Small Announcement

The small announcement is that I have deleted my blog posts about political lesbianism. I wrote them when I first started this blog because I wanted to engage with a concept that is important to Lesbian Feminism. I felt that if I was calling myself a Lesbian Feminist then I needed to have an awareness of what has historically been called Lesbian Feminism and the body of work that came out of that movement. I’m glad that I studied this theory and really digested it, and I’m glad that I have discussed it on Facebook with many smart women.

At first I liked the concept of political lesbianism, because I think it’s possible to have some choice over one’s sexuality and I think it’s a great idea for women to decide not to devote their energy to men. However, the concept of political lesbianism is a flawed concept. The political strategy of rejecting relationships with men in order to focus one’s time on women should be called political celibacy. It’s not female homosexuality. We don’t have total choice over our sexuality, we only have the choice of which of our desires we act upon.

Whenever a radical feminist claims that all or most radical feminists are lesbians, I get angry, because this implies that (a) the movement is only open to lesbians, which would greatly diminish the size of the movement if it were true, and (b) feminists are supposed to choose to be lesbians in order to follow the party line. This claim that radfem = lesbian is directly coming from the theory of political lesbianism. It was increasingly uncomfortable to argue against the idea that most radical feminists are lesbians when I had posts on my blog promoting political lesbianism.

I used to consider the idea that I was a political lesbian because I was bisexual as an adolescent and lost interest in dating men as I was becoming a radical feminist. If I try to, I can write about my past in a way that fits a political lesbian narrative. But I can also write about my past in a way that fits other narratives. I can fit my past into a narrative of a lesbian who was coerced into trying heterosexuality by heteronormativity and porn culture. The thing about writing your history is you can pick and choose what details to include and you can present them from certain perspectives. Those perspectives change over time as you learn more. I try to present myself as factually as possible.

Over the past year I’ve lost interest in trying to follow any party lines. There are people who claim that radical feminists are X, Y, and Z and I don’t always fit the criteria, although I usually do. However when you engage in feminist discussion around the clock like I do you realize that there is truly no such thing as a party line—even people who think they have it all figured out disagree with other people who also think they have it all figured out. The best thing to do is just stick to the facts and do your best to fight for all women, regardless of what you call yourself. I consider myself part of an international gender critical community and I don’t think we have a party line either. I don’t agree with everyone in the GC community and a few of them I can’t stand. Some of them can’t stand me.

I’m rambling now.

I guess what I’m saying is I don’t have to agree with a concept just because it’s a part of the feminist tradition that I happen to have wandered into. It’s okay to disagree civilly with other feminists. It’s okay to let go of concepts that came up in the 1970s, before I was born, and not engage with them further. It’s okay to follow what makes sense to me and not worry about whether or not it aligns with a certain body of knowledge. I can only deal with the situation that is before me here and now: women’s rights are being removed by a neo-liberal, identity-driven agenda that prioritizes anyone with a penis. Dealing with this is more important than lining myself up with any theoretical framework.

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185 thoughts on “Small Announcement

  1. The more labels we attach to ourselves, the more restricted we become. Blind adherence to a party line essentially keeps us from learning and growing as human beings. I’m immediately suspicious of a group or a way of thinking that becomes popular. Having been the victim of collective thinking my freshman year of college, I have made it a point to stay on the outside. As I got older, I too, changed my views on some subjects, but my core values haven’t changed. There’s the ideal world and then there’s the reality I’ve experienced. I’m shaped by both my intellect and my experience and believe me, it’s a battle somedays to listen to my better angels. For example, I had a woman come into my PO this morning and for some reason, she decided to unload a blast Fox News vitriol my way. She parroted so many sound bites and racist comments in under two minutes, I was appalled. I wanted to give her a good shake and tell her to try getting her information from some place other than the propaganda machine of the Republican Party, but I held my tongue. (I can’t discuss politics at work-Hatch Act and all.) I think what disturbed me the most is she thought I would agree with her!
    You have every right to to change your mind and not walk lock step with any groups tenets. As my mom always said “That’s what makes horse races”, we’re all different and its those differences that make us stronger.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Self censorship is a tricky thing, and its unfortunate that others cannot accept an evolving and changing viewpoint; that this causes one to delete material so the discussion can move forward. But in a nation of individuals, party and party loyalty become paramount, ever defining us as to what we believe as to who we are, and how we relate to each other.

    I hope when the Purple Sage anthology comes out, all your posts will be found.

    Liked by 1 person

      • “It was increasingly uncomfortable to argue against the idea that most radical feminists are lesbians when I had posts on my blog promoting political lesbianism.” that’s the sentence that concerned me. It implies that you took the blogs down in order to facilate discussion. I should state that i am not being critical, just think its unfortunate. I for one like to see how peoples thinking evolves over time.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re not rambling, and I am so, so glad to see this. Political lesbianism horrifies me. To me, it implies women’s sexuality and desires are not real, not innate and important. It wrongs lesbians and it wrongs heterosexual women. The whole idea that you can just adapt your sexual orientation, or ignore it, and be in relationships which are either sexually unappealing, or sexless altogether, sounds far too much like a mirror of the crap the “transbians” throw at lesbians. The power differential isn’t there in this case, of course, but it’s still sending the message that women’s sexual orientation is a wishy-washy thing, malleable, something to be discarded in order to pass a different sort of purity test. I can’t see why anyone should go through that, not lesbians who want a relationship with a woman who will love and desire them, rather than be fond of them as a friend, nor heterosexual women who would be trying to feel something in a relationship where they just can’t.

    Political celibacy is a much, much better name. It doesn’t undermine the very meaning of the word lesbianism and it doesn’t impose obnoxious expectations on anyone.

    Liked by 8 people

    • Or just ally.

      But, again; I can’t see expecting a woman who can’t find it in herself to be a lesbian, to give up on ever having romantic love in her life. Why would anyone wish that on anyone? One can choose to give up on it, but insisting someone should is so transgressive.

      One can understand that feminism is about women, and is by definition exclusive of men, without feeling the need to exclude men from one’s personal life if one’s orientation is heterosexual. I can’t imagine being involved with a man who could not understand and respect this distinction. (alas, they are rare).

      It’s basically the distinction between class and the individual.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. I understand the idea behind “political lesbian” – I believe Jeffreys came up with this term? But I never got into using it because some, maybe most, lesbians find it appropriative.

    I don’t think women should be expected to sacrifice romantic intimacy, or its potential, for politics. It’s too unkind. While some of us find our history of heterosexuality so painful and heartbreaking that we can’t imagine ever even considering trying to become involved with a man again, while some of us gravitate towards our lesbian friends because you don’t judge us or make everything about men, because you see us as other women, not potential competition; that doesn’t make us lesbians. Doesn’t mean it’s impossible for us to be lesbians, either. Lots of things are possible.

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    • It’s the “women are all really lesbian and heteros have been brainwashed” extreme end of the political lesbian thinking that disgusts me. No, heterosexuality is not something imposed by men, it’s how we repdroduce, and regardless of how it’s socially manipulated, it’s real. As is lesbianism, or homosexuality, or bisexuality. I’m so sick of people saying women should be romancing or fucking people they are not attracted to.

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      • This goes back a ways. Rene Denfeld wrote a book called “The New Victorians” that I read and was impressed by, some years before I started learning about radical feminism. Her thesis was that real feminism should be about equality and not nosing into what people do in their bedrooms and with whom. It’s essentially a liberal feminism thesis and I would debate her vigorously these days, but she does have a point about feminism having gotten derailed by lesbian activists who insisted that it was not only possible, but necessary, for all women to become lesbians. What always gets me about this is that this thesis is commonly pushed by lifelong lesbians who, by definition, have never experienced attraction to the opposite sex, have never fallen in love with a man, so how does this make them experts on it?

