Mutiny On Lesbo Island

Note: This post is my long-overdue (sorry! ugh!) response to joannadeadwinter in our on-going conversation  about bisexuality. Specifically, this post is in response to her post, “Shipwreck on Lesbo Island.”

Joannadeadwinter made so many excellent points in her most recent post in our discussion of bisexuality that I found myself nodding so vigorously at my computer screen that it counted as a neck workout.

In her latest response, with her typical intelligence and insight, joannadeadwinter quickly hones into the actual crux of the matter, cutting efficiently through the layers of outrage, denial, argumentativeness, and occasional downright hostility that discussing this topic causes:

The real question is: What purpose does it serve to have the B lumped in with the LG? How does it add to, or undermine, gay activism and culture?

This is an excellent question, and, upon reading it, I realized that we had be focusing on the wrong question all along.

It became clear to me upon reading this question that my so-called “issue with bisexuality” isn’t really an actual “issue with bisexuality” per se, but rather, that my on-going consternation caused by seeing lesbians get hurt; lesbian space being invaded; lesbian resources being diverted; and lesbians being misrepresented because of people who are not lesbian.

My actual attitude, which probably surprises many who have completely misunderstood the Straightbian posts, is that I honestly don’t care what people do nor who they do it with! All Dirt and I are saying is that people should be honest with themselves, and with their potential partners, before embarking on romantic and/or sexual relationships.

For example: I don’t have a problem with a woman who states up-front that she is bisexual; but I do have a problem with a woman who says she is a lesbian when she isn’t.

Joannadeadwinter goes on to say:

On a superficial level, it makes sense. Unlike gender, bisexuality is about sexual minority status, or being not-straight in a straight-and-narrow world. Anyone and everyone, whether they are really homosexual or not, needs legal protection and cultural acceptance in the event that a) they are caught engaging in same-sex relations and/or b) are perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be homosexual. Laws that prevent discrimination don’t just protect oppressed classes, but also those perceived to be associated with oppressed classes.

Agreed.  Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, deserves legal rights and protections.

Initially, it likely made much sense to include everyone possible in the ever-increasing LGBTQQIAAP2S acronym (how much more are they going to add…??!!). The idea being: Power in numbers; protection for all.

At the beginning, on the surface, it likely indeed seemed to be a good idea to lump all of us, despite our obvious differences and conflicting interests, into a Crockpot and leave us there to simmer, our disparate groups remaining entangled politically, seemingly blended, for years, until some of us eventually started to reach a boiling point and started trying to climb out of the curdled stew.

Joannadeadwinter goes on to state:

Furthermore, I think the concept of bisexuality may have been helpful once upon a time when homosexual was scary, deviant, and criminal. The idea that even people straight as an arrow can and do have homoerotic desires and have same-sex encounters perhaps assisted society in seeing themselves in the gay/lesbian community and hence normalized same-sex attraction. Having more members of a minority in society, and having those minorities in the ranks of “normal” people, tends to have that effect.

Yes, I agree that the concept of bisexuality may have helped to “normalize” homosexual desire/activity to some extent back in the times when same-sex activity was illegal and downright scary, by making such desires more visible/understandable to the general public, and that is a good thing.

The unfortunate backlash, however, has been the ever-popular but false notion that being a lesbian is a choice available to all women, and the related (and equally dangerous) idea that sexuality is “fluid” which leads people to incorrectly believe that lesbians could be with men if we would just choose to.

Joannadeadwinter goes on to distinguish between “homosexual leaning bisexuals” (“Violets”) versus “hetero-leaning bisexuals” (“Lavenders”).  Her discussion, and my reply, are both focused mainly on the “Lavenders” because of this issue which is described perfectly by joannadeadwinter:

Rather it’s hetero-leaning bisexuals (lavenders) who have a habit of crashing onto the shores of Lesbo Island, then leaving when the next male rescuer comes along, but leaving the remains of the shipwreck behind. In other words, they dominate lesbian time and space, marginalize lesbians, and yet don’t contribute to the movement or culture or accept the risks of being publicly visible as lesbian

Every time a lavender joins the lesbian community, then leaves it for a male partner, a marriage, children, and straight ambitions (aka the flat with the white picket fence and apple tree), she creates the impression that this is the proper trajectory for a lesbian. Lesbianism is a phase. Lesbians really want men, eventually, once they heal from whatever trauma or brainwashing they supposedly endured. Lesbians should aspire to get married, have children, or otherwise blend into the straight lifestyle. It normalizes straight culture and straight expectations in the ONE place it shouldn’t be happening

I have also heard, more than once, about so-and-so who was convinced she was a lesbian…until she met this amazing guy! When people who call themselves lesbians or bisexuals do this in large numbers, it leaves the rest of us in the dust, coerced, not believed.

