Heterosexuality and Feminism

Recently in a radical feminist space, someone made a case for intercourse, also called PIV (named for the parts), being a form of trauma-bonding. Intercourse is a specifically heterosexual act, which PIV makes even more clear. Intercourse poses inherent risks for a woman. While it may or may not be inherently hard on a female body, she has to trust that he will be careful enough, and receptive enough to her feedback, that he does not injure her. Each and every time: earned and maintained, this trust. Or his “sex” is actually his “raping” her: sex to him is rape to her and she, justly, is the judge. There is the risk of pregnancy, and of sexually transmitted disease. In reality, she is in bed with his entire sexual history of peopled intimacy. There is also the risk of his releasing into her body whatever toxins he has ingested or absorbed from whatever source, voluntary or unwitting. And she can never know what these toxins are, or what he is willingly imbibing that he doesn’t feel the need to disclose to her! All this accounted for, trauma bonding still seems a bit extreme.

If heterosexuality is coerced under patriarchy, being thin is also coerced. This does not automatically mean that if you’re thin, you’re complicit. Since some women are genetically thin, there is no reason to discount it as a way of being, no reason to fight Nature — to fight one’s own body. Having a privileged attribute does not automatically equal self-change to comply, or complicity. To some extent this even works with heterosexuality. Even intercourse. Dangers and all.

But let’s talk about privilege. There is an inane notion circulating among radical feminists — that if it isn’t delightful it isn’t privilege. Privilege is a about a comparison the powerful make: one group is privileged, or rewarded, at another group’s expense. To be rewarded for being in a group does not imply heaven-on-earth for its members. It simply means they will be treated better than the comparison group. Most of privilege just feels like basic, decent treatment. And if you grew up thinking you deserved basic decent treatment, privilege will not astound you.

We don’t, individually, get to claim or disclaim our privilege. That’s not within our power. Heterosexual women ARE privileged over lesbians in all manner of institutional power dynamics: in the workplace and in seeking employment, in schools, in governmental agencies and law, in medicine and religion. In access — in gaining and in sustaining that access. In social valuation. Under patriarchy, heterosexual women are valued, culturally, well above lesbians, and it is precisely for the complicity, the capitulation, that patriarchy understands it to be, that it is rewarded. Patriarchy also values thinness in women, and it’s roughly the same situation: thinness is seen as a sign of capitulation (whether it is or not).

Continuation of the species does suggest that some women might naturally, willfully reproduce. A Nature that is at least neutral would mean there is some sort of female buy-in to this reproduction thing in general. My childhood on a farm means I’ve witnessed female (other-) animal heterosexual desire. Since I don’t take Nature as innately or always cruel, the fact of some adult female humans being inclined toward heterosexual pairing does not surprise me. But some does not imply all. Even among wolves, generally only the alpha female and male mate (and she is said to dominate mating season and den location); the rest of the pack usually does not produce offspring — they do not mate. Shere Hite found that a mere 30% of women even have the capacity to orgasm during intercourse. Can it be said with any credibility that it’s natural for the remaining 70%? And what of those female animals who resist, and then are raped, even gang-raped, or fight back and stop the rape, injuring the male aggressor — don’t their different experiences factor in?

If hetness is seen as a form of capitulation by the oppressor elite, then why do we accommodate them? Why are some women heterosexual? The reasons are undoubtedly many, and somewhat varied, and that should be another essay. Beyond cause, though, we need to look at what the effects of heterosexuality for feminists really are. We need to understand that to be het means to miss the mark of one form of loyalty to girls and women: we have pledged time, energies and a certain amount of loyalty to our oppressors. This is reality. Having sons only further reduces the loyalty available for women and girls, and having sons within a rape culture endangers loyalty to females terribly.

I also think we heterosexual-privileged women need to consider our credibility. We should be subject to the same kind of ‘disregard of expertise’ that prostituted women still within the clutches of the sex industry receive. When your very life, down to the continuation of your breathing, depends on spinning the institution in the most positive light, you cannot be objective, or honest. Self-preservation also means that certain truths remain hidden, even from oneself, so that terrible realities don’t become unendurable, overwhelming. In the eyes of the culture that both demands and rewards it, to be a “wife” is a form of prostitution, of sexual servicing availability. To be a heterosexual woman but not a wife merely means the form of payment varies some. To be a woman who has sex with men means to be someone who is violated, penetrated, fucked. This is the only option the patriarchal mind can envision.

What, then, does it mean for a heterosexual feminist to say, “I love intercourse”? What exactly does she love and for what reasons? And what are the real political implications of that announcement in a culture where PIV is both compelled and viewed as capitulation? In a culture where woman-loving is always devalued under patriarchy’s terms of power?

Does it mean she’s delighted to a fuckable object? To be chosen thus? To be overtaken, penetrated like an enemy line, the demarcation the vulva in this war against women? I doubt it! And yet too often this is what intercourse, called “sex,” means to men.

Does it mean she has experienced intercourse as an integral part of “lovemaking,” where he has met and held her eyes, carefully, bridging across their separate humanness, to show her how much he values her, loves her, cares about her, puts her needs on par with his own? Does it mean she rejoices in the delights of her animal body and the intimate joys she finds in sharing it with a beloved other?

Does it mean she is backing feminist minds away from the idea of trauma bonding, and telling us all that it needn’t be so for those of us who are willing to risk the perils and live among men?

Does it mean that the sensations of intercourse, separate from its cultural or sexed meanings are pleasurable to her? Where, then, to put the cultural and sexed valuations, and the hierarchy that puts woman-loving far beneath man-loving, within the patriarchal frame? Can we really ever be separate from the effects of these? And what does it mean to lesbians, already culturally devalued, when we state our allegiance so openly to the oppressor class? It can’t be positive.

So what, then do we do? We work for women, we work for the empowerment of girls. We work for female physical and mental health and safety and nourishment and nurture. We work to grow the bonds across difference that know can be created, and we work to sustain them — we listen, especially carefully, to those women over whom we wield very real power in our privilege, and we learn and then we do (whatever needs doing). We give more to women and girls than we do to men and boys, and we hope this is enough to help build a woman-affirming feminism.


