Thursday, August 10, 2006

So, lady, gotten enough converts for a toaster yet?

Seriously, I know I've ranted about the "political lesbian" bullshit before, and even that much was probably more energy than it deserved, but honestly, this woman is doing my head in.


You're right that the sexuality is malleable argument has been used by the religious right against lesbians and gays, and that is not what I intend. But I don't know that misuse of a theory necessarily makes the theory wrong, you know? I think many women have been trained to see certain people/behaviors/qualities as sexy or attractive, and I think we can re-train ourselves if we want to. I do not support re-training others against their will. I do not plan to enforce a Lesbian Retraining Effort. I've talked with a number of women, however, who are unhappy with their relationships with men and WISH they could be Lesbians, but feel they can't. The good news is that they CAN.


...Likewise, I think that women can begin to see the affections they share with other women as more central, and if they want, they can allow those affections to include sexual actions. I'm definitely NOT suggesting that a renegade band of Lesbian conversionists kidnap unsuspecting straight women and subject them to bizarre aversion therapy treatments.


****

As I said over there:


by the way: you know, these days the ex-gay folks don't tend to use aversion therapy or force people (adults, anyway) to their cause so much. They tend to rely instead on "we don't want to change anyone who doesn't want to change. We just want to help people who are unhappy with being gay. Spread the good news!"

You wanna know -why- they take that kinder, gentler tack these days?

It's not because they've suddenly become more tolerant or less hateful/ignorant/controlling.

It's because these days, their position is discredited and unpopular enough that -they can't get away with it otherwise.-

I leave you to consider all the implications of that, gentle readers.

***

And let's not even get into such gems as:


My apologies - I should have said "transgender/transsexual politics" or "transgender/transsexual choices" or "transgender/transsexual movements" I am not anti-people, but I am opposed to some choices people make.

***

Gee, now, where have I heard sentiments like that one before? -thinkthinkthink-

75 comments:

Renegade Evolution said...

Um, I like cock. No changing that. I think women are beautiful and all, but I am sexually attracted to men, that's just the way it is.

I do not think people of ANY sexual preference should change, nor feel they have to.

piny said...

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

IT'S THE MONOLITH, NOT THE NAME FOR IT. IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU CALL YOUR CONSTRUCT JUDITH HALBERSTAM'S PET WEIMARANER, IT STILL WON'T REFER TO ANYTHING REAL. JESUS CHRIST IN A PROM DRESS.

Gah. I'm gonna take some Advil and come back to this.

piny said...

...If sexual orientation is inherently malleable, how does she explain men who sleep with men? Men are _privileged_ by heterosexual hegemony, by her logic. So what reason would they have to be homosexual, especially given all the pressure against it?

Jay Sennett said...

it's BORG feminism, and their favorite dance is the goosestep jig!

Spill The Beans said...

You know, that was my first sentiment when i discovered that "list."

I grew up in a conservative religious tradition (Southern Baptist) that taught me that sex was bad and that female sexuality should be restricted, closed in, was dirty, and should be subjected to patriarchal whims.

How are leftist matriarchal whims that tell me to deny my in-built sexual affinities any less controlling than the religious right?

Answer: They are the same.

belledame222 said...

>So what reason would they have to be homosexual, especially given all the pressure against it?

I suppose one could ask her. I'm already feeling kind of headdesk from the responses other comments have gotten.

Seriously, this is exactly the kind of ideologue that drives me craziest. She's "civil" to a fault, so people are more inclined to see her as relatively reasonable; when in fact she's quite possible the most rigid person I've seen in a while.

I'd rather trade slings and insults if the tradeoff was the other person actually loosening up a bit.

belledame222 said...

tisl: not only are the same, but i -suspect- --I could be off on this--that in many cases the people who talk like this -also- come from that background. Which is why it all sounds so very familiar. I dunno about this one; one could ask I suppose. I know the formerly known as Dim was; and Heart; and some others.

Yeah. Ever see "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (the Brit version, -without-the loathsome Drew Carey)? There's a game they have called "old job, new job."
The audience picks both and the player acts them out. So say it's, "old job, auctioneer" and "new job, schoolteacher." So the players go:

"...And now, who can tell me what four times five is? Yes? Tina?"

"Twenty."

"TWENTY! i hear a TWENTY from the young lady in the red jumper, do I have a twenty-five, can i hear a twenty-five, o gi' me twenny-fi-fi-fi-fi-five..."

know what I'm saying?

belledame222 said...

and by the way: you know, the whole "I wish I could be a lesbian; it'd be easier" thing;

well, besides it being obvious BOOLSHEET as anyone who's been abused by her female partner or even has had hilariously awful dating experiences (waves at maggie Bitter) can attest;

I mean, okay, say you're a straight woman and you really really really love your best friend, and vice-versa, and you get along with her better than any man, but you're just not attracted to her; you lust for the menz. Even though you're quite sure at this time that you never want to set up shop with one again, and spending too much time in one's company pretty much makes you homicidal.

Is there some particular reason why you can't just move in with your best friend, indulge in a boy booty call every once in a while, and live happily ever after?

seriously, I dungeddit.

belledame222 said...

...or is even the boy booty call a problem because it "gives men our energy?" Is this like a Dr. Strangelove thing or something? men sap our precious bodily fluids?