I won’t argue here whether these women are actually Straightbians all along, although that argument certainly would be made by Dirt, LOL!

Instead, let’s assume, for the sake of our discussion, that these women (“lavenders”) are indeed truly bisexual, but since, being “hetero-leaning bisexuals” who are predominantly attracted to males, they have ended up with a male and all the accroutrements of straight culture.

One of the main problems that Dirt and I are trying to address is the problem when non-lesbians purport to be “lesbian experts; and make alleged “contributions” to “lesbian herstory” which are both inaccurate and detrimental to Lesbians.

It should be understandable to all how “lavenders” defecting to Straightville are devastating to Lesbian lives.

These “lavenders” suddenly crashed upon our Isle of Lesbos, were welcomed with open arms and open hearts, seemingly integrated into our world for a time, but then suddenly were swept away by the tidal wave of hetero-privilege; leaving broken hearts, confusion, sadness, misery, anger, and miscellaneous debris for the Lesbians to clean up.

The Isle of Lesbos isn’t some temporary vacation destination to visit on the way to Heteroville, like some kind of Sapphic Bachelorette party.

But, all-too-often, lesbians are used when it is convenient and/or popular to do so, then unceremoniously tossed away like last Tuesday’s tofu when the Wienermobile pulls into town. And that is not right.

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Joannadeadwinter goes on to say:

The more time we spend focusing on the ways lesbians are Just Like Everyone Else, especially in family life and motherhood (a STRAIGHT priority, c’mon!), that is precious time and energy not spent on supporting lesbians who don’t fit the mold-childless lesbians, unmarried or domestically partnered lesbians, lesbians adopting or fostering, single lesbians, lesbians who want and NEED a safe, validating, and SEPARATE space to be lesbian their way…the way most lesbians were throughout most of history, both out of necessity and out of desire….

When you fail to honor lesbian and woman-centered culture, when you abandon us, leave your shipwreck on our island…you destroy lesbian culture and thus lesbian lives. When you leave us for straight culture, you drag us with you without our consent or leave us to get figuratively beat up by the dominant culture. And I just won’t go, and I won’t take the blows.

A recent commenter here bemoaned her observation of what she believes is the tendency of many lesbians lately to be “trying to fit into heterocentric culture”.  I understand this point, because I have seen this trend too, and I do agree with the concerns voiced by both joannadeadwinter and the recent commenter.

However, I do want to point out that, looking at this trend from an overall perspective, I feel that this tendency is at least somewhat understandable because — FINALLY, woo-hoo!! — lesbians are allowed to marry in the US; allowed to believe that we have the same opportunities in the world as do our straight peers.

Lesbians have forever been treated as different, less-than, denied the legitimacy and everyday acceptance of our heterosexual counterparts.

It is predictable that when suddenly offered the opportunity to participate in the rituals and privileges of society, that some will instinctively grab for what is perceived to be the apex of existence: for instance: marriage, family, and/or the white picket fence.

Like starving wanderers in the desert, some of us will understandably rush toward the perceived sustenance of “legitimacy” without fully comprehending their own underlying reasons.

Another point I would like to make is that most lesbians, including myself and Dirt, are just (so-called; I hate the word) “normal” people living “normal” lives.  What I mean is that we typically are not exotic, exciting creatures living a life of wild sex, drama, and debauchery. Lesbian is not a “lifestyle”. We do the same things that everyone else does: we work, we grocery shop, we watch TV, we floss our teeth, we pay taxes, we argue on Twitter, we feed our beloved furry family members.

So for some observers, seeing most of us living our “normal” lives, it may seem like we are trying to assimilate, when, in reality, we are simply being ourselves.

As I said to the recent commenter, I feel that lesbians have the right to create whatever lives we want for ourselves (of course, I mean as long as we are not harming others in doing so!).

So if we want to buy a house in the suburbs and put up a white picket fence, that is our right to do so.

Similarly, it is our right NOT to do so too: we don’t have to accept society’s ideals of a “perfect life”.

Lesbians have the right to carve out our own lives in whatever ways work best for us: whether single or partnered, whether urban or rural, whether mind-numbingly boring or chockful of thrills, whether “traditional” or “non-traditional”.

Nobody, not even another lesbian, has the right to tell us that there is a right or a wrong way to live our own lives.

However, I do think it is always in everyone’s best interests to analyze our reasoning and attempt to uncover our subconscious  motivations.

And I believe this is true for everyone, regardless of orientation.