69 thoughts on “Heterosexuality and Feminism

  1. I found this a very nuanced and intersting article. I’d have to say, if a privileged class is so rewarded for a certain type of behavior, then one has to question it and really question it closely. I don’t view lesbian life necessarily from the lens of oppression. I view it from the lens of having my personal space, love life, intellectual achievements and financial triumphs all my own — not owned or controlled by men. It means I don’t sell my body to men for food, clothing and shelter. It means I didn’t swallow the hetero cool aid. After all these decades of feminist activism, I think really that hetero women have sold out, and do aid and abet the enemeies of women’s liberation. The production of sons is the production of future rapists, or at the very least energy drains on the life of lesbians who want freedom.

    • Thank you. There is always the strong possibility that the production of sons is the creation of future rapists, and I think it’s vital that feminists understand it, at least. I think it’s important for feminist mothers of sons to be honest and speak honestly about this — about how much shaping we really can do vs. how much we overly-optimistically thought we could, about what we would do if we found our sons to be rapists, about what our responsibilities really are.

  2. Should lesbians really bother to work with hetero women all that much. I think it does come down to a question of loyalty and time. When I am with women I devote 100% of my energy to that woman. However, if I do this with hetero women, they can take that energy and bring it back to their homes, and it gets shared with men and boys. Hetero women expect me to want to be in the presense of their husbands or sons, and I never want to be with men. I find them socially reprehensible at best, and rapists at worst. I can see them stealing energy from women. Our revolution as enslaved people is doomed as long as hetero women continue to aid the enemy of women. Men the degraded and monsterous species, the Y chromosome deteriorating over time have declared their war on women. As long as women are given the hand outs of male privilege by default, as long as the structure is male supporting and enhancing, how will women ever be free?
    What is remarkable about this post, is that a straight woman is even addressing these issues. Nothing threatens straight women more than when I declare that they should name the agents of women’s oppression. Het women love to hide behind things — they say they are against domestic violence, but will not name men as the oppressors of women. They are afraid, because they are the ultimate conflict of interest. We waste an interminable amount of activist time on het women’s issues — boys, birth control, their obsessions with beauty and shopping and manism. Endlessly, their time is used up. Hetero women are just the coopted lands of men, that’s all hetero life really is. Now some cages are guilded, and some men may actually care for their possessions, very much the way some men take very good care of their cars, while other men do not. A woman is a possession to a man, nothing more. Men have come up with millions of ways of hiding this fact in the west, in the east they are simply more honest.
    Men of the west use men of the east as a threat— see how good you have it hear, compared to Saudi Arabia they crow. Yeah right. I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that if women persist in giving birth to boys, the system will not change. What if they stopped doing that in the west? What if they lied to men and accidently on purpose continued to have daughters?
    What would happen then?

    • I think choosing to have daughters would have an incredibly positive effect on the planet, and its cultures. I doubt it’s enough, but it would be a start. Obviously I’m not in complete agreement on the nature of we het-privileged women, but for the most part, while I see potential in us, I see what you describe actually happening.

      I still think it’s possible, at least potentially, to live within heterosexuality and work against the institution; I don’t see hetness as particularly normal, only oversold, coerced, enforced. And it still thrills me to meet women who have slid right past the sales pitches, coercions, enforcements to live women-centered and women-full lives.

      I certainly don’t expect Lesbians to work with me, but I am always pleased when they are willing to do so. Any alliance across privilege is dangerous to the more-marginalized woman and should be a serious honor to the one with the privilege. I am honored — thank you for the feedback.

  3. Just suppose we admit, that as long as women live with men and produce boys, we will not have global women’s liberation? Why not just state this and be honest about it. There will be no end to patriarchy if women’s time is used up in sexual and emotional and material unpaid support of men and boys. Everything women do that is unpaid work, supports male supremacy, gives men energy and power, and then they come to work ready to attack me. Hetero women enable these monsters to function on jobs, hetero women are always making up excuses for their exception men and boys. This astonishes me to no end, because I see how their husbands act at work, I see how the boys behave out in the world. I see how a governor’s wife actually vouched for her movie star sexually harassing husband, thus winning him the governorship. Perhaps we should come up with a system where women and men did not live together, and where boys were raised in boys homes. PIV would be for procreation only, and any man who violated these terms of agreement would be castrated. I don’t think women living with men will ever get us anywhere. It is just the excuse women want to gain a comfortable life, and there is so much propaganda promoting this, that one wonders. Perhaps women keep thinking they will be close to men having sex with them. But if only 30% of women in the Shere Hite study feel sexually satisfied at all, maybe it is just the illusion of having a man on the arm socially, or the house, or the higher standard of living, which is the norm for hetero women compared to lesbians. Lifelong lesbians have a powerful self respect, we have never sold our bodies, and it makes us a very different people energetically. Perhaps we should no longer waste our precious powerful woman resources on women who are going to give it away to men anyway— just the energy theft alone is significant.

    • Hi, Sheila — I haven’t answered this because I’ve been thinking about it a lot. Mostly I have questions. What if heterosexual women were to give — guaranteed give — 51% of their time, energy and care to women and girls? What if women were to ally first, not with their sons (or any men who were kin), but with women and girls who said these sons (men-kin) had raped them? What if women were to refuse to do unpaid work until and unless men did 51% of that first?

      I completely agree with you that men come in to work having been pedestalized, pampered and relieved of so much responsibility that they have an advantage over female coworkers. I also can’t personally name any woman who is full-scale willing to defy the rules of hetness in such dastardly ways — except me. And, yes, women react to me too often with horror: I am a bad, bad het. So be it.

      Personally I don’t like “If only everyone …” solutions because I think the only way to get to them is violence — force or coercion, still violence. I’m not opposed to violence against the oppressor, but I’m not convinced aiming it at women is an effective tactic. So, what if het women stopped putting men and boys first, stopped covering for them and rose-petaling their pathways? Could we begin to foment a revolution then?