        Their angle tends to be that it’s all trauma bonding, which seems to me a kind of gaslighting. Happy het couples do exist. Nice men exist. They don’t seem to be too common, but I hate to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

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        • Gaslighting is the word. Maybe some are coming from a background of trauma when they say “all PiV is rape”, or maybe they just really misunderstood Dworkin, or maybe they just have no clue, but the idea that men and women never have and never can have loving, joyous relationships sounds like the counsel of despair to me. Or rather, not for women who have no attraction to nor even liking for men, but it’s pretty bloody grim for those of us who do.

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        • I just won’t read “all PIV is rape” posts. I find them tiresome. I’ve unsubscribed women over this. I know the difference between enthusiastic consent and all the flavors of coercion, and when, in the past, I have enthusiastically consented to PIV, I am damned if I am going to say the dude was raping me, even though it didn’t turn out to be a workable relationship. Because I am an ethical person.

          Liked by 7 people

        • Yeah I don’t do the “all PIV is rape” thing. Hardly anyone does, luckily. Straight women report they do enjoy it. It’s not for me but if people like it they can go ahead and I’m not going to tell them they’re being raped when they’re not!

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        • Exactly. Hassling heterosexual women is one of the worst things that’s happened to feminism. It’s divisive. Same thing with “mother privilege.” It’s all just horizontal hostility and should not be countenanced, and I say that as a childless woman who has been celibate for 14 years and for most of her life previous.

          Telling women they should be lesbians is just as coercive as men telling me I should lower my standards and fuck randoms. Telling women they can consider being open to the possibility of having a same-sex orientation if they have never been happy with men is completely different. Saying what you might consider is not the same as telling a woman to ignore her self. I mean, if by some bizarre chance I met a man who got it about all the things I expect people to get it about, and I found him attractive, I might well respond. I have to believe it’s not going to happen because I am old and don’t have that much time left, and because I simply cannot stand most men, I am infinitely more picky now and I am damned if I am going to change that. I have to believe it’s not going to happen because I don’t want this to be an energy suck anymore. But expecting a woman to ignore genuine trust and attendant attraction is just brutal.

          At the same time, if I (theoretically) took up with a man again, I would not, I think, be too disposed to go out of my way to discuss him with my women friends. The best couples don’t have anything to prove, they just are.

          I am reminded, oddly (since we’re rambling today)’of a couple who used to come into the bookstore, when we had a bookstore, which I helped manage. They were ordinary looking people, both kind of fat and schlumpy. The father would sometimes bring their kids in by himself, and they were such good kids. They’d go right to the stacks they were interested in and dig right in. So well behaved.

          Their parents weren’t demonstrative, they were just kind of there, but I always noticed them because their energy was so clear. People who have found their place in life aren’t all that common.

          Liked by 8 people

        • I think I’d draw a distinction between “unhappy in relationships with men because the men involved were bastards” and “unhappy in relationships with men because they were inherently unsatisfying,” if that makes any sense. Which I guess is what you’re saying, isn’t it? “Is if possible you’re lesbian?” is a long way from “Well of course you’re lesbian, it’s the only Right and True Way.”

          I hear you on the “mother privilege” garbage, too. Like, wtf? That sort of garbage would be right at home in an MRA handbook (not handbag, autocorrect, you twit). Being pressured to breed, subtly or not, doesn’t mean you get privilege once you have. Far from it. It’s just more of the same, any choice you make is wrong.

          Liked by 7 people

        • It’s complicated. I have a history of being attracted to extremely difficult men, and I have to be honest with myself and look at what I was doing with all that, because it looks a lot like masochism. Also, if I’m straight, then why do I need all that drama?

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing that anymore. I have myself on a very tight leash when it comes to men. But I am left feeling rather bewildered. Do nice men just not like me? Or do I just not like them? I just feel groomed into hell, I don’t know what I am, or could have been.

          I think there is a kind of privilege women get from associations with men, it’s like the male privilege kind of rubbing off. But “mother privilege” is pretty thin soup for single mothers, and those who have difficult associations with husbands and exes. “Mother privilege” would make a certain amount of sense if mothers were more than adequately compensated for being mothers, but in reality it’s profoundly underpaid work.

          Liked by 7 people

        • Thin soup indeed.

          Your history is the sort of thing I mean in that distinction – one’s upbringing is going to shape one’s attractions to some extent, as in the personalities one’s attracted to, and if there was trauma or abuse, then it’s entirely unsurprising if relationships are going to have trouble, or one will be preyed on. But surely that isn’t the same as what would be a perfectly happy relationship if one were heterosexual being unsatisfying simply because one isn’t, and can’t be.

          The whole political lesbianism thing comes back to the undervaluing of friendship, in a way, or conflating friendship with the relationship of lovers, doesn’t it? Lovers are friends (one would hope) but the element of physical and emotional passion is added. It’s not necessary to claim that level of relationship when saying one centres women politically or socially, and it’s putting a false face on what lesbianism is, too.

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        • Oh, and I should add: I love one, just one man, have done for 36 years, and have never wanted any other*. I’m not at all fond of them as a class and have seldom had male friends who weren’t workmates or partners of my women friends.

          *Not even pirates! Srsly!

          Liked by 4 people

        • Oh, D. I find the ‘not even pirates’ extremely hard to believe!! ;P

          Seriously, though, speaking as a bi woman, I think it is easier to be with a man in a patriarchal society. If I were with a woman, I’d have some explaining to do. So, honestly, I sometimes wonder if I’m with Mr.Grump because he is such a splendid unicorn, or if because I’m a lazy sell out. Probably a bit of both, if I’m being honest. Also, I’ve met a bit of resistance, dating wise, from lesbians. I get it, I think, but I’m not going to call myself a lesbian, because I’m not. Lying would be worse, IMHO, than selling out.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. This post makes me happy, because the political lesbianism stuff was making me deeply uncomfortable precisely because I don’t think sexuality is that malleable, and I think suggesting that women’s is and men’s is not is so obviously sexist that it’s amazing that people manage to frame that as a feminist position to hold. Bisexual people can choose who we partner with, but we’re still not choosing an orientation, the underlying pull towards both sexes remains even if we choose not to act on it. Most people are not bisexual.

    I think choosing to focus all or most of one’s energy on women is a valid political choice, it’s just not the same thing as lesbianism, which is a sexual rather than a political orientation.

    Liked by 6 people

    • It roils my gut, tbh. Not in the same way as men telling lesbians they should allow them inside their (the women’s) bodies, because it has nothing whatsoever of the societal weight and potential physical threat behind it; but in the same sense of feeling very personally, “How Fucking Dare You suggest my love for my husband is some sort of betrayal, or that I don’t know my own mind and body, and should just change that because you said so.”

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      • I mostly just feel like, given how hard it is for women to find happiness in the world we currently live in, there’s very little to be accomplished by telling any women who feels like she is happy in a relationship with a man that she isn’t really. If she’s not and part of the reason may be that she would have preferred a female partner but gave in to the social pressure to partner with a man then yes, by all means let’s explore that possibility, but if a woman is happy in her current relationship with a man or if she’s not but feels no sexual or romantic pull towards women at all then I’m not seeing what would be accomplished by her trying to convince herself that she can be a lesbian if she just tries hard enough.