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Uh, Jack, Jack, listen, tell me, tell me, Jack. When did you first... become... well, develop this theory?
General Jack D. Ripper: Well, I, uh... I... I... first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.
General Jack D. Ripper: Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue... a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I... I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Hmm.
General Jack D. Ripper: I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women uh... women sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh... I do not avoid women, Mandrake.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No.
General Jack D. Ripper: But I... I do deny them my essence.

piny said...

Speaking as someone whose sexuality _has_ undergone some profound changes both in terms of expression and in terms of desire, I won't dispute that sexuality can be both complex and fluctive. However, that does not mean that it can be changed by any application of will. Virtually every queer but this woman says different, and I'm inclined to believe them. I know what a failed social project political heterosexuality has been for everyone involved; how is this better?

piny said...

God, I loved that graphic novel. I read it, and it was fine, and then I went to bed and turned the lights off. And then it hit me. Misogyny is so frequently used as crude shorthand for creepy violence--I'm looking at you, Stephen King--that it's wonderful to see it done right.

Spill The Beans said...

Actually, belle, one of the most eye-opening experiences I had right after the divorce...as someone who has used the "being lesbian might be easier" line in jest...

Sitting across from a longterm work associate whose 16-year relationship ended when her partner started having an affair with another woman.

Here we were, two women, one straight, one gay, having both gone through the IDENTITICAL HEARTBREAK. Both of us had to pick up our lives and begin again, both of us were devastated.

Thus ended the "women are more moral than men in love relationships" idiocy that had somehow embedded itself in my head.

The simple fact of the matter is: some people are assholes. gender has literally nothing to do with that.

piny said...

This, "it's not people, it's the things that define their lives" thing pisses me off more every time I read it. They aren't separable. Sylvia Rivera can't be parsed out from her experiences, her activism, and her reaction to the world. It'd be an insult to her to pretend otherwise.

piny said...

Oh, that's it. I need to find, reread, and blog about The Transsexual Empire. There's no avoiding it. Charlie Anders has a copy. Maybe I could borrow it.

Jay Sennett said...

What can I even say about a chick who's got a linking to Questioning Transgender...

stupid fuck is what I say

dwayne m. said...

This anecdote seems apropos.



As a fresh faced lad in search of accommodations, I moved in with a group of women who, as it happened, were lesbians.

Actually, it wasn't as random as I'm making out to be (as if I answered a “Housemate wanted” ad and found myself in a consciousness raising fiesta). I was invited to live in the house by M, a woman I was very good friends with.

The previous summer, by way of explaining why we weren't spending any time zexxing it up, she came out to me as a lesbian (and then, very sweetly said, 'but you know, if I wasn't Gay, I'd be all up in that'). The revelation made us even better friends.

So, when I needed a place to stay M generously offered me a sterling room in the huge house she shared with a group of women, one of them, T, her lover.


For some reason – and I really don't know why – I walked into this situation thinking women were more peaceful, more eager to negotiate conflict away and less likely to reach for an anti-matter rifle than men (who, as you know, just love to sunder atomic bonds apart with an old blast of the anti-protons).


By this jasmine scented reasoning, it followed that lesbian love affairs would be similar to an episode of the Care Bears or perhaps an incredibly civil debating society. Yes, this is what I thought.


But an interesting thing happened.

All the usual kinds of relationship drama were on display: on again off again passion, physical abuse (some really terrible moments between two of the women) emotional abuse, cheating. And also the good: unconditional support and love, tenderness. In short, the full spectrum.

And now for the punchline...

One night over warm cups of sake, M told me that sometimes she wished she was straight because, she mused, it'd be easier.

Of course, when it comes to the romantic tango nothing's really “easier” but it's surely pretty to think so when times are especially tough.

piny said...

I would be anywhere near as irritated if I had the sense that she'd actually gone out and read primary source material. I have the strong sense that she has not.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Well, I read the whole yawning lion post and am glad to say after reading all that vitreol that "I am not a feminist" - in fact, I am not sure if I, or my mother, or my partner even qualify as human beings under her views.

I am about choice for women - and supporting the opportunity for women to make choices even if they are ones that aren't maybe the best. So, that puts me WAAAY in the enemy camp. Plus as a femme - I think that is a killing offence - I mean, I lesbian who wears make up, shaves and diets - KILL KILL HER!

It also nicely ignores the huge problems in the lesbian community of partner abuse, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, suicide, and other problems which traditional heterosexual counselling models aren't usually set up to deal with. Not that lesbians don't have thier own baggage as a community (this is mostly from the UK) - exclusion is common, holding certian external looks/style choices as better than others, ignoring/less support to those with mental issues, those who self harm, those who are open about sexual abuse, etc.

When did being lesbian become the answer to being a perfect woman? And when did excluding the most vulnerable women (sex workers, transgendered, street workers, poor women, undereducated women) become a standard of feminism? When did a college education and a holostic garden become a sign you were a feminist? And how many of the married women in corsets who fought for our right to vote would make the cut?

Alon Levy said...

I hate penises. I think they're disgusting and I can't understand how anyone, regardless of gender, would be attracted to them. But I don't go around shaming gay men and straight women, or saying that having sex with men is objectively disgusting, or what not.

