all for women loving other women but wow, I would not like to be in a relationship with a woman who wasn’t attracted to me, and was only with me because of her politics.

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Trans women are men.
      Lesbians are women.
      I trust women to decide who they are. Why don’t you?
      And BTW, I wouldn’t date someone I didn’t trust either. But that’s not a political analysis.

      • Kristen Says:

        Lesbians are women who are sexually attracted to women, not women who just ‘love women’ – there’s plenty of women who care about women but don’t have relationships with them.

        I don’t understand where the trust thing comes from? I trust women when they say they’re a lesbian to mean that they’re a woman who is both sexually and emotionally interested in only women. I don’t trust that they’re using the word to mean they’re a lesbian for political reasons, unless they specify that to me themselves. Or should I start asking every lesbian what they mean by calling themselves a lesbian?

        Also if it’s a choice then why can’t non-political lesbians (including myself) choose to be straight?

        I do agree that every woman can be a lesbian but to be a lesbian you have to fit into the definition of a lesbian! That definition is not ‘a woman who loves women’. That definition is ‘a woman who is sexually attracted to other women’.

        Like I said, if by political lesbian you mean a bisexual woman who has chosen to only have relationships with women, that makes sense to me. If you mean straight woman I don’t understand it at all.

        If a woman says to me that she’s a lesbian – and automatically i’d think she was sexually attracted to women, since that’s the definition – and she doesn’t specify that she’s a political lesbian then yeah I’d find that a bit dishonest. Because then i’d be in a relationship with someone who I wanted to date because I’d be attracted to her, but she’d have started a relationship with me so she could score political points. Why would I trust someone who’s applying a label to themselves that isn’t true? (by every definition of the word ‘lesbian’) To be a female homosexual you have to be a female homosexual! Not just be a woman!

      • bugbrennan Says:

        All women can be female homosexuals.

      • Kristen Says:

        Also, just curious – do you actually know anyone who is a ‘political lesbian’ who wouldn’t previously label themselves as bisexual? Do you know anyone who isn’t sexually attracted to their partner but has a relationship with her because she considers relationships with women to be better than with men?

        EVERY advocate of political lesbianism I’ve heard of, has previously defined themselves as bisexual/pansexual (so therefore sexually attracted to women anyway). I haven’t heard of any completely straight women choosing to be with other women because of their political beliefs.

        This is probably because it’s not any more possible for straight women to suddenly be with other women for political reasons, than it is for me to suddenly discover a desire for men!

      • bugbrennan Says:

        I am a political lesbian who never identified as bisexual.

      • Kristen Says:

        “I am a political lesbian who never identified as bisexual.”

        It won’t let me reply to this comment specifically but did you previously identify as straight?

      • Kristen Says:

        “Nope, never.”

        Well that’s what I mean. Unless you find women who previously identified as straight who now identify as a ‘political lesbians’ how do you know it’s possible? I’m not talking about lesbians/bisexual/anything else – I mean categorically straight women who have decided to ‘choose’ to be lesbians and have relationships with women, because they love women.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        I can’t even respond to this seriously. Sorry.

      • Kristen Says:

        Why not? I asked about four comments ago whether you were talking about straight women or women who were bisexual/pansexual/lesbian (therefore already attracted to women)…

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Oh, pansexual, huge red flag.

        Why is it so important to YOU to tell a woman who she can love?

      • Kristen Says:

        Are you avoiding my point on purpose or?

        I’d rather straight women who have decided to have relationships with women for political reasons – if these people even exist! (which i doubt they do) – did not use the same label as someone who has relationships with women for non-political reasons.

        I think there’s a difference between loving women as a group of people, and being in a romantic relationship with a woman (or more than one woman if they’re poly)

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Your point is irrelevant to me. If a bear shits in the woods…

      • Kristen Says:

        Political lesbianism involves taking my sexuality and using it as a political message against the patriarchy. I’m not cool with that. Me being a lesbian is not a result of my politics (and this is true for the majority of lesbians)

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Oh, is that true for the majority of lesbians? Is that a fact statement?

      • Kristen Says:

        Well since there are no examples of straight women who have decided to be a lesbian for political reasons then yeah i think very few people ‘choose’ to be a lesbian ONLY because of their politics.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        I know straight women who are now political lesbians. You are seeking anecdotes. Why?

        Also, I have to be honest with you, your use of the word “pansexual” and your reference to “poly” makes me think you are a libfem or a pomo or a queer, so I am reluctant to waste time talking to you.

