As I was starting to get at in an earlier post (and indeed i've said such thing before, no doubt), a lot of times, what's happening for me in discussions among straight feminists is: "I don't relate to this." In itself, not necessarily a problem; what is really frustrating is when I gamely try to address the discussion on its own terms (i.e. heteronorm and menmenmen) and, either it is assumed automatically that I am One Of Them and thus share all their assumptions and experiences; or, more annoying, it is known that I am not One Of Them and--and this is a perception that is, frankly, not helped by certain uhhh strains of feminism/ists, let's say, ironically enough--the seems-like tacit assumption is that now I can or should be really relate, especially if it's a rant against Patriarchy or whatnot, because, gosh darn it, lesbians are super-feminists! Damn those men, anyway! Damn them all! (menmenmenmenMENmenmenmenMEN...)
As emily amplified, responding to a bit in that original post,
>>>>Do you know why certain kinds of radical lesbian feminists resonate with you so well, Straight Woman?
That's right. Because even though they are LES-BE-ANS, they mostly talk about, well, men. Specifically, how awful and oppressive they are. Which, apparently, you can relate.
No disturbingly unfamiliar talk of issues specific to queer folk (not just women, either); no talk about our OWN sexuality, our OWN issues of internal abuse, sexual and otherwise; nothing so tricky and squirm-inducing as internalized homophobia and the deep anger that can sometimes well up not just at men, but at you, too, straight women.
[/me, begin emily:]
Fuck yeah, well put. Not to mention the utter disdain that some (eg Sheila Jeffreys) level at queers--butches, femmes, gayboys, trannys etc. Damn those inconvenient Really Existing Queers fucking up your theories of the lesbian-feminist utopia and the universal patriarchy.
...I always get the feeling I'm reading how straight women imagine lesbianism to be--like how my friend will say "oh, i'm going to become a lesbian" every time she breaks up with some jerky guy. Cos heaven forbid lesbian desire be about, you know, fucking women. So it's about renouncing the evilness of the mens more than anything else..
So there was that. And then I remembered this great post by jackadandy some months back, along similar lines; which in turn referred to yet another post at Waiting for Dorothy. From the latter:
that is one phrase i never understood. lesbians have no reason to hate men. lesbians go about their lives not having to deal with the stress associated with having relations with the beings from mars while being a child of venus. when it comes to men, lesbians treat them as buddies or with indifference. there is simply no reason to be bitter towards men, because lesbians are immune to the heartbreak and pain that other women might suffer at the hands of men. we simply don't care about men enough to get involved with them.
the women who do hate men tend to be straight women. they are the ones who have had their hearts broken, been cheated on, and been subjected to various other difficulties while dating the opposite sex.
...in case you were wondering, we lesbians circulate e-mails making fun of women and the trials and tribulations of dating women. men simply aren't mentioned. yes, i know... SHOCKING...
Or sometimes even start entire blogs devoted to the subject (i.e. the trials and tribulations of dating women: allow me to introduce Maggie Bitter, the Bad Lesbian (tm)
Back to jackadandy:
I've always tended to be vaguely to very uncomfortable in the company of groups of straight women, which is a lot about my own issues but part of it has been, I know, consternation at that toxic obsession with men and their perceived abuses.
...A particular lesbian may or may not be a feminist and may or may not have reasons to have problems with men as a class, the same way any woman does in our culture. But my personal experience matches that of Emily2: We waste less bile on men because it's not men that are on lesbians' minds---it's women. Surprise! We're simply indifferent!
Just remember, guys, the next time you think you're getting antipathy from a lesbian, you're probably mistaking disinterest for dislike: It actually IS not about you.
which, first of all,
...and, musing: you know, I think the reason men and (sorry, but) even some straight women assume that lesbians "hate" men is because, frankly, the prospect of indifference is actually more upsetting than hatred. Even obsessive hatred is still a connection, of a sort, after all; it implies passion, of a sort; it's, well. Validating. "You exist and are important enough for me to hate you, at least."
Which also ties into what J says here:
[A particular group of straight] women resembled nothing so much as a group of addicts who'd gathered for the purpose of sharing a destructive drug that they hated but would never consider giving up. I SO do not get this. If the men are such creeps, what are you doing with them? What does that say about you?
Maybe I'm even more unusual than we think (which would be hard), but I moved in the het world for years and I was never personally involved with any men that fit the mold these women described.
A few more unconscious shibboleths busted here:
1) That queer folk do not get straight people because, as is far more likely to be the inverse (i.e. straight folk simply haven't a clue, because they don't have to), we haven't spent sufficient time socialized in the hetworld, maybe even participating in it. The disconnect, as alluded to above, lies elsewhere: in the emotional investment.
2) That queer folk necessarily had a really bad time when dating/fucking in the het world; as a matter of fact, it might have been just fine; just not where the queer folk's hearts and gonads were at.
3) most perhaps controversially: that in fact it's possible that the gender-related angst amongst the hetfolk may not be strictly necessary, after all.
It's this last bit, I think, that certain types of feminists as well as any straight woman who's ever believed in The Rules or Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus have the most investment in: the binary thing, and an antagonistic relation between the two (and only two) sexes/genders (they are the same, in this world), at that. Of COURSE it's all about Class Men and Class Women! Of COURSE men and women can never be friends, not really! Of COURSE we're from different planets! Of course.
I'd talk more about men, straight men especially of course, and their own mishegoses about alla that, but, well: honestly, not as interested. At the moment.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I am however possessed of a certain curiousity, even about such matters that don't directly affect me, and so will probably tackle that subject again sooner or later.