Friday, January 25, 2008

Lesbian Feminism

Lesbian Feminism

Lesbian Feminism is a cultural movement and critical perspective, most popular in the 1970’s and early 1980’s that questions the position of women and homosexuals in society (Wikipedia). Sheila Jeffreys defined seven key themes for lesbian feminism:

· An emphasis on women’s love for one another
· Separatist organizations
· Community and ideas
· Idea that lesbianism is about choice and resistance
· Idea that the personal is the political
· A rejection of hierarchy in the from of role-playing and sadomasochism
· A critique of male supremacy which eroticises inequality

Basically, this type of feminism is the resistance to men and heterosexuality as an institution. It originated as social groups who were seeking liberation from sexist attitudes. With lesbian feminism came the term “woman-identified woman”. This is a woman who withdraws herself from a man, to connect with another woman. Lesbian feminists see sexual orientation as a choice or response to a situation. Women who started this feminism felt that in order to reach autonomy, they must not seek approval from men or men institutions. Another belief inside this feminism is the idea of “political lesbians”. These are women who are not required to engage sexually with other women, but are expected to remain celibate. They also adopted a style of short hair, jeans, work boots, plaid shirts, etc. to reject femininity.

I agree with lesbian feminists and their idea that in order to reach autonomy women must not seek approval from men. This is important to me because I feel that in order to be myself and in order to do what makes me happy, then I can’t turn to a man for his approval. I need to do what I want and need under my own approval, not a man’s. Although I agree with many beliefs lesbian feminists support, I don’t think that I could say that I would be willing to call myself a lesbian feminist. I say this because it seems that a key component of this type of feminism is the idea that sexual orientation is a choice. Being a lesbian, I would have to disagree and say that I am a lesbian because I just am, not because I chose to be.


People: Rita Mae Brown, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Sheila Jeffreys
Books: Changing Our Minds: Lesbian Feminism and Psychology by Celia Kitzinger & Rachel
Perkins; Identity Politics: Lesbian Feminism and the limits of community by Shane Phelan; and Cultural Politics & Movements (Ch. 8) by Marcy Darnovsky, Barbara Epstein, & Richard Flacks
Articles: Unpacking Queer Politics: A Lesbian Feminist Perspective by Belinda Sweeney

Shayna Gray

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