If you feel that the fancy-white-wedding-and-white-picket-fence is your dream, it pays to look at why (literally, because these things are expensive!).  Is it truly YOUR dream, or are you trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? If you feel that it is your dream, why?  What are your life goals and what do you hope to accomplish with your life?  Would that $32,641 (the typical cost of a wedding now) be better spent on savings, investment, and/or charity?

Similarly, if you feel the need to have children, it is useful to consider your reasons and expectations. Again, is this your dream or are you buying into society’s dream?  If you do decide to have a baby, does the baby need to be your biological child or is adoption a possibility?  What are the issues and drawbacks of artificial reproduction? Etc. (Joannadeadwinter gives a detailed analysis of reproductive issues…please refer to her post for details).

By exploring all of the relevant life questions before acting, we will know that at least the options and reasons will have been thoroughly considered, no matter what the ultimate outcome is.

Circling back around the the earlier question that is at the crux of our discussion:

The real question is: What purpose does it serve to have the B lumped in with the LG? How does it add to, or undermine, gay activism and culture?

There have been recent unsuccessful attempts to separate out the never-ending LGBTQQIAAP2S acronym (such as the “Drop The T” petition, which was universally ignored and derided by the organizations purporting to stand up for ALL of our rights).

My thoughts on this are: Lesbians need to stop asking permission. We need to take what is ours. We don’t need the Human Rights Campaign’s  nor Lambda Legal’s permission to state that Lesbian is a discrete category with specific issues and needs.

What we do need to do is stop giving these organizations our money, attention, support, and time. We may have to create our own new, unspoiled organization.

Bottom line, I feel that there may have been initial practical reasons for all of the myriad groups in the acronym to have banded together at one time, but: at this point, our issues and needs are quite disparate and very frequently at odds with each other.

As a Lesbian, I have different issues and needs than an asexual, a bisexual, a transgender person, a gay man, a questioning adolescent, an intersex individual, a 2-spirit person, a pansexual, etc. And I am most certainly NOT queer either.

Lesbians have a right to demand that our unique needs are met. Lesbians need to ignore all attempts to guilt us into “being nice” and “getting along” with other members of the never-ending acronym.  Just because Lesbians are an oppressed minority ourselves doesn’t mean that we have to be sympathetic to, nor respond to the needs of, any other oppressed minorities. We don’t have to share our space and resources unless we choose to.

I feel that it is time for Lesbians to file for an amicable divorce from the “GBTQQIAAP2S” under the grounds of “irreconcilable differences”. It’s time for the L to focus on ourselves. We can wish the others of the acronym well on their journeys as we wave from the shore, and we may even provide assistance, support, and friendship to our former acronym-mates on our own terms, but it’s time to throw a coup and retake Lesbos Island for ourselves.

20 thoughts on “Mutiny On Lesbo Island

  1. I completely agree. We need to server the ties with T and stay either by ourselves or with the G. Add for the B… sorry, I still am not convinced it’s a sexual orientation. Not that I have to – anybody is free to do whatever they want, as long as they are being honest with themselves and their (potential) partners.

    Liked by 1 person

        • How kind! By the way, do you know who is primarily responsible for the 20th century pandemic of foot-and-mouth disease? Joanna will know the answer straight away, but I leave it as a teaser for your other readers.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you at least for “Lesbo Isle” rather than “the Island of Lesbos”. The answer to my very silly question is of course “Lesbian sheep”. Maybe just because I’m a linguist, I feel uncomfortable with the capitalization of ‘L’ on ‘lesbian’ in reference to sexual preference. As you know, there is a Greek island now called Lesvos (formerly Lesbos), and their sheep were indeed the origin of aphthous fever. NOT transmitted to me (supposing it could be) by the Lesbian man I had sex with there.

          It was fashionable for a while to write ‘lesbian’ as ‘Lesbian’, but I still feel that’s enormously disrespectful to both the women and men who actually come from that place. Any thoughts? Maybe that’s just me being a hypercorrect linguist. Whatever, I still take a childish pride in being one of the few people (outside of Lesvos) who can genuinely say they’ve had sex with an indisputably Lesbian man.

          Just to prove that I CAN be a little serious, when required, I can see how the linking of ‘L’ with ‘G’ is advantageous to gay men. Formerly, it was advantageous to ‘L’ too, access to funds and resources, mainly. Frankly, I can no longer see how it can be good from an ‘L’ point of view. I’m taking as granted our separation from or disavowal of the rest of the QWERTYUIOP, but I am forced to wonder how our political association (just L&G) can still be useful to you. It would be a sentimental wrench, but political separation doesn’t mean giving up (on) our individual friendships.