      • Kristen Says:

        lol, no I’m not a libfem/pomo/queer. I’m a lesbian! (I said this quite a few comments ago) and i’m neither a radfem or a libfem. I find it funny that you assume those things just because I don’t agree with you.

        Ok, well you’re one of the few people who do know straight women who are now political lesbians then… I feel sorry for them that they’re in lesbian relationships just to make a political point!

      • bugbrennan Says:

        They are not in lesbian relationships to make a political point. They are in lesbian relationships because they love women. You don’t have to date them.

        I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, and I specified why I don’t believe you – I don’t know many non-pomo/queer people who say “panssexual” or “poly.” My “doubt” is based on your words.

      • Kristen Says:

        “You don’t have to date them.”

        I wouldn’t date them. I really cannot understand why someone would choose to be with someone who they weren’t attracted to, because they ‘love women’. It makes no sense to me. Why do people have to go that far? Can’t straight girls just be straight and still love women in many platonic ways? There’s no need for women to force themselves to change their sexuality to be a better feminist.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        There are lots of things that don’t make sense to me that I don’t fret. Why does this bother you? That is what I am interested in.

        Why does political lesbianism bother, what I will call for lack of a better term, “Real Lesbians”?

        Why?

      • Kristen Says:

        It bothers me because I don’t think you can choose who you’re attracted to. I don’t think you can change from a straight woman into a gay woman, for political reasons. I really don’t think it’s possible. I really do believe that ‘political lesbianism’ can only be possible for women who have some kind of sexual attraction to women. Like i said, the only advocates for it i’ve seen have already been attracted to women.

        I don’t need women trying to take on my sexuality to be a better feminist tbh, i think it’s a bit offensive that a straight woman could ‘choose’ to be gay and then use the same label as myself and imply that she has had the same experiences as me. If you’re a straight woman that has ‘chosen’ to be gay then your experiences will be very very different to the experiences of most other lesbians who are actually attracted to other women.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Just because experiences are DIFFERENT does not mean one experience is better or valid.

        That’s fine if you don’t think you can choose who you are attracted to. Other women disagree.

      • Kristen Says:

        As a lesbian woman i’m not quite sure why you’re not a little bit bothered by political lesbianism – don’t you mind women using that label even if they’re not attracted to other women? Don’t you think as a lesbian your experiences will be very different to women who apply that label to themselves but aren’t attracted to women? Don’t you think women who ‘choose’ to be gay have had a lot of heterosexual privilege? Don’t you mind your sexuality being used for women to ‘escape men’? (and related to that, doesn’t political lesbianism make everything about men as a group rather than the patriarchy itself?)

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Political lesbianism doesn’t bother me because women are women, and lesbians are women. Women have all sorts of experiences. At a political level, I am interested in finding common ground with women, not parsing difference to the point of inertia. Lesbianism is a gift for ALL woman, I don’t own it (and neither do you).

      • Kristen Says:

        No, the experiences of political lesbians are going to be VERY different to the experiences of lesbians who are actually attracted to women. Why do people even want the label of ‘lesbian’ if the definition doesn’t apply to them??

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Pretty sure women aren’t calling themselves lesbians unless they are… wait for it… lesbians.

        I am guessing all of our coming out stories are different, Kristen.

      • Kristen Says:

        The label ‘lesbian’ only fits political lesbians if you’re using your new definition of the word. Every other definition of the word is nothing like the definition that you’re using.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Lesbians are female homosexuals. What’s your definition?

      • Kristen Says:

        “I don’t mind people disagreeing with me”

        Obviously you do, since you blocked me from commenting…

      • bugbrennan Says:

        LOL. How many times have you commented here? I am exerting my spam privilege over your repetitive comments.

      • Kristen Says:

        Since the only thing you reply with is basically ‘lesbians are female homosexuals every woman can be one!’ and you’ve suddenly made this about lesbians who come out later on in life (which is in NO way related to political lesbianism at all!) then it’s probably a good idea for me to stop commenting anyway. Just as a gay person in a straight relationship is still gay, a straight person in a gay relationship is still straight. On your fb you said that you’d consider a woman to be an ‘asshole’ if she called herself a lesbian, and only had desire for men and only had relationships with men – you think the existence of her desire for men whilst calling herself a lesbian makes her an asshole, whereas i think that the her lack of desire for women whilst calling herself a lesbian is what makes her an asshole. (and straight) Anyone who is romantically and/or sexually interested in only women can call themselves a lesbian. Anyone who isn’t, but chooses to be with women for political reasons cannot. Nobody should try to ‘make’ themselves into a lesbian just because they support women – loving women as a group isn’t the same as actually loving an individual woman and being in a relationship with her.