Bitch | Lab said...

i don't know guys, but y'all do gotta stop writing as if it is either or. there's some of out here for whom it IS and will forever be extremely malleable.

when you write sexual orientation is not inherently malleable piny or suggest that it isn't, it leaves me cold! and in the cold.

BUT IT IS FOR ME. I'm not saying it has to be for you or anyone else,but for those of us the suggestion that there is some limit makes no sense because the discourse hinges on the binary opposition!

Natalia said...

Yay! I like cock too!

*cough*

*anyway*

Bitch | Lab said...

piny

in your second statment about why men are homosexual. people have had to explain for a long time why people do anything that means they don't take advantage of their privilege.

all social theories have to explain how people are socialized and then how they end up sometimes defying the messages, even in the most rigid societies.

so, they could perfectly well sit down and explain male homosexuality without ever even having to give up or question the claim to male hegemony. the answer is that it's built into patriarchy itself.

sex with men is the purest form of patriarchy. it's sex in a world without women. and this is worth it they say even in spite of the persecution.

others points out that patriarchy is a system of hierarchy at its root and that it funcationally requires a system where by some men are subjected to position lower on the social scale. thus, gay men become much like working class men (by definition failed men acc. to patriarchy) and men of color, etc. etc. are all examples of what it means when you step out of line. the system requires these men to keep all men in line.

it's the logic patriarchy.

it's otherwise considered a functionalist explanation and has serious drawbacks. a theory like that easily crumbles under the weight of an attack on the functionalism that is incredibly weak in its explanatory power.

like anyone cares, but my blood is boiling re: the binaries and this is how i'm coping.

Bitch | Lab said...

maybe i never asked this elsewhere, but i don't think women who are political lesbians are necessarily het, which is the asssumption that gets made. far too many women are bisexual or polysexual or whatever to make that assumption.

there has to be room here to understand taht, quite possibly, this opens up room for people who would otherwise want to be with women the opporutnity to be so because, in spite of all the so-called ability of queers to be free of heterosexism these days, there is still huge pressure on us to conform.

so, while i understand your concerns, i think that women who become political lesbians may just be doing something because it's giving them the courage that they didn't have otherwise.

and it may well be the courage for them to be asexual too.

if we're going to accept all kinds of sexualities, then we have to accept that, too.

i'm guessing you can be asexual with a sexual orientation, right?

so?

because the live with women and have no sex because they really aren't interested in sex, shouldn't make them any less lesbians, should it?

I'm thinking here of the complaint that we often make when hets reduce us to our sexuality, as if its the only thing that matters to us.

Alon Levy said...

sex with men is the purest form of patriarchy. it's sex in a world without women. and this is worth it they say even in spite of the persecution.

There's another attack on that: if sex with men is patriarchal, and sex with women is patriarchal, then the theory ends up being trivial, unless it can make serious falsifiable predictions about how homosexuality will look in a patriarchal society given the principles you explained.

Bitch | Lab said...

alon

right. such a theory fails under the weight of criticism of functionalism in general. functionalism has weak explanatory power. cf Carl Hempel's Phil of Social Science which has one of the most stragghtfoward accounts of why fucntionalism sucks giant green donkey dick.

speaking of which, i busted a gut about the opposition to bestiality thing.

heh.

Lady Aster said...

"I mean, okay, say you're a straight woman and you really really really love your best friend, and vice-versa, and you get along with her better than any man, but you're just not attracted to her; you lust for the menz. Even though you're quite sure at this time that you never want to set up shop with one again, and spending too much time in one's company pretty much makes you homicidal."

Y'know, this is more than a bit similar to my situation. I'm bisexual, but I'm not happy unless I have sex with guys fairly frequently. Yet I'm much more comfortable with women in terms of relationships. Sleeping with the right girl can be a real treat but I seldom crave it until I'm really hot for a paticular woman. And while there are a few girls and a very few guys who would work for both, ultimately my emotional bonding and my fucking don't go precisely together.

Incidentally, in my experience this is a fairly common phenomenon among sex workers. Most escorts I know are bi but many don't form relationships with men. It's not purely modern, either. Lucian's Dialogues of the Courtesans presents a similar picture, and I've heard the same of Chinese and Japanese sex workers.

Bitch | Lab said...

YL wrote: ::not well-versed in the bullshit that is queer theory,:::

hee. i adore it when they just say it outright. they hate queer theory because it is MALE.

and they hate it because of its particular way of understanding the social construction of sexuality. which does give me another *ding*ding*ding*

as to what the nature of the differences are in the whole transgender blow up.

belledame222 said...

piny put it well, I think: sure, sexuality is...mutable, let's say. But one doesn't simply *will* it to be as one wants on account of it suits one's ideology, for heaven's sake.

Anyway this chick says she *doesn't* believe in sexual "fluidity." so she, what, just shifted gears as it were: screeee! yeah. that works. I'm sure. who knows what she meant.

but I think: anyone who's that across-the-boards rigid is gonna suddenly just loosen up and let go when it comes to the bedroom? really?

I mean: one can probably often have a mildly pleasurable sexual experience with someone one isn't attracted to but isn't repulsed by either, and has fond personal feelings for, sure, but...

I'll say this much. When I was in the closet, I had no erotic drive toward males at all. Zero. Zip. I think it's fair to say.