          Your male gay lesbian-separatist friend (who am I fooling? you all know who I am),

          petre

          Liked by 1 person

        • Oh Petre, LOL, IMHO…yes, you are indeed being a “hypercorrect linguist”. 🙂

          I tend to alternate between capitalizing or not capitalizing “lesbian”, based on my mood and/or whatever point I am stressing at the moment (because sometimes my point needs to be Lesbian with a CAPITAL L!), regardless of linguistic correctness.

          If I am writing an academic paper, I do strive for perfection…but writing informally here, I want to say whatever I want to say without having to worry about that kind of detail.

          Guess that would make me a “lackadaisical linguist”, huh? 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I might be the commenter you mention above. Sorry for the very late response, but I’ve been mulling over a lot of your points in this and more recent posts, as well as trying to figure out what my own position is. As always, I deeply appreciate your willingness to host a civil dialogue even with those who disagree.
    I realize that rebelling against “normal” just for the sake of rebelling is a value of “queer culture” (which is why there’s been such a widespread embrace of bdsm, porn, and pedophilia among that crowd, imo). I fundamentally disagree with that philosophy, and do believe that lesbians have a right to access all of the privileges and rights we didn’t have access to in the past.
    However, I think we are being asked to pay a price for those rights. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the major gains we’ve had in the US have to do with marriage and the military, which are two of the main pillars of patriarchy and capitalism. I also don’t believe it’s coincidence that the marginal social acceptance we are enjoying right now coincides with the astronomic rise in young lesbians transitioning. It’s not an issue of lesbians passively or unthinkingly supporting hetero values, but actually becoming tokens and cheerleaders for them.
    This is the conclusion I come to when I observe major lesbain orgs and nonprofits jumping on the trans band wagon and see nearly everyone in my local community going out of their way to be inclusive, not just of trans people, but of bisexuals, straight “allies”, and men.
    It almost seems as though the lesbian community (on and off line) has become increasingly hostile to non-conformity, especially gender non-conformity. I can’t deny that I see a lot of lesbians making disparaging remarks about nonfeminine or butch women, referring to them by male pronouns without their consent, masculinizing them in other ways, assuming they are trans, etc. Your posts about straightbians really helped me understand where a lot of this bizarre ideology was coming from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting points! I can definitely see & agree with what you are saying.

      As far as marriage rights, I am obviously thankful for that myself, because Dirt and I were able to marry, but in no way do I think that legally-married people of ANY sort should ever have more benefits, privileges, recognition, respect, etc. etc. etc. than non-legally-married people (either unparterned or partnered).

      And I think that lesbians (and gay men — I don’t ever intend to exclude them from the discussion, but my focus is always on lesbians), having for so long been marginalized and watched from the sidelines as our friends’ and families’ relationships were formally recognized and celebrated, are jumping on the bandwagon now that we finally have that privilege that hets take for granted.

      Plus, simply desiring the APPROVAL of society, work, family, etc. is a huge motivating factor for wanting to fit in, especially when many of us have always felt like outsiders.

      So, yes, I do agree there are multiple factors leading to many lesbians conforming to “norms” of society (or trying to).

      What you said in the last part about lesbians making disparaging remarks about butch women: wow, that is appalling and discouraging. Of course, the first question I always have is: Are the ones making the comments REALLY lesbians or Straightbians??? Because that is a huge red flag for Straightbian behavior.

      Of course, some lesbians may internalize idiocy, but one of the main problems plaguing lesbians is the fact that many people purporting to be lesbians…aren’t.

      Like

  3. I also am thankful for marriage rights … and to be perfectly honest, the idea of marrying my girlfriend in some super-sappy, fairytale-style ceremony would probably make me very happy. Im smiling just thinking about it, and probably look very silly 🙂 . And I do understand about wanting recognition for the legitimacy of our relationships. But I can’t help but feel like we are being co-opted on behalf of an agenda that’s ultimately not to our benefit. There is something about the response gay marriage has inspired among straight liberals that rubs me the wrong way. It’s as though attention is being deliberately diverted from the way marriage still functions for the majority of the world’s population: as a vehicle for the exploitation of women and the indoctrination of children into gender roles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there is something that is sort of vaguely unsettling going on lately; something like maybe the powers-that-be threw us a marriage bone to distract us from the very real problems that still exist…

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  4. I’ve associated “lavender” with “The Lavender Scare” and real homosexuals, male (predominantly) and female, fighting for legal rights. That was well before it became associated with the radfem “Lavender Menace”. The more I read about lesbian history I came to learn that the “Lavender Menace” wasn’t lesbian at all. They leave that out of many of the history books. Never heard of it being used to describe bisexuals!!!

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