      I really don’t know for sure. And I don’t know that this is going to be good enough, concession enough, for lesbians to want to work with us. And maybe het women need to prove ourselves worthy, and not a waste of time, before that decision is made anyway?

      • I do this! I am a bad het too! I am so damn mean, what with my living alone, in my own house, with my own pets — who men constantly disparage my relationship with, because they are appalled (!) that I give my emotional energy to dogs and cats instead of DUDES — and my own career. And I constantly call out male violence, even though so many of my female friends try to shame me for it. (Others quietly let me know that I inspire them). Here’s the thing though – I only gained emotional independence after I gained financial independence, and I only gained financial independence after a dear woman friend helped me out of (educational) debt. Now I try to help my other women friends who are on the poverty line – but sometimes they have too much pride to let me. I had to overcome that pride too, but once I accepted that gift my life changed so much for the better. But why is it so hard for women to accept a no-strings financial gift from another woman? Could it be because we are STILL trained to exchange our very lives for the support of a man? So these women think I’m going to expect something from them too? I think we need an “underground railroad” of sorts, to get more women out from under the strain of poverty (which, in a capitalistic society, makes you feel emotionally worthless as well).

  4. “And it still thrills me to meet women who have slid right past the sales pitches, coercions, enforcements to live women-centered and women-full lives.”

    Sales pitches… yes, that is a good description of heterosexuality. I can’t say how I slid past this. I could see that men had no interest in women as full human beings, and boys when they are teenagers are socially incompetant. I didn’t see the point in trying to reform them or civilize them. They were born incompetant, and were proped up by the system of male privilege. On their own, they failed.

    • You’re making me think! Thank you. ‘Reforming’ males as the requirement to dealing with them at all ….

      It occurred to me that with my description of “If only all would …” options, I said that coercion is violence. I think it’s true. But it’s interesting because there is another word that means coercion: compulsory. And it’s often paired to form the phrase ‘compulsory heterosexuality.’ To be het is never served up as AN option for females under patriarchy, it is THE option, expected, enforced, demanded, and so on, by the patriarchs and their agents. Logically then, heterosexuality is founded in violence. And any woman who engages in hetness has to pass through this open field of horrible understanding: at its base, heterosexuality for women is an acquiescence to violence. It may or may not be an evasion of violence (to acquiesce means to evade open hostility). But it is a certain giving in to violence. A woman in this field is alone, a solitary target. The only women she is allowed to see are those who already struck this bargain; the men she sees are powerful beings who have the privilege to demand complicity, even if they are kindly toward her. Even if they have been her lifework: they have been reformed.

      To be a lifelong lesbian means that this field, this acceptance of life and of ‘normality’ as necessarily violent, is never crossed. Or it’s a different field, one where the culture takes its shots, but life is not necessarily alone or lonely — other lesbians share the field.

      Some of the youngers I see couple het-wise, and these (rare) young men manage to evade the power abuses and the expectations of privilege far better than did their fathers. I’m not inclined to call the young women off, but I do watch. Because age, for men, brings an awful increase in privilege. What would these young women be without the sales pitches that framed their lives? Do they see — yet — the inherent violence within their choice? Will they?

  5. It is hard to say how lesbians could with integrity work with hetero women. Not that we don’t, but do hetero women really have what it takes to go that extra mile. They easily get threatened, seem unwilling to really try, still insist on having boys, and defending them no matter how awful said boys are. I don’t see having boys as getting us anywhere. We have overpopulation, we have boy excess in certain parts of the world, and that will result in rape, polygamy and war. That is the fact of excess males. We have not tried the reverse.
    How does one work across privilege? I don’t know the answer to this. I see heterosexual privilege, but it is really the guilded cage variety. I have always been indifferent to what others think of me, and certainly am not interested in social approval. Most het women are addicted to this; addicted to male approval. So I don’t know the answer, and I don’t know how they can love the men who actually have no love for them. Men pretend this love; hense the stupid rituals of engagement rings, getting down on one knee, their attention etc. but it is all a lie. Everything men say to women is a complete and utter lie. They never tell the truth, but women want to believe, just as they believe that they can raise sons, when we all know patriarchy raises them. Women are just the slave labor, and like the white children raised by black women, they still turn out to be the masters in the end.
    I don’t meet hetero women who are at all interested in this hard discussion. They get offended when I want to protect myself, they think their men are safe, they have no respect at all for my personal sense of safety, and men are inherently unsafe. Women love to vouch for their husbands. They do this all the time–Maria Shriver being a recent example, Elizabeth Edwards and on it goes. Clearly they are deluded pawns in the male game.
    A feminist revolution would require a great deal of sacrifice on the part of hetero women, and I just don’t see them up to the task. But a discussion like this is a very good start. At least we can say what is what, and that is better than silence. Good luck with this.

  6. Male approval addiction certainly creates deluded pawns, I so agree! I don’t know how to get het women talking, in any significant numbers, about this male approval addiction. I know that most het feminists still believe in beauty, still believe that the standards are somehow separate from patriarchy and not innately useful to bolstering men’s power. Somehow, magically, they are thought to simply exist in some framework quite separate from politics. But the purpose of beauty is, from all I’ve seen, to be “right” in male esteem, which only serves to boost male power. Or, ‘beauty’ and male approval desire seem to go together: in order to attract male attention, one needs to know the standards and to be able to follow, or at least mimic, them, and our shorthand for those standards IS ‘beauty.’ Possibly we humans have a draw to health — I can accept that. But the targets of male approval go far beyond any valid measure of health. I think that when feminists buy into beauty standards as if they have real woman-centric meaning, the game’s lost already.