        Relationships that work tend to feel fairly effortless – if you have to talk yourself into a relationship then it’s probably not the right relationship for you. Also, friendship! Women can have deep, close, emotionally intimate relationships with each other without those relationships being sexual or romantic.If they aren’t initially and then things end up going that way, that’s wonderful, but if not then that’s perfectly fine too. Friendship isn’t a consolation prize, it’s valuable in and of itself.

        Liked by 6 people

        • Honesty, I think it’s revolutionary for amen to seek their own happiness “without reference to you or to anyone so wholly unconnected” (to quote Ms. Austen). I’m of the opinion that unless there is something actively abusive going on (and consensual PIV is not that) then someone else’s sexuality is none of your business unless both of you plan to make it your business. Personally, I support women seeking their fortune, going celibate, saying “fuck celibacy”, being utterly selfish if they need to. We live in a world designed to take women’s desire for happiness and use it to extract unpaid labor for others. I support rebelling against that.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Some stances of (some people in) radical feminism are similar to those of patriarchy. “Sexuality is malleable” is one of those – patriarchy draws from this the conclusion that homosexuals should become heterosexual, radical feminists draw the conclusion that all women can and should become lesbians.

      I think many people are opposed to the idea of sexuality being malleable because it has been used to attack homosexuals. However, in the absence of homophobia, is the idea that sexuality is malleable then bad in and of itself? (That some women report having changed sexual orientation under the influence of artificial testosterone implies that sexuality is more malleable than previously assumed, but not subject to a person’s will) It is still dangerous to talk about this, because homophobic people still try to find a “cure” for homosexuality, but I don’t think it is a sexist point of view, necessarily. Just probably a wrong one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • However, in the absence of homophobia, is the idea that sexuality is malleable then bad in and of itself?

        As far as I’m concerned it is. Malleable inevitably leads to “you should, because I say so.” It never just ends at “people’s desires change over time” or more likely, “people may realise things about themselves they didn’t know.”

        And even absent homophobia, I find the idea of someone, anyone, telling me I should change my sexual orientation like it’s clothes (oh gee where have we heard that before) outrageous. Ditto telling anyone else the same, whoever is doing the telling and whoever is being subjected to it.

        Liked by 3 people

        • “Malleable inevitably leads to “you should, because I say so.””

          But why is that inevitable? It is inevitable because we live in a society where it is considered okay to tell others to change for no better reason than “because I say so”, and the only defense to this is the answer “I can’t”.

          Granted, we cannot escape that society. But the problem still is people telling other people what their sexuality should be; not theoretical approaches to how malleable sexual orientation is.

          In a perfect world, it simply would not matter whether sexuality is malleable or not, because no one would try to tell anyone what sexual orientation to have.

          Liked by 4 people

        • And since we’re not in that theoretical, perfect world, there’s not much point in saying pressure wouldn’t happen there, imo. It’s here in the world we live in, and that’s precisely why it does not do to push the idea of sexuality as something that’s just sooo easy to change. It’s not a feminist idea to be telling women their orientation is wrong or imaginary.

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        • I agree completely. But in some cases orientation is masked, or dissociated, because of social pressure. We live in a homophobic culture.

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        • Or because it just doesn’t occur to one – which I’d call a societal assumption, a default. Not surprising, given most people are heterosexual, but it doesn’t make it easier for those who aren’t, but aren’t clear about their own orientation, to work it out, or accept it, depending on their particular culture and circumstances.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I grew up in a pretty liberal environment. Our family had a gay male friend, but there weren’t any lesbians, or at least not anybody who I knew as lesbians.

          It’s obviously easier for some people than others to determine their orientation without appropriate role models. But it never occurred to me that I might be, or could be, a lesbian because there weren’t any lesbians. All I knew was that I was different. A non-girl.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Again, talking about possibilities is distinct from pressuring people about them. It’s good to explore one’s self but if that exploration winds you back at the same place you started, no one should judge you for it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, it’s one thing when someone wonders about their own sexuality – I’ve been there too – but proposing it to other people, much less as something you SHOULD change, is wrong and extremely creepy.

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        • I don’t have a problem at all with the idea of proposing it to other people who appear to be romantically challenged. Doing so to someone in a relationship that isn’t showing signs of abuse is definitely transgressive, though.

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        • Or as a general thing. “You should be ——–sexual, you traitors/brainwashed/perverts/whatever”.

          If one was talking about it to someone romantically challenged, I’d hope the conversation was between close friends. It certainly wouldn’t be in the context of politics.

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        • It’s completely political. “You don’t have to be heterosexual” challenges heteronormativity. It’s not coercive, or shouldn’t be. It’s about creating a context where people can feel more comfortable with their actual orientation. I agree completely that this should not involve pressure, but so many people live in cultural contexts where homosexuality is verboten.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Sorry, I wasn’t clear – I meant political as in “You’re not having good relationships with men? You should totes become a lesbian because political statement! Solidarity!”

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        • This is what Dirt and Saye are angry about and I completely respect that. I do think, though, that some people’s orientations are not completely clear to them, for various reasons. It’s okay to talk about possibilities as long as it doesn’t turn coercive. We all must find our own paths, others cannot do it for us.

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  6. THANK YOU!!!I take what I like and leave the rest….I dont follow party lines either.

    When I first came out, I met women thru the Feminist Alliance and Lesbian Caucus(this was the early 1980s on the Boulder, Colorado campus) who I dated who called themselves “political Lesbians”. I got very confused because while they were affectional they wanted to really have NOTHING to do with REAL Lesbian sexuality. At the same time I was on campus with the political Dykes, and Dykes who were political like myself, I also was in the bar scene with the REAL Dykes, many of them alcoholic, self hating, nonpolitical but through and through Lesbian. I dated BOTH.

    And I will say this: that a hot male identified Butch, that is through and through a Dyke and more so if she’s Leather, but still Female, that is no intention to transition, I will take over a “political” Lesbian who IS NOT A DYKE, really doesnt “get” Lesbian sexuality and is really a celibate het woman who wants nothing to do with men, or bisexual.

    After several strikeouts with so called “political dykes” in my very early coming out days thru the campus groups, I switched to dating thru the dreary bar scene where they were REAL Lesbians, and eventually had to move to San Francisco to find my Dyke Tribe.

    So NO I do NOT believe in “political Lesbianism”. Every single one I knew or dated, eventually went back to men..

    I.personally dont care if it is nature or nurture, if you knew from.5 years old or 40 through womyns groups, Festivals, events..but that you are a true blue Dyke who both LOVES AND LUSTS AFTER WOMYN NOW CUZ THAT IS WHO YOU ARE!!!

    I dont care what you did 20 years ago unless we aee dating and it puts me at risk for stds, but that NOW CURRENTLY and in the future, your Yoni only sings for the erotic connection between Dykes and womyn…

    Lets put the “political Lesbian” bullshit to sleep forever…and let it go…instead these women need to call themselves proud Spinsters.

    Liked by 5 people

      • Also, how is it fair to do that to another person? Most people want a relationship that’s reciprocal, where the other person loves and desires them the same way they love and desire that person. Someone who’s not a lesbian as in the sexual orientation can’t give that to a woman no matter how much political solidarity she feels towards other women, because that’s just not how sex and relationships work.

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        • Exactly! It’s one thing to decide you don’t want to be in a sexual relationship, but you shouldn’t then be going into one where the natural, default assumption (especially if you’re portraying yourself as being of that sexual orientation) is that you do want it. Why do that to someone? Why not just be friends?

          It’s ironic that this “oh but you don’t have to have sex” is the same shit posted by MTTs pretending to care about women when lesbians say no, we don’t want relationships with men, kthnx.

