Archive for the ‘lesbianism’ Category

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SCUM Conference Program *UPDATED*

July 24, 2011

PLEASE EMAIL US AT: scumconference@hotmail.com FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT REGISTRATION/LOCATION ETC.

Thursday 22nd September *note* the launch is not part of the official SCUM program

13:00 Feminist Book Launch @ Parliament House: Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the   Global Porn Industry: Spinifex Press

        Abigail Bray, Melinda Tankard Reist (eds.)

Friday 23rd September: Theme – Women Revolting and Revolting Women

9:00               Conference overview, acknowledgement of country, breakfast, board games and hang out with other A-Mazing thrill seeking females.

11:00       What does feminism really mean? Eva Harper + Lyn Ariel

             The first session of the conference will explore what feminism really means and whether there are distortions and misconceptions of feminism currently being perpetuated throughout society.

12:00              Women keeping peace through men’s war time:  Noushin Arefadib

Solutions to critical feminist issues of rape and violence against women during war.

1:00         Lunch

2:00        Revolution Revisited: Framework for a Radical Feminist Future      Betty McLellan

              Questions and discussion about the future of feminism and the role of radical feminists in that future. Is a feminist revolution still on our agenda? If so, what would such a revolution look like? Is a feminist revolution even possible in today’s socio-political climate? My emphasis will be on the need for us to embrace today’s challenges and push ahead with courage and determination.

3:30            Afternoon Tea

4:00         Revolting Women Go Public:  Lyn Ariel

Session on reasons behind and meanings of slogans.   

5:00         Drinks and Social Time

 Saturday 24th September: Theme – Creative and thrill-seeking Hags

9:00        “Heart of Feminism” expressive workshop with creative writing and construction:  Georgi Stone

11:00       Morning Tea

11:30       RadLesFem conversations about goddesses and lesbians too sacred to mention: Spider Redgold

1:00         Lunch

An Afternoon to Re-Member Valerie Solanas:

2:00       Up your Ass – Kat Pinder

             An overview of the life and work of our well loved civic minded, responsible, thrill seeking sister.

2:30        A look back at the SCUM Manifesto – Chris Sitka
What the SCUM Manifesto meant to me (and other radical feminists) at the time and a look back at it from our current perspective

3:45       Fem-manifesto-ing – Susan Hawthorne

             An examination of feminist manifestos and comparisons to the SCUM Manifesto

5:00        End of session

7:00            Creative Hags Performance Evening (food + wine provided)

Sunday 25th September: Theme: Re-Membering Sisterhood + Feminist Identity

9:00        From Skipping-Rope to Splitting-Hairs : Women in Conflict: Rain Lewis

Many feminist/lesbian groups will go through “splits”.  This presentation will explore various ways and means of girls and women-only conflicts for discussion from both political and personal perspectives.

10:15          Morning Tea

10:30             Radical Activist Strategies: Samantha Berg

Zero risk through high risk acts of resistance and reclamation.

11:45                Telling Lies about little girls: porn scripts:  Ryl Harrison

This presentation will look at how porn scripts work in the everyday lives of girls aged between 9 and 13 years.

12: 30        Lunch

1:00        Womyn Only: Re-claiming Sister Space: Dani Tauni

Reclaiming our womyn’s spaces, festivals and communities and Re-membering Our Positively Revolting Lesbian Feminist Identities.

2:30            Afternoon Tea

3:00        Open Space session

learn more about and discuss the work of some of our favourite feminists from around the world: Bring your favourite feminist books!

4:30        Closing Session and debrief

5:00        End of Conference

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Rebeldias Lesbicas

February 10, 2010

Incredibly moving video made by Alejandra (Jana) Aravena, a South American lesbian feminist.

NO PORN.
Slide show made for the first commemoration of the rebellions Lesbian, October 13.
The sequences are a personal view of the rationale and working from feminism. It is also an account of the referents of lesbian-feminist political training I’ve had.

Hat tip to Isabelle.

