Friday, October 13, 2006

I feel so, so VALIDATED.

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,

[quoting me]

>>>>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:

"man-hating lesbian"

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. 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.


Alon Levy said...

It's all men's fault!

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Kristin said...

Lots of good myth-busting in that, Belle.

Mandos said...

By the way, I recently used you as a human shield in a mini-flamewar with Heart.

*scurries away*

belledame222 said...

what does this mean?

and mandos: you simply have GOT to get a better hobby one of these days, you know.

Mandos said...

Actually, it's more benign than that. I just paraphrased you relatively neutrally on VS blog on the Alas conflict, and on some other thread Heart thought to give me a piece of her mind. And Chris Clarke as well. Apparently we're both insufficiently "evolved" or something.

As for hobbies, the feminist flamewar circuit is presently the most entertaining flamewar circuit around. I used to do this with the Cypriots, and when it comes to Cypriots, feminists don't know from repetitive.

belledame222 said...

wait: your syntax confuses. Heart attacked CC, too? or CC attacked you, too? and "both insufficiently evolved" is you and whom?

anyway, how are you supposed to evolve, and what is it you're supposed to evolve into, according to...Heart, is it?

belledame222 said...

maybe Pony has some thoughts on the subject. Pony apparently somewhere has now attacked Amp on the grounds of his weight/size, based on the pictures he posted; i.e. he can't be -that- poor or he wouldn't be able to afford it. actually she was considerably nastier than that; you can guess how it came out. oh, and anyone can exercise, even paraplegics and quadraplegics, she read it somewhere, so there's -no- excuse (for his weight, i guess; which is apparently all entangled with his being a "pimp," now, somehow).

she's a lovely woman, really; she should write childrens' books.

Kim said...

I think I'm recharging, although I do not I can be trusted with another blog just yet.
In any case, dropping in to say hello -- and, of course, "I want that one." :)

(The Blogger Formerly Known as (ick) Kaka")

belledame222 said...


Mandos said...

Heart attacked both CC and me. Well, the real attack was that CC and I "present in various places as evolved" but we should "get a clue" because we really aren't. CC got attacked because he did the "I'm a visual man" thing (which was a bad idea, IMO, since he's talking to iconoclasts here). I got attacked for citing you, which is not an evolved thing to do at all...

My response was that I never demanded that she see me as "evolved" and that she can see in me precisely what she wants to see.

Pony has before on TF been in the pro-weight-loss minority. She is presently trying to convince Cicely about how wrong Cicely is.

belledame222 said...

ooh. can you do me a favor? just port over Heart's post where I am Teh Evol, I don't wanna be bothered to go there and read a whole bunch of crap that isn't about Me. tak.

Mandos said...

You you you! It's all about you, isn't it?

From Heart on VS:

OMG. “Visually oriented.” Yeah, right, men are “visually oriented” and women aren’t. It has nothing to do with women, being made by men, to be the “visual orientation” they need to get themselves off on a lonely day. Has nothing to do with the fact that men can create whatever they, as the “visually oriented” want to visualize, whereas women have no such societal or cultural power.

God. Chris and Mandos, you present various places as evolved. A clue. You aren’t.

g--m-r: Not having to kiss male ass is kind of the point of feminism.

Yes, it is. Kissed plenty of male ass in my day. Them days are long gone. I am a very, very proud political lesbian. If that gives belledame or whomever else Heart burn, well, them’s the breaks, take a couple antacid and call me in the morning. I’m getting old. In the years I have left, I’m going to be all about the women. And I’m going to tell the truth about men. You’d better believe it."

I even censored g-m-r's name for you! (oh, and I am apparently getting an easier reception on this blog, according to g-m-r, because you are so male-identified. How she knows this I do not know, but this in response to a statement that I have been reading you about this stuff.)

Mandos said...

"In the years I have left, I’m going to be all about the women. And I’m going to tell the truth about men."

I enjoy the beauty of these two sentences put together, quoted on *this* blog.

belledame222 said...

Ah, Heart, you are, truly, a gift to the universe. Telling the Truth. Your truth. WOMENS' truth. All 3,345,644,293 of 'em, especially the one with the goiter.

p.s. "male identified"


o what a giveaway, oosp.

belledame222 said...

anyway, i suspect g-r's far butcher than I any day of the week, bless her Crazy Flakes-laden little gullet.

o well, guess i shan't be getting any Hot! Feminist! Luv!! after all; off to go EMBALM MY VAGINA.

mandos said...

She didn't use that term exactly so I didn't put it in quotes. She said, instead,

"And you have less problems iwth BD because her pro man attitude than you do with radfems."

belledame222 said...

