Note: This post is part of our ongoing UnSTRAIGHTening Lesbian series, and was originally posted here.
Next up in our unSTRAIGHTening Lesbian series is Radical (“political lesbian“ — AKA Het) Feminist Sheila Jeffreys.
Jeffreys was born/raised in England and later moved to Australia, taking up a professorship at the University of Melbourne. Jeffreys is known as much for her criticism of lesbians
Jeffreys’ introduction to feminist campaigning began in the early 70s when she joined a socialist feminist group (she was later thrown out for suggesting men were to blame for the oppression of women). Sandra McNeill, who met Jeffreys in that group, remembers her as “the Andrea Dworkin of the UK. She was, and still is, seen as an extreme, man-hating feminist”. Dworkin, as it happens, lived with a man, whom in 1998 she married.
Not Jeffreys. She became a lesbian in 1973 because she felt it contradictory to give “her most precious energies to a man” when she was thoroughly committed to a women’s revolution. Six years later, she went further and wrote, with others, a pamphlet entitled Love Your Enemy? The Debate Between Heterosexual Feminism And Political Lesbianism. In it, feminists who sleep with men are described as collaborating with the enemy. It caused a huge ruction in the women’s movement, and is still cited as an example of early separatists “going way too far”.
“We do think,” it said, “that all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women.” Although many of the more radical feminists agreed, most went wild at being told they were “counter-revolutionary”.
These few quotes alone, are more than enough proof of Jeffreys’ innate Heterosexuality and her calculating Hetero=privileged co-option of Lesbian for her own selfish purposes, we really do not need to write anything further.
BUT due to Jeffreys making a long career out of Hetsplaining Lesbian and dressing/strapping actual Lesbians in STRAIGHTBIAN frocks, we are!
In the Spinster and her Enemies Jeffreys looks back on early male sexologists like Havelock Ellis to devise how/why early suffragettes/feminists were scared away from girl on girl relationships:
Interestingly, while Ellis fails to truly define real Lesbians (biological), he comes closer to understanding us than Jeffreys EVER has or will. That point aside, Jeffreys like Adrienne Rich or Radfems in general, Homophobically fear/ed being seen as real Lesbians (ugly/mannish per Het norms). Jeffreys/Radfems fears were/are so great as to stop them in their tracks (according to Jeffreys) from “BECOMING”lesbians!
Jeffreys continues, but extends her Homophobia by dragging in Radclyffe Hall’s novel, The Well of Loneliness. Jeffreys cannot see past her own Heterosexuality to realize that Radclyffe and her novel’s characters were also Heterosexuals PLAYING at their Hetero notions of Lesbian.
Jeffreys obsessive hatred of Butch/Femme shows itself through this passage. Jeffreys ignorantly attributes Hall’s warped STRAIGHTBIAN ideas about Butch/Femme as proof of her own STRAIGHTBIAN notions of Butch/Femme.
In a nutshell, the STRAIGHT leading the STRAIGHT about STRAIGHTS who are pretending to be Lesbian.
In Unpacking Queer Politics Jeffreys begins:
Like many RadFems, Jeffreys hatred of men isn’t limited to Het males, she equally despises Gay men and blames her Heterocentric ideas of “lesbian” masculinity/masculine worship for early “lesbian” transitions. One only has to read where Jeffreys got her information from (Halberstam/Devor etc.) to understand where Jeffreys fucked up. If you are going to write about Lesbians in ANY capacity, in order to obtain accurate information, you just might want to get your information from actual Lesbians and not STRAIGHTBIANS. (Duh).
Jeffreys continues her Homophobia by citing more Radfem garbage from one of the BIGGEST Homophobes and known STRAIGHTBIANS-Adrienne Rich!
Again, Jeffreys criticises lesbian role playing by citing the likes of mentally fucked up Heterosexual Women (STRAIGHTBIANS) like Joan Nestle/Sally Munt/Leslea Newman/Judith Halberstam.
Jeffreys again uses faulty information from warped STRAIGHTBIANS. It is well known at this point that the inappropriately named “
lesbian sex wars” were fought by hypersexual STRAIGHTBIANS on one side and prudish STRAIGHTBIANS (like Jeffreys) on the other… actual Lesbians were NEVER involved!
