1. Hi! I guess I'm not totally sure if you'll relate but I feel like you'll at least get where I'm coming from. Do you ever feel like sort of a minority within a minority? I swear, so often I'll start, say, reading a non-fiction book about lesbians (& it doesn't even have to be terribly political or anything) & I'll get like 5 pages in & realize it's a book written by a bisexual masquerading as a lesbian. I also feel like I get so much disappointment from so many supposedly important pieces of
2. (academic, political, feminist) writing about lesbians because inevitably so many of them turn out to be written by political lesbians, about lesbianism as a ~feminist choice~, etc. & they carry such disdain for us simple, stupid “born this way” lesbians. Even less serious things like watching a lesbian movie or reading a lesbian fiction novel often ends up disappointing because half of the content is focused on men or some character’s long past (or even present, despite being marketed or
3. framed as a lesbian character) with men. It’s so frustrating. You seek out lesbian writing or media & so often it has non-lesbians at the helm. This is going off into a different direction, but additionally it feels like the vast majority of lesbian media & writings seem so focused on lesbians who have long histories with men. It just feels incredibly alienating as a lesbian who doesn’t relate to that at all. I don’t think that I’m better than anyone else, but it just sucks feeling like
4. there’s nothing for you or about you out there, even in what’s supposed to be your niche. I’m sure I’m hardly the only lesbian who feels this way & I’m sure other lesbians who are marginalized in other ways feel a similar sense of isolation, whether they’re lesbians of color who feel alienated due to so much lesbian media focusing on white women, they’re disabled lesbians who rarely see anything representing them, etc. It’s just getting old feeling tricked all the time when I start reading
5. some writing on lesbians only to find it’s about political lesbians, bisexuals masquerading as lesbians, het women waxing poetic about their ~choice~ to prioritize women (as if that has anything to do with lesbianism)…& basically anything but female homosexuality. Anyway I’ll quit clogging up your inbox now haha!
I share your frustration, anon… There’s really nothing for lesbians out there and goldstar lesbians even less so. We’re just anathema to this culture, and constantly reminded of it by the defeaning silence about our experiences.
“so many supposedly important pieces of (academic, political, feminist) writing about lesbians inevitably turn out to be written by political lesbians, & they carry such disdain for us simple, stupid “born this way” lesbians.” I talked about this a lot with oceanlesbian a few months ago when we were reading Tamsin Wilton’s Lesbian Studies. Although she makes a lot of interesting points, we felt that some parts sounded iffy or not like something a lesbian would say, and chalked it up to the fact that you can’t be a lesbian in academia and get anything published unless you are willing to toe the line and queerify your speech. But then there was a chapter where Wilton quoted a homophobic academic who said “Lesbians who protest that their relationship is better
than any possible intimacy with a man do not know what they are
really missing”, and her rebuttal was something like “This man is so ignorant that he seems unaware of the substantial numbers of women who choose lesbianism after years of heterosexuality!”
Even if you carefully filter your reading material so that all of it is (purportedly) written by lesbians, it’s always this guessing game, “Is the author a real lesbian making a few lesbophobic remarks here and there to pay lip service to bihets to get them off her back, or is she a lesbophobic mlw calling herself a lesbian?” and it usually ends up being the latter. It’s exhausting.
“Even less serious things like reading a lesbian fiction novel often ends up disappointing because half of the content is focused on men” So true, and it’s hard to imagine how we could get more lesbian characters with no history with men when we’re already vilified just for wanting lesbian fiction to have lesbian rather than bisexual characters - I was talking with @supergiraffes recently about this “lesbian” publishing house that published a disgusting article on their website last month titled “Bitching about Bisexuality”, in which they essentially called lesbians evil for asking to have separate categories for “lesbian fiction” and “bisexual fiction” - so that they would stop stumbling upon hetero sex scenes in books marketed as “lesbian fiction”. Sounds evil, right? Of course the author called this biphobic and said “Whaaat? ‘Books written by bisexuals shouldn’t be counted as lesbian fiction. Books with bisexuals as main characters shouldn’t be counted as lesbian fiction.’ Lesbians said these things. Lesbians put these things in writing.” Evil, evil lesbians. This bi woman, endorsed by the “lesbian” publishing house, not only characterised this reasonable request as oppression, saying “a marginalized community still can’t help but marginalize others” but also compared it to racial segregation and lesbians to racist whites defending Jim Crow laws.
The last sentences of her article are “We’re all queer. Get the fuck used to it.”
That’s not even the worst part - supergiraffes wrote a post (not tagging them or anything) saying she was looking for books written by lesbians, with a lesbian main character, and this publishing house that claims to be a lesbian company publishing lesbian fiction replied on her post telling her to check out their books since they are “by and for queer ladies.” When supergiraffes said she was specifically looking for lesbian, not queer books, Ylva Publishing replied that they “used the term queer because not everyone looking for ‘lesbian books’ is determined to exclude all other queer women from the narrative.”
When a lesbian writing a post on her own personal blog about how hard it is to find any book that reflects her experiences is immediately shut down by a lesbian publishing house who writes “lesbian books” in scare quotes and scolds her for being “determined to exclude all other” groups, I think we can say we’ve hit rock bottom.
As you say, all of this “has non-lesbians at the helm.” That’s exactly the point Julia Robertson was making in that article I just reblogged - “Publications that are lesbian in name, make it seem like we’re okay with redefining ourselves, erasing ourselves… We’re not. Someone needs to fight and give lesbians a voice. Because lesbians don’t currently have a voice. We have the illusion of a voice. And the silencing of lesbian voices within the alphabet is unparalleled. It’s 2017 and we’ve been so heavily censored, that we’ve gone underground.”