    I also think it’s discomforting for het women to focus so closely on women — I think it works as a mirror to show that we still, at the core, mostly despise our own sex. I’m an artist of sorts, and I’ve long said that if I couldn’t see the ‘beauty’ in someone, it was my lacking, not hers. I’ve said this to try to get dialog begun, because het women do seem to hierarchalize appearance, and can often ‘part a woman out’ for analysis, naming every flaw and every asset, to an absurdly infinite degree. As if the flawed parts are exchangeable at the mall. This seems to be evidence of self-hate. I would love to be wrong on this, though.

  7. It’s interesting that you think het women can at times mostly despise their own sex. I actually have no problem with the idea of beauty and the pursuit of it, but I am cautious when women all feel the need to look a certain way; the uniformity of almost all het women wearing make-up, for example. It feels socially coerced to me. Beauty is something else, and I don’t know what it would take to get het women to really start talking about this and getting serious about this. They get extremely threatened when I make even obvious comments like “Why are you changing your last name to your husband’s last name?” To get them to even admit they are caving to male ownership codes pushes them, and that’s an easy one.
    But there could be an exceptionally strong subtext of female self-hatred– analogous to perhaps internalized homophobia. Even lesbians can freak out when they encounter lifelong lesbians who are not feminine presenting, but rather butch positive. Bev does a much better job describing this than I do.
    I don’t hold out hope of women’s liberation as long as het women continue to marry men and produce more future rapists. Het women could at least stop having boy children as a protest against male supremacy, and attempt to shut down half the human race. It could be done, and I think young Japanese women are actually doing it; they aren’t having kids period, and Japan has a severe shortage of children now. Japanese women are doing this stealth; they know they have freedom, they know they don’t have to marry or have kids, and they’re not.

    • The name-changing, once a mere alternative, has once again taken hold. I don’t understand how women can lose a lifetime identity so easily! As to Japanese women, that is fascinating and I need to research!

      • When I was married (I’m not any more) my mother-in-law would send me cards addressed to “Mrs. Full Husband Name.” Note that not only did I NOT take his last name but she was addressing me as Mrs. *hisfirstname plus hislastname*. I threw them all away without opening them. She’d ask, “Did you get my card?” I’d say “Hmm? No cards came addressed to me. Some came addressed to Mrs. Full Husband Name but since my husband hasn’t had a sex change operation I assumed that was junk mail.”

  8. Het women of different social classes use the material discussion of purses, make-up, beauty products and weight loss as a kind of default conversational gambit they way men do sports babble. As a radical lesbian feminist and a complete outsider to this insane system of hetero hierarchy, I find all of it boring and absurd. Lesbian in group conversations have a whole different energetic dynamic, we have a great need to know each other’s truth, and not much reason to socially lie and playact to the degree het women seem to do.
    Again, I don’t know what the answer is, since het women I know never begin feminist conversations on their own. I have to initate this process and they are easily terrorized by a radical lesbian; we do threaten everything they stand for, and our indifference and self-sufficiency is a challenge to their social status and privilege. They could stop having sons, that would be a beginning, but they are male addicted to that as well, that and the social approval showered on mothers of sons… it is the opiate of hetero-women.

  9. When I don’t react enthusiastically to a woman friend’s regaling of a weight-loss story, the conversation usually stalls. I think it should, at least momentarily, so that weight-loss-talk isn’t a form of chain-burnishing bonding. Some of us resist (some of us are longtime anti-diet activists). But real-talk among hets is rare, and tough to maintain. Real relationships among women are hard to find and harder to maintain. I’m blessed to have access to a few that really don’t have playacting at all. None of the women I’m thinking of have sons, or have sons that are anything more than disappointments to them. Oddly, that seems to help. Interesting!

  10. but I realized recently that I have no het women friends who have sons, none. If they have sons, they just are impossible to deal with, and I grew tired of the stultifying conversations. So I just don’t want to oooo and ahhh over boyism. One woman went on and on about her supposedly genius son, who ruined his life with drugs, but she was sure he was still going to be great. I lost my temper and said, “You white straight son screwed up, he dropped out of school, he is an addict, and there are plenty of ambitious girls out there who should not have to deal with him. He failed, and in this economic client, loser white boys aren’t going to be coddled in the work place anymore, get used to it. He is not a genius, he is a god damn idiot, and stop saying this nonsense around me STOP IT NOW!” Well that was a show stopper. I don’t think het women have any idea how disgusted lesbians get with their son worshipping behavior, no idea, but I won’t put up with it anymore. That is the end of that, so het women and lesbians STOP having sons, stop the production of the oppressor class, and let’s get a global movement going of male refusal. We can end their war on us by stopping the manufacture of this defective and horrifying nightmare of a human product.

  11. Women can lose a lifetime of identity because the patriarchal game of name change hasn’t been completely outlawed, which it should be. You have to create a law so that no male coersion can flourish, and het women cave right and left to men when they are young. I see this caving and simpering shuffling and jiving all the time. It’s a horror story. And they come up with lame ideas as to why they are caving to male supremacy with the name change…. don’t you believe in family unity? was one good one. I said, don’t you believe in freedom, and why doesn’t your future husband change HIS last name… family unity. This was incomprehensible to my smart 28 year old friend. Mind boggling, the hetero patriarchy is alive and well.

    • I just discovered I can’t go out of the country unless I spend small fortunes to get a passport. I didn’t name change with marriage to a man. Nope, I did it with marriage to a woman, at least what there was allowed back then, and then had to fight family to keep the name she and I shared when I married him. And it was a great idea to claim our name, she and I … except that I think the commonality of female name-changing lured me into forgetting about potential consequences.

      I suspect my daughter will change her name to her boyfriend’s, and while that makes me sad, there’s the fact of having a boyfriend she intends to marry. Admittedly I wasn’t the role model I could have been.

  12. Even though this thread is three months old, can I, as a hetero-but-independent-of-male-support-or-approval (yes, I’m celibate) feminist say, that the pornification thing is really getting me down? THE HELL? All these young women want to look like porn stars and in fact feel like they *have* to look that way to get attention and they *have* to get that attention to exist. One of them sex-pozzies just posted a pic of her tits to a rad fem website saying “just presenting a different brand of feminism.” THE HELL? I don’t need to see your tits, girl. Don’t you have something to SAY that doesn’t involve how you LOOK?