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        • I suppose the difference is that in a relationship between a heterosexual woman and a lesbian, there would actually be no sex (or boring, but consensual sex), while if a lesbian partners up with a MtT, there will likely be pressure on the MtT’s part to have sex in spite of the lack of attraction.(I don’t buy this “you don’t have to have sex” shit. Most MtT are not asexual. It’s just a way to get a foot in the door, and then be able to push all the way in, so to speak.)
          Coercing someone into entering a, by its very nature, sexless relationship is already a nasty thing to do, but I don’t believe it is the actual goal for MtT.

          “Also, how is it fair to do that to another person? Most people want a relationship that’s reciprocal, where the other person loves and desires them the same way they love and desire that person.”

          The solution would be for political lesbians to partner up with each other. One might ask why they don’t just do that and call it friendship, as that would be more accurate, but perhaps some think (mistakenly …) that men are more likely to leave them alone if they pretend to be lesbians?
          Perhaps there is some fun to be had in situational homosexuality (if rumours are true, men are quite able to engage in this in prisons and on ships), but in any case it would be fairer to look for a partner whose level of attraction is the same as your own.

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        • I would absolutely expect a lesbian getting into a relationship with a CiF to be raped eventually.

          I wouldn’t want any women to be in relationships that would be unlikely to be described as enthusiastic consent.

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        • That would argue better for asexual people partnering than for “political lesbians” doing so. But even then, asexuality is complicated and not clearly defined. Some people are genuinely lacking a sex drive, or have very low ones. Others may not be interested in pursuing sexual relationships for other reasons.

          We really shouldn’t be telling people how to partner. We should be providing illustrations of how people do it, so people can get a better sense of what is possible.

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        • Yeah, I still think it would be a good idea for radfems who are politically celibate to move in with each other and be close friends who maybe cuddle sometimes but just call themselves politically celibate. Seems like that would be an excellent arrangement.

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        • Single women who are very good friends and share political views sounds like a pretty good arrangement, assuming they are compatible housemates. Like a mini-commune. No need to pretend lesbianism has anything to do with it..

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        • Yeah, as long as you agree on whether to store the cups upside down or right side up, and where the soap and dish towels go, sounds workable.

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        • This is likely some variant on Testing the Law of Gravity, otherwise known as Knocking Fragile or Round Things Off Shelves.

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        • Actually, depending on design, the bookshelf could work even better in a small bathroom as it provides maximum storage for the amount of space it takes. I’ve been low-key designing a tiny house for years.

          I would LOVE to do the platonic women staying together thing, and my idea has been a little more urban than the traditional womyns land concept: what if a group of women bought a smaller building of the type of space that sometimes gets made into lofts? On the bottom two floors, you put in a business – art gallery is traditional, and you allow the women who live there access to that business as an economic benefit. There would be a studio or two shared by the residents, and a more public area downstairs – I’ve been inside more than my share of convents and picture something similar to the room where the nuns spend their downtime. (My original idea had been land + tiny houses, but I like access to downtown too much.) each woman has her own tiny condo.

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      • I hope this comment goes to the bottom of this thread but wordpress is a temperamental entity. Anyway, in regard to the celibate women living alone moving in together: I would love it if something like that could exist. There are a ton of single women like me heading into retirement age sooner or later and wouldn’t it be great we found a way to have collective female-only retirement communities that were independent of any medicalized or socialized system? A commune, sort of, yes, but still living within the dreaded system, if that makes sense. I’m sure the menz would never allow it to happen or scream some kind of discrimination, but if it were privately run, maybe they couldn’t.

        If only all women were exposed to radical feminism/the truth at a young age and planned their lives accordingly. If I knew then what I knew now, I would have finished college faster and started saving and investing my money much younger so that I could have children on my own. BUT that puts you in a dangerous position and that’s why we need women-only networks and communities where women who want to have children but don’t want men in their lives (but aren’t necessarily lesbian) can depend on each other.

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        • You can have all-women communities where people can buy in by agreement and can also buy out. These exist. You do have to come to terms with male access, have consistent rules about that, which can pose a problem when heterosexual women are involved.

          As long as it’s privately owned and funded no one can legally claim discrimination.

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        • @Miep.
          Yeah, I almost started writing about the male access aspect. I had to get in the shower and in the shower I was thinking about that and male children; at what point do they become potentially problematic in a community if everyone’s still functioning within patriarchy? I also have an unpopular theory that part of why feminism struggles is because women have sons. Men separate other women from their daughters, or at least some of them can (obviously not the ones who kill them for shaming the family and whatnot) and can and do side with their own sex over their female children. My father does it to me all the time. Once women give birth to a person, however, they find it much more difficult to be objective and will side with rapist sons over their a female who was wroned. There is no value judgment in that — just what seems clear from observation.

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        • I have read of longstanding communities of this sort that were lesbian only. That would simplify things. But yes, that came up with MichFest too, can women bring their sons, and until what age? I would think any adolescent boy could be problematic in a women-only community.

          I remember reading something online once in which a mother was informing her son that if she ever found out he’d raped anybody that she would disown him. This may well not be the majority position, though.

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        • What about creating something like that with friends? The less organized it is in the sense where it would be advertised and so on the less able men are to interfere – can’t file a discrimination lawsuit against a bunch of friends for moving in to a house together. Or rather, I can see a few of the more unhinged MRAs or trans activists trying, but they’d be laughed out of court. Businesses are required to provide fair and “equal” access, groups of individuals are not in the sense that there’s no mechanism for legally forcing them to.

          Seems like it would be theoretically possible to organize this online, though I’d balk at the idea of moving in with a person I hadn’t met IRL so I’d suggest a few test meetings first. Taking a trip together is always a good way to figure out whether or not you can live around someone.

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  7. I fell in love with your blog because of your stance on this. While it’s clear to me that lesbians probably do the most in terms of radical feminism and advancing women’s rights, I have read some really extreme stuff that made me uncomfortable, almost cult-like. I always liked your views 🙂

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  8. As I didn’t know you had a political lesbian blog, I’m not thinking anything about this. As for political lesbianism, despite being hetero, I can see the theory. I just personally, don’t find women that attractive sexually. Some are nice to look at, but I just prefer men, although most are pretty arsey. Dépayse mentioned male friends. Most of my friends have been male. Me and women don’t hit it off …

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  9. As a woman who had no kids until age 40, I can attest that Mother Privilege isn’t a thing. I have been taken down a notch in the eyes of society since my son was born. Heck, I had a baby, not a lobotomy!

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  10. Not long ago, I told my ex I recently realized I’ve been a radical feminist my whole life (though I don’t agree 100% with every single thing), and his immediate question was if I’m a lesbian now. Um, no, that’s not how sexual orientation works. Apart from my childhood sex buddy having been another girl (something I completely blocked out of my memory for years and years, for reasons I can’t understand), I’ve only ever been attracted to men. The type of men I like are prettyboys who look and act more stereotypically feminine than masculine (e.g., the Eighties New Wave look), but they’re still men.

    There are definitely lots of historic (and ongoing) issues with things like presumed heterosexuality, the institution of marriage, women believing their sexual pleasure doesn’t count, the custom in many countries (but not all) of women feeling they have to give up their birth surnames upon marriage, etc., but that doesn’t mean heterosexual relationships are inherently evil and unequal, nor that all heterosexual intercourse is an act of rape. I’m not alone in thinking those kinds of strident zealots are a big reason many women are turned off from the idea of considering themselves radical feminists, and having completely the wrong idea about what the movement is and isn’t. I suppose it was a little easier for me to realize I’m a radical feminist because I’d always considered myself a Marxist-Socialist feminist, not a liberal feminist, and thus was closer to many of those positions to begin with.

