class of 1940

on wlw history

bi women are, and always have been, present in what we would consider lesbian/wlw spaces. we have always been a part of lesbian history. i am not going to coercively assign labels like ‘lesbian’ and/or ‘bi’ to deceased wlw because i find this to be disrespectful.

however, historical women involved with other women who may identify as bi today identified as butch and femme. they were a part of lesbian working class communities in 1930s and 1940s america, for example. there was no separation. there were just wlw who were involved with other genders, and then there were wlw exclusively with other women. labels like ‘lesbian’ and ‘bi’ came later.

any divide between ‘lesbian’ and ‘bi’ history is unnecessary and artificial. stop with this. it leads to forcing labels upon many deceased wlw without their consent.

this schism between bi women and lesbians occurred in the 1970s as a result of radical feminism that excluded a multitude of wlw (including bi women) on grounds that were: colonial. transmisogynistic. biphobic. antisemitic. racist. islamophobic. orientalist. misogynistic. anti black. lesbophobic.

stop keeping their legacy alive by perpetuating the myth that our histories are so separate.

no, i am not saying that mga women are suddenly allowed to reclaim the d slur, but i am asking: why is there a perceived divide between ‘bi’ and ‘lesbian’ history? we share history. we run in the same circles. usually kissing!

this is why the “doe/femme/butch/tomcat” discourse exhausts me. the debate exists in a western context as well. it exists within a framework that already posits bi women and lesbians as exclusive circles that sometimes overlapped, when really we have always been one circle, and radical feminism warped us.

countries like the one my family hails from, albania, do not have these debates. after the fall of its isolationist communist regime, wlw were freer to interact with other wlw around the world. bi women and lesbians use femme/butch/ and reclaim the d slur. they have not had the chance or the cultural influence to even separate from one another.

i feel anxious about the self identifier debate because i feel it immediately posits bi women on the outside of a lesbian culture we were always present in. this divide is literally less than , what, thirty/forty years old? when bi women and lesbians have been lovers, partners, wives, mothers, friends, confidantes, sisters, since forever? what is this??

i mean, if you, as a lesbian, are uncomfortable with the idea of using doe, ask yourself why. i created it as an alternative to femme because lesbians voiced discomfort with bi women using their self identifiers. but what is yours and what is ours? why are we inventing new language when we should be consolidating, reuniting, and celebrating one another?

Josef “Jupp” Diefenthal (SS#283 050) was born on October 5, 1915, in Euskirchen. He joined the Leibstandarte on October 15, 1935, after finishing his Abitur. Before being promoted to Unterscharführer on November 9, 1938, and Oberscharführer on April 20, 1940, he had served as group and platoon leader. Diefenthal won the Iron Cross 2nd Class on September 24, 1939, and 1st Class on June 8, 1940. He was commissioned to Untersturmführer on September 1, 1940. Promoted to Obersturmführer on September 6, 1941, he served as battalion and later regimental adjutant alongside Theodor Wisch during the first two campaigns of the Leibstandarte in the East. On April 20, 1943, Diefhental was promoted to Hauptsturmführer and given command of the 1.Kompanie. Later, leading III.(get)/SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 2, he was awarded the German Cross in Gold on October 29, 1944, and Knight’s Cross on February 5, 1945, following recommendation by Joachim Peiper on December 26, 1944. Josef Diefenthal died on April 13, 2001, in Euskirchen.

Source: Theodor “Teddy” Wisch Kommandeur 1.SS-Panzer-Division Leibstandarte, by Markus Lippl.