        (Also lol because women’s sexuality is already considered to be flaky enough! Nobody would ever suggest men being with men for political reasons – why are men allowed their actual attraction whilst women should be putting their politics first?)

        Anyway this is my last comment here – as a suggestion (since i’m not a radfem myself) it could be a good idea to ask straight radfems about why they’re opposed to political lesbianism – if it’s possible to ‘make the change’, why haven’t they?

  9. BadDyke Says:

    The whole lesbians are women who are sexually attacted to other women line, whether you believe in innate lesbianism or not, certainly doesn’t help in that it reduces lesbianism to just sex, AND it ignores the social construction of sexuality.

    Reducing homosexuality to sex, and the I was just born that way so I can’t help it line may be helpful to those desperately figting for gay rights (note the word gay there), but it ignores yet again the way that females are groomed into compulsory heterosexuality.

    If you do admit that lesbianism is about MORE than sex and innate ‘sexual attraction’ (which is, let’s be frank, is USUALLY talked about in a way framed by men), then you are really starting to challenge things. I don’t necessarily believe that my own lesbianism is innate, that I was just ‘born this way’. Perhaps, like many other human traits, some have innate propensities more one way than another, but where we end up eventually depends on our upbringing and socialisation, as well as our conscious decisions. Heck, I think I’m just LUCKY that I developed my lesbian potential without having to go through a heterosexual stage.

    Saying that lesbianism can be a CHOICE, that we would still have CHOSEN lesbianism if our lives had been different, that we would CHOOSE to love women rather than men, those are very powerful statements.

    Is it this knee-jerk ‘sexual attraction’ that defines us, the sort of MALE sexual attraction that the patriarchy likes, which is used to defend all the sad sorry stereotypes of femininity because men ‘are just’ naturally sexually attracted by those things. Women who love women and love themselves can then appreciate the beauty of a female body in themselves and in others. This sort of mature sexual attraction isn’t the knee-jerk ‘there was no chemistry between us’, ‘I’m just not attracted to you’, that the patriarchy loves so much.

    “The most controversial thing I can say to straight women these days is that being a lesbian really is a choice.” Because then you’re saying to them, YOU have a choice, so make it………………….

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Right on. RIGHT ON!

      And I also want to clarify – I don’t necessarily think choosing to be gay is a systemic solution, and I do not think one’s individual choices a political stance make. But just because political lesbianism isn’t a “solution” or a “strategy” to break down patriarchy doesn’t mean it does not have VALUE in the lives of women. Value added strategies are positive.

    • Kristen Says:

      “Women who love women and love themselves can then appreciate the beauty of a female body in themselves and in others.”

      But not necessarily to the point of deciding to be in relationships with them. Like I said, otherwise every radfem would be a lesbian and many aren’t because they aren’t able to make themselves attracted to women regardless of how much they care about them. Admiring/loving women and being attracted to women are two different things.

      If I suddenly decided to love men and care hugely about men, do you think I would begin to appreciate the beauty of the male body?

      ” I don’t necessarily believe that my own lesbianism is innate, that I was just ‘born this way’.”

      But you don’t actually know though. My problem with political lesbianism is the idea that straight women can suddenly grow to be ok with having relationships with other women (because it implies that i can suddenly grow to be ok having relationships with men and i find that homophobic) You saying that you don’t know whether your lesbianism is a result of biology or of socialization isn’t really my problem with this. You may be both political and a lesbian, but if you were a ‘political lesbian’ then you would know for sure that your lesbianism wasn’t innate because you would’ve actively made that choice.

    • Kristen Says:

      “Because then you’re saying to them, YOU have a choice, so make it………………….”

      What if a feminist thinks that sexuality isn’t innate but they don’t make the choice to be a lesbian? Is she less of a feminist than you? That’s ridiculous.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Is someone saying that? I am not saying that.

      • Kristen Says:

        (i was replying to baddyke’s comment although surely all advocates of political lesbianism must partly think this. If you don’t think this – if you think a woman can be just as much of a feminist even if she chooses men – then what’s the point in going to the extreme of being a political lesbian then?)

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Sorry, my bad.

        “Going to the extreme” sounds a little homophobic. Can you explain this?

        The bottom line for many of us is that it doesn’t matter if and how a woman becomes lesbian. It matters only that all women should be supported in expressing their truths.

      • Kristen Says:

        I think it’s ‘going to the extreme’ if you try and force yourself to change your sexuality (from straight to gay) to be a better feminist. I think it’s unnecessary.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Who is saying this makes anyone “a better feminist”?
        Who are you to say what is necessary for another woman navigating her own sexuality?