MOST interesting, though, is that Jeffreys (“
lesbians who criticized“) admits to being turned on by what SHE calls dominance/submission/sado-society! Jeffreys merely convinces herself that she is better than the Califia’s and Nestle’s because she fights her NATURAL Hetero/sexual urges!
Sheila, honey, Lesbians don’t have urges to be fucked by men regardless of who’s on top!
Jeffreys then cites pro-pedophile STRAIGHTBIAN faghags Gayle Rubin and Pat Califia
to cast more aspersions on Gay men leading poor little “
lesbians” astray! Sorry, Sheila, you would have to be either a complete fucking idiot or STRAIGHT (or both) to know neither of these warped freaks are Lesbians.
Well, Sheila, you got one thing right in your Julia Penelope description(STRAIGHTBIAN), she is from the US!
From Lesbian Heresy Jeffreys continues her warped Homophobic diatribe of STRAIGHTBIAN ROLE PLAYING, or, as she INCORRECTLY deems it: “
Yes, Sheila, Lesbians actually agree these STRAIGHTBIANS are sick motherfuckers, but what they are most certainly NOT are fucking LESBIANS!
Sheila just about gets it (close, but no cigar…pun intended): Yes, sexual abuse often informs warped Hetero/sexual role playing…among STRAIGHTBIANS!
Sheila fails over and over and OVER to understand the obvious fact that these women are not Lesbians, but, rather, they are Heterosexuals who are role-playing “
lesbian“… JUST LIKE SHEILA HERSELF!
Sheila, Carolyn Stack? Really??? Straight therapist giving advice to STRAIGHTBIAN couples about STRAIGHTBIAN sex/lack thereof has fuck all to do with Lesbians again, how???
Sheila, Sheila, Sheila. You’re striking out yet again! Margaret Nicholls and Joann Loulan might be therapists, they are certainly not Lesbians!
Despite having much to say about Homosexuals, Jeffreys fails miserably to write with any accuracy about Lesbians, Gay men, or Homosexuality period and the same is true of much her ideas on Transgenders:
Statement From Dirt: “Sorry, Shelia, as a Butch Lesbian who has spent more than a decade documenting female transition (Who is Transitioning), I have yet to find a single Butch Lesbian who has transitioned. While I’m sure there might be some, they are VERY. VERY rare. You, Sheila, again confuse sexually abused STRAIGHTBIANS playing at being male who transition, NOT Lesbian and most certainly NOT Butch!”
“Identified” being the operative word, Sheila! They weren’t “proud
lesbians“, Sheila….they weren’t Lesbians at all, hence “identifying as gay men” early in their transition. You might want to familiarize yourself with cross-sex hormones and their effects on Hetero/Homo brains.
Holly Devor, Sheila, is a Heterosexual female who transitioned…NOT a Lesbian and therefore NOT a reliable source for Lesbian accuracy!
Because Sheila has no actual knowledge of real Lesbians, she likes to recycle STRAIGHTBIANS who she incorrectly believes are fucked-up sicko Lesbians in effort to give heft to her hatred of STRAIGHTBIANS who are not like her/other Radfems.
Sheila fails to make the simple connection that “CHOOSING to be a
lesbian” and “CHOOSING to be a femme” amount to the very same thing: TOTAL BULLSHIT!
Sheila, clearly Sally here isn’t even a fucking Dyke, yet here you are wholeheartedly taking her word as “
Butch Lesbian” truth. Why? Because she states what YOU want to hear! That’s not very good investigative writing ,Sheila, and it’s certainly not “academic research”: any fucking 3rd grader could do a better job!
Heather Findlay isn’t a Lesbian Sheila, therefore, she cannot be a Femme Lesbian! Those responsible for male and female transitions are Homophobes (like you, Sheila) and ALL the Radical Feminists who backed pedophiles like John Money simply because you IGNORANTLY dreamed/hoped gender was/is a mere construct, despite clear evidence to the contrary! Instead of tackling sex-based inequalities head on, Radical Feminists passively blamed gender for all Heterosexual female ills! The plague of Identity Politics jump-roped through the gender loophole left by Radical Feminists.
Sheila Jeffreys, being a STRAIGHTBIAN herself, willfully took at face value the word of all STRAIGHTBIANS, without a care as to how these Lesbian inaccuracies affected actual Lesbians, then or now. Sheila and her ilk succeeded in helping de-sex “gender“, which has led us to where we are today.