    • I can remember when women fought to be more than appearance. What happened? And what does it mean to showcase a female body’s arguably most-objectified ‘parts’? If not collaboration, complicity?

  13. Patriarchy is stronger than most women think, and social pressure on girls and women to be porn objects goes on night and day. It’s worse than at any time I’ve been alive. I can’t fathom the answer really. As a lesbian, I was never interested in male or boy pleasing ever. Not when I was a kid, not in junior high, not ever. I realized recently that there might be a reason for this; the advertising has not been directed at me to begin with. Images of lesbians in the media are few and far between, the entire straight world is well represented in the media, but hardly any women who look or act like me. This can be bad, in that the alternatives to male supremacy and forced marriage to men (a global industry), lesbian nation and power, is hidden from view. That’s the bad part, but I also realized, no one is trying to sell me make-up or the perfect chocolate or a vacation to Hawaii either. Nothing is sold to me, and therefore, I am largely indifferent to rampant capitalism and the America obsession with ownership of things.

    But other straight women are sold this bill of goods, the weight loss plans, the be beautiful in clothing ads, the play up to and win a man stuff…. all of it horrifies and bores me. So I can’t fathom why hetero women seem so out of it, so willing to degrade themselves in marriages to their “hubbies.”

    That is the curse of hetersexuality for women as it is sold in the media. They perceive lesbians as not being a “market” the way gay white men are. Good I say. Let them believe we are not a market for anything. But I do worry about the marriage industry bearing down on us now, and it is a huge industry, to which ALL WOMEN are vulnerable. That and baby babble that lesbians are now getting into. Boy babies. This is not looking good at all.

    • Oddly, I wasn’t either. But I do see it in other het women, and horribly so. And you’re right, the pornification of femalehood is far worse than it was when I was a kid, five or so decades ago. But in the same way the weight loss industry suddenly went after men, and Hispanic men first, at least in the northwest, the culture is now going after lesbians, this time as a general “market.” Motherhood, now marriage, which is a really expensive industry itself!

      Actually there was a push toward lesbian motherhood in the late 80s — I can vouch for that. (My lesbian doctor had some info she photocopied for me on having girl babies, which seems to have worked, but there is still the compelling motherhood … meaning assimilation … part of it.)

  14. At the very least, you’d think that lesbians would not have sons. Sheesh just the basics and self-respect alone. Although I did hear the other day that anorexia is on the rise with young men, because of the ads directed at objectifying the male body now. Of course they were very alarmed, the way the got when men were wearing plateform shoes in the 70s and suddenly doctors were getting alarmed. Ads control people. Women are under cult mind control in advertising.

  15. I never saw heterosexuality as a privilege. What’s so great about wanting to be dicked when you are horny. What is so great about fantasizing about how big your male friend’s cock is, and what it would be like to ride it?
    I find no freedom or happiness in these desires, just pain and anger. Having sex with men is not fun or empowering at all. It’s traumatic and scary, because you are well aware that the man does not see you as anything but his hole. And you feel you are constantly being looked at and your body is being judged.

    I don’t care that intercourse is sexually desirable, heterosexuality is a choice. I don’t buy it when feminists marry, have sex with men, or have children.

    Desiring men sexually does not mean you must give into oppression. Fuck that shit. They can refrain from intercourse just like all the lesbians, and assexuals.

    • skulldrix, I’m surprised by your misunderstanding of privilege. Privilege is NOT excellent treatment, lavish comfort, or other benefits. It’s those benefits in relation to others who don’t get them. Privilege always has a reference group. It is always ‘privilege over.’

      I’m also not real comfortable with your version of heterosexuality. Really? And who are you speaking for? The women I know don’t tend to part out other people, a large penis is a Thing to straight men (the het women and gay men I’ve talked with, meaning they mentioned it, aren’t wowed by size, since it tends to mean pain), and being penetrated is a patriarchal plus but not really a female human one, given how few women are even capable of orgasm with intercourse. The image of het womanhood you create is just the inverse of normal het manhood; only the parts are reversed, the using and the objectification remain the same.

      Women can and often do bring to sexuality an entirely different dimension. We share, we explore, we meet our lovers as interesting equals and we work to discover those areas where our lovers haven’t yet learned their passions — or we work to find pleasurable ways to experience them. Female sexuality tends to be far more mutual, far more outside the mind-bubble of interior replay, compared with either pornified or objectifying male sexuality. Of course female sexuality can be pornified, too, and what a loss!

      Absolutely, heterosexuality is a choice. No disagreement there. And it’s not up to you to buy anything about feminists — marrying, having sex with men or having children. There are far too many people, especially empire’s whites, on this planet. Women who do have relationships (including sex with men) are entirely bound to being challenged on loyalties; feminists’ first loyalties are to women and girls, period. I’m sure I’ve said it here but it’s not an original thought: anything that requires ALL of a group’s participation will also require violence to meet that goal. And I am not an advocate of violence against sisters for the good of sisterhood.

      Oppression, by the way, is not something you can evade by conscious choice. Any woman who capitulates to the demands of her oppressors is a traitor to her own. There are many ways to do this. Heterosexuality is huge; so is femininity, and using/defending pornography, and claiming that it is divisive to discuss racism within feminism, and ignoring the slavery inherent in the products we use daily — or in the foods we eat, in factory farming and industrial agriculture and in the treatment of the workers who labored to get then to us. I am in a decent, workable relationship with a man, whom I love, and I work be an idiot and a jerk to end it. Instead, I work to ameliorate the ways in which I am a traitor to my sisters by being an advocate for women and girls in every sense that is presented to me. And in some I go looking for, too.

      • When I say heterosexuality is not a privilege I mean it in a sarcastic manner. Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to men, but at the same time it ties you to the people that oppress you and causes a bunch of emotional and psychological fuckery.