      • Kristen Says:

        “Who is saying this makes anyone “a better feminist”?”

        Ok, fair enough that wasn’t explicitly said.

        “Who are you to say what is necessary for another woman navigating her own sexuality?”

        But it’s not about someone discovering their sexuality. It’s about someone basing their sexuality on their political choices. I’m fine with women navigating their own sexuality but I don’t think that should be motivated by their political choices. Political lesbianism means using your politics as a motivation, not your actual feelings/attraction. I think attraction should come first and politics second.

        I think it’s completely possible for a straight woman to love women in a non-romantic sense and still have relationships with men. Idk why straight women can’t just support other women strongly.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Yes, I agree that’s a possibility for straight women. You are the one who keeps saying it’s not.

        I think it’s not up to me or you or any other women to tell women “what should come first.” Some of us find putting politics first very hot. Read Sheila Jeffreys.

      • Kristen Says:

        “Yes, I agree that’s a possibility for straight women. You are the one who keeps saying it’s not.”

        I’ve said the whole way through that straight women should just be straight and still offer support to other women!

        “I think it’s not up to me or you or any other women to tell women “what should come first.”

        Well political lesbianism does the same thing. Political lesbianism says to put politics first, lesbianism says to put feelings/attraction first. I don’t find straight women playing at being lesbians very hot tbh (regardless of whether the motivation is a political one). Straight women who ‘choose’ to be lesbians will never understand my experiences and I dislike them using the same label as me when they don’t even fit the definition (they may fit your brand new definition of lesbianism, but they don’t fit the actual one)

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Straight women can become lesbians IF THEY WANT TO.

        Political lesbianism is a path to lesbianism. No one has suggested it’s the only path – you want this to be an either/or. You be you.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        No one is telling you to be a political lesbian. You be you.

      • Kristen Says:

        I’d have no issues if these women didn’t specifically refer to themselves as lesbians (i’d still think it was a bit stupid but whatever). If you aren’t romantically interested in women just don’t use that label!

      • bugbrennan Says:

        I am unconcerned with women determining they are lesbians for political reasons. Good for them. If you don’t like it, don’t hang out with them. But spending time correcting women in this manner is wasteful.

    • Kristen Says:

      Well you’re spending your time redefining the word lesbian…

      • Kristen Says:

        (that comment was meant in reply to ‘I am unconcerned with women determining they are lesbians for political reasons. Good for them. If you don’t like it, don’t hang out with them. But spending time correcting women in this manner is wasteful.’)

      • bugbrennan Says:

        No, I’m spending my time supporting women afraid to come out because of judgmental assholes.

  10. BadDyke Says:

    ” that straight women can suddenly grow to be ok with having relationships with other women (because it implies that i can suddenly grow to be ok having relationships with men and i find that homophobic”

    False analogy here folks! The fact is WHAT is it that you assume you are having to overcome here? IF you believe that sexual attraction is innate, then you have to overcome that as a hetero in order to be attracted to women, and vice versa. Except even then, the playing field is very far from level (hence false analogy). So, even if you were fighting against your supposedly innate sexual attraction, why fight against it in order to have sex with the enemy……………….

    What IS homophobic is suggesting that there is ANYTHING wrong with choosing to love the same sex.

    “You saying that you don’t know whether your lesbianism is a result of biology or of socialization isn’t really my problem with this.” I was just being open-minded and wearing my scientist hat there. Plus biological determinism is a rather dangerous peg to hang things on. Plus once you get to saying ‘I was just born this way/can’t help it’, you are closer to not analysing WHY we do what we do, or investigating whether there are any alternatives.

    “then you would know for sure that your lesbianism wasn’t innate because you would’ve actively made that choice.”

    A thing doesn’t HAVE to be a conscious choice to be non-innate.

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Real talk. REAL TALK.

    • Kristen Says:

      “A thing doesn’t HAVE to be a conscious choice to be non-innate.”

      But you have to make the conscious choice to be a political lesbian though, because (even if you don’t believe sexuality is biological) it involves you actively making a lifestyle change.

    • Kristen Says:

      “The fact is WHAT is it that you assume you are having to overcome here? IF you believe that sexual attraction is innate, then you have to overcome that as a hetero in order to be attracted to women, and vice versa.”

      I believe sexuality is innate so you can’t overcome it! If you believe it isn’t innate then you have to believe you can overcome it and ‘choose’ to become whatever sexuality you want to be.