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Mary Daly: Radical Elemental Feminist

January 7, 2010

I don’t think I have ever written a post on Mary Daly before, despite the fact that her life and work have had a profound influence on my own. If I had never picked up a copy of Gyn/Ecology from a second-hand bookstore when I was 19… what kind of woman would I be today. I launched myself into Gyn/Ecology, not having the faintest clue about what I was reading. Up until this point my contact with feminism had been through The Women’s Collective at uni. Mostly straight liberal feminists. Good women… but tentative in their politics. And through women’s studies subjects at uni. None of which had any hint of radical lesbian feminism in their reading lists or anywhere else. My feminism was pissed off, angry and raging… but had no direction. I had no words, no herstory, no Background to light up the foreground and show it up for what it was. A dirty and dark illusion made to keep women like me from breaking free.

And then, at 19, I picked up a copy of Gyn/Ecology and my eyes were irreversibly opened. Quite honestly, I did not understand a word that the book said. I read passages over, and over and could not comprehend them. I was pretty ignorant at 19. And then I lost the book and lost a huge part of myself along with it. For 5 dark years I floundered about with queer theory and queer feminism online until I found Gyn/Ecology again, and bought myself another copy from The Feminist Bookshop. Reading it again was like coming home. I could not understand how I had lived without Daly’s Elemental Feminism in my life.

I bought every single one of her books and read them cover to cover. Lovingly stroking the pages that held the most meaning. Crying and crying over the realisations of what male supremacy has cost us. Her work lit me up like a bonfire and changed me irrevocably. She was, and is, and ever will be a raging tempest, a Positively Revolting Hag, and A-mazing Amazon, a Quintessential Woman.

I couldn’t write about her before because I didn’t know what to say. How to describe a woman who is everything. Who casts herself beyond the foreground, into the Background and spirals into Outercourse.

Mary, your journey has only just begun. I grieve your passing and I will remember you. Always.

PS. I cried so much when I read Heart’s tribute to Mary Daly: “Leave the State of Fear. We Can’t Stop Now! We Have Overcome.”- In Memory of a Positively Re-Volting Hag, Mary Daly, October 16, 1928-January 3rd, 2010

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Abortion and contraception: a radical lesbian perspective

July 11, 2009

intercourse

The issue of abortion and contraception seems to be a straightforward one for most feminists. They are considered to be a fundamental right, and access to safe, legal and affordable contraception and abortion on demand is said to be necessary for women’s sexual freedom. I would argue that from a radical lesbian point of view, the reverse is actually true.

Now, I do not deny that access to contraception and abortion is absolutely necessary for women to have any semblance of control over their reproduction, right now… as we are living under male supremacy and women’s Selves and sexualities are fundamentally controlled by male ideas of women’s sexual function. Women’s sexual awareness is tightly controlled by the media, by the porn industry, by father’s, brother’s, husband’s, lover’s, son’s; and our function is clear: we are fuck objects, our function in sex is to be fucked.

Intercourse is central to sexual relations between men and women in our male supremacist society. Most of us do not question its primacy and its place in sexual intimacy… it just is. When men and women get together and have a relationship they are expected to fuck on a regular basis. If they are not fucking on a regular basis, something is considered to be wrong… the relationship is not functioning… sex is not occurring. For a detailed deconstruction of intercourse and the way that men and women are conditioned into coital sexuality read Anticlimax by Sheila Jeffries and Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin.

Anyways, centering abortion and contraception as necessary for women’s sexual freedom and as a fundamental human right presupposes that intercourse is a natural expression of women’s sexuality and that intercourse will continue to occur with the same frequency once women have complete control over their own bodies. Now I would argue that that is one hell of a presupposition.

The reality is that intercourse is the cause of unwanted pregnancy. Given that we know, as women and as radical feminists, the extent to which women are bullied, coerced and downright forced into allowing men access to their bodies… do we really think that intercourse will happen anywhere near as frequently as it does now, once women have actual sexual freedom? I personally doubt it.

While I agree that abortion and contraception are necessary at the moment, because we are living under male supremacy, women do not have any level of sexual freedom and intercourse is an unfortunate reality in many women’s lives… I am also looking forward to a time where abortion and contraception are no longer necessary. A time where women can engage freely, safely and lovingly in relations with other women, or in non-coital relationships with men.