Since coming out, weirdly enough, I've actually had lusty/crushy moments on certain male-type people. And I continue to surprise myself in various ways...

but I think, you know, like I said before, you can't expect to just flower and expand on command if you're consistently shutting down. like piny said, this goes against pretty much everything I've heard from--well, pretty much anybody, except some of the ex-gays.

I think, you know, maybe if you're already experiencing sexuality, or some aspect of sexuality, all tangled up in traumatic shit, then yeah, I can see where you'd want to shut down or even "change" it, if you can. fine.

what gets me is the staggering myopia it would take to assume every other woman would feel just like she does.

Dan L-K said...

Go, B|L! Ambiguous fence-sitters repreSENT!

...though, of course, it's not as if the Political Lesbian contingent isn't simply crawling with biphobia. In which context, I'm not sure whether I'd be doubly-reviled or simply invisible as usual.

belledame222 said...

>speaking of which, i busted a gut about the opposition to bestiality thing.


oh my god. there's another thread on that?? or are you talking about the horsefucking business.

i mean, geez, i, i, i...don't know. i think i can honestly say i've really never thought about some of these, um issues, as extensively as, um, some people seem to.

i guess someone had to...

belledame222 said...

And BL, I totally get that your own sexuality is much more fluid; a lot of peoples' are.

But to really be in sync with what YL is saying, I think, you'd have to believe that you can "reprogram" yourself ("can and should," in her words).

so in other words: do you actively -choose- what or whom does or doesn't turn you on? or is it more: you let yourself open to possibilities depending on circumstances? because that, I get.

but the way she talks about it (as with the ex-gays) sounds, not even just sexuality, but counter to everything I know about how the mind actually works.

"please fantasize responsibly," you know.

I gotta write up the ex-gay shit I had floating around somewhere, it's a pip.

or just go read Peter Toscano at A Musing.

belledame222 said...

...bascially what it is is, what she's hinting at sounds like what the ex-gays talk about: a sort of crude behaviorism. catch yourself fantasizing about the unwanted whatever; force yourself to think of what you desire to desire instead. purge all the old stuff; surround yourself with people who will support you in this change; you know, like twelve-stepping or something.

Here's what I think, okay: your bodymind knows bullshit when it's hearing it. Sure, your desires might change; but they're coming from a deep-down place. If all you're doing is trying to convince yourself that you must change because I don't know Sheila Jeffreys says it'll make you a better feminist...this just isn't addressing whatever it is that actually affects the lovemap (or whatever you want to call it). this is intellectual; further, it's bound up with shame and anxiety (ime at least), which are pretty damn inhibitory to -any- erotic response, ime.

belledame222 said...

>so, while i understand your concerns, i think that women who become political lesbians may just be doing something because it's giving them the courage that they didn't have otherwise.

and it may well be the courage for them to be asexual too.

if we're going to accept all kinds of sexualities, then we have to accept that, too.>

again: that is totally fine.

it's the whole dragging everyone -else- into it that i have the teensiest problem with.

and anyway goddamit if it's asexual then call it asexual.

i mean one can be celibate; sure; one can be a lesbian who happens to be celibate, sure;

but the -strong- suggestion i keep getting over and over is that -effectively there is no difference between asexuality/celibacy and lesbianism-.

which just makes me froth and fall over backwards.

belledame222 said...

>because the live with women and have no sex because they really aren't interested in sex, shouldn't make them any less lesbians, should it?>

No; but, again, then why care so very much about what -other- people do or don't do in bed?

I mean this is what it boils down to. If these people weren't busy trying to tell everyone else what was and wasn't acceptable, no one would give two shits what they did or how they labelled themselves. or, at least, hell, I certainly wouldn't.

but you know, point a finger, three point back at you.

belledame222 said...

(BL, have you read the original thread?)

Bitch | Lab said...

so in other words: do you actively -choose- what or whom does or doesn't turn you on? or is it more: you let yourself open to possibilities depending on circumstances? because that, I get.
---

both. i can safely say.

and i think what she's asking is the latter and probably laboring under the view i once had. oh, everyone's like me, they just don't realize it. they say they're homo or het, but they're really bi. too bad for them. i get more dates! heh. (kiddingon the dates part)

which is where's she's being insensitive. but, for me, yes it's quite possible for me to choose.

i remember my old bandmade doing the same.

and well, hell, the things i've done in my life i never thought i could possible like. the process of moving into doing those things was, yes, not just opening up somehting that already existed, but choosing.

i don't think this has to threaten those for whom it feels biological, an imperative, etc.

i think people just have to understand the variety of possibilities out there. I was just reading an anthorpologists talking about this the other day.

anyway, one of the reasons you don't hear it from us is that it becomes quite clear that we are invisible and no one wants to hear it. what do you do when everyone is telling you they were born that way or even that they understand maleeable but it is simply not the case that it's that malleable

and here you are, not feeling that way about your own desire at all.

you are being forced into everyone else's experience and the discussion shuts you out from the get go.

of course, i'm speaking up. but i'm a mouthy broad.

belledame222 said...

but BL, she doesn't believe in bisexuals either, I don't think. or at any rate doesn't approve of them. she's going directly off the Jeffreys line.

I mean this is a person who responded to Whitters that sure, it's nice that she's helped rape and assault victims and all; but since she wears makeup and especially supports porn, she's basically undermining all that good work (so it cancels itself out I guess?)

"insensitive" isn't the word I would use here.

