Sheila Jeffreys has apparently been back on the public radar for a while now, but I'd only just become aware of her...resurg'd...visibility. anyhoo, I was reminded of this little detail of her bio from a Guardian article:
Dworkin, as it happens, lived with a man, whom in 1998 she married.
Not Jeffreys. She became a lesbian in 1973 because she felt it contradictory to give "her most precious energies to a man" when she was thoroughly committed to a women's revolution. Six years later, she went further and wrote, with others, a pamphlet entitled Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism And Political Lesbianism. In it, feminists who sleep with men are described as collaborating with the enemy. It caused a huge ruction in the women's movement, and is still cited as an example of early separatists "going way too far".
"We do think," it said, "that all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women."
Lest you wonder why I'm unearthing this bit of quaint nostalgia, I just now came across a post on someone's blog wherein she was struggling with whether to follow this very path, more or less, apparently, presumably influenced by the writings of Ms. Jeffreys, to whom several posts and a good chunk of the recommended reading list are dedicated. Debating whether to leave her male partner, even though he's "one of the good ones," anyway; I didn't notice the "L" word in that post, at least. definitely 'twas all about "giving energies" to the wimminfolk, as opposed to a Man.
what. the hell. ever.
Obviously, I can't speak for what's really going on in any other woman's mind or soul or naughty bits. Maybe there's more here than meets the eye. Maybe, indeed, Jeffreys really does and always did lurve the wimminfolk, and just needed the sociopolitical framework in order to make the "lifestyle" transition more comfortable for herself. I don't actually know enough about either woman to speculate.
what I do know, from experience, is that while eros is a tricky, complicated, and mutable little beast, one does not, can not, will desire where there was none, simply because one's adopted ideology dictates that one must do so in order to be more pure. One can choose to act or not to act on--or even suppress--desire that was already there, to be sure. (It is awfully decent of the pamphlet writers to allow as to how the "woman-identified woman" doesn't have to have sex with women, even though she appparently cannot "fuck men." Presumably pegging is Right Out, too, I suppose).
Yeah. I'm looking at this with a mixture of annoyance, amusement, exasperation, and a skeeved-out feeling. How is this significantly different from the ex-gay movement?
For that matter: it's certainly no skin off my ass if someone chooses to be celibate, for any reason; but I for one would have zero interest in dating someone who was ID'ing as a "lesbian," not because she had any genuine erotic interest in women, but because she wanted to be Most Radical Feminist Of Them All. frankly, I would find that...objectifying. Yep, I said it. Seriously, is it any better to be viewed as some kind of ideological Symbol than as a sex object? At least with the latter, you have a better chance of knowing what the transaction is. and frankly, I for one would be more likely to derive some enjoyment out of the whole deal. I'd far rather fuck a genuinely "bi-curious" woman as a one-night stand than enter into a relationship with someone whose gonads weren't really in it.
I suppose one might be upfront about one's lack of desire as well; but, who would knowingly go for that, seriously? "I don't like you in That Way; but let's just ignore that minor detail, and I'll keep trying to get over my inherent distate for my own pussy, much less anyone else's."
No; instead, it'd probably look something like this:
"Single Feminist Wymyn seeking same for passionate mutual diatribing against the Patriarchy, tireless devotion to consciousness raising, endless processing, Smashing the Oppressive Hegemony in all its forms, and handholding to the tune of dolphin wheezes. No butch-femme. No BDSM. No bisexuals. No transsexuals. No porn-users. No high heel or make-up wearers. No lookists. No male-identified wimmin. No penetration. No meat-eaters. No apoliticals. No Meen People. Must be open-minded and have a great sense of humor!"
...Of course, it is in no way patriarchy-influenced to suggest that women's sex drives are low or unimportant enough that they may as well not exist. and that lesbians, in particular, do not have or need The Sex. and of course it's all about The Penis, even in absentia. Especially in absentia.
oh I don't know. I'm tired of these people. John Stoltenberg can suck my tampon, and Sheila Jeffreys can sit on my face; and I fantasize Catherine McKinnon, Camille Paglia and Phyllis Schaffly fighting to the death in a vat of creamed corn.
and with that, I'm off to purchase a new flogger, so that I may vent this aggravation in a healthier manner.