        Heterosexuality has been more of a terror on my life, and my growth as a feminist. It’s given me unwanted desires, and feelings for men that are pretty much assholes.

        Heterosexuality is extremely alienating.Sexuality has caused so much pain in my life, It’s left me emotionally drained and literally suicidal.

        That’s why I am against heterosexuality. I think women should reinvent a female sexuality, so we don’t have these stupid male-mythologies dominating it.

        I’m a sexual egalitarian. I don’t think sex should always be PIV, neither should it be defined by the sex of who you do it with. And it shouldn’t be objectification either.

  16. I don’t know why there is this big debate about the validity of choosing women in lesbian relationships as a conscious choice. This is not the best written sentence, but a lesbian life is a complete and utter choice. That’s why hetero men do everything in their power to erase our existence to pornify us, and to make it very economically hard for women to flourish without males invading our homes and lives. Fortunately, there are some of us who simply refuse to have anything to do with men. We watch our heterosexual sisters waste thei

  17. r time on men, reproduce yet more boys who will grow up to rape, kill and make women miserable. Hey it’s ok, it’s called heterosexual privilege and women love it. They take the easy way out, they sell their bodies to men. It’s what they do, and it will successfully prevent a real feminist revolution worldwide. But some of us just don’t buy it. We want real relationships with women, we see men as mutants, as genetic monsters out to destroy the planet, and they are doing it. Privilege is not something that you can “work for” it is simply handed

  18. to you whether you like it or not. Lesbian life, however, is very much chosen, for those of us who want everything and are completely unwilling to sell our bodies or our sisters out for the tokens of male ownership and social ease. Nope, we want a feminist revolution, we want places where men are simply not even allowed across the boarder. I want a women’s country free of all men. Heterosexual women can visit, but they can never bring men into our lands. I don’t know why women want to be owned by men. There are many countries where it

  19. is very hard to escape enslavement by men if you are a woman. But what I don’t get is women in the US and Canada, for example. Women in these countries often really do have a choice, and what do they do with it? It’s why there will never fully be a women’s revolution and an end to male rule. Women will always sell their bodies for social position, money, a big house, privilege…. they’ll sell out to be the wife of the mayor elect of New York City, and it is the man who gets elected again thanks to his wife’s support, same old same old. So women you do have a choice

    • Sheila, spaces without men are vital! Some of us will re-enter spaces with men, but we should all support spaces that are entirely women-only, and lesbian-only, without question. And if we hets are allowed entry to some women-only spaces, that is generous. Our privilege is dangerous.

      At some point I think I should interject again that not every woman who is het-partnered is there as a total sellout (I won’t argue partially, or even mostly so). But at what point might that even be relevant? Maybe after 1,000 staunchly pro-lesbian comments? We’re not there yet. And I want to interject, not to excuse myself — I don’t need others’ approval to see what I do as valid-enough, but to really talk about what female revolution could look like. Could we create it if it were mostly lesbians but not entirely all? Under what circumstances?

  20. skulldrix, I can’t reply to your reply (too many layers?), so I’m adding down here. Sarcastic? OK! Sometimes I miss nuances. Gotcha. But is there really nothing wrong with being attracted to men? I think at the very least it needs questioned, challenged, and understood for what it is. Usually it’s coercive conditioning — how many girls loved girls first, and then capitulated to the grown-up business of shifting that love to attraction to boys and then men? Lots! (Too bad it’s not all.)

    As to sexual egalitarianism, isn’t that missing the hierarchy of ‘sexualities’? Of who we love? If someone claims only to be attracted to whites, to men, or even to the feminine only among women, isn’t there some missing of the fact of hierarchy and thus its perpetuation? (I think so, especially speaking to the first two.)

  21. There is nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to men because for many it’s a natural biological desire. What causes it to be problematic is living in a patriarchal society that enforces a compulsory -male-heterosexuality, which is about entitlement, objectification, and sex as need not desire. ( And sex as PIV only).

    Also having an egalitarian sexuality, is more about seeing those who you choose to have sex with as equal humans beings, not objects, or projections of your imagination. That communication is optimal in the initiation of sex.
    I don’t mean egalitarian in the liberal sense, like ignoring all of the hierarchies between certain groups, and your own socialized racism/sexism/classism etc. I’m also damn sure that advocating a liberal sexuality. Because that would just lead to paodophilia, rape,objectification and sexual violence.
    I mean this an ideal summarization of what I think sexuality should be. Maybe egalitarian is a bad wording for it, I kind of just through it in to express how I think sexuality should be non- coercive,hierarchical, and objectifying. I’m not an egalitarian though. Inequality is a weak lense to criticize power. BUt I liked it when I read of a certain radical feminist describing her view of sexuality as neither heterosexual nor lesbian, but egalitarian and non-exploitative.

    • Is there nothing wrong with being sexually attracted to men? What makes you so sure about that, or that it is a “natural biological desire”? Where is it that women are truly free to choose, and then choose men? I see it as more complicated — there is a lot wrong with seeing women’s attractions to men as normal in a het-coercive culture — and something we’d do better to explore without prior assumptions being set out as unchangeable givens. Clearly heterosexuality is not a given!

      Those of us who are het-paired aren’t necessarily even “attracted to men.” A number of us are attracted to people with certain personality characteristics which may be found in men, if rarely. I’m not the only het-paired woman I know like this. But in this, there is a levelness. Between mixed-sex couples it has to be worked at in a way that isn’t usually necessary in a same-sex pairing. But in this sense I guess you could say we work toward an egalitarianism; those of us who are in the ‘lesser’ position certainly can’t afford to forget the hierarchy.

      • This is becoming repetitive, but yeah that’s what I’m trying to say, and that is what I believe.

        Heterosexuality is socially constructed. It’s enforced on us, and our sexuality is redefined by a dominating male sexuality.

        I find myself also to be someone who is attracted to people’s inner personalities, and not their biology, strangely. That’s why I’m am not heterosexual, lesbian, or asexual. I also don’t have any real sexual urges towards others.