  11. SheilaG Says:

    There are many paths to lesbianism. I’d say we need to encourage all women that a path exists, and that there really is a way out of heteronormativity. Being a lesbian is being free to fully love women. It is the freedom to never have to live with or have sex with men ever again, and this is huge for women. To know there are wonderful and powerful alternatives to an oppressive and woman hating social structure, which is heterosexuality and the ownership men have over women’s bodies? Are you kidding? We aren’t experts on what is the path that is best for most women.

    It is our job to create paths all the time…. lifelong lesbians HONOR and celebrate them, political lesbianism, of course, continue to advance this, knowing that you can love women, and that men have a vested interest in making this not an easy answer… just being aware that sexual attraction to men is MANipulated from the get go, and that het life is a huge propaganda machine…. economic freedom for women, so that they don’t get stuck marrying too young or biong saddled with poverty producing children..

    • Kristen Says:

      “just being aware that sexual attraction to men is MANipulated”

      That’s something you think, it’s not necessarily true.

      “so that they don’t get stuck marrying too young”

      I know lesbians who have got married very young.

  12. weiiixin Says:

    Sheila G’s comment that the primacy of the “born that way” definition of human sexuality smacks of Gay Inc rings true to me, but as a Gen X (as oppoosed to a Baby Boomer) woman, I find the term “political lesbianism” inapproproate at this time.

    I wasn’t there, but my understanding of the 60’s & 70’s women’s movement is that political lesbianism arose out of ignorance of how human sexuality works. To revive this term, is like reviving the flat earth theory.

    I feel rude saying this, Cathy, because I’m a fan of your work, but I find this particular thread frustrating and absurd, and I don’t think you’re answering the “stay off my label” commenters directly. You’ve indicated that you don’t think sexual attraction is an important element of the Lesbian identity, but in the English language, the common definition of Lesbian is a woman who fucks women.

    I can see how a resurection of the word ‘Lesbian’ to be an umbrella term for women who desire and who fuck women, and women who simply don’t want to fuck men to sit, but I think it’s too late for that, and it’s rude to try to colonise that word. I find this insistance on annexing the word ‘Lesbian’ to include women all women who love women, and who choose not to fuck men to be similar to the insistance of M2F transgender and transexual people insisting on using the word ‘woman’ rather than ‘transwoman.’

    Maybe, if the baby boomer Feminists had their time again, they could have come up with a special word to mean ‘woman who only fucks women’ and Lesbian could have been the umbrella term, but I think it’s too late for that in 2012. Lesbian is about who you desire, and who you fuck, not about who you don’t fuck.

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Thanks. I wrote this piece specifically in response to dozens of women in their 20s who feel unable to come out because they are judged by their heterosexual pasts.

      Lesbian mean female homosexual, right? All women can be lesbians. I am frustrated by the desire of Real Lesbians to police these women.

  13. SheilaG Says:

    weiiixin, I think the problem lies with the obsession with sex itself. There are women who are lesbians who don’t make love to women. But they are lesbians none the less.
    This leaves out vast numbers of women throughout time who were attacted to women but did not have sex with them… for complex and historical reasons.
    I do believe that in feminist and lesbian worlds that heterosexual pasts can be problematic in many ways, and we have to honestly address this. I do know that women who are lifelong lesbians really are quite different in many ways, and I do find them more attractive and compelling because of this.
    Women who fuck women, well, fuck to me is one of those male words I could do without out, and I would never ever use that word to women I passionately love.

    And we all know that Gay Inc pretty much sets the agenda, and that lesbian organizations rarely focus 100% on lesbian concerns these days.

    We could come up with a better word than political lesbian, so let’s try to do it.
    But we do have to say to everyone that it is a choice to be a lesbian and to act on this, and that all women can make powerful choices, because we don’t know what causes women to fall in love with each other. Given a very positive woman loving culture, this is likely to happen more often, because the opportunity is there and the acceptance is there. Key ingredients to love I would say.

  14. GT Says:

    Excellent posts Kristen!
    Lesbian = women who are sexually attracted to other women and only other women.
    Lesbianism is NOT the circus ride at the fair. You either are a lesbian or you’re not. And, no, Cathy any woman canNOT be a lesbian just because she feels like it. Straight women, bisexual women and men need to stop appropriating the word lesbian.

    Honestly cathy you sound as ridiculous as the trannies you rail against. What a hypocrite you are!! Is there some straight woman you’re trying to convert? Are you a “political lesbian” Cathy?

    “I wrote this piece specifically in response to dozens of women in their 20s who feel unable to come out because they are judged by their heterosexual pasts.”

    Oh boo hoo and what a fuckin crock! I got another name for those ladies heterosexual or bisexual. There, better now?