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    • Women definitely get turned off from radical feminism when they hear the stuff about “everyone must be a lesbian” and “all PIV is rape.” And I’d like to say that most radfems I know don’t actually believe those things, but I realize that certain people would declare that “REAL RADICAL FEMINISTS” do believe them. This really annoys me because it seems as though certain people have a goal of making real feminism into a tiny exclusive group when we desperately need a large movement right now. I’m a feminist, not the fun kind, and my views closely align with radical feminism, but I’m not interested in adhering to a nonsensical party line.

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      • What really annoys me is when people attempt to frame arguments that obviously are a “you should” as an “I’m just saying this as a thought exercise, politically it’s important to discuss this” kind of thing. People can tell the difference between “in theory this does not have to be this way, we could change the idea that this is the default” and “you should”, so let’s not insult women’s intelligence by pretending that when they’re bristling at the latter they’ve simply failed to understand that it was meant as the former. If it always was meant as the former that would be one thing, but it isn’t.

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    • She’s saying that if a woman is not sexually attracted to other women she cannot consider herself a lesbian.
      In this case, if she forces herself into a relationship that is not based on legitimate sexual attraction, that would be, more appropriately, called political celibacy, instead of real sexual relation.
      I believe it’s a matter of correctly defining which *idea* (i.e. “political celibacy”, instead of “female homosexuality”) as the correct description of what people can actually choose to do in their lives.

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      • As far as I know, celibacy means to abstain from sexual relations. Is that not how you define it as well? If so, what does it have to do with the subject? The subject has nothing to do with abstaining from sexual relations, unless you buy the lie that sexual relations can only take place with a penis.

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        • Let’s clarify: what do you think the subject is, and why do you (apparently) think everyone else on the blog has got it wrong? I’m not snarking, I really can’t see what you can’t see.

          ,

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        • The subject is political lesbianism. Women who decide to abstain from relationships with men. It doesn’t state at all that they abstain from relationships with women. You may be snickering, but I’m not getting the joke yet. What’s the punchline?

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        • No punchline at all. There’s more than one point.

          Lesbianism is a sexual orientation and can’t be changed for ideology, any more than any other orientation can. A heterosexual woman does not become lesbian by abstaining from relationships with men. The idea that she can, or should, get into relationships where she feels no sexual attraction – ie. with women – is wrong, from both heterosexual and lesbian perspectives. Why should heterosexual women be trying to make themselves feel attraction they just don’t? Why should lesbians be in relationships that have no chance because the feeling can’t be reciprocated? And if there’s no sex involved, if it’s close friendship rather than romance or falling in love, why call it lesbian? Homosocial is not homosexual. To suggest it is once again waters down the reality of female sexual orientation and desire.

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        • “do you know what the term means? It doesn’t mean “lesbians who are political”. It means “women who avoid men and call themselves lesbians as a political stance”.”

          Yes, yes, I get it. That doesn’t mean they have to be celibate. They can still have sex with women.

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        • You’re saying heterosexual women should be “open to” having sex with women, for whom they can feel no sexual attraction?

          That idea is part of what’s so sick about the whole concept.

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        • Going back – do you know what the term means? It doesn’t mean “lesbians who are political”. It means “women who avoid men and call themselves lesbians as a political stance”.

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        • Okay, you are missing the point completely, FT. What “political lesbianism” is, is the theory that women should couple with other women, even if totally heterosexual, in order to make a political statement. They should exclude men from their intimate lives even if heterosexual. The resulting relationships with other women may be platonic (celibate.) This is what “political lesbianism” is. It has nothing to do with desire, sex, or actual lesbians or bi-women.

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        • Two points here.

          1. Why should women have sex with people who they’re not attracted to?

          2. Why does a man think it’s appropriate for him to argue this point with women in a feminist space? The opinions of men on this subject could not possibly be any less relevant.

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        • And

          3. You women don’t know your own sexuality!

          Dude, I’m het. Not all the abuse of men, not all the knowing how foul they are to us, not all my lack of interest in all but one, can make me otherwise. I’m homosocial. It’s not the same as homosexual, and I would be mightily skeeved at anyone suggesting I should just try it, I might like it, or that feminism involves encroaching on my boundaries.

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        • @ Francois Tremblay “The subject has nothing to do with abstaining from sexual relations”
          I agree, it’s a matter of correct definition of words.

          If a woman is in a relationship with another woman they can, in principle, have sexual relations with each other and the idea of *celibacy* would be incorrect in this case, independently of how much they’d enjoy the relationship or not.

          I believe the confusion is coming from the fact that if we suppose that one of them is “straight”, it would imply a contradiction with the term “lesbian”.

          But the idea of celibacy has, in principle, nothing to do with sexual orientation per se, therefore it’s intrinsically inadequate to describe the main concept of “political lesbianism”.

          Perhaps a better designation would be “homosexual relations for political reasons”, which would leave open the possibility of it being coercive for the “political ladies” who are not gay.

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    • It’s a form of celibacy to form non-sexual relationships? I mean, do you have sex with all of your friends, whether you personally find sexually attractive or not?

      We could try a thought experiment here; if you are a heterosexual male, would you be willing to partner with a gay male in order to make a political statement? Or, would you rather be good friends with him, but not have sex? Maybe even room-mates, and work with him to support and care for any children either/both of you may be responsible for?

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      • If you could in theory be having sex with the people who you’re not attracted to, but you’re probably not, because not attracted, then that’s somehow not celibacy because (enter underpants gnomes logic here).

        The underlying assumption about female sexuality existing as a response to and complement to desire directed at us by someone else that’s obvious in this discussion is part of why I’ve always disliked the idea of political lesbianism. Female sexuality exists in and of itself, and because it exists it comes with preferences rather than being a sort of vague blob of whatever would be most convenient in the circumstances (and not necessarily for the woman herself either).

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        • I dislike it on both counts – appropriation of the word lesbianism if it refers to heterosexual women living in non-sexual relationships (why not call it political sisterhood?); and the other way it’s used, as if our orientation changes at the drop of a hat and SHOULD change because someone else isn’t satisfied with examining how heterosexuality is warped by patriarchy, but wants all women to just stop being heterosexual and become lesbian.

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        • Let’s try something else in way of explaining this. What makes a person hetero, homo or bisexual? Is it desires, or deeds? Is it possible for a person with homosexual desires to engage in hetero sex and vice versa? Yes. Does engaging in hetero sex change the actual orientation of a homosexual (or vice versa)? No. Women are still heterosexual, from the POV of desire, when they enter “political lesbian” relationships, and therefore, they are not truly lesbians, even if they experiment. That is why the term is misleading.

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  11. People change. Anyone who takes the time and makes the effort to educate themselves on various topics is going to evolve in their way of thinking. It happens. The question is, what does one do with the beliefs once held in the past?

    To delete? Or not delete?

    Do you leave a ‘roadmap’ of sorts, one that shows how you got from ‘there’ to ‘here?’ Or does your map only show that ‘you are here?’

    I think that it ultimately comes down to what you want those collected ‘works’ to do.

    P’sage is an informative and very persuasive writer of controversial topics, she’s quite good at it, and I can see why she would want to remove works with opinions that she no longer holds to be true, especially if she believes they would espouse and promote a stance that she now finds detrimental or ‘extreme’ with regards to her current views. They no longer serve the purpose for which they were written, which is to convey her beliefs and opinions.

    So she deletes them.

    Now, a view from the other side with regards to deleting one’s ‘public record.’ I follow women’s soccer, a sport I have only in the past two years come to know and love. Two players that I ‘follow’ are married to each other and living a very out and proud life. I cite this relationship because one of the two women involved was (and still is) very Christian and, at one time, very vocal about it, letting her views be known via Twitter regarding the various sins she’d encountered in the soccer world, most especially homosexuality.