I get what you're saying BL, I really do. I don't think anyone here thinks that what you're talking about isn't possible. this is a different transaction, it seems to me.

btw, I never said & never thought I think my own sexuality is biologically hardwired, or even imperative. and haven't all that much truck with the idea, politically speaking (the born-that-way business); never have done. I kinda feel like you're arguing with stuff that hasn't been said here.

dykotomy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rootietoot said...

This is interesting reading, about what makes folks homosexual and all, so I'm going to throw out this nugget...how about simple chemisty, neurological or hormonal? My father, a veterinarian, showed me (as a child) incidences of homosexuality in many species of animals. He said it was a naturally occuring thing throughout the animal kingdom, from amphibians to primates and every creature in between. He, a deeply religious Republican, the kind homosexuals revile as being the worst of humanity, taught me it was normal and natural. You can now be offended at being compared to the animal kingdom :o)

dykotomy said...

LOL – I believe we need *insert: toodle tooot tooooooooot!* the Lesbian Park Rangers!
to tackle this ish! ;-)

As always - loving your take on things BD

had to delete the previous – html fckup

dykotomy said...

Ok - joking aside, I believe that rigidity in any form has to do with the need to/for control and that need blankets the FEAR beneath it.

So, why do the hets and the hardcore "political" lesbians (who, btw, i sometimes think i am but I get to define what that is!) fear anyone who "strays" from their constructs?

Because the "strays" threaten the constructs and the threat must be discredited because if the threat is legit then perhaps they have to re-evaluate their views and that feels UNSAFE.

Soooo, praps it's easier for peeps to focus "out there" instead of "in here"

Amber said...

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

*snooooooore*

misterniceguy1960 said...

I remember a guy who said his "sexual preference" was gay men, although bi men would do in a pinch.

The funny thing is, judging from my personal history, my sexual preference is for lesbians -- and quite a few lesbians seem to feel inclined to prefer me.

belledame222 said...

Oh, I take no offense at being compared to animals at all--hell, humans ARE animals. Nothing wrong with animals. I just think that "animals" are far more complicated and interesting than most people are willing to give them credit for.

There's a book called "Biological Exuberance" which I like a lot; it's not explicitly spiritual but it definitely ties into my own thinking in that area as well. Roughly: that diversity (bio and otherwise) is a -good- thing and part of what makes us survive; that there is joy as well as practicality in "purposelessness"--or at any rate not mere reproduction and survival.

http://www.salon.com/it/feature/1999/03/cov_15featurea3.html

"Bagemihl formulates the charmingly named theory of biological exuberance, of which homosexuality is one manifestation. He wants to unlink biological analysis from the idea that reproduction -- and hence, heterosexuality -- is all. Biology must accept the apparent purposelessness of sexualities, he argues. Sexual pleasure is "inherently valuable" and "requires no further 'justification.'"

kactus said...

Wow, I just read that list and found out that because of my 2 daughters I'm not a feminist. What a waste the last 20 years of childrearing has been.

Damn. guess I'll so find some cock to suck, then. Oh, and find a man somewhere to raise my remaining kid so i can work on my femuhnist cred. Crud. Lol.

kactus said...

She says, when asked to elaborate on the true-feminists-don't-have-children thing: "Resources that women devote to children are not available to be used for specifically feminist aims (unless one argues that raising children is a specifically feminist aim - go for it if you'd like to make this argument). Not having children keeps women's resources available to devote to other women, and I think that's important."

But jesus, what if you have women children? You're devoting yourself to raising women. Christ on a moped, this lady is either just trolling the fuck out of us, or is nuts. Nuts.

belledame222 said...

oh, I think she's quite sincere.

it's no more nuts than any number of other fundamentalist positions, really.

or less, either, is the thing.

fastlad said...

Do you know I haven't felt this entertained since the curtain fell on the legendary 1989 Galway Arts Festival performance of "The Importance of Being Earnest."

Jack: Algy, you're always talking nonsense.
Algy: It's better than listening to it.

belledame222 said...

...she's an ideologue, is all. shrug. when she talks about her own experiences and/or to/with people who have similar ones, she makes a lot of sense. It's when she starts extrapolating outward to "this is how the world works" that it all starts getting rather wonky. Lot of people like that, alas.

belledame222 said...

> hardcore "political" lesbians (who, btw, i sometimes think i am but I get to define what that is!)

well, to me there's a difference between "person whose commitment to politics are informed by her lesbianism" and "person whose commitment to lesbianism is informed by her politics."

The Muse said...

Belle - I wandered over this way from the amazing Amber, and I read all your comments over on Yawning Lion's page. Let me just say that I am VERY impressed with the way your articulate your point, and better still is the fact that YL never directly addresses you on it... could that mean that she realizes she doesn't have a rad-fem leg to stand on?

belledame222 said...

yeah, I was sort of intrigued to note that she directly responded to pretty much everyone -but- me there.

she did however just put up a post on "political lesbianism," which tends to suggest she's reading rather carefully, maybe here as well as there (Hi, YL!!!)

so what I get from the latest is that indeed, she is/was attracted to and dating women, even before the radfem thing; maybe Adrienne Rich would be more apropos here, then; she's talking about "compulsory heterosexuality" here, really.