I don't know what she's on about; I'm hardly "pro man." An amateur dabbler at -best.-

anyway, snookums, yer the one who's fucking them, am i correct? Is it, what, like, -all- hostility fucks? Curious, really. well, a little bit.

yeh, i dunno. G-m-r the radical wimmin lvr, who only slips into decompensation mode and starts bellowing "bitch, cunt, professional virgin who HAD HER VAGINA EMBALMED (i just can't get enough of that one, really) every other day or so. and Heart, who learned everything she knows about lgbt folk from, what is it now? a couple of radfem texts and whatever lessons she learned about the evil that Men do? the Cult of Twoo Feminist Womanhood, luddites and germs.

which, if that's how it goes, I'm stickin' with my primary identity as a hedgehog.

belledame222 said...

oh, and if you see Cicely, ask her to pop by, will you? cheers.

belledame222 said...

(I am currently trying to eyeball my blogroll and just guesstimate what percentage of it is by female and/or non-man bloggers., math is hard, i can't be bothered really)

little light said...

Thank you.
As a dyke who's actually, y'know, interested in fucking women more than giving the finger to men, I have to say that "political lesbianism" drives me up the goddamn wall.
Then, though, maybe I'm lucky. I've only run into one or two people who were "politically trans." ...and I think they both turned out to be covering for being actually trans.

Anyway, yeah. I'm all for doing Men's Studies academically, of course, in the sense of anthropologically studying male roles and places in society rather than letting 'em be the unmarked-case default, but fer-serious-now, can my feminism not be all about them, too?

cicely said...

Hi BD - I only had to pop up! Been reading not speaking. Real life stuff keeps me from commenting much lately because I'm trying not to get engaged and have to hold up my end in conversation.

Hi Mandos!

You know, if someone looked at my life they'd probably think I'm a separatist, there are so few men in it. It's just the way it is though, me being a lesbian, working from home in my own tiny business for the last 9 years, my family scattered across cities and two countries - and I live with an ex-partner who's also my biz partner. Most of my life I've socialised mainly with other lesbians so, funnily enough, most of my friends are lesbians and I wouldn't have it any other way. Lots of issues 'out there' don't really concern me directly, in my day to day life, but yeah, I take an interest.

belledame222 said...

Thing is, I get the strong impression that with a lot of these folks, it becomes not so much about actually spending time and energy with/on actual other women; or to be fair, not -only- that, a lot of them do walk their talk, they're not all wackjobs like pony and She Who Shall Not...

but, i think the -real- difference is, the investment in woman as the Righteously Wronged. eternally, world without end, awomon.

whereas, none of my queer friends, even the ones who, yep, spend most of their time and energy around other women, other -queer- women, particularly had that going on, that i'm aware of at any rate.

but it's like for these people, either you're fer us or agin' us, period, end.

and of course that also extends to "women who don't toe the party line and/or cross Big Sister(s)," but we don't talk about that...

Alon Levy said...

Cicely, It's not really about your life. If you look at how I live my life, it won't be exactly the Dominionist ideal, but it will be fairly close, in fact closer than most Dominionists are to the ideal. None of it matters as long as you're on the Other Side. If you don't believe exactly as Our Side does, you're the enemy, and every little thing you've done in your life can be used against you. If you don't behave in an in-group-approved way, you're no different from a Satanist/sexist/racist.

Mandos, what flamewars did you get into with Cypriots - the exact extent of Turkish atrocities?

Belledame, try getting into a fight with pseudoscientific sexists, like the people on Gene Expressions. During the Summers hoopla, one of them went to Pharyngula's blogroll and did a complete gender breakdown of the 200+ blogs PZ linked to at the time.

EL said...

I think that a big part of it is actually that these particular lesbian radfems don't actually raise any considerations of attraction between women.

Is that cynical of me?

belledame222 said...

depends how you mean that...

if you mean, they never or rarely (that i've seen) actually, like, talk about -desire- between women, then no, i don't see that as cynical; i see that as, well, i observe that also.

if you mean it in a meen way, then, well. Meen.

*casts gaze up and then down and then up again*

...I couldn't say, really. i just...well, again:

Orthodoxy is not my doxy. It may, howe'er, be thine. if so, mazel tov, enjoy it in the best of health.

Zan said...

You know, as a woman who likes the boys and the girls, I have to say -- huh? Seriously, I don't know any lesbians who hate men. I know plenty of straight women who do, but no lesbians. Hell, as a part-time straight girl, I don't hate them. Sure, they can get on my nerves sometimes, but so can women, so ya's about the person, not the gender. How hard is that to figure out?