        When I was heterosexual I did have these terrrible desires, and I felt like a slave.

        Also, women who are sexually attracted to men are rarely like that because of biology. But as your entire post is presenting, there might be some who prefer sexual activity with men.

        There are radical feminists who identify as heterosexual, and I still don’t know what that means to their feminism.

        But I still think these ways to define sexuality are harmful, and that we should work to create a sexuality that is in “egalitarian”, against exploitation and objectification, and humanizing.

        A sexuality based off of sex preference only expands the infection of a toxic sexuality.

  22. “….but to really talk about what female revolution could look like. Could we create it if it were mostly lesbians but not entirely all? Under what circumstances?” I think this is a very good question forestgreen. Very good indeed. I also liked you comment about how many times must lesbians say that heterosexual women stand in the way of the liberation of half the human race? 1000 times about lesbian

  23. only space? Now really, how many square feet of lesbian only space exists in the U.S. for example? How do we make sure this is lesbian only space since collaborators have used lesbian energy for their own ends? This is a serious question, because I want a lot more lesbian only space, I want an entire city that is lesbian only, an entire country. I’m serious about this. Can we create a women’s only space?

    • I would love to see a small town and the surrounding countryside be lesbian-only, and basically self-sufficient. I would love to see women-only space, with the kind of woman-focused energy and healing that can go on in such spaces.

  24. And will heterosexual women cease and desist from a desire to co-opt lesbian energy because they have sold out to men, and need a break from men now and then, so they come and waste our time? These are real questions, and I have yet to meet one heterosexual women who will question her right to enter into these spaces. The radical feminist movement was about lesbians. Hetero women were almost non-existent

    • Privilege and entitlement are ugly, agreed. And lesbians have every right to focus on lesbian needs, of course. I witnessed the pull into HIV/AIDS work, into NAMBLA support, S&M, and genderqueer, where lesbians were made invisible and lesbian needs pushed to the back, for the sake of the boys and the ‘respectable women’ feminists.

  25. from this struggle. Really, they didn’t do a damn thing. We have women who have come out as lesbians late in life, because of the dominant enslaving privilege dolling machine known as hetero-normative existence. Now why would this be? I have yet to fully figure out why women love men, or want to live in the same house with them. Real

  26. So what would a real feminist revolution be all about? We know hetero women are wedded to the care and feeding of future rapists, we know they will support men over women, we know that when push comes to shove they will go back to that life. We know all this. So what would that revolution look like? What would a collaboration in revolution between lesbians and hetero women look like? Do we have

  27. to waste more time on the abortion rights debacle? Do we have to talk about birth control one more damn time? Do we have to listen to baby babble blathering endlessly and what about the children, and what about the damn men that we hate with a passion epic in proportions? Men are the enemy of women? They have destroyed the earth, and yet

  28. what would hetero women have to offer me? What really? In my 50 plus years I have yet to see them do one damn thing that is significant to advance lesbian space and nationalism. I’ve seen them waste our time, I’ve seen them come into our hard won spaces as an escape from maledom. Who do you think creates women’s colleges? Not hetero women. Who do you think was the backbone of even

  29. the suffrage movement in the US and UK in the 19th century? 67% of the women’s civil and political union consisted of spinsters, not married hetero women. 67%.
    And then there are lesbians who never once, NEVER once sold our bodies to the male enemy. Nope. Not once not ever. We’ve beaten the crap out of men who messed with us, we have contempt for men. We don’t understand how

  30. there can be a women’s revolution with women who have divided loyalties. It’s what men do, they steal women’s energy, they cause us to waste our time on abortion and birth control battles endlessly, they take up every space on earth when women bring their boyfriends into our spaces and bars. They get mad when I take their damn

  31. damn boyfriends by the scruff of the neck and throw them out of our lesbian spaces. Yeah I do that. yeah hetero women get mad when I threaten to break their boyfriend’s necks if they come back. Now why do hetero women waste lesbian time? What is it that you expect of us? 1000 times we have this desire for a world free of men. We don’t want them unless they are caged, we see no need to have very men around at all.

  32. We see heterosexuality itself as an oppressive system that destroys the very souls of lesbians. So how would the great collaborative liberation movement work really? It hasn’t gotten lesbians anywhere in my lifetime. Lesbians created the movement and the spaces, hetero women just slowed us down and diluted our political radical natures. So there is no answer is there. What could you possibly want?

  33. Because I am not in a kind or a negotiating mood with the heterosexual majority right now. I have no more patience for the endless time wasting things straight women bring to the table. I really don’t understand how women who want freedom would ever sell their bodies to men. The thought is horrifying to me. So hetero women, it is really up to you. Lesbians are a very small group, we want more space 1000 times more.

  34. We want land, we want freedom and we want men forever banned from huge tracts of land. We will fight for this till our dying days, I don’t give a damn about children, don’t want to deal with them, I want an adult lesbian land revolution. So is there no hope at all? I don’t know, I just know I lose in this deal every time, every damn time, but maybe there

  35. is something that I’ve over looked. I know all men are rapists, I know that I don’t want to have them on lesbian revolutionary land, and I’m not sure I trust hetero women to know that the men they service and harbor and live with are safe at all. Because they aren’t. Maybe you’d have to sign a blood oath saying that if you betrayed the sisterhood, we’d have cause to do something extreme? Maybe there

  36. should be some discussion of this? All I know is I have seen nothing in the last 40 some years. If anything, hetero women have reverted to greater simpering servitude in the world. That’s what I see. Men have become even worse than ever before. I want a revolution, I want half the human race to end the rule of men. I want an end to male colonization globally, and I want a women’s country.

  37. You can’t negotiate with oppressors, I know that. Is it the money? I don’t know. So there you have it. Come up with some viable ideas, and a way for lesbians to have space uncontaminated by male pigs or the women who collude too much with the pigs. What has lesbian nation done for the cowardly hetero women? What have we done for the rovlution?

