This is a reflective paper for my Fundamental Concepts in LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) Studies class. The topics in this class are both familiar and unfamiliar and very sensitive to me. How often do you learn about intersex people or vaginoplasty? I blush during each class. But I love every single moment of it. The writing below might or might not make sense to you, but it holds a lot of meaning in my life...of course as a human being but mostly as a woman.
“Lesbian, lesbian, any woman can be a lesbian,” (Lavendar Jane Loves Women, Alix Dobkin, 1973). Is that so? Any woman? This quote sounds like something’s (or someone’s) for sale. I am not convinced.
In fact, I am confused. Furthermore, the Radicalesbians in The Woman-Identified Woman preach a formal definition of lesbianism that is completely foreign to me, “A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. She is the woman who acts in accordance with her inner compulsion to be a more complete and freer human being than her society allows her. She has not been able to accept the limitations and oppression laid on her by her society - the female role.” In that case, I guess I am a lesbian and I am about to explode because of this queer awakening. A lesbian by political choice. Ha! I am still not convinced.
During today’s lesson, (10.19.11, a monumental day for me!) I cried. I let myself go. I came out of the damn closet. Nope, not as the obvious closet comer-outer. I’m out as a feminist, a word which still lacks a formal definition, and on this day thanks to the Radicalesbians, while I’m unsettled with a lot of their points, I can’t help but praise their feminist madness on loving oneself and other women. Their passion is admirable and leaves me quite speechless, while at the same time, makes me want to join the fight for womanhood, sisterhood, and lesbianhood as a woman-identified woman.
I am finally convinced when Woman-Identified Woman concludes, “It [activism] is the primacy of women relating to women, of women creating a new consciousness of and with each other, which is at the heart of women's liberation, and the basis for the cultural revolution.” The ending paragraph seals the deal for me, however, only 75%. I can’t help but ask, why the development of the term “woman-identified woman”? Woman-identified woman was substituted for the term lesbian, which attracted women of all identities – feminists, heterosexuals (single/married), homophobes – everyone was involved in the movement. This discourse allowed for the creation of what I mention above: the political lesbian. As absurd and empowering as it sounds, and, contradicting, this is where my mind actually explodes because thus far, what I’ve learned about lesbianism is thrown out the window! What happened to lesbianism being innate and involuntary? Contradiction after contradiction, and such a clever part on the Radicalesbians to magnetize women!
In my previous entries (readers: I write an entry each week for this class), I've argued against socially constructed definitions…but definition gives us meaning, meaning to hold on to, and meaning that makes us feel safe and protected. Is lesbianism a biological, social, or a political judgment? Can we choose our sexual identity politically without thinking about the sex acts? Yes, according to the Radicalesbians. The political lesbian or woman-identified woman describes an attraction that is not based on the sex or the sexual; rather, it is the attraction to other women through the principles of feminism. Sweet, so does that mean I can fuck a man? Yes. But then again, why think about fucking when we have the strength of feminism? Where do we draw the line on defining lesbianism?
The Radicalesbians suggest that sex acts don’t identify sexuality. However, mainstream definitions describe lesbianism as “a [homosexual] woman who is sexually attracted to other women.” Feminist, woman-identified woman, lesbian. Whether it is based on behavior, desire, or identity it doesn’t make me or you more or less of a woman.
And yes, I am a proud and loud Women’s Studies major.