Which, as I said over there, okay, fine, and it's no doubt true that a number of other women have the same experience (i.e. compulsory hetereosexuality and thus internalized lesbophobia is all that's holding them back from expressing their deep affection for women erotically as well...

but, again, it really seems like she's saying ALL women must feel as she does, then; which is patently and clearly not true.

and, further, that it's really crappy to suggest that because a woman can't muster up an erotic attraction to women -and- doesn't care to give up her attachment to/physical getting off with men, means that they're somehow less feminist than thou. Insulting and counterproductive, and, oh yeah, lame.

I guess props to her for letting such comments stand undeleted at all; a lot of them don't, you know.

anyway, thanks, and welcome, Muse! hope you stick around.

belledame222 said...

>JUDITH HALBERSTAM'S PET WEIMARANER

we really have to start a band with that name

and/or Jesus Christ in a Prom Dress

belledame222 said...

>the process of moving into doing those things was, yes, not just opening up somehting that already existed, but choosing.

You know, I think the real problem is that language is so inadequate for talking about these internal experiences. I mean, what -is- desire? What is attraction? What is "choice?" How do you define it? How do you recognize it? Know what I'm saying? It's hard enough to address this nebulous stuff anyway; and then inevitably of course all the politicized crap about what is and isn't acceptable for this or the other reason comes in, and everyone's energy goes into that, and we still haven't even really scratched the surface about all this...existential stuff.

sexistential, maybe.

Bitch | Lab said...

belledame

actually, the not hardwired biz is news to me. for most people it is, at least as i understand it. you said it so yourself when you aid that everyone you knew agreed.

and i have no problem with that. i have a problem when it's portrayed as the way all of us are.

but, usually i shut my mouth. i think i will continue. no hard feelings, mind. just not interested the energy such conversations entail.

cicely said...

Hey, I've had this conversation in the feminist blogosphere and on discussion boards before too - and mainly - unfortunately - with radfems with views like YL's and Hearts etc, and for some reason it really bugs me that people (from the right or the left or wherever) want to move away from/deny/minimalise/invisibilise/whatever the very idea of innateness. I take it personally. Whatever rights we have now have come about precisely because a large enough number of straight people have come to accept what the vast majority of gay men and lesbians still report as their own experience and understanding of themselves (73% in a recent survey) - that their sexual orientation is innate/fixed/unchangeable and often recognised very early in life (approx 6 or 7 years of age) - even if that recognition occurs looking back. Explaining this to straight society has been the very basis of gay rights activism since before I was a baby dyke (which was in the 1960's - born 1954). Supporters of gay rights, who might otherwise not be, believe it is unjust to punish or discriminate against people for something they have no choice about, which is natural to them, and when they are otherwise no different from and no better or worse people than themselves.

No common denominator has ever been found between homosexuals other than their orientation. Except if you count the studies demonstrating that the greater the amount of genetic or otherwise biological material that is shared between siblings, the greater the concordance for homosexuality. (If one is homosexual the other will be too.) I have the figures from these studies. When you get up from non-twin siblings to identical twins, the concordance has been recorded as high as 52% in both males and females. This is true whether the twins are raised together or apart. Some say that identical twins are supposed to be clones so the fact that approx 50% are discordant 'disproves' an innateness arguement, but they don't attempt to explain the 50% who are concordant. What is not in dispute in any case is that, as I began, the greater the amount of shared genetic or otherwise biological material between siblings, the higher the concordance for homosexuality, whether the siblings are raised together or apart. So, it seems that biology does have a part in it, for those of us who experience our sexual orientation as innate.

I only learned this last year when I felt I was being asked by lesbians whose politics inform their lesbianism (my lesbianism is about lesbian desire) to 'prove' that my orientation is innate. (And in any case, agree that it shouldn't 'matter' how I came to be a lesbian.)

I also learned in recent years that homosexuality has been reported in hundreds of non-human species, including birds, fish and mammals. Not just one off sexual encounters either, but lifetime pairings. Geologists have mainly not reported what they've seen in the natural world over the years, although one guy in the 1930's or thereabouts wrote that he'd seen two female elephants doing something 'that could only be described as an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.'!!!!

There is nothing in what I believe that limits other people around their own sexualities. I think some peoples sexuality is more fluid than others, and everyone should have the right to express themselves as who they are - even experiment for godsake - without being judged or punished for it.

I have no objection either to the existence of politically identified lesbians like Sheila Jeffreys. She has a right to her own life, the creation and understanding of same. What I object to is having *my* experience buried or twisted or made not to 'matter' to suit the political purposes of Jeffreys and others who share her views. Be as you will, but you don't speak for me, is what I'm saying.

Sometimes people who shy away from innateness as an 'arguement' for civil rights, say they do this because it doesn't prevent opponents from thinking of homosexuality as deviance that could be *fixed*. I say opponents will be opponents whether sexual orientation is innate, socially constructed or something you catch from drinking infected water. We shouldn't be afraid of any 'truth', and we certainly shouldn't be denying or invisibilising the personal truth of a very significant number of lesbians.

Finally, let me say, I prefer to engage sexually with lesbians who are sexually attracted to rather than politically aligned with women, and I'd prefer to know which it is beforehand. That hasn't always been the case in my experience - unfortunately. Many years ago - when I first encountered this stuff in my personal life (1988), I came up with the idea that politically identified lesbians would be being more honest and transparent if they referred to themselves as feminist-lesbians rather than lesbian-feminists. It didn't take.

btw, I never said & never thought I think my own sexuality is biologically hardwired, or even imperative. and haven't all that much truck with the idea, politically speaking (the born-that-way business); never have done.