    Then she fell in love with a woman. And then she married her.

    And all those ‘tweets’ that she sent out into the world are still there, though they could be deleted. Those tweets became an issue but she chose, instead, to leave them up, because they show the world how she got from ‘there’ to ‘here’ and what she learned on the way. The purpose of those 140-character messages is to tell the ‘story’ of her journey, they were not designed to promote a view.

    And that’s the difference.

    So, in the end, what one does with one’s words is most likely based on what one wants those words to ultimately do.

    Do they tell your thoughts or do they tell your story?

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I’ve enjoyed this post and the comments here. I think the best focus for radical feminism is on the legal, economic, and social pressures on women to marry or to otherwise pair with men. We all agree those pressures are there, so to judge women for heterosexual behavior they are overtly or subtly pressured into seems cruel. If we had free choice on who to love, there might or might not be more lesbians, but there would also be no need for a feminist movement.

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        • Okay, so you’re bi – aren’t you projecting that a bit? It’s not remotely the same for someone who is homosexual or heterosexual to be expected to engage in sex with people of the sex they are not attracted to.

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        • 1. Not everyone is bisexual
          2. There are a bunch of women right here telling you very clearly that their orientation is not malleable. Whether or not yours is is irrelevant.

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      • To be honest, I don’t feel it is the same – the political lesbianism promoting radfems I read are of the opinion that to say sexual orientation is not malleable condemns heterosexual women to a fate of either eternal loneliness or partnering up with a man, who will likely not be a feminist and thus not able to truly understand and love them.
        I think it is sort of cute they want to save us.
        (Granted, I also think Jehovah’s witnesses are cute – intent is not magic, but I do have a soft spot for people who want to save me from eternal doom. As long as they don’t try to change laws or such to my detriment in order to “save me”, that is.)

        It’s a difference whether a man wants lesbians to have sex with him, or whether lesbians think that being a lesbian is awesome and every woman should get to be a lesbian. The latter follows the rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and while it oversimplifies things by assuming all people are the same, it at least acknowledges that women are people who want to be happy.

        While men who tell lesbians to have sex with men would not want to have sex with men themselves. (In most cases. Not sure to how many of the transcult this applies)

        In other words, a cat trying to feed you dead mice is cute, an adult human who is keeping you prisoner doing the same is not. Even though you don’t want to eat dead mice in both cases.

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        • As I said, the power dynamic is different. But I don’t find telling someone else they don’t know their own sexuality, should try this, etc, etc – and this is long before we get to the “all PiV is rape/all women are really lesbian” lunatic fringe – to be remotely cute. It makes my skin crawl, and no, I am not in the least bothered by lesbian sex. That’s not the same as wanting to take part.

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        • I think it’s all based on the idea that the culture punishes homosexuality to varying degrees depending on what part of the culture (or cultures) you’re in, so if one is unhappy with heterosexuality, it’s worth considering the possibility that you’re dissociating from same-sex attraction. However, in such a case, heterosexual experimentation with homosexuality should be handled, if at all, carefully, and very slowly, unless you’re really sure. Because it’s not just about rubbing body parts, it can also be about romantic love, and lesbians can get very badly hurt by such experimentation.

          I know some lesbians say women don’t need men, and every woman can be a lesbian, but I don’t see evidence that this is true, and I do see evidence that some women at least are very clearly heterosexually oriented, whether they are in happy relationships, or despair, or somewhere in between, and it’s harassment to try to argue with them about it.

          I also see some lesbians who simply cannot stand men and want their women friends to give up on them because they feel these friends always put men first, bring them to lesbian social events without permission, talk about the men in their life a lot. So there is another potential source of friction.

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        • There’s so much potential for causing pain, isn’t there?

          And the romantic element is too oftn left out, as you say. It’s not only not being able to feel physical attraction, it’s not being able to fall in love, or develop that level of feeling. And “not being able” is no more a statement of disability or lack than it is to say lesbians are not able to desire or fall in love with men.

          If someone feels like exploring, and had a partner who was happy to take part, that’s one thing – although the potential for developing feelings that won’t be reciprocated says to me it’s a damn bad idea – but the whole telling women they should, is just yuck. I’m sick of seeing women of any sexuality being told who they should be attracted to, sleeping with, or sleeping with even when they aren’t attracted to them.

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        • Oh, I know. But it’s all so complex. One of my longest-term online correspondents is a lesbian separatist who really hates men, and over time I’ve adapted by not talking about men much. We’ll swap memes and stuff but I accept that she doesn’t want to talk about men, men are not worth her time, so we talk about other stuff. And she’s such a dear, so reliably supportive. If we lived in the same town and I hung out with men it would be complicated because I’d still want to respect her feelings, but at the same time I can’t imagine hanging out with men who would feel threatened by her. The men I respect most understand that they can choose not to make it about them when a woman dislikes men across the board, they can accept that she has the right to feel that way and leave her alone, not seek her out, respect her space.

          I’ve occasionally had very intense feelings for women that don’t seem exactly sexual or romantic, but do seem like an unusual affinity. They are not particularly comfortable feelings. They seem invasive. I don’t know what that’s about.

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        • I wouldn’t know either. Only person I’ve felt intensely about is Mr D, and that’s been all my adult life. It’s definitely sexual and romantic there, lol.

          Kidos to you for your friendship, there. I couldn’t form, let alone maintain, a friendship with someone who hated men to the point of not wanting them mentioned. It would close off a great deal of my life.

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        • People are always arguing about born that way vs social construct, vs. developmental; but what if it’s sometimes one, sometimes another, sometimes a combination? Developmental stuff isn’t necessarily something you can decide away, but development keeps on going, too.

          I have often wondered whether anyone would care if not for the culture being heteronormative. I would think people would just find themselves, and each other, at their own paces, without feeling pressured one way or the other.

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        • Dead mice?! I would f’ing flip!!! I don’t care if it is a cat or a man offering them! Dead mice?! I feel faint. Catch me while I fall!

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    • “the abuse and neglect women receive at the hands of men …”
      I always question myself how much of the present statistical profile of society is related to a greater or lesser degree to the oppression that women (and men too) suffer under patriarchy to fit into the normal standards?

      My recent experience seems to indicate that this pressure has *a lot* to do with the present statistical classification of people as gay, straight or bi. (I don’t believe there is essentially any other groups the these three)

      I think that if we lived in a really accepting and tolerant society the number of “gay” and “bi” would be much greater.

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      • The ancient Romans were very patriarchal, yet they did not classify people into gay, straight or bi. It just wasn’t a thing.

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        • Two Roman women could then marry and leave together as heterosexual couples did?
          I believe heterosexuality was the norm then, but I’m not sure. I know that among the Greek there was some allowance for homosexuality among men, but not exactly in the sense of forming long term bonds, like family, etc.
          Again, I don’t know about women, if they were allowed to have similar expressions of homoerotic love.

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        • 2 women could certainly live together as a couple openly. Marriage was a religious rite, not a state function. Heterosexuality has always been the norm, as it is what perpetuates the species. Women and men could be openly homosexual in ancient Rome. Marriage was not for “love” but rather for cementing alliances, sharing resources, and creating heirs. Love marriages have only been the norm for a few hundred years.