I cannot in good conscience jump on the abortion/contraception is great for women bandwagon. In my opinion it has done as much damage as good. In reality, it gives men another crowbar with which to wedge open women’s legs. Yes, it gives *some* women, *some* level of control but it is a very, very far cry from actual liberation.

What does real freedom look like? Well, I have never had to take any unnecessary hormone pills for one thing. I have had lots of wonderful, messy, lusty, loud, sexually intimate moments with my last partner and I have never had to run to the chemist for a morning after pill, never had to buy condoms… or any of the other weird paraphernalia of heterosexual relations. Lesbianism is a 100% effective, safe and affordable contraceptive.

To summarise: intercourse causes unwanted pregnancy. Intercourse is totally unnecessary for women’s sexual pleasure. Access to abortion and contraception has not delivered either sexual or reproductive freedom for women. Demand for abortion would decrease dramatically once women have control over their physical integrity, and once our sexualities are no longer conditioned and controlled by men.

Basically, I don’t think that either contraception or abortion is the ‘solution’ to women’s reproductive rights even though I fully support women’s right to access free, safe and legal contraception and abortion.

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Why ‘lesbian’ has become a dirty word by Amazon Mancrusher

May 5, 2009

*This is a thought-provoking guest post written by my sisterfriend Amazon Mancrusher.*

womensymbol-1236

Why lesbian has become a dirty word

You would think the word lesbian would have gotten less radical rather than more radical since the 1970’s but that doesn’t seem to be the case. These days, fewer young women seem to be identifying as lesbian, choosing instead to use queer, gay or pan to describe who they have relationships with and how they feel about their sexuality and political identity. This article will explore why young women who have intimate relationships with other women have rejected the term lesbian.

The word lesbian originates from the island of Lesbos in Greece, where a poet called Sappho lived. The people of Lesbos have historically been known as lesbians. Sappho wrote love poems to other women, many of which were destroyed by religious fundamentalists and the term lesbian became known as a term to describe women who love other women.
In the 1970’s, many women organised a feminist women’s liberation movement, in which lesbianism become a highly politicised and revolutionary concept. Many lesbians broke away from the gay liberation movement in favour of the women’s movement after making the analysis that they had more in common with straight women than gay men. They believed that gay men still benefitted from the gender hierarchy, know as patriarchy, in which the needs and human rights of women are invisible or secondary to the needs of men and where men dominate women through sexual and domestic violence. Their analysis showed that this still applied in the gay and lesbian community, where the political and social focus often focused on gay men and silenced the needs of lesbians.

Lesbians became highly visible in the 1970’s women’s liberation movement and many women who had previously seen themselves as heterosexual made choices based on their feminist politics to become lesbians, claiming that intimate relationships and sexuality are not biologically determined, but rather politically influenced. Feminists argued that heterosexuality was the cornerstone of male domination, because men are brought up to think that through heterosexual power relations, they have automatic sexual rights to women’s bodies. Feminists pointed out that the sexual power that men are granted encourages them to see the bodies of women as property or a commodity. This concept is backed up by society’s historical and cultural social structures through the laws of marriage and the culture of prostitution.

During this time, heterosexuality was ‘outed’ as something that was politically and socially compulsory rather than natural. Many feminists engaged in the women’s movement soon realised that there was a different choice and they chose lesbianism. For many women this was a choice of political resistance against compulsory heterosexuality, marriage and all other forms of male domination and gender hierarchy. Women also realised that they could make different decisions about what clothes to wear and whether to shave or wear makeup and many chose to reject feminine stereotypes. Sexual violence was finally theorised as stemming from power relations and male political domination, rather than a by-product of the ‘natural’ sex drive of men that they cannot control. This analysis meant that sexual relationships had to be politicised and the term ‘the personal is political’ became a well known feminist slogan relating to personal relationships.