I guess we can't agree on everything BD, but when you say 'politically speaking', what do *you* mean?

belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belledame222 said...

>belledame

actually, the not hardwired biz is news to me. for most people it is, at least as i understand it. you said it so yourself when you aid that everyone you knew agreed.>

I did? Who? What? When?

Cicely: I mean that I kind of don't love the way "it's NOT a choice" suggests "Please give me my civil rights now; I'd be like you if I could, but I can't help it."

and also sort of ends up painting people into a corner: so now, say, consensual BDSM is -also- based on a hardwired sexuality; or else, well, we can't really think of a good way to legitimize it.

or poly; or for that matter pretty much any -expression- of sexuality; if you notice, these days the religious organizations tend toward "okay okay, you might not be able to help your desires; but just consider that your cross to bear; we've all got 'em. You can stil help your BEHAVIOR, can't you? Well you should. No soup for you."

As for the secular world, I think: since when were civil rights based on "we can't help it?"

And since when were hardcore bigots particularly swayed by any such argument? Or really anyone? Is this how the Civil Rights movement worked?

To me, it's basically just: freedom of expression. I and my consenting partner(s) am expressing myself (ves) sexually; it is not hurting anyone else; therefore, fuck right off.

I understand why "I was born this way" has been necessary; it seems like for some people a scientific explanation is what's needed to convince them that no, in fact, I'm not just indulging a whim or a rebellion, it isn't "just a phase," and actually not everyone -does- feel exactly like you.

And for all of me it's true, you know. I think that the way the bodymind works is complicated; I tend to buy that it's both/and rather than either/or, wrt the nature/nurture business; to say nothing of free will.

(I also don't love the way "born that way"= unchanging whereas "acquired after birth"=can be changed. I'm not convinced either is necessarily true).

Ultimately, though, I don't think research on this can be anything approaching "objective" while it's still so fraught with political meaning. So, my personal jury is out.

belledame222 said...

bottom line for me, I guess; I got no problem with the "can" part. It's the "can and SHOULD" part that's the problem. and frankly if people weren't so invested in the SHOULD part, it wouldn't much matter whether any or all of us "can" or not.

piny said...

>JUDITH HALBERSTAM'S PET WEIMARANER

we really have to start a band with that name

and/or Jesus Christ in a Prom Dress


Gahhhhhh...I don't even want to get started. It drove me up the wall the first time, and it's driving me up the wall now. What part of, "You can't simplify to that degree and say anything that isn't demonstrably false" is so difficult for this woman to understand?

And what Kactus said.

belledame222 said...

yes; but, the BAND, darling, the BAND. we need to make plans. tour dates. song titles.

cicely said...

I mean that I kind of don't love the way "it's NOT a choice" suggests "Please give me my civil rights now; I'd be like you if I could, but I can't help it."

I can see why that's not attractive, but funnily enough I've never actually felt that way. The way I've always thought about my lesbianism - even from when I was in my pre-teen years (I knew from age 11) is that I have to keep it to myself because the world will take this innocent and lovely thing about me (those nice feelings) and make it ugly. I never wanted to be like them, I just wanted to feel and be free to be me. Maybe it sounds impossible but it's like, at a deep level, I've never experienced internal homophobia, or something. I always accepted myself and thought the rest of the world was fucked for thinking there was anything wrong with me.

and also sort of ends up painting people into a corner: so now, say, consensual BDSM is -also- based on a hardwired sexuality; or else, well, we can't really think of a good way to legitimize it.

or poly; or for that matter pretty much any -expression- of sexuality;


I think at that level we're talking about something else, but maybe not, I don't know. Since I believe all consensual expressions of sexuality between consenting adults are their own business though, *any* reasons given for controlling sexuality through repression are illegitimate anyway. So, for me, it's all quite simple. Here I am. If I'm not directly harming anybody else I have equal status with everybody else as my birthright. From that perspective it really *doesn't* matter how I came to be who I am or how someone else came to be who they are, but my personal understanding of the way my life unfolded is that my sexual orientation, and also (largely) my sexual preferences within my orientation have been an integral part of me for as long as I can remember having feelings about girls and women at all. I remember that little girl I was, and I guess I don't like to see her being dismissed. I'm still trying to figure out why I feel so strongly about this since I'm not arguing that we're all the same and I'm not even trying to be 'right'. I'm just trying to be true.

And it's like feminist fundies to the left of me, religious fundies to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle - with you? I don't think we're too much different in the way we think after all, BD. Maybe I just have more of a 'sense' of something pretty close to certainty about the innateness of sexual orientation for myself and for many of us - gay, straight, bi and everything in between.

And you know, this being a woman and not being listened to or having your own experience or understanding believed or validated in feminism feels like such a bloody betrayal. Transexuals - you don't know what you're talking about; sex workers - you don't know what you're talking about; lesbians who think your lesbianism is innate - you don't know what you're talking about. Spare me. I've heard enough.

cicely said...