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      • This I agree with. The idea that all women naturally are or could be lesbians is nonsense, but if societal pressure towards heterosexuality wasn’t so powerful we probably would see a lot more people who aren’t exclusively heterosexual. It’s easiest to go along with what society wants you to do, so obviously that has an impact on people’s choices. That’s not at all the same thing as arguing that women being sexually attracted to men is a thing that only exists because of socialization. Nuance, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

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  13. A really interesting post and conversation following. It’s complicated. We all, male and female, have the capacity for being hurt and for hurting others; either without meaning to or deliberately doing so.

    Attraction is also another thing. Miep, I like your term ”unusual affinity”. I recognise that I’ve had that feeling at various times in my life. In the end I’ve have to weigh up responsibilities to others; whether it’s current partners or even offspring, and make life choices and maybe sacrifices.

    I am also realising how much age and experience matters. Many of my friends are divorced, or in difficulties with long term relationships. I, for my part, have never been happier to be on my own, in charge of my own destiny. I have friends who urge me to find a man, because they themselves are divorced and fear being alone in their later years. I have also, recently, watched a couple fall apart, and in the end I talked to him about facing up to hard decisions. Sad, because the wife was a good friend to me .

    I am happy to have a dear friend who has helped me so much in the last few years, with whom I have shared things that I never have with my ex. She is very happy in her marriage and I take joy in that.

    Maybe it’s just that life is complicated; and yes, for sure, we can turn 180 degrees on somethings. Whether we want to close the door back to that point is up to us.

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    • ” … we can turn 180 degrees on somethings …”
      Would you include political lesbianism in this possibility? 🙂

      I tend to believe that people are in general gay, straight or bi, but the problem is: sometimes we just don’t know until the right door opens …
      We live in a coercive society that affects our way of thinking, sometimes, in profound ways. The story of B/C Jenner seems like a typical example.

      Could sexual orientation be masked by social constraint?
      I believe *yes*, definitively.

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      • Not buying it. You’ve travelled to at least three continents that I know of, you don’t spend your life taking care of husband and children in this world. You chose a life that you enjoy.

        I actually had a woman tell me shortly after I was widowed that she envied me. With her children in the next room and a living husband, she envied my freedom. I still don’t know how to cope with that statement, honestly.

        Passive looks like having a husband and two kids because that’s what women do, and envying your friend who is still unable to properly sleep from trauma, because she has neither.

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        • To me it’s passive in that there was no active choice not to do any of those things. I’d never been interested in boys (or girls) and they certainly weren’t interested in me. The idea of love a d desire for it was real, but never in the context of marriage. I never thought of myself that way, and certainly wasn’t in a situation where it would be imposed, suggested or just happened. That would be the same even if I hadn’t fallen for Mr D.

          The irony is that I would most certainly be living a married life here if he was on this plane. Though given we’re both slobs and he’s the one who enjoys cooking, the labour side would be minimal. 😛

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        • But you DID make active choices to DO the things you did – unless you plan to assert you were kidnapped into all that travel, which I doubt. You yourself have said that it took a leap of faith to acquire the skills to communicate with the mister

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        • Yes! Yes! I was totally kidnapped. By pirates. Decades before I had any interest in them.*

          I wasn’t really thinking of those elements, because my life was set as far as relationships went by then. I wasn’t in a relationship with Mr D in the travelling days, but I was certainly in love with him to the exclusion of all others. And the leap of faith, well, that was a leap along the same road. 🙂

          *We won’t mention that dream I had about the Captain many years before the inestimable Mr Isaacs portrayed him.

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        • I always wanted to travel, but haven’t much beyond the continent I was born on. I’ve been as far north as Ontario and as far south as the Yucatan, but I’ve never been to a different continent. And while some of that is economics at work, some is that I didn’t fight hard enough, and some is that I sidelined my own choices for my husband.

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        • I was astonished to be able to. I never thought it would be possible. But Mum and I were able to do it together the first times (we wanted to see the same places). It wasn’t something we had to fight for, we had only ourselves to please.

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        • I have a husband and a son and have traveled the world independently! Africa, Middle East, South East Asia, Himalayas, Western and Eastern Europe, North, Central and South America, South Pacific, Caribbean…

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        • No, you can do it even with a mundane career and average income. There are many places that one can travel to on the cheap. I have many tips! The Himalayas was a favorite trip, spectacularly beautiful with great history, and I spent about $3000 total for a month, with most of it being airfare. South America has many lovely and safe hostels for $10-20 per night. Central America can be affordable. Egypt could have been done cheaply but we went 1st class all the way. Western Europe is one of the hardest places to go on the cheap. Where there is a will, there is a way!

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        • I used to work as a special Ed teacher and what little I saved went into my husband’s health care. I currently work as a direct care provider and moonlight teaching fitness classes. I’m now out from medical debt, at least, and from educational debt. And I’m very sorry, but $3K on a vacation (not to mention not working for a month!) sounds like a lot of money to me. My best chance at this point is probably to find a job teaching abroad.

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        • A teaching job abroad is certainly a possibility. I simply live far below my means in modest housing and drive used cars. $3000 is $25 per week saved for 2.5 years. If one really wants to travel, it is often quite possible to redirect just $25 per week. More bagged lunches and cooked dinners, and fewer restaurant meals, less gratuitous driving, fewer nights on the town, less booze, fewer clothes and shoes… or whereever the money is going.

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        • I live in one room of a shared apartment, take public transit, don’t drink, and wear thrifted clothes. I’ve posted before about dumpster diving for my furniture. I confess! I have a television and occasionally eat out. I also make just barely above my state’s minimum wage, but live in the higher rent zone where it’s possible to live sans car.

          I recommend for maximum financial stability: don’t have a disability. Don’t marry anyone with a disability. For gods sake don’t marry someone who will die from their disability. Do not then have over a year of difficulty working.

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        • The part of your replies that seriously annoyed me was your stubborn insistence that you knew my finances and could correct my failure to be able to afford international travel by giving up my Starbucks habit, or drinking or wherever the money is going. You are aware that in most urban areas, minimum wage is not a living wage? You are aware that it is quite possible for someone to, in fact, be unable to afford international travel for a variety of reasons? I get that you are enthusiastic and would like for me to be able to experience the things you have. But I have experienced multiple obstacles that you can know very little about and when you try to tell me that if only I would cut my expenses by $25/week, it comes across as condescending – and honestly as the kind of out-of-touch-with-actually-struggling people attitude that reflects the growing inequality in our society.

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        • 1st, I never said that I knew anything about your finances personally. However, most people who claim that they can not afford to travel actually can. It is about priorities. Yes, certain extreme situations do exist. Now, to be fair, let us cover the assumptions you are making about me, that are equally (if not more so) condescending and annoying. You know nothing about my life trajectory. I have worked many min wage jobs and faced hardships you have zero idea about. I have been homeless. I have been poor. I have been sick and injured. I have faced severe violence. I was on my own as a teen. My parents had money, but they did not help me with college or pay any of my expenses. I was working steadily by age 10! I also did better myself against all odds. I put myself through college and grad school and worked my butt off! I scraped and saved and invested well– before I even owned a used car. It would have been easier to sit around complaining that other people don’t understand. I was not satisfied with that. My story is just as valid as your story. You can say that I am out-of-touch with struggling people, but I have lived it. So, stop with your self-righteous assumptions! You don’t want to hear about bootstraps, but is someone’s story not valid— should it be censored even— if they rose up from nothing? I get it. It is easier to complain and say it isn’t possible. I am proof that it is possible to dramatically change one’s life trajectory, despite immense challenges. I am the counter-narrative, and my story is equally valid. A smart person would be trying to learn from my experience, not assume that they somehow know it, or that it isn’t valid.

