Where are all the younger lesbian feminists/separatists?March 12, 2009
Eva Johnson, Aboriginal playwright and radical lesbian feminist
In these times, where pornography abounds and young men expect young women to gratify their unnatural urges to dominate/control and make slaves out of us, where sexual slavery, the buying and selling of women as sex, is seen as liberation, where evidence of men’s hatred of us blares itself from movie screens and billboards… in these times, lesbianism, as a political choice, makes sense. It seems ridiculously simple. Men hate women. Why the hell would you want to sleep with one?
Renate Klein, biologist, activist against dangerous reproductive technologies, radical lesbian feminist
I chose separatism as a way of life fairly early on. I saw my mother being abused by my father and stopped speaking to him as a form of protest. I realise now that it was also one of the first separatist acts I made, in addition to being an act of sisterhood with my mother and my sisters. It wasn’t long before my not speaking to my father became me not speaking to any male peoples whatsoever. I was a ‘beautiful’ girl. Both men and boys would follow me around, ask me out, touch me, wolf-whistle etc, etc. I rarely had a day that I was not sexually harassed during my teenage years. This is not atypical however. Most women experience this kind of harassment on a daily basis.
Audre Lorde, poet, writer, radical lesbian feminist
So I decided that all males were as bad as my father and refused to speak to any of them. I guess this meant that I automatically invested in my relationships with women. My primary relationships were with my mother and one of my sisters. But I had a succession of other deep friendships. Those friendships only waned because I moved around a bit. It was the love and support of those female friends that got me through highschool, through an eating disorder, through being suicidal and messed up.
Sheila Jeffreys, professor, activist against prostitution and all forms of male terrorism, radical lesbian feminist
I was aware of my attraction to females fairly early on. I loved Xena. Definitely my first ‘girlcrush’ as Rain likes to put it. But despite the fact that I was raised in a strict christian household, I didn’t really feel any guilt from my attractions to women. In fact, in order to cause trouble with my father, I would purposely go to see ‘gay’ films and buy ‘gay’ music. It was actually really funny. When I was about 14 my father asked me out to get an ice-cream. I agreed to go, thinking he wanted to maybe try and repair our relationship or something. Anyway, we go and buy ice-cream, we sit down and he proceeds to give me a lecture about not sleeping with boys and not taking drugs!!!! Oh, I was trying so hard not to laugh. He was so way off the mark it was so, so hilarious. So, yes… um no worries with that one, daddy.
Mary Daly, poet, visionary, spinster, sister, radical lesbian feminist
Anyway, I didn’t have much trouble avoiding boys. They gave up trying to talk to me in school as I completely ignored all of them. But when I was 17 I started working. One of the boys at work showed an interest in me, and whether it was curiosity or something, I agreed to date him. He was really boring, he kissed me and it was so unbelievably gross. I dumped him. For some reason, up until this point, I still thought of myself as straight. I had spread rumours around the school that I was a lesbian 1) because I like negative attention and 2) because I had had some really embarrassing incidents with boys inviting me out in front of the whole school and I did not want anything like that to happen again. But despite this, I was primarily attracted to males, even though I couldn’t understand why I was. I really willed myself to be attracted to other girls because boys and men were just so unbelievably disgusting.
Staceyann Chin, poet, activist, performer, radical lesbian feminist
So fast-forwarding to uni where I met and fell in love with a gay boy, the son of a lesbian feminist no less. We had a great relationship, while it lasted. Neither of us wanted sex from each other, just love and emotional intimacy. Unfortunately, like most men, he had no problems at all sorting out his priorities and I, of course, was dumped to the bottom of the list once I stopped being interesting to him. I ditched him and it was all very sad, but I decided that he was the last man that I was ever going to care about.
Nedra Johnson, singer/songwriter, radical lesbian feminist
But that relationship did bear fruit. I met his mother when I signed up to do volunteer work at The Women’s Library. Both her and her partner were an invaluable source of support and care during the time I was in Sydney.
I had a few brief heterosexual encounters in uni but they all bored and disgusted me. Looking back, I have no idea why I let myself get roped into them. I guess it was a mixture of curiosity and the whole ‘everyone else is doing it’ thing. Which is strange because I’ve always been very reluctant to do anything that everyone else is doing. Also, despite everything, I was still more attracted to men than women.
Robin Morgan, poet, writer, radical lesbian feminist
The reason that women find men more attractive has NOTHING to do with sexuality and everything to do with socialization and validation. I had serious work to do on myself psychologically, before I could see women as being life partners. I was easily attracted to women, but could not envisage being with them in a relationship. And I don’t think I could really understand why. Not to mention the fact that I was seriously addicted to the male gaze (hence the eating disorder).
Susan Hawthorne, poet, novelist, aerialist, radical lesbian feminist
After a wake up call, which started with a man befriending me when I was desperately lonely, and ended with sexual assault, I decided to tell my best friend of my feelings for her. She reciprocated and I entered my first lesbian relationship, my first relationship period. And it was really good. It didn’t work out long term, although we are still really good friends. During the time of my first relationship I discovered political lesbianism and lesbian separatism by reading about them in The Women’s Library and that felt like the world breaking open. I couldn’t believe that these women existed and that I’d never heard of them. Oh, I had been looking all of my life for them. And I hadn’t found them. And then suddenly they were there. And my imagination was on fire, but it wasn’t a dream, these women actually existed. They were real, and they were just like me. They shared the same hopes and dreams, they believed that a world without violence could exist and they set about making that a reality. And, oh, I wanted to be a part of that so, so much.
But I look around and I don’t see many younger women being interested in political lesbianism and separatism. There are only 2 lesbian feminist bloggers under 30 that I know of. I find this really sad. I think lesbianism is a very powerful and immediate solution to male supremacy and violence. Women-loving women, women-touching women are the ultimate anti-thesis to this woman-hating world. As much as I hate to agree with the ‘fun’-feminists, I do think that feminism needs to change its image. We should be saying, “Feminists ARE hairy, man-hating, prudish, fat, ugly, dykey and radical”. And we are a hell of a lot happier than the women being treated like sexual and domestic slaves by men who say they love women.