Unfortunately, revolutionary lesbian resistance did not come with money and societal power and men with power in society, who control the media and finances, soon drove a powerful backlash campaign against lesbians that remains so toxic that it still poisons the lesbian community to this day. Worldwide media ran articles and news stories inflicting hatred upon women who rejected heterosexuality or rejected femininity, and claimed that lesbianism is ugly and that the rejection of femininity is inadequate for the physical desires of men. Another type of backlash against lesbians involved the depiction of women having sex with each other in pornography. These depictions were created by men who felt threatened by lesbian’s rejection of heterosexuality and wanted to place male needs back in the centre of the lives of lesbians and to recreate lesbianism in a way that they could control. Attitudes in society and the media continue to perpetuate the myth that lesbians are monstrous, revolting, unsightly beasts and lesbianism, especially in pornography is frequently represented as existing for titillation of heterosexual men.

So is it any wonder that women are rejecting this identity?

Lesbians themselves, especially those growing up in the backlash, have had little choice but to internalise this plethora of hatred and look for more palatable ways to survive and become more acceptable to their male peers and heterosexual friends. As a consequence, during the 90’s, lesbians increasingly withdrew from the women’s movement and returned to the gay liberation movement to seek political support from gay men. Many lesbians began to call themselves gay because it felt more palatable and less confrontational to their male friends.

Feminists have and continue to acknowledge that lesbians and gay men both face hatred for rejecting heterosexuality, and that a commonality exists but they also argue that the needs of lesbians and gay men are very different and that when they politically become a homogenous (same) group, that the needs will default to gay men, because as men, gay men have more economic and societal power.

The 1990’s also saw the rising influence of neo-liberalism and post-modernism, which both reject an analysis of social structures of oppression in favour of the analysis of individual power. Post-modern theorists claim that power is like a toy that can be played with by anyone, regardless of gender, race and class. Queer politics stemmed from post-modern theory, and argues that gender and sexuality can be performed and played with like a game. Adopting a queer identity became a way that lesbians could reject gender but remain palatable to gay men at the same time. Terms such as queer and pan have become used as a way of blurring the boundaries of gender. Many feminists claim that some post-modern and queer perspectives were harmful because they distort the reality of people’s day to day lives and deny the lived experience of women under patriarchy. Women living in domestic violence relationships or surviving rape are harmed by real violence stemming from real power structures. They ask how queer performance will ever help women around the world surviving rape, trafficking and domestic violence.

Queer politics proposes that if women play with their gender and do drag performances and reject the identity of woman then they will gain power. This technique has been used in recent events in the lesbian community with theme nights like Playboy where women were encouraged to dress up as Hugh Hefner in order to subvert the power dynamics. What queer politics does not tend to explore, is if these notions of male power are in fact positive in the first place and if women should claiming or subverting them will not just in reality just continue our gender binaries, albeit in a more performative way. Interestingly, queer politics has not been used by any other group to challenge hierarchy. Aboriginal people do not have colonial theme nights and dress up as white imperialists in order to distort racism and I have never heard of Jewish people coping with memories of the holocaust by holding a Nazi theme parties and playing with the role of being a Nazi. Any attempt to organise such an event would be met with confusion and probably outrage, but feminists and survivors of violence who criticize such notions of so called ‘subversion’ seem to be taken much less seriously.

To conclude, the backlash against women’s liberation has made it acceptable for the real lived experiences of women to be denied and almost impossible for lesbians to hang onto lesbianism as an alternative to a world where men’s needs dominate. It is easier, more palatable and less confrontational to be known as queer, gay or any other identity that decentres the needs of women.

by Amazon Mancrusher

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Where are all the younger lesbian feminists/separatists?

March 12, 2009

eva-johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

sisterhood

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.

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Joss Whedon is so unbelievably sick

February 10, 2009

Just read part of the Season 8 Buffy comic in the library today and I am still dry retching. EWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

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EWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

buffy-les-porn

EWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!

Repeat after me kiddies: “Pornography is not fracking empowering.”

Lesbian porn for male gratification is fucking sick. Besides DYKES DO NOT LOOK LIKE THIS JOSS WHEDON YOU PERVERT!!!!

Showing teenage girls in their underwear is fucked in the head. YOU ARE A CHILD PORNOGRAPHER, JOSS!!!!

Just needed to get that off my chest.