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        • Also, due to my marriage, I have a stereotypically “Jewish” last name, meaning several parts of the world where I could travel inexpensively under my maiden name are probably not currently safe unless I spend the money on a court order to revert to my maiden name.

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        • The only places a Jewish name may cause problems is the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Persia. You are fine anywhere else.

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        • Also, Eastern Europe, all of Western Asia, Western Europe…

          I’m glad you’ve gotten to travel. I’m glad Friend D has gotten to travel. But your “bootstrap” arguments are on my last nerve.

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        • No, you are fine with a Jewish name in Europe and Asia, other than the places I mentioned. My husband has a Jewish name as well, 1st-hand experience here, not guesses!

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        • Out of curiosity, how safe do you consider North America? Like not even Texas or anything – because I was in a city known for its vibrant and multicultural culture when I had a seriously unpleasant antisemitic attack happen to me one night after a fun night out with my husband and a friend. I’m not eager to repeat the experience.

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        • That’s a very good question. Places one would think safe are not. Does anyone associate Australia with antisemitic attacks? A country that’s safer than the US on pretty well every count? But they happen here.

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  14. The problem is because libfem is mainstream many women who call themselves radical feminists are really only traditional mainstream feminists. Radical feminists DO have an analysis of heterosexuality & realise sexuality it is not innate & inevitable. Males have argued for millennia that women are born to be naturally submissive and to serve them sexually, as females desire and choose to partner with them; if they didn’t like it they would reject them, males argue. Radical feminists realise women are socialised to accept heterosexuality and eroticise female submission & male dominance, that it is not innate and natural at all, but manufactured.

    In nature most female mammals engage in sex with males in exchange for shelter, access to more food or protection from predators, many more are raped. Male mammals use the advantage of their larger size to coerce females to submit to them. Their larger size means they can beat females to resources, take the better shelter for themselves & fight off predators more effectively. For a female mammal to risk death during child birth & to willingly submit to being stuck with a dependant, clearly shows she anticipates some material benefit to submitting to males, or is raped. What is innate in every living thing is a desire to survive & not to put ones self at risk or disadvantage. Contrary to the male scientists explanations, the overwhelming evidence shows that sexuality is not innate. After all some have sexual attractions to objects only recently invented, so they could not possibly be innate.

    Unfortunately being told the male dogma of an innate sexuality over & over from birth to death leaves most women (lesbian & het) believing it. A woman who considers herself a feminist, may ask herself, why she finds it so easy to accept that its natural for most women to love and desire males. Yet so unimaginable to think most women would love and desire females if it was not for the conditioning and social pressure to be het. She has to ignore all the evidence from history, sociology and developmental psychology to accept the male propaganda as indisputable truth, yet still many do so. Why? I believe it comes from (unconscious, perhaps) internalised misogyny.

    It is understandable that women who have internalised heterosexual socialisation, want to defend heterosexuality as harmless or inevitable. The same as it is understandable that women who have internalised various other elements of the female sex role, want to defend those things as harmless or even inevitable. It is of course easy to reject things that you have never internalised, than it is to reject harmful things that you have internalised. This is where the difference in commitment to radical feminism, as opposed to trad mainstream feminism, can really be seen; in the willingness to change behaviours that are harmful to yourself & women as a caste.

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    • The problem with your theory that sexuality is NOT innate is that it doesn’t account for the real reason for sexuality— reproduction. It makes sense that most humans and other animals would naturally be oriented toward a sexuality that ensures the continuation of the species. We are animals, born of evolution, after all.

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    • Well, if you declare things in a vehement enough way I guess they must be true! Nobody knows who they are and are not attracted to, they need you to explain these things to them.

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    • I loved your comment, because many of the questions you asked I have them myself.
      For example, how much of the present “huge majority of the population is hetero” is actually a real representation of people’s *natural* orientation?

      If we lived in a fully accepting and non coercive (patriarchal) society would the number of hetero people still be the “huge majority” that many people accept today as “scientific fact”, as you said.
      I have *serious doubt* about that, because I see great difference between younger and older generations regarding their acceptance of their “natural sexuality”.

      Your presentation of sexuality as “not innate & inevitable…” is quite intriguing and interesting, because I tend to belive that there is “natural factor” determining people’s sexual orientation, but it’s not very clear to me how exactly this works.

      Thanks for sharing your ideas. 🙂

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    • @ Resistance: I was wondering if it’d not too much to ask, if you could give a couple of references for books, or articles, or authors to read about the “not innate & inevitable” nature of sexual orientation, I would greatly appreciate.
      BTW, what do you think about the famous feminists Andrea Dworkin and Sheila Jeffreys would say about your idea of sexual orientation?

      Thanks again.

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    • Oh yeah? Nature is some MRA fantasy of females sitting around eating bonbons provided by males in exchange for rape? What’s the bargain struck with matriarchal herd animals, with solitary animals who come together only to mate, with animals who share parenting (and mate outside that pair or not)? What a load of old tosh.

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  15. It should not be the aim of a liberation movement to try to make the oppressor more acceptable to the oppressed, so they can continue to date them. i.e. it was never the aim of successful anti racist groups (or even the original gay lib) to try to make the whites (or hets) like them more. They fought for pride in theirselves and each other.

    If a black, homosexual or jewish person only desired to partner with or felt attracted to whites, heterosexuals, or gentiles, then most people would immediately see the problem with this. The question is why would someone from an oppressed group desire to partner with or feel attracted only to members of the oppressor group? The answer is obvious; internalised self hatred & worship for the socially superior group. There is no getting around this. Ignoring it, or not speaking about it does not solve the underlying problem.

    Radical feminists should never be made to feel they need to water down their analysis, to make women who have internalised heterosexual socialisation & don’t want to discard it more comfortable. That is exactly what many trad mainstream feminists did to make those who wanted to carry on watching porn, wearing make up, heels, etc., feel more comfortable and that led to the emergence of libfem. It only ends up watering down radical feminism. Trad mainstream feminist women obviously do have a place in feminism, they can also spur libfems to acquire a trad mainstream feminist analysis of some issues. Radical feminists in turn can spur trad mainstream feminists to acquire a more radical feminist analysis.

    What many trad het feminists really want is for radical feminists to just shut up and accept women’s actions are beyond reproach and critique. Exactly the same as what libfems really want. This is really the main difference between trad mainstream feminism and radical feminism; radical feminism takes feminist analysis to its logical conclusion. Trad mainstream feminism takes it only as far as it makes women’s life under male supremacy more comfortable. When a woman feels she is moving out of her comfort zone, that is a sign that she is seeing the contradictions in her actions and choices, with what is really liberating for herself as a woman & women as a caste. It is inevitably a good thing and enables growth of feminist consciousness. Trying to silence radical feminist critiques of heterosexuality (or anything else) does not engender this growth, it severely limits it.

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    • No, heterosexual desire is a real thing and not always the result of internalized oppression. One can be het and a rad fem. Heck, one can even like to play with make up and be a rad fem. We need to stop focusing on shallow issues (make up, shaving) and really strike at the heart of our oppression.

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    • Brilliant comment, I just agree basically with 100% of what you said.
      I’d only add that we all know that there is a natural factor in the discussion of sexuality that cannot be underestimated, to avoid coercion in the opposite direction of what we’re all fighting against, i.e., patriarchy.
      Do you have a blog? 🙂

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  16. “Radical feminists DO have an analysis of heterosexuality & realise sexuality it is not innate & inevitable. ”
    “Radical feminists realise women are socialised to accept heterosexuality and eroticise female submission & male dominance, that it is not innate and natural at all, but manufactured.”

    I see what you did there. This is not the way any analysis works much less Radical Feminist analysis.

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