Personal Vs Political Woman-Hatred

I am having a ranting, stream-of-consciousness moment on a late night. I’ve also been reading on the internet too much lately, looking for distraction, maybe even some fun, but unfortunately I have become bored with incessant feminist sniping.

First up, there is the sniping about lesbian feminists being too bossy or het-bashing, or trying to convert other women. Seems many straight women have a personal horror story or two, about a lesbian friend, making sexual advances towards them. A woman friend who they had known for some time, and even loved as a friend, in a non-sexual way. To me, this scenario, or context – begs an interesting question – if a close male friend, who you loved in a non-sexual way –had made sexual advances from say, misreading your signals, would you be so repulsed, disgusted, ready to puke or be so angry and offended? I suspect not. I suspect such men would be given the benefit of the doubt, for friendship’s sake, of having made an honest but embarrassing mistake, just “got the wrong idea”, and would be let down gently, with a sincere no, but thanks anyway.

The moral of this tale is lesbian sexuality is disgusting. Speaking of vulva-phobia, as being talked about over at UndercoverPunk’s blog.

Then there is the common defence when the stereotype cartooned “hairy ugly lesbian” is raised. Het feminists are quick to take on board the hairy-legged, daggy, dykey stereotype image – but always qualify it with ” Apart from being a lesbian…”, or “I’m not a lesbian, but all the rest is true ….” Careful sisteren, your Pavlov’s Dog style conditioned gag reflex is showing.

Then there was the topic of the education of young girls, about sexual life matters. Its OK to teach them about negotiating yes’s and no’s, maybes, whens, whys and howtos, complete with terms and conditions in making a kind of contract, with male partners around heterosexuality, particularly PIV activity. And also celibacy being just fine, as an “alternative” choice in life (but only if the boys won’t play fair as a ‘last resort’).

I could understand and empathise much more, if this negotiation approach was presented as just one baby-step of many towards further feminist consciousness-raising. But its not often presented that way, unfortunately. The moral of this tale is still lesbian sexuality is naturally disgusting, and Non-negotiable, whereas heterosexuality is always Negotiable. I can understand why some lesbian feminists, would interpret this negotiation approach, as “modified separatism”. Another way of seeing it, is ‘negotiated separatism’. Celibacy is seen as a ‘last resort’, the trump card when negotiations fail. Its presented as the only alternative, not a very pleasant one, but feasible. Its rarely presented as a positive life-choice either. For some, it would be a major and emotionally painful sacrifice of a choice.

For me, I would prefer celibacy promoted to women/girls as a positive choice, not an unfortunate alternative of last resort. To that end, I would also like to see self-love and healthy masturbation as part of the sex-ed curriculum. If girls can learn to explore, be curious and love their own bodies including their vulvas, we may see less vulvaphobia.

But apparently – a woman’s pleasure is not the point of celibacy. And of course obviously – lesbian sexuality is not to be mentioned at all, except in the context of the extreme negative, the trivial, the sick, the unimportant, or basically just too much of a minority to be bothered with, because most women are not that way inclined. Apparently, even mentioning it, as a part of girls sex education, somehow excludes heterosexuals, and is just not fair. LOGIC FAIL. For even if true, (ie that most women are born that way = TRUE statement), then how could it *convert* anyone, let alone ‘exclude’ them? I have this hilarious vision of a bunch of 8-yr old girls being magically *converted* just by hearing about it – Ohhh… the magical, sorcerous power of lesbian existence, ahahaha.. I so wish!!! ZOMG.. even mentioning it as part of a sex ed curriculum, is just too dangerous (not to mention disgusting) ßhyperbole intended. Vulva-phobia again. Both celibacy and lesbianism are presented as *BAD*, but celibacy is the lesser of the two evils. Careful sisteren, again, your conditioned gag reflex is showing.

And well… Ay, here’s the nub or the rub – some folks think they are born whatever, and others, (notably radical feminists), believe it is all social construction. Those with the born-that-way approach, think the best we can do as adult feminists is to share strategies with other women and girls to negotiate their own terms and conditions for their sexuality, ensuring a recognition of the serious risks of PIV, and if the boys wont play fair on our terms, then choose celibacy as the lesser of two evils.