    • bugbrennan Says:

      There are women afraid to come out because they fail the Real Lesbian litmus test.

      Don’t use that slur on my blog. Trans women are males. Lesbians are female. If a woman says she’s a lesbian, she’s a lesbian, whatever her path to get there.

    • BadDyke Says:

      “Lesbian = women who are sexually attracted to other women and only other women.
      Lesbianism is NOT the circus ride at the fair. You either are a lesbian or you’re not. And, no, Cathy any woman canNOT be a lesbian just because she feels like it. Straight women, bisexual women and men need to stop appropriating the word lesbian. ”

      The Problem with this is that the SCIENCE on sexuality doesn’t exactly agree with this biological-determinism style of lesbianism. And as soon as you start being so PEDANTIC about sexuality, and attraction, you become unable to see how the patriarchy has manipulated and tried to control womens sexual and romantic attraction.
      That’s the important issue NOT this policing who is or isn’t a real lesbian — because we really don’t KNOW how many women would choose women if we didn’t have the whole patriarchal system trying to indoctrinate us into loving men. They certainly don’t want us to ask these questions, so what is the response – okay, lesbians DO exist, we’ll grant you that, but it’s biological, you either are or you aren’t, and once you’ve had some sort of successful heterosexual relationship or encounter, then you’re NOT a lesbian. Problem solved, another heterosexual saved fom potential lesbianism.

      “I think the problem lies with the obsession with sex itself. There are women who are lesbians who don’t make love to women. But they are lesbians none the less.”

      After all, it’s MALES who have framed how we talk about sex and sexuality. How many gay men did I meet when younger who couldn’t even deal with the idea that sex doesn’t have to involve penetration or a fake penis? The whole obsession with this male-defined view of what sex is and is not, and what is sex and what is not sex, and the fact that SEX is so important, is all to do with male obsessions with procreation and not being cuckolded NOT actually much to do with women and womens sensuality and sexuality.

      Nor does it have much to do with womens sexual attraction, to be totally frank. What we are supposed to be attracted to, and what that attraction MEANS, or even whether women are supposed to feel sexual attraction at all have all been policed by men over historical time. So, are you REALLY that sure that your own sexual attraction has managed to escape from patriarchal conditioning, and that you really are attracted to what your genes say you should be attracted to?

  15. GT Says:

    “There are women who are lesbians who don’t make love to women. But they are lesbians none the less”.

    Those would be asexuals.

  16. weiiixin Says:

    I’m sorry this is a really long, unedited answer, but here goes;

    Cathy, where you say “There are women afraid to come out because they fail the Real Lesbian litmus test.” I appreciate it that you’re trying to stick up for women who fall outside the 100% born and wired homosexual definition, but as I said already, I think it’s too late to claim the word ‘Lesbian’ because it already means something specific, and scientific. I think you need another word for what you’re talking about, because the window of opportunity to make ‘Lesbian’ mean ‘woman centred feminist (and probably separatist), regardless of sexual orientation’ has passed.

    I’m a Bisexual woman with a heterosexual past, who knows about being on the sidelines of the Lesbian universe because I’m not in 100% club, but I think 100% Lesbians have the right to create spaces free of heterosexual and straight women, and I respect that.

    While I am yet to meet another woman who defines herself as I do (Bisexual who is woman centred and a feminist who only dates women), I think the word ‘Lesbian’ needs to be left alone, and women like me, along with heterosexual women, and asexual women who choose to pass on heterosexual relationships for political (or emotional, spiritual or other ) reasons, should be proud of our choices, but should come up with our own label if we must have one.

    I don’t mind that the defninitions which dominate sexual identity are centred on who you desire and want to have sex with, because I like precision, and who you desire to have sex with is a very precise way of classifying people, just as the genitals a person is born with is a very precise and easy way of classifying someone’s biological sex. It keeps things clear and transparent.

    I’m aware that the LGBT movement has been defined by men who have been generally more about fucking, and less about brotherhood, (since brotherhood already exists within the culture of men), and men have been scientifically shown to be more prone to monosexuality, and rigid unchanging sexuality.

    This contrasts with women who in addition to sexual desire for other women, have had a strong ‘sisterhood’ motive, resulting from the women’s movement that preceded it), and furthermore, women are far more likely to be Bisexual than men are, so I imagine that back in the day a lot of the political Lesbians who were having sexual relationships with other women, were actually Bisexual.

    I note that many radical feminists over the age of 50 would probably define me as a Lesbian, becuause I don’t pursue men, and only date and have sex with women, but I am not over 50, so I call myself a Bisexual woman who is woman centred, and only dates women, and I think if more women like me (assuming they exist) come out in the way I am out, that we could still have a strong feminist movement, it’s just that we’d know how each other is wired, and I don’t see a problem with that kind of honesty.