As for the hetero-focus, I think most people tend to write about what they know. So, straight people talk about the heterosex. Which is all good, but what's so hard about realizing there's more to life and other people's experiences? I don't know, but I've been accused of being weird before, so . . .

As far as what your life says about you? Well, I'm fond of the men too, but there aren't many in my life atm. It's just the way things are working out, subject to change now that I've got myself a new job and am moving to a new town. Unless you're specifically excluding people based on gender, I don't think it necessarily says too much.

And if being visually-oriented makes you non evolved? I'm so fucked. :)

belledame222 said...

Not that I can tell without reading the whole thread (not loking, not looking...) but I assumed..

no, actually on second thought i have no idea what else Heart might have meant. Carry on.

Rootietoot said...

My actual and direct contact with sho-nuff lesbians is exactly one, so she's really the only context I have to deal with. As she told me once, most of her friends were men, because she understood their attraction for women and they let her do "guy" stuff with them (hunting, drinking, mud-bogging) and since I liked the same sort of fun (minus the attraction to women), I got to play as well. She was most definetly not a man hater, nor a hater of hetero women, but simply an individual with her own life and wanted to be allowed to live it. I lost touch with her, and regret that.

AS I said, my actual experience with lesbians is limited, but colored by my friendship with R.

For what it's worth. You know how I am about irrelevancies.

belledame222 said...

I'm not particularly a huntin' shootin' fishin' gal.

I have noticed, however, that there is a...cultural disconnect? i have with a goodly number of straight women. Although the more i go on the more i think this is actually very specifically related to culture and class: North American, certain regions especially, white, middle-class-ish. oh yah, and ethnic/religious background sometimes seems to make a difference as well. and it's also true that i have met a fair few whey-faced, gorp-eating, minging little lesbians--"political" lesbians in the sense that they are lesbians and also political to their very bones. so it's not that clear-cut.

but in general, there is a certain mainstream straight , etc. etc. "culture" that i can't quite relate to; it's about the men, yah (weirdly enough straight women talking about the actual real men in their lives bothers me less than purported radical feminists nattering endlessly about how AWFUL they are, as an abstraction...well, to a point at least), but it's also more than that. The indirect thing, I think. Soothe soothe, please please, never confront. oh yeah, and "Sex and the City" bores the living crap out of me, stuff like Oxygen TV makes me think i must be from another planet, (and if you read "the Rules" i think YOU must be from another planet); I don't give a rat's ass if you wear high heels or not, and...yeah i don't know, that's all pretty superficial. beyond what i said wrt indirect, i can't put my finger on it.

or, well. what i really loathe is this. the tacit assumption that i will make myself conveniently sexless for the other womens' comfort. that's...yeah. largely my own old unresolved stuff, perhaps; but not entirely, sometimes, i don't think. well, no, i don't think, in a couple of cases, i KNOW. luckily...well, hm. i live in a cave, really. perhaps this is yet another of those things i don't really enjoy so much about the "real world." i mean, i'd just as soon not know about it, tbh; i like my fantasy that i live on a queer planet.

JackGoff said...

I personally have a disconnect with most guys (The majority of which are misogynist buyers-in of the patriarchy who treat women along patriarchical lines), so my guy friends are limited. I tend to make enemies because I call people out all the time on the basis of their misogyny. (not to say that I don't have the taint. I just seem to be trying harder to recognize it and spork it dead than the guys I'm around). Also, what really gets to me is the constant play on "man" = "mighty, big penis rending what it wants asunder". Blargh. That's one of the major things that I fight daily.

Anyway, I know a lesbian couple who drive to Upstate New York every year around the start of deer season. They stay with relatives, who live near the Catskills, and hunt down one buck, which they use for venison. As a vegetarian (OK OK, pescatarian), I don't approve, but it is sort of cool in a way.

Mandos said...

Hi little light: by your use of the expression "unmarked case", dare I surmise that you have some education as a linguist?

Jay said...

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.


and to EL's cynicism, I think the manhating lesbo crowd don't like muff diving. You know, it's kinda sscccaarrry down there...

belledame222 said...

o, there's this great Dorothy Allison anecdote, where she's starting to go down on a woman (i guess this is you know during the height of the SEx Wars, late 70's, early 80's); and she pulls her back up:

"That's what THEY think we do!" instead they, I don't know, frottage or something satisfactorily mutual. heaven forfend we do something that -looks- like anything any -man- might EVER conceivably get off on, -even if there's no actual man here;- Big Wanking Brother Is Watching You, Always.

of course i suspect that in fact the ideology was a handy cover for something the woman was already uncomfortable with for all the traditional reasons.

but then, being a good feminist, presumably she'd have already EXAMINED all that sex-negative baggage, of course...

belledame222 said...