    • I’ve always thought it was up to het women to be the buffers and create the spaces for lesbians and for lesbian-only spaces. It’s what you do with privilege — use it for the valid benefit of those without it.

  38. Who came up with the most visionary politics? What have hetero women done for lesbian nation? I really want to know, because what I’ve seen is next to zero. That is the core issue. And if we can figure this out, maybe there would be room. But I’m not holding my breath. We’ll see.

  39. I see women putting other women first, shared spaces of sisterhood free of men, mostly on the Internet. I don’t always know where to look but I see enough to make me hopeful, and then sad when nothing more comes of it. I don’t yet see much option to actually do useful things. I normalize the word, the idea, the worthiness of being lesbian when I talk, locally; I’m definitely pro-lesbian, and pro-woman, and pro-sisterhood. I work really hard locally to allow the ideas of feminism, strong women, women who are not deferential to men, to filter in and take hold here. I think that’s kind of my job in the het world, to bridge so that het doesn’t feel quite so normal, quite so “right” and unquestionable.

    I really don’t see het women as ready for anything like revolution. Some are, some realize how horrible patriarchy is and personally so. And some of the revolutionaries, dedicated and caring women, are partnered with men or are friends, activist friends, with men, or both.

    In this revolution I want lesbian-only space, and I want space for those men who are allies — and the women who are willing to hold them to it. I don’t care if I’m allowed into lesbian spaces as a guest, that’s not my decision. I do care that both groups have their needs met, even if there is little interaction between them. My experience is that there will be interaction, that many people cross these boundaries comfortably — fine, so long as the privileged to not endanger the more vulnerable; that others don’t cross from lesbian-only space to activist male and female space is fine, too.

  40. skulldrix, too many layers, again, so I’m responding clear down here. Many of the lesbians I know refuse to use the patriarchal framing of lesbianism as merely just another sexual preference. While it’s easy for our brains to think in dichotomies with grey areas, so that the possibilities are either heterosexual or homosexual (with bisexuality between them), it may not be the most useful framing. Again, there is an existing hierarchy, wherein het-ness is valued over lesbian-ness. But even beyond this, the two aren’t merely interchangeable. There is a very different dynamic between women, between cultural equals or near-equals — who are similar, compared with cultural unequals who are dissimilar.

    It sounds like for you and I the place where we find ourselves comfortably het is with nearer-equal men, men who do not wear their male privilege openly or use it against us overtly. Even then, it is not the same dynamic as with lesbian relationships.

    While staunch advocates of the more-than-orientation view see lesbianism as a choice, it’s still not the choice between two reasonably-equal options. In many ways it’s the choice between varying shades of grey, and vibrant color. For so many of us, currently het or lesbian, our first loves were girls and women, and we had to face indoctrination for moving into heterosexuality; it had to be presented to us as normal and we had to be pushed into it. This is certainly true for me; the reasons I re-entered have more to do with the backlash against lesbian feminism that sucked the politics out of the community and left it more pro-male than the mainstream, my subsequent disillusionment, and a willingness to live a sociological experiment when options for a life, the one I expected and wanted, didn’t present themselves.

    Communication is often negotiation, so we will be going over and refining some of the same concepts. I don’t have a problem with that so long as it’s legitimate conversation, and it seems to be so, to me.

  41. I’ve never experienced het women as buffers for lesbians, I’ve experienced het women as real dangers to our separatist spaces and aspirations. It’s why I have such a problem with women who bring sons into lesbian spaces to begin with. I would like het women to be clear that producing sons IS producing future porn viewers on the internet (I believe the average age of a porn viewing boy is around 11-12 now), and future rapists. When I tell straight women I don’t want to be anywhere near their damnable teenage boys, they get really angry. I’m just telling them…

    • I don’t think the vast majority of het women are or even could be buffers; real dangers? of course. Defenses of sons is something I’ve written on a lot — girls and women come first, and I don’t understand the knee jerk, or even the more considered, defense of male offspring.

  42. that I will not tolerate anything teenage boys do around me. I hate them, I will beat them within an inch of their lives if they mess with me, and I am violent in my sense of space. Nope, don’t tread near me. I hate all the discussions of het women and their damnable choices. So I don’t see the buffer at all, I see a wreckless disregard for my safety. And I am deeply resentful that they view my life as worthless and their son’s life as more valuable than mine. These are feminist straight women btw, the others are even worse.

    • In my view, everyone needs to stop tolerating the crap that teenage boys do so routinely — and I am not a pacifist. Het women need to take responsibility for our choices, and understand the ramifications on those who make braver choices. Now we could be buffers between the patriarchal world and lesbian space — but defense of sons and disregard for lesbian lives are far, far, FAR more commonplace, yes.

  43. I believe the best thing het women can do is to talk to other het women about these issues, to tell het women to shut up and stop boring lesbians with their male centered lives, so that we can get on with our revolution. That said, I am often amused at what passes for commentary about radical lesbian lives in the straight world. Women and girls are coerced into hetness, the entire culture is designed to make women and girls submit to it. Only the very strongest, bravest and most passionate of lesbians resist this massive offensive indoctrination.

  44. For me, it was a no brainer really. I wanted a passionate life free of my enemies. I wanted a life of equality, and women offer profound passionate equality. So that was the movement I signed on for. I have to deal with het women when their lives crash down, when men beat the stuffing out of them, divorce them, financially ruin them, rape them. Het women make a bargain with the devil, and as the years have gone by, well, I have begun to care less and less. If you don’t want to be raped, you can stop having sons— that message alone would be raedical.

  45. I’d love to hear more straight women get out there and promote this idea of a no new males birthing project. Can you imagine the freak out and backlash? It would be fantastic to hear this point of view on the news, all over the internet, outside radical lesbian feminist worlds. Let all the het women take the heat for this. Let het women get the male to trans out of the spaces as well, another menace to our world. Let the slaves be so at least those of us committed 100% to women’s freedom and power in the world can have this life.

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