    I don’t think the feminist movement needs Lesbians who aren’t feminists any more than the Lesbian dating scene needs ‘Lesbians’ who aren’t attracted sexually to other women.

    I sometimes envy the Baby boomers for having lived in a time where being a Lesbian was seen to be a choice any woman could make, because it must have felt like it was going to change the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was flawed, scientifically.

    I think we need to build a sisterhood movement that isn’t afraid to be honest about how each of us is truly wired. It’s better to fight against the divisiveness within the sexuality hieararchy within the women’s lesbian feminist movement, than to try to annex a word, in hopes that the vagueness of sexual identity will bring us together.

    (sorry for the long post – I’ll edit better next time).

    • bugbrennan Says:

      I reject the idea of being wired for gayness. I also reject that “fake lesbians” as it were, pose a threat to Real Lesbians. This whole conversation reeks of distrust. I ask, why? Because of the past? How do we move forward? And political lesbians aren’t straight – what’s the basis for excluding them from lesbian space? Because they used to fuck men?

      You say you’re bisexual. That means you’re not a lesbian, right? I trust you not to insert yourself into lesbian space.

      If we move forward by focusing on “interrogating lesbian desire,” no thanks.

      Thanks for this comment, no editing needed.

  17. ibleedpurple Says:

    Defining homosexuality through sexual practice is problematic. It basically means defining closeted gay men and lesbians with heterosexual families as straight until they show homosexual behavior, no matter if they have ever felt same-sex desire or not. Defining homosexuality through sexual practice also robs asexuals of their ability to love because in such a definition love is so closely linked to sexual behavior that the two seem indistinguishable.However, asexuals fall in love and they do show preferences in regards to sex.

    I know this doesn’t make life any easier. In some cases, you might even have to admit that someone’s sexual orientation cannot be established. That’s not the end of the world. However, you should trust people when they say they are in love – and you should not wait until they actually engage in sexual activity to see if it’s true. Not even the word “homosexuality” in and of itself necessary encompasses sexual activity. The “sex” in “homoSEXuality” is a reference to someone’s birth sex.

    Only wanted to add my two cents re: the definition. I wished people would stop measuring sexual orientation on some kind of Kinsey scale. As much as I do not like the queer differentiation between romantic and sexual orientation there is some truth to it insofar that people often times are not motivated to act on their emotions, sometimes for very very long.

  18. SheilaG Says:

    Thank you ibleedpurple, your comment was most sensible and most welcome. I can safely say that when I was much younger, I really did fall deeply in love with women, but because of the times, obviously did not act on this. I find it a rather sad thing that we have reduced lesbian life to sex, when to me, being lesbian is so much more powerful in the larger picture.

    We lose so much with this narrow approarch. Now don’t misunderstand this, I am still talking about the profound attraction women feel for each other, and this is a lesbian context.

    It’s why you can be a lesbian and a Buddhist nun, but you might not have sex with the women around you, but you would be a lesbian, just as a celibate catholic priest who really does live his vows can be gay.

    I believe it is the profound attraction, and a deep love that is often one of the most beautiful aspects of being lesbian. In fact, the non-sexual can bring forth incredible creativity and art. I know some of my poems have been fueled by this kind of love. A kind of muse if you will.

    We do not have to be so wrapped up in sex acts, and in some cases, just speaking personally here, I have fallen very deeply in love with women, but have known it would not be right to make that love sexual. However, that connection was beautifully there, and it added a very tender aspect to the friendship. This is part of lesbian community that I deeply cherish, and it would make our community life richer and deeper to acknowlege this now and then.

  19. Elin Says:

    Personally I would say that if you have decided you want to be a lesbian, but, while never falling in love with men anymore, have never fallen in love with a woman yet, you are not a political lesbian (…yet). You are just trying, and being a-romantic at the time. But then, after you fall in love with a woman (which may or may not happen), you are.

    If a woman does not even *desire* sex with a woman after falling in love with that woman, that would be very weird, then she technically would have to have another label too, “asexual” I’d say (?).

    To me the concept of “loving” women means “loving” as in “we love each other as friends” and that I would certainly not deem to be sufficient for the label “political lesbian”. Then, indeed, lots of women could label themselves as lesbians. But the concept of “falling in love”, yes.

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Defining women’s sexuality by the sex acts they may or may not perform strikes me as awfully porny.

      Pretty sure, at least where I live, women loving women refers to lesbians. Maybe that’s not universally understood.