Oh, and see, I don't think those invalidations, or the arguements supporting them actually *do* much in terms of what the feminism I practice is aiming for. Freedoms to and freedoms from for women. When feminism is 'finished' if you like - or 'no longer required' I don't expect all the women in the world are going to agree with me about everything. There are plenty of other issues needing to be hashed out beyond feminism.

belledame222 said...

>From that perspective it really *doesn't* matter how I came to be who I am or how someone else came to be who they are, but my personal understanding of the way my life unfolded is that my sexual orientation, and also (largely) my sexual preferences within my orientation have been an integral part of me for as long as I can remember having feelings about girls and women at all. I remember that little girl I was, and I guess I don't like to see her being dismissed.>

See, I feel exactly the same way; so, yeah.

I guess for me I just get a antsy about the way stuff gets uhm quantified, you know; like, oh, okay, there's a scientific study (or not); therefore that changes everything.

And this isn't just limited to sexuality; take for instance psychology in general. I have the same kind of "stuck in the middle" feeling wrt say depression. Yes I believe there's a biochemical aspect; hell, I take meds, I value them enormously. but I get as annoyed with the "right, you fit into this box, take this pill, sign this insurance form on your way out, no deeper exploration of the causes asked or needed and besides we haven't time and can't afford it, next?" as I do "philosophy, not medication! it's all existential and political! to suggest otherwise is a sinister plot by Big Pharma to keep us all tranquil and sedate! here, read this tract! that'll fix everything! if not, I can recommend some great random off-brand unregulated herbal crap; a friend of a friend told me this shit works GREAT."

belledame222 said...

>And you know, this being a woman and not being listened to or having your own experience or understanding believed or validated in feminism feels like such a bloody betrayal. Transexuals - you don't know what you're talking about; sex workers - you don't know what you're talking about; lesbians who think your lesbianism is innate - you don't know what you're talking about. Spare me. I've heard enough.>

WORD.

Alon Levy said...

Some say that identical twins are supposed to be clones so the fact that approx 50% are discordant 'disproves' an innateness arguement

Presumably, the fact that identical twins don't have the same fingerprints proves that people choose what kind of fingerprints to have.

Bitch | Lab said...

<< You can stil help your BEHAVIOR, can't you? Well you should. No soup for you." >>>

LOL

I'd have to spend days searching through your posts to show you the places that lead me to believe you were a hardwired person.

which, if i'd had a prob. with, i woudl have said.

but if you feel otherwise, then --. I mean, it'd be kind of rude to take off the cuff stuff written in bloglandia and do this, as opposed to the way someone might deconstruct the texts of judth butler, you know?

big difference between the two.

as you said, our languge for talking about this is limited. and then were' all tied up by the political ramifications.

brian dauth isisted for awhile that BDSM was hardwired. we all got in a bunch of arguments about it, with of course a faction flipping out about BDSM at all. that's always a joy.

brian's since changed his mind, but insists on strategic essentialism, even in the face of the arguments you've offered belle.

I tend to agree with your position. the idiots aren't going to be persuaded about anything and i feel really condescended to when I heard "but 'they' can't help it' --

it remains pathologized. we're stil walking around with the weight of some horrible identity on us.

of course, on this view, hets 'can't help it' either. heh.

i waiver back and forth after listening to brian on strategic essentialism, though

belledame222 said...

I think strategic essentialism has limited efficacy. I'm not gonna throw myself in the way of it if it seems to be working; but I do have something to say at the places where it clearly isn't anymore.

belledame222 said...

and none of this in any way invalidates my main point in all this, which is that "can and SHOULD" means you're being a tool.

goddamit.

Alon Levy said...

I don't look at it as strategic essentialism. There's the scientific argument over whether homosexuality has a biological basis, and if so, then how it evolved. That argument might inform the moral/sociological argument about whether homosexuality is morally right or socially positive or neutral, but it takes a serious hack to do it the other way around, that is decide whether homosexuality is biological based on some moral view.

cicely said...

I guess for me I just get a antsy about the way stuff gets uhm quantified, you know; like, oh, okay, there's a scientific study (or not); therefore that changes everything.

Fair enough. Science hasn't done women any great favours over the years, as we all know - but it's not all bad.

Funny thing is I've never really looked for scientific evidence of my experience until I got into that debate last year. I've certainly never relied on it for validation. That comes from within. My main thing is, look, my homosexual sexual orientation comes from the same place your heterosexual (or whatever) one does. What makes you heterosexual?

belledame222 said...

Sure.

Well, personally, I'm for reframing the whole thing: where does yer -homophobia- come from?

And as per choice vs. not: well, pretty clearly the homophobic bigot is making a -choice- to be an invasive asshole. The question is: why?

cicely said...

and none of this in any way invalidates my main point in all this, which is that "can and SHOULD" means you're being a tool.

goddamit.


Yes, back to that. It's the 'should' part. You know, I wonder if certain radfems don't feel a need to recruit the way the RR thinks we homosexuals recruit...? ;)

Anyway, you do get to asking - who makes up the consituency of (some)radical feminism? Who would be left to 'vote' for it after you remove all the people who don't fit the ideology as they are? I'm just tempted to say 'carry on - talk amongst yourselves...' Rambling now.

emily said...

JUDITH HALBERSTAM'S PET WEIMARANER really is a kickarse name for a band.

suggested song title:

I Like My Bois To Be Girls

belledame222 said...

and of course, we must have a cover of

"I Wanna Be Your Dog"...