There’s the bottom line, in my view. Many, if not most radical feminists, and me, believe in the total social construction approach. These two approaches will always be in serious conflict with each other. The conflicting view is that under patriarchy, girls and women are socially and psychologically conditioned, through social rewards and punishments, into heterosexuality on the male’s terms and conditions, and for the sole benefit of males-as-a-class. If women get anything out of it, its an accidental by-product.

Which brings me to the topic line, the *personal* solutions of individual negotiation, might work for some women and their male partners. There are always exceptions, but this personal solution approach, no matter how successful for individual women, is not a *political* solution. –


7 thoughts on “Personal Vs Political Woman-Hatred

  1. your conditioned gag reflex is showing.

    HELL YES. That’s what I’m talkin’ ABOUT.

    Thank you both for your wise counsel (let it go) and ALSO for your efforts in restating the issue. I shall refrain from further comment at this time.

    In other matters, I agree that Separatism is about *Personal Survival,* rather than changing the system directly. SO, would you define *political* solutions as those that directly impact laws and/or official social policy? And can an individual make *political* decisions about how to conduct her own life? I’m just interested in your opinion.

  2. To be honest UCP – I think changing laws and official social policies, or social “reformism” can only ever be band-aid measures, eg access to abortion/contraception, divorce laws etc. It provides some relief for women in the here-and-now, and if it helps women *now*, then fine. As far as that goes. It enables more women to have options. But its not a *political* solution because the root always remains intact. My belief, is that patriarchy needs to be overthrown, not “reformed”.

  3. Yeah, reformism is doomed to failure. That’s one of my reasons for separating. Working within the system, trying to make it Work, is too draining of my spirit. I need to SHINE! 🙂 I’m lucky. I have some agency.

    So what else to do? Violence is an inevitability of fundamental systemic change, isn’t it? I mean, anything that involves men WILL be violent. Of that, women can be assured.

    Survival is our only hope, our greatest goal. Maximizing our collective happiness in the meantime is all we can do. Right? I wish I could come up with something less depressing! But it always comes back to… survival. 😦 Doesn’t it?

    (PS. I like your story about falling in love with your midwife. That’s beautiful.)

  4. *hugs* UCP. I’ve always been a fan of violent bloody revolution myself! But unfortunately, reality being what it is – I have to stick to fictional accounts – such as Suzy McKee Charnas’s novel series ‘The Holdfast Chronicles’ 🙂

  5. “…if a close male friend, who you loved in a non-sexual way –had made sexual advances from say, misreading your signals, would you be so repulsed, disgusted, ready to puke or be so angry and offended? I suspect not. I suspect such men would be given the benefit of the doubt, for friendship’s sake, of having made an honest but embarrassing mistake, just “got the wrong idea”, and would be let down gently, with a sincere no, but thanks anyway.”

    I don’t recall ever having had a close male friend.But for men who put the moves on me I am blunt and I don’t care about their feelings. “I’m not interested”. And if they still don’t get it I say “I am not interested in YOU”.

    I’d never treat a woman that way.

    • I don’t have close male friends, but I did have male friends make romantic advances. I told them “no thanks”, but I was really nervous about it, and didn’t continue the friendships after that. I don’t know what I would have done if they had tried something explicitly sexual. It is quite likely that I would have been repulsed, angry and offended.

      At this point in time, I think I, too, would be more gentle with a woman. Men apparently need some bluntness.

  6. I recently discussed contraception with a friend. After having talked at length about the disadvantages of the pill, I jokingly said “Or you could just not have sex.”
    Her reply was “The boyfriend wouldn’t like that.”

    That got me thinking. She didn’t say “That would be no fun”, she said “The boyfriend wouldn’t like it” … am I reading too much into it?

    (My answer was that having no boyfriend was an alternative to THAT specific problem, but I don’t think she’ll consider it.)

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