  20. SheilaG Says:

    Elin, that’s exactly what I mean. I do mean FALLING IN LOVE with a woman. This is what a lesbian is. It doesn’t have to turn into the sexual (althought that is always a possibility), but falling deeply in love with women is what makes lesbians a very special group. It is what sets us apart from heterosexual women, and it is a huge break on some level from compulsory heterosexuality, which is the huge advertising and propaganda machine going 24-7.

    Any woman who wakes up to this moment of falling in love with a woman, or any woman who falls in love and then makes love to a woman is entering something quite beautiful. We know women touching women in any way is a terrible patriarchal taboo, and it why there is such a huge attempt to promote all kinds of ideologies to interfer with this love. Gay Inc. “born that way” argument is but one of many ways to try to get women not to awaken to profound lesbian falling in love with women love.

    I believe this happens all the time, but if you have a completely brain washed population, and an economic system that rewards het marriage and het sex, the idea of awakened women falling in love with each other is revolutionary.

    We know how the sheer numbers of lesbians has expanded with second wave feminism, increased job oppoortunities for women, and greater access to housing without needs men to cosign. We know what’s changed because of lesbian feminist activism, with over 40 years of publications and critique of heterosexuality itself.

    Therefore, we know the born this way argument is just not true for large numbers of women. And we put the idea out there that ofen the taboo prevents women feeling authentically. We might mistake this great falling in love for something else.

    We can also celebrate the many women who fell in love with women early enough, so that they never had to deal with men sexually to begin with.

    Whever women are in life, we need to know that lesbian erasure is what patriarchy wants. It’s why Gay male Inc. voices are so common in the media, but lesbian journeys so rarely depicted, even in movies and T.V. Gay Inc doesn’t threaten patriarchy, but knowing exactly what lesbian love feels like does.

  21. BadDyke Says:

    “Therefore, we know the born this way argument is just not true for large numbers of women.”

    I think we have to keep SAYING this. Studies as well (not that I’m that keen) show that women tend to be much more developmental in terms of their sexual orientation, in that compared to male homosexuals who frequently say – since I was six, or whatever, women are much more likely to talk about a longer personal journey, until they fell in love with a woman.

    I also agree with placing who you LOVE, as being more important that ‘sexual attraction’ or sexual activity. It’s the romantic and emotional and spiritual side of loving women that really matters most, NOT what the patriarchy would have us believe, that it’s just all about who jiggles what and with whom.

    “If a woman does not even *desire* sex with a woman after falling in love with that woman, that would be very weird…………”

    Except WHAT constitutes ‘sex’ and who defines that? We know how men define ‘sex’ (and let’s not mention Clinton here!), but in terms of two women, why shouldn’t we say that what matters to us is emotional and physical intimacy, not some check list and associated anatomical score chart. And after all, we all know that high-scores on the anatomical test doesn’t necessarily mean that there is ANY sort of intimacy involved.

    • bugbrennan Says:

      Apparently if you don’t have “erotic desire” for women, you are not a lesbian, I think. I guess? I dunno.

      • BadDyke Says:

        Yeah, but what is ‘erotic desire’? I’m not saying I have the answer, I just want a better definition than ‘wanting sex with’.

        It’s the physical and spiritual and emotional intimacy that really matters, WANTING that sort of intimacy with another woman, whatever balance of those elements works or is possible for the two participants. Does my ‘erotic desire’ not count if what really turns me on about her is her mind? I guess we’re back to the ancient greek eros here, which is passionate and sensual but not necessarily sexual. So, I’d say it may (and often does) include sex, but doesn’t have to, it’s not the sex that is the prime defining element, it’s the desire for intimacy on all possible levels, including the physical level but that need not be what is traditionally considered as being ‘sex’.

      • bugbrennan Says:

        Yeah, that’s why I trust women to tell me if they are lesbians. Why are we as a community wanting to parse desire?

      • BadDyke Says:

        Ah, that’s a GOOD point — trusting women who say they are lesbian.

        I just can’t get out of my head the MANY times that I’ve been told either by men, or by heterosexual women, what constitutes ‘proper’ sex, and what doesn’t. How many times women have been told what they are supposed to want, or how their bodies are supposed to respond.

      • lindsey spilman Says:

        [REDACTED – THIS PERSON IS A VIOLENT PERSON WHO THREATENED TO TRASH A FEMINIST CENTER. SEE https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lesbians-and-Feminists-Against-Transphobia/342749112475402?fref=ts&filter=2

        THIS PERSON IS IN MANCHESTER, ENGLAND]

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