>ve only run into one or two people who were "politically trans." ...and I think they both turned out to be covering for being actually trans.

how'd that one go? You mean, they were kind of over the top "allies" who eventually turned out to be trans after all?

Yeah, doesn't quite parallel, does it. I mean I knew one transguy who was, well, not obnoxious like that (i lie; he was not only obnoxious but VILE, just not in that particular respect) but for a long while was hanging around with the transguys, talked the talk, walked the walk, but was still a "regular lesbian," butch, you know, but not transitioning. Subsequently he did go on to transition. I expect that happens a lot; hell, happened with Patrick Califia.

but wrt political lesbianism:

i mean, i am sure that embracing it as a political move can be a way for long-repressed or simply heretofore undiscovered lesbian feelings to blossom. sure.

but, like...

yeah, somehow, it doesn't quite parallel. I mean, it's simple enough to cut your hair and even start sleeping with women; those things are you know less -final,- really, than starting a process of hormones and maybe surgery.

if that's what's meant, of course. i mean one could start cross-dressing and playing with "genderfuck" (and then stop) as well, i guess...

eh, i dunno.

mostly i'm just really suspicious of anyone who uses their newfound identity as a way to bludgeon other people.

belledame222 said...

..but, o, of course, the ur-quote, i forget that some people may not be familiar, perhaps:,6000,1519268,00.html

[Sheila Jeffreys] 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."

little light said...

Mandos--mostly my education is as an anthropologist and scholar of religion, but I had to pick up a bunch of linguistics for the postmodernist, postcolonial and feminist analysis they drilled me in at school. At any rate, I find the notion of marked/unmarked to be really, really useful for examining systems like race and gender.

BD--UGH, Jeffreys. Lesbianism-as-abstinence-from-men-not-loving-women. See earlier point and earlier noise of disgust.

Anyhow, as to politically-trans, I knew at least one person who started using gender-neutral pronouns and being a loud, loud activist on trans issues as a political statement about the tyranny of binary gender but without an accompanying public change of gender identification, and another who declared abstinence from pronouns entirely as a political statement about gender. The former is now, I believe, working on social transition, and the other is female-born and dyke-identified.

So, y'know, crapshoot. Anyhow, both stances were originally based in, rather than and excluding a claim to gender-variant identity, the need to fight restrictions on gendered identity as a cause.

belledame222 said...

I wonder if it doesn't boil down to the whole, "all right, we know what you're against; now, what are you FOR?", ultimately.

little light said...

Belledame, I've been asking that question for ages. It completely rearranged my activism. I fell into circles that were anti- a lot of things worth fighting, but they went so far into it that they forgot what they were loving and protecting and preserving. They were so busy burning down the slums they forgot to house the residents until better homes could be built, as it were.
I keep telling young 'uns who ask me for advice: figure out what you love. Figure out what you're for. And then, yeah, go ahead and fight all comers to protect it, if you have to, but never lose sight of what you're for, or you'll lose everything.

People get so wrapped up in causes that are supposed to make our lives better that they forget that the point is, oh, making our lives better before the intermediary goals step in.

Alex said...

Oh my god, yes.

Zan already said most of what I'm thinking. It's definitely about the person, not the gender.

Also: most (not all, but most) queerfolk have had sex or at least sexualised relations with a MOTOS, usually while in the process of figuring themselves out. And, well, hate might stem from that, if the relationship was bad; but hate would, I think, more likely come from self-hate: 'I have to hide this, I have to disguise myself with this person'. And, if you did that enough, I suppose you might hate that sex as a whole group, as a symbol...

But, I think, generally, people Get that it is not the other gender's fault, but rather society's.

Yea? Nay?

belledame222 said...


My suspicion is that -hate-, when it happens, actually comes from

1) actual abuse

2) an experience of having such and such expectation shoved down your throat. which technically probably is a form of abuse, at that, as well.

emily said...

Great post, I especially like the bits that quote *me* :D

ditto on the indifference..

When it does occur, and this is not the same as *hate* by any stretch, I think sometimes that the dislike is grounded in the experience of inequity - ie either being fucked with by homophobes or the grating patronisation of Well Intentioned het types. Or, you know, the expectation that you *should* value het relationships (especially marriages) more than anything else.

But you either spend your whole life bitching about hets or the mens or you actually do your own shit, and that's what I think most of us do..

girlsinthecorner said...

I just want to say that I absolutely love this post.

emily said...

oh and re: queers not knowing anything about hets..

*if only* there were some het type people around for me to talk to so I could understand them, or failing that, some movies or books about them...

belledame222 said...

thanks girlsinthecorner! welcome!

emily: *snerk*

Blackamazon said...

* Claps wildly * Absolutely wildly